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

A Day In The Life Of A Liveaboard Family

Catching Geckos in The Florida KeysWe lived on land until two months ago and became full-time cruisers who live aboard our boat.  It was our dream to do this and it is really fun but it can be challenging.  We did a lot of research on what it would “look like” to be full-time liveaboards cruising around the U.S. and Caribbean but few people talk about some of the challenges.  Here is a day in the life of the Hamic Family aboard Miss Lone Star.  We are presently located at our dock in Islamorada, FL and we are not underway.

We drove to Key West yesterday to visit the PX and the commissary.  We make the 80 mile trip twice a month to do grocery shopping and pick up odds and ends.  It takes 2 hours because the speed limit is 45 or 55 in most places but the views are amazing.  Our girl-child was on one yesterday and she was beating up on her brother in the backseat.  We tried all of the standard parent tactics: say sorry, don’t touch, no talking, look out your window and then the dreaded spanking.  Nothing worked and she was a mess through almost all of the trip.  Naughty Girl Timeout on Roadtrip Continue reading

Liveaboard Lifestyle- The Actual Costs Of Cruising

Liveaboard Lifestyle The Actual Cost of CruisingWe 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

Video Episode 3- The Intercostal (ICW) into New Orleans- Day 4 of our Travels

This next episode was day 4 of our travels and you can already see the relief in my eyes, as the boat captain.  I was a little more confident but still giddy like a kid (or Quagmire from Family Guy- giggidy giggidy).  We came through the dreaded city of Intercostal City, LA and into Houma.  It was nice in its own way but it was hot as the Sahara. We met some cool kids and had fun at the city marina, by our lonesome- but it was time to go.

The Intercostal was unremarkable until Morgan City, LA- where it got beautiful.  We saw bald eagles, bogs, swamps and tall trees.  The ICW came together with a river and it was big.  We mooted on towards New Orleans and I hoped, against hope, that we could get through the locks and make it to our marina by night-fall.  We did and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Up and down by 12-15 feet and through the Mississippi was something I will remember forever.  It had a 20 knot current and was over its banks by 50 feet on that day.  It was massive and scary but we made it down the lock to the marina, where we resided for 4 days.  We explored, rode the trolly cars and went to an alligator farm in Hammond.  It was still hot but we didn’t care and the French Quarter was much more tolerable with Onyx leading us.

This is a true account of our travels.

I Lost My Ass In Lake Charles Louisiana (And Not At The Casino)!

Thanks to my bad memory, I already forgot this part of the journey.  Luckily, I have a wife to remind me through her mean video editing.  I hear Aubrey snickering and replaying certain parts of interviews she did with me on the boat in Lake Charles, LA.  It was a sad time.  My memory came back and I remember the fear I had when we just started out.  I remember leaving Texas and not knowing a thing about true boat navigation, seamanship or how it works on the ocean.  My beautiful wife created a video that was actually spot on, in terms of the sorrow of the first couple days.  I still love her but I am planning my revenge.

Being a boat captain ain’t easy.  At all.  The learning curve is steep and now I realize why I go to bed taxed and exhausted most nights.  I always wanted to live on a boat and I didn’t let my lack of experience stop me.  I tired to learn everything I could on the Internet and by reading books but there is no substitute for real experience.  I will always remember Lake Charles for the experienced I gained.

It’s been a couple of months of cruising for us now and I am still learning.  I know this will be a lifelong process and I look forward to it.  Enjoy the video because we did!

Marco Island to Tavernier Key Florida- 1250 Miles in the Books!

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

Clearwater to Cabbage Key Florida- One of Our Favorite Visits So Far

Cabbage Key FloridaWe 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

Suwannee River to Clearwater, Florida Didn’t Sink The Boat

Clearwater Florida

If you believe it, you can achieve it.

We awoke early and saw a beautiful sunrise and a quiet bayou on Suwannee River.  We fired up the normal pot of coffee that we make each day on our propane coffeemaker.  I hate the darned thing by the way and I can’t wait until it wears out in 5 years or I can sell it to another cruiser.  I wish we got a much smaller press, because we rarely drink more than a cup or two per morning.  I rinsed down the boat one last time and Aubrey set off with the kids to find new creatures that were interested in capture.  Bianca stayed in timeout while I fueled the boat because she stole her brother’s stick and taunted him with it.  Once she got locked down he promptly restore the stick and made the following announcement:

I am the fairy godmother and this stick will help you to be better- poof!

11231319_1066927279991817_2316755752511007350_nIt didn’t work but we had to get out of there while the tide was still high!  We went out on the North end of the town through the naturally “deep” river (4-8 ft.) and out 3 miles through something the Army Corp of Engineers dredged a couple decades ago.  My sonar read 2.4 feet several times but I never saw sand kick up in the prop wash or felt the dreaded bump of a sandy shoal. Continue reading

Gulf of Mexico Crossing- Carrabelle to Clearwater, Florida?

Choose your fate, fool!

Choose your fate, fool!

