Big Changes

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Hey guys!!! I apologize for not posting in a long time.  Some very nasty people tried to hurt my family by jumping to conclusions and trying to hold my own blog against me.  I worked it all out and all ended well (after all, my Mom is from South Boston; I was raised a fighter and to not to let anyone mess with your family) but frankly, I was so pissed over the whole thing that I no longer felt like posting.  I had even considered taking my blog down altogether, but in the end decided not to, because I’m not going to let them alter my life.

I have received e-mails and blog comments wondering what is going on.  Thank you for the concern and well wishes.  I promise to respond to everyone who has contacted me.

In a nutshell, I sold my beautiful boat.  We had a dreadful winter in Boston and I decided that I no longer wished to live that way.  I decided that the time had come to live a happier, warmer life.

In August, after the boat closed, I got rid of all of my belongings and put my kids on a plane to California.  So far, we love it.  Besides the benefit of a major weather change, people here are so much friendlier and more laid back then in Boston.

How to Be a Winter Liveaboard
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This was the snowiest winter on record here in Boston.  Although this was my first winter as a boat owner and liveaboard, I feel like I have earned my stripes and learned a few things.  I want to pass this knowledge on to other newbies, as I had a tough time finding out certain things.

 

1. What kind of heat will I need?

I had to mention this first because for a long while I wasn’t sure if a diesel heater was really necessary.  I had done a lot of research and talked to a few people, but still wasn’t sure if it was worth the hefty expense.  I know of a couple of liveaboards here in Boston that used electric heaters.  One guy has a similar boat to mine.  He lived aboard for 7 years without a diesel heater.  Yes, a boat this size absolutely needs it.  Quite frankly, I have no clue how he did it.  He mentioned to me in a conversation that he has had hoses freeze and had to shut off certain parts of his boat.  But, even still, before my diesel heater was installed we had some pretty cold nights, and even with the electric heaters running it was cold.  I left the block heaters on all the time, because I wasn’t taking any chances with my engines and the electric bill was crazy because of it.  You can only put so much electric load on the system, so I could only run 4 electric heaters together without popping a breaker.  In January when we were in negative wind chills and single digit temperatures, there is no way we could have stayed on this boat without the diesel heater.

My Webasto keeps the boat warm and dry.  We had no condensation, no mold, and this boat is warmer than any house that I have ever lived in.  Plus, there is a heating element in each engine room and the generator compartment, so there is no need for the block heaters when the system is running.

Now, I must say, that if you have a smaller boat, a couple of electric heaters will do the trick.  Our neighbors have electric heaters and they are fine.  But, big boats like mine, will not be warm without a diesel heater.

I should probably add that if you are going to install a diesel heater, be sure that your fuel tanks are full.  I know it sounds obvious, but my neighbors installed a diesel heater at the same time that I did, but could only use theirs through February because they didn’t fill their fuel tanks.  For about a week they hauled diesel from the gas station, but gave up and plugged the electric heaters in.  They couldn’t just go get more fuel because they would have had to remove their shrink wrap and they weren’t willing to do that.  So, fill your tanks before you wrap.

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2. Should I shrink wrap?

I had already made up my mind that I would shrink wrap in the winter.  After all, this boat is in amazing condition, and the thought of snow on the deck made me cringe.  I spoke to a few boaters before winter hit.  One guy told me that although the shrink wrap keeps the snow of the boat, it doesn’t help at all with heat.  That was absolutely false.  The day that I had the shrink wrap installed, I immediately felt the difference, that same afternoon even.  It is the greenhouse effect.  It can be 10 degrees outside and as long as the sun is shining, the upper living level of this boat (salon, galley, pilothouse) will be at 87 degrees with no heat on.  You can sit on the foredeck, aft deck or flybridge in shorts and not be cold.  In fact, some days I would complain about it being to warm and have to open the pilothouse sliding doors and aft door to try and get air through.  You loose the view all winter, but it’s worth it to keep the boat in nice condition and to keep warm.

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3.  How do I get water to the boat?

