Considerations as you choose your Slip and Marina by John Hawthorne

I recently came across John Hawthorne’s article on 14 questions to ask before renting or purchasing a slip.  Actually, John contacted me, and it’s good he did that as this is a great start when it comes to the core considerations when choosing your “place of berth” (I came up with that one… it’s good, eh?).

14 Questions Article

You may also be asking how this amazing picture of me and my brilliant, funny, smart, perfect kid is relevant.  It is completely relevant in the sense that I have the “rights” to use this image. Moreover, I do love to show her off.  Best kid ever.

So go and check out this article.  It’s worth it!

Until later – clear skies and calm seas…


Our New E-Book World: All Formats of Living Aboard

We have decided to make some changes for customers. No more protected files. No more selling only one format. We live in an interconnected world and people do change devices over time. From now on, we sell every format all for the price of one eBook format. We’ll give you a zip file with formats for Kindle, iPad, Android and even PDF. Put ’em where you want ’em (just please don’t post them) and keep them forever.

We are also creating a list so that you will be notified of future editions and all future updates will be free. !!! We think that this is all pretty cutting edge and friendly.

Thanks for your support –


Three Ways a De-icer can Protect Your Boat and Dock this Winter

Jack Frost can pack quite a bite, especially for boats that spend the winter in harbor. That’s why it’s important for boat and dock owners to do all they can to keep their vessels shielded from the snapping jaws of winter. In more temperate climates, where ice is not as much of a concern, simple insulated covers and a good gel-coat layer could suffice. However, if your boat or dock is exposed to frigid temperatures, you’re looking at freezing water and ice – and that can present a whole iceberg of issues.

De-icers are commonly used by many boat and dock owners during the winter, and for good reason: They ward off the formation of ice, which can be devastating to boat hulls as well as the structural integrity of the dock. De-icers are motorized devices that keep the cold water churning so it can’t freeze as easily, drawing warm water up from the bottom and pushing it to the surface. When a de-icer is used, the watercraft and dock remain safely protected from the cold shoulder Jack Frost inflicts.

Here are three winter disasters a de-icer can prevent:

1. Hull Damage

Normal current and wind speeds naturally make water rigs tip, rock and pitch in the water. When freezing temperatures and a layer of ice are added to the equation, the result is a nasty grinding action that can scratch and tear away the gel-coat along the waterline of fiberglass boats. This allows water to sneak into the laminate and further damage the hull. Ice can also get into the plank seams or the bilge of a wooden boat and cause anything from minor cosmetic damage to major leaks.

2. Dock Lifting

Ice, wind and current are no friend to docks, either, especially if all three elements are thrown together. Because ice expands during the freezing process, the water levels will fluctuate, making it difficult for dock piles to stay firmly in place. Heavy ice flows and ice pressure can shift the dock pilings – or worse, pull them out of their footings entirely. Any watercraft near the dock could be damaged as the dock shifts.

3. Ice Expansion

Like most substances, water at ordinary temperatures contracts, increasing in density as it cools. At about 4 degrees Celsius, however, water reaches its maximum density and then decreases in density as it reaches its freezing point. Because of this, ice forms on the top of the water first, allowing it to freeze and float, and then the rest of the ice forms below. This simple sequence can be disastrous for both docks and boat hulls. The pressure from ice expansion can crush a hull or dock, causing major damage and compromising the structural integrity of the craft.

Jack Frost can try as he may to freeze lakes and rivers, penetrate boat hulls and crush docks – but he’ll have a much harder time succeeding if a de-icer is on hand to protect your goods during the winter.

Note from Mark Nicholas:  We don’t take many guest blogs, but this is a matter of interest and there is no better resource than people who deal in the goods they are writing about. the truth here is that this is a matter of importance to me. boats and ice do not mix, and cold climates do run the risk of crushed hulls. safety precautions are essential. if you are in a cold climate, take this opportunity to think about how you will stay safe and secure.  Its time to gear up for the cold!

This blog post is courtesy of SavvyBoater, which carries a wide selection of de-icers, boat covers, bimini tops and boat propellers.

The Onboard Bathroom Experience and the Magical Porta Potti

Life aboard a boat should bring with it all of life’s requirements – including, but not limited to, a toilet. At some point even the most bound up boaters will still have to go.

In order to solve this simple problem, we all engage in some pretty remarkable gyrations. In a home, we move the waste away from us. Onboard, we socialize just a meter or so away from our holding tank. Nothing we do can ever strip the boat from that smell – which is at best the odor of the deodorant.

In order to utilize a standard marine head, the boater requires not only the space required for the head itself, but also also the plumbing, holding tank, macerator (optional), intake seacock, waste seacock and deodorizer – and if there is cold weather, the use of anti-freeze to ensure that the lines don’t freeze. All of this, particularly the holding tank, takes up valuable space and requires ongoing maintenance.

There are other options of course. The marina offers a head – but that can be inconvenient at best, and impossible to use when cruising. Some utilize the reliable toilet-seat-on-a-bucket technique, which works very well but lacks in some notable ways. Another option – perhaps the best alternative, and even a more appealing alternative in many situations, is the Porta Potti (which goes by some other interesting names as well), an ingenious invention that is a quite effective alternative to the marina head.

