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19 August 2015

A Day In The Life Of A Boat Bum

Did you ever wonder what people who live on boats do all day? Well here's a little glimpse into a day in my life as a boat bum here at Indiantown Marina in southern Florida.

The great thing about being a boat bum is that you never need to set an alarm clock.

So why the heck am I up at 5:30 AM? I have no job to get up for, yet I can't for the life of me sleep in. Back when I worked in corporate la-la land, there was nothing I wanted to do more than have a lie-in in the morning. Now, I'm like an old person - up at the crack of dawn. I stare at the hatch above my head, willing myself to go back to sleep.

If you're not quite awake when you're peering through the hatch, it looks a little bit like a tiny spaceship has landed on our boat.


It's 5:45 AM and I'm still in bed wondering why no one has brought me coffee yet. The service here is shocking.

Then I remember that Scott is in Scotland and if I want coffee, I have to make it myself. He always makes coffee in the morning. What a swell fellow. I miss him. And not just because of the coffee thing.

Coffee in hand, it's time to snuggle back in bed and get online. Honestly, I can't bear reading the news. If you didn't know better, you would think the presidential election is this November instead of well over a year from now.

I'm sure there's important stuff happening out there in the world, but I catch up on Facebook and some of my favorite blogs instead.

I have to make my own oatmeal too.

Scott makes great scrambled eggs. I keep waiting for my eggs to show up, but then I remember again that Scott isn't here. I have neither eggs nor a propane system that works, so it's oatmeal in the microwave instead.

I call Scott to check in on how things are going in Scotland and complain about the lack of room service on the boat. He ignores my room service comment and tells me that he just got back from a walk. He's been out walking every single day. Occasionally, I think about going for a walk, but then I look at the weather forecast and decide walking and real feel temperatures in the 90s and 100s just don't mix with physical exertion. Plus, I'm super lazy. I'm a boat bum after all.

On my way to the shower block, I score egg containers off the free table.


These were on my list of stuff to buy. Free is so much better. I can't wait to get eggs in markets on our travels and store them in these nifty containers.

I remember when we moved to Scotland how weird it was to find eggs sitting on a shelf next to the peanut better. No refrigeration whatsoever. Same thing when we lived in New Zealand. I think it's really only in North America that you find them chilled.

It's 8:00 AM and time to head into the big city.

About once a week, I fire up the Pathfinder and drive 20 miles or so to the "big city" of Stuart to run errands. It's not really a big city, but compared to Indiantown, it's enormous. There's a Walmart there. And Walmart has chocolate chip muffins. You can see the attraction.

I drop the vehicle off to get the oil changed and head in to do my shopping. I brought a list with me so that I can stay focused, but as usual I get distracted by the myriad of  goods that Walmart has on offer. Like buttons. Shiny, colorful buttons.


And storage containers. Think of the order I could bring to the chaos on my boat with all of these storage containers!


Focus Ellen, focus.

I focus and find the chocolate chip muffins. I know I shouldn't get them, but they have chocolate chips in them. Chocolate chips. Chips made out of chocolate. Chocolate. Yum. I think you understand.

When someone tells you it will only take 30-45 minutes to change your oil, clearly they're living in some sort of parallel universe. 

You know the kind of parallel universe where 30-45 minutes actually means 90-120 minutes. Walmart really needs to get magazines to read in their automotive center waiting room. Reading a poster on fuel injection systems isn't my idea of fun.

Finally, the vehicle is ready. Do you know what the woman said as she handed me my receipt?"Sorry, it took so long. I really don't have a clue what the delay was." I was kind of startled by her complete candor. She didn't even bother to make up an excuse.

It's off to Home Depot in search of plywood.

I just bought a hot knife. Not the super expensive one that Sailrite sells, but a cheapo one off of Amazon. The cool thing about hot knives is that they slice and dice through things with ease. Like a hot knife through butter. {Sorry, I tried to think of some sort of quirky analogy but drew a blank.}

The only problem is that they burn up whatever surface you're cutting on. I'm not too keen on burning up my boat. So I bought some plywood from Home Depot.

Are you the teeniest bit curious about what I'm going to slice and dice with my hot knife? No? Oh well, I'll tell you anyway. I'm going to cut Sunbrella fabric and make a cover for our barbecue. If you cut Sunbrella with ordinary scissors, it frays badly. That's where the hot knife comes in. No fraying. Yes, that's what us boat bums spend our time thinking about - how to keep fabric from fraying. Exciting, huh.

So, what's with the New Zealand dollar lately?

Over the past several months, the New Zealand dollar has tanked. I got a check from New Zealand recently but if I deposit it in our US account, it will be worth pretty much nothing. So the next stop is the post office to send the check to our New Zealand bank. It can sit in our account there and fester until the the New Zealand dollar gets its act together. File under #ExpatProblems and #FXtroubles.

