Tuesday, February 28, 2012

All that Glitters isn't Gold - it's Steel!

Gifts that sparkle and shine are my absolute favorite, and for my birthday this year, my parents' present didn't disappoint. About a week before my birthday, my parents called me to tell me they had arranged for someone to come out and polish all of Sea Gem's stainless steel!

Now, to all of you landlubbers reading this post, a gift such as this might seem rather strange, but when you live on a boat (especially one with a lot of stainless), a present like this is much appreciated!

Here's a peak at some of the glimmering results:






Sunday, February 26, 2012

Farewell, Dust Bunnies

I remember vividly the day my parents bestowed upon me their, now my, rya rug. My father seemed mildly upset that his rug was going to be in the charge of a potentially less appreciative owner, whose care might result in the rug ending up at the bottom of the sea. My mother on the other hand seemed all too eager to pass the furry heirloom onto me. During the exchange, I recall her mentioning something about "constant orange fuzz" and "you'll see..."

See, I did. The rya rug is, for lack of a better word, balding. It expels little puffs of orange wool onto the floor. Based on the amount of fiber the rug gives off on a daily basis, I'd say it has about 20 more years until it completely disappears. In addition to shedding, the rug also collects and hides all sorts of miscellaneous floor droppings within its thick shag:


Obviously, with a rug like this, you need a vacuum cleaner.

Before moving onto the boat, we relied on a massive Shop-Vac to do our household vacuuming (it would take an entire other post to explain the reason behind this decision, so I'll just say that Eric really, really wanted a Shop-Vac). Obviously, a Shop-Vac has no place inside of a house, let alone aboard a boat, so we parted ways with the behemoth prior to moving. Once aboard, we figured we'd clean everything by hand (the boat is big, but it isn't that big). This was a fine solution, except for when applied to the rug. Although getting on our hands and knees to wash the floors works just fine, hand-grooming the rug "monkey-style" isn't exactly efficient--or effective.

Since we moved aboard Sea Gem, both Eric and I have known we needed to buy a vacuum, but we could not bring ourselves to make the purchase. Vacuums are the worst things to buy. They are expensive, and then once you have one, you have to use it. About a week ago, we had family coming to stay with us. Since two of our guests were allergic to dogs, we decided to pull the trigger and purchase a vacuum so we could ensure the boat was dog-hair free. After weighing our options, we purchased the Dyson DC 34:


While this style of vacuum is likely not practical for cleaning an entire house, it is ideal for use around a boat. In addition to being powerful enough to handle our rug's dust bunnies and trapped filth, it meets the most important criteria for being boat friendly--it is easy to store. Overall, a great purchase.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Making Boarding a Little Less Adventurous, Part II

In Part I of this post, I explained that two events triggered my desire to make getting on and off Sea Gem easier, and that the first step I took to achieve that goal was to install a lifeline gate.

As I explained in Part I, the reason I fell into the water while getting off the boat was because the step-stool we had on the dock had moved over the edge, and when I stepped onto it, it fell into the water and took me along with it.  (Actually, the step stool was tied to the dock with a rope, so even though it fell over the edge, it stayed nice and dry.)  Even when it was in the proper place, our old step-stool ($10 at Home Depot) was slippery when wet and never firm under foot.  Clearly, we needed a new, more robust set of stairs that we could fix in place on the dock.

We settled on the Taylor Made 3-step staircase.  It is high enough (24") to make boarding easy at high tide, has non-skid steps for good traction when wet, and it has an optional handrail (which we bought and installed) for extra security.  Although the Taylor Made steps are much heavier and less prone to movement than our old step-stool, we made sure that it will stay put (and thus not tumble over the edge with one of us right behind) by securely lashing it to our dock piling:

 

Although our new staircase cost substantially more than our old step-stool from Home Depot, it is built to last and it makes boarding a lot easier and safer.  Between the staircase and the new lifeline gate, getting on and off Sea Gem, while still not as easy as walking into a house, sure is less of an adventure.    

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Love Boat

At this time last year, Eric and I had just driven down to Miami from Kentucky for the purpose of attending the Miami International Boat Show and identifying a boat layout that would work for us to live aboard. It is hard to believe that it was only a year ago that we were beginning to seriously consider the idea of living on a boat, and here we are today, living happily aboard Sea Gem.

This past weekend, we attended the boat show again, although this time around, our agenda was much different. Our main purpose in attending was to get a sense of how the interiors of older boats have been updated and modernized. Our boat is over 20 years old, and while we have no immediate need to update anything, should we ever have the desire, it would be nice to have an idea of the possibilities. Our secondary mission was to hunt down a boat part for Eric's father, who is an avid sailor. Sadly, we failed at the latter.

