Whew! What a weekend. The “Great Seattle Boat Show” weekend is always a fun one for us – something we look forward to much as others likely look forward to Christmas morning. We love wandering the aisles of the show, looking for things on our “list,” walking aboard vessels on Lake Union and seeing friends who come out for the show. It’s the gathering of the tribe of boat nuts.
Last year we were shopping for nav system “stuff” with the help of Larry from Emerald Harbor. We weren’t planning to do the giant project for a few years, but alas, we did as evidenced by the gleaming Furuno screens now residing in the pilothouse. This year we are looking for new auto pilots (again with Larry’s help), an updated Waggoner Guide (our smallest purchase for sure), a new sea kayak that is meant for NW waters vs. our existing warm water sit-on-top-kayak, and we are considering trading out our dinghy. Hours of fun!
The weekend started with a fun gathering on Red Rover of friends Dale and Glenda (of N43 Serenity) down from Alaska for the show, and some local peeps with extensive Alaskan knowledge – Sam, Laura and Kevin of Slow Boat fame.
On Saturday morning, we hosted our first Nordhavn Dreamer open house. What fun! I think we might have to do that again. We decided to have a little dreamer open house after a lot of banter on the Nordhavn Dreamer Groups (a message board of sorts) about the Seattle Boat Show, people traveling to see Nordhavns (only one in the show) and a long story about wife “eye rolling” around this Nordhavn thing. Well that eye rolling commentary got me going. If you’ve read this blog you know that I have no intention of being “the Admiral” (I call myself the Deck Boss) and that I was actually the one who said, “hey let’s live on this boat.” Enough with husbands saying their wives are rolling their eyes already. So….we had an open house. With mimosas of course. It’s Boat Show time of year – celebrate! We had 11 guests all of whom were so delightful to chat with. Some of them even left exchanging contact information with one another. Completely consistent with the Nordhavn community that is a big part of owning this boat. We love our boat to distraction and talking about her with other Nordhavn enthusiasts? Nothing more fun than that!
Saturday afternoon was spent wandering the indoor show. We went to one Boat Show University class but found that perhaps we were more graduate student level boaters. More wandering. And a new kayak purchase – an Eddyline Skylark that will be perfect for exploring the bays and inlets that Red Rover brings us to. Surprisingly I opted for the blue hull (not red? Gasp) and will pick up my new boat and Werner “Puget Sound” patterned paddle at the end of the show. So excited!
On Saturday evening we went to the Nordhavn owner’s event at the Seattle Yacht Club Elliott Bay outstation, hosted by PAE. Now Kevin and I are extroverted introverts. We don’t traditionally do well in large parties and tend to run and hide. But our friends Tom and Linda (N57 Meridian) and Dale and Glenda (N43 Serenity) were going to be there as well as Scott and Brad from Emerald Harbor who we think are the bees knees. So we figured we’d be ok. We walked up to a building with almost 100 Nordhavn owners in it. Amazing.
The event was fun! In fact, Kevin was probably one of the last owners there. I dragged him out as Dan Streech (President of PAE, which is the parent company of Nordhavn) was plugging in a vacuum cleaner. (Hello, he is behind the vacuum? I love that – a president title and not above helping with clean up.) I have to say, we have wanted to meet Dan for many years, ever since we became Dreamers. We first watched the Nordhavn North Atlantic Rally (NAR) video back in 2008(ish) and learned about Dan and his partner in PAE, Jim Leishman. And we were hooked. Big time. I think we’ve watched that video over 50 times since then. Most recently last week sitting on Red Rover. Seriously. So meeting Dan was just fantastic. He is as honest, down-to-earth, interesting, kind and knowledgeable in person as he comes across in the video and his interactions on the Dreamers and owner’s sites. What a pleasure. He probably thought I was a little silly as I told him all of this but he did give me a hug, so apparently I wasn’t too nutty.
Anyways, we talked to other owners, the ever- incredible-Lugger Bob (who had previously spent a day on our boat, in our engine room), our friends at Emerald Harbor and some of their spouses for the evening. It went too quickly. What incredible, smart, interesting and down-to-earth people. It felt like talking with people we’d known our entire lives. It’s all about a shared passion – these amazing world-traveling trawlers. But I think it is also about a personality type that lives behind the boat owners – people who are curious, thoughtful, kind and not hung up on themselves. I mean these are people that own boats that are valued from over $500K to many millions of dollars. But that doesn’t matter. These are real people who are open and wonderful. It was amazing. We can’t wait to go to the PAE 40th anniversary party in Dana Point in April.
We always get a kick out of the reactions that we get when we tell people we live on a boat. A boat, really? You mean a houseboat. A floating home, like Sleepless in Seattle, right? Oh is this a cost-saving strategy since the price of homes in Seattle is so high? So just temporarily, right? I mean, you must be between homes?
Once they realize that yes indeed we do actually live on a boat, the questions continue… so do you go up and take showers in the buildings in the marina parking lot? How can your dog live on a boat? Aren’t you cold? How will you make it through the winter? Don’t you feel like you live in a storage yard? Can you actually cook on that boat? How do you and your husband possibly manage to live in such a small space together? How many “bedrooms and bathrooms” does your boat have? But your house was so gorgeous… why would you ever do this (accompanied by a sigh).
