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Living on a boat is a lot of work!


For those of you that don’t follow our Facebook posts, I wanted to share our most recent quote of inspiration spoken from Peter himself.

“You don’t know your strength until you know your limits”

-Peter Pieschel

It took us awhile to get over the initial exhaustion of becoming liveaboards. It takes a LOT of work to live on a boat and for the first month we were just plain exhausted every day. It’s one thing to go boating for a weekend but when you live on a boat it takes some getting used to.

  • If its windy, we have to pull the boat closer to the dock for us and the dogs to get on and off safely. (When we are anchored we will have a whole new process for preparing the dinghy to take to shore)
  • Our muscles are constantly working to keep us balanced since the boat is always moving.
  • When stock up on groceries we put them all in a cart, pull it from the parking lot way down to our dock and begin passing them over the lifelines, into the cockpit and down the 5′ vertical ladder into the depths of the boat.
  • We have to lift a ladder up onto the bed to get the dogs in and out of the cockpit.
  • Every time we want to get something out of the fridge we have to stretch our gumby arms way down to the bottom, take everything out to get to what we want and then put all the other items back in.
  • When we want a pot or a pan, we have to get down on our hands and knees to get it from a locker underneath the stove which extends way down against the hull.
  • When we want to use the kitchen table we lift it down from its latched position against the bookshelf.
  • If we need more water, one of us goes topside with a hose and one of us opens the floorboards inside the boat to prepare the water tanks for refilling.
  • When we need to empty our holding tanks one of us has to be on deck to attach the hose and one of us stands by in the heads to flush fresh water through after the first round of pumping.
  • Taking a shower requires us to simultaneously keep the two shower curtains in front of the toilet from attacking us as we shower off and then flip a switch several times for the sump so the water will drain out.
  • Power is needed for LOTS of things we take for granted: lights, fans, radio, cell phone chargers, computers, hot water heater, dehumidifier, navigation instruments, coffee makers, microwave and air conditioning. If we’re not plugged into shore power, we have to generate our own with solar panels, a wind generator, or by running the engine or diesel generator.
  • When something goes wrong, we have to be very innovative and creative to figure out how to fix it with the tools that we have at hand.
  • When we’re done using something, it has to be put away because there’s no room to leave clutter out.
  • When we use dishes, we have to wash them by hand every time we eat.
  • We have to be plumbers, electricians, mechanics, navigators, chefs, fishermen, sailors, excellent communicators and fun-havers.
  • This is just the beginning…

Living on a boat is much different than living on land. There is a lot to get used to, but it has slowly started to feel normal :) We absolutely LOVE our little home and we say it out loud to each other every day!! Its hard work but SO worth it in the end. We are preparing our home to travel across oceans to visit far off lands, beautiful tropical beaches and crystal clear waters. We’re going to go Where The Coconuts Grow and the wind in our sails will take us there!

Its going to be a hell of an education too. As the months go by we will be forced to learn so many new skills and we’ll learn how to live with ‘less’ all around. We need the basics, safety equipment, a few personal effects from home and all the rest is just stuff. Our priorities have already begun to change as we work on the boat every day and prepare to set sail. We appreciate the little things we didn’t even notice before. We take a lot less for granted and our happiness increases by the minute.

We do get frustrated sometimes but I think we’re getting better about understanding that we’re both doing our best. Our patience with ourselves and with each other is growing too. Everything we do, we do it as a team and it seems much easier that way. We’re helping each other figure out how to do things we haven’t done before and it’s actually really fun! It’s hard at first to step outside of your comfort zone, but when you do, that’s where the magic happens :)


After the initial exhaustion wore off a little, Peter and I committed to running again to get ourselves and the dogs the exercise we all need. The last couple of days have been a chilly 38 degrees at night here in Southwest Florida, and this is not exactly what I signed up for, but Peter laid the inspiration down pretty thick. His quote about strength and limits really did get me thinking and even though it’s almost freezing outside I perked up a little and tried to see things in a positive light instead. We should be able to handle a little cold weather and still keep exercise a priority. We’ve done 3 miles each night through the cold winds and by the time we’re done we both smile and feel glad we went :)  We really are stronger than we think we are, and as a good friend said to me yesterday, we have to BELIEVE in ourselves!!

