Rain drops keep falling on my head…

It was a winter of clouds, rain and frigid air in the gray city. This was my first winter on Oswin and although curling up in the v-berth (my sleeping area) while hearing the rain fall above me was incredibly soothing, I was starting to get a little stir crazy by the beginning of March.

The darkness and rain were the hardest parts. Unable to open the doors to my boat for the past five months, I ended up burrowing inside with bottles of wine and whiskey without even realizing I had become a drunken sailor.

How did I get through the winter? Mostly, wine and whiskey. But there were a few other things I made sure to do on the boat to survive.

For warmth, I would come home from work and immediately turn on my DeLonghi oil heater, along with my heated blanket. I avoided infrared heaters because the coils are extremely flammable. If anything from a piece of paper to a thread touches those coils, a fire could start. Hence, the oil heater. The oil is contained and well suited for a small space on a boat.

If I got home late to the boat though, it was a struggle. I turned the power off during the day to keep down on electric costs, so it would take extra long to heat the boat if I strolled in at 9 p.m. Even the heated blanket didn’t save me at that point.

With heat on a boat, surrounded by chilled sea water, moisture builds. I was told dehumidifiers are key for winters on a boat, but I actually did not use mine as often. At first, I turned my dehumidifier on all day and night, but I found I was drying out my boat to the point where I woke up in the morning gasping for water. Since my dehumidifier could handle 45 pints of water per day, it was sucking too much moisture out of the air. I ended up turning it off after December and found my boat kept itself pretty dry.

I still had to purchase ice for my icebox to keep anything refrigerated. I actually enjoyed this part of winter because my ice would last twice as long with the surrounding cold. At one point, I found my olive oil froze solid in it’s glass bottle, something I didn’t even know could happen. However, I started to relax on how much ice I kept in the icebox and ended up with a bacterial infection (oops).

Even with the infection, I mostly kept a comfortable environment indoors. The winter did rough up Oswin’s exterior, specifically my doorway into the cabin. To get into my boat, I had to remove three wooden slats one by one, instead of a simple door knob. And in the winter, the wooden slats expanded and became harder to remove. Annoyed, I ended up climbing over the three slats and swung my legs inside the boat as if I was climbing the monkey bars on the elementary school playground. The plus side to this was I became more acrobatic.

The day I knew winter was over was when I could remove the top wooden slat and create a walkway for myself to step inside the boat. I felt complete relief.

 

 

Skillet stories

One of the best, and worst, parts about living on Oswin is I have to cook fresh food more often than not. Instead of a refrigerator, I have an ice box on board. Which means, every time I buy groceries, I also have to buy a pound of crushed ice. Annoyingly, if I run out of ice, my food goes bad.

My workaround is to buy fresh vegetables and throw them on my cast-iron skillet immediately. What I’ve found is that you can throw anything on a skillet and it has a delicious burnt, mouthwatering taste.

The first meal I cooked on my skillet was farfalle pasta with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Mushrooms
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Butter
  • Salt & pepper
  • Farfalle pasta

Step 1: Chop up the mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and some basil. Throw (from a distance, if you want to test your athleticism) a tablespoon of butter and salt & pepper to give the veggie mixture a little flavor.

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Step 2: Boil the water and cook the bow ties, and stir the veggie concoction until the mushrooms shrivel right up. You’d be surprised how easy it is to cook on an alcohol burner –  just light up the tins below and control the flame using the black dials you see above!

Step 3: Combine the noodles and veggies.

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Step 4: Eat it all.

The name Oswin

There is a sailboat superstition that if you rename a boat, the boat will sink. Luckily, my sailboat was nameless, which meant I could name the vessel.

Those of you who know me, understand that the show Doctor Who shapes my life, as any whovian would admit. Naturally, I decided to name my sailboat in reference to an adventure seeker of space and time.

I settled on Oswin. A sassy, independent, character named Clara has the name Oswin when we first meet her, trapped in a dead spaceship, baking suffles. My sailboat is its own version of a spaceship and although I do not have an oven, I thought Oswin would perfectly sum up my future experiences.

Oswin the sailboat arrives

IMG_3856.JPGAfter doing extensive research, including a survey report and consulting knowledgeable peers, I purchased a 1979 Glastron Spirit sailboat to live aboard in Seattle, WA.

What, how, who…why… how, might be running through your mind.

The stress of finding a studio apartment in Seattle almost pushed me to the edge, or towards purchasing a sailboat. I had never lived on my own before and wanted to see if I would enjoy it. Living in Seattle though made the search difficult.

I hoped to find something both affordable and close to the people I wanted to see on a daily basis. The second I put down a $1000 deposit on a 340 square foot studio apartment in the U-district (filled with college students and sketchy areas), my stomach turned inside-out. It didn’t feel right. I wasn’t ready to fork over $1000 a month just to live in a small space on my own. 

