Next Summer’s Wish List

We’ve decided that we would like to cruise all summer, next year. This would involve much more anchoring-out, not always at marinas. While we would still rent transient slips, we would need to rely less on shore hook-ups than we do now. So here are some updates we’ve considered!

Solar panels can be had for around $200 apiece. We would like to get two, which would help keep our batteries charged. It would be wonderful if we could run the fridge when we’re anchored out, and not to have to worry about finding ice.

Wind generators are a bit pricier, but if we win the lottery…Who knows, maybe we will actually find wind next summer.

This is a holding tank. We need a larger one. We’ve already had to pump out once on this trip, and we’ve mainly been at marinas, which have facilities. I’d say this item is not a “wish list” item, but a “gonna happen” kind of thing.

It’s not quite as important, but a larger water tank would be nice. Ours is fine for our purposes now, and there are places to fill up on water anywhere we would go.

This is a propane stove for $60 from Harbor Freight. It’s not ugly. My current stove is.

So, it’s fun to do some dreaming while we’re waiting for the repairs to finish. Hopefully soon we’ll be back to our adventures!

Project: Bring a Bit of Moonraker Home

I love living on Moonraker. Every day is a new adventure, in a new place. People are laid-back and eager to visit. We all sleep well, with the gentle rocking. I don’t have to clean the shower. But, most importantly, housework takes five minutes. I do it every morning, while the water is heating for the coffee. Then, the rest of the day is ours to enjoy.

When we came home, the housework was waiting. Our house has long been overrun with stuff. Ever since we met two minimalists, two years ago (they lived on a 29 foot Chris Craft), we have been interested in that sort of lifestyle. Less stuff means less stress. Less housework. More time for fun. The problem has been moving from dream to reality.

We got rid of stuff. We got rid of a lot of stuff. But there were still things that we “might use.” Things people gave us. Things we found at rummage sales. Parts taken from things we threw away. I only owned four outfits and three plates, but we had so many computer odds and ends that we didn’t know where to put them.

For awhile, I tried selling things on e-bay. This had limited success, and I ended up turning the extra bedroom into the “e-bay room.” Then, I began placing things in there, to see how we would do without them. It became “purgatory.” And nothing seemed to leave purgatory. Then, our trailer broke, so we placed large items in there. You could barely see the floor!

This time, after spending many joyful weeks on Moonraker, and being forced to leave too soon, we came home with a vengeance. I started out planning to get rid of 100 items each day, until we went back to the boat. We quickly surpassed that.

We’ve gone through each room. If an item hasn’t been used in the past year, it’s gone. If we didn’t have it on Moonraker, we question it. Three carloads to Goodwill later, we’ve made it through the house. For the first time in 5 years, every room is usable.

We plan to go through each room again. There is no set amount of items to keep, or get rid of. I’ve read about people trying to limit themselves to 100 possessions, and it does seem like a good goal. (However, with all the exceptions people make, I would be there already!). Voluntary simplicity is about keeping only what matters most, not about martyring yourself. So, I’ll keep Beanie’s vast inventory of therapy toys and puzzles. But I will get rid of anything we don’t use.

After we’ve gone through the rooms, I’ll start Fly Lady’s program. She has simple cleaning projects to do each day, and I’ll post my before and after pictures every Friday. It should be fun!

After that, I will be able to follow a schedule like Heather’s on the Wanting What You Have blog. I have tried to follow this type of schedule before, but my house was such a cluttered mess, that the cleaning was not rewarding in the least. If I declutter and get everything clean in the first place, following a schedule should be easy.

By the time I’m at that point, I should have plenty of time for other things. That is the goal!

Here are some pictures of my progress.

First, our computer room at the top of the stairs. Much less cluttered!

Our bedroom.

Beanie's playhouse, in the corner of Rob's camera workshop.  Eventually, we plan to move Beanie's bedroom up here.

Our living room.

The kitchen.

The bathroom didn't change much.

Beanie's bedroom had already been decluttered quite a bit.

The Bean's "therapy toys," for guided play are stored in her closet.

The extra bedroom was a big accomplishment. You could not walk through this room! Rob wanted to have one e-bay shelf, for things he's selling.

If the shoes don't fit in here, we don't keep them!

Now we're getting close to the basement, our biggest project. This is the landing at the top of the stairs.

Open space on the floor! We plan to move our living quarters to the basement in the winter, so we've got quite the task ahead of us.

