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As soon as we announced we’d moved onto No Tan Lines, numerous friends and relatives invited themselves for a visit. We were too busy at that point to host dinner parties and out of own guests but, eventually, we ran out of excuses and the flood began. Here’s a brief list:

  • My father-in-law: Super cool guy from Corpus Christi. One of my absolutely most favorite people in the world! Loved hanging out with us in the cockpit but he didn’t want to sleep in the boat. Said he’s not a boat person. He got a hotel.
  • My parents: Were not invited to stay on the boat (not enough room for them). They were going to stay with our daughter anyway. The tide was very high when they came to visit and my mother had to climb a ladder to get onboard. She made a few peeps and “oh dears” but she got on board. They spent about 30 minutes, politely complimenting the boat and taking pictures. Then, we went to dinner. They left town a couple of days early and never came back to visit us on the boat.
  • Husband’s friend: Wanted to stay on the boat. I was impressed! He’s a tall guy. Bumped his head the next morning and it bled. Hurt his leg later in the day. He said he woke up in the middle of the night and thought there was an earthquake because the room was moving. He’d forgotten where he was. The second night, our cat kept scratching on the v-berth door, looking for our son, Max (that’s his bedroom). The friend then asked if he could stay at our daughter’s house for the rest of his visit. He’s coming back to visit, too this summer, and said he doesn’t want to stay on the boat.
  • Another in-law: Came to visit before we all went out to dinner. Said, “This is cozy,” and asked if we were comfortable in it. I don’t think the “cozy” comment was a compliment.
  • Husband’s other friend: Gets seasick. Was visiting with his dad so they couldn’t sleep on the boat anyway. He asked, “How long did you have to live on the boat before you could stop taking Dramamine?” I told him none of us had taken Dramamine since moving onboard.

We love our minimalist lifestyle and we love living on a rocking home but we definitely understand this type of life isn’t for most folks. Still, we enjoy giving them the experience whenever we can, even if they quickly realize it isn’t their cup of tea.

Several friends have been waiting to be invited to dinner parties on the boat. And, while we have had a few, with the boat maintenance, homeschooling the children, and running a business, we don’t have time to host a lot of parties. I wish we did!


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Our boat came with a beautiful teak coffee table with a lattice top. The problem is, it’s completely useless when eating dinner, unless you want to bend over at the waist with your head directly above your plate. We really wanted something higher that could be used as a kitchen table…but we didn’t want a huge kitchen table in the salon.

We discussed taking the teak coffee table to a carpenter to see if he/she could alter the table so we could lift it up for meals, and put it back down again for the rest of the day.

Richard suggested a trip to Ikea. I was doubtful. Would we have to spend hours assembling something? He was right. We found a very attractive table that is high enough for meals, but that can be folded and put to the side at other times. It was only around $79 and the stain on it matches the rest of the boat. Best of all, it didn’t require any assembly!

You can see pictures, and buy one, RIGHT HERE.



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Being able to maintain an intimate relationship without scarring the children for life was high on my list when we were shopping for a boat to live on. It was very important to have the children’s state rooms on the other side of the boat from the Captain’s Quarters. That type of floor plan whittled down our choices quite a bit. When we were looking at motoryachts, I liked the Hatteras models but all the floor plans I saw had a small stateroom right outside the captain’s quarters. That was definitely NOT going to work!

Our 52′ Center Cockpit Irwin Ketch has the perfect floorplan. Max is in the v-berth. Mason’s little room with the two bunks is right next to that. And, the Captain’s Quarters are all the way at the stern. The new air conditioners we installed (they’re also heaters) are quite loud and we can run just the fans when we want to. Add more noise from the pump and you can’t hear anything going on from the other end of the boat. Heh…

Also, since I know you’re curious, the boat is large enough that it doesn’t “rock” when intimacy is taking place. There, I said it. You read it. We can all stop giggling now and move on… 😉

By the way, if you’re living in a marina, and if you don’t incorporate white noise outside of your boat (the overboard discharge for the air conditioners works wonders!), your neighbors, and even people walking by, can hear you having sex. We should know. There’s one couple on the dock who has quite the reputation… 😉


Coco LOVES storms! Rambo HATES storms!

