We’ve been mostly at anchor for over a month now, and social distancing for over 2 months. Washington State is starting its 3rd month of modified social behaviors (the Stay-At-Home order was mid-to-late March, but we started social distancing as early as March 1). We normally spend 1/3rd of our year living in British Columbia, so to be cut off from friends and beloved locations there has been really hard.
While we’re fortunate overall, the feelings of uncertainty and frustration have been hard, as they are for everyone right now. One thing brought to our awareness is that many people don’t understand the different types of cruising boaters. People tend to assume that all boaters have a home on land, and that when they go cruising they’re traveling away from home and hopping between different marinas each night. To them, being on the water is a vacation, but to us it’s life.
Even amongst the sailing community there’s a lack of awareness of cruising lifestyles and the different constraints faced. So it’s no surprise that government officials making decisions affecting ports / marinas are unaware of these differences as well.
Recently we’ve seen a lot of “greenwashing” – companies advertising they’re doing good for the environment when they’re really just interested in selling their product more. These companies are capitalizing on the concerns many people have for the environment now-a-days. One ad we saw on YouTube – for a company manufacturing a stainless steel water bottle with embedded electronics (for monitoring your water intake through Bluetooth) – claimed their product was earth-friendly because they’re promising to recycle one plastic water bottle each time you use the steel water bottle.
This is of course ridiculous, because the production of stainless steel and associated electronics is far worse to the environment. And all plastic water bottles should be recycled or properly disposed of, *without* having to manufacture a stainless steel bottle to do so. (In case you’re curious, the product is called REBO and fortunately the comments show many others have seen through the greenwashing as well).
Of course, some people are not concerned with the environment (if that’s you, you may not want to continue reading). But increasingly many people are, and they’re struggling to figure out how to help. But, almost never is the right answer to purchase a new product. And there’s an easy way to recognize greenwashing: unless the company is a charity or non-profit, if they’re advertising about how they’re helping the environment, it’s probably more in their self-interest than any actual benefit.
Trash on the beach in Suva, Fiji
We’ve traveled a lot in the last couple years, and seen trash in many, many places that would otherwise be considered “paradise.” In Suva, the capital of Fiji, trash littered the beach for miles, accumulating in layers that will require many dump trucks to remove. Sadly, the poorer a country is, the more trash and pollution it’s likely to have. In comparison, the Pacific Northwest is much cleaner than many other areas of the world – we’re lucky to enjoy such pristine conditions.
Despite the occasional accidental sewage discharge by city facilities (on the order of millions of gallons!), the deep waters and fast flowing currents of the Salish Sea quickly dilute most pollutants. That doesn’t mean we get to sit back and do nothing though.
We’re now 6 months into living aboard, and it’s going great. Basically all the things we expected to be great, are, and the cons are manageable. We feel more connected with nature, have fantastic views and sunsets on a regular basis, and enjoy a simpler life with less stuff.
What’s more is we discovered a wonderful community at Shilshole which gives it a neighborly feel we never had living in the city. Living in apartments and condos over the last 10+ years, the most interaction we usually had with our neighbors was a “good morning” as they tore their eyes away from their phones in the elevator.
In apartments, though you’re close to many people, you really aren’t close with any of them.
At Shilshole we’ve done STYC’s Race Your House, hosted neighbors and trick-or-treaters on Halloween, and we know the names of most of the dozen or so people on our dock.
We’ve had a few logistical challenges which we didn’t expect. Much of the preparatory advice we heard focused on the obvious things (like the weather) rather than the practicalities (how to change your address, where to put stuff, etc).
The classic problems have been easily addressed for the most part. Rainforest-like condensation? Easily fixed. The cold, dark winter weather? Nothing you can really do about that but have a good attitude. But our heater has helped (more on that later).
Here are the top 5 unexpected challenges we’ve had from our point of view:
Removing moisture from the boat is one of the first challenges for a liveaboard boat in the PNW. Every day, breathing, cooking, and rain drenched clothing add moisture vapor to the air, and that’s on top of a base level of high humidity the outside air is at during our rainy weeks. And let’s hope your boat doesn’t have any leaks, because that’ll just add more moisture to the boat as we get week after week of continuous rain.
We’re now 5 months into living aboard, and it’s going great! The moisture really started turning on about 3 weeks ago, when the night time temperatures became quite chilly. When the outside temp drops to 40 F but your cabin temp is 62 F, that warmer moist air hits a cold surface (hull walls, deck underside, metal deck fills and hatch frames) and quickly condensates.
We really want to prevent mold from forming (when we bought our boat we had a lot of mold to clean off the interior hull and hidden storage spaces: Tackling the Mold Monster (May 2015)) – and keeping the humidity reasonable is the key.
Controls on the EDV-4000
A PNW winter looks like this – day after day of rain
A Good Dehumidifier
The #1 tool for a liveaboard is a good hard-working dehumidifier. We had heard recommendations for the Eva-Dry EDV-4000 from 48 North and other cruisers, so that’s what we tried. And it’s working great! It pulls volumes more water out of the air than our small Eva-Dry EDV-1100 did.