The Liveaboard Simulator
Just for fun, park your cars in the lot of the convenience store
at least 2 blocks from your house. (Make believe the sidewalk is a
floating dock between your car and the house.
Move yourself and your family (If applicable) into 2 bedrooms and 1
bathroom. Measure the DECK space INSIDE your boat. Make sure the
occupied house has no more space, or closet space, or drawer space.
Boats don't have room for "beds", as such. Fold your Sealy Posturepedic up
against a wall, it won't fit on a boat. Go to a hobby fabric store and buy
a foam pad 5' 10" long and 4' wide AND NO MORE THAN 3" THICK. Cut it into
a triangle so the little end is only 12" wide. This simulates the foam pad
in the V-berth up in the pointy bow of the sailboat. Bring in the kitchen
table from the kitchen you're not allowed to use. Put the pad UNDER the
table, on the floor, so you can simulate the 3' of headroom over the pad.
Block off both long sides of the pad, and the pointy end so you have to
climb aboard the V-berth from the wide end where your pillows will be. The
hull blocks off the sides of a V-berth and you have to climb up over the
end of it through a narrow opening (hatch to main cabin) on a boat. You'll
climb over your mate's head to go to the potty in the night. No fun for
either party. Test her mettle and resolve by getting up this way right
after you go to bed at night. There are lots of things to do on a boat and
you'll forget at least one of them, thinking about it laying in bed, like
"Did I remember to tie off the dingy better?" or "Is that spring line (at
the dock) or anchor line (anchored out) as tight as it should be?" Boaters
who don't worry about things like this laying in bed are soon aground or on
fire or the laughing stock of an anchorage.... You need to find out how
much climbing over her she will tolerate BEFORE you're stuck with a big
boat and big marina bills and she refuses to sleep aboard it any more.....
Bring a coleman stove into the bathroom and set it next to the
bathroom sink. Your boat's sink is smaller, but we'll let you use the
bathroom sink, anyways. Do all your cooking in the bathroom, WITHOUT
using the bathroom power vent. If you have a boat vent, it'll be a
useless 12v one that doesn't draw near the air your bathroom power
vent draws to take away cooking odors. Leave the hall door open to
simulate the open hatch. Take all the screens off your 2 bedroom's
windows. Leave the windows open to let in the bugs that will invade
your boat at dusk, and the flies attracted to the cooking.
Borrow a 25 gallon drum mounted on a trailer. Flush your
toilets into the drums. Trailer the drums to the convenience store to
dump them when they get full. Turn off your sewer, you won't have
one. This will simulate going to the "pump out station" every time the
tiny drum is full. 25 gallons is actually LARGER than most holding tanks.
They're more like 15 gallons on small sailboats under 40' because they were
added to the boat after the law changed requiring them and there was no
place to put it or a bigger one. They fill up really fast if you
Unless your boat is large enough to have a big "head" with full bath,
make believe your showers/bathtubs don't work. Make a deal with
someone next door to the convenience store to use THEIR bathroom for
bathing at the OTHER end of the DOCK. (Marina rest room) If you use
this rest room to potty, while you're there, make believe it has no
paper towels or toilet paper. Bring your own. Bring your own soap
and anything else you'd like to use there, too.
If your boat HAS a shower in its little head, we'll let you use the shower
end of the bathtub, but only as much tub as the boat has FREE shower space
for standing to shower. As the boat's shower drains into a little pan in
the bilge, be sure to leave the soapy shower water in the bottom of the tub
for a few days before draining it. Boat shower sumps always smell like
spent soap growing exotic living organisms science hasn't actually
discovered or named, yet. Make sure your simulated V-berth is less than 3'
from this soapy water for sleeping. The shower sump is under the
passageway to the V-berth next to your pillows.
Run you whole house through a 20 amp breaker to simulate available
dock power at the marina. If you're thinking of anchoring out, turn
off the main breaker and "make do" with a boat battery and
flashlights. Don't forget you have to heat your house on this 20A
supply and try to keep the water from freezing in winter.
