Jan 212015

Well, looks like it’s time for another change.  Like it or not, it would appear that my days here at this marina are about to come to an end.  For one, the rent is now out of reach.  $720 vs $612.50 is beyond what I can afford, not that the latter was any easier, but that extra $100 that I need to shit out is still stuck in my lower intestine and showing no signs of magically appearing in the toilet that I call my bank account.

I thought I was going to be ok.  I’ve been making almost enough to keep things going but the increase in rent, coupled by the poor internet, which has cost me dearly, has made it impossible to maintain my lavish lifestyle here at this luxurious marina.  This week was the last straw when the internet went out all day, costing me a lot money, and causing way too much stress.  But there is another factor that has reared it’s ugly little head.

Twice this week I heard rumors that beginning in February the marina is going to inspect all the boats to make sure they are all running.  Mine, which no longer has an infernal combustion engine, runs fine, as long as the wind is blowing and the sails are up.  I doubt that will pass muster with the HOA.  One thing I remember from the last couple of marinas was that all boats had to be in running condition in case of an emergency such as a fire.  Rest assured that if there was a fire on the dock, I would rescue the cats, the computer, the phone and pour whatever fuel I could find on the boat.  But they don’t see it that way. And again this is rumor but I have no doubt they want to get rid of the less desirable boats around here.  I would guess that if I did stay another month, I would get evicted.

That leaves me with making an important decision about what to do.  And basically, I have two choices now, neither of which appeal a whole lot to me.

1.  Move to a mooring.  I have a private mooring a friend will let me use over near the main harbor.  For $100 a month I can tie off and sit nice and cozy off Fleming Key.  But there are many downsides to this.

  • I will need a tow over there.  Not a big deal as I can get the mooring owner to haul me over there for a few dollars.
  • I will need a dinghy.  Again, said friend can let me use a kayak and all I will need to do is obtain a dinghy dock for about $60 a month.
  • I will need an anchor light.  Some solar powered lawn lights from HD will do the trick.
  • I will have no power nor water.  Water can be brought in from the docks, just keep a jug handy.  Power is another thing.  I only need it to charge the computer and iPhone.  I can get by without the need for anything else for now. I will not have a fridge, icebox instead, and no ac when summer comes, assuming I am still there and not a bone strewn carcass on the bottom of the black, cold, pitiless, sea.
  • I will be subject to many visits from the many law enforcement agencies including the Coast Guard.  They are always checking up on everyone for safety violations and such.  To the best of my knowledge, the boat is all legal so I’m not too concerned about that.
  • I will be subject to the weather.  North and northwest winds will bang everyone around out there pretty good.
  • There is always the chance that when I leave the boat to come into shore, it will not be there when I get back.  Broken mooring line, theft, etc.

But living on the hook is not all bad.

  • $100 vs $720 a month.  Plus dinghy dock.  A substantial savings right there.
  • Free pumpout.  The country handles the pumpouts for now and they are still free.
  • Nice location.  Right at the harbor and downtown.  There are stores, laundry, restaurants, a West Marine, hardware store, and other goodies real close.  I will have very little need for the bus anymore.

And if I do go out there it will involve some major life changes.  For one, I will have to be constantly aware of being tied up to a mooring and making sure said mooring remains tied up to the boat.  Keeping things shipshape on the boat will have some priority.

I will assume that internet will be no better out there than where I am now although phone service should be better.  And who knows, I may be able to grab a signal from land somewhere.  But, there is another issue. The computer battery is dead and the computer will only run on shore power.  Unless I drop $130 on a new battery, and then find some solar panels, boat battery, which I need anyways, and inverter, I will not have any computer.  The phone should work fine and all I will need is a small solar panel to keep it running.  I can come into shore and seek out any place that has free wifi, like Starbucks and use them as much as possible, but it may be more better to make a change for now.  I’m thinking of just selling the computer outright since it is almost 4 years old, I have all my code backed up on a hard drive, and go to an iPad for now.  An iPad will allow me to continue to make a few dollars online, blog here, maintain websites, and such, I just won’t be able to code.  Not that I’ve been doing much anyways.  Hopefully, given the savings on the rent, I can get a new computer later in the spring and get back into it again.

Food will be another issue.  Instead of a fridge it will be an ice box and that toaster oven I got from the free table will be worthless.  So either I starting eating out more or find a grill to put on board.  I can deal with all that for now.

And when it’s all said and done, the idea of actually living on the water, unattached to land is a little bit intimidating.  I have no doubts that once I get out there and set up, all will be fine.  If I sit and think too much, I imagine all sorts of bad things happening.  I’ve thought about it many a time before, but now the feces are about to become genuine.

On the other hand, this could be just what I need.  Despite all my endeavors to live minimalistic, as long as I’m tied to land I have that old mind set that I need a permanent type place to live.  Out there on the hook may give me the kick in the ass that I need to make some changes.  I doubt I would stay at the mooring very long, a few months or so, depending on how well I like or dislike it.  The city mooring field is right around the corner at just $325 a month and includes dinghy dock, showers, and is rarely full.  But they require a motor, which will be a priority anyways.

