Due to the unconventional lifestyle that we lead while cruising aboard Yahtzee, we tend to field a lot of questions from sailors and non-sailors, friends, family members, strangers and folks who follow Three Sheets Northwest and Rollin’ With Yahtzee. You can find many of these basic questions on our FAQ page, but we’ve recently had quite a few new ones so I’ll answer some of those below and will then post them to the page later.
If you’ve got any questions of your own, please feel free to leave them in the comments section and I’ll get them answered and posted.
Do you have a TV?
No, we don’t have a television. The reason is that we don’t really like TV and therefore have no need to sit in front of one. It isn’t that we’re anti-TV necessarily, it’s just not something that we want or find useful on a sailboat. I get plenty of “screen time” working on the computer and really the only thing I could think that I’d even like to watch on TV would be football. And for Jill, since housesitting this winter and getting hooked on the show “This Is Us”, she’s now hopeful to find a way to finish the season.
That said, we do have a computer with a disc drive to play DVDs and an external hard drive filled with movies from our Peace Corps days. But I can count on one hand how many movies we’ve watched in our nearly five years of living on Yahtzee. On occasion, we’ve streamed shows on the computer, but don’t really do that anymore. Porter’s a cartoon junkie when we’re at hotels or visiting friends and family, and he enjoys relaxing and watching a few kids shows on Jill’s phone while Magnus naps in the afternoon. But on the boat, he’d much rather be doing something else. Magnus has no interest in TV what-so-ever.
Have you ever thought about getting a full enclosure for your cockpit?
This is a question and suggestion that we’ve gotten regularly since we purchased the boat. Though we get that having a full canvas enclosure for our cockpit would be nice for keeping out the elements, we still haven’t felt the need to get one.
The main reason is that it would be an awkward fit over and around Yahtzee’s cockpit. Also, we like to see the sails and everything outside of the boat, and an enclosure is too much of a trap. Plus, enclosures are super expensive and if we were going to drop that much money on canvas, it would be on a suit of nice sails. The dodger that I built has held up exceedingly well over the past 2.5 years and we do have a Bimini that we use in the summer to keep the cockpit shaded.
What about all the rain?
We sure have had a lot of rain this fall and winter, and while many places have had floods or flood warnings, that is certainly something we don’t have to worry about. The rain question usually comes from those who are worried about nearby rivers overflowing their banks or basements filling with water. Every boat has a leak or two, but Yahtzee, knock on wood, is nearly devoid of leaks. And since we’re on the water already, flooding isn’t a problem!
What we don’t do is let the rain close us up indoors or keep us from moving. If we did that, winter would be pretty depressing. Instead, we go sailing, hiking, paddling, rowing, beach-combing or out to playgrounds, and we tend to find things for the boys to do indoors such as library story times, children’s museums, swimming or, in Canada, attending their excellent early learning programs. If we do happen to be hunkered down in the boat to wait out weather, we do boat and art projects, play and listen to music, read, bake and build creative things from Legos.
Are you usually at anchor during the rainy season or do you move from marina to marina?
Great question. In the summer we spend the majority of our nights at anchor, but when the rain and wind of winter start moving into the Pacific Northwest, boaters are driven back to their home ports. That’s when transient dock space starts to open up. This winter while cruising the central sound, we used more docks because we had more available. But a typical winter has us at anchor for about three to five nights in a row, at a dock for a couple and then back out at anchor — which is a nice mix. Happily, we’re in that routine now.
When we do go to docks, it’s rarely at marinas where we are paying a full night slip fee. Being members of the Seattle Yacht Club allows us to use an incredible amount of reciprocal docks throughout the PNW for about five dollars per night, plus the club’s outstation docks, and we’ve figured out that if we use three nights per month at one of these, then we’ve more than covered our monthly yacht club dues. So it’s worth it. The helpful book, The Burgee, is a great guide to finding slips and since there are so few boaters out this time of year, the first-come-first-served moorage spaces are usually empty. One of the benefits to this is that we get to meet up with other SYC members and a lot of great folks at the various clubs we visit. We’re always welcomed with open arms and I can’t count how many times we’ve been invited up for a happy hour or potluck. The other thing we use a lot this time of year is our annual state parks mooring pass. The price is based on the length of your boat, but paying the yearly fee allows vessel owners to use the many moorings and docks at park facilities throughout Washington state.
Are you guys minimalists?
No. Not intentionally anyway. This question always makes us laugh because we get that living on a 40-foot boat means that we have less things, so by its nature, I guess we can be considered more minimalist than other people. But we’re not the type who strive to actually be minimalists. To us, trying to be minimalists would be putting way too much thought and effort into living. Instead, we have a boat full of things we use, eat, play with and enjoy. We buy things and give things away and without a storage unit or car, we don’t have a place to stash lots of stuff.
The bottom line is that we have room for everything we need, and beyond that, we have to be choosey about what we bring aboard and whether items are practical or not. Bikes, roller skates or skateboards for Porter and Magnus? Not realistic. An excessive amount of toys? Nope. Lots of clothing? Waste of space. Pets? Umm, no. Fortunately, the boys get exposure to all of these things during visits to family and friends ashore and they seem perfectly content with that. Because after time spent away from the boat and what they have on it, they’re always eager to get back to Yahtzee — which is about all we can ask for.
What’s your sailing background?
Over the past few weeks I’ve answered a number of questions related to how long we’ve been sailing, boating and cruising, whether Yahtzee is our first boat, and what our overall experience is. So, without getting too detailed into our sailing resumes, here goes.
I learned to sail with my family in Michigan at a very young age. I raced, daysailed and cruised boats with my grandparents, parents, siblings, uncles and friends, and when I was 19 I made my first offshore passage — a non-stop voyage from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Newport, R.I. That experience hooked me on big boats and real cruising, and from then on I knew that — along with writing — sailing would be my life’s passion. It was around this time that I met Jill and we started to sail together. She was soon hooked too and we’ve now been sailing together for 15 years.
After college in Oregon and then Florida, I got a captain’s license and worked as an instructor and manager at Offshore Sailing School for six years in Florida, the Bahamas, Caribbean and anywhere else they asked me to go. Teaching every class they offered, I learned fast from incredible mentors and honed my cruising, racing and teaching skills. Jill was able to take classes at the school and join me for much of it. We also had the opportunity to lead flotillas in the Caribbean together and got to explore from the British Virgin Islands south to Grenada. But, as life goes, we eventually needed and wanted a change and moved to Seattle in 2012 after being in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia. Six months later we bought our first boat, named her Yahtzee, had two kids and the rest is detailed on this blog.
Besides sailing Yahtzee, though, we also love keeping our skills sharp by delivering and racing other people’s boats. Jill helped friends sail their boat to San Francisco from the Pacific Northwest a few years ago and this past October we got to deliver an awesome boat together from Maine to Maryland. Good times!
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