The Potti is a stand alone alternative which requires no plumbing, holding tank, macerator, maintenance, etc. The potti is a two part system, flush water sits in the top unit. At the push of a button the water fills the bowl. After use the waste is dispensed into a lower unit which does have a deodorizer added. I’ve been utilizing one now in our camper van for several weeks with my two year old, and I can represent that there has been no odor whatsoever. The unit does need to be dumped manually, but I can also say quite honestly that this was a simple no-mess process.*


Of course these options may be disturbing to some, particularly those who like the idea of toilet affixed to some plumbing. However, the advantages to this type of option are obvious, and this is a worthy option for consideration for those who appreciate functionality and maintenance-free options over the perception issues associated with a fixed head. While we will not be removing our marine head, the advantages to the Potti are numerous. However, this is now a standard feature in the camper and as a father of a young child, I sure appreciate the convenience of traveling with one of these – as a safe, clean, convenient alternative to the horrific gas station facility.

Wishing you all an odor-free home!

* The fixed head can still be quite messy – a trauma I experienced first hand during a holding tank problem and a significant spill several years ago. It was perhaps the most disgusting moment in my life.

Living Aboard Podcast – The Costs of Living Aboard (Episode 5)

Living Aboard Podcast – The Costs of Living Aboard (Episode 5)

This is the final podcast of the original 5 part series. I’d like to take some time to chat about liveaboard and boating costs. When I first started along my journey aboard, I had thought of only the primary 4 or 5 costs – boat payment, interest, insurance and the marina rental. Wow was that naive.

Episode 5 is a review of the ‘free!’ liveaboard spreadsheet (free on, explaining different costs among a few different scenarios. It is just for discussion purposes, but at least the categories of life aboard are covered.

SO… hope this doesn’t scare you away from the lifestyle. Just hoping everyone goes in with their eyes open. It is the key to success.


Living Aboard Podcast – Marinas

Living Aboard Podcast – Picking Your Marina –

Let’s continue our journey aboard with a discussion about marinas – featuring our special guest marina owner Tom Cox. Enjoy!


Living Aboard Podcast – Choosing a Boat Part II

Living Aboard a Boat Podcast – Part II on Choosing a Boat

Let’s continue with Episode 3 on Choosing a Boat. Here is Part II. Enjoy!


Living Aboard Podcast – Choosing a Boat – Part 1

Living Aboard a Boat Podcast – Choosing a Boat – Part 1

Here you’ll find part 1 of the episode on choosing a boat. Some great interviews here.


Suenos Azules Article on Living Aboard

This is just one of those great overview articles that I come across from time to time. It’s a solid take with some sound advice. Be sure to check it out if you’re looking for a good overview and advice regarding life aboard. I reserve the right to disagree with the advice of course, but the more you hear if you are considering the lifestyle the better.

Click HERE for the link!

Living Aboard Podcast – The Basics (Episode 2)

Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat Podcast – Episode 2 – The Basics

Check out Episode 2 of the Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat Podcast.  Enjoy!


Review: Don Casey – Dragged Aboard: A Cruising Guide for the Reluctant Mate

Don Casey’s Dragged Aboard offers some good advice – but most importantly addresses the context of the reluctant partner dynamic in tight quarters. Personally, I don’t think that there is a fix to the stubborn, but there can be compromise (particularly on the happy partner’s part), things that can be done to alleviate the problems, and most importantly, the permission to pay attention to this stuff. In short, this is a worthwhile read.

The reluctant partner is a huge topic not only on the books and forums, but the docks (your neighbors have to live with your reluctant partner too) – the story of two people aboard where one person doesn’t share in the enjoyment. The problem is exacerbated with shared space and limited storage. It can transform a dream in to quite the nightmare lifestyle.

Dragged Aboard offers some good advice as it relates to the reluctant partner dynamic in tight quarters. Personally, I don’t think that there is a fix to the unhappy crew, but there can be compromise (particularly on the happy partner’s part), and things that can be done to alleviate the problems. Most importantly, Don gives us the permission to address this stuff head on. In short, this is a worthwhile read.

New Podcast Feed – Podbean – Living Aboard a Boat

ust signed up with Podbean, a podcast hosting site, and if this works we’ll be able to do things much faster and more efficiently. We’ll start by reposting the original 6 tutorial videos and add from there. Keep your fingers crossed!

Well… it’s been a load of problems lately with assembling the new podcast episodes. So hopefully we have a fix. We just signed up with Podbean, a podcast hosting site, and if this works we’ll be able to do things much faster and more efficiently. We’ll start by reposting the original 6 tutorial videos and add from there. Keep your fingers crossed!

I’m Back! Many apologies to my fellow live aboards

In future podcasts we’ll talk about living aboard, and the things that have changed with life aboard – including the iPad, apps, 3G and so forth. It’s good to be back.

Ok – it’s been too long… I know. There are quite a few emails that I’ve received lately asking if all is well and whether there will be more podcasts, etc. There will be – and I do apologize for the delay. I think that I’ve got a few good excuses – a new book, family stuff, etc.

The truth is that there is much that we can do together – we’ll start with a discussion of the state of living aboard, and then move on to a discussion of living aboard in different locales. It’ll be pretty cool.

It is important to mention that the existing videos are all still right on – not much changes in the boating world, and the things that drive us to life aboard (the hopes, dreams, aspirations, etc.) really haven’t changed. But we’ll visit on those things that have changed (the iPad for instance) – and we’ll even do a review of the iPad, apps, 3G and so forth from the living aboard and convenience perspective. It’ll be pretty cool.

As always, please feel free to drop a note if I can help with anything. For those of you who do write me, you can vouch for the fact that I do actually write back.