About wildrose

This is the story of my husband and I, along with our two daughters Lyla (4) and Savannah (2) and Charlie Muppets (our wise old lab) living aboard the Wild Rose in Friday Harbor, WA. The Wild Rose is a 1954 50' Chris Craft Catalina. This will prove to be pretty interesting seeing as we have never lived on a boat before. If we are being honest here, we actually have never even been boating together. We've got each other though and a whole lot of spirit and laughter so we are hoping that will keep this boat afloat.

Weather Talk

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So as I mentioned before, Matt had been working on patching a ton of places on the roof of the boat in hopes of getting a handle on the leaks that we have.  He has been applying a primer, layer after layer for about two weeks now.  Then sanding edges and in the next few days he will paint over all the primer with a matching paint to our boat color.  In a perfect world all the leaks will stop and we will live a gloriously dry happy little life in our boat.  If only it were that easy. 

I’m not one to carry on about the weather but when you are living on a boat that leaks it kind of happens naturally.   I watch the ten day forecast like a hawk.  With all of the warm sunny summer weather we have had the wood of our boat has dried out.   This is all fine and normal, but when it rains it means more little cracks for water to enter.  It seems that every August right about now, a little summer storm always rolls through the San Juan Islands.  This year was no different.

We went to bed knowing that it was going to rain but I think we were both hopeful that all the patching would slow the water down and maybe make it a nonissue.  Matt was less hopeful than I was mostly because he had been doing all the work and knew that he still had more to do before it was done.  This ill-timed storm was not fitting into his boat work schedule.  We were each hoping for a miracle.  Point being, we didn’t do any prep. 

At 4:30 in the morning it started raining hard.  It sounded like marbles hitting the boat.  So loud and so much water.  It sounded close.  Like on my pillow close.  Sure enough, three leaks sprang above our bed.  We were up.  More leaks in the room and more than a few in the kitchen.  In total I counted twenty-two leaks.  We had towels and buckets and mason jars everywhere.  It was a full time job.  Jars filled quickly, towels needed moved, new drips came out of nowhere.  I was so annoyed.  I had this total little tantrum in my head over the whole thing.  I was personally offended that it was raining.  My bliss of sunny summer days on a boat came to a screeching halt and I was pissed. 

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What I did know that morning as I ran around for four hours in a less than a jovial mood managing buckets and towels was that we needed to declutter our boat again and get moving on projects for the winter.  I spent the better part of the day cleaning out cabinets, closets and dressers.  With colder temps and more moisture coming, it’s time to live with much less again.  Everything is wet on the boat in the winter so there is a greater risk of items getting ruined with water or mold.  It feels funny to have to live a different way for the winter months but it’s necessary. 

I can honestly say that in retrospect, that day of being pissy over the rain was the kick in the shorts I needed to better understand exactly why we are choosing to live this way.  It would have been so easy to let that become all consuming leading to negativity about so many aspects of our daily life.  It would have been an easy path to self destruction and I would have had all the right stories to support why this didn’t work.  I want this to work though.  I like our life on this boat.  I like the environment we live in and I actually thrive off of the physical challenges created by living on a boat.  Living this way is definitely making me a stronger person…. and a little jealous of all you people with roofs that don’t leak.

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Easy Living in the San Juan Islands

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Well we’ve made it six months on the boat.  I’m sure our congratulatory plaque is just being finished up.  I do have to say though; the living is easy these days.  Summer on a boat in the San Juan Islands is pretty beautiful and relaxed.  Life is simple which is allowing for way more time to do the things we love. 

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Don’t get me wrong though, it hasn’t all been sunny days on the deck around here.  An old wood boat needs lots of work and I’d love to say *we* have been busy but really it’s been Matt.  He’s done an amazing job organizing what needs to be done in what order and he is always asking people what they recommend.  We have had a steep learning curve but that is also what we wanted.  The challenge of something new is what keeps the days interesting.      

It has been so fascinating to live smack dab in the middle of a tourist destination.  Literally.  Boat loads of tourists arrive every day.  Some days I start to believe I am on vacation too.  Everyone is so friendly, it’s always cocktail hour and ice cream seems to be the official food of the marina.  It’s glorious at times.  Some days though, I dream of fall when the island slows down a bit.  Fall makes this place feel like a secret again.

