We live on an express cruiser that has two gas engines and all the comforts of home. We used to live on our boat part-time on Lake Travis outside of Austin, TX. That was for rookies. We decided to trade in our 3300 sf, two-car garage home for a more simple life on the water. We moved aboard our boat nine weeks ago and had it moved to Galveston Bay where we started the tiny house living journey of a lifetime.
We knew that living aboard was going to be different and we used to watch the show: Tiny House Living, with interest when we had a TV. “We could do that,” we thought and started to say aloud until our thoughts became reality and we boarded our 37-foot boat with our two kids and 90 lb. service dog named Onyx.
We’ve travelled over twelve hundred and fifty miles to reach the Florida Keys, where we will remain through November when the hurricane season is officially over. We are officially living the dream! I brought out the tape measure today and took the official measurement. 128 square feet of living space, down below. It should be noted that we don’t live on a small sailboat and we have as much air conditioning as we want. (as long as we are hooked up to electric or running the generator) Continue reading
We had been dreaming about blue water since we boarded our boat. I had been predicting that maybe, the next day we would see it. Aubrey and the kids started to doubt me! We passed into Pensacola Bay Florida and we got our blue water! We were so happy! Our son started to finally catch fish and it changed his life. Our daughter started to find large amounts of shells and she was beaming with pride. Aubrey had a few dozen more critter captures and I finally had blue water to swim in!
We’ve been living aboard our boat for 9 weeks and counting and we’ve learned that our plans change quickly with no notice. For example, we planned to leave to anchor out yesterday morning. We didn’t leave for an unknown reason but we though we would leave today. It didn’t happen for some unexplained reason. I don’t even know what we will be doing for the rest of the day but not to worry. We don’t care.
Don’t worry, we haven’t decided to make any rash decisions like: living on dry land. We love our life and wouldn’t change anything except being out alone more often. We officially put our boat on the market yesterday and hopefully it sells. We really want to get a trawler so we can use less gas and have more range and living space. We are looking hard for a 3 stateroom model so we have a space for Aubrey’s Mom and our friends. We’ve met a lot of friends who are teachers and the thought occurred to us that we could have people come out to tutor the kids and supplement their education. We are not opposed to running some liveaboard charters or diving trips so the space could be really nice. We are trying not to spend too much time browsing boats but we made an appointment to see a few tomorrow so we could get the feel for them in person.
We’ve all decided that we would love to make more of a long-term lifestyle of living aboard. We’ve expanded our outlook to 5-7 years- at least. It is impossible for any of us to think about what it was like to live in a big city house. Our lives are so much better now!
I start my Instructor Development Course (IDC) for scuba diving soon and I will be pretty busy for a couple of weeks. I look forward to getting certified to teach and doing a lot more diving. A lot of our friends are planning visits. Hopefully, they like close quarters.
We get hundreds of comments and questions from people and families who are considering the liveaboard lifestyle. They want to know what it costs. We decided to write a journal about our experiences of the last two months aboard to give our perspective.
We planned to save money while we cruised and we chose to make our life change for money and family reasons. How has it worked out? On the family side, very well. We spend more time together than ever and we are all very happy on the water. We travelled for about a month to make it 1250 miles from Galveston, TX to the Florida Keys. We rented a slip in a nice marina until December until we can cruise to Cuba and beyond. The Florida Keys is a wonderful place for our family and we are happy. The kids haven’t watched TV or videos in more days than I can count and many of the dry land habits have escaped them. We haven’t heard them saying: “I’m bored” since we moved aboard, which is a 100% change from our life in suburbia. Continue reading
God blessed Texas with his own hands, brought down angles from the promised land, gave them a where they could dance, if you wanna see heaven brother here’s your chance. I’ve been sent to spread the message, God blessed Texas.
All that being said, we left for greener pastures. My lovely bride is finally working the video footage from our voyage to Florida and beyond and this is the first of many new videos that chronicle our epic trip.
