A Part of

Troubled Waters. . .

And so it came to pass that we were indeed, leaving Texas and moving onto a boat (a 48-ft Monk McQueen) in Vancouver, B.C.
I could do this, I was sure of it. I knew all the words to Jimmy Buffett’s Cowboy in the Jungle -- From a bronco ride to a ten-foot tide, he just had to learn to roll.
How hard could it be?

For starters, the cowboy stuff goes into storage. Have you ever tried to walk down a dock in a pair of Justin ropers? More like Paul Simon’s Slip slidin’ away. There are no walls for the neon bar signs, no space for the 45-gallon drum-fashioned Texas smoker and I am given to understand that it is very “unboat-like” to feature decorative pieces such as Longhorn skulls -- something to do with safety on the high seas. So, we rented a big storage locker and I get to go visit my stuff from time to time.
Life Afloat by Beverley Wood

Electricity can be an issue. It’s not an issue when we’re away from the dock -- we simply don’t have any.And you thought your place was small. . . Most essentials are 12 volt and we do have a generator aboard for those must-have extras like frozen margaritas. And a battery charger, which my husband would say is more important. But we’re at dock a lot of the time -- we work. Plugged into shore power, we have a mere 30 amps at our disposal (compared to 200 amps in the nomal shore dwelling). You learn to stagger your electricity dependency. “Don’t turn on the coffee maker, I’m printing right now!” Stuff like that. It gets to be habit and you don’t even notice the inconvenience after a while.

Lack of space is probably the biggest domestic hurdle to overcome, but again, it’s something you get used to. Land-lubber friends are continually amazed at the meals I can turn out in a galley (kitchen) the size of a postage stamp with an oven the size of a Kenner Easy-Bake and a fridge smaller than a Dallas Cowboy fan’s tail-gate cooler. You get very tidy, in every room. One of everything (a small one) and everything in its place. Although, for the first six months you’ll probably waste a lot of time reaching in the drawer for things that you’ve cleverly put in storage. But, if it’s something you discover you actually need, well, hey, it gives you an opportunity to “visit” your stuff again.

The worst thing I had to adapt to with liveaboard life has a lot to do with our location, but all things are magnified on a boat, especially rain.

Raining again.We live in Vancouver and the rain in the winter is brutal: a monthly average of 7” for November, December and January (compared with Dallas at 2”, Paris at 1.5” and Hong Kong at 1”) . Steady, gray, boring rain. Day in, day out, all winter (average hours of sunshine in those months: 50).

On a boat, you can’t get away from the rain. You’re only 6 inches (at best) from the roof and it is a constant drumming inside your psyche. I know David Duchovny (of X-Files fame) got into a lot of trouble last October for picking on the Vancouver weather (and he isn’t even a liveaboard) but it’s unbelievably disheartening and it gets inside your soul. My first winter aboard was almost my last.

But the weather broke before I did and here I am, five years later, watching the same rain, out the same window, yelling to my husband not to put the coffee on, I’m printing.

I know that in a couple of months, it will be like Margaritaville again around here. All the inconveniences will disappear with the city as we cruise under the Lions Gate bridge, heading for that great little cove with oysters the size of dinner plates (and they say everything’s bigger in Texas!) In the meantime, like Buffett’s cowboy, I’m Plowin’ straight ahead, come what may

The Good Life

How we became "liveaboards"

About the Author

Beverley Wood is a writer and marketing consultant who worked for 12 years with Maclean's magazine (as Operations Manager). She has published articles with Maclean's, The Globe and Mail (Destinations), Tribute, Kid's Tribute, Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim News Syndication Service (Far East dailies). She also writes screenplays, and provides clients in Vancouver with writing, editing and public relations services. She is currently working on the screenplay for
. . . a new fiction novel written with her husband, Chris Wood (Canadian pub date: Nov/97; USA pub date: March/98). In 1993, Chris convinced her to leave a sprawling Texas ranch and move onto a 48-foot boat in Vancouver's Burrard Inlet. She has never been the same since.

Click here to e-mail Beverley.
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Originally posted Feb. 9, 1998. Text copyright Beverley Wood, 1998. Part of the original Sideroad.
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