Heat tape works!!!  All cold weather marinas have to shut the water off in the winter to the docks.  Otherwise, the pipes freeze and burst.  Some marinas, like ours, will run pex lines and drop them under the water, so that boaters have water in the winter.  All that you have to do, if you’re like me and use a lot of water and don’t want to have to fill your 350 gallon tank every 4 days (which takes an hour to fill) is attach a garden house to the pex fitting under the water, run a line of heat tape up the hose, secured with electric tape and cover with insulation.  Now, your water connection from under the water to the boat, wont freeze.  In theory, the water line won’t freeze while submerged in the harbor water.   But, of course, there is an exception.   I have learned that fresh water freezes at 32 degrees, but salt water freezes as 28.5 degrees.  In a normal winter the water stays above 32, but we had an unusually cold winter this year, so the water temperature in Boston Harbor dropped to about 29 degrees, which meant that although the harbor wasn’t frozen (at least were we are) the freshwater line did freeze in February.  I have learned a good lesson from this.  Always keep your freshwater tanks full, even if you are using dock water.  I awoke one morning and had no water.  I was surprised when I pulled the water line out of the harbor and saw that it was frozen.  It was Sunday, so the marina maintenance man wasn’t around.  I had very little water in my freshwater tanks.  I had to wait until Monday to fill my tanks from the spigot on the marina building with a very long hose.  I learned to keep them full at all times, because you never know when you might need them.  But, when March hit, the water temperature went back above 32 and our continuous water supply was back.  That day was a happy day.

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4. Storms-Are they scary?

Not really.  The bark is way worse than the bite.  I have a big boat, so we don’t have a lot of movement in storms, relatively speaking.  Some of my neighbors were bouncing and being knocked all about and I don’t think I would have been able to stay aboard with that much constant movement.  But, my kids didn’t even mention it.

The noise is bad.  Especially during your first big storm, you will think your boat is being torn apart.  But it is just the sound waves from the floating dock and pilings being bounced off the hull, making it seem like you are hitting something when your not.  It’s important to keep in mind, that many of these boats were designed to handle much worse.  After my first storm, and seeing that my boat was still in perfect condition afterwards, I knew what to expect and the noise didn’t worry me as much.

The biggest concern is to keep an eye out for any snapped lines.

 

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All in all, I would say that this was a great winter for us.  At least the best winter that I have ever had.  Now this is coming from someone who absolutely despises cold and snow, but having this boat, softened the blow.  I still hate winter, but it was fun being aboard, even though it was a record breaking season.  This was a crappy winter, but the best one that I have had because of the joy of owning the boat.  Now, I think that I should probably give a lot of credit to Hatteras.  I watched boats around me with frozen water tanks, mattresses frozen to hulls, busted water lines, cold air leaks and all kinds of winter related problems.  We didn’t have any.  Nothing froze, nothing broke, and no problems.  I expected there too be at least a few, but nothing.  This boat has absolutely exceeded my expectations.  Sonny told me many times that she is a “good boat” and he was so right.  I’m really beginning to understand why Hatteras has the reputation that it does, for having built these great “overbuilt” boats.  I am really happy that I chose to purchase a Hat, especially as a new boat owner.  I know that my decision, especially with this boat, was a good one.

 

How was your winter?  Love your feedback.  Leave a comment and your 2 cents!!!

The Blizzard of 2015
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I was very concerned with news of this storm.  I spent the day yesterday checking my fenders and lines.  Did I have enough protection?  Would we be blown off the dock?  How much rocking and movement would we experience?  Would my shrink wrap blow off?

Last night was really nerve wracking.  The wind gusts were very intense.  The boat would slam back and forth, knock the dock, bounce off, then yank the lines.  The lines all screeched from the tension.  The shrink wrap rumbled in the strong gales. The worst was the pounding, slamming, crashing noises that I could hear from the hull.  I couldn’t figure out what could be crashing into the boat making such a loud banging noise.  It took me a few hours to figure out that the floating dock was slamming the pilings and the vibration was being carried through the water making it seem as though the hull was being slammed, but it wasn’t, it was just the sound being carried.