Turn off the water main valve in front of your house. Run a hose from
your neighbor's lawn spigot over to your lawn spigot and get all your
water from there. Try to keep the hose from freezing all winter.
As your boat won't have a laundry, disconnect yours. Go to a boat
supply place, like West Marine, and buy you a dock cart. Haul ALL
your supplies, laundry, garbage, etc. between the car at the
convenience store and house in this cart. Once a week, haul your
outboard motor to the car, leave it a day then haul it back to the
house, in the cart, to simulate "boat problems" that require "boat
parts" to be removed/replaced on your "dock". If ANYTHING ever comes
out of that cart between the convenience store and the house, put it
in your garage and forget about it. (Simulates losing it over the
side of the dock, where it sank in 23' of water and was dragged off by
Each morning, about 5AM, have someone you don't know run a weedeater
back and forth under your bedroom windows to simulate the fishermen
leaving the marina to go fishing. Have him slam trunk lids, doors,
blow car horns and bang some heavy pans together from 4AM to 5AM
before lighting off the weedeater. (Simulates loading boats
with booze and fishing gear and gas cans.) Once a week, have him bang
the running weedeater into your bedroom wall to simulate the idiot who
drove his boat into the one you're sleeping in because he was half
asleep leaving the dock. Put a rope over a big hook in the ceiling
over your coffee table "bed". Hook one end of the rope to the coffee table
siderail and the other end out where he can pull on it. As soon as he
shuts off the weedeater, have him pull hard 9 times on the rope to tilt
your bed at least 30 degrees. (Simulates the wakes of the fishermen
blasting off trying to beat each other to the fishing.) Anytime there is a
storm in your area, have someone constantly pull on the rope. It's rough
riding storms in the marina! If your boat is a sailboat, install a big
wire from the top of the tallest tree to your electrical ground in the
house to simulate mast lightning strikes in the marina, or to give you the
thought of potential lightning strikes.
Each time you "go out", or think of going boating away from your marina,
disconnect the neighbor's water hose, your electric wires, all the
umbilicals your new boat will use to make life more bearable in the marina.
Use bottled drinking water for 2 days for everything. Get one of those 5
gallon jugs with the airpump on top from a bottled water company. This is
your boat's "at sea" water system simulator. You'll learn to conserve
water this way. Of course, not having the marina's AC power supply, you'll
be lighting and all from a car battery, your only source of power. If you
own or can borrow a generator, feel free to leave it running to provide AC
power up to the limit of the generator. If you're thinking about a 30'
sailboat, you won't have room for a generator so don't use it.
Any extra family members must be sleeping on the settees in the main cabin
or in the quarter berth under the cockpit....unless you intend to get a
boat over 40-something feet with an aft cabin. Smaller boats have quarter
berths. Cut a pad out of the same pad material that is no more than 2'
wide by 6' long. Get a cardboard box from an appliance store that a SMALL
refridgerator came in. Put the pad in the box, cut to fit, and make sure
only one end of the box is open. The box can be no more than 2 feet above
the pad. Quarter berths are really tight. Make them sleep in there, with
little or no air circulation. That's what sleeping in a quarterberth is
Of course, to simulate sleeping anchored out for the weekend, no heat or
air conditioning will be used and all windows will be open without screens
so the bugs can get in.
In the mornings, everybody gets up and goes out on the patio to enjoy the
sunrise. Then, one person at a time goes back inside to dress, shave,
clean themselves in the tiny cabin unless you're a family of nudists who
don't mind looking at each other in the buff. You can't get dressed in the
stinky little head with the door closed on a sailboat. Hell, there's
barely room to bend over so you can sit on the commode. So, everyone will
dress in the main cabin....one at a time.
