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Since we've told people that we moved aboard and are planning on cruising, there are a few common questions that we get asked. Here are a few of them:
Who are you? A family of 5 and a fat boat cat. Currently one daughter is a research scientist in San Francisco and one is in college at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. On board are Jack, a high schooler, Alexa, the mom & one that makes things happen, Pat, the Captain and one who fixes things, and Gilligan the super chonky boat cat.
Where are you? We are now on our second Nordhavn. After living aboard N4637 for a year in Washington, we cruised from Gig Harbor, WA to San Francisco, CA in the summer of 2018. We sold her in San Francisco to upsize to N5020, which we bought in Rhode Island. We cruised her down the east coast of the US that Fall. The end of January 2019, we had her shipped from Florida to La Paz, Mexico. We are currently cruising the Sea of Cortez, mostly based in Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta Area.
Below are questions we often get asked - some of the answers have been updated since we've moved aboard N5020
|Nordhavn 4637 - June 2017-Oct 2018|
|Nordhavn 5020 - Oct 2018-Present|
|Where do you keep the boat?|
We are moored in the heart of downtown Gig Harbor at Stanich Dock, an old fishing net shed. We have an awesome boat neighbor, but other than that, we are the only ones down here.
|Now we are in Banderas Bay for hurricane season. Home base will be between Puerto Vallarta and La Cruz de Huanecaxtle. When we get time off, we cruise the Sea of Cortez|
|Where are all of your things? |
Really, we donated nearly everything we owned. We have a small storage shed with meaningful art, kids keepsakes and photo albums, but other than that, we got rid of it all. It was VERY freeing.
|Somehow we STILL have things to donate! We've found places in Mexico that will happily take it.|
|Is it big enough for everyone? |
It's 46 feet long and 15 1/2 feet wide, somewhere around 700 sq/ft of living space- probably the smallest boat we would want to fit our family. There are 2 berths (rooms) and 2 heads (bathrooms), which means Jack sleeps in the pilot house. He actually has a pretty big bed up there. It feels much bigger in the summer, when the doors are open and we can sprawl out onto the aft cockpit and upper deck.
|Turns out that it wasn't quite enough space. This is the biggest reason we upgraded to a 50 foot. Everyone has their own berth and there is a lot more space in the saloon, pilot house and upper deck.|
|What's your cruising plan?|
Our very flexible plan is entirely based on the weather and Pat's schedule. We will leave Gig Harbor sometime in July 2018. We will head down the West coast. Our first stop may be 5-6 days later in San Francisco, where I would like to spend a few weeks visiting family and friends. From there we will stop in a number of ports on our way to San Diego where we will wait for the hurricane season to end. Once the weather is clear, we will check into Mexico in Ensenada, then head down and around the Baja peninsula towards Puerto Vallarta. The length of that cruise will depend on where we stop, Pat's work schedule and weather. We plan on Puerto Vallarta being our first home port while we get accustomed to living as expats.
|Looking at what our cruising plan WAS, makes me laugh. We got to San Francisco, then it all went sideways when we bought N5020 in Rhode Island. We cruised the east coast down to Fort Lauderdale, then had her shipped to La Paz, Mexico. Finally we brought it across the Sea of Cortez into Banderas Bay. It was quite an adventure!|
|How much fuel does it hold and use? |
She holds 1000 gallons, which is a lot for a boat. It will take us around 300 gallons to cruise to San Diego. She uses 1.5-1.8 gallons per hour at 6.5 knots per hour.
|Now we hold 1325 gallons. She cruises at 8 knots and uses 2.5 gallons per hour. Still pretty good - we just get there faster.|
|What about school, for the kids?|
The kids will both attend a virtual high school. I have researched dozens of them and have yet to pick one out. It will be traditional academics, but very flexible with what is done when. Both kids will get the high school courses they need for their transcripts in order to be prepared for whatever comes next. Much of their education will be outside the virtual classroom - in the real world.
