Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Let the Bubbly Flow

About two months ago, while brushing my teeth, I started coughing uncontrollably. It felt like I was inhaling chemicals or something other than air. Confused (and concerned), I looked down and noticed that the water pouring from the faucet (yes, I was wasting water as I brushed) was pure foam, like an endless stream of seltzer.

Admittedly, I was a bit freaked out. Clearly, whatever turned our water into foam was making me cough, and that couldn't possibly be good.

Naturally, I assumed that a chemical had leaked (or was intentionally introduced) into the city water supply and contaminated it (we are hooked up to the city water at the dock). So, to aid whomever would be assigned to investigate my (imminent) death, I bottled up some of tainted water as evidence. Then, I reported the incident to my husband and my parents so that there would be multiple second-hand accounts of my first-hand experience. I also told them where I hid the "evidence."

Next, I launched my own investigation of the situation. After about an hour of Googling various combinations of "anthrax," "Miami," "drinking water," "contaminated," and "toxic gas leak," I decided to walk off my neuroses. I headed to the over-priced convenience store located next to the marina to buy some over-price bottled water. In fact, I even treated myself to a bottle of super over-priced, imported, Italian drinking water. I figured I should live it up while I still had time.

On my my way back to the boat, I ran into one of our neighbors and told him of my troubles. He said, "That's strange... we're hooked up at the dock, too, and our water seems fine. You might want to check your hose. I change mine every 6 months because they get really gross on the inside after about that long--gives the water a hell of a kick."

While not as logical as the conclusion I had jumped to, I was willing to believe that perhaps a decaying hose was the culprit. I called my husband and updated him on both my water purchases and also my conversation with our neighbor. He said maybe I should check our hose, so I did...

...and it was disgusting. Even before I unscrewed it, I could tell the inside was going to be awful. From the outside, it looked as though the hose had been buried underground for months. Bravely, I loosened the nozzle, stuck my finger inside, and came into contact with the unmistakable texture of SLIME.

Despite how horrifying this discovery was, I was relieved. Slime is better than Anthrax, after all.

Obviously, the slime situation was easy to remedy. We detached our hose from the city water main, switched over to our water tank (which contained clean water), and I drank a glass of bourbon to kill of any bacteria I may have ingested. Then, we got a new hose.

Given how traumatic this experience was, it will not surprise you to know that when I turned on our cold water the other day (while, again, brushing my teeth), I FREAKED when I saw foam pouring from the tap!

Just like before, our water appeared to be carbonated! However, unlike last time, I wasn't coughing and six months had not passed since we last changed our hose.

To be continued...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

High Tea on the High Sea

A long time ago, one of my sisters told me that the best gift she ever received (as an adult) was an electric kettle. Although she's not a coffee or tea drinker, she said she used the kettle all of the time--for what exactly remains unclear (I'm guessing ramen), but I took her word for it. And, when the opportunity to purchase my very own electric tea kettle arose (a sale at Bloomingdale's), I jumped at the chance to see what all the fuss was about.

Eric and I had our electric kettle for several years and used it on a daily basis for coffee (pre-Nespresso), tea, cocoa--basically anything requiring a small amount of boiling water. We used our kettle so much that even though it wasn't compact, we made sure it came with us when we moved aboard Sea Gem.

As Eric explained in an earlier post, for various reasons, we stopped making a pot of coffee each morning, and because I was pregnant, I also stopped drinking tea. Kettle usage dwindled. One day, I realized that the only time I actually touched the kettle was to move it out of my way. Upon realizing this, I decided to permanently move our can't-live-without appliance into the deep, dark depths of a storage cupboard.

Recently, however, I've incorporated tea back into my life, but since I'm not drinking it with any regularity, I've resisted the urge to dig the electric kettle out of its current location. To heat the water, I've been using our microwave. And, while it certainly gets the job done, there is something rather un-poetic about using a microwave as part of--what should be--a sophisticated ritual. The entire process leaves me feeling a bit sad. I don't want a cup of tea made with microwave-boiled water. I want a cup of tea made with tea kettle-boiled water.

So I got a tea kettle:

Little teapot, short and stout 
Of course, like most of our stuff, the kettle collapses:

Little teapot, short and flat
Best of all, since it's compact, it need not be confined to the stove top. We're keeping it in a drawer, stove-side:

 Off duty kettle
It's no electric kettle, but as far as space-savers go, this just might be my favorite. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Captain's Chair

We have been feeding Helina "solids" for a little over a month. She took to eating from a spoon almost immediately (meaning she opens her month when a food-filled spoon is presented to her). Now that her feedings involve more than just a milk-filled bottle, we figured it was time to get our growing babe a highchair.