This all comes from one group of people – those firmly rooted on dirt who work to buy a house, spend all of their time and dollars on said house and can’t imagine that we have this crazy plan to head out around the world. And that’s totally ok – we all like different things.
Another group of people immediately imagine blue tarps. dirty decks, many, many, many plants, a variety of items cluttering the dock next to the boat, old lady grocery carts and a smelly, sinking, leaking vessel. In other words: LIVEABOARDS. Yep.
The next set of people say things like: that is so cool, you must feel incredibly connected to nature. You’ve inspired me to figure out what my dream is and take steps toward it. You are the most interesting person in this room. How did your husband convince you to do this? (Note: Kevin tells people we live in a gated waterfront community.)
And then we talk to the full-time cruisers and we feel immense…jealousy. We aren’t yet able to leave and cruise on a full-time basis. We are…. WORKING. Argh!
In talking about all of the conversations we’ve had about the fact that we live on a boat, we thought we’d write up a little story about what it is actually like – to live on a boat and to cruise some of the time, and work a lot of the time. So here it goes.
We bought Red Rover a bit early in our plan, but the time seemed right to sell our house and to downsize our life, all with the ultimate goal of “untying the lines” in mind. We probably would have waited another 5 years, but all of the pieces in the puzzle just came together. It’s a compromise solution. We have the dream boat, we get to take some terrific cruises, both of significant distances as well as short weekend trips where we just take our house out for a ride. Sometimes we simply go to Bainbridge Island for lunch. At the same time we spend a lot of time commuting to work and gazing at our Nordhavn calendars in our offices thinking…if only we could just go NOW!
So what’s it like?
We live in a cluster of three liveaboard boats at the end of the dock and we love our neighbors. We probably got to know them a lot faster than if we pulled into a driveway and went inside each night. Darren and Lisa and their kids Kelton and Keeley live on their 65 foot boat, Anomalous about 24 inches away from us. We hang out in our respective cockpits and laugh, appreciate the sunsets, share a glass of bourbon across the fenders, and more. When there was a boat fire in the marina, it was Lisa who woke us up and we stood together wrapped in blankets and worriedly watched the fireboats, fire engines and police boats show up at 1 am. Darren shares his salmon that he catches in the evenings, and he even was one of our crew members to Alaska this past summer. Many of Red Rover’s electronics that were replaced this past spring now live on Anomalous – neighborly re-use. 🙂 Brad, Sheena and their small son Remy live on the 54 foot steel ketch, Impossible, just across the dock from us. Zoe plays fetch on the dock with Remy, and we all enjoy the laughter of a small child in our neighborhood. In the summer months we love watching Brad hop on his paddle board for a watery commute to work. All of us leave during the day to go to our professional careers and come home to our dock neighborhood at night.
Shilshole Bay Marina has the largest liveaboard community on the west coast. There are P-patches, a liveaboard organization, impromptu events for kid get-togethers, planned events for the whole community, a nearby dog park, a beach and a long walking trail that connects us to the retail core of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. A school bus picks up kiddos each morning.
We do feel closer to nature and to the weather. In fact, I don’t think I ever noticed which way the wind was coming from each day when we lived in our water view home. Here, we note that the wind/storms come from the north in the summer and the south in the winter. As such we dock the boat accordingly so as to enjoy the cockpit without wind. We spend an enormous amount of time outside, year round. Well not tonight as it is raining sideways. Ick.
RAIN: Speaking of rain, that is one of my only big issues with this boat. Nordhavns are designed in PAE’s offices in Dana Point, California. I think that they lose sight of the fact that many of us cruise/live on these boats in colder, wet climates. There are many Nordhavns in Seattle. Yet there is not a good solution for drying wet jackets, rain pants, etc. in this boat.
When we moved aboard we bought top-of-the-line Gortex jackets and rain pants, rain boats, winter fuzzy Crocs for nighttime dog walking, more down jackets than geese in the Northwest, a dog rain jacket and dog sweaters. Yes, dog clothing for a Labrador Retriever. The dog rain jacket reduces the amount of water that is shaken off of the black dog all over the teak interior of the boat.
THE DOG: Zoe gave up her dog door and huge fenced back yard. But she goes on lots of long walks with us (good for us and for her) and she loves swimming at our many weekend destinations. Zoe is fascinated by the seals in the marina that we call “Aqua Puppers.” She walks along the dock peering over the edge, looking for her seal friends. In the past several months, she has a new seal acquaintance, a small teenage spotted seal that sleeps on a dinghy raft at night. We see this cutie each morning as we walk up the dock to work. Zoe used to bark at the seal but now they just stare at each other, tilting their heads in curiosity.
COOKING: We have a Subzero fridge, a chest freezer, a full-sized GE profile oven, a 4-burner propane cooktop, a microwave, a trash compactor and a Bosch dishwasher (small, but it is there!) in our galley. We cook as we normally have, perhaps with a few less tools as we did downsize the kitchen gear from the house. A boat smells fantastic with the scents of cooking roasts, pies, soups and chowders. Mmm!