|I chose initially to go with Acellus. It was a flexible online program. I needed to supplement more reading and writing, as Acellus just assessed content knowledge. We also did quite a bit of SAT prep. After Acellus, we mixed it up a little, using Teaching Textbooks for math, Kitchen Chemistry for Science, book club with other boating teens for literature and other unique curriculums. During Jack's junior and senior years of high school, he attended Tacoma Community College full time as a Running Start Student where he pursued his Associates Degree and his high school degree at the same time.|
|Is Pat still going to work?|
That's the plan. We will keep the boat in locations where he can still get to an airport. Initially Puerto Vallarta is the easiest location for him to keep flying.
|Still the same - but he hates leaving!|
|What about Alexa, are you going to work?|
I have taken a leave of absence. My first job will be to set up the kids' online programs and act as mentor for them. Beyond that I am looking into some contract work for the district and online tutoring positions. Whatever I do, I need it to be flexible and not tie us to land so that we can go off exploring anytime we want.
|After my 1st year leave of absence, my district wouldn't extend it to a 2nd year. So I retired. I am now working for EdGate as a contract education consultant. I write lesson plans, align state standards, review online lessons and basically assist textbook companies, online education resources and others in creating, maintaining and aligning curriculum. It's been a great way to stay in education and make a little cash!|
|How are you all managing in the cold?|
The boat has a diesel and an electric heater, so we have stayed plenty warm. Alexa did invest in a small heated blanket for when it gets extra cold. But it does suck to have lots of coats and winter shoes in our only living room. Flip flops don't take up as much space. Also, icy wet docks caused Alexa a nasty slip and fall early one morning. Now we step carefully when the dock is slippery.
|Change that to How are you all managing the HEAT? |
We are doing our best to acclimate to the heat, but we haven't yet hit the HOT season. We have air conditioning and use it only when necessary. I'll check back in in July to see how we're really coping with the summer heat in Mexico.
Checking back a year later....summers are HOT and HUMID! While we had dreams of only using the AC occasionally, the AC is on full time in the summer. We spend a lot of time in the pools at Paradise Village and indoors during the summer months.
|Do you miss anything about living in a house?|
I think we all miss having privacy. Pat misses having a big shower with unlimited hot water. Jack misses the consistent Wifi. Alexa misses the fireplace in the winter and the hot tub (ok - and a big shower). Hailey misses her big room (where she could make even bigger messes). What we don't miss.....bills, bills and more bills. Pine needles, yard work, a huge house to clean, worrying about the trees falling on the house, mowing the lawn and all the STUFF that goes with owning a house.
|Still the same!|
|Does your kitchen (galley) have everything you need?|
Yup, 3 big fridge drawers and 1 freezer drawer, a small oven, a 3 burner propane stove, a convection microwave oven, a coffee maker, toaster, of course a blender and even an espresso machine. There is very little storage, but it's made us figure out what is really necessary vs what is just fun to own.
|Now we have a bigger fridge and a big freezer chest in the pilot house. But we still have everything we need!|
|How about laundry? |
We have a combo washer/dryer. That means I put a small load in, and a few hours later it's washed AND dried. The drawback is that it only does a small load at a time - that can be a challenge for the 4 of us. We have taken to using the local cleaners for some wash and fold service. I can imagine we will find this service in Mexico too.
|Now we have a full washer and dryer. It's been wonderful. However, now, instead of paying a flat rate for power and water, we pay a metered rate - the more we use the more we pay. So it's actually cheaper to walk it up to the local woman who washes, dries and folds. I drop it in the morning and pick it up in the evening. 2 very full laundry bags for around $7.|
|What about mail?|
We currently have a PO box (and use Cindy's house a lot). We have recently gotten a mailbox in Shilshole marina at Dockside Mail. We have our mail shipped there, they scan it and email us. We decide if we want them to open it and scan it, mail it somewhere or throw it away.
|We also have added my mom's house to the mailing list - she takes in most of our Amazon boxes. I fly home, pick it up and act as a parts mule to cross the border.|
Have another question? Ask it - I'll add it to the list! ~Alexa