Tuesday, August 23, 2005

the cast

Well in order to truly do this and not go completely broke we have tenents on the ship. Currently, there are five. Marcus, 35, our resident physicist; Crystal, 45, a former model/rockstar and grandmother to be; Richard, 21, labourer who works for the landlord's spray insulation business; Chris, 30ish, computer geek; and Peter, our newest tenent who makes wicked Vietnamese Hot Pot for us from time to time. The challenge is that they all live with Greig and I too.

We couldn't do this without them really. The tenents help pay for the moorage and the hydro, telephone, internet, satelllite TV and there a bit left over for actual supplies and building materials.

Marcus has been a god-send -especially lately, as he has put a great deal of sweat equity into stripping the green paint off the stack that sits in the middle of the Salon and now you can see the lovely mahogany underneath. We've some finishing work to do on it before we oil it but it is mostly done. I hope to get in there and help him finish it off. As soon as I find a round tuit. Photos to be posted soon.

Friday, August 19, 2005

How to get a tugboat to stop on a dime

Living on a ship like the Bowie has challenges. Some of which are things that
most people wouldn't worry about from day to day. It is courtesy in the boating
world that when you happen upon a marina and/or docks, that you slow down.
Apparently, not all boaters know this and I guess they just can't see us.

Last Monday eve, a 38 foot sport fisher buzzed us at flank speed a mere
25 feet off our portside, thus sending the already dodgy docks, us and
our neighbour boats into a mad froth. I ran out screaming at them onto
the portside breezeway as fast as I could shaking my fist to little
avail. "Slow down you Rat bastards!" I screamed. They didn't.

So it has been on my mind of late, to find a way to slow them down.
Greig and I have had discussions about this. Of course, his advice for
me on any action on my part was couched with "don't do anything stupid
to get us thrown out. It is hard to find a place to park this thing."

He nipped one consistently ignorant boater several months back by
chasing him down in the speedboat and got all Viking on the fellow.
Apparently chasing down other boaters and attempting to board them is OK
but I can't yell at them from the ship.

So a few nights ago we were sitting in the hot tub around midnight and having
a glass of wine and debriefing each other on our day. Travelling east up
toward us at a reasonable speed of about 3 knots was a 45' tug boat.

Now often as not, after 9pm at night, we'll be naked in our hot tub and
we don't care. It's our damn tub. Neighbours be damned. And since it was
after midnight, we were in there, naked.

So I decided to try a wee experiment. The tug was just coming along
side us but still well over to the north side of the riverbank and
really not going by us at an unreasonable speed.

"You don't have the guts," Greig said to me.

I stood up.

Apparently I CAN make stop a tug boat in less than three feet of

I have never seen a car, let alone a boat travelling with the momentum
and weight that a tug does stop on a dime like that! It was most
impressive in spite of the fact that Greig and I were rolling on the
bottom of the hot tub laughing hysterically.

He threw it into reverse, backed up about 10 feet and was sitting there
stopped in the river along side us, expecting more of a display. That boat was
absolutely still for what seemed like ages but we were laughing so hard
I can't rightly say how long it was. But there he was, wiping the
condesation off the windows in his wheelhouse hoping to get another

I can't possibly give him what he wants and I am trying to wave him on
- the show is over, I am laughing way to hard. He isn't going and quite
determined there is more to see.

So Greig, consumate gentleman that he is, stands up. As he is rising
out of the water, the tug drops back into gear, determined to see none
of what Greig's got and floors it forward and away he goes.

"See, honey, I keep telling you - you have way more power than you
realize." Yah, thanks honey.

So I think I'll make a sign and hang it off the bow of the ship."Dead
slow please, naked women at play"

I think that just might work.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

the first post

Well I am new to this blogging business. I am living a rather unique lifestyle on an converted 136 foot, WW II, US Navy Subchaser with my boyfriend Greig, on the Fraser River in Vancouver, BC. I guess I should be saying Richmond as we actually live on the east end of Mitchell Island, and it is a part of Richmond. Of course, most people here have heard of Mitchell Island but they just can't quite place where it is. It is no wonder really, as it is an industrial site smack in the middle of the north arm of the Fraser River. They drive over it to cross the river into Richmond, but most don't have much need to go to Mitchell Island, lest they need to get used auto parts or cement.

