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2 Years On

Happy anniversary to us.

What started as a bit of a financial stop-gap has become a fantastic way of life that I don’t feel the need to give up any time soon.

Don’t get me wrong. Living on a boat has it’s fair share of challenges. Now that we have been on board for 2 years, the nuts and bolts have been ironed out, but there are still moments when I think I must be crazy.

Let’s re-cap the events of the past 2 years:

Hubby, 1 child, and I, have all fallen in once. That’s really quite good odds! My fall was while trying to get out of the kayak, so really, that’s totally understandable.

Lost overboard – 1 set of keys, (including very expensive spare car key), wedding ring (Hubby’s. Recovered by our friendly mooring guy and a metal detector), various hats, beach towel, 2 sets of rabbit ears (used in some way with the motors. Not their actual name). That’s not a bad list considering we regularly carry laptops, phones, ipad, and nintendo games on and off. I did drown my first iphone, but that got drenched in a gin and tonic.

Replaced – we are onto our 3rd dinghy motor. The first went down with the dinghy when we got caught in a tornado (!!!). The 2nd gave up the ghost after 18months of being an incredibly noisy bone shaker. We now have a fancy one that gets us to shore in 2 minutes. We are also onto our 3rd generator and 3rd inverter. These are all things that get heavy usage so it’s to be expected that we will have to replace between 12-18months.

The biggest misconception about boat life is that it’s wet and cold and miserable. People always ask us how we are fairing when the weather is rough. The reality is, unless we have to get off and go to shore, we are warm, dry and cosy. I love laying in bed listening to the rain. I have become an expert radar reader. When we are getting ready to go out on a rainy day, I check the radar and can see when there is a gap coming. I have only been drenched once in 2 years, and that was because the dinghy ran out of fuel and I discovered that someone had stolen our fuel can. This all happened right when a big storm hit. I madly waved at a passing boat, who didn’t realise I was in trouble and, being friendly, waved back. They soon realised however, and came to my aid.

Most disastrous things have happened when Hubby is away and I am fending for myself. Today, for example, I took the doglet to the park in the kayak. When I came back, I simply got out of the kayak and forgot to tie it to the boat. I noticed it about 20minutes later as it drifted by the window. Thankfully it’s low tide and a beautiful sunny day.

I can’t imagine going back to living in a house. As the children get older, we might feel a little cramped, but I have thought of a great solution. In the next 2 years, we will get a small boat for the eldest child and convert it to a bedroom and he can raft up alongside. Problem solved!!!

 

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From a Child’s Eye View

What a wonderful place a dog park is, especially one with a sandy beach and clear ocean waters. With dogs that play with each other and wind that whistles in your ears. Well, I think it’s so cool being able to swim each day and make sand castles then get a dog to knock it down and spray the sand at you!

My parents are divorced, which means they don’t love each other any more. So my mum, step-dad, half-brother, cat and our pet mice live in a house in Terrey Hills and my dad, step-mum and dog live on a boat next to the beautiful dog park in Bayview. My brother and my sister and I travel between the two places, so we get to see our mum on Saturday, Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. And we get to see our Dad on the other days.

Our boat is bigger than most House boats but way smaller than cruise ships. It has three bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room joined to a lounge room. It also has a top deck, which is an area on our roof where you can go on and sun bake or jump off into the water. I share a small bedroom with my sister, it has a bunk bed and my sister is in the top bunk (who is seven) and i am down the bottom. Our room also has some thing like a trap door under my bed, that leads to my very own hull, which is a small room to store stuff in and i own it because i am ten and need my own little room for me only. My dad and step mum share a bedroom with a double bed and place to put their clothes. My brother is lucky because he is thirteen so he get’s his own room with his own king single bed. Somehow that all fits on our boat!

My dog Ruby, loves it on our boat, really can you imagine being a dog living next to a dog park beach and being able to swim in the summer. IT WOULD BE LOVELY!!!!!!!!
And sometimes people throw their dogs tennis balls into the water out too far and their dog can’t be bothered to swim out and we have to come to the rescue and bring the ball back to the owner for them.

