Monday, December 26, 2011

Photo of the Week - Happy Holidays!

Ma'alahi Decor
Merry Christmas from the Ma'alahi Family!  We are spending Christmas (and the following week) at T's family's condo in Black Butte Oregon. 

As a side note... how hard is it to travel with kids?!? 

It was not easy (AT.ALL) to fit a family of four (including two babies), all our clothes, Christmas tree, 80 pound labrador (and kennel), said labrador's food, Christmas gifts, skis (there is no snow here…), infant jumper, pack n' play, K's tent (which is very compact), and food into our car (and Thule cargo rooftop bin).  It took me four days to pack and repack everything so that it fit just right.  

M with Santa

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lighted Boat Parade

We love all (well... mostly all) the quirkiness that comes along with living in a small town.  We have lived on San Juan Island since 2007 and have come to embrace local community events and celebrations.  

This is the first year that we have attended the lighted boat parade.  I saw few signs posted around town about the event so I expected there would be substantial participation by at least a few of the many hundreds of boaters in our community. 

There were FIVE hearty boaters that participated in our island's grand parade.  

I have to give it to them.  It was cold, dark, and a little windy.  We didn't consider participating... thought never crossed my mind.  Taking our boat out IN.THE.DARK. with two small kids.  NO.THANKS.

The five boats circled the area out in front of the aquarium dock twice.  A good hundred people were watching.  On the first pass, the Sheriff boat dropped Santa Claus off, on the dock.  Santa was welcomed with Christmas carols and screaming children.  Totally cute to hear (we were not on the main dock). 

Parade Participant (you could hear a portable generator running as they motored by)
The parade definitely got me into a nautical holiday mood.  I put a few strings of white lights on the stern of Ma'alahi and hung some adorable (and totally cool!) sailcloth stockings we received as a gift.  Photos to follow.

I am hoping to come up with some more creative holiday ideas for next year.  My understanding is that lighting a sailboat is much easier than it looks.  My main concern is with lights getting tangled around things in a wind storm.... we will see (but not this year). 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

First Trip to the Zoo.

Sorry about the intermittent posting.  It is THAT time of year.

Over Thanksgiving weekend (Black Friday) T treated the kiddos and I to a day at the Woodland Park Zoo (in Seattle).  It was so much fun to see K connect the dots when she saw the first few animals.
We read a lot of books about animals ("Polar Bear Polar Bear... what do you hear" is permanently imprinted in my brain).  Up until this visit, K's experience with wild animals was all two dimensional.

When we entered the monkey exhibit, we saw a larger monkey that was near the glass.  We got up close to the glass...  K saw the monkey reach for some broccoli and stick it in his mouth.  K FREAKED.OUT. clearly because the MONKEY.MOVED.  Seeing her make the connection that all the animals we have been reading about ARE.ALIVE. was so much fun.
Otter and fish exhibit.
The meerkats and giraffes (all the moms, including myself were telling their kids "Look, it is Sofie!") were a big hit as well. 
Life size komodo dragon
I hope to continue to nurture our children's interest in nature, wildlife, and the environment as they get older.  It is never too early to start. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Photo of the Week - Good Morning! -

Clearly willing to let me sleep in...
This little critter can be so cute in the morning.  I typically bring M to bed when he wakes up for a feeding anytime after 5AM - I am usually able to get one to two hours of additional sleep ((PRICELESS)).

I can only dream of the day when he will sleep ALL.THE.WAY. through the night.  For now, he is a 22 pound baby that refuses solids. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Infant Life Jackets Continued... Black Friday Steal!

M is six months old and getting SO.BIG.  He currently weighs in at 22 lbs (only 2 pounds less than his Big Sis K).  I had had just about enough of his Stearns jacket (see Infant Life Jackets): 
M laying down in the Stearns
M sitting up in the Stearns vest - AHHHH!!!
I promised myself that I would invest in a Salus life vest once M reached 20lbs.

Right after Thanksgiving, we were strolling by the marine supply store and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sign - "30% of EVERYTHING in the store" - we jumped on the offer and got vest for about $50. 
Look at all the neck room!
Handsome and happy in his new Salus jacket.
M laying down in the Salus vest.
So far, so good - totally worth the investment!  The Salus Nimbus is clearly well made and more comfortable to wear than any vests I have tried with the kiddos.  For additional information, you can visit the Salus website at

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We have moved!

To a new slip that is.  