Peter and I are about to set sail on an adventure of a lifetime with our two dogs and we both feel so lucky that everything has just fallen into place.  It’s one of those moments where we know we’re in the right place at the right time, and now is the time to go for it. We’re young, we are finding strength we didn’t know we had, and we’re throwing our fears and doubts aside in exchange for this amazing opportunity. What better time in our lives than now to travel and see the world? There’s so much beauty and joy out there just waiting to be shared.

We hope our adventures will inspire others to take a leap of faith, step outside your comfort zone and find out where the magic happens. Dreams really do come true, if you believe!!

When your iPhone goes overboard… Waterproof. Mudproof. LIFEPROOF.

So… we live on a boat. And we have iPhones. It was only a matter of time before we got one of them REALLY wet.

A lot of people get protective cases for their phones, tablets, ipads and other electronics to protect them from scratches and from shattering if dropped on the concrete. Earlier in the year, while planning for our epic adventures, our friends Josh and Leah suggested we invest in the LifeProof iPhone cases. They had just purchased two of them before their travels to Costa Rica to keep their iPhones waterproof while playing on the beautiful beaches. I was a little skeptical on how necessary it was to have a waterproof case since they retail for something like $80!! I mean, do you really need to have your phone with you when you’re at the beach? How often are we really in the water?

It had never occurred to me that I could just buy a rugged case and then be able to take pictures and video no matter where we go!! If we had waterproof cases we wouldn’t have to worry about sand getting in the buttons or worry about salt water ruining the screen. Even dropping it on the rocks wouldn’t bust the phone. We decided it would be a pretty important investment if we wanted to be able to have the iPhone camera and GPS apps handy no matter what kind of crazy places we might end up in.

Two LifeProof cases arrived soon after that :) The volume quality is slightly diminished when on a call but the slight sound sacrifice is SO worth it… even though family members might get tired of telling us they can’t understand what we are saying… (sorry Bean!)

LifeProof claims to be water proof, dirt proof, shock proof and snow proof – even to military specs!! Boy did we get a chance to test out how well it keeps out water! Last night Peter was stepping up from the dock onto the boat and as he ducked into the cockpit he heard something hit the deck and plop into the water. His hands went straight to his pocket and, sure enough, his phone was GONE. Just as fast as the phone must have sunk to the bottom of the marina, so did Peter’s stomach. It’s such a sickening feeling when you know something really bad just happened.

It didn’t just fall in the water… it fell in the really icky brown salt water with 6″ visibility. Our slip is at least 11′ deep according to our sonar transducer on the boat and the bottom is a foot thick with mud. Our neighbor Cyndy reminded us that the reason it’s so stinky is probably because there’s more manatee poop on the bottom than there is mud!! There’s a LOT of manatees here and its a frequent occurence to see a big fat turd going out with the tide after floating up from underneath a manatee. We’re not kidding folks, it’s not from the boaters either.

Determined to find a way to save the phone we had to do some quick thinking. What do we do? Grab our two boat hooks, the net and some duct tape of course!! It was 11:00 at night, dark and the clock was ticking to figure out how to find it before it was sucked into the mud. We knew he had the LifeProof case on, but we weren’t totally sure if he closed the latch on the bottom where you plug in the power cord. If it was closed, there was hope for his phone yet! If not, it was toast. Mark is the local diver that cleans the bottoms of most of the boats here in the marina and Peter and I both knew he would say, “It’s GONE man!” Not even Mark would dive for it in this mud.