I am writing this 7 weeks after it was taken but I remember it like yesterday. I remember leaving Kemah (TX), where we first lived aboard our boat as a family for a week. This delay was unexpected but prudent because our boat was delivered, un-repaired and unseaworthy. Miss Lone Star suffered a hail storm months previous to us leaving Austin and the repair shop had 10 weeks to finish all the required work. It didn’t happen, unbeknownst to us, but we paid for the work. We shipped it and dropped it in the water and that’s when the trouble began.
The repair shop made right on their errors and one of the owners came to help me fix all of the problems and 8 trips to West Marine later (and 5 days) we were off. I can say now that I didn’t know anything. The dry land me thought 5 days was one hell of a delay. Not so, it reality. The dry land me didn’t know anything about seamanship but he was to learn, and learn hard- I did. Obviously, we are alive and well and I am post-writing this journal from Islamorada, FL. Alls well that ends well but it hasn’t ended because soon, we are off to Cuba!
We cruised the ICW through Texas to Louisiana and the following segments will detail our voyage. It was not without troubles, high seas or pirates. Enjoy!
Blake is aptly named “The King of the Dock” and his fishing skills are known far and wide!
Aubrey and the kids were less than happy with my marina choice and I can attest to the fact that things often look a certain way on a website (or Google Satellite Maps) and turn out differently when you see them in person. The Mangrove Marina wasn’t the place for us and we decided quickly that we needed to go. I think the decision for me came when I took my morning walk to the bathroom in my jammy pants without a shirt. I got heckled by the morning crew of mid 50-70 year old Florida Key men who hang out at the dock drinking coffee. I’m pretty sure I got a cat call or two and I reasoned that if I felt uncomfortable with these guys then my wife must want to jump out of her skin. We discussed it over coffee at a cute little place in Tavernier called Moka. I definitely recommend this place for coffee! Continue reading
I was so zapped from the sun and the previous days travels I forgot to check the weather when we arrived. I got up early to take Onyx out for a walk and saw the dark thunder head in our anticipated direction of travel. It was noticeably windy and cooler than the day before. Oh, no! Not another day in Marco, I thought!
I dialed up wind finder and it said the seas were no more than 2 feet in the gulf and around the back side of the Keys in Florida Bay. I looked at the doppler and it showed a system coming through to our south around the Everglades. It was moving at 7 knots and it was producing heavy rains. Ugh.
I checked back in after a couple of hours to see if it had moved through and it had not. I checked back in an hour and I could see two, well-developed systems. One was on land and the other was about to hit it. I figured that they come in threes so I guessed that I might have to live with some rain. Cruising is a cautious task and we all make educated guesses on our safety as we pass. I felt that I may experience some rain and wind but all of the NOAA buoy markers indicated waves no higher than 2 feet, even in presence of the storm. We were anxious to get to our destination and we voted to head out. The dog and kids didn’t get a vote but me and my lovely, tired wife agreed. I prayed I wasn’t making a mistake. I did pray, as I do most days that God would keep us and lead us safely through to our next place of rest.
We set off thought the long no wake zone and complicated channels to the gulf and the waves were rolling and constant. The winds had lessened to about 5 knots. We made an off shore passage about 3 miles out for most of the trip and it was a little rolly for an hour. Something on the bow of my boat was making a smacking noise in the pounding of each wave and I saw one of the metal fender holders break loose. I stopped the boat and secured it before setting off again. The kids and Aubrey were up top. It wasn’t that comfortable but we have a small boat that lends itself to a lot of movement if there are waves. No Dramamine for the crew, just yet but it was getting close. This was day 29 for us in our passage. Continue reading
We departed from Cabbage key late at about Noon and we had to get some expensive fuel in Sanibel Florida on the way out into open water. We plan to visit Cabbage Key again together with Big Pine Island and Boca Grande but it was time to bid the area farewell. We cruised down the ICW to Sanibel and we saw huge Yachts and lots of other boats in the area. It was beautiful but very congested. The channel was wider than we found so far and well-marked.