Boat tables are 2' x 4' and mounted next to the settee. There's no room
for chairs in a boat. So, eat off a 2X4' space on that kitchen table you
slept under while sitting on a couch (settee simulator). You can also go
out with breakfast and sit on the patio (cockpit), if you like.
Ok, breakfast is over. Crank up the lawnmower under the window for 2
hours. It's time to recharge the batteries from last night's usage and to
freeze the coldplate in the boat's icebox which runs off a compressor on
the engine. Get everybody to clean up your little hovel. Don't forget to
make the beds from ONE END ONLY. You can't get to the other 3 sides of a
boat bed pad.
All hands go outside and washdown the first fiberglass UPS truck that
passes by. That's about how big the deck is on your 35' sailboat that
needs to have the ocean cleaned off it daily or it'll turn the white
fiberglass all brown like the UPS truck. Now, doesn't the UPS truck look
nice like your main deck?
Ok, we're going to need some food, do the laundry, buy some boat parts that
failed because the manufacturer's bean counters got cheap and used plastics
and the wife wants to "eat out, I'm fed up with cooking on the Coleman
stove" today. Let's make believe we're not at home, but in some exotic
port like Ft Lauderdale, today....on our cruise to Key West......Before
"going ashore", plan on buying all the food you'll want to eat that will:
A - Fit into the Coleman Cooler on the floor
B - You can cook on the Coleman stove without an oven or all those fancy
kitchen tools you don't have on the boat
C - And will last you for 10 days, in case the wind drops and it takes more
time than we planned at sea.
Plan meals carefully in a boat. We can't buy more than we can STORE,
You haven't washed clothes since you left home and everything is dirty.
Even if it's not, pretend it is for the boater-away-from-home simulator.
Put all the clothes in your simulated boat in a huge dufflebag so we can
take it to the LAUNDRY! Manny's Marina HAS a laundromat, but the hot water
heater is busted (for the last 8 months) and Manny has "parts on order" for
it.....saving Manny $$$$ on the electric bill! Don't forget to carry the
big dufflebag with us on our "excursion". God that bag stinks, doesn't
Of course, we came here by BOAT, so we don't have a car. Some nice marinas
have a shuttle bus, but they're not a taxi. The shuttle bus will only go
to West Marine or the tourist traps, so we'll be either taking the city
bus, if there is one or taxi cabs or shopping at the marina store which has
almost nothing to buy at enormous prices.
Walk to the 7-11 store, where you have your car stored, but ignore the car.
Make believe it isn't there. No one drove it to Ft Lauderdale for you.
Use the payphone at the 7-11 and call a cab. Don't give the cab driver ANY
instructions because in Ft Lauderdale you haven't the foggiest idea where
West Marine is located or how to get there, unlike at home. We'll go to
West Marine, first, because if we don't the "head" back on the boat won't
be working for a week because little Suzy broke a valve in it trying to
flush some paper towels. This is your MOST important project,
today....that valve in the toilet!! After the cab drivers drives around
for an hour looking for West Marine and asking his dispatcher how to get
there. Don't forget to UNLOAD your stuff from the cab, including the dirty
clothes in the dufflebag then go into West Marine and give the clerk a $100
bill, simulating the cost of toilet parts. Lexus parts are cheaper than
toilet parts at West Marine. See for yourself! The valve she broke, the
seals that will have to be replaced on the way into the valve will come to
$100 easy. Tell the clerk you're using my liveaboard simulator and to take
his girlfriend out to dinner on your $100 greenback. If you DO buy the
boat, this'll come in handy when you DO need boat parts because he'll
remember you for the great time his girlfriend gave him on your $100 tip.
Hard-to-find boat parts will arrive in DAYS, not months like the rest of
us. It's just a good political move while in simulation mode.
Call another cab from West Marine's phone, saving 50c on payphone charges.