This may also give me the incentive to just get the boat ready and do some cruising.  Head up the Keys, maybe up the west coast of Florida, up the ICW, things like that.  But, I need to get out there first.  And get tied up and settled in.  Then there is the other option.

B.  Sell the damn boat and be done with it.  Ever since I’ve moved to the Keys I’ve lived mostly on a boat.  As you well know, from the postings of the last couple years, it has not been fun.  I’m kinda tired of dealing with it all.  Living on a boat sounds real cool on electrons.  In reality, it’s no more better than owning a house.  Constant upkeep, bleeding money at the boat supply house, lots of stress.  It wears on you and when things are tough, and you hear more rumors about marinas wanting to kick you out, midnight boardings by law enforcement, weather issues, and all, you start thinking about if it’s worth it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love boats, especially sailboats.  But that new boat smell is long gone.  And I’m wondering if making the move to the hook is worth all the effort.  If I do sell however, there are a few issues that come with this decision.

I have no place to go.  When I last had the boat for sale, I had arranged to move onto a sport fisherman next door that the owner up north wanted to rent just for dock rent.  It would have been higher rent but a bigger boat, and it came with high speed internet.  But, the boat sold before I sold mine so I stayed put. (Interesting side note:  the family who bought said boat are making payments on it and don’t own it yet.  Yesterday I found out they are getting kicked out because they have 2 large dogs who bark at everyone and I suspect a near biting incident may have occurred.  Should they abandon ship that sport fisherman may well be available again.  I’ll keep an eye on what’s happening.)  Now if I sell, I’m walking off with what I carry on my back, no place to live and a limited supply of money to find something.  A recent ad I saw in CL did give me an idea however.  A resort up the islands was looking to barter rooms in exchange for anything of value.  I’m thinking trade out an app for a room for a month.  Do that 12 times a year and I may have something there.  But, there are two other issues I must deal with if I sell.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYeah, these two.  KC and Charley have been with me for over 10 years now.  They are family.  If I sold the boat I would be very unlikely be equipped to take them with me wherever I went.  Even though they hate each other and constantly fight, we are still a family.  Finding a home to adopt them?  Not very likely.  Drop them off at the SPCA.  Something I don’t want to think about.  This is a big issue for anyone who wants to minimalize and travel.  We love our pets but they can be a burden.  Especially in times like this.  I talk to them all the time because that is what crazy people do when they live alone with their cats.  But no matter, I promised them I would take care of them and I intend to keep that promise.  How?  Sometimes I have no idea but I owe them to keep them safe, happy, and fed.  So for now, selling the boat is an unlikely option.

There are other possibilities.  I could try to find a small rv or converted van to trade the boat for.  I would not mind one bit going back to rv living.  Always enjoyed it even though rv spots in the Keys are as hard to find as live aboard slips.

The marina rumors may prove to be just that.  But still, there is that high rent.  I’m tired of half my bills going out just to keep a roof over my head.  It’s time for a change.

The next two weeks are going to quite interesting.  I have enough time to get the boat ready, sell off a few things like the fridge and computer, get my mind set to go out on the hook.  I’ll try to update as this progresses and let you know what wonderful adventures come my way.  Should be most interesting.

Capt. Fritter


  4 Responses to “Living Aboard: Decision Time…”

  1. Could you and the cats tolerate the heat, if you moved to a mooring without electricity for cooling? It sure would be a great way to save cash!

  2. The mooring sounds good – could also give you the chance to purchase a new Mac with all the money you would save there. I can’t imagine that you would find a place to rent that would be as cheap as that. I also agree that it would force you into a minimalist lifestyle that you have been avoiding. Sure, it won’t be easy, but was anything worth doing easy? Just imagine all of the possibilities you mention that could come from this – with the money you would be saving on rent, you could eventually buy a good motor, solar panel, etc. Imagine being able to untie the lines and get out there and experience an adventure, no matter how small or large.

    One thing I learned when making plans last year is to have a little faith in good hearts. Lucky is 13 years old. I just knew it would be impossible to find her a home. This caused unspeakable amounts of stress for me. Thankfully, someone I didn’t even know yet had heard that I was looking for a home for my dog. She posted on some local area groups on facebook and that’s how I met the wonderful family that is taking care of Lucky for me. They are so kind hearted – huge animal lovers – they already had 4 dogs but when they saw the photo of my Lucky dog they wanted to help. Lucky actually has a better home now than she ever had with me – she has other dogs and a cat that she surprisingly loves. When I saw her over the holidays, she seemed so much more relaxed than she ever did before.

    So, you see….there is hope. There are people who love animals and I bet that if they learn of your situation their hearts will break for your cats and they will take them in. You just have to try and have a little faith that there are still good people out there.

    Sorry for the long comment…your post just spoke to my heart and reminded me of how impossible it felt that I would ever find a place for lucky.

    • If I do this my expenses will be cut in half. No small matter. But I’ll tell ya, about the only reason I’ve been holding onto the boat is so the cats have a home. Were I cat free, the boat would be gone and I would be doing some serious travel on land.
      C. F.