Staying Afloat on Land

Friends, family, strangers, strange friends and family,

Greetings once again from beautiful Ketchikan, Alaska!

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See. I told you it was beautiful!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about our life afloat. So long, in fact, that we’re no longer even afloat! Not to worry- we didn’t sink. We just don’t live on a boat anymore and actually haven’t for quite some time.

Long story short- my handsome boat mate Rob and I moved off the boat when he purchased a commercial fishing boat that needed to live in the spot where we lived. I wrote about our journey going to get the boat in Juneau. You can read about it here if you missed it. Basically, there was only 1 stall for 2 boats so one boat had to go. So we decided to make the move to solid ground and since then, except when Rob’s out fishing, we’ve been living the cushy, land life.

You know the one.

The one where you have a normal size fridge with plenty of room for all of your sauces. The one where you have a real bathroom and a dresser. The one where you can have bananas.

Yeah- that one.

And when I say we moved off the boat, I don’t mean, like, last weekend. I mean like nearly 3 years ago. So it appears we have some catching up to do!

After we moved off the boat, I wasn’t sure how to continue the blog so I just…didn’t.

I had always intended to transition it to something else but just…didn’t.

But I have longed to write again. So I just…did.

And for you, dear reader, I really think I can still come up with ways to twist the details of our life in Alaska to hopefully make it interesting enough to read. I’m at least going to try! If nothing else, I will be honest. And honestly (see, I’m being honest already!) that should be interesting.

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To give a little more background on why I really decided to give this whole blog thing another go, I recently started listening to a podcast called “The Minimalists” which is run by 2 thirtysomething year old guys who in their late 20s decided to try this thing called “minimalism.” In short, it’s the idea of owning fewer material possessions in order to devote more time to the things you value. Kind of like owning fewer things so fewer things own you.

A lot of the ideas behind minimalism actually align with our former life afloat. Living on a boat, you are somewhat forced to own fewer things, and it’s an aspect of boat living that Rob and I always actually liked.

I won’t go into too much detail about it but if you’re interested, here’s their website: theminimalists.com. And the podcast is free on iTunes!

Aside from their ideas about material possessions, one of the things these guys talk about in the podcast is how you choose to spend your time and how it should align with your values. So it’s made me ask myself questions like- am I spending time doing things that I value? among other heavy stuff.

Well, remember the part where I said I would try to make my life sound interesting?

This is not that part. This is the part where I drop an honesty bomb for you, reader. This is the part where I admit to you an ugly truth which is that all too often lately I have found myself spending hours on end doing something affectionately called “online window shopping.”

For those of you who are better people than me and are unfamiliar with this idea, I don’t mean shopping online for windows. No, no. Online window shopping is where one spends hours online perusing but not actually buying anything. And then after those hours, you’re like, “Well, I didn’t buy anything so there’s nothing wrong with it!” It somehow feels like an accomplishment to spend hours shopping and not actually spend money. In reality though, if I at least bought something, then it technically wouldn’t be such a huge waste of time.

What I have to say to this past time is “F@*# you, Amazon Prime!”

But no, I’m only joking- thank you Amazon Prime for shipping free to Alaska. Thank you for all you do. Please don’t ever stop.

In all seriousness though, one of the things that I’ve started to question more is how I spend my time versus how I spend my money. I’ve always justified this practice with the fact that I don’t really spend a lot of money. Therefore it’s always seemed pretty harmless. When realistically what I should be looking at is how I’m spending my time.

  • Do I have money to spend on things that I find online. Yeah, sure. To an extent.
  • Do I have time to spend on it? Well, yeah. Apparently I do because I just said I do it.
  • Should I have the time to spend on it? Nope. I definitely should not.

