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!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Speaking of Water Safety...

It is getting to be that time of year when I start to get in gear for the holidays.  I love photography and make a point of having a fun photo Christmas card to send to family and friends...

There is a tree right at the top of the main dock that has the most vividly colored leaves.  In the past few days, most of them have fallen to the ground - making for a fun place for K to play and (::ahem:: more importantly) a unique photographing opportunity.  

Notice the NOT.SO.NOTICEABLE pond: 
 K didn't see it either.... 
Right after I was finished taking photos, she RAN right into the pond.  Surprisingly she went in feet first and stayed standing.  I think (and hope) it scared her ... but she did not cry.  I was right next to her and pulled her out immediately.  I am hoping that she will avoid this pond in the future when it is more visible.  Luckily, the car was parked about 50 feet away and we had clean laundry in the backseat... so she was warm and dry in less than two minutes. 

We did get a couple keepers though! 
M & K

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marine Dehumidifier - Managing Humidity

One of the main challenges for liveaboards is managing moisture, humidity, and condensation issues. 

In an effort to bring down humidity aboard Ma'alahi, we recently purchased the Eva-Dry 2200 Electric Dehumidifier from Amazon ($85):
Manufacturer's Product Description
We have seen a noticeable drop in humidity with the Eva-Dry (a 10-15% decrease).  We keep it running at night and during the day when the kids and I are running errands.  It is about as loud as a table fan.

To supplement the central heat and dehumidifier we use DampRid: 
According to DampRid's website, "... white calcium chloride crystals absorb excess moisture in the air, bringing humidity to an ideal and safe level..."  We use this product primarily in our bilge and it does appear to be effective (evident through water in the bottom of the container).  Our experience with DampRid is that it, used alone, will not reduce humidity drastically.    

T had a few of these marine dehumidifiers on his first boat (Pacific Seacraft 28').  He has an indifferent opinion on these and said that he did not see a noticeable change in humidity.  (They are in our garage sale pile). 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Photo of the Week - "Playroom" is all clean -

 K is looking sassier than every these days!  It appears she wants to take credit for picking up her toys...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Water Safety - Swimming -

One of our major concerns about living aboard a boat, with kids, is water safety.  K is at an age where she is not scared of ANYTHING.  If we were to allow K to walk around on the dock... she would likely be in the water within 30 seconds (just a guess).  I know there is a developmental stage where toddlers acquire a rational sense of danger and of what is dangerous.  K is not there yet.  

K wears a life jacket whenever she is outside of the cabin of the boat and not contained in her high chair.

There is a fine line that we need to walk.  We do not want K to be scared of water... but we want her to understand that it can be dangerous.

T takes K to the "open swim" at the local fitness club every few weeks.  We want her to become a confident swimmer and have respect for the environment around her.  

K swimming with daddy

K has not had any formal swim lessons yet.  We did find some helpful resources (a DVD and books) at the library about how to introduce babies to the water in a non-traumatic way. 

Water hazards are (in our opinion) the number one threat to our children's safety.  We are going to continue to do everything we can to keep our kids as safe as possible.  

This will be an ongoing topic... more to come...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Photo of the Week - Time to Bundle Up-

M in K's hand-me-down REI fleece snow sleeper.
It is time to break out the hooded fleece sleepers!!!  I will be carting the kids up and down the dock in these adorable things.  [Swoon]  There is nothing like a totally bundled up baby.  

These things retail for $20-$40 each.  I have had a lot of luck getting them at the local consignment store and on eBay for less than $10 (including shipping). 

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I did not have high expectations for Summer 2011.  I was on bed rest for eight weeks prior to having M in late May.  Having a new baby is an absolute miracle and blessing.  Moving aboard a boat with a one week old and 15 month old was an intimidating and stressful task.  It was not easy to recover from being sedentary (for two months) and giving birth with the added inconvenience of the hike up and down the dock (with two babies).

I am happy that we moved aboard right away.   It took a while to adjust but we got into a good routine and fell in love with this lifestyle.  Needless to say, I was not one of the Washingtonians that was complaining about the "horrible" Summer weather. 

