e-book Long Live Open Water: Tales of Open Water Rowing, Food, Family and Life

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A bit of a premature thought, for sure. Charlie and I rowing in the Maas double. Photo actually taken the following day off Anacortes, but it provides a glimpse of the boat in action. When we left the bay, the chop began to pick up for the first time. Even on a calm day, this was the Salish Sea, and it would be a far cry from lake rowing. We began to hit our first wakes from powerboats zooming by. Wakes would be a constant obstacle for the rest of the race -- some of them mellow and loping, and others aggressive and sending sprays of water right into the boat.

We hit our first obstacle when we neared the ferry deck on Shaw. All of a sudden, we spied an approaching ferryboat, blowing its horn to all of the boats in the race. For a moment, we wondered whether we should stop and turn, or just keep rowing as hard as we could to escape right in front of it. We ended up doing the latter, racing past the ferry dock before we were mowed over. As the lead boat, we were the only ones who lucked out with this maneuver.

The next boats in line were forced to yield to the vessel. Our lead broadened. A shot of a San Juan Islands ferry boat the morning before the race. For the next hour or so, the race waters changed constantly. We hit eddies and currents that spun our bow wildly. My hands grew weary of gripping the oars and we navigated over chop and waves. I lost my oar entirely on a wave once, making me glad I was rowing a double.

In a single, I might have gone swimming. San Juan Channel, a long, straight section with a steady stream of power boaters, seemed like one, endless wake. As a fellow rower said, "My fun meter ran out right around there. When one boat wake swamped us, we paused to open the bailers and let the water drain back out. Since Charlie sat in bow in our boat, he navigated and called steering commands.

He proved a calm, level-headed bowman, unflustered by boats, rocks, or other obstacles. While the biggest wakes made me nervous, Charlie didn't mind. I'd keep rowing, and then when he was done, take my turn. The sports drink and water proved imperative on the hot summer day, especially once we hit 90 minutes into the race. Though we both were growing tired, we still maintained a substantial lead perhaps 2, meters on the rest of the pack, so I figured we'd easily finish first.

I shouldn't have counted on our victory so soon! As navigator, Charlie needed to decide what sort of line to take with the boat, and whether to steer closer to shore or remain farther out in the channel. He also knew that Shaw Island included a number of bays that we should not be tempted to row into, as a straight course around the island would be more prudent.

His strategy worked well With both of us growing exhausted from rowing through the choppy water, we came up to the final cove. I glanced around, saw the sailboats anchored in there, and said to Charlie, "I think that's the finish line. Alas, the finish line was indeed in that bay.

Instead of heading to the end of the race, we rowed around a small island outside of Indian Cove. By the time we were on the other side of the island, Charlie realized his navigation error. We continued around the island and then headed back into the bay, approaching the finish line from the other direction. We crossed the line in roughly two hours. In the end, we rowed about an extra 20 minutes, relinquishing our large lead and allowing three other boats to come in before us.

At the Sound Rowers award ceremony, we received the "Figure Eight Course Award," receiving a book of mind teasers and puzzles as our prize. Somehow, losing the race to a major navigational error seemed quite fitting for the open water newbies. There's something to be said for knowing a course. We agreed that in future long-distance regattas we both should study up a bit more, and be more aware of our surroundings when we begin the race. Upon finishing the race, I told Charlie that I wasn't sure I'd do an open water race of that league again. Apparently we'd actually hit the race on a very good year as far as conditions go, and past years have been far rougher.

Feeling a bit beat up from the waves and wakes, I couldn't imagine wanting to row in higher seas. While I loved the long distance and adventure element of the race, I far preferred the stretches where the water calmed and I didn't need to worry about losing my oar or moving with the waves.

Or perhaps I just need a bit more experience in the rough water. The veterans don't seem the least bit fazed by the waves. We headed back to Anacortes on the ferry that evening, weary from the day's events and happy for a respite from exercise and gripping two oars. But the next morning, when we woke up at my parents' home and gazed out at the glassy waters of Burrows Bay, we looked at each other and at the rowing shell atop our car. A peaceful morning row in Burrows Bay.

