Our Messy but Perfect Move to Maui
Have you ever marked out a multi-step goal, then partway to completion, doubts pop up? Me too! But, eventually, each calculated step adds up to success- to some degree. Amid each grit-our-teeth challenge, fear whispered we would miss our goal. Rabbit holes and squirrel distractions relocated our pesky goal post and plagued our vision.
Our goal? Temporarily live aboard our boat, Windward, as we wait to build our home in Maui. Under normal circumstances, it’s an epic feat to move out of your sold house then haul and ship household items. Imagine buckling an airplane seatbelt headed to your destination without a temporary intermediate spot to recoup and lay your weary head. Timing is everything when dealing with shipment containers sailing across the ocean.
This liveaboard transition would be a stopgap between our house sale and completing our final construction job near Seattle. Since we live in the Pacific Northwest, we ventured, why not temporarily live aboard our boat?
Windward, our 2000 model, Silverton 392 Yacht, easily fits the liveaboard lifestyle. She sported two bedrooms (cabins), two bathrooms (heads), and a large living room (salon) with a small kitchen (galley). An outdoor “backyard” (stern cockpit) afforded room to spread out. We had buoys and lines and flares and life jackets. Loads of provisions (only the necessities) were wheeled down the dock and properly stowed. Windward provided space to work on Maui County building permits and any plan revisions (when in calm waters). Note to Self: If the pencil rolls off the table in turbulence, set aside plan drawing.
We moored Windward at one of the most idyllic Seattle areas, Lake Union, with a view of the Space Needle, Gas Works Park, and all the lake activity floated, paddled, and motored across our bow. Often, we pushed off for a weekend trip with our options pondered, protected Andrews Bay (idyllic but sometimes crowded, causing choppy water) or through the locks (countless bays to consider but more cruise time). The point being- it does not matter! Any option leads to adventure and feeds the soul as sunsets renew across the water.
Between trips, we carved out a brief timeframe to do maintenance on Windward. We were forced to admit, she was a little stinky. She served as a charter boat in previous ownership. Her old holding tank and lines had their own story to tell, and that story was indeed being told. No matter how we maintained the tank and lines, the odor remained. The time had come to replace those lines.
Hint: After sanitizing, use the old line attached to the new line to pull the new pipe into place. An armful of fans onboard is considered a bonus during this process. Note: Some salty dock mate warned us against the temptation to allow the old line to dry out along the dock and then shake it to clear the line. I can’t imagine that moment! Given that advice, the old lines went directly to the dumpster.
News! Our house sold quickly. We did it- and our goalpost was in sight. We were grateful that Windward had abundant storage space. At the pending house, our extensive To-Do list included increments of a downsized life. A few yard sales, a “FREE” pile of stuff at the driveway, and an abundance of drop-off donation boxes- we did it all. The clock ticked as we got the container loaded, hauled from the property (before the house sale finalized), then shipped off toward Maui.
With most of our earthly belongings floating to Maui or floating in Windward, we began the temporary liveaboard status until our permanent move and our vehicles shipped. With the boat fully stocked, it was time to venture out for a week or two in our floating home. The San Juan Islands whispered our names, and we had plenty of room for the grandkiddos with the mounted hammock in the large stern cockpit “backyard.”
I can think of nothing comparable to sleeping on a boat, especially moored to a dock. When calm, we indulged in the gentle sway, and the sweet smell from the water surface is restful. The lap of waves pushed at the hull, and fowl settled in for the night with quiet quack-chatter. After a good night of sleep, a cup of coffee at the bow is brilliant!
We claimed the trip was a success with a few challenges as we maneuvered, anchored, fueled, and navigated the waters. Sam sat back with a hand remote Nav system to enjoy the longer cruise legs with ease until the port engine failed. We summoned a floating mechanic at Roche Harbor, and the wiry, quick-witted man with grease marked hands bounced from boat to boat at $150 per stop motoring around in his tool-laden skiff. Bless him! He got the engine running again.