I must have gotten out of bed 10 times last night, checking the boat as much as I could.  The problem is you can’t see anything out of the shrink wrap and the wind gusts were too strong to take the chance opening the plastic door.  I tied a rope on the door so that I could open it about 6″ without the wind taking it.

I finally fell asleep at about 4am, and woke at 7am, to a calm.  I could tell at that moment that the worst had passed.  The high wind gusts were over.

I got dressed and went out to check for any damage.  I opened the pilothouse door and I was surprised that so much snow had blown in through a 2″ gap under the plastic shrink wrap door.  All of our shoes and boots were covered with snow and I had to remove snow from the electric and water inlets.

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When I got outside I was relieved to see that 45 Gaege was still in perfect condition.  Thankfully, my fenders had done their job.

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The trick is to pull the boat in without going for a swim.

The trick is to pull the boat in without going for a swim.

The intense pressure on the bow line snapped it over night pulling the boat about 5′ off the dock, so I had to wait for the boat to blow in to re-board.  My Mom came out and we cleared the cleat, pulled the boat back in, and ran a new bow line.  The bow line that snapped was a 1″ line.  Other than that, all was good.  This storm isn’t over yet, but the worst is done, for us.  The heavy wind has passed.  It can snow all it wants now.

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Hatteras Motoryacht Refit Update
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I know that I haven’t posted for a while.  I have been very busy, and I didn’t want to do another post until certain projects were completely complete, which they aren’t quite, but I felt bad that several of you had to e-mail me to see what was going, so here it is.

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I’m psyched to have my furniture aboard.  My kids say that now it “feels like home”.  I couldn’t agree more.  I also love the way the hardwood floors look in the salon.  I went with Brazilian Koa.  It compliments the teak walls nicely.  The only thing that kills the room is the wall valances and cornice boards and the grimy old 80’s wall light fixtures.  This project is next on the list.  My Mom and I are going to tackle it ourselves.  It will be interesting.

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I dumped the old dining room table and went with a table half the size.  I think it works much better in the space.  Gaege has plenty of room to play on the floor and I am happy that I can walk around the table.  It does have a leaf so I could make it larger if needed, but we managed to make it through the holidays with lots of family visiting without having to add the leaf.

DSC_0005 The galley came together.  This is the wall that has a completed backsplash.  I went with a stainless peel-and-stick because I didn’t want to deal with removing the old formica.

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I had an appliance garage custom fabricated by the cabinet people.  I wanted to utilize the dead corner space.  I had the garage made with 2 doors, so that it can be opened from both sides.  It makes great spice storage and I’m glad that I did it.

 

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I couldn’t wait to have the ugly green dinette cushions re-upholstered.  I called about 4 upholstery companies.  3 of them said that they do not do on-sight work.  My dinette is not removable.  The 4th company said that they would come to the boat, but not only would I have to wait 8 weeks to have the job done, but the price was ridiculous.  I was really happy when I discovered Morency Marine Upholstery.  Patrick came out 3 days after I spoke to him, all the way from the Cape.  He had the job done in 2 weekends.  I was delighted that he charged me 1/3 of the other guy and had it done so quickly.  I chose a neutral, easy to clean vinyl, that plays off my cream leather sectional.  I was very happy to have that job done and it came out very nice.

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I bought this awesome nautical fabric and my Mom made curtains for the galley.  I ditched the blinds.  They were filthy and the clanking while underway is annoying.  I love the new curtains.  They’re super whimsical. DSC_0029 DSC_0055 The formica dinette table was removed and replaced with Corian.   I had them fabricate with a no-drip edging to keep that spilled milk off the floor. DSC_0033 Countertops were also changed to Corian. DSC_0034 My kids had their first boat Christmas. gaege xmas 2 These nasty valances are the next project.  Can’t wait to post finish photos.

 

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What do you think of the refit so far?  Love your feedback.  Leave a comment and your 2 cents!!!

