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On Living Aboard

It’s been a quiet summer, so far, and we haven’t traveled very much. That’s mostly due to the price of fuel and COVID avoidance. The Blonde, my wife, has had her job as an architectural troubleshooter cut back to three days a week but it’s not affecting us financially.
Because we’ve been at our home slip so much this summer, I’ve taken on a few jobs in the yard, just to pass the time, nothing that requires much thought. There are those who assume we live like this for fiscal reasons, but that’s not the case. I was the recipient of the so-called golden handshake some years ago, and after a good deal of discussion, we decided to move aboard our boat, Patty O’, a 42-foot Huckins sedan cruiser. Over a period of years, we have completely modified her to suit our live aboard needs. As a result, we are quite comfortable.

For many, these COVID times mean forced idleness. My friend Ritchie McGill on the other hand has been very busy. COVID, which has resulted in a lot of lifestyle changes, has caused many people, because they remain home longer, to replace a lot of the furniture in their houses. Ritchie builds custom furniture and kitchen cabinets using exotic wood that he stores in his heated barn. He lets me keep Mustard, our 22-foot Century runabout in there in the off-season. For that, I help him, when necessary, mostly when he is installing his product. Lately, it’s been at least once a week, sometimes two. It mostly involves us carrying the cabinets up flights of stairs and then me holding them in place while Ritchie finishes the installation.
Patty O’ is tied to her slip, bow in, in order to maintain some semblance of privacy. There are those who come to the yard and sit on their boat to get away from it all without getting underway. If we do feel the need to take a boat ride, we do it aboard Mustard. Our longest trip so far this summer has been to Mystic, CT., where we tied up at Mystic Seaport, a delightful place to visit. We did that and took all precautions. Spending an afternoon there is fun. We did not enter any buildings and kept our masks on. I don’t know how many people remained outside, but I would say that maybe thirty percent stayed masked up.
We spend as much on fuel for that round trip taking Mustard, as we would Patty O’. I thought it would be a good trip, but seeing how people overlooked COVID precautions I’m not so sure now.
Although the Blonde has had her job cut back to three days, it has been in a ‘work from home’ situation. She has been negotiating with her boss to make that permanent. Having an undergraduate degree in structural engineering as well as a master’s in architecture, her main job is troubleshooting when teams get themselves into a bind. This sometimes involves travel in as much as the firm is spread country-wide.
A few years back she was offered a full partnership, but that would have had us moving to one of the mid-country offices as the manager, with a significant pay increase. This, of course, would have meant giving up our live aboard lifestyle. After some discussion between us, she turned the job down. We could easily afford to pass on the money. I have rigged Patty O’s salon to be completely oblivious to anyone doing business with the Blonde at her ‘office’. We also have a very good satellite Wi-Fi system. This makes working from home completely transparent.
Looking back in the log I saw that it had been some time since I had changed the oil in Patty O’s twin diesel engines, as well as her generator. Same for Mustard. The time period for oil changes on both boats is not determined by time, but by the condition of the oil. I send for test kits, draw oil from all four engines and gearboxes and send them back for testing. Within three days the results are sent back and we proceed accordingly.
A couple we’ve known since the ‘pre golden handshake’ days called and we made a date to share a meal. Greg left around the same time I did and while we live aboard our boat, he and his wife Sharon live full time in their RV. Spending winters in the south, they wander back north following the weather. Last year we hosted. This year was their turn.
They were going to spend the summer and maybe longer at an RV park about 12 miles from the yard. They were staying put for much the same reason we were the price of fuel and COVID. He asked if we minded if we would join them at their place at the park instead of a restaurant, something I was going to suggest. The further we can stay away from crowds and people who fail to mask up, the better.
Greg gave us directions and we didn’t even have to log in with the office, like so many parks. He met us and we shook hands and hugged his wife, Sharon. We both shared our COVID shot record, just because, and enjoyed a delicious meal of cheeseburgers. Simple but super fine.
“Hey bud, you never have gotten the grand tour of this one, have you?” He said, waving toward their RV. Come to think of it, we hadn’t. They bought their current rig early this year.
“No, we haven’t.”
“Well, let’s take care of that toot sweet!” he said.
Their RV is what’s called a class A Pusher, which means that the diesel engine is mounted in the rear.
It is well laid out. The kitchen is on the starboard side and the sink is located on an island. There was much more room inside than Patty O’ with three sections that slid out. It was interesting, especially the large solar panel array on the roof. But what really caught our eye was the combination washer/dryer in the large rear bedroom.
We had looked into one while getting Patty O’ ready to move into, but the bulk of the unit and the obvious difficulty of installation in a boat the size of
Patty O’ turned me off at the time. But this was different.
Companies have currently designed certain models, especially for RV’s.
Poor Greg and Sharon were inundated for the next hour with questions. Two things stood out: On front loaders, like theirs, there was some shaking, and it took a bit longer to complete a wash cycle, neither of which would be a problem for us.
Once back home, I looked up units especially made for boats but didn’t see any that were small enough for Patty O’.
We’re both excited at the possibility of being able to do laundry aboard. Needless to say, it’s a giant pain lugging clothes to a laundromat, having to clean out someone else’s mess, after waiting around for a machine to become free, then going through the same thing once they are finished washing, to hook up with a dryer. They are not cheap, but at this point, we said “Hang the expense.”
The following Wednesday I took delivery of a shiny new combination washer dryer and got permission to store it in the shed at the yard until it was installed.
The Blonde and I both agreed that the only practical spot for it would be in the forward stateroom, against the forward bulkhead. The problem was that the chain locker would be isolated behind the washer. While it wasn’t often that the chain locker needed to be accessed, there were times that it was and it needed to be done fairly quickly.
I spent a couple of days trying to figure out the problem before doing what I should have done in the first place. I called Ritchie. He agreed to stop over the day after tomorrow. Meanwhile, he had a set of kitchen cabinets that had to go up three stories tomorrow. Could I be there? How could I refuse?
A few minutes after hanging up from Ritchie my cell rang. It was the Blonde. She had gone in to confer with her boss one more time face to face to make working from home permanent. I answered. “Hello, babe”.
“YES,” she said. “They agreed! I’m permanent ‘work from home,’ but also permanently working three days a week.”
“That’s great!” I answered.
The only time it would change was when she had to travel to solve problems. “I’d take you out for dinner if we were doing that,” I said. “But I think those two porterhouses in the freezer will do just fine.”
“You betcha!” she said.