I welcome Fall's arrival...
Leaves are turning...
The air feels clean and crisp.  The colors are beautiful.  

We have established a manageable routine with the kids.  The kids are happy. 
K in a puddle... Ferry in the background
We are happy.  I am excited to bundle the kids up and hike into town for groceries.  I am looking forward to stormy nights aboard the boat.  I am sure the cold and wet weather will get old but I welcome the change.  

I am so thankful that we have jumped into this way of life. 
We have adjusted and the kids appear to be thriving. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Heat & Moisture

Keeping a boat warm and dry is very important when you are living aboard.  

Heating aboard Ma'alahi has evolved over the last four months.

We have experimented with forced air electric space heaters (too noisy), a radiant heater (only heats objects in its path (not warm enough)), electric oil heaters, and our centrally installed hydronic diesel heating system.

Electric Oil Heater
Up until early September, we were able to keep the family comfortable with three electric oil heaters.  We keep the temperature in the main living area (where M sleeps) between 68 and 70 degrees (the recommended temperature for a newborn).

Since we have made the transition from Summer to Fall, our hydrometer has gone from 50-60% humidty to 80% humidity.  We did not see any visible signs of condensation in the main living area.  HOWEVER, when T inspected the hull, bellow the waterline and under the settees, he found that we had a slight moisture/condensation issue.  We were able to remedy this issue by switching from the electric oil heaters to our centrally installed hydronic diesel heating system.

The oil heaters were keeping the air in the living areas warm and relatively dry.  They were not powerful enough to warm the space between the settees and the hull, thus resulting in a moisture problem.

T and I carefully cleaned and dried all of the areas of the hull (bellow the waterline), that we could reach, in about 3 hours (using white vinegar).  Once these areas were clean and dry we started up the centrally installed hydronic diesel heating system.

Hydronic Diesel Thermostat
Since we started using the central system, the humidity has decreased substantially to between 55 to 70% (depending on the weather) and the hull has stayed dry.

Here is a brief description of how our heating system works: (from
"The circulation of hot water to provide heat is known as a “Hydronic” System. It is a closed system continually circulating the same coolant. It begins with a furnace or boiler, usually fueled by diesel, or electric elements that heat the coolant up to 180 F degrees. A water pump circulates the hot coolant through a domestic water heater and then to the various fan units located throughout the interior of the yacht..."
My understanding is that these systems are very expensive (labor intensive) to install.  Ma'alahi came with this system.  The prior (and only) owners had the system installed when they purchased the boat in 2001.  

T estimates that we use about four to five gallons of diesel per week.  This means approximately $80-$100 per month in fuel.  We will see what happens (as far as expenses go) as it gets colder.  We are happy that we are warm and the boat is dry.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Great Purge

Excuse the mess...

This is how my social life plays out 90% of the time...
  1. Someone, I like and want to get to know, says, "Call me... lets get together with the kids and [insert fun activity]!"
  2. I get totally excited at the prospect and think to myself, "When I get the boat all cleaned up and organized... I am going to call her"
  3. I get the boat clean and organized.
  4. I then run through a mental list of other projects that I need to tackle.
  5. A cloud of guilt and lack of ambition sets in as I picture the storage unit: 
Believe it or not, we have made a lot of progress...

We have a 12'X24' unit that we pay $130/month for.  The unit is a GREAT.DEAL.  Because IT.HAS.A.LOFT:
More STUFF!!!

My ability to get rid of things has evolved as time has passed.  We have had three garage sales (with an approximate take home of about $2,000).  Everything that is near the front of the storage unit is part of the "sell pile" (there will be two more garage sales this Fall).  I have had enough time away from the contents of a lot of these boxes to realize that we don't need a lot of the things we have acquired.

I have also realized that if something has not sold in the first three garage sales, the most productive thing I can do is get rid of it (take it to the thrift store).  This has helped get some of the clutter out.  

We do not plan on getting rid of everything.  We had a larger wedding and received a lot of nice kitchen-y gifts and decor that I want to keep.  We will likely wait to sell a lot of our furniture until we know FOR SURE (as sure as one can be) that we intend on extended cruising.  