I have two wonderful friends who brought their sailboat from Wisconsin to Seattle for their living situation – something I would never have thought of otherwise. After a few stays on their boat and enjoying the freedom it offers, I asked myself, why can’t I do this?

The answer was that I could. A slip at the Marina was only a couple hundred a month and the price of the boat is the equivalent of making a car payment. Financially, the plan was as sound as the Puget (sailors only speak in puns). My lifestyle would change, but only for the better.

I had my doubts leading up to the purchase:

Can I really go without an easily accessible shower?

Positive spin: I would never have to clean a shower again.

Will the ice box (instead of a fridge) be too small and inconvenient?

Positive spin: I will eat healthier by buying my food as I need it.

Will the moisture build-up in the winter be too much?

Positive spin: I will buy the biggest dehumidifier I can find.

In the end, the benefits of living on a boat outweighed the negatives and I finally decided to adventure on a 28 foot sailboat.

Since I have no sailing experience and the boat was located about an hour drive west of Seattle, I had the owner and his friend Wolfgang sail it over to Shilshole marina.

Prior to meeting them, my intelligent boyfriend suggested I get a few homey items to bring aboard after the owner left (i.e. an expensive candle, sunflowers and of course, champagne).

I arrived to the marina just as my sailboat effortlessly glided into the marina slip. Although it was technically gray and cloudy that day, I remember it as sunny and beautiful.

Pop! Went the champagne and the sailboat was mine.

Stay tuned for more stories of Oswin the sailboat and my new lifestyle in Seattle, WA.

The “Up” House ventures out of Ballard Blocks

A single blue car, parked outside of 86-year-old Edith Macefield’s home, told broker Paul Thomas that an elderly woman still kept her stance against city development.

“The day I saw that blue car was gone, I knew things were changing,” said Thomas.

In 2006, the car was parked outside of a home worth $1 million. Macefield refused this amount from developers for the Ballard Blocks shopping center because she wanted to pass away peacefully in her own home.

When she did pass away in 2008, the blue car disappeared and a three-story shopping center wrapped around her small farmhouse, along with a grey, chain-linked fence.

Change was evident.

IMG_2790But with this change sprouted brightly-colored balloons entwined between the fence’s chain-links, symbolizing the charm of Macefield’s defiance and giving her home the name of the “Up” House.

On Aug. 4, Thomas announced that the “Up” House will stay the same, but its surroundings will soon change. The non-profit organization named OPAL Community Land Trust will move the home to a new location on Orcas Island.

OPAL has built and re-located homes on Orcas Island for the past 26 years, providing affordable housing to a community with one of the largest affordability gaps in Washington, according to Executive Director Lisa Byers.

The “Up” House will be the eleventh home OPAL re-locates for families on the Island. Byers said if they raise enough funding, the move will keep Macefield’s spirit alive by giving the home a purpose again.

“We were captivated by the story and wanted to keep that legacy going,” said Byers.

Worldwide visitors, along with the Ballard community, tie their own balloons to the fence in honor of Macefield. Since Pixar’s release of “Up” in 2009, the house has become a tourist attraction for the Seattle area.

To broker Thomas, honoring Macefield’s memory was a key requirement for any buyer looking to purchase Macefield’s home.

“The house needs to not disappear into thin air,” said Thomas. “It would be a huge disappointment to those who love the site.”

Thomas was the second caretaker of the “Up” House after it foreclosed in March 2015, a task that proved to be difficult. While there were many buyers interested in the home, challenging city regulations discouraged buyers from making the purchase.

OPAL plans to not only keep the “Up” House afloat, but also honor Macefield by renovating the exterior to look as it originally did.

The exterior today includes signs along the chain-linked fence that read, “Stick it to the man,” and “Save the ‘Up’ House,” emphasizing the home’s symbolic resistance to development in Seattle as whole.

According to the Department of Planning and Development, Seattle will grow by 120,000 residents in the next 20 years. The city today struggles with this predicted growth rate.

Having worked in Historical Preservation for 10 years prior to OPAL, Byers sees Seattle’s development as a threat to buildings similar to the “Up” House.

“Artifacts and buildings are the touchstones that keep people and their stories alive,” said Byers. “The changes in Seattle bring mixed emotions.”

But with development also comes opportunity. According to Byers, four individuals donated their homes to OPAL recently because of the development. This gave affordable living for four different families on the Island.

“When people have a place to call home, they can go on and live their lives and participate in the community,” said Byers.

An idea that Byers considers to be the everlasting message of Macefield’s home.

Even though OPAL will remove the home from its original land within the Ballard Blocks, according to Thomas, the move will preserve the “symbol of something very unusual and highly appreciated.”