Livin' a life of luxury (?)

This week I have a very special announcement to make. Much to your chagrin, I'm sure, I am not leaving the Community News nor will I quit forcing you to be a captive audience every week so just simmer. I know you were anticipating something along those lines and I'm sorry to disappoint.

The real story is I am elated because I've managed to do something that I have not been able to do in ages. I've actually conned an innocent human into being a guest columnist. You have to admit, it's been a coon's age since this has happened and I am over the moon about it. There is no real need to explain why this thrills me to the marrow but I will, of course. Rather than bloviate for hours in an intro, and for a guest columnist mind you, I shall break it down quickly, if quickly is now defined as in a thousand words or less.

I'm super busy and cannot formulate a thought to save my life. I did not want to slap a rerun in this space so, I am doing you a total favor by at least providing some original content. How was that for brevity?

The following was penned by a dear friend of mine who has a plethora of last names these days. I knew her originally as Laura Mushrush from high school. She has, over the years, morphed into, Laura Mushrush O'Shurak Werner. Holy guacamole, hold me. I think she explains her situation below so I shall finally cease from blathering and shall allow her to do the talking.

Wait, one more thing, (as Columbo would say), I want to know if by the end of her piece you find yourselves asking where Wilbur goes to the restroom. OK, off we go...

Livin' a life of luxury (?)

By Guest Columnist Laura

of the High Seas

After a five year absence my husband and I are now back in the area for the next few months. Instead of flying home once a year (just long enough to throw Christmas presents at everyone before fleeing) we thought it would be nice to take the time to visit friends and family for more than a minute.

Hans and I live in Florida on a sailboat with our pit bull Wilbur, and it's pretty interesting when compared to my former life where going to Walmart without the kids made me tremble with excitement, and a trip to Erie was beyond thrilling.

But kids eventually grow up and then I met Happy Hans the Traveling Salesman. Over the course of the next six years we bought a boat in Boston, sailed it to the Chesapeake (I found it difficult to enjoy the scenery since I had my head in a bucket for most of that trip), quit our jobs, sold our homes, and just to keep things interesting; days before moving aboard we adopted a four month old pit bull.

We ended up living at a marina in St. Petersburg, Florida, for the next four years since Hans had been offered a job in that area. But before settling back into work again we managed to sail to the Bahamas for a couple of months and we were itching to get back out on the water. So once again Hans quit his job and this past February we sold our car, dusted off our charts, downloaded some helpful apps, and cast off our lines. The Dry Tortuga's and the Bahamas were our destination.

We were now in full cruising mode which meant no more endless showers (we have a 140 gallon water capacity) and our guest berth (spare bedroom) was filled with provisions (non perishable foodstuff) since you never know whether there will be a grocery store within walking distance of your anchorage.

So, what is it like to live on a sailboat?

First of all, I have to get this out of the way. Before we left here, back when we bought the boat, I had people tell me they heard we'd bought a cruise ship, or that we'd bought a luxury yacht. Sorry to disappoint, but there are no midnight buffets on this boat (we're usually in our Pajamas by 6 PM) and while we are comfortable on our girl, she's far from luxurious.

I never thought I'd see the day when in response to the question of whether I needed a shower, I'd sniff my armpits and say, "Nope, I'm good to go," and I'm actually able to take a full shower complete with washing my hair in a single gallon of water. Dishes are washed in sea water and then rinsed with fresh. My 'washing machine' is a five gallon bucket and the agitator is a toilet plunger so needless to say I frown upon anyone wearing anything just one time. Actually when we're underway we wear the same thing every day since we're just going to get sweaty and dirty anyway. The dog is usually cleaner than us. But when I'm about to tear my (dirty) hair out because I can't stand sleeping on sandy sheets one more day we'll pull into a marina (where your boat length determines what you pay) with shower and laundry facilities, and where we can also plug into shore power with our 30 amp cord.

Which brings me to our power system. How do we cook, charge phones and iPads... We have a battery bank which is powered by solar panels (which we plan to update this winter), a wind generator, and a Honda 2000 gas generator. The Honda really came in handy when the wind generator blew out in a storm this spring and we were stuck with cloudy skies. We also installed new LED lights throughout the boat so we don't have to sit in the dark for fear of draining the batteries with power sucking regular bulbs. We have a two burner propane stove and oven, and a rail mounted propane grill in the cockpit. We also have a chest type refrigerator and small freezer that are accessed via a lid in the counter top.

A huge bonus is we have two bathrooms (the correct nautical term is 'heads' but saying I have two heads sounds ugly). Each has a very nice shower stall, and a toilet that you manually pump to both fill it with sea water and then flush it, and heaven help the idiot who puts anything 'forbidden' into them (I won't go into those gory details here). I'm officially the Head Mistress on the boat and I've personally replaced the holding tank and all the black water hoses so I have no intention of going through that ordeal again. No one forced this title on me but while Hans was busy working I felt I should try to do something useful and since there was no electricity involved (even static electricity terrifies me) I gave it a shot.

While we do live on a sailboat I hate to admit that we end up motoring more often than we'd like. When we went to the Bahamas this spring it seemed like the wind was almost always blowing in the wrong direction so we would have to turn on the engines and power from cay (pronounced key) to cay. But when we are able to sail; it's fabulous! Nothing quite compares to the sound of water rushing past the hulls of the boat while our wind filled sails push us forward. A bigger bonus is when we spot leaping dolphins and that's when Wilbur comes unglued, because surely, some lucky pups are having a wonderful time frolicking in the water. As he watches intently for them, he forgets to breathe and ends up snorting like a bull.

This dog has provided endless entertainment for us and I believe most of the questions I've been asked about the boat are how do we deal with a dog on board.

That's a story for another day.