Tiny House Living On A Boat- A Family Of 4 In 128 SF?

Our Tiny House Can Go PlacesWe 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.The Family That Lives In A Tiny House

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

Goodbye Texas (I Didn’t Sink The Boat in Texas)

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!

Cruising the ICW- Kemah, Texas to Intercostal City, Louisiana

Louisiana ICW

The ICW can be long and strait or short and curvy!

Cruising the Inter Costal Waterway in Texas and Louisiana is a lot different than I imagined. We departed from Kemah, TX at 10:30 AM after refueling. We cut across Galveston Bay and stayed in the ship channel for a lot of the passage. It was a lot shallower than I imagined, only 8-10 ft.   We made it to the opening of the ICW and turned east.

We were met by a couple of pods of dolphins and the broke at the bow of the boat. Aubrey squealed like a kid when she saw them. The pod swam right by the boat and we could see them up close. The played in our wake and we ran across another pod as we continued east.

We made our way past a few tugs pushing barges, no big deal. I opened up the throttle and moved right along. Hours passed and I noticed that the gas gauge was dropping. We past Sabine Lake, TX on the ICW and I made a mistake by using my GPS to look for fuel services. It directed us back three miles and around the bend.   I knew that something was off when I saw a dead end canal under a bridge with a bunch of seedy types all over. Aubrey went below and asked if I wanted her to get my gun? I said no and turned the boat around. Apparently the business closed in 1975 but Garmin failed to update it.

The ICW has more twists and turns and diversions than you would imagine. I was happy to have my new GPS to help me along. I made it around 150 miles from Kemah and my gauges were reading low. I decided to make a left turn to Lake Charles so we could get fuel. This diversion set us up a river, literally. We took a wrong turn at a cut off and ended up shoaled in a marsh. It said it was a marsh but it looked like a lake across from a country club. I had slowed to almost nothing and saw the depth gauge show low water and we bumped on the shoal. I wasn’t cussing yet.

We tried to push ourselves off with some poles to no avail. I wasn’t planning on jumping into 3 foot of water in a marsh with the gators and the bull sharks so I dropped the dinghy from the rear of the boat. It didn’t release so I tied a line and threw it to my lovely first mate at the bow. I tried to pull it off a few times with my 9.9 hp Honda to no avail. I noticed that the bow would swing so I pulled sideways and the boat came free along with myself as I tried a little too hard, over-rotating the dinghy. I decided to fall off before it flipped. No worries, I was up again before I could be gator bait. We tied the dinghy and made it just in time before the fuel stop closed at 6. It was a long day!

We found this great place in Lake Charles, LA, in a place called Contraband Bayou. Bowtie Marina was the place we called home for a night. The owner is a really nice guy and he offered for us to stay after we filled up. He had a really nice little Marina and we were the only ones staying the night. We tied up to one side on a really nice dock and he had 30 amp service and water. I counted 10 slips and they were all beautiful. It was quiet and peaceful. Doug rented a few of his acres to the Coast Guard that built a site to house a few boat crews that were coming and going throughout the night. I never felt safer in a marina, let me tell you.

Bowtie Marina Lake Charles LA

We loved our stay at Bowtie Marina and I will got out of my way to stay there again!

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The next day we left at 10:40 after much-needed coffee and a boat scrub down. I had more time to fiddle with my new GPS and it worked much better. We went through 2 locks and I had to call to open 2 pontoon bridges. It was much less eventful and a fun day. It did wear on though. 90 degree and sunny weather. The strait away’s were strait and long today and we saw some wildlife. All in all it was a good cruise.

We made it to a place called Intercostal City, but it’s not a city at all. No restaurant, bank or stop light and I’m not sure anyone lives here. We tied off on a public launch dock that is nice enough and we will fuel up at Shell Morgan tomorrow before heading to Houma. We walked over to a small store across the way and Aubrey went upstairs to get some ice cream for the kids. I waited under the store on a bench and talked to two fellas. Nice guys.  We spent a few hours with the AC below deck and Aubrey cooked another fantastic dinner. We went out for our nightly walk/scooter ride and the kids had a blast.  We had fun for about 1 hour and it became the witching hour for the mosquitos so we ran for it and here I sit typing this post. Goodnight all!

It’s Easy To Move When You Don’t Have As Much Stuff

The title for this post seemed Ok as I typed it but instantly knew it was a lie when I reread it!  Moving sucks and there is no getting around it.  I think that it was easier to move our stuff into a1800PACKRAT Pod than a traditional house to house move.  I am sore as all get out, sitting here in the morning after but I feel great about all we’ve accomplished in making our dream a reality.

