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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Some Really Cool News

I just got a note from Feedspot.com and our blog is being listed in their:

Top 60 Tiny House Blogs, Websites & Influencers in 2020

 This is cool because it puts us out there with the likes of blogs and vlogs and authors like "Living Big in a Tiny House," "Tiny House, Giant Journey," and "Relaxshacks.com".  I think we got on the list partly because we've done so much of this over the last five years and partly because of the new Shantyboat book.  Either way it feels good to be recognized (though I really wish they'd picked a different picture....yikes).  This list looks to be a great master resource for Tiny Home information and should be a great place for folks to start if they want to have their own.

It now looks as if we won't be GETTING any real winter here on the Chesapeake.  It was so warm last night that we grilled out, and they're predicting temperatures in the 60's next week. Can't say I'm sad.  One of the benefits is that projects we were holding off until spring may now be happening over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

M

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

sale on Shantyboat Book

In honor of the new book coming out, Wild Shore Press is doing a sale on the Ebook this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Here's a chance to get a copy cheap.  Click Here.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Barrel Barge Shantyboat Book

Well, by popular demand, we've taken all the blog entries on the design and construction of our original Barrel Barge Shantyboat The Floating Empire and compiled them with our construction notes, and additional photos and drawings into one downloadable book to help you build your own shantyboat, tiny home, or vardo.
It's 104 pages and well over 100 photos.
The book has well over a hundred photos of the original construction(277 color photos, in fact), both from this blog and from our files, along with build suggestions, ideas for modification, and everything else we could think of to help you design and build your own floating home.

The book is free for those with Kindle Unlimited and $2.99 to buy the download.  Please note, this is a LARGE file because of all the color photos and drawings.

You can get your copy HERE

And you can find my other books, including our Composting Toilet Book HERE.

If you get it and like it, please leave us a review on Amazon.  We live by those things....no, I mean literally.

Thanks
M

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Weird things we get asked as live aboards

So I was musing last night on some of odd, clueless, and downright bizarre questions we've gotten over the years as live aboards.  I thought I'd include a sampling:


Do you have heat?
Really?  No, we spend the winter in Parkas gnawing on narwhale blubber.  Of course we have heat.  We run electric heat when at dock and propane when we aren't.  We've also used kerosene and wood for heating,

Does the Cat ever run off?
Magellan is a people person and a bit of a homebody.  He's chipped, of course, and if he did go astray I have a Tile tracking thing on his collar so I can find him with a phone app.  Besides, I can use his Tile to help find my phone.  It's a mutually beneficial arrangement.


Magellan's stylish Tile is so we can find one another.
You have a house too, right?
No.  We live on the boat.  We travel on the boat.  We sleep on the boat.  No house, no apartment. . . what would be the point?

Do you have a bathroom?
No, we just pee over the side.  Of course we do.  We have a composting head.  We don't have showers on the boat, so we either use a sun shower in the cockpit or use the rather nice showers at the marina, weather and location depending.

What kind of shoes do you wear?
Scratching my head at this one.  Often, weather depending, we don't.  The rest of the time we mostly live in Crocs.  They're waterproof, comfy, and wear like iron.

How do you get exercise?
Well, for one thing, just BEING on a boat is exercise.  You're constantly--even at dock--having to shift to keep balance.  It's a low level, unending core exercise.  We walk a lot in good weather, either just to do it or to do our shopping.  That's mostly every day.  In winter, we have a gym membership which we try to hit every couple of days.

How do you do laundry?
It's either hand wash, or the laundromat, neither of which is a lot of fun.  Many marinas have laundry facilities.  Ours, sadly, doesn't.

What do  you do with the litter box?
What do YOU do with the litter box?  We scoop it and put it in the trash. When we're underway, it goes in the trash bucket on deck until we can dispose of it properly.

Do you have guns for protection?
Good lord no, and I wouldn't tell you if I did.  Look, I've lived in Watts, I've lived on the South Side of Chicago, I've lived in NY and Miami and freaking Baltimore, and I've NEVER needed a gun.  Besides, a bullet would go through several boats before it stopped, and I'm not doing that to our neighbors.  I do have a perfectly good cutlass, like a proper sailor, and I know how to use same.

Does the cat sharpen his claws on the mast?
The Mast is aluminum, and, as large as Magellan is, he's not MechaGodzilla (MechaMagellan?  Frightening thought).  He has a scratching pad, and goes ashore and uses the trees when we're at the marina.  It's not enough, and we still have to trim his claws from time to time to keep them from growing back into his footpads.

Do you eat fish all the time?
We do eat a lot of fish, because, well, we live at the water.  We're both former restaurateurs, have eclectic food tastes, and we eat well.  We take advantage of what's locally available, which, yes, often is fish or shellfish.  And, yes, Maryland crabcakes are killer.

Did you ever think of putting a bigger motor on the boat to go faster?
The simple answer to that is: no.  First of all, we're not in a hurry, and sailing is it's own reward, the trip being as much an objective as the destination.  Second, this is a displacement hull with 3000lbs. of lead underneath it.  I could put a Space X Raptor engine on the back and I'd still top off at the hull speed of about 7 knots.  Google "Hull Speed" if you're wondering how that works.

Do you have an air conditioner?
No.  Seldom needed it on the water. We have a nylon cloth wind scoop for the forward hatch to catch breezes at anchor, and the boat has a number of 12V fans for those close days.

What do you do with all your stuff?
We got rid of most of it. The downsizing is a big part of moving aboard (or into a tiny house, or into a caravan, etc.)  We have a storage locker for family stuff we can't figure out what to do with and furniture pieces we don't want to get rid of.  We might just say "screw it" and dump all that since we rarely need/think about any of it.