I scrambled to grab the camera while Peter started making a couple sweeps with the jury rigged net. I just knew this was going to be our next blog post, hehehe :)


With just a foot between the boat and the dock there was at least a focused area for Peter to search. It just had to be down there somewhere. He saw where it went in but we weren’t sure if it went straight down, or if it had bounced out a little from the boat underneath the dock.


We were actually lucky that all that manatee poo and mud was down there or else the net might have just pushed the phone around on a hard bottom surface. The mud allowed Peter to stab the net down a few inches into the mud and then pull it sideways a couple of inches. He would lift the net up and over one inch, then stab it back down to sift through some more. It was so thick that he couldn’t just drag it all the way across the bottom.


After a few minutes of this he was ready to give up. He was thinking of how much of a pain it was going to be to file an insurance claim with the cell company and get a replacement. He would have to pay a $200 deductible for the replacement, then go through the hassle of reinstating the last backup he did. Who knows how long ago that was :S Of course, all of his photos and personal settings would be gone. Not the end of the world, but for our generation its heart wrenching when something happens to your smartphone!!

I just KNEW he was going to get it eventually. I begged, “Keep looking! Keep looking! Just a little longer…” Peter was doubtful, but took another “stab” at it. As the net came up to the surface it was a little heavier than before.


Can you believe it???? With NO visibility, we got it!!!!!!! But HOLY CRAP that was some stinky mud that came up with it. It smelled like a port-a-potty! Yuk!!


Now for the test. He pressed the home button… and it was still on!!!!!!!!!


I tried to get a shot of just how long our contraption was but it was as long as the whole finger pier of the dock. By this time I was over the photos and just snagged a quick shot on my iPhone but it was still hard to see.


LifeProof only guarantees their cases for water immersion up to 2 meters for 1 hour. That’s about 6.5 feet. Peter’s phone was at 11 feet for about 20 minutes and it passed the test with flying colors. There was just a TINY bit of water on one edge of the phone when we opened the case but not enough to make any impact at all. The case got a thorough bath and we placed the case and the phone near our AirDryer 1000 dehumidifier for about an hour to make sure they got totally dry.

If our LifeProof cases can withstand the saltwater and mud at 11′ deep then it should do just fine for taking underwater pics of all the sea life when we get to that crystal clear water in the Bahamas ;) I’m feeling a little more confident now in just how “lifeproof” our cases are and can’t wait to test it out again in a more desirable setting :)


Peter is one lucky guy ;)


Juice It Up!

IMG_3285Our batteries were about three years old and started to get noticeably HOT. Two of the 4D batteries reside underneath the nav station seat and my toosh was getting too toasty!! The third is in the engine room. When we first arrived at the boat in September the water level inside the battery cells was very low. About 16oz of distilled water per cell were needed to bring them up to the proper level, but even after that they were still bubbling over, seeping out of the vents on the top of the batteries. While it’s not straight battery acid that’s coming out, it’s still very corrosive and dangerous. You can see the spillage in the picture above (disregard the terrible quality!)

This was a high priority boat project and we couldn’t put it off any longer.  We would have liked to put in 8D batteries to yield more amperage for a longer duration but the housing just wasn’t big enough and it’s not critical enough to rebuild the existing box or expand elsewhere. Our research discouraged us from the higher priced AGM batteries or gel batteries. The increased life just wasn’t enough justification for the higher price, and we’ve also heard from many salty dogs that they don’t always have a longer life either. We don’t mind the additional maintenance of refilling the distilled water every couple of months, especially if it means saving a few hundred dollars on these bad boys.  We went with some Deka Lead Acid batteries for $220 each. Plus, we were able to get them from the yard right here at our Marina.  The guys even said they would come pick up the old batteries at our slip. What a deal! IMG_3291The first step was to shut off all the power. No big deal, it’s just in the high 80’s outside and muggy as all hell. No power means no air conditioning…