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I never could have pictured what summer would be like for our girls.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I knew what they wouldn’t have such as a yard or a quiet neighborhood to roam.  In all honesty, I was a little nervous as to whether we were robbing our children of a certain kind of childhood.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  This is where they belong.  They are masters at catching shrimp, their knowledge of boats is increasing rapidly, their playground is everywhere and socially they are growing leaps and bounds due to the insane number of people they talk with daily.  Lyla knows what dock has the best fishing (it’s totally G Dock) and Savannah has a solid handle on who has the fluffiest and nicest dogs.  It can be easy to want to recreate situations we had in childhood for our children but I can honestly say our girls are getting to draw the map for themselves.  This is all new to all of us.

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swimming

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As for the boat, it has everything we need.  We have plenty of space and it’s a solid home for us.  We got this specific boat because of the size and space not because we loved classic wood boats.  We quickly learned though it’s a wood boat enthusiasts’ dream.  I may never get used to people stopping by and just staring at our boat.  We have learned a lot this way though.  It seems our boat might be one of two of this kind ever made with a hardtop.  I guess it was too difficult to ship so they stopped making them.  I find this so fascinating and continue to look for more info on the history of this style of boat.  We are always looking for similar boats to ours and when we find them we are quick to go talk with the owners to learn as much as we can.

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Matt has been hard at work patching all the spots where we think the leaks are coming from.  You need long stretches of dry warm weather to fix the spots so time is of the essence.  We can take as many guesses as possible this summer and then wait till the rains arrive and hope for the best.  I think we have a good handle on it though.  Matt also got one of the engines running and the other is not far behind.  We are in no hurry to take the boat out.  We see this as a long term process for us so we don’t want to rush.  Plus it’s our house- if something happens we really don’t have a lovely two-story to move into.  It’s our journey and it’s unfolding at the pace we need. 

Hands down this has been the scariest yet best decision we have ever made.  It has forced Matt and I to work together in new ways and allowed us to see our girls grow with us in this new experience.  We are going to be on the boat for a long while.  I often wonder why everyone isn’t living this way, but I also get it.  Taking a leap into the unknown is scary but let me tell you, it’s totally worth it.

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These are the days…

The weather around here has been amazing which has meant spending about a million more minutes outside. We have been talking more about taking the boat out. We still have a few things to take care of but with this nice weather upon us, it has us getting a little antsy. I think it might be best if Matt takes the boat out first without me on it. I actually feel like I might be more of a problem than a help. I think we will both be happier with this decision. I will have a zillion questions and know that I would be telling Matt to watch out for everything. My two greatest worries are backing it out of our slip and getting the boat out of the marina. I also worry a touch about sinking. However, about two weeks ago a boat blew onto the rocks in the marina one night and sat that way all day. High tide came and the boat was wiggled free and from what I can tell is perfectly fine. That gave me a little better feeling; it made me realize I consider boats more fragile than they are (don’t get me wrong, I was worried all day about whether the owners would lose their boat- we all cheered when it floated to safety).

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We have been taking care of a few things around the boat. We had the zincs changed and are starting to patch up some leaks. A funny thing though, all these NEW leaks have appeared. It has become pretty humorous at this point; we are so proud once one leak is contained and then we literally turn around and find a brand new one. Here’s to hoping for longs stretches of warm sunny days. This boat needs to dry out a little.

Days on the docks are getting way more fun with the girls. We have been throwing crab pots in just to catch and release and have also been practicing fishing off the back of the boat. Both girls are pretty into fishing and crabbing and are so curious about all the new creatures we’ve come across. They have no fear of snapping crab claws and I’m pretty sure they would make homes for them and bring them in if we let them.

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Popeye, the infamous harbor seal has been stopping by the boat almost nightly and usually otters are playing while we eat dinner. It is such a neat thing to see but trying to get a two and four year old to focus on dinner with that show happening is tough competition.

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I have been getting up super early and taking walks with our dog. It has been so nice to watch the sun rise and town is empty plus the flowers are amazing right now. That time is quickly becoming one of my favorite things about my day.

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Lyla wants to eat the seaweed we have found. I know you can eat seaweed and might do a little research on how to dry our own. There are a ton of varieties and it is a great source of potassium, I just want to make sure we eat the right thing. It’s usually not a good idea to start snacking on every little thing you find.

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I finished the website for my new business, Island Grocery Grabber. I am ready for business. I’m so interested to see where it goes and I’m excited to grow it into something useful for island residents and visitors. I am working on my marketing plan right now so folks can find me.

