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From the ocean we came

Posted in: Food for the Soul on Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Image source - http://freeaussiestock.com/free/Queensland/slides/1770_rocks_water.htm

I sat and reflected on this beautiful passage, and I thought of the living oceans inside of me and how lucky Ben and I are to be able to return our lives to the sea.

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Gardening on a Boat

Posted in: Living aboard on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
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We weren’t that interested in gardening in our land life. Our yard maintenance efforts were sporadic at best, usually done when weeds were knee high and the house hard to see.  There was this one time that we grew a real jack-and-the-beanstalk weed that reached over one story high and had to chopped down with an axe. We were proud in an odd kind of way of how high that one grew. I joked that if it lasted until Christmas I’d hang some fairy lights on it.

When we started planning our life aboard Tygress we knew that we wanted some herbs and plants aboard, ones that wouldn’t need mowing, trimming or chopping down with an axe.

While we’re cruising we may not always have access to fresh veggies and herbs so we wanted to have some self sufficiency, a little green luxury in our diet. Like fresh chives with our scrambled eggs. Lettuce and sliced tomato with our canned ham sandwiches or maybe in a salad. Fresh basil with pasta sauces or some fresh parsley and dill for our fish. You get the picture.

Since moving aboard we’ve been experimenting with different herbs, pots and containers and places to keep them.

Fluffy amongst the herbs

At the moment we have basil, flat leaf parsley, curly parsley, tomatoes, chives, olive herb and aloe vera and today I planted some lettuce and rosemary.

The first of our ripe tomatoes, they were delicious!

Space is an issue on a boat along with salt spray and budgetary constraints so one has to get creative and seek out of the box solutions for growing a garden.  And I’m pretty proud of mine! For the price of a two litre bottle of milk you can make your own hanging containers for growing herbs that hang perfectly on the life lines, plus you get the luxury of fresh milk!. In the photos below I’ll show you how you can make your own.

Materials: One two litre milk bottle, stanley knife, a pair of scissors, a marker

Step 1: Assemble materials (not shown: scissors and marker pen)

 

Step 2: Use marker to outline section to cut, use stanley knife to make an incision in plastic, insert scissors and cut out as marked

 

Step 3: Repeat process for other side

 

Step 4: Mark out and cut a smaller sized opening on the third side

 

Step 5: Mark out and cut opening on the last side.

 

Step 6: Mark out a circle at the base of handle, cut, then slice through the handle half way up, turning the handle into a hook.

Some things to note:

  • I’ve probably cut the openings of this milk bottle too low. For yours you’ll want to leave enough depth for a good amount of dirt and space for root growth. For this bottle I’ll plant a shallow rooted herb such as thyme.
  • Don’t forget to poke some drainage holes in the bottom at the lowest points in the plastic where the water will collect the most.
  • Don’t cut too close to the sides, you’ll want thick support struts so the bottles don’t buckle.  If they do buckle while hanging just set it down somewhere for a few days and it should right itself.
And here’s how they look after a few months growth.

Here are some I prepared earlier.

We’ve gotten quite a few comments from fellow liveaboards and passers by about our little herb garden, in particular my bottles.  Opinion seems to be split 50/50 between “Wow, what a great idea, they’re coming along nicely” and “Won’t work, they’ll die, salt in the air will kill ’em, give up”. The latter just make us more determined to see our little garden thrive. True our plants haven’t been sailing yet, so maybe they’ll struggle, but we plan on hanging them on the towel racks in the head and keeping the others under the spray dodger while under way.  We think their odds of survival are good. So check back and watch our garden grow.

 

 

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A Spot of Sunday Pressure Cleaning

Posted in: Living aboard on Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Sundays for many are days of rest, reflection and recuperation. Ha! Who needs that?

Sunday for me was a day for cleaning floors, granted they’re not very large floors, but i’ve discovered just as labour intensive. And what girl doesn’t like to have cleaning fun with a pressure sprayer?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts our flooring consists of an odd shaped cut of carpet in a fetching shade of grey, above creaky wooden floor boards.  And although I vacuum it almost daily (some days I’m slack) I’m consistently shocked at the amount of crap filling up the little hand held vacuum cleaner I have.  Shocked and slightly disgusted, and maybe even a little secretly ashamed.

This is our lovely carpet in the shape of our floor space.

So while having a lovely hot shower this morning (where I do some of my best thinking) I thought why not give it a good going over with the pressure cleaner. And so our story begins.

By the time I got the pressure cleaner out of the car and back to the boat, both of the closest taps were being used.  Not to be deterred I negotiated extension lead and hose length to try and reach the third tap at the very end of our finger, only to fall a metre short, so close!.  I did a little jig of frustration with slightly more maturity than a two year old.  Just then the lovely gentleman from the cat next to the tap rescued me with the offer of his hose extension piece and hey presto I was ready to go. (of course not 5 minutes later one of the closer taps freed up, Murphy’s Law in action again!)

If I thought I was shocked and the vacuum cleaner payload of grit and dust,  then I was horrified at the colour of water that I was blasting off the carpet.  It was brown and it just kept coming! The two worst spots were where I stand at the sink and where we feed Fluffy.  I’m a little obsessive compulsive and would probably still be cleaning it now trying to make sure I got every last speck of dirt out if I hadn’t forced myself to stop, drop and walk away.  Pressure cleaners are loud and I was concerned I was disturbing peaceful Sunday afternoons all across the harbour.

While the carpet was outside drying I took the opportunity to scrub the floor boards inside which yielded another bucket of brown water. I don’t know where all this dirt and dust is coming from, surely we can’t be trekking it all inside. In all honesty this is the first exhaustive clean the flooring has had since we purchased the boat and moved in full time, so I guess it was bound to be dirty…so dirty.