For more by Heidi Dietrich, click here. For more on fitness and exercise, click here. Real Life. Real News. Real Voices. I can trufully can say that I have never regreted this wonderful living arrangement. In some of the replys on this topic someone mentioned that live aboards are like hobos, LOL.

Yes there are those that live like pigs, also if you were to look at their boat it also suited for a pig. I have been cruising for 5 years and love this lifestyle. When on land I am like a fish out of water. If you need crew check out Find A Crew. You can get on someone else boat and get some experience and see if you really like it before you buy.

Mary Lou. Hello Mary Lou. I know this is a older posting but hopefully you find this. I have pondered the idea of living on a boat for many years but up until recently, finances have been a deterrence. I have been seeing some very nice cruisers in the 40ft range that I can, with financing, actually afford. I do still work in Seattle where nearby livaboard moorings are available and will continue to do so for the next ten years. Soooo, my question is, at 55, and in good health, am I too old to considering this? Dave, I am 53, on my second and larger boat.

I just pruchased a Hardin 44 and it is an apartment on the water. She is a slow but steady boat. To remain alive or in existence. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere: families that were surviving in tents after the flood. To remain functional or usable: I dropped the radio, but it survived. To live longer than; outlive: She survived her husband by five years. To live, persist, or remain usable through: plants that can survive frosts; a clock that survived a fall. To cope with a trauma or setback ; persevere after: survived child abuse.

For the type of person that buys gas masks, survival knives, and iodine tablets. If I was writing an article on tournament fishing, boating vacation getaways, waterskiing or any of the other wonderful things you can do on the water, well, I would have chosen another venue. The boating community and lifestyle are great. So are our national parks and wildlife reserves, but if I read an article about snakebites, bear attacks and dysentery from drinking in streams I would not flame all over the author for his perceived negativity of our forest community.

I thought it would be a bonus for employment being a live aboard as I was, and still am a marine industry worker, but I have actually been turned away by boatyards at least twice due to that status, and no, I did not ask for free, reduced or any other dockage for that matter either. This was due to their previous bad experiences with live aboard employees.

In general boating is very safe especially for those who are cautious and prudent, every year I see dozens of unfortunate accidents due to alcohol, tom foolery, testosterone, inexperience and other causative mechanisms. Just hang out at a busy boat ramp on a holiday weekend and you can get a sense of what I am saying just from doing that. Merchant Marine. I have nearly ten years of service with The U. That is all a matter of public record, Also…I write by my true name, unlike most…. I have to live by what I say. My intention is not to scare you away from boating.

As I have elsewhere stated in this blog. If your a Former British Marine living aboard as security guard, as one of my haters is,chances are you are on quite the cushy ride if the owner can afford a security contingent. The article comes from California,But I see a mirror image in alot of places.

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Thanks for the useful insight Tim. Unlike others I think your comments are positive and not negative. Tim As previously said by others, you give the boater and the survivalist, reality checks! I am a novice boater, but common sense tells me that I need to be sober and watch out for my safety at all times. Yes, like Tim said they are everywhere…have had stuff taken right off the back of the boat from late night raiders. Ask yourself, is that dinghy, outboard secure enough? So what is on this blog is all factual and should be used as a word of caution, cause stuff happens no matter where you are!


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Or you could make it secure but make it seem insecure and then feed the pirates to the sharks when you catch them. Those Thieving scumbags! Tim your responses are so long, convoluted, and full of negativity. We can all find our own negativity, what is of much more help is tell us about your good experiences or for gods sake tell us nothing at all.

I suggest you all listen to Tom. He knows what he is talking about. It is even better on a much larger vessel with more people. Safety in numbers, and someone can stay with the boat, drop people off on shore, pick up etc. All this is hard to do, most people want their own boat and the freedom that goes with it. I will also reinforce some other things said here. You must keep up appearances.

