Liveaboard (Marina) Life

Here are a few glimpses of what life is like living aboard a small boat at a marina:

(When I moved this blog to WordPress.com, I also added the relevant posts from a few years’ of Facebook posts. They’re roughly in reverse chronological order.) And a few special episodes:
Moby Cricket
Sponge-Brain Poof-PantsSponge-Brain Poof-Pants
The Straits of Liquidity

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(Look closely: that’s Kala Nag in the center of the pic.)
Posted on the marina’s FB group:
SERIOUSLY, someone here at the marina is playing a prank on me. Yesterday morning I rowed my dink (so I’m going backwards) out to my sailboat on its mooring, and right after I thought, “Okay, I’m about 2/3 the way there,” KA-BAMM, I plowed into my own boat! I was rowing fast enough that the collision knocked me off the middle thwart and put my butt and back in the bottom of the boat, feet up in the air! After much thought and deliberation, the only reasonable explanation is that overnight someone plucked my 150 pound mushroom anchor from deep in the Super Suction mud and moved it 25 yards closer to shore. Jeez!
FB comments:
Mike – That is the only plausible explanation…
Julie – Hmmmmm…Perhaps too much napping is to blame?!? 😴😜
Mik – “Too much napping” ??? What mean these words?
Pope – Exactly how many beers before the “accident”?
Julie – See?? That’s what I thought, too!!😄
Meadow – Yup and it was meeeeee!!!!! LOL
Marlene – Are you sure you weren’t napping and dreamed this up? P.S. great pic!
Bill – Maybe it was one of those Whitemarsh pirates I’ve heard about.
Tania – Don’t know your own strength these days – ‘speedy’!

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This little fella showed up on a piling near the floating Mik-Mansion. Don’t worry; he’s no threat. Ya, I just started talking to him and bored him to death.

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Jan, 2018
Posted on FB:

I hereby declare 2018 “The Year of the Fox.”

Early this morning I was outside on my boat looking out over the frozen creek when I spied a fox trotting over the ice in my general direction. I remained motionless as he approached, but when he was about 20 feet away I intentionally sniffled to alert him to my presence. He stopped and stared at me for a few seconds, then, continuing to keep his eyes on me, veered off toward the nearby shoreline. He went up through the waterside weeds, across a lawn, and he was gone.

I took all of this as some kind of sign from the cosmos, an omen for the coming year. It’s kind of metaphorical, y’know, the symbol of cleverness comfortably crossing the cold, cold harshness of winter reality. So, ya, why not, it has to be “The Year of the Fox.”

Now, if only I didn’t have such a hard time applying my motto to my daily life . . . My motto? “Don’t Do Stoopid Shit.”

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Nov 2017
Posted on the marina’s FB group:
I am issuing this press release to address the veracity of stories that have been circulating around the marina recently. Apparently, people have been talking about my boat carpentry project and casting aspersions against my mad project estimation skills.

For the record, at the start of my window / portlight project I drew diagrams and measured this way and that way and formed a comprehensive, detailed plan. For the interior braces I needed wood 16″ by 5 1/2″, times six windows is blah, blah – so off to the store I went. I returned with enough wood to do all six windows . . . well, I mean, the left half of each window. As I was cutting the pieces and piling them up, I realized my wood supply was off not by a few inches but by 50%.

To the casual observer this would, admittedly, appear to be an oversight, or even an error, or even errant stupidity. No, it wasn’t. Allow me to educate the misinformed and misguided.

You see, when doing a project that includes cutting, sanding, fitting, priming, painting, and installing six essentially identical units, it is better to do three at a time. Yes, this way, you get to do it – bring out all your tools, set up, clean up, put away your tools, and wait overnight for the coats of sealant and paint to dry – TWICE, which about doubles the time required and effectively extends the fun of the project work by as much as 100%!

Interesting fact – and not everybody knows this – but all those stories about Henry Ford and the efficiency of the production line are all a bunch of bunk. Yes, FAKE NEWS. Believe me!

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I temporarily moved the MikMansion boat/barge to another slip, mainly so I could have access to work on the side windows, but hey, a new view is the bonus! This is my “back yard”! Whaddya think, is this a great back porch for slow morning coffee or what?
FB comments:
Barbara – so lucky………
Barbara – I’m so jealous right now.
Barbara – What a view 😊
Meadow – Rutrow [the dog] is still mad at you [for changing slips]….lol
Bill – Plush….

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Sep, 2017
Posted on the marina’s FB group:
Overheard on the pier (verbatim!): “WHY are you licking the boat?” Any guesses who?

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Sep 2017
Note to Self: The next time you stop what you’re doing to bail rainwater out of your dink so you can row out to your boat so you can go below to search the lockers for something thereby creating several crapalanches in the process and then when you finally find it and put it by the rail so you can easily load it into your dink, well, next time, before you row all the way back in and tie off the dink fore and aft and start to walk away, next time, next time, dammit, remember to put the object of your search into the dink and bring it back with you. Dammit.