Moving  into 1800PACKRAT Pod

The thought of moving isn’t as bad when you are done!

Continue reading

InReach Explorer by Delorme- User Review

We were looking for an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) for the boat.  If something bad happens, we surely want the ability to contact search and rescue or the authorities.  There is a lot of information out their about EPRIB and much of it is negative, in terms of the different products available.  There seem to be a lot of people who’ve purchased ones that didn’t work.     I think it is the best product out there, definitely a good value for the money.

InReach Explorer by Delorme

It’s nice buying something that might save your life!

I bought the unit at REI for $379.  It is very small but sturdy.  It has a good warranty and it is apparently shock resistant, waterproof and only weighs 6.9 ounces.  It is powered by a lithium battery and recharged with a USB or USB to wall plug (provided).  I spent a lot of time talking to the salesperson about the unit and its features.  She owned one and that is always a good sign.  It has an awesome bluetooth feature and can be paired with your smart phone or tablet for ease of use.

Information for the InReach Explorer by Delome can we found on their website.  It is not available on Amazon or any discount store, for you bargain shoppers.  REI doesn’t offer a military discount. Continue reading

Bubba Blade Knife Review

Cleaning fish is our main priority and it is how we will eat many days on our boat.  I needed to find good knives that would work and last a long time.  I also didn’t want to break our budget in doing so.  I’m happy to say that I found a good solution in the Bubba Blade knife!

Bubba Blade Knife Review

My selection of Bubba Blade Knives!

We will be catching a lot of different fish aboard Miss Lone Star.  A knife is so important and can make your life very hard if you make the wrong choice.  I looked at all of the different products out there and chose this knife company because of its good reputation for ease of use and quality materials.  I found their website through a simple google search and I noticed that they had a lot of products.  It turns out that they are sold at Wal-Mart, Cabelas and through Amazon.  I never noticed them in these stores before my purchase. Continue reading

Sea Sucker Dive Tank and Rod Holder- Unbiased User Review

I just got my new Sea Sucker holders in the mail and I am stoked!  I am trying to keep our gear list minimal for our boat but these items were a necessity.  I had some very specific needs and I found this product by chance on the Internet.  I am so glad I did!

Sea Sucker Vacuum Pole Holders

My shipment of Sea Sucker vacuum holders is in!

Gear storage for a cruising boat is essential.  Everyone works with different spaces and configurations.  I was concerned that what I wanted, didn’t exist and lo and behold I found the amazing company called Sea Sucker!  I immediately bought two dive tank holders, heavy-duty trolling pole holder and horizontal fishing pole holders for the boat.

This company is known for its quality products that use a patented vacuum seal for the suction.

I had a need to store two scuba tanks on the boat but I have space limitations and strange angles.  I’ve seen a lot of products that require screws and I wasn’t thrilled about having to make holes in my boat just to support hardware.  Nobody wants dive tanks rolling around on the deck and sometimes we will encounter rough seas.  We needed something sturdy enough to handle rough conditions.  The dive tank holders are heavy and made with quality materials (made in the USA).  The 6′ suction cup holds 210 lb. (anything) and will be perfect for my tanks.  I can mount them next to each other or on different sides of the boat.  I can change locations easily.  Price: $90. Continue reading

Stranded on Dry Land and Waiting to Set Off

Waiting sucks! We want to be free like a bird!

Waiting sucks! We want to be free like a bird!

Does anyone else hate waiting as much as me?  We are stranded on dry land and waiting to set course for Florida for the next two weeks.  We have a lot of things to accomplish and we are still waiting for a lot of work to be completed on the boat.  I’ve been contacted by a lot of people who’ve chosen to liveaboard their boats and faced the same frustrating “waiting game.”  In the meantime, we are biding our time wisely by accomplishing too many tasks to list.

We will accept our storage pod from 800PACKRAT tomorrow.  They are delivering a 16x8x8 pod that we will fill with everything we want to keep forever (in storage until we settle down).  I did extensive research on the moving and shipping (storage) option and we think that this is the best option for us.  I plan to take pictures and do a complete review of our experience for others later.  I found the 800PACKRAT option to be the cheapest by over $1000 with everything included.  As many of you know, it is not inexpensive to move and store a lot of contents.  Our shipping cost was $2500 from Austin to Miami, which included a door to door option.  This will save us some money when we settle down and the company will deliver and move the storage unit to our new home once we call them.  I like the idea of not having to pay twice to move it. Continue reading

Galveston Bay, TX- Key Largo, FL In 10 Days!