And that’s where the issue lies for me. I truly want to try to spend some time doing more of what I love and value including writing and art making. Don’t we all want to spend more time doing things we enjoy? But too often we (yes, probably you too, I’m assuming) get caught up in the idea that we “don’t have time” for things. I could say I don’t have time to write. I could say I don’t have time to paint. But often what we’re really saying when we “don’t have time” is that it’s not a priority. For example- I have time to wash my bed sheets more often. I just don’t want to. Because making the bed sucks. Fitted sheets are the worst. It’s just not really a priority for me.

That’s an easy example though. It’s more difficult for me to say, “I don’t write or make art more often because it’s not a priority to me.” But my actions have shown that I’m certainly not prioritizing things that I value and that’s a truth I’m trying to change.

In the next few weeks and months, I hope to not only take on some more creative endeavors but also to catch you up to where we are now in life and some past adventures that you’ve missed. This includes exciting things like a brief stint abroad, Rob fishing on his commercial fishing boat, and a new fishing boat in the works. There might be even more not so exciting things like living out of suitcases and coming back from your brief stint abroad to find mold in your car.

So here’s to more boats, more writing, honesty bombs, and just trying to stay afloat.

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The Kitchen Situation

As I sit here writing this post, dinner is simmering on the stovetop and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to reflect on the many adventures of boat cooking. I’d like to say that I’m in the clear for dinner tonight, but with boat cooking, you’re never really in the clear until the food is on the plate. Because boat cooking is hard. Boat cooking makes me so frustrated sometimes that I feel like ripping my hair out and eating that instead because it would be easier than boat cooking. The kitchen situation/lack of kitchen situation has probably been the most challenging thing about living on a boat. Some boat kitchens are probably really nice and very normal, but our “kitchen” consists of a small countertop, a mini fridge, a sink (no hot water though), some cabinets for food storage, and various small appliances that are jammed into a little cubby hole because there’s not enough room for them to actually stay on the counter.

the boat "kitchen"

the kitchen situation

Over the past few months on the boat, I’ve perfected many techniques in boat cooking but not without much trial and much more error. Don’t get me wrong, my handsome boatmate and I eat some pretty delicious meals and have an abundance of fresh seafood to dine one. Somehow, it always works out, but not without the occasional breakdown and shedding of tears. I’m not even kidding- I have actually cried several times while cooking.

A huge challenge with the kitchen situation is that it’s made me crave ice cream way more than I’ve ever craved ice cream before. It’s not because I actually want more ice cream, but since I no longer have a freezer to store it in, I FEEL like I want ice cream all the freaking time. The mini fridge technically has a freezer, but it’s a joke freezer. You could fit maybe an ice cream bar in there, but by no means could you store an actual container of ice cream.

“The list” has also proved challenging when it comes to boat cooking. If you’re at all boaty, you know that when a boat is listing, it means it’s basically leaning one way or the other. The list is great in some cooking instances i.e. when you’re frying an egg and it all goes to one side of the pan and you don’t have to worry about it spreading out all over the place. But other scenarios are more difficult. Rice, for example. Up until I begrudgingly purchased a rice cooker out of pure frustration a few weeks ago, rice was my worst enemy. Imagine the rice sitting in the pot and half of it is out of the water. It was impossible to get evenly and fully cooked rice.

Another big issue- the mini fridge. Both my handsome boatmate and I are avid sauce lovers. In a normal fridge, all the door space is for sauces, but our tiny dorm room style fridge has gotten to a point where it is mostly just a place to store our sauces. Left-overs? No room, too many sauces. Imagine going grocery shopping and returning home to find that there is no where to put your perishables because your sauce collection has maxed out fridge space. Welcome to my life.

Sauce central

Sauces.

