Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Life as a Liveaboard

My home for a few days.
While at the Wooden Boat Festival, I stayed aboard Solitude III.  It was a great opportunity to spend time on the boat, and while not exactly being a true liveaboard, I at least tasted what it'd be like to spend an extended period of time aboard my little boat.

The boat wasn't exactly move-in ready when I arrived at Port Townsend.  For one thing, the electrical system, particularly the cabin lights, were mostly in a box that I brought with me.  So, task #1 was to go gangbusters on the wiring.  Fortunately, I had packed a small headlamp, because the sun had definitely set by the time my warm-white LED lights first flicked on, bathing the cabin in a bright, cozy glow.

The lights were pretty much the only improvement I made to the cabin during my stay.  I was missing a magic cable for the radio, so no tunes, and the hinges I bought for the cover over the electronics panel turned out not to work the way I'd hoped.  I also have a big roll of padded hull liner to install, but needless to say this didn't happen while the boat was in Port Townsend.  Facilities were readily available ashore, so I did not pack the port-a-potty.

Enjoying an evening inside the cabin.
The boat's cabin is remarkably comfortable.  Sitting on the cabin sole, a person could lounge about below all day.  Temperatures below were kept mild during the day by leaving the hatch, dorade vents, and portholes open.  Of course, since the weather was fantastic and there were Festival-goers to greet, my days were spent lounging in Solitude III's comfortable cockpit, instead of her comfortable cabin.  John C. Harris, PocketShip's designer, claims that he's counted 14 different comfortable places to sit aboard.  Having spent almost four days aboard, I believe it!

For bedding, I brought a 1.5" thick twin bed-sized piece of memory foam for a mattress and my trusty goosedown backpacking sleeping bag.   When below, I would spread this out and use it to sit on, making a comfortable place even better.   I had originally thought to cut the foam to roughly fit the curve of the cabin sole, but found that it fit pretty well, and that it was even desirable (i.e. made things even more comfortable) to let in run up the cabin side the little bit that it did.

My bed for three nights.
I'd spend my evenings reading, writing in Solitude's log book, or fiddling with with computer (the marina had Wi-Fi).  When it came time, I'd crawl into my sleeping bag, flick the lights off and drift off to sleep.  The foam pad made a pretty good mattress, a little stiff but not at all uncomfortable.  At some point in the future I may pick up a slightly thicker piece of foam, but it is by no means urgent.  I slept well all three nights.   Between the dorade vents being open and the very rough dropboards that I had whipped out just in time for the Festival, it was a little drafty inside the cabin at night.  By and large, the cabin stayed dry during the night.  I found a little condensation on the portlights the first two mornings, and the air inside was a little more humid that ambient, but there was no condensation on the hull sides or overhead, nor where my sleeping bag or gear at all damp.

I packed a small cooler containing some sandwich makings, yogurt, water, and apple juice.  I have a little camp stove, but didn't bring it this time, opting instead indulge in the luxury of marina living of procuring hot coffee and occasional warm meals ashore.  The cooler was just a little too tall to fit in the area under the cockpit, so it sat in the main cabin, conveniently creating a small table.

Of course, the best part was being aboard the boat!  I could look out the hatch in the evening and see the other festival boats, watch the sunset, hear the water gently lapping the hull, and be lulled be the boat's gentle reacting motion as I rolled over at night.  Comfortable?  Relaxing?  Enjoyable?  Ohhhhh, yeah.

"Do, do, do, lookin' out my backdoor"


  1. Nothing like a good night's sleep on a boat.
    Solitude III looks awesome. You did an incredible job. Because it was the name of our great grandparents boat, that was up there in my top 5 five boat names when we christened our current boat, so I really like your name choice.
    Hope you have many happy years sailing!


    1. Hi Polly,

      Good to here from you. I do love the family history with the name "Solitude." Y'all are welcome go come down and go sailing sometime.