We are young.  We are suppose to be asking our family for nice hand-me-down formal dinnerware, art, furniture, etc.  Instead we are giving things to them.  It feels backwards and against how we, in a consumption focused culture, have been raised.

At the same time, it feels extremely cleansing and right. 

I get dizzy and slightly nauseous writing about this.  To be continued...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Grilled Tuna Teriyaki

I do not like cooking meat.  I chronically over cook it.  I am uncomfortable working with it.  I am always worried that it is not clean enough (although I am not like the "real housewife" that cleaned a chicken with dish soap).  It is expensive.  

I have dreams of being offshore with the family and reeling in a large tuna for dinner (and beyond).  I am romanced by the idea of hunting/gathering our own food.  

Then there is reality:  I would have no idea about what to do with a fish.  How to fillet it.  How to turn it into something edible... maybe even yummy.  

I suppose now is a better time than ever to start practicing.  I will hold off on my ambition to learn how to fillet a fish, and start with figuring out how to cook one:  

The following is a well reviewed recipe from the AllRecipes website: 
Grilled Tuna Teriyaki:


  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 tuna steaks (about 3/4 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. In a shallow dish, stir together soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, and ginger. Place tuna in the marinade, and turn to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat grill for medium-high heat.
  3. Remove tuna from marinade, and discard remaining liquid. Brush both sides of steaks with oil.
  4. Cook tuna for approximately for 3 to 6 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.

I was pleased with the flavor of the fish/marinade.  However, I (( GASP )) undercooked the fish... ugh (there goes $10!!... I am cheap). 
Finished Product (served with pasta, sauteed mushrooms and Parmesan)  

We nibbled around the edges and fed the rest to Buddy.

He thought it was good. 

I am pretty sure it was me that was the problem - not the recipe. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Black Butte Ranch - Central Oregon Vacation -

T's family has deep roots in the Central Oregon (Bend/Sisters) area.  T took Labor Day WEEK off work so we could make the 8 hour (including ferry time) trip to Black Butte Ranch.  Transporting the kids for that long of a drive requires (for our own sanity) an overnight in the Seattle area (where my mom lives) to break up the travel time.  The long drive and chaos of traveling with the kids, all of their equipment and accessories, and the dog is well worth it:

The view from T's family's condominium

One of the things we love about Central Oregon is that it is so much different than the San Juan Islands and all of Western Washington.  The area is considered "high desert" and there is something distinctly different about the trees and topography.  
Beautiful Aspens
There are lava fields, mountains, and different (to us) wildlife everywhere.  Put simply, we LOVE it because it is different

T fly fishing in the pond on the ranch (we are both beginners with interest in advancing)

K - 18 months, M - 4 Months

This trip does not have anything to do with cruising, the dreams of cruising, or the direct experience of living aboard.  But - GET.THIS. - Our deliberate choice to live a minimalist lifestyle has given us more opportunities to take these "side trips" than when we were land-bound.  Travel, education (exploring, learning about, and appreciating our surroundings), and quality family time are important to us.  We believe living aboard has allowed us to focus more on these things.

What we are doing is not right for everyone... but, so far, it is right for us.

Black Butte Ranch Website

Monday, October 3, 2011

Photo of the Week - The Dreaded Box -

Do you ever leave the remnants of a project out as constant reminder that you haven't finished what you started?  Hoping that - by inconveniencing yourself with having to look at it (or needing to move it EVERY TIME you OPEN THE FRIDGE) that maybe you will take the initiative to finish it and make it go away... 

This box has found a few different homes aboard Ma'alahi.  The box contains the vinyl decals of "Ma'alahi" that belong on each side of the hull...  (FUTURE POST on renaming our boat in the works).  After tediously installing "Ma'alahi" on the stern port side of the boat from the dock... I realized that my idea of installing "Ma'alahi" on the stern starboard side FROM.A.KAYAK was probably not ideal.  So - the box will remain aboard the boat until we starboard tie on a weekend mini trip.