Shakedown Cruise Reflections

Our July trip on Indigo Lady was a successful shakedown cruise as far as testing our solar-electric systems is concerned. I had hoped to use this trip as (a) a test of living aboard, and (b) a chance to put my boating classes to the test. But alas, it turns out I really needed a vacation, so that’s what it turned into for me.Β It was a fabulous vacation at that.

I didn’t drive the boat (well, maybe for about 15 minutes). I didn’t plot or monitor a single leg of our journey; in fact, we forgot our plotting tools at home- doh! I did do some anchoring and even managed to get the bridle on a couple of times myself. I also learned how to turn on the system power, read the solar input and AC and DC usage, and learned how to start and shut off the gensets. I feel pretty good about that.

Our on-board laundry days were somewhat reflective of our reality for living aboard, but we couldn’t wash the sheets aboard because we didn’t have a way to hang them to dry; we have since developed a plan for that. Of course, the washer tub is so small, a single set of sheets will take two loads, and we’ll probably have to wring them out since I doubt a queen-sized sheet will fit in the little spinner tub. No matter. In the Caribbean, by the time the second sheet is done washing, the first will probably already be dry πŸ˜‰ Dave and his brother installed the water maker this week, and once Dave wires it, laundry will be even easier because I won’t have to worry about using our precious, potable water.

I LOVE that we are electricity rich. We’ll be able to make water and use the washing machine! Of course we can run all the ‘house’ stuff- lights, outlets, pumps, etc. Having essentially unlimited electricity makes cooking easier. Our gas stove and grill work well, but propane needs refilling when it runs out. With this much electricity, we can use the bread machine, and bake/cook in the convection/microwave oven, which works much better than the gas oven that can’t keep a steady temperature (or get above 350F for that matter). We never did use the instant pot, but are quite certain it will be a useful device as well. We ate very well the entire month. Of course, I can’t eat like that every day when living aboard longterm, or I’ll gain a ton of weight! So we’ll keep eating fabulous meals, but I’ll have to cut back on the baking ;-).

Keeping fit is going to be interesting. I was able to do yoga on the walkway between the tramps in the bow, and it was quite peaceful. In the Caribbean we will snorkel and dive quite a bit. I’m not sure how I’m going to get in aerobic exercise with the heat and humidity of the Caribbean. I suppose whatever I end up doing will inevitably be followed by a swim to cool off! I thrive on routine, but struggle developing new ones, so it will be challenging to establish a new fitness routine.

It will be interesting to see what routines Dave and I develop (or fall into) once we’re living aboard in the Caribbean. It’s difficult to envision from up here in the chilly waters of the Gulf of Maine. Will we spend more of our time anchored off remote islands, or in harbors closer to humanity? How often will we go ashore? How much time will we spend doing things together vs. separately? What will meals be like? How much will we interact with other cruisers? With locals? Twelve hours seems like a lot of time to fill when my standard go-to activities will be unavailable to me. It will certainly be an adventure (or a series of them) figuring out all of this. I welcome your ideas and suggestions (use the comment link at left)!

Re-adjusting to being ashore

We four travelers, plus my sister and niece who came to pick up my parents, enjoyed dinner at Warren’s Lobster House. Then my sister took my folks home while Dave & I returned to Lady to spend Saturday night aboard at our mooring. It made packing up and getting stuff ashore easier on Sunday. We finally got home in time for a late lunch. After unpacking, I enjoyed a luxurious hot shower and didn’t need to worry about how long I ran the water- decadent! Then I took a nap.Β My sister’s family hosted a cookout Sunday night, which was awesome, because Dave & I were beat!

What struck me most as we walked into the house for the first time in a month was color and texture. The boat is so white, and our home has much more varied and comparatively darker colors, and there is a variety of textures in the wood, granite, vinyl, rugs, etc. Oh, and the space struck me- our small ranch feels huge compared to Lady. It is good to be home. The world even stopped rocking after about 36 hours ashore πŸ˜‰

Since Monday we’ve been catching up on yard work and house work, and I’ve been doing a ton of laundry. We use small tubs of calcium chloride in our cabinets and lockers to keep the dampness at bay, but stuff still gets a tad damp and smells like boat. So even though some of our clothes were actually clean, they got washed and hung out on the line to dry. Now they smell fresh, at least until they go back on the boat. Tuesday we went back to Lady to retrieve the sheets and towels- 5 sets of sheets, 9 sets of towels, plus kitchen towels and reusable (but dirty) ‘boat rags’. All told, I’ve done about 9 or 10 loads of laundry over the past 3 days!

Tuesday we did more than just retrieve dirty linens from Lady. Dave had some systems and other stuff to work on, and I worked on making screens to keep out mosquitoes. I completed one for a porthole and one for a large hatch, which I can now use as templates for the remaining 17 portholes and 5 large hatches. I’d also completed one for the only mid-sized hatch on board, and will have another two small hatches to fit after that, plus a screen for the slider that will allow us to move easily between cockpit and salon. I’d better get cracking on those!