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It is easy to slack off. Shave, dress neatly. Act with decorum. If you are pegged as a bum, you will be treated like one. On the plus side, if someone hassles you, it is so satisfying to move on and leave the crappy people behind you. I am 66 this year was in the navy have been on or near the water my whole life. Others are enjoying good times and havhe plenty of good experiences AND times.

I will get me a fixer upper and start my journey on the water,it may take me awhile ,as I am not trying to impress anyone anywhere. If you see me wave and be cordial I will return the salute!!!! I wish all of you a fine journey and fair winds where ever you sail!!!!!

I am 65 and a former Marine. I was wondering if you have made it to the life on the water yet. The house will eventually go and be replaced by a live aboard status. If you get to read this send me a mail. Will be waiting. Were they good or bad and how? Are you saying you can only spend 3 days on the hook at any inlet or federal waters? Any reservations about Mexican waters? Any other advice, I Absolutely loved your article!!! Thanks, Clark. Having lived aboard for five years. I agree completely.

My wife and I Moved ashore and are now enjoying our seventeenth yr of full time living aboard a forty foot motorcoach. Theres no reason to discourage,just be honest. I have a lucrative job I can do anywhere and Ive spent a lot of time talking to people that live like this and it seems youre talking of the people at the bottom of the barrel.

Bisbee ,Man was not meant to live at sea? Wow, What he said is true he just said it in the most negative way. I have lived onboard over days on a aircraft carrier and would love to go back! There were bad days believe me but the good days are what I remember. I am a female that has lived aboard a 31 ft sailboat for 10 years and another 10 on a 46ft. All if what you say is true. Most of my time was spent in Texas in nice marinas or private yacht clubs which I enjoyed.

Recently retired and we are moving the boat to the east coast of Florida. This is a different experience with different challenges with fog, crab pots and depth and current issues. It has been very stressful for me so I guess you might assume this is not a life I want fir very long. When crossing from Panama City to Clearwater, it was an overnight crossing and about 2am a boat in the distance which was well lit had a 40 ft boat launch from its stern.

Changed our course away from them. All you say us true! A 40 footer from the stern? I doubt that was a drug smuggler…probably a Navy or USCG power barge dropping off a surveillance vehicle. FYI-The day you run into a drug smuggling operation…2 A. In a sailboat?

2. Your imagination goes nuts

It will be your last. The solution to your sewage tank is to sail out farther than 3 miles from shore and open the valve to release it into the sea. Kicks castle headwaters soap leathers in salt water and it only take a quart or two of fresh water to rinse and your squeaky clean. Here in fl we have been able to shoot to kill to protect property even before the stand your ground law which means you can kill if you feel threatened. I retired early and have an income although barely a middle classier I can live a wonder waterfront lifestyle but I first lived aboard at 18 and grew up on the waterfront on west coast of fl.

Chuck, are you still living aboard in Florida? I am considering it and would love the opportunity for your input. Punta Gorda area. Thank you, Susan. It is going to be tough enough on land but out on the Ocean things will be even harder if you ask me. The pirates will be everywhere and every boat on the water might as well have a huge target painted on it. I would rather fight on my feet on dry land any day. You guys kill me!

You make living aboard a boat sound like a battle zone! Most areas of the world are safe for boaters. And there are ways to defend a boat without having a firearm…which would land you in jail. Many ways, actually, from noises, electric wires, pepper sprays, etc. The key is to be low-profile and not make yourself a target.

Bisbee and Survival Gear are on land. Leaves more for those of us who want the adventure and excitement of being on our own to enjoy! If your a recreational boater you already have an idea of problems you can run into. Everyone on this blog keeps talking about shotguns and firearms for looters. I own a spear gun. The spear will go right through. Plus it is easier to reload and has a safety. Plus I am sure that if I empty enough rounds in the right place it would probably sink an attackers boat.

Guns are needed where people have guns and have access to them. Killing someone is not the answer to every societal problem. I arrived at a marina where they were having problems with scum. I told them to organize. They all looked at me like deers in the headlights. Simple: organized, surveillance, evidence, penalty phase- and this phase can be legal or illegal.