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Jun 2018
TIP: according to my neighbor Meadow, you can avoid having your eyeglasses fog up when you exit AC and enter the high heat and humidity of a Maryland summer simply by walking backwards out the door. I’ve been spreading the word, too. Try it – spreading the word, that is – and you’ll be surprised at how many of your friends give it a try.

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Jul 2017
Posted in FB group for sailors:
Here’s a tip for all newbie fixer-upper boat owners:

If you can’t find a tool that you KNOW you own, the most effective way to find it is to first check the same toolbox / toolbag several times in case it magically reappears, then go buy a replacement because as soon as you lose the receipt and open the packaging, your original tool will somehow reappear, usually quite near or even exactly where you looked for it before. For me, it works every time!

Also, NEVER, EVER tell yourself “I’ll put this here so I’ll know where to find it later” – it’s the kiss of death.

Lastly, if any of you all want to borrow a tool from me, just come on over – I keep a nearly full SECOND set of just about every tool I’ve ever used on my boat, conveniently laid out in the outline of my boat, stored safely in the silt and mud of my marina slip. Y’all are welcome to use any of them any time you need them.

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Jul 2017
Lately it’s been punishingly hot and humid here at the marina. The air doesn’t move at all, and the water is just there, motionless, without a ripple, like a great big blob of molten glass. Even the damned ducks just sit in the shade, quiet for once. Hardly anyone is around at all; everybody is hiding from the heat. Matter of fact, on each of the 3 piers there are several gooey puddles where foolish boatowners just up and melted. Ya, t’was the day before the heat wave broke when all through the marina, not a creature was stirring, not even the louse (on Pier 2.)

BUT to get work done on my house-barge, I’ve developed a three-part strategy to get around the heat:
Part 1 – Get up real early, like stupid early, and start working at daybreak, before it gets too hot to live.
Part 2 – From 1 to 5 pm or so, SIESTA! Hide in the AC, nap, eat, nap again . . .
Part 3 – Get back to work for a few hours as the sun starts to sink behind the tall trees.

So far, I am having great success with this strategy. Well, with part of it. Ya, you guessed it: the “Part 2” part. Hey, sometimes when you have a good idea you have to jump right smack dab into the middle of it, right?

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At my marina, outside the bathhouse and near the trailer boat launch ramp, are The Bench of Wisdom and The Bench of Foolishness. We gather there with morning coffee or afternoon cocktails, and there is, of course, frequently renewed debate over which bench is which, evidenced by who is sitting where. Y’know, as the saying goes, there’s nothing small about small talk. Consider this slow-paced conversation that recently took place there:

Person 1: “The docks are high.” (No doubt he meant to say that the water was high up on the docks.)
Person 2: “The ducks are high?”
Person 3: “No, he said ducks can fly.”
Person 2: “Well, ya, of course ducks can fly. They can fly really high, too. Sometimes they crash into jet airliners, like in that movie where Tom Selleck crashed a plane into them.”
Person 3: “That wasn’t Tom Selleck. You’re thinking of Tom Hanks. Tom Selleck was never a pilot.”
Person 1: “Tom Selleck was a 1930’s biplane pilot in High Road to China. I think in that movie he flew to China in search of the infamous Peking Duck, which was really huge, gigantic, like Godzilla. It was known locally as Duckzilla. When it was finally killed, there was enough meat from that one duck to feed lunch to everyone in Peking. Now you know the history next time you go to the Hong Kong Buffet.”
Person 2 and Person 3: “Shut up!”
Person 2: “And Godzilla is Japanese, not Chinese.”
Person 3: “Anyways, Tom Hanks was a delivery man, not the pilot, when he crashed onto a dessert-ed island, not into a bunch of ducks.”
Person 1: “Duck is usually an entrée, not a dessert.”
Person 2 and Person 3 together: “Shut up!”
Person 2: “No, it wasn’t a dessert island or a desert island: it was Manhattan! He landed in the river and saved the lives of all the passengers. It was a true story; it was in all the news a couple of years ago.”
Person 3: “You got your facts wrong. Tom Hanks did not save all those people: he is an actor, not a real-life airline pilot. Unless you’re one of those people with ‘alternative facts.’”
Person 1: “I betchya I know who you voted for.”

And with that, they were out of the gate and off and running . . . Ah, yes! I’ve found my tribe! Home, home at last!

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April 2017

PS – Note to Self:
Once, just once before I die, it would be nice if I actually used information already in my head, e.g. “A plastic blue tarp spread over gravel does NOT make it any easier to kneel and knee-walk on said gravel.” I own 2 ½ pairs of knee pads, and I thought of fetching them before I started this task. I thought of them AFTER I did the grinding. I thought of them AFTER I did the touch-up to the boot stripe (near the waterline), both AFTER the first coat in the morning and AFTER the second coat in the afternoon. I thought of them AFTER the first coat of bottom paint, and – making progress! – I thought of them DURING the second coat! Next time I haul out and do the bottom, I will most definitely remember to use the kneepads I already own – but most probably AFTER I’m done.