Peter put on his safety glasses and gloves, then used a little T-9 to loosen up the terminals and the first one was ready to come out. A whopping 80lbs of battery and seeping lead acid had to be lifted out of that hole without dripping anywhere. Peter and I got it onto a black trash bag, but there was NO WAY I could help him lift it up the vertical 5′ ladder and through our companionway into the cockpit or over the lifelines onto the dock. Our super nice neighbor Karl donated some sweat equity and came to the rescue. IMG_3296It’s not a real boat project unless you get sidetracked and start a new one before finishing the first one, right?? Don’t forget, we still have NO POWER and NO A/C since we are only 1/3 done with the batteries. In order for the wood platform to screw back in properly over the top of the new battery, we got the chance to use our handy-dandy vice that was left by the previous owner on the back side of our engine room door. There was a small piece of wood that was beginning to split so we used some liquid nails and a screw to fix’er back up. IMG_3299



IMG_3318The clock ticks on and we finally get the board back in place. My red toolbox fits perfectly where the previous owner had his toolbox. He laid non-skid strips down with screwed on wood blocking to hold the toolbox in place while underway. There’s also a strap that goes over the top for double measure. The snap that holds the strap also busted off but that’s a little less critical so we’ll add that one to the “list” for another day. On to finishing the batteries…

The last two sit more than snuggly inside the nav station seat and there is a grip of wires in the way making it extra difficult to remove the old leaking batteries. We are running out of daylight. It’s not getting any cooler and we are both sweating all over the place. I am able to lift the first one out of the box with Peter, but not the second one. Karl comes back over to help us out again. Two men are stronger than one! Now we just have to get them hooked back up properly and quickly. The headlamp came out long ago. Good thing we have little batteries to help us shine light on the big ones!!

Before lifting the new batteries in, we need to clean out the box with baking soda and water to neutralize all the spillage. We’re not sure how long it had been like this, but there was an awful lot of corrosion and that’s never a good thing on a boat. Luckily the structural integrity of the box wasn’t affected and we won’t need to rebuild anything… yet. Now totally dark, and still sweating, we tried to air out the fumes from the neutralization as best we could. We were determined to get this finished in one night so I mustered up all the strength and gumby-like leverage I had to help Peter drop them into place one at a time. After all the wires were put back together the right way and the terminals got a fresh coating of T-9, it was time to see if we had juice. Whew!! Everything seemed to be okay.IMG_3324

IMG_3325We were both so tired and on the verge of dehydration that when we plugged the shore power back in to get some air conditioning, we plugged them in the opposite locations. The fault warning was going off and it took us a few minutes to realize it had nothing to do with the connections for the new batteries, but that it could be the shore power cables. Peter went out to switch them and the beeping stopped. Finally! Light and cool air!!! The poor puppies had been waiting so patiently for dinner and potty time. We got the pups outside first, then back for their dinner and then we were finally able to head to the showers to get cleaned up.

The work wasn’t done yet… we still had to neutralize the acid that had leaked out and down onto the carpet. We sprinkled some more baking soda and let it do its work. There was more reaction than we were expecting, but its all cleaned up now. We’ll be tossing that piece of carpet for sure and replacing it very soon. Another thing to add to the list!

All in all, our first major boat project took longer than we anticipated but it was successful in the end. Next time we replace the batteries, it will hopefully take us half the time and we will be sure to start the process on a cool day and early in the morning :)

Bilge Deep

Have you ever seen a really dirty bilge? Have you ever been inside a bilge?? Well, some of you have had the pleasure of partaking in bilge maintenance, but for those of you that haven’t, let me tell you…

Our boat was built in 1980 and it unfortunately needs a little more TLC than some of the newer boats out there. Since we have been running the air conditioning quite a bit lately, the condensation created is around three gallons per day and it all travels down into the bilge. We decided to clean the bilge for one of our first maintenance projects to get rid of some of the mildew and old ‘funk’ that has been in there for a while.

