Monday, May 4, 2020

Life on the Boat during Covid-19 - a Q&A

Good motto for these times...

Hello Everyone, Kerry here!

I asked my Facebook world if anyone had any questions about our life on the boat during these times, now that we're almost a couple of months into the shelter in place.  So below are some questions I received with my answers and then a few more thoughts at the end.  Hope you enjoy!

Q: Rules about not going boating during stay-at-home?  Does it apply to you as liveaboards or do you have to stay docked?  (Rhonda S.)

Here is a response from the Coast Guard in response to someone who asked about sailing in the San Francisco Bay:

Thank you so much for this question and encouraging members to remember the intent of the county/state orders during this variable time. While there is no federal rule or law that prohibits boating activity, please consult your local public health office and/or local sheriff’s office for the State of California’s and your local city/county’s perspective on this question. 

From what I understand, it’s technically ok to go out sailing with your immediate household members – so no sailing parties with others who you don’t typically share a roof with.  The one consideration is that IF you were to need assistance on the water (engine dies, run aground, etc), then you’d be unnecessarily putting the rescue team at risk by having to come save you.  So far we have decided not to leave our dock as of yet.  We may do so in the next few weeks, we’ll see.  

Outside of simply sailing – there is the question of visiting other marinas/areas and being allowed to come in as a transient visitor – many marinas and public docks have closed to visiting boats.  These will probably start opening up soon depending on the area.

Q: Do you feel freer?  Or more isolated?  Or both?  Being able to just “go” vs. small space, etc…  (Kate K.)

Good question.  I already work from home, so there hasn’t been a whole lot of change for me, although I used to try to get into the office at least once every week or two.  I do feel slightly more isolated in that we can’t just go out for dinner or a movie any time we feel like it.  But other than that, our social life was pretty sparse already.  😊  We are doing just fine keeping each other company and we’ve been sharing this small space for almost 10 years now, so we’re pretty used to it.

To answer the question about just being able "to go"...  things have changed quite drastically in the last few months.  Cruising to other countries – is simply not an option right now.  We have been following stories of cruisers who are out on the ocean, in the middle of multi-year circumnavigations who are having a hell of a time finding a country who will let them in.  I feel so lucky to be here in Alameda, safe at a US dock where we can get all our basic needs met relatively easily.

Q: Do you feel more or less isolated from friends and family during this period in comparison to normal?  How is your marina handling this period? (Katya S.)

We’ve had no change in isolation from friends and family – I talk to my mom every Saturday morning and that hasn’t changed.  My dad called me twice in three weeks, and that was a pleasant uptick in connections with him.  I’ve made it a point to reach out to a few people to connect through video chat, which has been fun.

Our marina has been great.  We love the staff here (although one of them did get laid off a couple of weeks ago…) and other than asking that no one show up at the office in person unless you need to pick up a package, they haven’t shut down in any way, really.  There are only about 10 liveaboards here I think – and we don’t even know most of them other than by sight.  It’s a peaceful, quiet area mostly and it feels like a safe compound to hide away in.

Q: What was hard to get used to at the beginning? (Louise P.)

So, this is rather ironic, but before Covid-19, we were ordering our groceries delivered to us at the marina and could usually order and get delivery on the same day.  As soon as shelter in place went into effect, the delivery windows disappeared, and we couldn’t get delivery less than a week or more out.  SO…   we now need to go out for our groceries.  We don’t have a vehicle, so we use our bikes and a bike trailer we got used for $25 after we arrived here.
We typically go out about twice a week to stock up because we need to get ice for our ice box anyway (we’ve never had refrigeration on this boat) – so we buy and ration groceries accordingly.

The other big change we experienced immediately was around our laundry process.  When we first arrived in September, we were pleased to discover a fairly new, clean, laundry room on site.  Pricing was decent and we could walk our laundry to and from the boat easily.  Then in January, the laundry room lost its gas hookup due to construction and we were informed that we could use the washers, but it would be cold water wash only, and the dryers no longer worked.  There was no projected end to this state of affairs, so I found a nearby laundromat about a mile away and we started using our bikes and bike trailer to get our laundry done once a week.

Fast forward to March 15th – our last time at the laundromat – with me using gloves and freaking out inside anytime anyone came even close to me.  We discussed our options and since warmer weather has officially kicked in down here, we made the call to cold water wash here in the marina laundry room and hang dry everything on the boat.  Because of limited drying space, I now do laundry twice a week – one load per time.  I have to say that sun dried clothes are kind of nice!

Laundry drying in the sun

A Typical Day:
  •  I get up and shower (public bathrooms at the marina)
  •  I play with my phone and start working around 9am up on the chart table in the pilot house
  • Donn gets up, makes his coffee, looks at his phone
  • Donn makes breakfast for us both
  • I wash dishes
  • Donn works on boat or bicycle maintenance
  • End of day – we settle in to watch the news
  • Donn makes dinner
  • We watch a movie or show
  • Donn showers later in the evening
  • I wash dishes
  • Bedtime

Weekly Chores:
  • Fill water tanks (this happens about every 10-14 days)
  • Laundry (2x per week)
  • Pee buckets (we have a composting head/toilet and we need to empty pee buckets into the marina bathroom toilets) (1x per week or so)
  • Groceries (2x per week)

 We’ve also slowly been working on some bigger “home” projects during the last couple of months… some of these include:
  • Seasonal clothing swap – move clothes from under our bunk and swap out with cold weather clothes
  • Clean and organize various storage areas/lockers
  • Bought a new mattress topper and installed it (this involved cutting it to fit our bed space)
  • Bought, cut, and installed new non-skid carpeting for our stairs leading down inside

The Not-So-Easy Stuff

Sometimes it’s easy to list the facts and tell the straight stories…  but I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some of the ugly stuff too.  For example – my exercise mostly happens when it’s a side effect (biking for groceries, or carrying and hanging laundry) – although I do try to get in 1-2 good walks in the marina every day.  I have also been indulging in junk food like a typical 12-year-old with no common sense.  As of this week, I’m making an effort to slow that habit way down – we’ll see how it goes.  😉

I am currently about 5 years or so into peri-menopause as far as I can tell.  And the mood swings, when they happen, are not helped by our current predicament.  I tend to feel like the world is crumbling around us.  On the plus side, I’m married to a man who gets it and loves me and doesn’t mind holding me when I need to cry it out.  He’s a good one.

Overall we are “Holding Fast” and keeping an even keel down here on our little boat.  I have SO much to be grateful for, I thank my lucky stars every single day.  We have a home.  I have a job which pays me a decent income.  We have each other.  We live in a lovely place with everything we need an easy bike ride away.  I hope you are staying safe and making it through all this the best way you know how.  Love and light to you all!