Logistics of Living Aboard and Cruising

This blog was written for a 'raft up' by Kids4Sail and Cruising Mom Blog, where cruising bloggers write about the same topic. This month's topic is about 'The Shakedown after Transitioning Aboard'. Check out other blogs on the same topic at: The Raft Up page



We are 2 teens, their parents and a fat cat. Last summer we got rid of everything and left our Gig Harbor, Washington home to spend the summer cruising the west coast. We then bought a different boat in Rhode Island and have just finished cruising the east coast. We are now having the boat shipped to Mexico to cruise there for awhile.

Much of our family's transition aboard was learning how to do some everyday things that we didn't even think twice about when living in a house. Some things become become a little trickier when cruising. Here are a few of them:

Water

We have 4 water tanks.  We hold a total of 260 gallons. We fill up 2 of them every few days when we are about half way empty.  Between showers, laundry, washing dishes and just drinking water, our cruising family of 4 uses about 22 gallons on an average day. We fill the tanks using a hose and a spigot on the dock (included in the cost of dock fees). Usually the water from the hose is just fine, but just in case, we have a charcoal filter on the end of our hose to clean the water. On board we also have a secondary filter the water goes through. We have also added a UV water filter as a third line of defense in Mexico, and, depending on what the local boaters say, may invest in bottled water.

Filling the water is not really a big chore, but if you don't keep an eye on it, it can be a nasty surprise in the middle of a shower to run out of it.

Gilligan helping to fill the water tanks.


Cooking

We have a 3 burner propane stove and oven. The oven is pretty small (think large Easy Bake Oven) and takes a little longer to preheat, but it works just fine. We also have a convection microwave - I've found cookies actually bake better in there. We have 2 propane tanks on board, one hooked up and a full one as a spare. While it is nice to be able to cook without using power, it can be a pain to run out of propane in the middle of baking a chicken. Recently I invested in an Instant Pot, and it works wonders as a pressure cooker. We also often use our BBQ that is attached to the railing.
Our Propane oven/stove on our N46 (very similar to the one on our N50)

Provisioning to cruise from Seattle to San Francisco


Power

When at a dock, we have 2 huge 50 amp cords that plug into pedestals on the dock. One of the cords is for all the daily things we power (microwave, lights, chargers etc) and the other one solely powers the air conditioner. While we don't plan on using the AC much, it has been a life saver in muggy Florida. We've found that 50 amps is plenty for us to power everything we might need to run and haven't tripped a breaker (yet). Our previous Nordhavn used 30 amp power, and we found ourselves occasionally resetting the breaker if we accidentally tried to microwave and do laundry at the same time.
These 50 amp power cords are super heavy and a pain to coil up and store


When anchored, we have stored power in our batteries that we use (those get charged back up when we run the boat or when we run the generator). We also have solar panels. On our previous boat, we found those were enough to charge devices, have lights and radio on and a few other small draw items. Not really for laundry and hairdryers.


Sewage (ewwww)
It's a fact of life. Everyone poops! We just have to carry ours around with us. Many of the marinas we have been to are 'Green Marinas', part of that is that they have services for pumping out the tanks. Something on the east coast, that we don't usually see, is the pump-out device built into the dock, and a hose attachment at each slip. In Gig Harbor and San Francisco it was a boat service that stopped by weekly to pump out the tanks. Other times, you pull up to a pump-out dock and empty things there. We definitely talk about sewage a lot more than we ever did at home!

Wifi

Mostly on the East coast of the US, Wifi has been pretty terrible. We have a booster that can find wifi networks in the region and a router to log into when we're on the boat. This has recently been pretty successful. The marina that we think we'll be staying at in Mexico boasts, "Best Wifi in all of Mexico" - not sure what that means, but it's the best!

TV

We have a variety of ways to watch TV and movies. We have an old fashioned antenna connected to the TV. So any time we come into port, it's kind of like TV roulette - you just never know what you're going to get. Some programming is guaranteed: QVC, a religious network, and an old 90s sitcom channel. Other than that, sometimes there is local news, daytime television, Spanish channels and other shopping networks. But, sadly, never the Seahawks :( 
This antenna sticks to the window and connects to the TV

We have an Apple mini computer hooked up to the TV and in iTunes it has 11 Terabytes of movies, tv shows and music. They aren't all award-winning shows, but there is always something for everyone. Recently we've uploaded all of this content to Plex, an online server, so we can watch from any device anywhere.
We also have HULU, Amazon Prime and Netflix - but again, when the wifi sucks - so do these.
Finally we have an old fashioned collection of DVDs if we're desperate. While Pat misses having nightly news and live sports,  I have not missed regular television programming at all.

Transportation (when not on the water):

  • We walk a lot
  • Uber
  • Car rental when we have to
  • Lime scooters are fun!
  • We plan on using other public transportation in Mexico


Trash

No more dragging the trashcans to the curb! All marinas have trash cans or dumpsters, and many of them have recycling. Sometimes dockhands will even offer to take your trash away for you! This cost is included in marina costs.

Mail

Sometimes we have things shipped to family and friends (thanks everyone!). Often, if we are going to be somewhere for awhile, we can ship to a marina. But we also use Dockside Mail in Shilshole Marina. They are our main mailing address. They scan the front of everything that comes in and put it in our Dropbox. We then drag them into folders to 'Open and scan', 'Shred', 'Hold' or 'Forward' and we can tell them where to forward it. It's a great service. They can even deposit checks!
www.docksidemail.com
While there have been many adjustments as we transitioned to live aboard status, they've all been worth it! Best of all, most of these things encourage us to be mindful our footprint on the planet .

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