Saturday, September 27, 2014

If people knew about boats...

The joy of living on a boat! 
I have lived aboard our boat with my wife, and two kids for a fifth of my life. I have built myself homes 3 times, once because a hurricane blew the old one away. Which left me homeless, with new-found sympathy for the 3 little pigs, and eating army hot dogs for 2 weeks. I have also designed several homes for others and even for developers. On more than one occasion someone has taken credit for my design, one could say "the ultimate compliment". My point? I think that I understand the concept of human shelter better than the average person. I find it quite curious that people do not give living on a boat a second thought. It's a lot like trying to sell a Cuban a wooden house, ain't gonna happen. It is simply unacceptable, that's it, end of story. But if only for the sake of argument, you were to put all your prejudice aside and really give a fair look into the pros and cons of calling a boat "Home," let's take a look at the data.
At 41 feet our sailboat is amazingly comfortable. The scale of the living spaces offer comfort and accessibility to the whole crew, tall or small. I have drifted about in a king size bed for many years, it was okay, but it cannot compare to the feeling of my v-berth. It's as if I had been wearing somebody else's clothes, and I didn't even suspect it until I put on clothes that fit. It is the difference between really liking your space, or loving it. It is a space that you feel total authority over, and not need to flee to the comfort of a "panic room" (a room with a scale that you gives you the illusion of safe shelter). I believe that we as humans have to learn to live in over-sized spaces, but it's not natural. Consumerism is there is there to help us every step of the way, and even to barrel through a moment of clarity should one arise. You can't fall in love with a big house.
This is Mirador underway.

Arriving at Atlantis, we had a great location in the marina, and free access to the park.

The Captain.

Mirador at anchor in George Town.

The kids made friendships that will last a lifetime.
While living on a boat I would entertain parties of 8 to 12 people almost every night for years. I believe that I may even have something of a reputation for doing this. To enlighten, I would do this on the dock so there would be no tracking in and out of the boat, that would surely have led to my being poisoned in my sleep by a person who otherwise is quite fond of me. I practiced this, vice or virtue, while I lived in a house, and was, many years later, told by my guests that my x-otherhalf would tell everyone they had to leave each time that I went to the bathroom. Talk about a bad fit.
Storage space on a boat is adequate, but not excessive. You can have a decent wardrobe, tools, and toys. What you cannot do is accumulate junk that you do not use, you have to keep it real. Useless appliances that fill all the excess storage area in a house have no place in a boat. This vice is so prevalent that the majority of people that I know no longer have room in their garages for the car, it's all full of junk. I even know people with 3 car garages that are packed several feet high with stuff. If you were to find yourself in the middle of the garage, and someone were to turn the lights out, you wouldn't make it out alive. We are victims of the mass marketing machine. This machine keeps us in debt, and at work every morning at 9 am sharp every day of our lives until the day that our head can no longer leave the pillow. Now, while a boat can't cure the buying disorder it can make it very difficult to come home with that hot dog cooker that you thought you had to have. The day that I got rid of my "stuff", and moved to the boat was one of the best days of my life, it was as if a great weight was lifted from my shoulders.
A majority of people spend a couple of hours each day in traffic because the house that they can afford is far from where they work. Consider this, most cities have emerged from the banks of a navigable body of water, New York, Boston, Miami, and so on and so on. With a boat you can live in the most advantageous locations that cities have to offer, their waterfronts. This usually means short commutes to work, shopping, restaurants and public amenities. If something should occur that makes an area lose its appeal, with a house you are stuck, with a boat you simply move to another area that better suites your fancy.
About ten percent of Miamians take advantage of the city's greatest natural asset, Biscayne Bay, and its barrier islands. The reason?, you need a boat to get you out there. If you take the recreational opportunities that a boat provides, and compare it with that of a backyard, and well, need I say more?
If you ever analyze the costs of maintaining a house with a yard, including mortgage interest and taxes over, say 20 years, you will be shocked, if not angry at the sum. In fact, when compared to the costs of maintaining a house, a boat is actually affordable. It's only when people try to maintain both a boat and a house that the boat bares the brunt of the blame for the stressed state of the finances, but only because it is seen as a luxury and the house is seen as a necessity.
How about return on investment? A $100,000 house will cost you about $500,000 over the course of 30 years. The truth is that unless your property ends up in the path of a grander scheme, you will be lucky to break even. As a general rule it takes about 10% of a boats value to maintain it per year. Our sailboat cost $25,000 new in 1973. Today the appraised, and insured valve is $125,000. A boat does have an initial depreciation curve that lasts for about 5 to 10 years if you were to buy it new, but who would do such a thing? While a boat is more susceptible to a soft economy, the return on investment is not very different from that of a house.
Just to be completely honest, and objective, you do need to develop a better sense of awareness to your environment, and some common sense to live on a boat. The good news is that since we only use about 15% of our brains, and even then some of us have some catching up to do, there is room in the old noggin for these skills. A little bit of reading, and a couple of boat show seminars, and you'll be well on your way to improving your quality of life, and your finances with the advantage of living on a boat. Many a times I have sat on my boat, at the marina, and thought, "Man am I glad that most people don't know about boats, this place would be really crowded".
Then again, I could just be wrong about the whole thing???
For some people this would only be a screensaver.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hum-drum Summer days