Peter wanted to get right down there and get the dirty deed over with, but alas, his muscles are just too big!! He can reach farther than I can but he just couldn’t reach all the way down to the lowest point of our bilge. We tried using gargantuan tweezers (one of those tools we kept for the one time we might really need them!) but just couldn’t get them to grasp the rags and sponges well enough. Kitchen tongs weren’t going to work either.

The best access panel for the lowest part of the bilge is in our aft head. I decided to see if I could somehow reach father than Peter, maybe just by flexibility, and it turns out I could actually fit my head AND shoulders all the way INSIDE! Getting in there was one thing, getting out was another. I discovered arm leg and back muscles that I didn’t know I had. While hanging into the opening in the head, my torso was twisted out into the aft cabin and I hooked my feet up into a cubby on the front of the bed for leverage. Peter was trying to be a good helper but with my whole body in the way he couldn’t shine the flashlight where I needed it to go. I couldn’t use a headlamp either because I could barely fit my head in there. Turns out headlamps can also be worn around your neck and angled upside down so when you are inverted into the abyss of your bilge with no room for a helping hand you can still see what you are doing.

Bilge Deep and upside down is just one of the new ways we are discovering to keep us flexible and burn some calories while living on the boat. It’s hard work, and it’s never done but the trade-off sure is worth the effort!!


Our soon-to-be new home on the ocean

The last few months sure have been CRAZY!!! In a nutshell, this is what inspires our first post on our NEW WEBSITE:

Our family and friends seemed to be in disbelief as we told them earlier this year that we were going to buy a sailboat and sail away to far off lands. We told them we would sell most of our belongings (including our cars), store the stuff we just can’t get rid of, and move onto a boat with only the essentials. On top of that, we are taking our two dogs with us!!

Well, we really did it!

In July we started looking for boats online. We researched and searched and finally we found a boat that we thought would be perfect for us. So perfect we were willing to get on a plane and fly from San Diego, CA all the way across the country to Ft Meyers, FL to take a look at a Beneteau M445. Major disappointment set in as soon as we stepped on board. There was water damage everywhere and it was WAY more of a project than either of us wanted to think about. The ad was deceiving and we just didn’t have a good feeling about it. We were puzzled.  The boat’s name was Cosmic Convergence and we had been sure it was going to be just that.

Feeling deflated, we went back to the hotel wondering why we came all this way. We had a few days left before our return flight and decided to get a good night’s rest and figure out a new plan the next day. Determined as ever, I kept searching on the yacht sales websites from my phone in the wee hours of the morning when I couldn’t sleep. This is unusual for me. Most everyone  knows I’m not a morning person, especially on East Coast time. I bookmarked about four other boats that looked interesting and decided that I couldn’t wait any longer. I woke Peter up at 8am to show him what I found.  We called on all four of them, but only one person got back to us that day. A few hours later we were on our way to see Hey Jude, a 1980 Whitby 42′ Ketch.

It was magical. We stepped aboard and we both knew this was our new home. She was very well-kept and loved by her previous owners, Steve and Judy, who have been out cruising with her in the Bahamas and Caribbean for the last 20 years. We spent the rest of the day with them and made plans to draw up the paperwork, schedule a survey and a sea trial. I immediately made a call back home to my sister Annie who was watching our dogs for us and asked if she could take c

are of them for a few days longer. I also had to extend my “vacation time” at work :)

photo 1

IMG_2288IMG_2292Everything went flawless. The Marine Surveyor was genuinely impressed and said it was the best vessel of this vintage that he has ever seen. Turns out he personally knows the man who built this boat in Ft Meyers, FL. Peter and I flew home and set everything into motion. Garage sale, Craigslist posting, runs to Father Joe’s for donations, and of course telling all of our family and friends that we bought a boat!!

As promised, we have FINALLY built a website for all of our blog posts and pictures so everyone can follow us on our amazing adventures. Be sure to click around and let us know what you think! Stay tuned for the next post with more tidbits about our journey across the country :)