Archives for posts with tag: Living aboard

So far, the neighborhood has been busy preparing for this storm. We’re all determined to stay aboard during the storm, with the young’uns encouraged by the 7-20 year boat veterans. We had trouble out of our generator last night and couldn’t get it to start, but after a night of rest and liberal applications of starter fluid, this morning it cranked right up. I never knew the sound of a generator would be so pleasing to someone who is generally only this excited by shoes and clothes.

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We also winterized our water lines yesterday, with multiple trips to Home Depot, where we acquired two 30′ heat cables, eight tubes of insulation, and three rolls of Gorilla tape. This, we’re told, will keep the lines from freezing this winter. And yes, under all that black tape is a regular garden hose wrapped with a heating cable…pretty nifty!!

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So far, it’s very calm, the water more so than normal. If we didn’t have all the warnings on the TV and Internet, I suspect we’d still know something was amiss, simply by the stillness of the water and air.

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Let me make this clear, and you’re going to be glad I did after reading this post: we still love the boat. But if these toilet troubles lasted much longer, we would’ve wanted the boat to end up with the locker and ol’ Mr. Jones. Beginning roughly a month ago, we had the privilege of hosting our in-laws for the evening. The night went wonderfully, they loved it, we loved it, all were pleased. Then the morning came and along with our first step on the deck, so arose sewage out of the holding tank. Embarrassing, disgusting, and perplexed, we’d no sooner solved that issue (full tank and stripped closure) than the toilet stopped working. First we tried fixing it ourselves – that got us no further than laying all the books out on the bed and pulling the toilet apart. Then we tried some nice guys at the Washington Marina – that got us through one flush. Finally we just hired someone and they fixed it this weekend. We still haven’t received the bill, but at least we can now flush.

The last week has been fraught with changes, but finally the Chien Assis has arrived at her new home at the Gangplank Marina. The ducks which were previously inhabiting the dock made off for new territories, the bugs from the warm south have been successfully (we hope) exterminated, the sheets and blankets are in the wash as I write this, and the trash cans on the marina are overflowing from all the cleaning out.

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Well, it’s Friday. Isaac and I have to get off the boat and head back to DC. We raise the anchor and head for the Beaufort Marina. The currents give us a hard time docking, even though we are the only boat there. The Captain wants to top off on fuel too, but it opens at 0830. Isaac and I pack our belongings, but since there is nothing to be done before 0830, the Captain decides to cook a big breakfast for everyone. I try to eat a bit after I take a shower, but my head isn’t there. I’m thinking about the 8 our 9 hour drive ahead of us. In the Beaufort Marina store, I call rental car companies to get a car for our trip, but it seems there are none in this town. Same thing in Savannah. As I realize one of our options may be to get back on the boat, and try again in Charleston, I look out the window, and see the stern getting smaller as it pulls away. It’s a taxi to Charleston and a plane to DC for Isaac and I. It’s a short drive and flight, and we get back mid-afternoon. Now we have to wait until next week to see the boat again.
The Captain and I talk on the phone at about 9:30 pm. He’s north of Charleston and has dropped anchor for the night. He estimates Wednesday or Thursday as his likely arrival to DC. I wish him luck and hang up, anticipating seeing the Chien Assis again soon.