(Yes, I wore coveralls and a respirator, but it’s still dirty work. And I KNOW somebody rigged my grinder, too, so that it would get heavier and heavier as I used it. If I find out who did it I’m gonna . . . I’m gonna . . . I’m gonna give him a certain dog!)

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Aug 2016
I had a turr’ble, turr’ble day. First thing in the morning, I was at the marina sitting on The Bench of Wisdom watching the last of “the morning show” at the boat ramp, enjoying my cup of coffee, when Ralph and Lustine come by. Ralph said to me, “C’mon, Useless! We’re taking the big girl for a ride!” (Notes: the big girl is his 102-foot, 130-ton, Broward motor yacht, and lately he’s been confusing Mik with Miklysses (see my earlier post) with Ulysses, with Useless, the poor thing . . . ) So, I didn’t even get to finish my morning cup of coffee because I HAD to go out on a million-dollar yacht, and it was a GOOD cup of coffee, too! Turr’ble, turr’ble.

Ralph continually impresses me. Heading out, he maneuvered that big ol’ boat away from the dock, through the moored boats, and down the turning creek, all the while working both engines (you can turn a boat with two props, one in forward and the other in reverse) and the wheel with one hand and holding his cell phone with the other, receiving a business call – and he’s 87 years old!
We went out into the bay and made a really big figure eight, toward Bloody Point and then up to Thomas Point, and then came home. The thing about being out on a big boat is that it brings back memories from my Navy days decades (yikes!) ago – the smell and steady thrum of big diesels, the hypnotic thrush of the wake, the slow, slow roll of the deck, the height above the water, the salt air brushing through (what’s left of) my hair . . .

Did I mention that not only was I not able to finish my coffee, I hadn’t yet eaten breakfast? Turr’ble, turr’ble.

Coming in the mouth of the West River, we watched at least 15 dolphins surfacing all around us, sometimes very close by. It is not uncommon for them to be seen in the lower bay, down around Norfolk, and sometimes in the middle bay, but not at all often up this way. Lustine, who’s 74, 75?, and worked on the water in his youth, had never seen dolphins around here.

Ya, didn’t finish my coffee, didn’t have breakfast: sometimes my life sure is hard, uncomfortable, and just turr’ble, turr’ble . . . maybe even horr’ble, horr’ble . . .

And THEN, Ralph took us to lunch – don’t even get me started on that!
FB Comments:
Nia – Poor baby. By the way, where is my coffee?
Anthony – Hang in there Mik…better days will come.
Bill – Tony is correct Mik, Ralph might even allow you to put your hand (s) on the wheel (just remember it is not a tiller – boat goes same way you turn the wheel).
Denise – I feel soooooo sorry for you Mik
Denise – Enjoyed the description of your experience!

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Jun 2016
Posted on the marina’s FB group:
Okay, folks, the joke has gone on long enough. It’s not funny any more.

Everybody here knows I’ve been working hard on the houseboat, but obviously some clever prankster among us has decided to make it harder. Somebody here has switched my tape measure with an identical-looking prank tape measure. The inch marks are fine, but apparently all the fraction marks are inconsistent among the inches. I measure twice and cut once, and still, somehow the pieces don’t quite fit. You all know I am clear-headed and grounded in reality enough to know damn well that there are no such things as boatyard gremlins doing this to me. Ya, it took me awhile to realize it, but there can be no other possible explanation for why the pieces I cut do not fit perfectly. Y’know, Occam’s Razor and all that. So, yuk-yuk and har-dee-har-har, funny little prank. But enough is enough. I am asking the responsible party to kindly return my REAL tape measure, no questions asked, no revenge sought – I just want to get some work done, thank you very much.

By the way, if the prankster is the same guy (or gal, MARLENE!) who is deftly taking my tools that I know damn well I have because I used them only a half-hour earlier and hiding them under pieces of scrap, or at the other end of the boat, or in my other toolbox, or in my Jeep, please stop. Same goes for my cell phone and my pen and notebook. And for the somnabitch who is surreptitiously placing the EXTRA screws and bolts I find after re-assembling something . . . well, you’re just cruel and evil. Please stop.

C’mon, folks! This marina is a great place. Let’s keep it real.

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Sometimes the wind blows all the water out of the creek . . .
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And sometimes the wind blows all the water in . . .
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In the close confines of a small boat, during wet winter weather I like to achieve two things with one action: here I am both drying my shoes and filling the cabin air with parfum de chaussures mouille.
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During spring cleaning, I found the same pair of shoes hidden behind things I don’t move much. Apparently I hadn’t dried them out enough. (You can click on the pic to “embiggen” it to see the wonderful varieties and shadings of mold!)
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Just a summer evening at the marina . . . (This pic was taken by Zahn as she and John rowed by in their hard dink, just going for a little ride around the creek as they often did during that time of day. Sometimes they’d “beg” for cookies.)
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