Monthly Archives: January 2015

Another Big Step

I started working when I was sixteen. That was 40 years ago. Except for a few weeks in 1989, I’ve been employed ever since. I was privileged to spend 36 of those years supporting the finest Navy in the world—six years on active duty, five years as a defense consultant, and 25 years in civil service. With my military time, I have over 31 years of public service.

But today is a big day for me. Because today is my last day. As of 1600 (4PM if you prefer), I am officially, completely, and wholeheartedly retired.


From now on it’s all about getting ready for Rhonda and Robert’s Excellent Adventure. Now the real fun begins…

Creating The Right Atmosphere

Consider this one of those unknown unknowns that I mentioned in my last post.

Our New Best Friend

Our New Best Friend

We moved onto the boat two days after Christmas. The weather was cold and damp—typical late December conditions around these parts. We have a very nice heat pump onboard, which does a pretty good job of sucking warmth out of the water we float in and using it to heat up the boat (at least until it gets freakin cold like I mentioned in Waiting For Global Warming. Then it needs some help).

So do you know what air does when you heat it? It sucks up water like a man lost in the desert who just stumbled across an oasis. And with Rhonda and I taking showers, washing dishes, or even just exhaling all day, there was plenty of water around to suck up. Then after it’s all warm and moist, the air starts moving all around the boat, because it’s air and that’s what it does. In the process, it comes in contact with cold things, like the ports (windows), the inside of the hull, or the deep inner recesses of lockers and drawers. where it turns back into cold air and spits out all the water it absorbed. Suffice it to say that after two or three days, we knew we had a problem. The bed felt wet. Our cloths were moist and clammy. I’d reach under our mattress to pull something out of storage, and find puddles forming. The final straw was when I reached for a cigar, and saw with horror that my humidor read 85% humidity (and rising). It should never ever ever be above 70% or else the cigars taste like crap. This would not do!

We went to Home Depot and bought a dehumidifier, brought it home and plugged it in. It sucked buckets of water out of the air. For the first few days I was emptying it three times a day. But we could tell an immediate difference.

Are you moving onboard, tossing off the lines, and heading over the horizon? Then you can probably do without one of these little jewels. They need a lot of power after all, since they’re basically small air conditioners. But if you’re going to be living onboard for a while, and you’re someplace where it’s too cold outside to leave the boat opened up 24/7, then trust me, you’re going to want one of these. Unless you just happen to like sitting in a cold sauna.

For what it’s worth, I’m feeling right at home. Back in my submarine days, maintaining the right atmosphere was a big part of our job. When you spend 10 weeks sealed in a metal tube with 150 close friends, there’s constantly something that has to be added to or removed from the air to keep it breathable. At least here we don’t have to make our own oxygen or scrub carbon dioxide. It’s just temperature and humidity we have to watch. Well, and propane. Have to be careful with that. Oh, and battery gasses. Those are trouble too. And sewage odors now that I think of it. Have to keep those bilges and sumps clean.

Damn, maybe this is more like the old days than I realized…

The Right Way?

20150117_110938-EFFECTSThere is no “right way” to become cruisers. What works for one couple might make no sense at all for others. What seems silly to you might be perfect for us. Case in point—I’ve followed the blogs of several couples who are now “out there” who lived ashore while preparing their boat, and then just moved aboard one day and left. Frankly, I don’t know how they did it. A big part of successfully cruising full time is living comfortably aboard. While we’ve owned a boat for over five years, we’ve never actually lived on a boat for more than a week at a time, which is really just a visit. Unless you’re rigidly inflexible, most of us can tolerate pretty much anything for a week or 10 days, particularly if it’s novel and fun. Then the trip is over and you go back to your comfortable house with all your stuff and ample space to store it. But no amount of visualization and careful consideration can truly prepare you for the compromises that comprise a life afloat. A lot of what seem like great ideas discussed over a glass of Merlot while sitting on the patio turn out to be impractical once theory meets practice.  Problems you didn’t even realize you had raise their ugly heads (what we call unknown unknowns in the project management world to distinguish them from the known unknowns that can at least be predicted). Solutions that would have never occurred to you ashore make themselves patently obvious. And personally, I just can’t imagine having to sort through all that while also sailing the boat.

So here we are, doing what I believe is probably the right thing for us. We live aboard now. We initially brought too much with us. We spent the first week literally climbing over things. Four weeks in, we’re learning. After the first week, much more was going ashore than was coming aboard. I believe we’re getting close to equilibrium now with as much coming on as going off. We’re still culling (do we really need this or is it just something we want?) while picking up the things we didn’t know we’d need. We’ll bring something onboard, try it, and evaluate whether or not it makes the cut. I think about another week or so and then we’ll be just about there. Of course, in one more week my retirement becomes effective, and then the big projects start, the jobs that will require more time than I can spare while still punching a clock for Uncle Sam. I’m glad we had the chance to shake out the comfort issues before having to tackle the upgrades. We can handle the disorganization and clutter of getting settled, or we can handle living in the middle of a construction project, but I think it would have been just too much to have had to deal with both at once.