T got us on a waiting list to move to the very popular and much larger (wider) "main dock" at the port.  We were really surprised when the port offered us a slip in mid October.  The prior tenant left their dock box (yay!) which easily stores the stroller (no more lugging the stroller on and off the boat!). 
Our new home.
The view.
We did not realize all of the benefits of our new spot until we moved.  The dock is extra wide.  We are able to step right off the boat into an area large enough for K to run around a little bit (in a life jacket and heavily supervised of course). 
WIDE dock.
The distance from the car to the boat is much shorter and we have the added bonus of being able to drive down the dock (to the ramp) to unload kids/groceries without having to get the stroller all set up. 
The port's main dock.
Our old (first) slip was on a normal dock that was much more narrow: 

Our slip had a utility unit right where one would typically have a dock box. 
Old slip.
There are a lot of little things that we did not consider when we got our first slip assignment.  Moving the boat (about 200 feet) was different than I expected.  We are meeting new people and neighbors, we have more sun in the afternoon, and for some reason Ma'alahi does not get rocked nearly as much (if at all) when the ferry comes and goes.  It kind of feels similar to when you move to a new home and neighborhood - except, in our case, we moved our home to a new neighborhood. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sell Sell Sell!

We just survived Garage Sale/Flea Market #4!  Here is a picture of the storage unit before the sale:
On the way to the sale: (gorgeous sunrise)
The set up:
We choose to participate in the local flea market/craft fair (at the fairgrounds) instead of doing a personal garage sale (at the storage unit).  For a nominal fee of $30, we are provided with a booth, table, and free advertising (no need to worry about people showing up!).  We were able to sell approximately half of the things we had on display.  I proceeded to donate about 25% of the remaining things to the local thrift store.

I have found that, no matter how popular and current books are, people do not buy them (I dropped the books off at a local used books store so that we can earn store credit on future book purchases).  I have given up on selling the remote control sailboat and am going to be consigning it at a local store (they will take 50% of the sales price).

In terms of material possession that we are prepared to part with, we are only truly left with some well loved used furniture.  

Our hope is to get out of our HUGE storage unit (see post) and into a smaller unit with heat. 

We will be participating in one more flea market right before Christmas... from there, I think we will be done for a while.

It has been a little over a year since we started donating and selling things.  The downsizing process has become much easier over time.  I find that the longer things are in storage, the easier it is to part with them.  In college, I read a small book on living simply that suggested the following exercise:
  1. Fill up a box (or boxes) with things that you are on the fence about getting rid of
  2. Put the box in storage for a few months
  3. Return to the box, do not open it
  4. Write down everything that you remember storing inside
  5. Empty the contents of the box
  6. Get rid of (donate/sell) everything that did not get on your list
You will be amazed at what you do not remember.  If you can't remember something after just a few weeks... is there really any value in having it in your life?  (maybe.... but probably not)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Managing Moisture & Mold Aboard

I few days ago, I was restocking the diaper supply in the master stateroom (our bulk diaper boxes are kept in bow locker (right behind the head of our bed).  I noticed that the plastic packaging around the diapers was damp.  Condensation... ugh!
Bow Locker
I emptied out the locker and gave it a vinegar wash.  With the locker emptied, I noticed a floorboard that I had never looked under.  The floorboard gave access to the whole forward portion of the hull (it is a lot more steep and narrow than it appears in the photo) - MOLD!!

Mold - Before Clean -
I had my whole upper torso in this compartment (pleasant).  Again, I sprayed the area with white vinegar, let it sit for a couple minutes, and dried it meticulously. 

-After Clean-
My hope is that we have covered most of the boat and I wont find any more of these unpleasant surprises.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wish you were here?

I received this, in the mail, the other day:

I love the idea behind this add.  T and I are diligently putting funds away in a "dream" fund, a little bit at a time, in hopes that we will be able to do some extended cruising. 

In the back of my mind, I am constantly brainstorming and keeping my eyes open for remote work opportunities that could produce small (I will take large too!) amounts of income.  Contract work for a business, writing, digital personal assistant, etc.  If T or I found a way to earn a modest income while traveling, it is possible that we could sustain cruising on a long term basis.  That is my dream.  IF we fall in love with cruising, the only thing that will truly limit our traveling possibilities will be lack of funds. 

So - to answer your question GoToMyPC - YES, I wish I was there! Although I will request that my boat be equipped with a forestay, anchor, and chain.  And, if it is necessary that I "lounge" on the foredeck... must I really lay on top of the hatch? 
Sorry... I couldn't help but find this amusing.  

Sarcasm aside, I have tested GoToMyPC and it is a great program that I hope to use in the future! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ma'alahi Tour - Guest Stateroom -

K's stateroom is a work in progress.  My experience (via online research) has been that the guest stateroom in the 42' Catalina is often referred to as "the garage".  We will be unable to have that mentality seeing that our plan is for M and K to share this room sometime in the future.

This room is tucked away in the aft starboard side of Ma'alahi (difficult to photograph).  It is equipped with a full size bed and has (relatively) generous clothing storage.  The guest stateroom has direct access to the guest bathroom.