Many of our readers have asked about details of our plans, departure dates, etc.  I am always surprised at the amount of people who lead or are looking to lead the cruising or liveaboard lifestyle.  We leave in two weeks and we are so excited!  Texas cruising

Move The Boat!

I made arrangements with a boat transporter to pick up our boat at the marina ship yard where it is being repaired.  I must have a lot of faith in God that he will see our boat through its last repairs.  I am lucky to have met up with a lot of nice people who seem to understand that we have tight time constraints and must leave on a certain date!  The boat will be placed on a lift and set it into the trailer.  It will travel from Austin to Seabrook Boat Yard at the mouth of Galveston Bay.  We had to contract separately with the yard to off load and launch our boat.  We will stay a night and pick up our tender from a few harbors over.  Our plan is to leave the next day towards Louisiana.

Cost: $2000 to transport and $410 to offload and launch in the water

Louisianan Miss Lone Star TravelsMiss Lone Star’s Course

The Southern Waterway Guide was a really big help.  I found an online and interactive version as well as a spiral bound book on Amazon for much less than the retail priced version.

Day 1,2– Galveston Bay to somewhere in Louisiana.  Assuming the boat checks out mechanically we will cruise under full-power along the Gulf into Louisiana.  Our boat loves to go 30 mph (and is most fuel-efficient) so we have a luxury most cruisers don’t have.  We will try to make it to Houma, LA.  I’m sure we can get there in a couple of days and it is 180 miles away but I think it is doable, depending on the vessel traffic once we enter the ICW.  We have 150 miles of open water and I know we will make good time.  30 miles in the ICW with no bridges to open or locks to go through.

Aubrey really wants to check out Louisiana and I hear that Houma is a nice place so we might stay an extra day to check it out.  Fuel will be a top priority.  We can anchor in a few places or use a nice dock for about $9 per day.

Day 3– Houma to New Orleans.  This leg of the trip is about 85 miles on the ICW.  I don’t know what kind of time we will be able to make and there will be a lot to see so I am open to the possibility we make good time or not.  There is a lock we must pass through below the city.  Our boat doesn’t need a lot of clearance and it looks like we don’t have any low bridges to contend.  Happy me. Continue reading

Republic of Texas (ROT) Bike Rally 2015

The Republic of Texas ROT Rally is one of the largest motorcycle rally’s in the United States and we were lucky that it was right here in Austin Texas!  We went out to the Travis County Expo Center for a couple days of debauchery while the kids were with Grandma.  This was definitely not a kid’s type of event.  We had a blast, nevertheless and we got to go on a long biker parade through Austin.

Republic of Texas ROT Rally 2015

Republic of Texas ROT Rally 2015

We’ve lived in Austin for a number of years and I’ve always wanted to go.  It was perfect timing and I waxed up the Harley for the weekend.  We drove out on Friday and were part of the parade, which ended on Congress St., downtown.  It was really cool to drive with 40k other motorcycles on a route through the city.  People were out in full-force and it was a fun event.  Sadly, Aubrey lost her helmet on the ride when she was trying to get the prefect shot from behind me.  Oh well.

We went back on Saturday to check out the festivities.  I know my wife loves me because she handled the whole thing in stride.  We walked around to check out all of the exhibits and passed too many fat naked chicks walking around to count.  Police directed traffic inside the Expo bounds but there was a strange absence of law enforcement inside.  The smell of weed was ripe and there were all sorts of interesting people to look at.  She was looking at a redneck duck, chained to a pool when a guy approached and asked if she wanted some beads?  She had the foresight to ask what she had to do for the beads, thank goodness.  He replied simply, “show me your boobs.”  I guess that is what people do at biker rallies, but not my wife.

Republic of Texas ROT Rally 2015

Motorboating Big Marv

We drive through the RV village that was filled with probably 20k people.  We saw blow up hot tubs with luke-warm water filled with disorderly plump females.  The upscale RV area had a hot tub pulled by a trailer, which seemed to be a popular place to hang out.  It was nice to only be driving by, let me tell you.

The weekend finished up with Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert on the grass.  The opening act was better than the main but it was all still worth seeing.  My hat’s off to Aubrey in overcoming her fear of riding on a bike and putting in a few hundred miles of road time.

Despite all of the interesting people, everybody was nice and it was a fun Austin thing to do.  If we were staying here we would definitely go back. Continue reading