I would say the two best feelings in the world are 1.) eating and 2.) overcoming a challenge. Dinnertime on the boat just so happens to be both of those feelings, but positivity aside, the kitchen situation still sucks. It doesn’t just suck when you’re trying to cook but also when you’re trying to clean up from cooking. As mentioned earlier, we don’t have hot water on the boat. This means that doing the dishes is a big ordeal. It involves boiling the water then pouring it into the sink…all this SOUNDS surprisingly simple but surprisingly isn’t. Pouring boiling water into the sink obviously requires some cooling time. You’d be surprised how often it happens that you take the time to boil water and are literally just waiting around for the water to boil then it finally boils and you pour it in the sink then totally forget it’s there.  Eventually, after you are completely wrapped up in watching “How I Met Your Mother”, you suddenly remember the boiling water you waited on forever. And now it’s super cold. OOPS.

Boat cooking really has challenged me in ways nothing else has challenged me before. I really grown to love cooking and figuring out new ways to prepare it is a delicious, delicious thrill. At the same time, it sucks.

Delicious and frustrating. Such is life, I suppose.

So friends, I could choose to just say “Until next time, float on” and end this post now but I think it’s about time I share this video. It kind of has to do with this post because it is literally a video of me boat cooking, but it mostly just has to do with me being a big, fat loser. For Christmas, I got a GoPro. Rob and I were also gifted this amazing product called the “Sushezi” as in, sushi-easy. One lonely day on the boat, I decided to practice using my GoPro, practice using the Sushezi, and practice using iMovie to make videos. It wasn’t intended to be used for anything really, but after showing it to those closest to me, I was told that this can’t be kept a secret.

Without further adieu, enjoy “The Sushi Movie.”

After that, I guess there are no other words other than, until next time, float on.

Welcome to My Hood

It has been straight up gross here lately- rainy, windy, chilly. This weather is pretty much the norm for Ketchikan though so a few weeks ago I took the rare opportunity to snap a picture of the harbor on a beautiful, sunny day. So there it is! The neighborhood in all of its sunny, boaty glory. Tip: if you click on the picture it gets bigger!

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Bar Harbor, Ketchikan, Alaska

So what do you think- won’t you be my neighbor?

Mr. Rogers

How can I write a post with the word “neighborhood” in it without including this guy? Correct answer: I can’t.

 

Until next time, float on friends

The Fishbowl We Call Home

I have never lived in a fishbowl, but I imagine that living on a boat is similar, only without the tiny colored pebbles on the bottom. You know the ones.

Living in a fishbowl might be great if you are a fish and you never have to change clothes, sleep (do fish sleep?), or really do anything that you might not want others to see you doing. That being said, I’m not a fish. I change clothes, I sleep, and I do things that I might not want others to see me doing.

Visibility is important on a boat, I get it. When you are out on the high seas and there is a rock or, say, an iceberg, you want to be able to see it. More important than sinking hazards, there might be a whale nearby and you definitely want to be able to see that.

Don't mind that exposed reef over there. Look at meeee! I'm jumping!

Don’t mind that jagged looking, exposed reef over there. Look at meeee! I’m jumping!

There are many reasons why it’s important to be able to see out of your vessel. That being said, when you are safe in the harbor and you are going about your normal, everyday tasks, it’s a different story. If you are able to see out of your vessel, that means people can see into your vessel.

Are you watching me do the dishes?

Are you watching me do the dishes?

Lately in Ketchikan, we’ve had a string of unusually gorgeous days. When it’s sunny here, you are practically obligated to go for a walk because you never know when your skin will feel the sun again.  It’s a rainforest so we’ll take any Vitamin D we can get. It just so happens that a harbor is a great place for people to walk their dog or walk their children. After all, you think,  “It’s scenic, it’s nice to go see all the boats, it’s nice to- wait a minute, is that a woman picking her nose in there? Let’s turn around, kids.” Yes, it was. That was me, making the mistake of thinking I have privacy.

Look, it's a Hoosier on a boat. Fascinating.

Look, it’s a Hoosier on a boat. Fascinating.

