Ken Goodings and Lynn Kaak moved aboard their Niagara 35, moored in Toronto Harbour, in the fall of 2003, after “selling up” and committing to the liveaboard life. With reports from Ken and Lynn, we shall follow their adjustment to this lifestyle and their continuing adventures
Revisiting some of our earlier assumptions…
With a little downtime at last, I took a look at our “archives” from the last couple of years of living on board. Looking at some of the earlier comments, I had to chuckle at some of the assumptions, which we made at the time. I have also reflected on some things which we have learned so far, and maybe still need to learn.
Our boat came with an automatic pressure water system, which promptly died about a week or two after we moved on board permanently. We quickly bought a replacement pump, and even a new water heater to replace the propane unit that was condemned by our surveyor. As is our norm, it took us some time to get around to installing the new stuff (Hey, isn’t just getting the stuff 90% of the work?) In that period, we realized that we had conserved a great deal of water by using the foot pump in the galley, and heating water in a kettle for washing dishes. I like to use a spray bottle of water to rinse off dishes. We returned the now deemed unnecessary items. The boat has a water capacity of more than 450 litres, and by doing without pressure water, we could go for about a month without filling up. This is great training for when we plan to cruise the Caribbean and who knows where else, when carrying heavy plastic jugs of water will be a bigger issue than just hooking up some garden hoses.
In one of the previous articles we commented on getting some other form of heating to assist the electric heaters on the boat for the winter. For the occasional time that it might be an issue, we have decided that we have better uses for the roughly $700 that a propane “fireplace” might cost us. On the few nights that the boat becomes cold, I am betting that many dirt dwellers are feeling it, too. We have polar fleece, and we know how to use it! We also have “buckwheats,” grain filled bags that are micro-waved to provide a little bit of warm heaven, a wonderful way to pre-warm the bed or warm up a chilled Ken (I can’t be around all of the time!) In the winter, we have wool throw rugs to help the floors feel a little warmer, and we have really good slippers.
Allow me to wax poetic about the joys of a crock-pot for liveaboards. I can slow cook a roast, ribs, stew, soup, chili or whatever, without depleting the propane supply. I like the concept of simmering something while I am working in the boat without the concern of an open flame or the threat of carbon monoxide on board. Add the decadence of a bread machine, and you can get the idea that neither one of us has the physique to be underwear models! But seriously, by not having to depend on the propane supply to do this type of cooking, our two 20 lb. tanks last a very long time, we don’t yet know how long! Ken did a refit of the propane locker to enable us to put in the 20 lb tanks rather than the original 10 lb. What a world of difference that makes! The outdoor marine barbecue hooks up to the “house propane system” when we need it, giving more flexibility to cooking.
Winter covers are a source of controversy. Most live-aboards do cover their boats for the winter, but opinions differ whether to use shrink-wrap plastic or re-usable canvas covers. I will admit now that we have a strong bias towards the shrink-wrap. As environmentally uncouth as that may sound, I will go with the disposable option for a number of reasons. The semi-clear plastic is amazing when the sun is shining; the greenhouse effect cannot be underestimated, it can make a difference of 20 degrees C on deck under the cover. The sunlight that is allowed to come in is wonderfully comforting. Our neighbours use bright halogen lights under their dark canvas covers to help make them feel less like moles. The custom fit of our shrink-wrap also means less flapping in high winds; an important concept, as we can get sustained winds of 40+ knots from November through April. Canvas covers are nice in some ways. They are faster to put up, reusable, and depend less on good weather when doing the work. (You can’t shrink our plastic in the wind).
I have no regrets about choosing to live onboard. It is a lifestyle that we do enjoy, and there is yet no inclination to go back to the land.
I do, however, miss a good soak in a bathtub once in a while, and occasionally a bigger bed would be lovely!
Lynn Kaak Silverheels III – You can catch up with Lynn and Ken’s blog at – The Voyages of Silverheels III
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