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Woke up on the floor in the main cabin/living room this morning. Grab a cup of coffee and head upstairs in the rain to drive. The wind is blowing so hard I can’t see because my eyes are tearing up. Back downstairs. We stop at the Isle of Hope Marina for gas. It takes quite some time to fill up both tanks because we’re almost empty. They each take about 70 gallons. There are some live-aboard slips here and the boats docked there look really nice. Each boat that is a live-aboard has a nice green plaque on the dock in front of it with the name of their boat. As I pay for the gas I’m told we have mechanical issues. Seems there is water in the oil of the right engine. That definitely does not sound good. The hopeless feeling of helplessness overcomes me. The captain says he’ll have to take the front part of the engine off. Might take an hour and a half. Isaac takes the opportunity to go for a walk. He’s always wanted to see Savannah. I jump at the opportunity and ask him to grab something for our spider eradication quest. The verdict on the engine is that a seal is shot and water is contaminating the oil. It is drained and looks like sludge. I’m worried now-more. I know the Captain can fix it, but I hadn’t really planned on being stuck in Georgia. We are very close to South Carolina, and we’d planned on making good progress today. It appears there might be some voodoo involved in boating. Yesterday, Isaac said we were lucky because we hadn’t seen any rain, and it fell out of the sky a few hours later. Earlier this morning, someone said we were lucky because we hadn’t had any mechanical issues. Maybe this boat has a sense of humor. there’s a couple of sponges on board and some soap so I decide to wash the boat while the repairs are being made. It is getting really hot and Isaac comes back with a watermelon and bugspray. Piggly Wiggly is pretty convenient. Tonight the spiders are getting it. The Marina tells me we have to pay to stay there during the repairs. So I pay and the dock is ours for 4 hours. The Captain sends us downtown Savannah to get oil filters and oil, so off we go on our quest. We take the courtesy vehicle which comes with the dock and head out. This town looks like the old south, and has a very particular charm. We drive by a retirement home called “Senior Living” located by an old cemetery. Creepy. I’m sure we aren’t the first ones to notice the coincidence. I hope we don’t get stuck here too long. This place gives a whole new meaning to “traveling down the road…” Ha! Finally, the repairs are done, and the Captain is cautiously optimistic. We’ve been here for a while-since about 9:30 am. We finally push off at 2:30 pm. Most of the day is wasted. We head up the river through more of the same; crab pots, pelicans, and bridges. As we pass through the rest of Savannah, I swear we spot the shrimp boat from Bubba Gump shrimp. Before you know it, we’re in South Carolina. Instantly my spirits are lifted. It is much nicer and there is civilization here. The vegetation is also different here. It literally looks like there should be a line drawn, separating Georgia from South Carolina. a few dolphins and dive-bombing birds later, we’re going through Hilton Head. It looks as beautiful from the water as from land. At one point I sit down and realize how much this boat has grown on me. I really like it. It is beginning to dawn on me how lucky we are to have this boat.
Apparently the engine will be fine. That’s good news because I was still worried.
Isaac and I both drift asleep and wake up in Beaufort, anchored amongst about 15 other boats. this looks like a nice city. Isaac and I both feel this is the nicest overnight spot so far.
It looks like we’ll both get off here in the morning and head back to DC. I’ll miss it while it travels up the Intracoastal without us. I hope the Chien Assis has fair winds and calm waters for the rest of it’s journey.

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So we are almost there!
We have a slip at Gangplank identified, we have a Captain to bring the Chien Assis up the Intracoastal, and we close the deal on Friday.
The recent survey identified a few minor deficiencies (such as fuel lines not to code, halon fire extinguishing system needing current inspection…..) which have been repaired. The good thing is the Captain who will bring it up, is also a qualified Marine mechanic, and he made all the repairs. He’s estimated 10 to 15 days to travel from Florida, to Gangplank Marina in Washington, D.C. Fortunately, he’s already accustomed to the boat since he delivered it to the previous owner, and has nothing but positive things to say about how well it handles.
It has become harder and harder to stop wondering about the boat, and imagining living aboard it. We’re impatient to watch the sun rise from the deck, and feel it roll with the waves from boats coming by…

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Above is the slip at Gangplank. Subtract the small boat in the picture; it was just there for a few hours…

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Above are a few more pictures of the Chien Assis

Our quest for a houseboat began with a barge in Maryland. It was a 1983 house barge for sale by a private owner. It appeared to be nice enough and appealed to our dream of living on a boat. There did seem to be a lot of repairs that needed to be made, none of which seemed impossible. Unfortunately, the survey (our first in three), would detail repairs totaling about 10K, most of which were fairly critical, some of which were imperative and dealt with safety. A lot of the wiring was flimsy and was identified as incorrectly installed, some of the wood was rotting/rotted, the holding tank was in poor shape, and no water tank was aboard. There were a fair amount of upgrades, though, such as appliances in the kitchen, and a new island (which neither of us really liked). However, the surveyor was unable to check these appliances due to the faulty wiring. Slowly but surely, our interest for the barge drifted away, only compounded by our feeling that the seller was a little creepy. We also never really found out whether the title for this barge was clear.

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