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. 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 😉 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. 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 😉

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.