Would you ever move back on land?
It's not out of the question, but right now we're enjoying travel and the independence of being on the water.  I could see one day going into a tiny home or cabin ashore, but never into an apartment or full sized house.  Just not appealing.  The water, frankly, suits us fine.

What do you do for a living?
We're. . what. . .semi retired I guess.  We have money from our pensions, I'm a novelist (you can find my books HERE, feel free to go into a downloading/purchasing frenzy.  Really proud of the new one.) and write for some boating publications, Gail is an artist and sells her artwork.  If we need additional money, one of us will sometimes pick up a part time or short term job.  Otherwise, we do just fine.  This is, if you're careful, a monstrously cheap way to live.

Gail had to downsize to artwork she could do aboard. 
 
Web based businesses like writing and publishing are perfect for live aboards.

Do you get seasick?  Does the boat move around a lot?
The boat, especially in high winds, can move around quite a bit, even at dock.  It makes sleeping difficult sometimes in stormy weather. Otherwise, it's pretty stable.  Fortunately, neither of us suffers from motion sickness.  BTW if you do go on a boat and get sea sick, note that it tends to go away after a few days for most people and never returns.

But where do you really live?
Sigh.

Much more later
M

PS as an update, the Barrel Shantyboat Book is complete and now all I have to do is format the thing.  Stay tuned.





Monday, January 27, 2020

WDBX Interview Friday, 1/31 at 11:30 AM Eastern

Treesong of WDBX will be interviewing me about my writings, the blog, and other things at 11:30 AM Eastern.  If you're in Southern Illinois, you know what to do, if not, you can go HERE to hear the stream!

The redoubtable author and ecology activist, Treesong.  Treesong.org
Really looking forward to this.

M

Review: Gas One Mini Duel Fuel Stove

When at dock we tend to use an electric burner.  Our electric is included here and, frankly, since our electric is at least partly renewables here in MD, it seemed like a better choice, climate-wise.  But on the hook, of course, that's not an option, even with our fairly beefy solar system.

We've used a number of options while living aboard, including wood, kerosene, and  permanently plumbed in propane systems, but on Constellation we fell back on using the ubiquitous butane catering burners.  They're convenient, they're VERY hot (unless the temp is below 50F, in which case they struggle, but I digress), and they just work well, despite some occasional difficulty in finding the canisters for them (and the fact that the fuel cylinders aren't recyclable or refillable).  They also have a pretty large footprint, even compared to a hotplate.

These cook well, but just finding the (unfortunately disposable) fuel cylinders can sometimes be a challenge.
We were wandering through a local Asian market with some slipmates when we came across a stove I'd not seen before.  It was from GasOne, a brand we'd used before, but this was a "mini" version of the butane countertop stove.  The pot stand was far more solid than the thin painted steel of the earlier models we'd seen, and the thing had something like 2/3rds the footprint of the regular catering burner.  Our friends bought one on the spot.  After thinking about it a bit, I went on the web looking to see if could find them again, and ran across this:
GasOne mini, duel-fuel stove.
It was the same stove, but also with a propane adapter,  At less than $40 (and considering the fact that our existing burner was rusting apace) we thought we'd give it a try.

The little stove is solidly built, and will hold up to a 22cm (roughly 10") pot without problems.  The entire top is stainless, and the burner is HOT, I mean REALLY hot (they apparently had a problem with early versions of this stove MELTING the burner.  Not an issue with the new version btw). The little stove takes up far less of our jealously guarded countertop space, and comes with a propane adapter so we can use refillable propane bottles or plumb it onto a larger tank (you'll need an additional pressure regulator, like for a barbecue).  It cooks beautifully, as a really nice control valve that allows for low simmering temperatures, has a safety feature that ejects the bottle if it overheats, and comes with a fairly stout carrying case.

There are, of course, a few downsides.  The stove is too small to take our folding oven (we kept the old one for that), but that's a small price to pay for something more easily cleaned that saves us some valuable countertop.

Followups as we use it, but so far, it's a plus.

more later

M

Condensation Wars, the sequel's sequel: Den-Dry

Okay, so to summarize:  When you live in an impervious fiberglass cocoon, there's no way for moisture to escape.  Breathing, cooking, normal atmospheric humidity, sea spray. . .all of these condense out of the air in your cabin against every cool surface. . .like the hull, walls, and ceiling.  It makes it rain inside sometimes.  Your cushions and mattresses condense water beneath them, resulting in sodden sheets and occasionally an epic explosion of mildew.  To combat this, we've done a number of things which, to a greater or lessor extent, have worked.  We installed a compact compressor based dehumidifier from Eugreen, that we run all winter, which pulls a gallon or more of water out of the air every day.  We've installed insulation on the surfaces that get chilled, slowing down the condensation.  Still, we get condensation beneath our bedding and the salon cushions, and it's damned irritating.

Enter Den-Dry and the lovely folks at RavenWolf Marine.  The product is a mattress and cushion underlayment consisting of little hills of spun plastic with a fabric cover on one side.  You just trim the roll to fit your application, put down the material cloth side up, then put down your cushions.  Viola! There is now air flow beneath your bedding, the moisture can escape, and you can now climb into the V berth without going EEEWWWWWW during the winter.

A little piece of Den-Dry.  The spun plastic assures air flow.
One of our slip-mates got a roll and raved about the stuff, so we thought we'd give it a shot.  The folks at RavenWolf Marine are a joy to work with, btw.  The post office lost our first order and they had us another roll on it's way the next day and were constantly on top of things

Installation is easy and can be done with ordinary scissors, though frankly a set of tinsnips might have been easier.
We've only had the material down for a couple of days, and already it's made a huge difference.  We'll likely be ordering more in the near future for the galley cushions. 

You can find RavenWolf's website here.

more shortly

M