This is the post office in Indiantown. I had no idea what the MPO meant. Turns out it means Main Post Office, although I can't imagine Indiantown being big enough to have another post office. Part of the benefit of being a boat bum, is you can waste your time googling this type of stuff.


Finally, I get back to the boat. Sweaty, hungry and, to be honest, a bit cranky.

We don't have air conditioning in our vehicle. Thank goodness we have air conditioning on our boat. Seriously, the best financial investment we've ever made. Heat makes me cranky. Hunger makes me cranky.

So, I made some sandwiches and delighted in our air conditioning.

I found these Bahama Sweet Rolls at Walmart. The back of the package promises "the rich flavor and island tradition of the Bahamas." I was hoping they would taste like the wonderful bread we ate in the Bahamas. Not so much. But they're tasty. How could they not be? They're sweet. Kind of like Hawaiian rolls.


After lunch, I think about tacking some boat projects. I get on the internet instead.

That's the beauty of being a boat bum. People expect you to be a slacker. They would be stunned if you actually got any work done on your boat.

Eventually, I work up the courage to step outside and go get some water. Yes, we have water in our tanks. But I'm always slightly creeped out by the algae I suspect is growing in there with the heat. So, every day, I go get filtered water up by the marina office. It tastes better anyway.

I stop to admire Jessica's beer.

Jessica's blog readers have been sending her beer to sample. How cool is that! She keeps them in the fridge in the marina kitchen and puts her name on them. Which is smart, otherwise I might think they're all mine. I like beer, especially IPA. She better write her name in really big letters on any bottles of IPA she gets.

Check out her post on her World Beer Tour and send her some beer. Can you maybe put in an extra bottle for me?

The internet goes down, so I decide to be mildly productive. 

And by mildly productive, I mean put a DVD in the computer and do some arts and crafts. I'm making a ditty bag. Mine will probably end up being more like a ditzy bag because I keep messing it up and having to start over.

Making a ditty bag is supposed to teach you sail making techniques. The only thing I've learned so far is that it hurts like heck when the needle slips out of the sailmaker's palm and stabs you in your hand. Ouch. Seriously, ouch.


I while away the time until I start to get cranky. Yes, it's feeding time again.

I make a baked potato for dinner. Something I can whip up in the microwave. I really should get on with fixing our propane system, but that's an outdoor activity and it's hot outside. Guess what else I have to eat? Yes, you guessed it - a chocolate chip muffin!

What have you been reading lately?

After dinner, I start reading a new book as part of my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge. I was going to start in on The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton so that I could tick New Zealand off my list, but it's over 800 pages long and I don't have the attention span for that just now. Instead, I opted for Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey - a murder mystery set in Ghana.

That better be turtles banging on my hull!

I can't think of anything worse than being by yourself on a boat listening to noises in the dark and hearing critters bashing into your boat. I've been told that the turtles get easily confused about where they are and end up banging into boats. Let's hope that's what that noise. I'd hate to think it's the alligators.

Eventually, I drift off to sleep dreaming about turtles, alligators, Ghana and an end to hurricane season so we can get back out there on the water.

So what does a day in your life look like?

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8 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good, relaxing day. I wish I could sleep in more when I'm not working too. Basically I get up early- gym, work, after work friend meet-up, dinner, read book, sleep. Not too exciting! Vacation starts on Friday though!

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    1. Yay - vacation! Have a wonderful time on your time off :-)

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  2. My day is going to be juggling a million bits of paper on my desk. Hopefully ending up with less paper than when I start. But that rarely happens...
    Is there really a town called Stuart?! Funny ;)

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    1. There is indeed - on Florida's Treasure Coast. I just googled it and it was named after Homer Hine Stuart, Jr., who was a local landowner. Big boating area - you'll have to make it out here one day :-)

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  3. Michele Dunn - s/v Wind SpiritAugust 19, 2015 at 6:25 PM

    I can't wait to get there and start my daily routine, whatever that may look like. We should be there six weeks from today (ish)! We are cruisers after all so schedules are subject to change.

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    1. I suspect you'll be slightly more productive than me :-)

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  4. Such a good post! I can't tell you how many people ask me what I do all day long. Now that I'm working again full time, sadly it isn't filled with chocolate chip muffins anymore but it can get crazy (currently installing a new holding tank) when I'm not at the office!

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    1. Thanks Kelley - that means a lot coming from an awesome blogger like you :-)

      The whole working full-time thing can really interfere with a girl's chocolate consumption. Not a good thing. Honestly, I don't know how you guys manage to work full-time and do boat projects on the weekend. Very impressive!

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