A Trapezoid Is Not Square
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This time it was not my fault. I wouldn’t mind, but when a company sends 2 different guys out to do a template, 2 different ways, you would expect that they would get it right…right?  Nope, not the case. Not only did they seam my countertop in the wrong place making it to wide to fit into the galley (kitchen), but they cut my head (bathroom) countertop as though it was a rectangle, when their measurements should have clearly indicated a trapezoid.  There are very few right angles on this boat.

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I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel here folks. Lots of boat owners install Corian in their boats for the same reason that I decided to go with the material; it’s light.  This company has done boats in the past. I am not the first.  They are a reputable company that does all of the Corian fabrications for Lowes and Home Depot.  Not sure how they managed to screw up my order so bad, especially after having a laser template and a traditional constructed template, but they did.

The countertop that was too wide to fit in the galley.

The countertop that was too wide to fit in the galley.

On a brighter note, I had the cabinets refaced and I really like the way that they turned out. I went back and forth with wether to keep the old cabinets or get new ones, but honestly I have never seen more well-built, sturdy, hardy, solid cabinets in my life. I couldn’t see any point of removing such a strong product to replace with something of less quality.  So I gave them a facelift.

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I made a couple of modifications, like discontinuing the dishwasher under the electric range.  I moved it to the opposite wall.  I also moved the microwave to over the range and bought a traditional double oven stove to replace the wall oven.  I brought the cabinet that is over the fridge out further to be flush with the fridge paneling and opened up the inside so it goes all the way back.  (You Hatteras folks should know what I mean) I don’t know why Hatteras closed  that off. I’m guessing because it’s not within easy reach, but I don’t mind standing on a chair.  That’s more good space, and you can never have enough storage on a boat.  I am not totally happy with the new fridge, but it’s good enough and at least I don’t have to worry about it randomly thawing my frozens.

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Removing the old countertops was no easy task. Plywood is screwed down and glued and then 3 layers of a thin stone like laminate was installed over.  The countertops were originally installed under the back wall, so we had to cut along the wall before removal.  We ended up sawzalling the countertops and removing them in pieces.

Once you begin to open stuff up on a boat, it’s like a can of worms, all kinds of hidden things pop up. I discovered that there is a vinyl-like bag under the galley counter that supplies air to the salon. The bag was completely disgusting; coated with years of dust and mildew.  This was the perfect opportunity, while the countertop was off to replace the bag, not to mention it got damaged during the countertop demo.  I had to take a trip to a marine canvas shop to purchase a new piece of vinyl so my Mom can make a new bag.  Lucky for me, she’s a seamstress by trade.

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My carpenter has begun the lower level flooring. I decided to go with a vinyl plank flooring because it’s light, durable and waterproof. I also installed a moisture barrier underneath to protect the subfloor.

I took the opportunity while the countertops are off to have shut-off valves installed.  I’m not sure why boats don’t have shut-off valves, but in my opinion they are very important.  Especially in an emergency.

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I still have lots to do like finish the flooring, the valances and curtains throughout the boat, re-upolster the galley dinette, new wall coverings and the heads still need to be finished.  But so far, except the countertop goof, things are going well.

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Love your feedback.  Leave a comment and your 2 cents!!!

 

 

Moving Right Along
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Things are going well on 45 Gaege. The refit (renovation) is moving along nicely.  I now know what they mean by “Hatteras screws”.  Every screw on this yacht has a square head.  I had to purchase the bits in every size.

After my uncle and I tore the salon carpet out of the boat,  I had the floor layers come in and install pre-finished Brazilian Koa.  It goes nicely with the teak and afromosia.  Originally, I had planned to go with cork flooring because it is good for insulation, sound, and is supposed to be good with moisture, but after talking with a friend who has used it and tore it up because of water damage, I decided that it wasn’t a good idea.  Also, the saleswoman warned me that my cat would use the floor as a scratching post.  My kids would be traumatized by Sassy overboard.

My biggest concerns that influence my product decisions on this yacht are: durability and weight.  Of course, I am also looking at the aesthetic impact, but I want to be sure that any product that I use will hold up in a moist marine environment and won’t add much weight to the yacht, impeding performance.  That being said, there are flooring choices that are much lighter than hardwood, but I love hardwood so I decided that I would do only the salon in wood.  I installed a moisture barrier with insulation under the new wood floor.