Trust me, catch the guy, blindfold him, breaks his arms, tie a rope under his armpits and take him out into blue water. Throw him overboard and bob him for an hour. Take him to a secluded spot at night, drop him off and leave and call the authorities, leave no evidence.


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  6. He will never come back, because he will not know who to come back to while he will know that if he does next time he might not come back alive. So they did. Within 6 months there were no more scumbags in the area. Fear is better than a gun and with less legal consequences. Also, Harbor Freight sells driveway sensors and they are wireless.

    Buy a few and place them in your boat. They reach ft. My friend caught a guy breaking into his sailboat, when the sensor went off and he was on shore. Jumped in his Dinghy and chased the guy down…. Been living on and off the hook for years. I am certain driving down the highway is a lot more dangerous then being anywhere on the water. You can talk all you want about how unsafe living on the water is, i assure you, land is a lot more dangerous.

    It is far easier to pick up and move away from the shit than to stay and deal with it. In any event it is good to have options. An RV and a live aboard cruiser. Boating does NOT require deep pocketbooks, nor life-long boating experience. But, we have come across MANY successful rookie and penniless boaters and liveaboards. If you were bent on having weapons with you as you cruise, you simply toss them into a weighted waterproof bag, and toss them overboad in shallow water as you approach your new port-o-call and mark them via your GPS. After checking through customs in your new host country, you then return to your GPS waypoint to retrieve your illegal booty.

    Boaters RELY on fellow boaters more than typical land-lubbers rely upon their neighbors. When we cruised our boat last year for just over 1, miles, we passed maybe dozen boats enroute? A well-equipped sailboat has a nearly endless range, and can truly reposition globally. It has its own watermaking gear saltwater into freshwater. This also serves as a source of income selling bottled freshwater, which is worth more than diesel fuel per gallon in much of the world. Just tune into the news any day of the week? From bums on the street corner, to the pin-striped-suits playing ponzie games, to government officials and their votes-for-kickbacks in DC.

    Yes, money and experience help ALOT as you say.

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    And you can live on the cheap. If you admit to all bad stuff happening to you being your fault then you free yourself from fear. No drivers lic. Stay away from cops and drive defensively and stay out of rush hour. Victims could always have prevented the problem adults. Pay attention to your surroundings…your spouse.. I see it coming and so can you. The talk about pirates is frankly silly. The Gulf is far too well policed and traveled for pirates to be able to really do anything.

    Your chances of getting attacked by pirates in the Gulf are far, far, far less than getting mugged on the street. As far as cost, living on a boat can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. It can be absolutely way cheaper than land living. Yes, you do spend mornings doing chores and boat maintenance, but the afternoon and evenings hold a strict no-work policy! Simply be honest and make sure you claim it and let customs and other authorities know you carry it.

    With the advent of solar panels and watermakers, boat living is perfect for people who want to live independently and off the grid. Happy sailing! I have never once heard of anyone I knew being sold into sex-slavery. No one I know has ever gotten HIV therefor it is silly to be concerned about it and no one promiscuous or otherwise really needs a condom.


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    I could go on. Jason you are Paranoid. Fear is your daily food. Violence is your comfort food. Nobody is saying what you are implying that they are saying. For a while I have been planning my escape from the day to day life of work and home. I have decided that my escape will come in the way of a houseboat. I have purchased a , all aluminum boat that I am gutting completely.

    Come spring, I will set it in the water and see if it floats. If it leaks, I will fix and continue on. The boat is only 28 feet and the motor puts out about 35 hp. I hope that can move me around. I will also put in wind turbines to charge the batteries along with a generator. If all goes well on a few practice voyages, I will be cruising the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. At least that is the plan. Just saw your site and would like to share what you all are doing and how you are surviving. Please please please read opinions from ppl out there living the life say about energy production, a wind gen or two can be a minor help during storms when uv is down and wind is up but the opinion from vast majority will tell you solar.