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Coco is a four-year-old chocolate lab/chow mix. We rescued her from a shelter in Bradenton, Florida when she was a puppy. As you can see from this photo, she was VERY happy to be going to her forever home!

Rambo is an eight-year-old orange Maine coon cat who was found as a stray by our son-in-law’s friend, Cole, in Georgia. He ended up living in Maine with Cole and our son, Max, fell in love with him. The bond was so strong that Cole let Max adopt Rambo and they’ve been best friends ever since.

On the day we moved onto the boat, Coco looked the happiest we’d ever seen her! She ran around on the deck, fearless in her romping. And, so far, she hasn’t fallen in (knock on wood!). She loves sitting out on the deck in the sun, whether it’s beastly hot or freezing cold. She’s truly a boat dog, through and through.

Rambo prefers to stay inside during the day, and stalk the docks at night. When we got our first big blow last year, we heard Rambo screeching down below. We found him crouched down on his belly in the hallway, which is the lowest point in the boat. He was crying and shaking. And, that began a very uncomfortable period of time for Rambo. Each afternoon, like clockwork, the skies would open and the thunder would roar. Rambo would cower, and whine, and cry and we had to take him into the captain’s quarters and comfort him. He was truly a scaredy cat!

But, when the sun set, he would escape through the companionway, jump off the boat, and dart down the docks toward the park. We would leave the companionway open and he’d come home around 4 a.m. each morning, and jump up on our bed. He’d then meow and bite my head until I’d pet him for awhile. That was his reward for coming back home.

We later learned what mischief Rambo was getting into (ahem…) but that’s a whole ‘nuther chapter in this story.



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I’m sure this comes as no surprise to fellow mariners but finding good, reliable contractors to work on your vessel is HARD! One gentleman we know, who shall remain nameless, offered us a variety of referrals for different contractors. While he, himself, is awesome and reliable, only one of his buddies has turned out to be so. The rest have been total flakes.

Let’s start with the squirrely electrician. And, he’s not only an electrician, but he’s also a captain, and is hired by folks to move their boats. He makes more money doing that so, if you’re scheduled for a repair, and he gets a call about moving a boat, you’re going to get bumped down the list.

We hired him to replace our electric panel, and to rewire the boat. It was going to be a big job, and quite expensive. The panel alone was $1700! I paid him up front for the panel. And, then began weeks of phone calls, and texts, and delays, and excuses. He’d ordered the panel. He hadn’t yet ordered the panel. He’d ordered the panel. I didn’t know what to believe. We pinned him down to start work on a specific day. He didn’t show up (nor even call). That happened again, and again, and again. He finally reported that the panel had arrived and he promised to come install it that week. I realized I’d been pretty stupid to pay him for the panel up-front!

Once again, he didn’t show. The next day, he actually called, saying he had a knee injury, and had to go to the hospital.

I was very angry by this point. I knew he was working at a local boat yard later that afternoon so I sent Captain Brian over there to confront him, and to get our panel. Brian found him working on another boat…on his knees – after saying he’d had a knee injury earlier that day that required a hospital visit.

He gave Brian the panel and we never saw him again. Brian and our awesome neighbor, Diego, later rewired the boat and installed the panel, and did a fabulous job! We now no longer have to worry about the old wires catching on fire while we’re sleeping. Shwew!!

NEXT: Coco LOVES storms! Rambo HATES storms!


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After we settled in, we were able to truly explore all the nooks and crannies in the boat. Here’s a list of just a few of the things we found:

  • A gazillion hoses of varying sizes stored here, there, and everywhere. We have no idea what they’re for, or where they go.
  • Two dozen screwdrivers.
  • Clamps and backup clamps and backup, backup clamps.
  • Every shape and size of screw, nut and bolt. Boxes and boxes of meticulously organized hardware.
  • Electrical connectors – HUNDREDS of them!
  • Receipts for every single repair/upgrade. And, while that’s a good thing, we also found the registration for the previous owner’s car, and several other printed items that were not boat-related.
  • Drawers full of dryer sheets. Why? A stink was eminating from the aft stateroom. We believe the previous owners were trying to hide the smell from potential buyers. More on that in a future post.