Although I'm not a fan of most baby gear, I have to admit, there are some really attractive highchairs out there. Sadly, none of them are compatible with a sailboat. Yes, they make highchairs that fold up, but this only solves the issue of storage. It doesn't address the bigger problem--tipping over. In general, the movement of the boat is minimal, but every now and then, we find our home rocking and rolling, and a high chair (as in a really high chair) is probably the worst possible type of chair to be sitting in when this happens.

So, we got a clip-on chair that attaches to the table in our salon:

Inglesina Fast Table Chair
Helina is oblivious to the fact that she eats her meals suspended in mid-air:

"Out to Lunch"
Since Helina's chair is clamped securely onto the table (which is bolted to the floor), even if the boat were to move abruptly, the chair wouldn't topple over. 

The chair works well in the cockpit, too:

Jr. Captain's Chair
And since the chair folds flat, it can be stored almost anywhere. We keep it stashed behind one of our recliners:

Out of sight, out of mind
This is one awesome little chair. It is extremely well made, takes up almost no space, and is safe for a boat. Best of all, it is portable. We can bring it with us to restaurants, so Helina doesn't have to sit in a grubby communal chair that is coated in other children's filth--she'll have her own, private chair coated in Helina-specific filth.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Let the Scooting Begin

Sea Gem came equipped with two full-sized folding bicycles.  They are great, but we unfortunately haven't been able to use them since Krissy was more than a few months pregnant.  Since Helina was born, we have been taking Helina for walks, which she enjoys very much.  But walking, of course, is much slower than a bike, and that is without the addition of a baby strapped to your torso or (worse) a stroller.  While we got our exercise and fresh air, we missed covering more ground.

Our solution?  Folding kick scooters.  Because one stands upright while using a scooter (scooting?), we can use the baby carrier and the scooter at the same time. 

Scooting with Helina 
While not as fast as a bike, the scooters are at least twice as fast as walking.  They are also much smaller than a bike, even our folding bikes, and fold much more quickly, so they can be easily stowed in the cockpit or the back of the car while they await their next mission.

Folded Go-Ped Know-Ped
As we tend to do, we put some thought into which scooters to buy.  We ended up going with the Go-Ped Know-Ped.  Go-Ped is best known for their motorized scooters, and the Know-Ped is the human-powered version.  Why the Know-Ped, as opposed to, say, the Xootr?

First, it has wide rubber wheels as opposed to skinny polyurethane ones.  The result is a smoother ride, especially over rough surfaces, and the wheels are much less likely to get stuck in cracks and the like.  (At expense of speed, but that is a fine compromise for us.)

Second, it is cheaper.

That's about it.  The Xootr seems equal or better in nearly every other category.  But, for us, the smooth ride wins the day, particularly because there are lots of rough sidewalks in our scooting area (including those brick sidewalks that roller bladers seem to avoid at all costs).  For us, the main comparative advantage of the Xootr is its greater ability to resist the elements - it comes with either a magnesium or aluminum deck, whereas the Know-Ped's deck is wood, which will fall apart at some point.  However, there is a huge supply of aftermarket parts for the Know-Ped, and so when the deck fails, we can easily replace it with a new aluminum one.   Conversely, there doesn't seem to be an easy way to replace the Xootr's wheels with softer ones.  So, each has a flaw, but only one can be remedied.  Easy call, no?

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Although we didn't have any children when we decided to live on a sailboat, we knew we wanted to have at least one, so as we planned for life aboard, we tried to imagine how living aboard would be with a child.

There were obvious things we thought about--like keeping children from falling into the water, but I also had other fears. Although many adults seem to appreciate our life afloat, based on some of the questions we get ("Do you have a bathroom?" "Where do you shower?" "Do you have electricity?" "How do you cook?"), I have no doubt that some people think we are a couple of weirdos who eat their meals out of aluminum cans. I worried (and still worry) that other parents wouldn't let their children come over for play dates or birthday parties. I worry that when Helina gets older, her peers will make fun of her because she lives on a boat. The adult in me understands that being different from everyone else is actually a positive thing (hello, awesome subject matter for a college admissions essay), but I also remember being a kid and wanting desperately to fit in and be liked. So, I worry.  

The other weekend, however, my fears were eased. Two young visitors stayed with us aboard Sea Gem--my nephew and niece, who are 11 and 9 respectively. I don't think I've heard the declaration, "This is awesome!" more times in my life. 

So, I'm feeling a bit better. I have high hopes for Helina's peers (and their parents). If they are anything like my niece and nephew, they'll appreciate what living on a boat is all about--relaxing and enjoying life's simple pleasures:

Sunset from aboard Sea Gem
Awesome, it is.