    I know ppl who generate enough to seldom ever need a genset. True,a liveaboard does face some unique challenges, however as with most challenges, attitude and planning goes a long way. In my case I looked for for the right project. I then spent 2 years fitting it out so that I can maintain every system I installed with my own 2 hands. Do I worry about pirates, you gotta be kidding, I look out for Grizzlies. Hi Lou — Thank you for your post.

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    Love your common sense and creativity in sustaining what sounds like a very fulfilling way of life. Would you be willing to share your 6 month supply list? Thank you. I worked for Sea Ray boats in engineering for 6 years and put my work experience to work living the life.

    On the hook just outside of Cocoa. Literally walked into shore but I lived very differently than most. I purchased a big flat steel barge, welded a superstructure on top, and had everything I needed locked AND hidden in special part of the boat. When I took off for days on a trip and left the boat there was nothing insdie they could find or take of value. Now I Vanabode which is seriously way more fun, way safer, and provides WAY more variety than boat living. The Med is a great place to be a liveaboard…cheap in places , varied and on the most, easy sailing. My biggest problem is how to have airconditioning on a small, 16 ft.

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    I was told that one can grow enough food for one person on only sp feet. If so living aboard is possible. Also, if you observe the us navy type water hours, a show becomes possible. Consider an Incinolet. It requires power to run one. A small Honda generator will handle one cycle. One hour running. Those are bad ass and leave a cup of ash instead of all that other shit. Pun intended.. We had them on a pacemaker I ran for a Dr and I loved them. We ran miss out a thru hull so no holding tank. Also ran shower into bridge and that helped keep grime from building up.

    I am leaving my house and trying out boat living for a few months. We are common sense type folks who will be working down the street from the marina we will be staying at. I have a car and plan on driving to get my basics. I am a woman who loves to have stuff, but I would love the experience of what it is like living with the minimal. I believe the experience will last a lifetime and heck maybe in the future I would buy a sailboat and travel the world. I will actually have a surplus!

    So did you go and do what you wanted Amy? There is a marin a on manatee river no bridges to tampa bay that allows liveaboard rent is a ft that includes ice everyday free WiFi showers laundry room and a kick ass restaurant with happy hour bargain munchies. Its kinda shallow so if you draw more then 6 ft its not for you. I plan to move my powerboat there in a couple months…. We are planning on buying a boat and setting sail in two years. Two of my biggest concerns is…will I be bored? Boredom could be a huge issue.

    My own favorite hobby for boredom was species identification of marine life, opportunity to practice was prolific and source material to study was also. And it comes in very useful too, A lot of marinas have book exchanges which are fun anyway, but allot of books about the marine environment was there for the picking. Cooking too if you like that, cooking on the hook and sitting down to eat with my soulmate, in the beautiful natural setting as the sun set is one of the fondest memories of my life. Learn to scuba or snorkel, learn kite fishing,navigation was a chore for me at first but I knew a few people that charted just because it was fun to them, like Sudoku or something.

    Thank you for the comments. I was wondering the same thing about boredom and what I should do with my stuff when my lease is over. I really appreciate the insight. Bring a laptop and a bunch of good games. Although soloing, I do get lonely and go to shore to just talk to people a lot. Prepare for days on end sitting in the rain. Let me add, prepare before you go. Spend the money while while your working and dreaming, not after you start out.

    I am a an ex-advertising executive in New York and am considering life on a sailboat. I grew up sailing small boats in Fla and preliminary investigations have me considering a Bavaria. There appears to be enough room for my wife and I and moving away from the land is something I very much look forward to. I want to go into this with open eyes so the experience of others, pros and cons are greatly appreciated.

    Tim Bisbee………. I am a former British Royal Marine, who has lived on boats -in numerous locations for the last 15 years. I make my living in the maritime security industry, and choose the liveaboard life purely because I love the sea. Shopping for groceries is the same the world over, you find the best and cheapest location by experience.