The day we attended the boat show couldn't have been more beautiful:


Although our main purpose in attending the show was to get ideas for future remodeling projects, we left the event with something quite different: confirmation. We went aboard a variety of boats at this year's show, including my beloved Oyster 625, and at the end of the day, Eric and I came to the same conclusion - nothing we saw made us wish we had anything other than Sea Gem. It was a nice realization. We really love our boat.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

But what about morning sickness?

Anyone who knows me well knows that the one thing I absolutely can't stand is puke/puking. Even the fake rubber stuff repulses me. I gag when I hear someone throwing up, and--without shame--I run screaming from vomiting strangers and puking friends & loved-ones (including my dog). I simply can't stomach vomit (I'm going to make a great mother, I know).

Given my aversion to the phenomenon of regurgitation, upon discovering I was pregnant, I became immediately concerned about what morning sickness would be like on a boat. Since I had absolutely no desire to find out, I began combing the internet for any and all preventative techniques for avoiding morning sickness. While I’m sure it is just a matter of luck, I thought I’d share with you what I did because, for the most part, I escaped this dreaded accompaniment of pregnancy.

Acupuncture Bands

We already had a pair of Sea-Band® brand acupuncture bands on-board for guests to use because we know many people who credit these bands for keeping them nausea-free while at sea:

Since we already owned a pair, I figured I’d see if they might also be helpful in combating morning sickness. I wore these bands 24/7 for most of my first trimester, and while I can’t tell you how I felt without them on, I can tell you that I felt fairly well during the early weeks of pregnancy. They are only about $10 for a pair (unless you purchase them at the over-priced marine store where we bought ours - in which case they are much more), so they are definitely worth trying. They certainly won't make you feel any worse.

Ginger

Like all good sailors, Eric and I know ginger is great for combating seasickness, so we keep our boat stocked with the stuff – ginger ale, ginger tea, gingersnaps, and ginger candy:

Although I absolutely hate ginger in any of the aforementioned forms (with the exception of gingersnaps), I consume it without hesitation whenever I’m feeling ill. During the early weeks of pregnancy, I relied on this spicy root to ward off nausea. While I am now completely sick of ginger, I highly recommend having some at your disposal during the first trimester.

Prenatal Vitamins

One of my sisters suggested I take Rainbow Light® Prenatal One™ vitamins during my pregnancy:

She raved about how they kept her vomit-free while she was pregnant, and her enthusiastic endorsement of the brand convinced me to try them. Again, I took them every day, so I have no idea what I would have felt like had I not, but I will tell you this...I took my prenatal vitamin right before bed, and although I was never terribly sick during my first trimester, as I got further away (in time) from when I took the vitamin, I felt progressively ickier. While this isn't conclusive evidence of anything, to me, it indicates that the vitamin may have been helping keep morning sickness at bay.

Nibblers

In addition to the bands, ginger, and vitamins, I also made sure I kept something bland in my stomach throughout the day:

Every pregnancy blog suggests this technique, so I was confident it would yield positive results. Before I got out of bed in the morning, my husband would bring me dry cereal to nibble on (he's good to me), and I’d snack on saltines throughout the day. During the course of my first trimester, I always felt best when I had something in my stomach.

While I have no idea if any of the these techniques actually helped, I will say that, with the exception of the days when the motion of the boat was really bad (winter winds will do that), even while on a sailboat, I felt fairly well during my first trimester.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Making Boarding a Little Less Adventurous, Part I

The most precarious part of our day-to-day life aboard Sea Gem is, without a doubt, moving to and from Sea Gem and the dock. Once aboard, we could hardly be more secure. We have high life lines all around the boat, a secure cockpit, and the companionway ladder has only five shallow steps that could hardly be easier to navigate. And, of course, land is generally pretty safe for moving about. It is going between the two that is the problem.

At low tide, Sea Gem's deck is at the same level as the dock. Our boarding procedure in that situation is to step off the dock and onto the edge of the deck, and then climb over the life lines.

High tide is much trickier. At high tide, Sea Gem's deck can be as much as three feet higher than the dock. In that case, some serious climbing is involved. Our solution was to buy a $10 plastic step stool at Home Depot to put on the dock. The step stool is about 16" high, so it took much of the height out of the climb at high tide. Still not as easy as walking through a front door, but it worked for us. For awhile.