We entered open water before Ft. Myers and we could see the huge buildings and throngs of people on the shores. We were glad that we wouldn’t be stopping for a neon t-shirt and continued South, offshore 3-9 miles. One large city combined with another and so one until we got to Marco Island. I heard that it was once a quint little place but that is no longer the case. Naples comes before and you can’t really discern one from the next. The water is pretty but not as pretty as many of the places we visited. The boat traffic is significant, for cruising anyway.
The entrance to Marco Island Channel is horrible and if you aren’t a local it is hard to navigate. Two channels converge at the entrance to the gulf and their is a shoal or two in the middle. We needed to be on the starboard channel which required us to take a few directional changes to navigate it correctly. The no wake zone takes you a long time to traverse and we stayed at the Rose Marina, which was good for one night only. The marina was a concrete jungle and the only tuft of grass was wild and grew in a 3×3 foot patch close to the full dock. Onyx graced it with her paws and I have feeling that she killed a good amount of it with her female dog pee. They gave us a nice BoatUS discount on the slip and we hooked up to the power so we could blast the AC and go below deck for a cool off. There was nothing to see topside and the entire area was unremarkable in my opinion.
We recharged our batteries and took refuge from the sun. Anticipation was building for us because we knew that we only had one more travel day, God willing. Continue reading
We were happy to depart from Municipal Marina in Clearwater. We stayed a few days too long but we were all rested up and Miss Lone Star started right up. It is always reassuring when your home/transportation starts as anticipated. We drank coffee a little later than expected and didn’t leave until about 10 A.M. We waved goodbye to the bird estuary, where we spent so much time and entered the main channel out of the city. We travelled offshore 3-9 miles for the passage.
It was an easy trip and we saw a lot of pretty wildlife and some more jumping rays. The kids read books topside and Aubrey got to relax on the boat as we motored South. The day was sunny and the air was crisp. We saw a lot of feeding birds and schooling fish so we slowed down to throw out a line to troll. I reduced speed to 5 knots and we gave fishing a try for an hour to no avail. I was disappointed that we wouldn’t fill our belly with fresh fish for dinner but I was happy to move closer to our destination. We cruised at 25-27 knots as our boat drank the fuel it had in its full belly.
We entered inland through Boca Grande Pass, which was really interesting and scary. We approached from the North and there was a short cut listed on the charts close to the shore. It read that it was a deep channel (8 feet) and we cautiously proceeded through the remains of an old concrete pier that had been pushed aside. Driving a boat is scary sometimes and you hope that the charts are correct, trusting your gut as much as possible. We motored along and we saw waves breaking into the main channel that intersected up ahead. It was massive and the water coming and going was big. The waves were breaking at 1-2 feet and something looked off. We the charts wrong? Would we be grounded on a sand flat or worse? Aubrey manned the bow and kept a look out. The water was sandy and murky. Continue reading
The kids with their official boat uniforms!
Our kids light our lives and make our heart’s happy.
This was Blake’s quote of the day, that just happened now. The great thing about living on a boat with your family is you get to enjoy every little bit of everything and it is all so real. I’ve got to love my little man because all he thinks about is fishing. The wakes up and starts fishing (he’s 3). He fishes until we tell him to stop and we are driving the boat or doing something else. He fishes before and after his nap and until the sun goes down, sometimes after. He takes his pole with him when we ride in the dinghy and he would take it with us when we ride the bus. He catches 8-25 fish per day and he consumes a majority seafood diet. We think he was made for the water.
Bianca is another story. It’s about 45 minutes till sunset and she is singing “la cucaracha” on the dock while she cleans all of her seashells that she located today. We found a great number in a bird estuary that we reached via our dinghy and some impressive driving by the Captain. It was only 1.5 feet in most places be somehow we found a way to get into those beaches. B wandered around and found so many great shells. She found several sea scallops (with live meat) and a living clam. We almost had enough for dinner but left them for the birds because we’ve had steak sitting in the cooler for 4 nights and it was high time to eat it after high tide came in. Anyway, this girl is a mermaid and she believes that they are real. Christmas still exists on our boat in so many ways. Continue reading