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I have to say, that I have made a couple of stupid rookie mistakes.  I am actually a little embarrassed to admit it, because with my renovation background I really should have known better, but I guess we are all entitled to a bang your head moment every once in a while.  I had a couple of guys haul the new stove aboard using the davit.  As soon as we got the stove into the salon from the aft deck, I realized that it wouldn’t fit through the galley door. Should have measured that first, right? Yeah, pretty stupid…I know.  The bigger problem was that I had to wait for the fridge delivery (which is were I made my other stupid mistake, but I’ll get to that in a minute) before taking the range back off of the boat and putting it through the galley window.  When you remove the glass panels from the galley window, you have 27″ to play with, so most appliances will fit.  Refrigerators will fit as long as they are counter depth, which is 24″.  By the time the fridge arrived, I had moved to Yacht Haven. We docked starboard so that I could caulk my porthole windows, but the davit can only be used port side, so my guys had to lift by hand the 240 lb stove over the side of the aft deck and onto the dock in order to then get it back in through the window.

My other stupid mistake was that in all of my attentiveness to the counter depth measurement, I foolishly neglected the width measurement of the fridge.  The night before my fridge delivery, as I was looking everything over, I suddenly realized that the new fridge would be 3″ to wide.  Most appliance companies will make the counter depth refrigerators slightly wider than standard to compensate for the space loss in the depth.  I had to jump online and find a fridge that would fit.  I did find 1 fridge, a Fisher & Paykel that worked.  I ordered it immediately and cancelled the other.  I have done lots of renovations, but I have never once dealt with an existing kitchen.  I have always gutted and started fresh with my own design.  Working with a pre-exisiting layout was different for me.

The wonderful almighty sawzall.  I had my carpenter chop up the old fridge, because it was 28″ deep and would not fit through the galley window.

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Getting the old range/oven/dishwasher combo unit was no easy task either.  It had to be dismantled piece by piece.

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The microwave had no upper cabinet for support, so we had to build a ceiling support and a wall brace.

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I spent a day ripping out the old curtains in the master stateroom and getting rid of the old headboard.  Both were mildewed and gross.  The support bracket for the curtains, of course, was more difficult to remove than I anticipated. I had to use brute force, loosing a little blood in the process, but I was so happy to finally see them gone.  I will work on a replacement soon.  Be sure that whatever I put up, unlike what I took down, will be removable for occasional washing.

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Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents!

 

Let the Refit Begin!!!
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Folks I kid you not, the day after we arrived in Boston my oven crapped the bed.  The front burner on the electric stove only has one setting- Super hot. It sparks when you turn it on.  The dishwasher throws the plastic cups and tuper-ware around in the tub.  When the cycle is complete, half of them need to be re-washed because they are filled with dirty water.  I’m not sure why they placed the dishwasher under the electric stove on these boats, but it seems crazy to me.  The microwave takes 3 times the amount of time to heat then it should.  The freezer gets tempermental every now and again and thaws all of the frozen foods, despite the fact that I dropped $350 in repairs before we left Alabama.  I am ready to make some changes to this galley.  I am completely uninspired to cook anything.

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I have already begun to bring the new appliances aboard.  The davit was a huge help with that.

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The carpet in here is horrible.  We clean and clean, but it will be impossible to completely get rid of the stale musty odors until I dump this carpet.  I have never been a fan of carpet anyhow, just for this reason.  It gets dirty too easily, is difficult to clean, throws dust particles around and holds odors.  I cannot wait to tear it all up.  My uncle came by and helped me rip out the carpet in the salon.  What a great feeling that was.  It made a huge difference in the smell.

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Two of the heads will also get a facelift.

This is going to be both interesting and challenging for me.  I have renovated many many homes, but I have never renovated a boat.  I know that I am going to have some things to learn in this process and hopefully will not make many costly mistakes.

Some of this refit (renovation) will happen now and unfortunately for me, some things will have to wait a couple of months.  My favorite carpenter is out of town.