It is only 160 miles and it is a straight shot.  Seems logical, but seafaring is rarely easy, logical and it never goes as planned.  Weather was great inside the barrier islands and it didn’t seem like it would be that rough.  We stayed between the markers and had a good course setting.  It was to be a long day but we had done some that were almost as long.  {key the evil and scary music}

Miss Lone Star is a Class A rated ocean gong vessel with a deep V hull and two huge ass engines with velvet drives.  She is a tough old girl and she zipped through the waves as they cut across our bow, just a little less than sideways at a Southeasterly direction.  The problem is: we were also heading SE.  It made for a miserable ride.  I tried slowing down to almost nothing and that sucked.  I put the boat into idle ago check on the crew and I opened the cabin door to observe the original Cuban boat people.  Everybody was laying on the floor, including the dog.  It was really hot and the generator wasn’t running.  I asked Aubrey if she was having a happy day and she gurgled something that sounded mean and scary.

We were traveling at around 1 knot and we were now getting hit with at least 5 foot breakers across our bow.  Life sucked and it wasn’t getting better because I had no idea what the solution was.  I continued on my SE course.  I couldn’t solve the generator problem because I didn’t want to get thrown off the boat.  It was beautiful and sunny, by the way.  It was so pretty that it made me mad.

I went a few miles farther and checked in on the crew.  They were hating me at an increasing rate.

I slowed still and opened the engine hatch to start the generator set manually.  It fired up and I figured all of the problems down below were solved.  I had been battering the hell out of the Gulf for an hour and a half and I figured it would be getting better any minute and it didn’t.  It didn’t get worse, which was good.  Sea sickness has never bothered me.

Aubrey opened the cabin door and I thought she would be bringing me a sandwich or something and she puked all over the deck.  The waves were smacking the boat so hard, I couldn’t even give her a hug.  There was no way I could take my hands off the wheel. I changed course immediately to do in the direction of the waves running a NE course.  We had gone about 50 miles into the Gulf and I had to throw in the towel and change course or face my deadly wife. Continue reading

Ft. Walton Beach to Apalachicola Florida on the ICW

Panama City ICW

Pink Belly Dolphin in Panama City Bay!

We departed from Ft. Walton Beach at around 8:30. It was a little later than we planned, but we have kids. We set off on an easterly course heading through the bay and along the line that is the Intercostal Waterway (ICW). The Florida ICW is much more beautiful than the Louisiana ICW, let me tell you!

We made good time and the waters were calm through Panama City. I was surprised at how many pontoon boats and small lake boats we saw. I would never dream of taking out such an unstable craft into anything that touches the ocean. We ran into another pod of dolphins in the bay and they jumped and played in our wake as I slowed down for their entertainment. Aubrey got lots of pictures. One of the dolphins had a really pink belly. I wonder what causes one dolphin to another to have a pink belly? Maybe it is like the birds that we saw in Louisiana that were pink because of the amount of a certain species of shrimp? It causes them to be pink. Anyway, awesome experience but we had to motor on our way!

I do this several times per day!

I do this several times per day!

I just took a pause to dinghy over to the next marina to switch out a load of laundry. Man, laundry is an issue on a liveaboard boat! I read that it was but I had no idea. Our marina here has no laundry room. There is none in this town, believe it or not. We haven’t done our clothes and sheets since New Orleans, so it was past time. I had to make a deal with the next marina over to fuel up on Tuesday to get the privilege to use their machines, which consisted of a set of 15-year-old tired things. They were locked behind a screen door and apparently you need to dry twice. Ugh. We have three loads to do and that equals one big pain in the ass. All the while, Aubrey and the kids are swimming in the pool (true story). I am happy to get the opportunity to get clean clothes, just the same. I resorted to my redneck roots and decided to line dry some of the clothes on our yacht. If I weren’t typing this, I’d probably watching NASCAR while I was fishing.

The bay got rough outside Panama City and I had to don the raincoat for the first time. Aubrey and the kids went below and I ran through several miles of rain before it lifted and the ICW narrowed into something different. The water was black and the wake was like coffee. The trees were huge pines and the vegetation was lush. I wish I could properly describe the smell, it was so wonderful. It was sweet with a bit of pine and it was ours for a few more hours. It was if we were the only visitors in twenty years.

I saw anther porpious up ahead and I slowed this time to run up along side of it. It was surfacing and swimming with the boat only 3 feet off the bow. Aubrey was on the bow with the camera, of course. We cruised along and saw another bald eagle and too many other raptors to count. We found an osprey that nested in the crow’s nest of a wrecked and submerged shrimp boat.   The momma osprey was making a lot of squaks for her babies who were off hunting in the shallows. I blew my boat horn and she flew off. Aubrey was ready with her camera and we ended up with some once in a lifetime photos.

IMG_0174We passed a dive boat close to an old railroad bridge. The diver said the visibility was two feet but they were looking for old cypress trees that sunk in the river. I guess that is a very profitable business. We pulled into Apalachicola Florida at around 3PM and found the Water Street Marina easy enough. We parked the boat and met with some people on the dock. Another great cruise! 650 miles down.IMG_0027