Now, it would be really cool if we actually need one of these items someday, and discover we have it on hand. But, I seriously doubt we’d be able to find a specific item in a choatic moment. If we’re not cruising when we need an item, it’s far faster to simply drive to West Marine to find exactly what we need than to dig through cabinets, drawers, and hidey-holes looking for just the right size/type of tool, nut, bolt, cord, clamp, hose, dryer sheet (ahem…), etc.

We will be having extra strainers on board, however. When you clean it out weekly, you have to hose it down because of barnicles. Yesterday, our neighbor was outside cleaning his out and we heard him shout a loud expletive. He’d dropped it in the water, where it promply sank to the muddy depths. It was nighttime and, luckily, he had an extra one onboard.

For now, Captain Brian is making an inventory of everything. He’s taking the backup, backup items to storage, and discarding a lot of things that we’ll never need, like multiple jars and bottles of very old lubricants and cleaning agents.

This reminded me of the last house we bought. When we moved in, we discovered that the previous owners had left EVERYTHING in their garage. It was packed full of decades’ old tools, cans of paint, fishing gear, old bottles of this, that, and everything in between, and even a forgotten firearm.

After we removed all the extra stuff from No Tan Lines, I swear she was sitting at least two inches higher in the water. She was a happy lady! 😉



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On our first morning waking up on the boat, we took a written inventory of all the improvements and repairs we wanted to make.

During the survey, we learned that there was an “illegal toilet” on board. That means the waste was being flushed overboard instead of into a holding tank. While many blue water boats have the option of turning a Y-valve one way for overboard and dumping, and another way for collecting in a tank, this boat was not in blue water and the Y-valve was turned to overboard dumping.

The “tank” was a bladder tank, which is an inflatable waste tank. And, if you think that sounds weird, you’re right! I mean, what if the boys “dumped” (pun intended) too much in the tank before pump-outs? What if the darned thing inflated so much it popped like a poop balloon? A poopy pop!

Turns out the bladder tank was perfectly legal, and not that unusual. They make some specifically for waste. So, we switched to the Y-valve to make the toilet legal once again and, guess what? Yep! It got so full between pump-outs that it popped. Not too bad. It just split a seam on top. But, the smell. THE SMELL!!!

We had to stop using that head while we ordered a new tank. Unfortunately, the place where the bladder tank currently resides is an odd shape so we had to order not one, but two new bladder tanks. They’ll be connected together with a hose, but in different compartments. Capt. Brian will be doing the installation himself. God bless him…

What other troublesome goodies would we encounter on No Tan Lines? A LOT!



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Florida is the lightning capital of the United States and it does not disappoint!! With the rainy season came huge lightning storms. One afternoon after another brought violent, cracking thunder and countless bolts of lightning streaking through the sky.

One of Captain Brian’s first jobs was to ensure the boat was really grounded and he did just that. After we were assured all was well, we were able to thoroughly enjoy the storms. But, we still unplugged our computers and other essential electronics when they hit just to be safe.

Here are a few lightning photos I captured this rainy season:




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On the day after we moved onboard, we were sitting quietly inside when we heard a big clap of thunder. We all stepped into the cockpit, and witnessed a black sky to the East, over Tampa Bay, barreling in our direction. It was the rainy season and we were going to get our first big blow! WHOOP!!!

Brian quickly checked our lines and he did it just in time because, within a few minutes, we were hit with 30 mph sustained winds! No Tan Lines creaked and moaned against her constraints and the bucking bronco effect began! Mason, who was afraid of storms when we moved to Florida six years ago, was laughing and dancing on the stern, waving his arms and feeling the wind racing through his hair.

Max came out to the cockpit to enjoy the show. A few minutes after that, we all raced down the companionway when sideways rain started splattering the deck. We closed the door and listened to the beautiful symphony of the downpour above our heads, the lines creaking, the halyards clanging…and the drip drip drip of leaks that we suddenly learned we had!

Richard grabbed a yellow sticky pad and started labeling where all the leaks were so we could remember them later, after the storm subsided. The excitement didn’t last long and, I admit, it was a bit scary in the beginning. But, No Tan Lines came through it just fine.

The very next day, we got another one but this time the winds were 40 mph sustained! Whoop again!! Now that we knew No Tan Lines would be okay, it was much more enjoyable.

