Saturday, April 2, 2011

An Ordinary Day

Posted: August 9, 4:53 pm | (permalink) | (0 comments)

I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk since coming back from the Bahamas - okay, I admit it, a tropical journey by sailboat is a bit of a tough act to follow - what am I going to write about? “Today I went to the mall and walked the dog” just doesn’t strike me as inspiring reading! But as my friend Chris pointed out, this is supposed to be a blog about day-to-day life on a sailboat in Annapolis. So, what does an ordinary day look like for me?

6:30: Rise and Shine! Summer mornings start early, even though we are no longer getting up to commute to work. The hatch over the v-berth where we sleep guarantees that on the boat we’re more in touch with the natural rhythms of sunlight than we were in a house. In good weather it’s open to the stars…and the sunrise; light begins to shine down on our faces by 5:30. We sip our coffee in the cockpit as we watch the light on the water, a splash and ripples that show where a fish *just* jumped moments ago, ducks and crows and the occasional heron. A few crabbers and early fishermen pass on their way down the creek and out to the bay.
Coffee and contemplation time.  What shall we do today?

8:00: Internet time: We use our cellphone as a modem - connect it to the laptop using a USB cable, and we can go online anywhere we are anchored or even underway while sailing. First up after checking for emails from friends and family: the weather. Gotta find out if today will have a good breeze for some recreational sailing!

9:30 Shore errands: Living aboard is a physical life; I can get an upper body workout hoisting and trimming the sails, and Dan challenges his flexibility almost daily to get his 6-foot-tall self into weirdly shaped tight spaces for jobs like working on the engine. At the same time, there are few opportunities for aerobic exercise other than swimming (which we don’t do here in Back Creek!); and I have chronic back problems. So my first shore errand is either physical therapy or a trip to the marina gym. My physical therapist, Kari McDonald, is amazing - her father was a liveaboard so she understood my special circumstances and found it a fun challenge to customize a workout program that I could do aboard the boat.

While we’re out and about in the car, we’ll also do any other errands: library, grocery store, laundry, any other necessary shopping. Whatever we purchase is wheeled down the dock in a cart and then handed aboard. No one I know, us included, can claim a perfect record of never ever having dropped anything into the water in the process!
Dan wheeling our groceries back to the boat


1:30 Boat chores: If you live on land, and don’t fix a leak right away, your furniture might get wet. On a boat, delayed maintenance of that leak might sink your home! There are also chores that don’t have equivalents on land, such as exercising the seacocks to make sure they operate smoothly and can be shut in a hurry to keep the ocean from coming in, or refilling the water tanks every 3 weeks or so. Then there’s pumping out the waste holding tank every week or so -- you can’t connect a boat directly to a sewer, and you can’t dump waste directly to the Bay (ugh!), so what’s left is to hold it onboard in a tank specially designed for the purpose until it can be properly disposed of. Annapolis makes this easy with a boat that comes to your slip or mooring - in other places we have to motor the boat over to a fuel dock and tie up to pump out.
Assistant Harbormaster Stan Mathey brings the pumpout boat alongside Tom Santoro's boat "Orient Express" moored on Back Creek

5:30 Social time: Evenings are social time. Whether it’s a potluck with other liveaboards in the marina lounge, or a neighbor dropping by for drinks in the cockpit, there’s always someone to hang out with if you want to. We automatically have at least one thing in common with all our neighbors -- a love of boats and the water.  The sense of community here at the marina is different than anything I ever remember (except maybe for my college dorm), and worthy of a whole separate post. Meanwhile, in the quiet at the end of the day, I can’t imagine wanting to live any other way than … afloat.
sunset afterglow on Back Creek, by Dave German

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