Our adventure has begun, and we’ll eventually leave to go cruising. I just can’t say exactly when. But we’re making progress. And if you were to ask, I would say without hesitation that the way to do this isn’t to just sell everything and go, but to live for a while as we are with one foot in each world to help you get your bearings. At least, that seems to be the right way for us.

Waiting For Global Warming

I’ve been listening to the climate alarmists for 25 or 30 years now. Weren’t we all supposed to be prostrate from terminal heat exhaustion by now?

Pensacola Plaza Ferdinand Fountain 1/9/2015

Pensacola Plaza Ferdinand Fountain 1/9/2015

I took this picture during this morning’s walkabout. Reminder – we live in Florida, in case you forgot. If global warming would quit taking its sweet time getting here, maybe we wouldn’t be so anxious to head south in search of perpetual summer! On another (related) note, be advised that a 16K reverse cycle heat pump will not keep a 37 foot boat warm when it’s  only 19°F (that’s -7° Celsius for you international readers). After a somewhat chilly night with the heat running non-stop while temps fell onboard to the low-60’s by morning, I decided to make a run to the storage unit to pick up our backup heater, which I did not expect to need again. Things are now nice and cozy I’m happy to say, meanwhile outside temperatures are predicted to be back on the low side of normal in another day or two. 20150109_094842 So be advised. If you’re planning to head this way at this time of year, don’t pack that spare heater away. At least not until we finally get some of that warming we’re always being told is direly imminent. Sure could use some of those warm summer breezes right now. Thinking tropical island thoughts…

Cheers (and a few shivers)

One Amazing Year


Sometimes a year passes and very little changes from one New Year’s Day to the next. Other times a year will put you through the wringer and the place where you end up bears no resemblance to where you started out.. Guess what type of year this was for us. While we had ambitious hopes and dreams for 2014, we never in a million years intended for 95% of the changes in our life to occur in the last 5% of the year.  But that’s pretty much how things played out. Since last we wrote in mid-December, Rhonda and I have:

Re-launched Eagle Too, her mini-refit finished (on time and on budget!), with numerous little improvements made to make her a better liveaboard.


We motored her temporarily back to her old home at Pensacola Naval Air Station (as usual when we have boat chores to do in the winter, it was cold as hell!) Our youngest son Corey came along to help with lines.

Still Not Our Idea Of Florida Fun

Still Not Our Idea Of Florida Fun

We then celebrated our first homeless Christmas in over 30 years, borrowing a relative’s house in order to cook Christmas dinner and exchange presents with our family. It was without a doubt the oddest Yuletide I’ve experienced since the one I spent deep beneath the surface of the Pacific ocean dodging Soviet Victor III attack subs (but that’s another story that I still might not be legally able to tell…) Ours has traditionally been the house that everyone has gathered at for the holidays, but since we were still living at the Homewood Suites, well, we made the best of it.

Then on the day after Christmas, we moved Eagle Too to her new home in the heart of downtown Pensacola. The day after that, we said goodbye to the folks at the Homewood and moved aboard, where we will live happily ever after. Until we head south, that is.

Our New Home

Our New Home

We’re on E dock, so if you know where that is, feel free to stop by and pay us a visit.

We then spent a week trying to figure out where in the hell we’re going to put everything, taking occasional breaks to enjoy being downtown for the holidays:


meeting fellow Seahawks fans to root for our team (at a bar we can now walk to in five minutes instead of taking 25 minutes by car):

No, I'm The One Taking The Picture

No, I’m The One Taking The Picture

and ringing in the New Year at the celebration occurring literally in our backyard with bands, parades and fireworks:

Party On Garden Street

Party On Garden Street

Including of course Pensacola’s own unique and home grown  NYE event, the (could quite possibly be) world famous Pelican Drop:


So while we had a vague and general sense of the direction we wanted to move in this year, I can honestly say that when I wrote this post back in March, I really didn’t believe that by the end of the year, we’d be living here:


The day we moved aboard, we ran across our rigger Rick Zern, who was on the dock with his crew working on several boats in the marina. When we explained to him that we now lived onboard, he said, “Congratulations! You’re now part of the 2%.” Not feeling much like Wall Street bazillionaires, we asked him what he meant.

“Lots of people say they’re going to sell everything and live on their boat,” he explained. “But only 2% ever do.”

So I guess that makes us a rare breed. I like that… 🙂

We’ll have more to say soon as we sort through the things we got right, the things we got wrong, and the things we never thought of regarding what it takes to make a cruiser a comfortable live aboard. Hopefully there will be some gem of wisdom in there that you might find useful if you’re contemplating making the same leap. For now, we’d just like to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and we hope you all keep pursuing your dream.