We had several days of back-to-back afternoon blows and each one was a cause for celebration. The first clap of thunder would have us all outside on the deck, scanning the black clouds and lightning on the horizon. And, we’d all race back inside when the torrential downpours would begin. It became a daily family ritual and we were having a blast! 🙂



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It was the last weekend in May. Moving day! There were boxes everywhere. Some were labeled storage. Others were labeled boat. And, the rest were piled up for Richard’s repeated trips to Goodwill. We’d given some of our furniture to our adult kiddos and the rest was being picked up by a junk hauling outfit.

No Tan Lines (“Tanny” for short) was “on the hard” at Embree Marine Service (which is EXCELLENT, by the way) for repairs required by the insurance company, and we wouldn’t be getting her back for another 10 days or so. We packed our suitcases, and headed to a hotel with the kids, dog, and cat. It was the off-season here in Florida so we were able to get an oceanfront room for a very good rate. It was a “suite” (a tiny one) with a bedroom, two queen beds, a kitchenette, a small living room, and a fold-out couch. It was quite cozy and the view couldn’t be beat.

We decided to turn our transition period into a mini-vacation and we had a great time there!

During those 10 days, Max and Mason started their beginner sailing lessons at the The St. Petersburg Sailing Center and they LOVED IT! I was so happy! Max was so excited on the day he was able to sail out of the basin, and into the bay where he saw dolphins and a stingray! He developed a great camaraderie with his fellow students. Mason, because of his age, was stuck in the small boats so he wasn’t able to have as much adventure time. But, he learned how to sail a small boat all on his own!

During the last day of that class, the parents were invited to not only watch the kids, but to sail with them. I rode in the tiny boat with Mason while Richard rode in a larger boat with Max. We were so proud of everything they’d learned in just 10 days of class! We just got in for the ride and they did everything all by themselves! Sails up, rudder, keel, tacking, adjusting lines – the works! They have both moved on to the intermediate class. After that one, they’ll start the racing class!

On our official “moving-onto-the-boat” day, we packed up the kids and pets, and drove to the boatyard. Capt. Brian was already there, prepping the boat for the trip to our new “home,” the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina. I went upstairs to pay the boatyard bill. We’d had a ton of work done and all of it came in at or under the estimates they’d given. $11,200 total. I was THRILLED!

We settled into No Tan Lines, which was still on the lift, to wait for Capt. Stan, who was going to help us take her to the marina. It was beastly hot that day so Brian had the generator running, and turned on the air conditioners. And, a few seconds later, all the ACs turned off, flashing error messages on their panels. Oh NO! A quick inspection by Brian showed that there was air in the hose leading to the seacock – the NEW seacock. Chad at Embree promptly sent one of his guys down and it was fixed in no time. Brian turned the ACs back on and the boat started to cool down. Aaaaaahhh. We were finally about to be on our way! But, while we were sitting in the cockpit, talking to the nice gentleman who’d just fixed our AC problem, he suddenly said, “You’ve got smoke!”

TONS of smoke was coming through the outside vents. Brian literally jumped into the salon and turned off the generator, threw open the floor hatch, and started to investigate. The amount of smoke was quite impressive! I had already shooed the kids and pets out into the cockpit. There was no fire. Brian assumed it was a belt (and, later, we found out he was right). I was praying it wasn’t electrical. I was a bit nervous about the boat catching on fire once we plugged into shore power. But, Brian had been right. It was just a belt and it’s since been fixed.

Capt. Stan arrived, No Tan Lines was splashed, Stan easily backed her up, and turned her into the channel, and we were heading home! It as an easy trip to the marina, which was just around the corner. We were only in Tampa Bay for about 15 minutes. We had to stop by the marina office so we could be measured and inspected. Then, Stan steered her around the corner again, to our slip.

She was smoothly docked and Capt. Brian got busy hooking up the shore power and adjusting the lines. I sat nervously for about half an hour, hoping we wouldn’t have more smoke. And, we did not!

Richard and Max drove to our storage place for our “boat” boxes and we spent the rest of the day unpacking and settling in. That evening, we all sat in the cockpit, eating our dinner with plates on our laps, watching the gorgeous sunset, and feeling the stress of moving finally leave our shoulders.

It had taken about a year and a half of planning and a WHOLE LOT OF WORK but we were FINALLY LIVING IN OUR FLOATING HOME!!! My dream had come true!!!