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.


Easy Living in the San Juan Islands


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. 


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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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.


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.


Otters AND Snakes?

When my children go to sleep at night, we often talk about different things they can imagine to help them drift off to sleep. Entire imaginary worlds have been created in a very short time often leaving me wishing I could just lay down and drift off to sleep letting the beautiful dolphin world wash away my day. The innocence and depth of a four year olds imagination is magical.

Living on an island has its perks for the over zealous childhood imagination. When fears of lions and bears and monsters enter the conversation it’s so easy to say “Oh honey, those things don’t live on our island, we only have friendly creatures here.” That’s the truth. When we moved onto the boat it was even easier to distance ourselves from the “scary” land creatures. However, they were quickly replaced with the scary sea creatures…. the octopus that could climb the side boat or the jelly fish that could open windows. Admittedly, that’s some scary stuff. Thank goodness that stuff doesn’t happen….

Fast forward a few days, and Matt and I are talking. He casually says, “We are gonna have to make sure otters don’t get into our boat. I saw one with the longest body yesterday, it was HUGE!” Wait, what? Otters? Why would they be in our boat? Aren’t they nocturnal anyway? Does this mean you saw a rabid one? (I don’t even know if they can have rabies, I am just applying raccoon logic to them, since they are in the weasel family and that’s close enough, right?) This new little piece of information my husband shed light on was not music to my ears.


Turns out river otters are aplenty here in the marina and they love to make little homes on boat decks. Despite being called a river otter, they can apparently function quite well along coastal shorelines and can also wreck havoc a boat. Could you imagine if an otter ended up in our living room? I did for just a minute and realized it would take a while for me to recognize the hilarity of the situation. After plenty of research and conversation it sounds like our back deck is most likely where we would find them, not, say, the galley. Chances are my screaming will rid the boat of an otter should I find one, but I did discover that they can be aggressive, so hopefully we won’t have an “Otter Attack”. I will lose my mind. I haven’t really heard or read about that happening so hopefully it’s not one of those, “it’s only a matter of time” situations. Yikes! Bonus for the otters though, they are cute.

Then last night, Matt poked his head into the boat and said, “You should come out on the dock for a minute. I found something cool.” What should my wondering eyes see, but what looked like thirty or so bright orange snake/worms swimming around our neighbors slip. Matt shined the flashlight into the water and we just stood there staring, silent. Having taught Environmental Education for years, we both felt confident in our marine ecology knowledge. We did not know about these little fella’s though. Instantly, I saw my visions of taking a refreshing dip into the sea over. Why would I swim with snakes or worms or what ever they are? That is fodder for a good horror flick, not an afternoon of fun aboard the Wild Rose.

So, it’s back to the books I go to find out what these things are and whether they are seasonal or if they are going to bit my leg off should I take a dip. If you know, please tell me so that I can rest easy. I’d like to get back to dolphin village utopia as I drift off, but last night, all I could think about was snakes swimming under my bed, literally.