We found a sandy beach on the island and it’s our new hangout. I’m trying to let the girls play more on their own and have space to explore. Being on the boat has caused us to spend way more time playing and talking with one another. It’s a small space for four people to swirl around. Let’s just say we are getting pretty good at sharing. So beaches have become my answer. I get to have a few minutes of quiet in my favorite environment and the girls have wide open space to use their imaginations. So far, it’s working out.

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Community

It has been so refreshing to notice the sense of community that quietly moves amongst the docks. People are always coming and going, new faces, new dogs, new stories, new adventures. It’s fascinating. There is an ever changing landscape as well, based solely on what boats arrive or leave. It has also been nice to notice the constant people we see every day. They are the faithful people we have our running conversations with about all sorts of random. It’s awesome. I love that our girls are able to visit with so many different people on a continuous basis. I also love that they get to see folks leaving on admirable adventures and journeys. The possibilities in their world expand each time.

Speaking of community, the other night our neighbor called over from him deck and told us the space station would be flying over at 8:00pm. Sure enough, right at 8pm there were about six of us all watching it go over. It reminded me what it meant to have a neighbor, something I feel we have lost with so many other places we have lived.

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Because I have been home with our girls it has been fun to enjoy our neighborhood a little bit more. With some imagination we have been able to create all sorts of fun play spaces. There are perfect ramps for race cars, balance beams everywhere and tiny nooks to build tooth fairy houses, not to mention a ton of boat names to learn and letter/number hunts to partake in. With the ages of our girls the joy of washing the boat is amazing. Crossing our fingers that the allure of that activity will never wear off, though I think that might be wishful on my part. We have also been able to get out and about a little more on the island. We hiked out to the lighthouse at Cattle Point and it was crazy windy but beautiful and have visited quite a few beaches and playgrounds.

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I’ve lived in a ton of different places and no matter where you go, everyone always says, “wait five minutes and the weather will change”. It is a universal phrase in America. This place proves no different. With the rain though, we have come to realize our boat has more than a few spots where water comes in. Like a lot of water. This weekend is supposed to be nice followed by a warm stretch so we will epoxy all our leaky spots. Matt has sourced all of them so now it’s time to patch them up.

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I’ve decided to start a new business on San Juan Island and I’m pretty excited about it. I am going to provide a personal grocery shopping and delivery service for locals and vacationers. My business is called Island Grocery Grabber. All folks will have to do is visit my website (it’s almost done), place their order and I will shop for them and then deliver. I know that there are a million times I would have loved this service so I am hoping others will agree. I also think folks at both marinas (Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor) will enjoy this service. So many things make me happy about this new venture: I love meeting people, I love grocery shopping and I love finding ways to help people make their lives a little easier and less chaotic. Seems like the perfect match to me!

Spring projects, change and ice cream

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We acquired a new boat to take on short little trips around the marina and to eventually drop crab pots. Matt is working on getting a small motor for it, but for the time being we are just letting the girls hang out in it for a new perspective. We may take it out with oars this weekend. Our oldest doesn’t seem to quite grasp the concept that you can’t move quickly around this little boat despite our continued reminders. I am pretty sure she is going to take a spill into the ocean one of these days off this little boat. I suppose it will be the quickest way for her to learn.

Speaking of falling in, our sweet dog Charlie fell in last week. He was jumping back into the boat and didn’t quite make it. Fortunately he had his harness on and Matt was able to grab him and pull him out. He’s a lab and loves the water so he was only mildly concerned. It was a good reminder for us though on how quickly things like that can happen.

With spring here, so many things on the island open that otherwise close for the winter. Friday Harbor Seafood, which is an awesome little market one dock way from us just opened April 1. It’s a great way to grab fresh caught seafood plus everyone there is super friendly and the resident seal, Popeye usually hangs out there all day. The other store that just opened back up for the summer is the local ice cream shop. We can see it from our boat. The jury is still out on whether this will be a good or bad thing this summer, but I will tell you they have a million flavors and its pretty good people watching sitting out front. I know two little children that will probably ask to go every day.

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Sometimes change in life comes in waves and it seems to be one of those times. In my early twenties I discovered a great way to make decisions and it has yet to let me down. We will use my most recent question as an example: should I stay with my job or leave? Next, assign each of those to one side of the coin. Stay is tails, leave is heads. Flip the coin. It landed on tails, which meant stay. However, as soon as I saw that, I said, “I don’t want to stay”. The decision was made. I quit my job. The coin always forces you to feel one way or the other, you don’t have to go with what the coin says, just trust your gut feelings. Obviously, there were other things to figure out too like money and such but I knew what decision needed to be made. This little trick has led me on numerous amazing adventures in my life and somehow I feel the same way about this time.