Bigger boats have a lot more privacy than our humble cabin cruiser and many people who live on boats sleep in what you would call the “berth,” which is what a bed on a boat is typically referred to. The berth is more private and would be a good space to do things you don’t want passersby seeing i.e. changing clothes. We choose to use the berth for unseen storage instead, however, meaning that our entire living space is open for the whole wide world of Ketchikan to see. Up until a few days ago, the front door (OK, it’s technically the back door because it’s at the back of the boat) was covered with a protective coating like the kind that comes on a piece of glass or plexiglass when you first get it. Though my handsome boatmate is very handy and installed a brand new beautiful sliding door, he is not exactly the decorating type. I think he would have been content leaving the protective coating on. But not me. Decorating is in my blood. It always has been. I also wanted the option of being able to see out the front door if it was, for example, a nice day and I had already picked my nose in private. This is why I took it upon myself to find a solution.

One of the great things about living on a boat is that it’s totally ok to indulge in the nautical trend because, hello! It’s not a trend when it’s a real life boat we’re talking about! That print of an anchor? I can totally buy that because I live on a boat. Oh, pillowcases with anchors on them? I live on a boat, they’ll never go out of style! When I found this fabric shower curtain on Urban Outfitters, I knew it was the one. It’s a boat- OF COURSE it needs a compass. Urban Outfitters also ships free to Alaska which is rare. I’m always looking for websites that will ship free here and have only found a few. All the more reason to get it.

In order to give it a more nautical look, instead of a curtain rod, I used boat cleats and a piece of rope, both purchased from a marine supply store here for under 10 bucks. I LOVE how it turned out. It’s simple but makes such a big statement in this small space. Plus now I have the option to tie it back and enjoy the sun on the back deck or close it and enjoy the privacy. Perfect.

IMG_2685For the tieback of the curtain, I first tied a monkey’s fist knot to continue the nautical feel (it’s a boat, remember?) Then I used another cleat and put a simple overhand knot in the other end of the rope. Voila! Perfect curtain tieback!

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Ta da! And I wasn't kidding about the anchor stuff either.

Ta da! And I wasn’t kidding about the anchor stuff either.

What do you think? I’m a huge fan. Stay tuned for more info and pictures of the fishbowl I call home. Just to give you some perspective, I pretty much had to back into a corner to get this shot.

Until next time, float on friends

intro to life afloat

So I don’t know what to write for my first post as a blogger- I don’t know if people I know will be reading this, if people I don’t know will be reading this, or if anyone at all will be reading this. But here goes! My name is Maria, and I live on a boat in Alaska with my wonderful boyfriend Rob. That’s right, we’re on a boat. Hey, I think I’ve heard a song about that…

If you’re on the shore, then you’re sho’ not me.

Our living situation is admittedly unusual and I think it could be interesting to share some of our experiences along with those of other individuals/families who live on boats as well. This blog is not for me to be pretentious and brag about how great it is to live on a boat. Not at all. In fact, let me give you an idea of what our home looks like.

not our boat

That’s not it.

The boat we share together is a lovely and humble 31 foot cabin cruiser. If you are like me and have no idea what to picture when I say “31 foot cabin cruiser,” I’ll give you some specifics: our living space on the boat is about 9.5’x12.5′. That’s a little less than 120 square feet. For two people. Think smaller than your college dorm. Probably smaller than your kitchen. Maybe even smaller than your bathroom. For two people. It’s not a houseboat, except in the sense that we live on it and it’s a boat. And it’s not a yacht. He will probably read this and be offended, but it’s definitely not a yacht.

There it is!

My sister in Indiana suggested I start a blog a few months ago as a way to keep in touch with my family in Indiana when I moved to Ketchikan, Alaska. Well, sister, here it is! Living in Alaska is an adventure in itself, and living on a boat here is a lifestyle that (I think) is worth sharing. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages (more on that later), and I figured there might be a few people out there who would be interested in reading about it, especially if you are like me and obsessed with all things HGTV. I’ve always loved writing and am excited to share this adventure with friends and family, near and far.

Until next time, float on friends