This room was FULL of boat equipment when we took delivery of the boat.  There is still a lot of stuff (sails, cushions, etc) on the bed.   Please excuse the mess!

Entrance - looking starboard
Clothing Storage - three functional drawers (bottom "drawer" drops down for access to through holes)
Hanging Locker - lined with cedar and modified with cedar shelving
Looking directly stern - K's tent, miscellaneous equipment, and escape hatch (into cockpit)
K's Tent - see Sleeping Arrangements

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Infant/Toddler Liveaboard Sleeping Arrangements

When we first purchased Ma'alahi (December, 2010), I had to scramble to find something for K to sleep in.  K was 11 months old when we had our first overnight trial run on the boat.  That first night, I had her, in a standard size pack n' play, in the main living area.  The pack n' play took up far too much floor space so I knew that it would not be a long term solution.  

Internet research, initially, was not of much help.  Google-ing "infant bed boat" "baby sleep boat" ... etc did not come up with any real functional ideas.  I wanted to find a solution that would work for a few years AND be functional when away from the dock.

I did have some success when I did an internet search for infant sleeping arrangements on RV's/Motorhomes.  Apparently, it is more "mainstream" to travel with young children on the road than it is on water.  

My research turned me on to a travel tent that is safety approved for newborn/toddler use - the KidCo PeaPod Plus (Model P204):  

PeaPod Plus P204 Infant/Child Bed
KidCo Website

We purchased this bed online for about $70 (I do not recall the exact price).  This is the "fully loaded" model that comes with an inflatable mattress that zips into the floor of the tent (from the outside).  The inflatable mattress appears to provide additional stability.  K's "house" is situated on the mattress in her stateroom. 
K is able to get out of the tent on her own (via the zipper door).
K - 21 months
This tent has been perfect for our situation.  Soon, K will transition to sleeping on the bed without the tent and M will likely move into the tent... which will then be moved into the main cabin area (at night time). 
When not in use, the tent folds up into a very manageable compact disk and is stored in a bag provided by the manufacturer.  (I don't see why anyone travels with a pack n' play when they can travel with these!)

Here is a good video demonstration of how the tent works (the model in the demonstration does not come with the inflatable mattress... same idea though). 

As for M, he is still sleeping in his inclined bouncy chair (due to acid reflux) in the main cabin area: 
M - back in July when it was warmer...
Looking into the future, our goal is to have both of the kids sleeping in the guest stateroom (tour to come).  We are exploring different customization ideas involving canvas walls and/or a bunk-type situation.  For now, the kids are far too young to safely sleep together and M is still waking up in the middle of the night to feed.  Time will tell...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Belated Halloween from Ma'alahi's Crew! 
M - 5 months old, Yard Gnome & K - 20 months old, "Pretty" Pumpkin.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Infant Life Jackets

I have had a really hard time with the way life vests fit our kids.  Life jackets are marketed in a way that would suggest that our kids should be able to fit into them comfortably.

K in the West Marine Neoprene Life Vest
We have experimented with, and tried on, numerous life jackets.  K is currently wearing West Marine's Deluxe Kids' Neoprene Life Vest priced at $49.99 (pictured above).  We have also had a generally positive experience with Stearns Hydroprene Life Jacket priced at $34.99.

It has been our M.O. to have both of the kids in life jackets when in transport (the stroller) going up and down the dock.  The problem with this is that most life jackets have too long of a torso for the kids to be sitting in them.  When the kids are in a sitting position, the life jackets push upward and look very uncomfortable in the shoulder and neck areas.

Both K and M wear the same size "newborn" life jacket (birth to 30 lbs.)... I think the size range itself should raise some eyebrows... but this is the standard.  

Salus Marine...

I believe that I have found a superior product from Salus Marine (website) and we intend on purchasing these life vests when we move up to the next size range (which should be soon).  I have tried them on the kids numerous times... and T and I are prepared to make the investment (they are a bit pricey).  

... the practical newborn life vest... 
If M was not such a HUGE baby - OR - if I had had more foresight, I would have purchased Salus Marine's uniquely designed Bijoux infant life vest for babies weighing 9-25lbs.  This design is not US Coast Guard approved as a safety flotation device, however, it was the winner of the Canadian Safe Boating Award (CASBA) for Best New Safety Product.

Manufacturer Photos: 

Additional information from Salus Marine's brochure: 
"The one piece front design ensures that the baby will turn face up from a face forward position.  The 3 piece collar cradles the head when lifted by the collar straps or while the baby is floating on their back. Mesh harness and a short front provide enhanced comfort for sitting upright, lying down or while positioned in a baby carrier."
AMEN - this is exactly what we needed for M.  The Bijoux retails for $69.99 at our local marine store - they can be purchased online as well.