Given Windward’s size, inlet anchoring in windy weather was a challenge. We drifted from our anchored spot at Orcas Island, and the boat edged toward a rock outcropping. The gusty early morning (dark o’clock) emergency move and subsequent tie-off to a State Park buoy kept us off the rocks in those wild choppy waves.
Returned and cleated snuggly back at our Lake Union slip, the water activity continues nonstop. Brightly colored kayaks dot the lake. Sunseekers and newbies paddle across our bow, and an assortment of captains glow with prominent sunburns. Daily seaplanes flew overhead, transporting business suits and tourists to the San Juan Islands and beyond to Canada. An array of party boats with fully stocked coolers, tour boats, duck boats, and sailboats (sail and motor) pass our bow. Every mix and variety of family/singles, tourists, and anglers with the occasional heaving, smoking diesel engines.
Often big waves strained against our dock cleats, alerting us of passing mega yachts. With their corresponding uniforms, the crew bark orders over headsets and guard their port and starboard buoys, nearly the size of Volkswagens (somewhat overstated for emphasis). Some mega yachts sport massive, backlit silver or gold lettering across their sterns, Mayan Queen IV or Vava II. Or the $120 million mega-yacht named Sherpa.
Substantial fishing boats (working boats), like the Time Bandit, Cornelia Marie, and Northwestern from the reality TV show The Deadliest Catch, all refitted on Lake Union and the ship canal. We could hear workers banging out huge hull dents, likely caused by some unseen rock or reef (let’s imagine what that damaging impact would’ve felt like) at the floating dry dock business across the water. The vessels pushed off with a fresh refit for another year of salty seas, crab fishing, and more exciting TV show episodes.
A forty-foot sailboat moored in front of our boat, and Robert, the British liveaboard gentleman, was a hoot. It was strange to be living in such proximity- only feet away compared to our previous acre of property. He would pop out of his sailboat with a morning “Cheers.” Towel and toiletries in hand, he marched down the planked dock to the shower room adjacent to the shore office.
Mornings brought out the liveaboard scrubbers and workers. Many boats got their morning dew cleanings and ropes re-secured at masts and cleats. Evenings, nearby liveaboards would start up their grills attached- some precariously, to their sterns. Dinner was usually fish of some sort, judging by the wafting aromas.
It was difficult not to know everyone else’s business. British Robert would blurt out, “Oh, Joe is out cleaning scum off his hull this morning! I figured he had a little too much to drink last night to be up so early!” And, “Did you see that beauty paddle by this morning? I should’a paddled after her… oh, but she’s far too young for an old seadog like me; besides, I’m married!”
We learned to stay alert, ready to jump into action, grab a rope or gaff to push the incoming boat away from the hull, or assist boaters in docking. The wind has a mind of its own. North gusts, then Westerly a bit, as boats head directly at your port side when entering or leaving their narrow slip. Some Skippers give a horn blast warning. Some do not.
A downside to the liveaboard life, other than losing privacy space, is keeping a keen eye for pump-out boats, usually outfitted with a companion dog and equipped with pump and tank to suck out boat holding tanks. These boats can sneak/float by at any given hour on any given day. If your windows aren’t shut tight in time, it’s a regretful mishap. The stench does not diminish as rapidly as the pump-out boats, and then fans turned to the max are required to remediate. The added insult is when several tanks get serviced down the dock, and the pump-out hovers for an excruciatingly long time. When done, the boat floats/wafts back by, leaving a long stench behind. The companion dog mascot pays no never-mind.
When the summer sunsets cast orange across the lake, a shared glass of wine at the helm or stern is divine. British Robert loved watching the weekly sailboat races and lay on his green hammock that he dangled from his sailboat masts. He enjoyed too much wine and telling colorful stories, which I will not repeat. Then when he decided to call it a night, he would throw out a big wave and “Cheers!” before he disappeared into his sailboat.
We sat in the cockpit with a coffee cup and breakfast to watch the crew teams row by silently in the mornings. Why would we ever want to live in Hawaii when we had this entertainment cross our bow? Winter was coming, enough said.
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