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On Living Aboard

Our intentions were to head out for a week or so at anchor, far away from COVID and all the rhetoric surrounding it. However, a letter from our insurance company informing us that our coverage would be ending soon put the kibosh on that. I spent most of my time for the next several days perusing the Internet in search of a new company. The big problem is that most policies that provide protection for wooden boats require that the boat be out of the water for at least six months in a calendar year. Also, to be considered for a policy while living aboard, a hefty deductible is applied to any claim, along with a premium that made my eyes water. It was mostly the same for all of the companies that would indeed insure boats like Patty O’. I began thinking that we’d either have to forgo insurance (not an option) or give up living aboard Patty O’, something we are very reluctant to do. Like many things, when it got to be exasperating, I put it aside for a bit to let it tumble around in my head.

There are no set requirements surrounding the live aboard scenario. Many yards forbid it no questions asked. Some look the other way, as long as the liveaboardies do not draw attention to themselves. In our case, we’re the only ones in that category because one, we are not obvious in our abode and two; we do work for the yard on occasion. I hold an electricians license and once in a while do small jobs as needed. At night, we keep attuned to any strange occurrence that could be questionable.
There are those who live aboard their boats that have no intent of ever getting underway, in fact most of the time, it would take a major effort to do so. We have a rule that we can get Patty O’ under way in thirty minutes or less in summer, and no more than a hour in winter, and that includes removing the winter cover.
That night I discussed the situation with the Blonde, my wife, over dinner. She is an Architect, and works for an Architectural firm as a troubleshooter. She also has an undergraduate degree in structural engineering, which makes her highly qualified for her job. Back in the boom days, I was offered the so-called golden handshake. We made the decision soon after to embark on this live aboard lifestyle. I was an electrical engineer, specializing in software development, so there was plenty of freelance work, if I wanted to do that. Our original plan was to wander up and down the east coast following the nice weather. For reasons I won’t go into right now, that didn’t happen.
We bought Patty O’, a 42 foot Huckins sedan cruiser a year after I retired. She was in pristine condition when we bought her, and as such is not a restoration. We have, however, made substantial upgrades to her livability over the years.
Lasagna is good for the soul as well as for discussion, and we laid everything out on the table. Bottom line, we both are happy with how we live, and to end it would be our last choice. Next day, I resumed my insurance company search.
I finally found a company that would insure us without any changes to what we were doing, subject to a survey, and inspection of our situation, plus an in person interview. The cost was almost twice what we were now paying, and we would have to apply all over again at the end of a year. Not what I wanted to hear, but it would do. And then, Henri came into our lives.
Still a tropical storm when the news picked up on him, he was predicted to have significant winds and rain when he got to our part of the world. We do have a good contingency plan for when one of these whirley girl/guys descends upon us. We wait until its clear where the storm is going to go, and then either make preparations to ride it out here, or in several places we’ve chosen beforehand. While it looked like there would be significant rain this time, the predicted wind wouldn’t be much over category one, if that.
Mustard, our little 22-foot Century runabout, came out of the water and was stored on her trailer in my friend Ritchie McGill’s barn. That’s where she spends the winter, and is an easy move. Next, I retrieved the two 65 pound Danforth hurricane anchors from our storage unit. Using the inflatable dinghy, I set both anchors in the middle of the cove, with floating fenders marking their location. Both lines were slacked off, weighted and secured to a bridle run around Patty O’. At the proper time, we cast off and secured Patty O’ to the bridle, holding her secure in the middle of the cove. There was enough line to deal with any direction of wind, and any amount of water. The storm surge was predicted to arrive at the same time as high tide, which had the potential to cause significant flooding.
Henri turned out to be more of a news event than an actual threat to us, but we were prepared.
When all this was over, we made arrangements with our soon to be new insurance company for our out of water survey. Once that was complete, (at our expense) they would conduct the interview, insisting on both of us being present. The date for the survey was scheduled. I checked with Ray the yard forman and time on the Travelift was arranged. Clearly, there were a lot of hoops to jump through, but with little other options, we had no choice.
The time for the interview was set for the evening so that no work time would be lost. The questions were, as one would expect. Like how often we got underway and how far and for how long we were away from our slip. They also asked about our work. It sounded to me like an interview for a security clearance. I was prepared to refuse to answer if any of the questions became too personal, but that proved not to be necessary.
Dinner later on that evening was subdued. This time I tried my hand at making the soul soothing lasagna which, though not my best effort was non the less palatable. We both sat there engrossed in our thoughts.
“Well, it’s still a good life.” She said, breaking the silence. “I can’t think of anywhere else, or anyone else I’d rather live with.”
“I know.” I replied. “Hey, it’s only money.”
“You betcha!” she said.
We clinked glasses and toasted each other.
“You betcha!” I answered.