I have a bunch of stuff to figure out, but I am excited, anxious and touch bit nervous to get rolling.  I do plan to document the process.  If you’re out there in blogland and have a good idea or notice something that I am doing incorrectly, stupidly or simply know a better way.  Please let me know.  I welcome feedback.

 

Let the refit begin…

 

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Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.

“The boat is sinking!”
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I was on the way to pick up my truck. We had just arrived in Boston the night before and I was really tired, exhausted even.  A friend had driven down to the marina to give me a ride.

Since the purchase in June, my kids have been on the boat alone plenty, without any problem.  I explained to them as I always do before I leave to call me if there is a problem.  But this time I did something different. They are smart kids and I have been trying to teach them about the boats’ systems, just as I have been learning myself.

I always turn off the dock water when we leave the boat and when the kids are going to be alone on the boat, but, not this time. This time I pointed out the bilge alarm and explained to them that in the event the bilge alarm rings they should shut off the water at the hose on the dock and call me. I also explained that if a plumbing hose inside the boat were to break it could flood the bilge, and if there were a pump failure, theoretically the boat could eventually sink.  This is why it was important that they shut off the water if the alarm were ever to sound.

It was about 8pm and I get a call from Skyla, who is in tears and clearly very upset. “Mom, the boat is sinking!”  Just as I began to ask her if they shut off the dock water, and why she thought so,  the phone went dead.

I had my friend turn the car around and go back to the boat. We were 20 long miles away.  All the while I was calling the phone back, but straight to voicemail.

I arrived at the boat short of breath and sweating profusely from running through the parking lot, down the boardwalk, and down the dock.  As I stepped on the boat it was dark and I could see the red light, laughing in my face.  It was the a/c power alarm, not the bilge alarm.

The breaker tripped because I ran the the dishwasher, not realizing that my Mom had started the washing machine. With the air conditioners running, that is a definite no, no and the perfect recipe for a guaranteed breaker trip.  The mistake that I made was neglecting to be clear that there are 2 alarms that could potentially go off, not just one. I confused them, but it’s all a learning process for my kids and myself.   I am generally much more careful about overloading the power and have come to be quite good at managing the load and keeping the power alarm happy, but that night I was tired and careless.

“But MOM, you didn’t tell us there are 2 alarms.” And they were right.  How foolish of me to show them one alarm and not the other.  Especially the power alarm that we have lots of experience tripping.  The alarm went off and they thought the boat was sinking causing a power loss. They ran outside and shut off the dock water as instructed. I was proud of them. I spent an hour showing them both alarms again. I also told them that from now on I would continue to shut off the dock water when I leave the boat, so they wouldn’t have to worry about it.  I also showed them how to turn on the breaker at the dock to restore power. We practiced different scenarios for both situations and they have a good handle on it now.  As do I.

And the learning continues…

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Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.

 

 

 

And finally……. BOSTON!!!!
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Arriving in New York was a sure sign that we were finally on the last leg of a 2 month journey. We had been to New York many times, by train, plane and car, but never by boat. The view of New York from the water was amazing.

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But it was Lady Liberty that we were in awe of, as she somehow served to remind us of this new way of life we had embarked upon, and the sense of freedom that before this was an imagined ideal. We, all of us, had contacted a case of wanderlust. The kids are already asking

“When we leave again” questions!

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It’s busy, bustling harbor was a bit intimidating after Port Judith, a beautiful little port which typifies old New England, and the salty smell of the tide told us we were nearly home.

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All the places we’d been and things we’d seen came flooding back.

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The history and beauty of this great country we call home.

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The long passage up the LIS, then the wait……

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for signs of old Cape Cod and the familiar entrance to the canal.

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And there it is, the Railroad bridge!

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Ahhh….. finally!

 

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The look out for Boston Light and then……

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The Boston Lighthouse, otherwise known as “The Boston Light” which has guided mariners into Boston Harbor since it was built in 1716 and finally lit in 1783.

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And then, finally! BOSTON HARBOR and home!!!