    I very rarely buy anything other than fuel in marinas! There are numerous websites which one can use to monitor the international piracy situation — all free of charge to the boating community, so there is no reason to be unprepared. All that is required for a successful liveaboard life, is a little research- and buckets of streetrwise common sense. I am planning on retiring again early next year like in February I am very much hoping to and planning on retiring on a boat this time.

    I am looking for the right boat to live on now and hopefully will find the one I want before then. Maybe short trips now and then. But it looks like there are more good ones as for living on a boat. I started to read but no time right now. They both work. I am not wealthy but can hammer a nail in the wall if I have to. Living on a boat is as close to getting independent as it is possible these days.

    Nevertheless, you have to be able to be self dependent and that is what makes it worth while for most of us that do it. Can anyone advise me to a nice live aboard dock with a cove that is reasonable on monthly rate. My wife and I are gonna give it a go I think. Probably around a ft. Boat Preferably South Florida. And any tips on what to look for on a live aboard boat. Drinking water, waste water and stores are all huge considerations on a boat, not to mention safety and comfort.

    Many sailors who have written online and in the traditional book market led a boating lifestyle and returned to land. That should tell us something. However, I expect it to be an adventure, not a long-term lifestyle. Read, read, read about the cost of boat living and the many discomforts noise,for example that boaters have to endure. Rot, mold, continuous humidity, heat, cold, storms, isolation, dingy thieves laundry,fire the worst of all on-board disasters other than man-overboard situations, port authorities, Coast Guard authorities…blah, blah, blah.

    My plan is to actually pay for fairly long-distance trip aboarda sailboat to determine if I think I can handle this sort of adventure. Now see, this is the response that I had hoped to generate. Now I was feeling a little on the gloomy side when I wrote down my previous input above,and I did want to scare off those that need scaring off, but this very well thought out,planned and staged approach,by someone with true commitment, is exactly what I wished to generate.

    I myself did very well living on board and traveling and I did have some really great experiences that made it all very much worth it. But I knew what I was doing most times and approached everything with forethought and respect. Tim, First I want to thank you for your service both to OUR country and to all in international waters that you have helped! Anyway, dad did not get James Bond money or even post worker money, he did it to stop terrorism, stop drugs from coming into country, and to help countries getting taken over by dictators.

    He got to see over 70 countries and also got to get shot at in half of them. Tim face the truth, the ugly side no one wants to hear. Tim is actual the guy who will Save you if something happens! Neither did on his watch, but he warned about it. Nervous Nelly that he was. How did you go about finding someone for a long-distance trip aboard a sail boat? My soul mate and I are thinking of buying a sailboat and taking off for a year. We raised our kids and yes, we do not have enough money to retire but, so many of the people around us waited to long and they never got to retirement.

    My feeling is why wait till you are too old to do anything anyways. I am 48 and Jim is We are new to sailing having been given a 25 foot sailboat and a cheap mooring on a lake that opens to the intracoastal waterway. So tempted to upgrade to say a 35footer and just do it. We need a little more sailing experience and the guts to jump. We are both avid outdoor people mostly mountain sports like hiking, white water kayaking, road biking… this is just something else we want to try for awhile.

    How did someone else finally get the guts to jump their good, corporate job for this life? Probably will not want a conventional job after a trip like this… who knows. I guess the unknown is a bit scary. But, it seems it is our next adventure.

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    Any advise from similar folks is greatly appreciated. Best advice, do it, stop thinking about it. I could have done this years ago, just make sure your boat is prepared. Making sure everything is the way you want before cruising will be easier then trying do do it out there. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Latest News. Its a sailboat. Whereabouts are you sailor oceirin? I have also never seen a heart attack…they must not exist either.

    Ref: Pirates in , I was returning from the Bahamas, to West Palm Beach, with a friend who was taking a turn at piloting. As to what type of weapon to bring if you decide to bring one at all. It WILL come apart in a most disastrous and harmful way!!! You can also use wasp killer spray. Shoots at least 15 feet and cheaper than mace. I would like to do this. Hope that helps from fellow travel who just does it on land ;.

    If you like dogs and have room, excellent choice.