Load the cab with all your stuff, toilet parts, DIRTY CLOTHES then tell the
cabbie to take you to the laundromat so we can wash the stinky clothes in
the trunk. The luxury marina's laundry in Ft Lauderdale has a broken hot
water heater. They're working on it, the girl at the store counter, said,
yesterday. Mentioning the $12/ft you paid to park the boat at their dock
won't get the laundry working before we leave for Key West. Do your
laundry in the laundromat the cabbie found for you. Just because noone
speaks English in this neighborhood, don't worry. You'll be fine this time
of day near noon.
Call another cab to take us out of here to a supermarket. When you get
there, resist the temptation to "load up" because your boat has limited
storage and very limited refridgeration space (remember? Coleman Cooler).
Buy from the list we made early this morning. Another package of cookies
is OK. Leave one of the kids guarding the pile of clean laundry just
inside the supermarket's front door....We learned our lesson and DIDN'T
forget and leave it in the cab, again!
Call another cab to take us back to the marina, loaded up with clean
clothes and food and all-important boat parts. Isn't Ft Lauderdale
beautiful from a cab? It's too late to go exploring, today. Maybe
tomorrow.... Don't forget to tell the cab to go to the 7-11 (marina
parking lot)....not your front door....cabs don't float well.
Ok, haul all the stuff in the dock cart from the 7-11 store the two blocks
to the "boat" bedroom. Wait 20 minutes before starting out for the house.
This simulates waiting for someone to bring back a marina-owned dock cart
from down the docks.....They always leave them outside their boats, until
the marina "crew" get fed up with newbies like us asking why there aren't
any carts and go down the docks to retrieve them.
Put all the stuff away, food and clothes, in the tiny drawer space
provided. Have a beer on the patio (cockpit) and watch the sunset. THIS
Now, disassemble the toilet in your bathroom, take out the wax ring under
it and put it back. Reassemble the toilet. This completes the simulation
of putting the new valve in the "head" on the boat. Uh, uh, NO POWERVENT!
GET YOUR HAND OFF THAT SWITCH! The whole "boat" smells like the inside of
the holding tank for hours after fixing the toilet in a real boat, too!
Spray some Lysol if you got it....
After getting up, tomorrow morning, from your "V-Berth", take the whole
family out to breakfast by WALKING to the nearest restaurant, then take a
cab to any local park or attraction you like. We're off today to see the
sights of Ft Lauderdale.....before heading out to sea, again, to Key West.
Take a cab back home after dinner out and go to bed, exhausted, on your
little foam pad under the table.....
Get up this morning and disconnect all hoses, electrical wires, etc. Get
ready for "sea". Crank up the lawn mower under the open bedroom window for
4 hours while we motor out to find some wind. ONE responsible adult MUST
be sitting on the hot patio all day, in shifts, "on watch" looking out for
other boats, ships, etc. If you have a riding lawn mower, let the person
"on watch" drive it around the yard all day to simulate driving the boat
down the ICW in heavy traffic. About 2PM, turn off the engine and just
have them sit on the mower "steering" it on the patio. We're under sail,
now. Every hour or so, take everyone out in the yard with a big rope and
have a tug-of-war to simulate the work involved with setting sail, changing
sail, trimming sail. Make sure everyone gets all sweaty in the heat.
Sailors working on sailboats are always all sweaty or we're not going
anywhere fast! Do this all day, today, all night, tonight, all day,
tomorrow, all night tomorrow night and all day the following day until 5PM
when you "arrive" at the next port you're going to. Make sure noone in the
family leaves the confines of the little bedroom or the patio during our
"trip". Make sure everyone conserves water, battery power, etc., things
you'll want to conserve while being at sea on a trip somewhere. Everyone
can go up to the 7-11 for an icecream as soon as we get the "boat" docked
on day 3, the first time anyone has left the confines of the bedroom/patio
in 3 days.
Question - Was anyone suicidal during our simulated voyage? Keep an eye
out for anyone with a problem being cooped up with other family members.
If anyone is attacked, any major fights break out, any threats to throw the
captain to the fish.....forget all about boats and buy a motorhome,