Fishing in Pittwater (where our boat is moored) is normal, you don’t catch sharks or see whales. You would catch a nice bream or two. Near the shallow you see lots of baby sting rays and once i saw a sea snake. Even though you don’t catch sharks every day, there have been reports about lots of bull sharks. The bull sharks don’t come here to feed, they come here to spawn (to have baby sharks). So if you don’t annoy them they won’t annoy you!

Unlike other houses our one can move (because it’s a boat duh). Sometimes we drive it around to the Basin or Towlers Bay. I like the Basin more because you can camp there and the lagoon is netted to keep sharks out. At the Basin there are Wallabies and really cool birds. At night at the Basin we get the choice to camp or sleep on the boat. Also at the Basin you can catch other types of fish like Yellow Tail fish.

At Towlers Bay there only is a very small beach, that is another reason why i like the Basin more. Once i saw a really weird fish thing at Towlers Bay. It looked like that prawn thing in nemo, the fish who cleans in the tank. Although i knew it wasn’t a Yabbie for sure.

Yes, i know what your thinking, it is illegal to live on a boat full time, but my dad, step-mum and dog stay at my dad’s mum and dad’s house (my grandma and grandpa’s house). They especially stay there when it is really rainy and wet or when it is really windy because it would be dangerous because the other boats might flow with the wind and crash into other boats or maybe even ours. And my siblings (brothers and sisters) and I are at our mothers for most of the week, so we’re fine.

To sum up i love it on our house boat, and i’m having a great and fun life here near our dog park and i just shared it with you!

By Mary

I have a very strange dog. She is strange, and funny, in many ways, and always has been. She is a Tibetan Spaniel – short legs, long, puggish body, flat-ish face, and long hair which forms balls around the house when she moults (which is all year round). I adopted her when she was 2 years old from a work acquaintance who had to get rid of her as she kept digging her way out of the yard and terrorising the neighbour’s chickens. That should have set off an alarm bell, but it didn’t and 9 years later, she’s still digging her way out of things. I looked up Tibetan Spaniels on the internet when I first got her and it said 3 main things.

1. Tibetan Spaniels were originally bred to be bed warmers for the Tibetan Royal Family, probably a combination of a pug and a shih tzu. That makes sense. She seems to have a sense of entitlement and likes to jump onto the bed at any opportunity.

2. Tibetan Spaniels are diggers by nature. Well, no prizes there, considering the reason she was being given away in the first place. At the time, I had a completely paved backyard so it was no big deal.

3. Tibetan Spaniels are not easily trained. If a Tibby obeys a command, it was probably about to do it anyway. That’s never been a particularly helpful part of her personality  as it means she can’t be off the leash on a walk as she just takes off.

The internet failed to mention anything about thinking she’s a cat, always lying on clean washing if left on the floor, only chasing a stick or ball if it is edible, and demanding, in no uncertain terms, that it is time for a treat. This particular Tibetan Spaniel has lived an interesting life. She has lived in 9 different houses in her 11 years, and is now living out her golden years on a houseboat.

Doglet (not her real name – she’s way too naughty to be exposed online) had already earned her sea legs before we moved onto the houseboat. She had been out sailing many times on our previous boat, a 34ft sailing boat, and, except for the stairs being so steep she would often do triple somersaults to get down them, she seemed to genuinely enjoy the journey. Like me, she enjoyed it more when not really going anywhere. If things got a little choppy and swayed from side to side, she liked to wander around the top deck of the boat to make sure everything was OK, and then try to jump overboard. Other than that, she was quite at home.

