Thursday, September 27, 2012

Solomon's Island

Whenever I tell someone that I live on a boat they often pause, look at me with a quizzical expression and ask how I keep myself occupied all day. For some reason boats are equated with a life of leisure. One where stiff upper lipped boat owners attired in blue blazers await servings of martinis and canap├ęs that are doled out by accommodating khaki clad stewards. In real life or at least aboard the Simple Life things are not quite as luxurious. Let's first get things out in the open. We mix our own martinis.

Life aboard is never without chores. When food supplies are dwindling we need to make sure that our next anchorage will have access to grocery shopping. That doesn't insure that the shopping will necessarily be convenient. It simply means that if we are willing to walk occasionally a mile or so and back carrying the weeks supply of food, then we'll have the opportunity to resupply. I always attempt to keep enough stores of food onboard for more than a few days, but we are very limited in storage space. Storage isn't even comparable to a small galley kitchen ashore. My refrigerator is small with only two shelves and a rather tiny freezer. But, for some reason I manage to store more frozen meats in my onboard freezer than I ever stored onshore! The reason for my prudence is; when traveling south as we are there are times when we find ourselves anchored in some God forsaken creek (although scenic) in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no shoreside amenities.

This week Joe and I were anchored off Zahnhizer's Marine at Solomon's Island. Transient cruisers are welcomed ashore at Zahnhizer's' for a dinghy tie up fee of $3.00. Showers are available for $2.00. My goal while visiting Solomon's was shopping and hot showers. We have a shower aboard Simple Life but have hot water only after running the engine. When anchored for more than a day there's no hot water.

In that case we resort to our 2.5 gallon sun shower. The sun shower is basically a plastic bag with one black side and one clear side that when placed strategically in sunlight passively heats the water. Joe and I have learned to conserve enough to take two showers with 2.5 gallons of water! It's not as satisfying as a shoreside shower, but it gets the job done.

When we arrived at Solomon's Island late Sunday afternoon one of our two 10 lb. propane tanks was empty. My stove, oven and heat run off propane and each tank lasts about 4-5 weeks. It's not easy to find a marina that fills propane. We began inquiring ashore and a man named Bill who worked at the Hospitality Marina offered to drive Joe to a hardware store three miles away to fill the tank. At home filling propane would be a task, on a boat it becomes an adventure.
Since all of our systems are run off 12 volt batteries we're always searching for ways to conserve energy. Even though we have three solar panels and a wind generator the batteries get a workout. Refrigeration, lights, radar and chartplotter as well as ancillary items such as the iPad, computer and phone all take their toll on the charge. We stopped at a West Marine at Solomon's to purchase LED bulbs to replace some of the incandescent lights. The reduction in amp usage is remarkable. Joe also purchased a small tarp which he plans to modify as a "rain catcher" to supplement our water tanks.

While writing this I'm starting to think that this really sounds like a lot of work. After all, we're talking about everyday life chores here not X-Games excitement. If I try to expound on our reasons for choosing this way of life I'd have to say that we are living a deliberate life. Simple Life is our home and we resemble a caravan of gypsies traveling about, packing up after a couple of days in any one spot and moving south with flocks of geese and the seasons. The only forces we have to reckon with for now are winds, weather and tides.

This evening we crossed the Potomac River into Virginia. We're anchored in the Glebe off the Coan River. When Simple Life finally settled into her anchorage and all systems were shut down for the evening, we spotted a doe onshore with her twins. A pair of Bald Eagles a common sighting in the Chesapeake fished the creek and ate their catch in pine trees along the shoreline of the anchorage. The sun was low in the early autumn sky warming the body and soul. That's why we're out here. It's not always perfect. At times it's challenging and difficult. Somehow there is nowhere else I'd rather be right now. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

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