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Boat Envy

Posted in: Marina Life on Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Living at a marina makes boat envy a daily experience, reading other sailing blogs online makes it almost inevitable.

Don’t get me wrong, we love Tygress and think she makes a good home and from all accounts she will sail beautifully too.  But when you live next to pristine 47′ Beneteaus and shiny new Bavaria’s it’s hard not to lament the comparatively tiny budget we had when buying our boat.

Reading other sailing blogs online and seeing pictures of spacious, well laid out interiors, with well equipped galleys that have actual bench space with ovens and big sinks, not to mention lovely civilised heads and oodles of storage space can make me a little jealous. Albeit in a light hearted, quickly forgotten way, well most days that is, other days when the realities of living on a boat get me a bit down in the dumps then the jealousy can make me a bit whiny and bitter. Never attractive emotions on a lady.

We were lucky to have the finances that we did when we purchased Tygress, but a small budget doesn’t go a very long way when looking for a boat that meets a long list of requirements for permanent live-aboard life, especially in the Australian boat market.

Tygress sitting in her marina berth, we love her but she could be classed as a 'fixer-upper'

So how do I deal with boat envy? Well when all thoughts of grand larceny have been subdued I do the following;

First I try not to get too focussed on it, I try to keep it a passing thought, I focus on it washing away with the next tide along with all the other gunk and pollutants in the marina water.

Second I tell myself to be thankful for what we do have, which at the end of the day is a decent size boat with good living space and a light airy cabin. A big, if not completely irregular shaped main berth that will sleep skippers 6.2ft frame in comfort (that is if I don’t hog all the space, steal the sheets or knee him in the back all night – “Not guilty your Honour!”). And a head, that unlike some of the boats we saw for sale is not smack bang next to that main berth, and I mean so close you could reach out and accidentally put your hand in it while you slept (more on our head in another post).

But mainly I’m thankful to have a home, no matter how old or unrefined her interior may be, that we can take anywhere in the world the wind blows…or doesn’t blow as the case may be but that’s what diesel engines are for. Although our appears to be leaking water when we run it, I sense expensively fun times ahead on that front.

Thirdly I tell myself with all the deluded certainty I can muster that when we win lotto (which will be some time after we actually start buying lotto tickets) we’ll buy ourselves one of these babies and be the envy of all! The video is really worth a watch, but I’d recommend having a rag handy to mop up the drool.

 

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What’s in a Name?

Posted in: Breaking Free on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
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What’s in a name?

Names for people, places and things are definitive and have obvious, sometimes hidden and other times abstract meanings.

My parents gave me the name Sarah at the time of my birth, which has Hebrew origins.  Sarah was the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac, her name was originally Sarai which meant ‘my princess’, but God later changed it to Sarah which simply means ‘princess’ (can you imagine the paperwork required for that?).

31 years ago Margaret and Geoff named their baby boy (now my tall, handsome skipper) Benjamin which is also of Hebrew origin and means ‘Son of the south’ or ‘Son of the right hand’.  In the bible, Benjamin was the brother of Joseph who happened to be the father of Jesus, a well connected name to have.

Our ships cat (whom it should be noted that we didn’t name) is called Fluffy (which we feel shows a lack of imagination), because he’s well, very fluffy. There is no deeper meaning than that, he’s Fluffy because he’s fluffy.

There are a lot of sailing blogs floating around the world wide web, most of which use the name of their vessel for the blog name.  We weren’t aware of this trend when were thinking of blog names and even if we were we didn’t own at boat at the time so it wasn’t an option.

From the time our plan was hatched I spent a further eight months cloistered in an office building cut off from the warmth of our mother sun and the bright blue sky.  Most of that time was spent day dreaming of the paradises and the beautiful shades of blue water we’d sail, with a bit of filing thrown in for good measure (after all that was what I was getting paid to do).

Between the hours of 9-5 I existed in a state of blue water dreaming, willing the fantasy to become reality, fantasising of an escape.

In a bland sea of government grey my cubicle became an oasis, with tropical beach pictures pinned to the walls that had  been made to look like those of a beach shack. Each day different exotic island destinations and sail boats set against brilliant sunsets became the background for my computer screen.  I scattered sea shells and other assorted beach themed curios around my desk and If I could’ve spread sand along the edges and in the corners I would’ve done that too.  The piece de resistance that completed the feel of faux beach heaven was a blue vase filled with frangipani flowers.

The dream table and all our stuff packed ready to go

The blue water dreaming didn’t stop at work, at home I created a dream table, a corner of our home that would be a visual reminder of what we were dreaming of, so we could see it and focus our energies on it while awake.  Seeing it every time I walked into the living room helped keep my spirits buoyed when we encountered setbacks particularly in our boat search.

I would sit in front of that table visualising – and here is where I may lose some people who don’t believe in positive thinking and sending out positive energies into the universe to get positive things in return, and no I haven’t read The Secret and I don’t have a wish board, but I have observed living proof of the rewards of positive thoughts and energies in the lives of those who believe.

So I would light the candles (often leaving skipper programming in the dark) and  spend hours focusing on a picture of a pristine white beach visualising the life we were going to build for ourselves free of city life stress, free of the weight of material possessions. A simpler life of self-determined freedom on the blue water.

Slowly the beauty of the dream table spread up the wall as more pictures and motivational quotes were added. It spread out to the adjoining bookshelf as I scoured book stores for any yachting related books I could get my hands on. And finally it spread out onto the floor as it became the packing station for everything that was coming with us on our adventure.  It became the heart of our home and the dream became the heart of our lives.

It seemed only natural then that our blog be called Blue Water Dreaming. Natural because for so long we’ve been dreaming of blue water and hopefully soon we’ll be able to cast off the dock lines and go out in search of it.

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