LAUNDRY: We often get asked if we do laundry at a laundromat. Nope. See the story on our blog about the replacement of the full-size washer and dryer.
SHOWERS: One of the things that we really wanted was a walk-in shower in the master bath. That was not to be. We have a gorgeous tub surrounded with marble complete with a shower. We have never taken a soaking bath in that tub – not sure that it will fill with the water heater size, but it might! I have to remind myself to step up and out with my blurry no-contacts vision in the morning, but it works. I do miss my heated bathroom floors but they come back when the boat is running! We have another full bathroom and a day head (powder room).
STORAGE: This boat is just loaded with storage. In fact, even after almost a year and a half of living on Red Rover, we keep discovering new drawers, storage areas and hidden pockets. The best thing though is the basement. Hidden under the “office” area in the bow is a full basement. The watermaker lives down here as does the hot water heater and the bow thruster. But other than that it has a glorious amount of space for tubs of extra stuff, luggage, wine and extra bottles of bar goodies. We have to figure out a better organization system for the basement but we are delighted it exists! Closets are another story. Our daughter Kirsten goes to college in Tennessee and is home during breaks. When she isn’t here we take over all of her stateroom’s hanging closets. And drawers, and basically all of the storage space in the forward stateroom. All of our clothes fit but we did a huge downsizing of our closets before we moved onto the boat. It’s likely time for another round.
ENTERTAINING: We went through a phase of large parties at our old house, which we designed and built to easily host a crowd. So now we have small crowds. Couples over for dinner, a day trip to the Harbor Pub on Bainbridge Island with friends, cocktails in the cockpit on a sunny summer afternoon. And we do sometimes still have big crowds. Kevin and I take all of our employees (from each of our companies) out for Seattle’s signature SeaFair event each summer to see the Blue Angels fly over Lake Washington. So that’s around 30-35 people. Everyone fits and it is a great time inclusive of swimming, floating, and general sunshine happiness.
GOING TO WORK: Some days I go to work in full rain gear as I am drenched by the time I reach my car in the parking lot. I then change into a more professional get-up at the office. Kind of like a bike commuter. Other days I walk down the dock in heels on my way to a meeting. People heading out boating look at me oddly.
DOES THE BOAT MOVE? Yes and no. The boat weighs 130,000 lbs. It takes a lot to make it move. Tonight we’re having a small windstorm with 35 knot winds and we’re moving a bit. But not a ton. We like to sit in the pilothouse and watch the wind speeds. Geeky, yep. Most of the time the boat is very still. You would think you were in a building most days as it sits quietly in its slip. Most people ask us if it rocks us to sleep. Sadly no!
ARE WE COLD? Ha! This boat has a serious heating system. I could walk around in a bathing suit inside and still be hot sometimes. And it heats up super fast. It is not drafty – it is air and water tight – a serious little ship. No whistling air, no cold drafts, nada. In the summer when everyone was so hot in Seattle we had overnight guests who came to enjoy the cool water breezes and the frigid A/C inside.
THE HOLDING TANK: We hate pumping out. It’s gross. We have a pump-out service that comes every Thursday. The cost of this? It’s just under $100/month. Money well spent.
WASHING THE BOAT: So we’re spoiled. We have a gentleman that washes the boat each month and does a major wax once a year and a small wax touch-up half way through the year. He does a great job and it is delightful to come home to a clean boat. Speaking of a clean boat, we asked our house cleaners if they wanted to come clean the boat every now and then (about 2 times a month). They figured it was worth a shot after a 15 year relationship with us, and now bring their stuff on down the dock and onto the boat. We would have missed them!
TV & INTERNET: We aren’t really TV watchers. Well, we watch football to be clear. More specifically the Seahawks. GO HAWKS! We don’t miss a game. When we first moved aboard we had a Comcast Cable account where we attached a cable to the shore power pedestal on the dock. We’d detach it when we left obviously. We then found that we just weren’t watching enough TV (we did have the SEC Network then so we could watch UT). Now we have a over-the-air HD antenna for TV to pick up local channels in HD. That does the trick. Otherwise we have a Pepwave branded hot spot that we use for WiFi with 2 sim card slots so we can change out service providers as we travel. We also have an Iridium Go satellite hotspot but that’s not necessary sitting at the dock.
WHAT DO WE DO IF WE DON’T WATCH TV?!? Funny question that we are asked all of the time. We enjoy evening cocktails in the cockpit when we get home. We make dinner together. We take our dog for long walks. We listen to music and talk to each other. We take our dinghy cruising with cocktails in hand and watch the sunset. We enjoy being on the water and being outside. We read books, and I enjoy my hammock. And we take our house out for a cruise – a day, an evening, a weekend or 6 weeks to Alaska.
All in all… It’s a dream. A dream that will only get better when we take this boat and head out for a many year adventure. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy our curious liveaboard status and our shorter but still amazing adventures on this absolutely incredible boat.