... a toddler life vest that is built for safety, fit, and comfort...

Salus Marine makes a more traditional looking life vest for toddlers.  The thing that is unique about Salus's Nimbus life vest is that its buoyant "ensolite" foam is rounded and contoured (not boxy) for comfort and snug fit.  Additionally, they offer two sizes... 20-30lbs and 30-60lbs.

Manufacturer Photo:
These vests are priced from $69.99-$79.99 at our local marine supply store.  The Nimbus is USCG approved.

As liveaboards, it is important to recognize that your kids will put-on and take-off their life jackets multiple times per day.  Do not purchase a cheap vest that is meant to be worn on very rare occasions and does not have quality, long lasting durability, and comfort in mind. 

Our children's safety is our first priority.  No matter what your living situation, on land or water, there are going to be hazards and safety issues.  Because we choose to live on a boat, we are especially sensitive to water safety issues and potential dangers.  It is our duty to do everything we can to protect our children.  Life jackets can be a hassle and an inconvenience... but they are an absolute necessity.  

Here's to safe sailing! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Photo of the Week - K's New Haunt

K at the Spring Street Aquarium

A close friend of mine recently turned me on to the "Spring Street Aquarium" as a great place to take the kids.  The aquarium is comprised of a 400 gallon tank containing all sorts of little sea critters and fish.  More importantly (to me at least) it is in an enclosed building at the end of one of the port's docks.  Did I mention it is free?!?! It is a great place to let K run around on a rainy afternoon.  K will point to each of the animals and wait for me to tell her what each one is... she will be a marine biologist before we know it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Laundry for Four

When T and I moved from the city to (what was) our nine acre property on the island, we thought that we were simplifying our life.  My experience has been that when some tasks or aspects of your lifestyle are made more simple, other things become more complicated and/or time consuming.

Although life aboard is (generally) very simple, one of the inconveniences I deal with on a weekly basis is laundry.  

I make a point of doing our laundry no more than one day per week.  The port has a laundry facility but it is VERY expensive ($8 to wash and dry a medium sized load).  

My in laws, who live nearby, have been very generous in offering the use of their house and laundry room.  On laundry day, I take K and M to their house during K's nap time and push through two to three loads of laundry: 
Because we do not have constant access to a washer and dryer, I try to stock the boat with at least one weeks worth of cloths.  

We do keep the Wonder Wash manual washing machine and Mini Countertop Spin Dryer aboard.  These machines can be purchased on the Laundry Alternative website.  I have experimented a little with these machines and seen good results.  However, I could not imagine doing all of our laundry manually.  Maybe that will change when both of the kids are potty trained and M stops puking on himself (and me) multiple times a day.

Wonder Wash Demonstration: 
I am very meticulous (retentive) with organizing and folding laundry.  All of our clothes need to be folded and categorized very specifically in order for them to fit well into their respective shelves, drawers, and netted hammocks.  Once all the clothes are folded accordingly, I tightly pack them into our laundry hamper so that I am able to unload everything on the boat from bow to stern.  K's things (belong in stern stateroom) are packed on bottom, then kitchen linens, then M's clothes (midship), and finally my and T's things (bow). 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ma'alahi Tour - Galley/Kitchen -

Adjusting to a marine galley has been difficult.  Ma'alahi has one of the better and more spacious galley designs out of all the boats we were considering.  
The Galley - located on the stern port side
Ma'alahi's galley is equipped with a 700 watt microwave.  The microwave theoretically can be used while at anchor, however, as general practice, we only use it when hooked up to shore power.

Dishes, bowls and cups are stored on the fixture above the sink.

There is an additional ice box (without refrigeration unit) just bellow the dehumidifier (next to the sink).  Tupperware and dry food goods (flour, sugar, etc) are stored inside.

The countertops are made of corian.
Double Sink, Brita Water Filter, Cabinet w/ Cleaning Supplies
Three Burner Gimballed Princess Propane Stove (Bakeware is stored inside the oven)
Storage behind stove/refrigerator
Top and Side Access Refrigerator/Freezer
"The Cave"/Pantry
Folding Counter-top & Garbage Can
We keep a large garbage can aboard.  We fill the can (mostly with diapers) about every other day.  We remove garbage from the boat so frequently that we have not had to deal with icky diaper smell.
Silverware Storage (container is on pivot)
Cupboard forward of Microwave (storage for cooking utensils and oils)
Cupboard aft of Microwave (storage for snacks, mugs, and toaster)
Swinging Spice Rack (just to stern of refrigerator)
Pantry - Top (Cookware, Pressure Cooker, and Measuring Cups)
Pantry - Center (Food Storage)
Pantry - Bottom (TBD... a lot of space though!)