Our entertainment center, with every vintage video game system you can imagine. This will be reworked, and the fridge will be removed.

Snack bar and laundry. The veggie oil filtering system will be removed. It's way too messy to keep indoors!

The area under the stairs was completely packed with full totes, with random stuff crammed between them. Now we plan to make it into a closet for Beanie's therapy toys.

Rob's workshop--actually usable now!

So, today I will go through each room and declutter even more. Then, I will begin Fly Lady, with daily updates on my progress. We’re going to Alpena on Wednesday, and we may or may not be coming back before summer is over (depending on Moonraker’s progress). After we come back, I’ll post my Fly Lady progress every Friday.

Moonraker: The Grand Tour

Since not much exciting is happening today, I will give you a tour of Moonraker’s cabin. We’ve put a lot of work into setting it up and organizing it, so that it is uncluttered (while still being able to hold enough of our belongings!). So, here you go:

Beanies play area has been moved to the V-berth, and the washing machine fits perfectly into the quarter berth.

Behind the washing machine, the litter box and cats dish are out of view.

Rob has fixed the water system, so no more water jug! The fridge is next to the sink, in the counter. We keep a propane stove in the cupboard, and it fits on the counter when we need it. Dry food is stored in cabinets with sliding doors along the back of the counter.

Our boat is unique, because the windows are at eye level when you sit at the table.

Across from the head is a dresser/nav station, where the fish lives. Our charts also fit there nicely.

This is the Beans bedroom, the v-berth. We put doors on it, so that she can have her own little space. I would show you inside, but it is her "nap" time.

Underneath the v-berth is Beanies "bathroom." We just sat her potty there to store it, but she got all excited and will have it nowhere else. Eventually, the ugly extension cord, which runs the length of the cabin, will be run through the back of the cupboards.

Espresso, our cat, likes to sleep under the dinette. We left our other cat with my parents.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour! It has really surprised me how comfortable a 29 foot living space can be.

An Important Upgrade

With our month-long trip coming up in 2 weeks, we have been working on our boat. Rob fixed the refrigerator, and we will soon be fixing the water system. Last week, Rob replaced the most important fixture:

Yes, marinas do have bathrooms, but now we will have facilities while underway and when we anchor out. Beanie, of course, has her little “chamber pot” (potty chair) that she likes to keep under the v-berth.

There is one important thing you need to know about our new head:

This is the warning sticker that we put on the wall. Please observe that if you put a ham, sausage, a banana, and a newspaper into the head, the boat will sink!

Home Sweet Home





Sorry that I haven’t posted in quite awhile. Life got in the way, with family issues, the birthday party, and then the last week of school–which is always crazy! But now I am back, and blogging from the kitchen table aboard Moonraker. I intend to get back to posting everyday now that we’re here and things have calmed down.

“Here” is Bay Harbor Marina, near the mouth of the Saginaw river in Bay City, Michigan. We’re just a few minutes from Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron. This year we’re on a floating dock in an area separate from the rest of the marina, on a quiet channel with lots of wildlife. We will be staying until Tuesday, when we will head home for a few days to tie up some loose ends and bring the rest of our stuff (including the cat) for the summer.

Today, I brought the camera on our morning walk, so here are some pictures from our “backyard.”

Getting Ready!


We made a little trip out to our summer home today. It was great to be back and see everybody! We bought a new battery for the boat, so we can be sure that it will start up for us next week. We started up the engine, and it ran fine and on all 4 cylinders. That is a major relief, because last summer (at a different marina) the boat was shrink wrapped without vents, after a rain storm (so it was full of water). The humidity caused the engine to hang up and only run on 2 cylinders. We thought we would have to buy a new engine, but Rob worked his magic and got it to run properly by the end of the summer.

We removed the shrink wrap, which led to our only glitch. We had LOTS of vents put in the shrink wrap, after we told the repair people about our experience at our previous marina. Still, the cabin was filled with condensation. We took the carpet home to clean, and I will have a great deal of mold to take care of after we get in our slip. And the outside of the boat looks shabby overall. We have some days of scrubbing ahead! Luckily, the engine was not damaged. Next winter, we’ll save $500 and not shrink wrap, since the boat is always in worse shape after we have it done.

Happy that the engine was running, we took a walk to our new “real estate”–slip A9. We will be on the floating docks, which are off in a separate area from the rest of the marina. There are mainly sailboats there, and it seems like a fun crowd.