So here we sit, at the end of the pier. These are the days in-between great sea adventures, or cross country excursions, just waiting, and waiting for hurricane season to pass. The temperature outside is uncomfortably hot, very hot. The air is saturated with water, so heavy you can taste it. It feels like you could use a snorkel. The profuse sweating burns my eyes whenever I take a walk down the pier. Surprisingly, the air conditioner on the boat boat does a fair job of keeping the things tolerable.
The forecasts always have a tropical depression or storm to keep an eye on, so we will stay put until the end of September. If things are calm enough by then, we will move eastward towards the Virgin Islands.
A typical weather report, that's not the sun or the moon, that's a hurricane!

Some days go by as though they never existed, we're not used to that. The marina is quiet...worse than that it's desolate! Some times I see less than 5 people in the course of a day. At dusk, an ancient tribe of vampire mosquitoes tries to suck me dry. While in the air they are almost impossible to swat, you have to wait for them to land. Their landings are unlike any that I have ever witnessed, once a spot has been cleared for landing they come in spear first, and drive it deep into your skin. Aw, but now they are stuck, this is the chance you've been waiting for, and you can kill them with a fingertip. The only problem is that the venom is already in, and you will itch for hours.  The deet-free repellent seems to attract the little humming monsters, no wonder we found it on "clearance". Working outside is difficult with the heat, I'm getting little done in the way of boat projects.
Marie keeps busy fighting the kids to get their school work done. It takes Hadrian about an hour to compose a sentence. You'd think it would be a heck of a sentence, but in fact it disappoints. Her negative reinforcement is limited to only shouting, and the kids seem to be somewhat vaccinated against the effects it. I advise her to hit more, scream less, she doesn't do it, but kids hate me for suggesting it. Eva says that neither her, nor her children will ever cuddle with me again, talk about drama. The dog is all curled up under the table, hardly any signs of life come from it, just a very slight swelling of the rib cage when she breaths. If you stomp your foot by her she'll open her eyes. That's as close to playing fetch as you're going to get from her.
Our dog just lays around all day.

Eva tries to cloud the issue of her stagnant school work by complaining about her life. She says that I ruined it by taking her on this trip, as if school would not be a problem if we were back home, yeah right.
Eva and Hadrian doing schoolwork.
Arts and crafts does not get the same resistance as say math, or English.

The Mirador is a lot more spacious than it's exterior would lead you to believe. We can quite comfortably spend the whole day inside. The neighbors sometimes wonder how we manage this, or so one of them confessed. You can find a private space to get away from most of the commotion of home schooling. I have mastered the art of shutting things out, almost to a fault.
Occasionally, I get a call from a friend to tell me how bad things back home are going. Attitudes in the work place are simply cutthroat in the aftermath of the recession, they tell me. I can't say I miss the old gerbil wheel. Porsche is really gonna have to work hard to sell me another car. Finances aside, I think I've grown too secure of myself.
Shopping for groceries is now the highlight of my day. I comb the aisles, and read the labels. You should see what they put in some of the stuff. I can spend three or four hours at the grocery store. I sometimes start to get followed. Walmart is a safe haven, all you need is crazier people around you to make you incognito.
This is a great time to come visit us. The airline tickets are as cheap as they get. Write as soon as possible, as space should be running out quickly as of the posting of this article.