I’ve been so busy getting cleaned up and caught up, that I haven’t had much time to reflect on the trip, other than to jot a few quick ideas in a list. I will, however, be sharing my reflection here, likely next week. For the next few months I plan to post only 1-2 times/week. If you’ve been following this blog via Facebook, they changed the feature that allowed WordPress to automatically share my blog posts there. From now on I’ll have to manually share my posts on FB, which I’m likely to forget to do on occasion. If you’re interested, you can follow my blog at lisamarchi.com and get an email whenever I post. Just click on the big ‘ole Follow button and provide an email address.

Now I need to go make screens.

Jewell – Saco – Home

Thursday morning we filled our water tanks and dropped off our Garbage at Brewer’s Marina before leaving South Freeport in a little fog, and had a good trip over to Jewell Island, beating the predicted rain. There were 5 other boats there already, so we anchored at the back of the line, still sheltered in the little cove, with only a little wrap-around swell from the point to the west. To the east it was blue sky with a few clouds. To our west, coming from the mainland (off Portland), there was fog and rain heading toward us. It finally reached us in the afternoon, but then it cleared again, stuff dried out, and we were able to eat out in the cockpit. We watched the sun set and the full moon rise, and Dave pointed out Venus, Jupiter and Mars on the ecliptic with the moon.

Moon rising over Jewell

Friday morning was beautiful and I even got to do yoga on the bow walkway. We set out for Saco mid morning. There were some 6 foot ocean swells, but the weather stayed clear and we picked up a mooring at Saco mid afternoon. We did a little cleaning inside and out then enjoyed the warm weather (no overshirts needed!) and nice breeze up in the tramp. My friend Heidi was able to join us aboard for an early evening drink before heading out to a friend’s birthday dinner. The four of us took her ashore and headed to dinner ourselves at Huot’s. The rain even held off until after our return, and the thunderstorms stayed away from us.

Lady from the jetty at Saco

This morning was another beautiful morning (Saturday). With a long ride ahead of us to our home dock, and thunderstorms forecast for this afternoon, we dropped the mooring and set off by 8am, having breakfast while underway. Initially we had 4-5 foot swells, but those have since dropped to 2-3 feet, and we’ve had mostly sunny skies. At one point we briefly entered a low fog bank, so our driving visibility was limited, but the sun was shining overhead!

In about an hour we should make Pepperel Cove where Mom & I will go ashore to get the car and bring it around to the boat launch at Traip Academy to meet the boys. Then we’ll start the business of sorting stuff and going ashore.

Or maybe we’ll leave the sorting for tomorrow and go get dinner at Warren’s πŸ˜‰

This trip may be coming to and end, but I’m not done blogging. There will be more (shorter) excursions on Lady this season. I will also continue posting at least weekly while we’re ashore over the fall and winter months. There’s more to ‘life on Lady’ than actually being aboard her 😊.

Dirty Boat

When the weather is nice I want to share the amazing scenery and our fabulous experiences. However, I hope I’ve been reasonably representing some of the challenges of being aboard for 3+ weeks, which is easier to do when the weather is less than ideal.

My friend Courtney posted some ‘reality’ pictures on Facebook the other day- no makeup, clutter, crying child- the stuff we rarely see on FB. It inspired me to do the same here in pictures. Unfortunately, I cleaned just a couple of days ago, so Lady’s looked worse than what follows. It’s challenging to capture how dirty and cluttered this boat can get with four people aboard. Just keep in mind that (a) the exterior is bright white when she’s clean, (b) the interior salon/galley space is about 15′ x 8′, and (c) the cabins are 7.5′ x 8.5′.

Seguin Island and more

It’s another overcast and foggy day and we’re in transit, so I’ll write about something pleasant to keep me from being grumpy πŸ˜‰. This is a long entry. If it’s dreary where you are too, settle in someplace cozy with a hot beverage and enjoy 😊.

Sequin Island

We went to Seguin after Damariscove. The lighthouse and Island are under the stewardship of the Friends of Seguin Island Light (FOSIL). We were fortunate to pick up the last of the 6 moorings in the cove, because no anchoring is allowed due to the underwater cables that feed power to the now automated lighthouse. It was a beautiful, sunny day (and I was finally feeling better). We waited to go ashore a bit, hoping to get a better mooring further away from the rocks, which we eventually did. Early afternoon a little fog washed over the island sending about half the people ashore scurrying for their boats to head home (Seguin is only a couple of miles off Popham Beach). So we picked up one of their moorings, the fog blew away, and we had a lovely, sunny walk on the island, a look through the tiny museum in the old light keeper’s house, and a tour of the lighthouse itself, courtesy of the caretaker, Mary, who lives with her husband in the other half of the light keeper’s duplex, formerly the assistant light keeper’s quarters. They volunteer here from May-August.