So, we launch at 8:30 a.m. next Saturday, and we have to check in at 7:30. We plan on getting a cheap room nearby, rather than making the hour-long drive from our house Saturday morning. Then, if the weather is as nice as it’s supposed to be, we’ll spend the weekend on the boat!

Living Aboard

originally posted March 11, 2011

A lot of people have asked me about living aboard. We only lived on the boat during August last summer, and then we did stop at home periodically. Also, the cats stayed at home, so we weren’t as hard-core as we intend to be this summer!

Still, there were some things that we learned. Here are a few of the most interesting aspects of daily life aboard Moonraker:

–No bathroom to clean! That’s right. I despise cleaning the bathroom. But at the marina, they have family-style bathrooms that get cleaned multiple times a day. It’s like having your own housekeeper. Everytime I’ve had to clean the bathroom this winter, I’ve counted the days until I no longer have to do that. Of course, we’ll have a head on our boat this year, but it’s not nearly as involved as scrubbing a bathtub.

–Laundry is an issue. Last summer the Bean was in cloth diapers, so we spent a LOT of quarters. We’re hoping potty training will be a success and we can put an end to that (potty training is not so easy for SPD kids). Otherwise, we keep 3 outfits apiece on the boat, plus one cold-weather outfit. Laundry gets done every third day. We bought an RV washer/dryer, so hopefully that can cut down on laundromat trips.

–For cooking, there is a propane campstove and a grill. We bring our 2 cast iron pans, our tea kettle, and our french press. We have a refrigerator, but it currently does not work, so we use it as an ice box. Anything that doesn’t have to be refrigerated, isn’t.

–The V-berth in the front of the boat is the Bean’s “bedroom.” We plan on putting a door on it, so she can’t keep getting up. We sleep on the dinette bed. I wish Beanie would still sleep in bed with us, for convenience sake, but she’ll have none of that.

–The Bean gets a small suitcase full of toys. She plays on the quarter berth, which is an almost-twin sized bed in the back of the boat. Of course, Grandma and Grandpa are in the marina, so her toy collection grows…

Well, there are 22 days until we launch. And we had another blizzard two days ago…

View from the kitchen

View from the kitchen

We all look great eating, don't we?

We all look great eating, don’t we?


originally posted March 9, 2011

My husband, Rob, and I moved out of our beloved trailer on the water, because we were under the mistaken impression that we needed a larger space for raising a kid. We kept the trailer as a second home for a year, but then we realized that paying for a boat slip would be cheaper. So the search began.

Enter Craigslist. At the end of the summer of 2008 (which was NOT a fun summer, by the way, but I’ll talk about that at a later date…), we found a very old, 1960’s Islander 29 for sale in Lansing. Apparently, the owner was going to have it hauled to Florida, where he was retiring, but saw that it would be cheaper to just buy a boat in Florida.

So, off to Lansing we drove. I sat in the backseat, alternating between trying to force feed Jelly Bean Yo Baby and nursing her (you can do that in a rear-facing carseat, not that it’s safe to do…). We pulled into the driveway, which was filled with modern, unique, and vintage BMW’s, and Ms. Bean began that telltale cough. Soon enough, the backseat of our Saturn was filled with “used Yo Baby.” The owner’s wife promptly took the Bean and me inside, so that we could clean up the baby while she gave her lots of attention. When we came back outside, the men were already up in the boat.

The boat was called Moonraker, named for one of the not-so-great James Bond movies. It needed new paint, inside out and out. In the cabin, there was no carpet. The cushions were all right, if a little torn. It had once had gorgeous woodworking, but it needed refinishing. And the bathroom was a little scary.

But, it had sails, including a Spinnaker, that were in good condition. It had two closets for hanging our clothes, and a dresser. And the owner asked if it would be all right if he put in a new counter top before we bought it. We discussed it over dinner, of course, but there wasn’t much to discuss. $2000 later, we were boat owners!

Moving it was another thing. How do you get a boat from Lansing to any of the Great Lakes? After many misadventures, we had someone move it to Bay City, where it sat in the back lot at Pier 7 for the next two winters.

While it was sitting, my parents became interested in boating and found themselves a power boat. They had a wonderful slip at Bay Harbor and secured us a good deal on a slip, IF we could get our boat there. That was another adventure, but there we were, byAugust. After living aboard for a month, we decided that’s how we want to spend next summer.

The blue tape is not permanent--we had treated the wood that day!

The blue tape is not permanent–we had treated the wood that day!