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How do you Keep Busy on a Boat?

The question comes up;

What are you going to DO on a boat for 4 months?

The easy smart alecky answer is:

As little as possible

But that’s not really the case.  Especially this year.  We bought the 1993 Gemini 3200 Catamaran in San Carlos, Mexico and have yet to spend a single night aboard.  The boat was a financial steal but there is a high price to be paid!  While we could never find a floating Gemini 3200 on the East Coast for the same price, this boat does have deferred maintenance that needs to be addressed before we sail the ocean blue.

This year we plan on spending our time solely in the Bahia San Carlos.  The bay is well protected, popular, has safe moorings, and is within walking distance of commerce.  With a newborn in tow and an energetic 2 year old on leash we will have our hands full dealing with our tiny family in our foreign home.

I plan on going through the boat and inspecting and repairing the major systems of the boat.  This includes;

  1. Fresh water plumbing system
  2. Black water holding tanks and toilet system
  3. electrical system and charging
  4. propane system and refrigeration
  5. rigging
  6. fiberglass repairs
  7. outboard maintenance including steering cable
  8. clean the sails and repair
  9. carpentry and cosmetic repairs

to name a few.

The BIG concern is keeping water out and the boat dry.  That goes without saying.  Because we have the bambino, refrigeration is high on the list.  The Gemini has a Dometic reefer that runs off of propane, AC, or DC.  Obviously the propane will be our main source of fuel on the boat.  One of the major drawbacks of this Gemini is the outboard doesn’t provide any significant power generation like our diesel on the CSY 33.  We’ll need to use other power sources and add ways to recharge the batteries in order to have a steady supply of power for lights, radios, computers, and tools when necessary.

The Gemini also has a propane on demand water heater that will in all likelihood need attention.  From my growing experience as a glorified maintenance man, anything with small parts left unattended for a season will need to be taken apart, cleaned, and re-assembled before there’s a chance it will operate again.  This holds true for carbs on outboards, gas grills, fishing reels, the list is endless.

I have woken the sleeping giant.  Since we are broke, I am PAINFULLY aware how much maintenance is required to keep things running.  If you can’t just run out and buy another- there’s a price to pay and it’s your time.  Now I can’t blissfully ignore the fact that if I don’t clean and repair our ‘stuff’ it’s going to break (and always at the worst time).  Even after a year of downsizing, I haven’t caught up to the maintenance list.  I don’t know if I ever will.

It does, however, make a really strong case for having less stuff.  Less stuff, less to maintain.

I have two projects that are particularly interesting that I hope to work on this year on the boat (and in Tucson).  On the CSY 33 we had a KISS wind generator and a 80watt solar panel that really helped recharge the 420 amp hour battery bank and minimize running the 27 hp diesel to recharge the batteries with the 60 amp alternator.  While I can’t reasonably afford running out and buying another KISS wind generator (I lucked out and found one used for $650, new they are over $1100) or stocking up on solar panels (easily $500 or more per panel) I did find a DIY website on building each from scrap.

http://www.mdpub.com/Wind_Turbine/index.html

Here’s the website for the wind generator and he also has a page for the solar panels.  Because we are seasonal, I think I can build a green energy system that will work fine despite the harsh elements on the water.  We will stay on the boat for 4-6 months and take the wind generator and solar panels with us and store them in the dry desert air of Tucson, Arizona during our migrant work season.

There’s a long list of work to be done on the boat to make it safe, comfortable,and practical but don’t get me wrong, we’ll be doing our fair share of playing on the beaches, reading, and exploring during our four months from January to April on the boat.

Simultaneously the hardest and yet most appealing reason to live on a sailboat, especially in a foreign country, is to get away from the white noise of society that pervades everything you do and everywhere you go.  Initially, you really don’t know what to do with yourself and this shows up as boredom.  But after you realize it’s not really boredom but the quietness from the nonsensical static that surrounds you at work and at home living on land that you can finally stop and smell the roses (or the sea air in this case).  Time slows down and every moment is to be savored like an excellent steak dinner or a delectable glass of wine.

After tasting this type of mental freedom it haunts you.  We’ve been off the boat for 6 months now (pregnant wife combined with lack of funds) and it seems like a distant memory but that vague blurry memory evokes such a strong feeling of longing that we work towards that goal despite the hurdles and heartaches.  We don’t really know what will happen in the ensuing months, but to get that feeling of freedom and connectedness with nature back for even a for a little while is worth all the hard work.

You don’t know what you don’t know

To some these words of wisdom might evoke fear of the unknown.  A fear to step outside the circle of your comfortable world.  We all have our circle of comfort no matter how vastly different the experiences are in our lives, there’s no debating that fact.  The danger is allowing your circle of comfort to be the boundary of experience.

Others may regard this advice as permission to explore.  If you don’t know what you don’t know, then it makes it all right to step out and try something completely different.  Who can judge?

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3 comments to How do you Keep Busy on a Boat?

  • Pilar Oconner

    You seem very knowledgable about this issue and it shows. Trust all your future posts turn out as well. Cheers!

  • Yes, finally somebody who shares identical thoughts and ideas on this topic as myself. Great stuff. Love your website.

  • big cheese

    Thanks Cassaundra,

    If we can live (happily) in a motorhome half the year off the grid and on a sailboat thr other half a year off the grid i think it can be done for the minority if not majority of Americans.

    Jc