We are starting our list of spring projects this weekend. It’s boat cleaning time. Also the engines aren’t firing up like they should at the current moment but Matt says it’s all good and has lined up a few people to help him get it going again. We are also continuously working to manage the moisture levels in the boat. The more I read about it the more I realize that (a.) we aren’t alone and (b.) we must deal with it and (c) we will ALWAYS be dealing with it even after dealing with it. Such as living on a boat.

The Beauty of Simple

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We purchased this boat with the intention of saving money for three to five years to buy land on San Juan Island. We wanted five acres and a tiny house so that we could essentially homestead on the island. We underestimated how much we would enjoy living on a boat. I think we might be in this boat for the long haul.

Each time we stay overnight somewhere other than our boat, I miss being on the boat more and more. What I miss most is the closeness to the out of doors that we feel each day. When we stay in a house or hotel I have no idea what the sunrise or sunset looks like, how the stars were that night or what stage the moon is in. Even for one night, I miss it. I miss the fresh air. I miss feeling the boat move with the change of weather. I also miss that cozy feeling of our family hanging out in our small space.

Now when we talk about buying land, it’s more about starting a family farm to work on, but not live on. We talk about using the land to provide for our family but having our home on our boat. There is something so beautiful and unique about living on the water. I didn’t know how much it would influence our family when we made this choice. I didn’t know the profound impact it would have in relation to who we inherently are and the beauty in simplicity it has unlocked.

I know this journey has only begun. Hell, we haven’t even left the dock yet. Ha! In time, in time. With each new change in life, we grow a little more individually and as a family and this adventure is proving to be no different. It would be so easy to find negative things with how we are living, but why? Focusing on the positive of this experience has allowed us to have clarity on where we are headed and all of the beauty this path in life has in store.

I am grateful each day that the choices we have made in life have lead us to the opportunities we have. I truly believe that my eyes have only been opened up to this gratefulness because of the change we have made in our lifestyle. Simplicity has given me a sense of place and it has provided such a feeling of comfort. I am also only beginning to understand the true gift we are unintentionally giving our children and so eager to see what this next season of spring brings.

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Children and Life Jackets

We are new to our marina neighborhood and with the warmer sunny days arriving, so are more people. More families are down at the marina as well, which means more small children. What I have also noticed is that many of these small children (five and under) aren’t wearing life jackets on the docks. It is making me crazy.

If we are being honest here, I must preface this by saying that I am kind of a fatalist when it comes to safety. I grew up watching a steady supply of Dateline and Rescue 911 and can spot danger anywhere. It’s both annoying and helpful at the same time.

Did you know that the number one cause for accident related deaths in children ages 1-4 is drowning? I didn’t. I found story after story about kids getting stuck under docks, boats and boat ramps. Not the most cheery afternoon reading let me tell you, but they represented the reality of children and water. The common denominator in all of those incidents was the absence of a life jacket. I can see how it happens though.

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We walk the docks no less than four times a day with our girls. Putting life jackets on and taking them off is a chore. It would be a thousand times easier to skip it and just hold their hand really tight and keep a close eye on them. However it seems something always happens between point A and B on the dock. We MUST look at a certain sea star, or we stop to talk with someone, or a seal pops up, or a dog passes on the dock that we MUST pat or a cool boat we haven’t seen before pulls in. All of these things cause distraction. This distraction allows for the one minute it takes a small child to fall into the water. Every single time I want to skip the life jacket I think about these things and we put them on.

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Most little kids naturally have a curiosity about water. There are interesting things to see and somehow the closer they get their cute little faces to the water the happier they are. One of the most maddening yet beautiful things I have discovered is the innocence kids have about water safety. They don’t know what can happen and even when we explain it in the most kid friendly age appropriate way, it still doesn’t register as a change in action.

When I see families walking the docks with small children not in life jackets, I seriously can’t stop watching them. It’s as though I must be ready at a moments notice to spring into action if their child falls in. No one picks the day a tragedy happens. The water is cold here and that coupled with even basic swimming skills in a little person without a life jacket can cause them to sink quickly. It’s a dreadful thought but it’s a reality. The Port of Friday Harbor even has FREE life jackets that you can borrow for your time on the docks or a boat. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

So, if you have small children and frequent the marina I kindly ask you to put a life jacket on your child. It only takes one minute at the most and could save you a million moments of regret and heartache and could save a life. A wet, cold scared child with a life jacket on is way easier to deal with.