Category Archives: Living Aboard

Once a boat baby, always a boat baby

When Gabrielle was born and we took her home, home was a boat. It was a 47ft sailboat which hadn’t sailed in a very long time. For the first year of her life we lived aboard. When I think back on this, I think that it may have been slightly crazy. Not the living aboard. But how we lived aboard. We had no water other than what we carried down the dock by hand. We had no electricity and for the first few months of her life, we read in the evenings by oil lamp.

So it’s no surprise to me when I turn around and see Gabrielle playing “pirate.” She climbs into the laundry basket after hiring a crew of rascally demeanor. (Bears, cats and turtles alike, oh my!) and announces “Boat!”

She heads off, to the living room, in search of high seas and adventure. And maybe some loot!

She finds a treasure chest of free range eggs that she ditches all the eggs and fills it with magical rings and fairy dust and beads and imagination.

After this huge score, she lands her boat on an island filled with cheesy bunnies. It’s a very yummy place.

With that, she sails off into the sunset with a song on her lips.

Yo Ho Yo Ho a pirate life for me!

…More bunnies please.

All Aboard!

This is my view from my land-home. Not too shabby.

But the boat view wasn’t to be downplayed either.

There are some funny little adjusting things going on as we transition from living aboard to living on land again. Such as:

Yesterday when I was doing the dishes when I thought to myself, Oh I’ve done the dishes a couple times now without emptying the gray water tank. I wonder where the switch for that is in this house? Doh! No gray water tank in a house! Score!

Also, I keep forgetting that I have access to a shower here. So I keep forgetting to have a shower. Yes, now aren’t you glad you don’t live nearby? Better than just a shower, I have a claw-foot tub! Last night, after realizing that I could actually bathe while Gabrielle was asleep, I took full opportunity. After a year and a half of always having to leave home to bathe, it was quite a treat to announce to Marc triumphantly, “I am going to go shower!”

And my, was it warmer than a boat sponge bath!

And while I’m swooning about living in a house, have I told you about my fridge? It’s so consistently cold!! Like the milk doesn’t go off. Like I can buy a big jug of milk and just have a glass now and then when I feel like it! We’ve been doing evaporated milk for a long time now and I can only stand adding it to my coffee. I couldn’t drink the stuff in big gulps like I’m drinking our milk now!

Gabrielle has found a new play place in our wood box. I think she approves of the house too!

Good-bye Vancouver, Hello World!

It was really nice to leave the hospital. I realized I hadn’t even been off the third floor for three days so my parents’ watched Gabrielle for an hour the last night we were there so Marc and I could go down the road and grab take out. Even walking 3 blocks felt so good. It’s strange how time passes when you’re in the hospital, like it doesn’t pass at all or like centuries have gone by and we’ve become old and wrinkled. I’m sure some parts of us have become old through all this. I’ve given up pulling out my grey hairs…

We began counting the last things that would make Gabrielle cry until we could get her safely home. IV removal, weight check, x-ray, and having her stitches removed and then we’re home free. There are residual effects from the hospital still lingering but they fade every day. Like today I had to change her chest dressing, resulting in screaming. My second sin was getting out the thermometer. We didn’t take her temperature but even the sight of it sent her into hysterics. We’ll hide certain implements until absolutely necessary, Gabrielle, don’t fret. Your anxiety will dissipate with time as we slather you in love!

Before her surgery, I joked that our toothless baby should cut her first tooth while sedated on and on morphine. Imagine my surprise when I was feeding her and felt a clink against the spoon from a tooth that popped up suddenly and under the magical stew of painkillers. Way to multi-task Brie-nut!

I learned a few very cool tidbits about Tetralogy while we were in the hospital. Gabrielle’s heart is HUGE, completely disproportionate to her body because her heart has had to work so hard, and so inefficiently. Another thing I learned is about the history of Tetralogy. In 1954, Docs did the first Tetralogy heart repair. They didn’t have heart and lung machines then that they use now. Now, they use a heart and lung machine to stop the heart and reroute the blood so that they can cut the heart open and operate safely. When they didn’t have a heart and lung machine, they used the boy’s mother as his heart and lung machine. In the operating room, they lay the boy and the mother down, in beds beside each other and used his mother’s circulatory system to sustain her son during surgery. The surgery was successful and the boy is still alive today, and grew up to become a physician. Happy Ending; My favourite!

Right now we’re looking for our happy ending. We’ve had a bit of a hiccup in our best-laid plans. Our house-sitting gig just fell through for medical reasons by the owners. And we are in the process of selling our boat-home. Fellow boat-dwellers, do not abandon us on this front! Someday we may return to this lifestyle but for now, this isn’t ideal for us.