Right around the time that we discovered that we had a stowaway, I fell in the water while getting off the boat. Our little plastic stool, being made of lightweight plastic, moves around a bit. It happened to be partially off the edge of the dock, I stepped onto it, and it tipped over and into the water, taking me with it. I was lucky - I didn't hit anything on the way in, the tide wasn't moving very quickly, and there was no jellyfish invasion at the time. Still, there was nowhere for me to pull myself onto near where I fell in, so I had to swim to the back of the boat to pull myself onto the swim platform. Overall, not the easiest process and one that I would like to avoid in the future. And, now that we have a stowaway to think of and Krissy is likely to become less agile in the coming months, we realized that we need to improve our boarding situation.

So far, we have made two changes, and they have made boarding much, much easier. Change number one was to add a gate in the lifelines where we board. That way, instead of stepping onto the very edge of the deck and climbing over the lifelines onto the boat, we can simple step right onto the deck. Much easier, and no more balancing on a ledge.

Here is what the edge of the deck looked like before, complete with lifelines:


And here is what the deck looks like now, with the lifelines detached and coiled away:


I crimped latches onto the lifeline wires, so when we go for a sail, they are easy to reattach so that our deck is every bit as secure as it was before.

Change number two? Next post.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

We discovered a stowaway!

Now that we have a handle on the situation, we are comfortable telling our readers about the most shocking thing that has happened aboard Sea Gem to date. A few months ago, Eric and I were beside ourselves when we found out that a stowaway had been living aboard our boat! Yes, you read that correctly - another human had been living on our boat, without our knowledge! Even our trusty scent hound, Moishe, failed to alert us to the presence of this freeloader.

In the weeks leading up to our discovery, I had noticed a few oddities I couldn’t quite explain, but in no way did I consider that another human was the culprit! Eric was actually the first to suspect something was seriously awry, and concluded that a “guest” might be the only plausible explanation.

Although I remained unconvinced, we decided to test Eric’s theory. Much to my dismay, Eric's suspicion was correct – I was pregnant! Come July, Sea Gem will have a new crew member. Although we know our new recruit won't be helping us scrub the decks anytime soon, we are still extremely excited to have him/her aboard.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How it all worked out...

If you've been following our blog since before we moved aboard Sea Gem, you probably remember that the majority of our land-based posts were about preparing to transition our lives from land to sea. A lot of this preparation involved condensing our belongings and finding space-saving alternatives to everyday necessities. We thought a bit of follow-up was in order, so you know how everything worked out…

Mugs and Glasses

The stackable mugs and glasses that we purchased to replace our old collection fit perfectly inside of Sea Gem's galley cupboards. Here are our mugs and juice glasses:


Now that we live in a warm climate, we aren't drinking as many hot beverages as we used to, so our mugs haven't been seeing a lot of coffee/tea action. Thankfully, our mugs are the perfect size to hold two scoops of frozen yogurt, which we enjoy nightly, so they certainly get used.

The tall drinking glasses we purchased didn't work out as we anticipated. They ended up being too tall for our cupboards, and therefore couldn't be stacked. Considering we went through great lengths to find stackable glasses, it was a little frustrating to know their defining feature wasn't needed. The whole thing proved to be irrelevant though because our salon came equipped with custom glass storage:


Initially, I had conflicting feelings about storing our drinking glasses in what is essentially our living room; however, the shelf on which they sit is located above our ice maker, which makes their location very efficient.

Dishes

With the exception of our large plates, all of our new, boat-friendly dishes fit rather well in our galley cupboards:

We needed to store the large dinner plates in a different cupboard (above our sink) because they were just a bit too big for the cupboards housing the rest of our dishes. At first, I was a little disappointed that we couldn't keep the dish collection together; however, the outcome has actually been rather positive. Because the large dinner plates are out of sight, we tend to eat our meals off of the small salad plates, which helps with portion control.
Pots & Pans
The stackable pots & pans Eric and I bought prior to moving aboard Sea Gem have turned out to be a great purchase. Despite having a (relatively) large galley, there is no way our former collection of pots & pans would have fit on-board. Since our entire collection of new pots fits inside of one another, they take up very little room. Here they are (all inside of the pressure cooker):
Clothes
Prior to moving aboard Sea Gem, Eric and I purchased special hangers that allowed us to store our clothes in a much smaller space without having to reduce the size of our wardrobe. Here they are keeping our clothes organized in our (very) small closet:
Although we couldn't anticipate all of our boat needs while still living on land, we are really happy with how well the condensed kitchen items and clothing storage accessories we purchased pre-move have worked out.