The first couple of weeks after buying the houseboat, we were busy moving things on and generally pottering about, so it was a while before she was left to her own devices all day. Being so close to the dog park – about 30metres depending on the tide – my main concern was that she would want to be with all the other dogs and swim to shore. That’s OK in theory, but would she stay there all day or wander off to chase cars. Her face is flat enough!! I’m not fond of dog owners who let their dogs do their own thing and wander the streets. And sure enough, the first time she was left alone for the whole day, we arrived home to find her missing. The Adventurer grabbed the binoculars to see if she was at the dog park, while I searched the whole boat. In the dinghy tied to the back of the boat was a clue – a giant pooh. My mind immediately went to the possibility that she had slipped while trying to get back out of the dinghy and had drowned, when I heard my phone beeping. It was a message from a woman saying she had found our dog up at the school. School? The school is miles away? The swim alone would be 300metres, then up a hill across a road and up another hill. Doglet is 11years old! I could not believe that she could swim that far, so I can only guess that she fell off the back of the boat, couldn’t see the dog park from that side, started swimming and got picked up by a boat coming through the channel and dropped off on the other side. Of course it depends on what kind of boat picked her up. If a fishing trawler picked her up, did she have a day at sea reeling in swordfish before heading home? Or perhaps a pleasure craft, that indulged her with caviar, champagne and massages before dropping her to shore. My mind was going to all sorts of scenarios, but definitely not to the one that had her swimming that far!

After that adventure, she has kept herself on board, happy to wait until we come home to take her to the park. However, when the wind is blowing a gale and it’s freezing cold, making that trip can be a bit taxing. The Adventurer awoke early one morning to find it was extremely low tide, which means we were only about 20 metres from the shore. He put Doglet into the kayak, attached a very long rope, and gave the kayak an almighty heave ho, delivering her, eventually, to the beach. Getting her back was still a problem to be solved but for now, she was happy to be delivered.

The only problem with indulging our laziness is that I don’t like dogs roaming unattended, no matter how small, cute and furry they are. No one would be more shocked than me if Doglet had a snap at someone, but you just can’t tell with dogs, especially as they get older or suffer a trauma. About 2 years ago, when we were living in suburbia like normal people, there was a husky that had been adopted into a local family after it had wandered out of the bush some years earlier. This husky was quite placid, and even a little scared of humans, but really took an instant dislike to our little ball of fur. Perhaps it was her close resemblance to a possum that was the problem. The husky had been known to devour those on neighbours lawns too. One day while out for a walk, on the leash, with the children, the unattended and uncollared husky decided it wanted some Doglet for dinner and grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and shook her, like it would it’s prey. Thankfully the children were able to get themselves and the dog away and Doglet survived with a bit of expensive surgery. The reason I’m relating this story is, now Doglet has a vendetta against huskys, and this dog park has many of them visit on a daily basis! She spots one, goes straight up to it and seems to be saying “I know your kind! One of you tried to eat me. This is my park, now just keep away, cos I’m the boss!” Needless to say, these huskys have no idea what she’s going on about and find her yapping and carrying on a tad annoying.

This particular dog park is very special because of the sand and water available for the dogs to play in. Most beaches ban off-leash, and even on-leash dogs, so people come for miles to visit. In this area, there are also many restrictions in place because a lot of the area is National Park. We had some friends visiting recently, so we motored up to one of these parklands and spent most of the day. Fun for us, but it did mean that Doglet was stuck on board for the better part of the day. On the way back, The Adventurer’s crazy brother showed up in his very fast boat and decided to do “donuts” around us, making it very choppy. Doglet was outside at the time and we were relieved to find her still on board. Excitement over, so we thought, and we continued on our way back to the mooring. Suddenly we noticed Doglet had jumped in the dinghy and was trying to jump in the water. We were motoring along at about 6 knots at the time, and in the deepest part of the water way which is known to have sharks visiting from time to time – in other words, not a good place to jump off. I did mention she prefers to be on boats that don’t move much! We managed to haul her back aboard and made it back to the mooring where she promptly jumped in and swam to shore. Urgent call of nature or “just get me the hell off this boat”? We’ll never know. But it did remind us that we have to consider the furry passengers that also live aboard the houseboat.