This lighthouse has an original 1st order Fresnel lens (four people could fit inside!), still in use, weighing in the vicinity of 1.5-2 tons! It was almost lost in the 1980s when the Coast Guard was directed to chuck it into the ocean so it could be replaced with modern electronics. A local man who knew its history, managed to get that halted and FOSIL formed and took stewardship of it. A 1000 W halogen bulb was fitted inside and it continues to light the waters at night. The views from the lighthouse and from the entire island are stunning!

When we finally returned to Lady we were the only boat left in the cove! It was just us and the (noisy) gulls for the night.

The Basin

The fog rolled in for real that night leaving the boat wet in the AM, like after a rain. We headed for The Basin in Phippsburg, off the New Meadows River. With winds from the east, the first part of the ride was bumpy, until we rounded the point to head up river, then it smoothed out, but it did rain. The rain stopped before we got to The Basin, but it was too overcast and wet to go ashore for a walk (it’s all wooded and field trails). But we did enjoy a quiet, still night there. It was still overcast in the AM, but the boat was dry and it was sort of warm, so we could be out in the cockpit at least. We headed out shortly after breakfast for The Goslings in Middle Bay on the west side of Harpswell Neck.

The Goslings

It was a very foggy, bumpy ride with seas 6-8 feet! Poor Dave & Dad. When we finally rounded Harpswell Neck it calmed and the fog was less thick. We bought lobsters fresh off a lobster boat and arrived safely at the Goslings where we picked up a mooring. Then the sun came out! We had a lovely afternoon and went for a walk at low tide when the sandbar is exposed between east & west Gosling and you can walk between the two. When we returned to Lady, I donned my swimsuit and took a bath and did my hair in the ocean followed by a gloriously warm freshwater rinse in the stern. The boys scrubbed the growth off the hulls then did their bath & rinse. We got to sit in the cockpit for dinner. Delightful!

Tuesday was overcast, but dry and sort of warm. We enjoyed a pre-lunch walk around East Gosling, and after lunch went back at low tide to walk the sand bar again, watch the hermit crab activity, and skip stones. Dave taught me a better technique and I’m getting pretty good at it now! Dinner was inside this time, because the fog rolled in early evening. It soaked the boat overnight, too. We left just after breakfast for the short jaunt to South Freeport Harbor.

Then we arrived and I didn’t have time to finish this post. We arrived safely, went ashore for some shopping and lunch, then made use of the showers at at Brewer’s Marina (we’re on their mooring). Now I’m waiting contentedly to transfer our laundry to the dryer because Brewers also has laundry facilities-yay!

Dave offered to bring me back to the boat, but I’m not so secretly enjoying my time ashore in this clean, dry, not sticky guest facility. There’s my timer. Time to move the laundry πŸ˜‰.

Salt water wash, fresh water rinse

I mentioned in another post that we hold 160 gallons of water on board. We have purchased a water maker which Dave will install when we return. So until then we have what we have and fill up when we can. So we are frugal in a couple of ways (sometimes more than we need to be; I worry about running out). Our galley sink has a valve to run either salt water or fresh water. So we wash our dishes with salt water and dish soap, then give them a final rinse with fresh water. Sometimes we do that for our ‘showers’ if we know we can’t refill our fresh water for a while. Our heads (boat word for bathrooms) only have fresh water, so if the ocean water temp is 65F or more (that’s warm for Maine) we’ll don our swimsuits, jump in and soap up with an ocean-friendly soap, rinse it off, then use the fresh water rinse hose on our starboard stern. Fortunately we have water heaters, so the rinse is warm!

Which leads me to electricity…

One thing I like about living on a boat is the reduced footprint. We are solar electric, which greatly reduces our use of fossil fuels. We only have to run the diesel generators (which charge the batteries that run the electric motors) when we travel more than 20-30 miles at a pop, or if we want to go faster than 5 knots, or if we’re traveling into head seas (waves & wind in our face). When we’re stationary, the solar panels keep the batteries charged nicely. We can run a coffee maker, a bread maker, an instant pot, a microwave, charge our electronics, run power tools, etc.- just not all at once πŸ˜‰.

Ah, July in Maine

At least when it rains in the Caribbean, it’s still warm. Not so in Maine. The air temp might be 62F right now, with rain and an easterly wind (so coming across the even cooler ocean). Dave and Dad don’t seem to mind so much. Mom & I are holed up inside with all hatches & portholes closed save one small one that, for now, the rain isn’t coming through. It feels more like April or early May rather than July.

I know I’ve posted a bunch of idyllic pictures of the Maine coast and islands with the sun shining. And I know there has been a long hot and humid stretch for you all back on land. But we’ve been in long pants and chamois or fleece almost every day, especially when we’re underway, and certainly every evening. Our on-the-water temps have averaged high 60s-low 70s. When we go ashore on the mainland we can feel the heat, and we shed layers quickly. Even the interior of an island is a little warmer, but as soon as we’re back aboard we break out the warm clothes.