Greig, my boyfriend and I met on-line back in January of 2002. For about 10 years and prior to my ever meeting him, it was a mission of his to live on a boat. So about a year almost to the day after we met he was scouring the
Boat Journal looking for his "fat 50". He had been picturing a wider yacht of about 50 feet in length, big enough for me and his two kids from his previous relatonship.

136 subchaser. Needs lots of work. Offers. Powell River, BC. Off like a shot he goes went with a friend to investigate this "yacht". It is anchored in Saltery Bay, near Powell River on what is known as BC's "Sunshine coast". He squealed like a little girl in anticipation of seeing it. I, however, did not.

Now I like boats and though the motivation towards boats has never been as stong has his, I found myself often on boats of some ilk. Powerboats mind you, as sail boats never really entered my sphere. It borders on an obsession for him - perhaps a by-product of his Viking heritage. Boat disease indeed and rare is the boat he doesn't like.

The more I look around for others who are doing something similar, I see the term
seasteading hashed about. I guess we are doing that too. But this is unique on many levels and friends and people are facinated with our lifestyle which is a most curious thing to me. I guess it is just so audacious that people are naturally curious as to our lifestyle and that he picked the damn thing up for a dollar.

"You can do that? Is it legal? What's it like?", are most often asked. Well it's kind of like pioneering.

What would you expect of the condition of a 136 foot wooden ship that someone sells for a whole dollar?


"Well it only leaks when it rains!" Greig tells people often. Most people go "Oh-mi-god!! Would ya look at that thing?" They probably think it is about ready to sink but it's hull is quite rock solid and bilges require little pumping.

Which is why a total neat freak and who's work is about the asthetic was completely overwhelmed and intimidated at the sight of it. To say it scared the crap out of me was a HUGE understatment, our relationship was, at the time, not exactly rock solid. It was not an easy decision to stay and still challenges me daily. And I am pretty handy and know my way around tools too. I am kind of a Martha.

But he was so damn determined...that voice said, "oh don't be a pansy, stick around, this is going to make a woman of ya!" That he didn't have a job nor was he even on Employment Insurance wasn't even a deterrent. This was his life's dream and how to pay for it all was a minor detail. I don't make huge cash at my job and at the time it certainly wasn't secure and all I could see was more work for me and I was busy enough as I had a job. That and love makes ya just downright stupid.

But here we are now and it is August of 2005.
His two children live with us part time as well - though we don't get to see them nearly as much as we'd like. It is earning its keep as we have tenents (with whom we live with - a further challenge). We have been plugging away at cleaning it up and improving it as much as we can without financing. That we have people who are willing to PAY to live on it never ceases to amaze me but it attracts the misfits of the world, the iconoclasts, ok, the freaks.

Our life is a reality televison show. A mix of
Trailer Park Boys, Survivor and Extreme Makeover- Home addition all rolled into one. The work is never ending. Greig, thankfully now has a pretty steady employment as a Restricted Engineer and cruise director with a local charter boat company, with benefits of chunks of the winter off and I now have two jobs (my graphic design job and working with him on the charter boats on weekends). Then there is trying to renovate a ship. If you think one of the ultimate challenges to a couple is in renovating a house try a ship!

And while I bitch about the challenges of it all and try get enough sleep, nurture my soul and my own needs, and I certainly don't want my epitaph to read - "I wish I had cleaned more."

When we sit in our hot tub on the stern of the ship and look across at the leaky condos on the other side of the river and snicker that they have us for a view as we scamper our lily-white butts into our hot tub. We are thankful that we don't live overpriced and leaky condo and realize that they aren't any better off than we are. Thankful to not have the bullshit of strata councils. So we contemplate life on the river and future plans it all seems to somehow fall into place, albiet not always smoothly. We live in an industrial area and it is what I call , "livin' on the Bayou." The whole complex is an industrial mess and irks me everyday I walk past the overflowing dumpster in the yard that our landlord is too cheap to empty. We live in a "gated" community (tongue firmly planted in cheek) and we are really in the best spot to do the work we need to do on the ship. We have ready access to the big recycling outfits and centrally located to both our jobs and his children who live with their mother as well. Ying and Yang.

We can blast down the river on our little speedboat and go to the beach. Wreck Beach, that is and we bypass the stairs from hell but accessing it from the water. We can zip over to Bowen Island for dinner should the mood hit us, therefore, bypassing BC Ferries as well.

So it is pretty cool and stupid crap happens all the time.
Its also funny as hell.