All this upheaval has left us homeless and Marc unemployed so we are adrift and trying to figure out ‘What Next.’ I’m sure it will be adventurous but stay tuned as we wait with baited breath to see what unfolds…

Wishing you a warm place to curl up as we find ours.

Baking Aboard A Boat

Baking aboard a boat is a challenge. Then add a baby into the mix and it’s like an extreme adventure, comparable to sky-diving or rolling down a hill in a giant hamster ball. But I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I do it anyway. And sometimes when I’m feeling really daring I do it when Marc’s not even on the boat to mind Gabrielle. Yes, sometimes I’m that brave. (Or a bit dense, you decide.)

There are options to baking aboard with a baby on a boat. (Sounds like a game of Clue now…) The first option is that you bake when she’s asleep and pray she doesn’t wake up. Because if she wakes up, it gets all the more dangerous. The second option is bake when she is awake but very very happy, or in the jolly jumper, or when aforementioned Husband is around to distract baby. Aforementioned Husband is more motivated to watch a whiny baby if he believes that there is a reward involved. A reward of fresh baking from awesome, daring, brave and beautiful Wife!

The tricky things to baking with a baby, is that sometimes the baby needs immediate attention and your hands are all covered in flour or butter or what-have-you. The trickier thing with baking on a boat is that I don’t have access to running hot water to wash my hands quickly and attend to the baby. Also, I don’t have an electric mixer on the boat so I really have to mush whatever I’m baking with my hands. Also, the ingredients tend to form beluga-size lumps in whatever container I sealed them in. Yes, dampness is pervasive on a boat. I bought great locking air-tight containers for my sugar, flour, salt, brown sugar etc. And all of them form into rocks with the hardness of diamonds. Once I chipped away a cup of sugar, or a teaspoon of salt (and if the baby hasn’t woken up from the ice pick unfossilizing the ingredients) no amount of meek stirring will blend sugar with butter or eggs. I get in there, elbows deep, to mix whatever it is that I’m making.

I’ve gotten better at baking on a boat now. I get a kettle of water boiling. I lay out all my ingredients before I begin. And Gabrielle just has to wait for a couple minutes if I’m already hands-deep in batter.

My boat oven is another hurdle, though a minor one. It has one burner at the bottom so it doesn’t cook as evenly as I’d like. It is also a challenge finding baking pans that fit in the RV-size oven.

In saying all this, I continue to bake because I love it. Because I have a sweet tooth. Because I want Gabrielle to learn to bake. Because the results just cannot be beat. So, dear friends, send me your recipes and I will see how they work in my tiny baking space.

Happy Baking!

Hail Boat Lubber!

We live on a boat. Yes, I know you already know that. But I get questions about the details of living on a boat so here is the knitty gritty.

We are tied to a dock. The dock is a government dock with one finger and a few other boats. We are the only live-aboards at our dock. We have no shore power and no water on hand. We have a battery bank which we charge with a generator and we carry our water down to the boat.

Our boat is a 47ft (with bowsprit) Endurance sailboat. It’s supposed to be a ketch rig, which has two masts but we only have one right now. The hull is ferro-cement and it is a work in progress, though it’s rougher on the outside than the inside. I don’t know how many square feet it is inside but not very big. For example, when I was 8 months pregnant, I could only sit at one place at the dinette because my belly was too fat and the dinette is a tight squeeze. There is enough head room for my 6ft1inch husband to stand, but if his curly hair gets too long, he dusts the cobwebs from the ceiling. Not that there are ever cobwebs on my ceiling…. And the ceiling on a boat isn’t called the ceiling, it’s called the Overhead. Who knew?

The navigation table where the GPS and VHF radio and all those important gadgets is Gabrielle’s change table. She has a bassinet squeezed in a storage closet across from our bed, and her clothes are between and mostly covering Marc’s “workshop” where he stores his tools. See, about boats or small spaces, is that mostly things are on top of or squeezed between other things.

Living on a boat in the summer is pretty much awesome. You get to see sunsets every night. Sea-B-Q’s are a must and lounging on deck in a hammock is pure luxury. Living on the boat in the Winter can be cozy. We have a great diesel heater. Making hot drinks and snuggling in bed all day while the rain falls outside is wonderful. Until you have to do laundry and have a shower. Then the romance fizzles away and just leaves you outside, cold and wet with a baby. Not so much fun.

But you wanna know the biggest draw back to living on a boat when Winter comes? I can’t have a decent Christmas Tree. Yeah, I’d have to totally go Charlie Brown style and get a pathetic twig or have a sprig of holly in a pot.

This may be one of the biggest reasons why I’m stoked to be house sitting this Winter. Call me crazy, because Christmas is just one day. But seriously, I get to have a Christmas Tree!

‘Till then, I’ll take my boats thankyouverymuch!