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Anke and I are building our next boat, and writing about it at Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.

Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write, and I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirl gmail daughter com

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pogo Boatin’ with Walt Kelly

Don’t take life too serious... 
It ain’t nohow permanent.
-- Walt Kelly (1913-1973)

Pogo Boatin’ with Walt Kelly

The origins of obsession are often lost in the murky past.

Who knows? Maybe they sat me on a square bucket during potty training? Maybe the ‘voyages’ my Brother and I made in cardboard boxes played a role? Maybe being generally un-hip (aka square) had something to do with it?

But sometimes, they jump out at ya!

Walt Kelly’s Pogo featured a loose community of characters living deep in Okefenokee Swamp. Through them, he gently parodied (US) American life, politics and religion in a sly, folksy manner now all but extinct.

My Grandparents had several of his books, collecting the strip. One of the many highlights of visiting them was to read and reread them all, understanding more of their deeper wit with each passing year. Their antics were plenty amusing on a superficial level, and I came to see how they reflected those of the larger world around me, in all its nonsensical glory.

In another way of looking at them, each of the characters could be seen as facets of a single personality. The calm center of Pogo himself; loyal Churchy; grumpy ol' Porkypine; pragmatic Missus Beaver with her children chockablock with wide-eyed wonder and mischief; Albert, impetuous and half-cocked; Mamselle, dreamy yet sensible; even the Deacon, tending to a grim preachiness... all aspects I recognize in myself.

And fer sure, the denizens of Okefenokee enjoyed their lives.

While often to be seen foraging for nuts or greens or fishing, they had no paid work. No schedules. No commute. Just the long, lazy days, filled with bsophy, poetry, music and the occasional fooferaw.

And frequently they would enjoy themselves in a series of punts – box barges in miniature – named after cities and notables whom Walt admired.

Naturally, the indolence and sheer fun of it all blended in my mind with those square boats.


NOTE: I believe all graphics to be the work of Walt Kelly, with the exception of the final panel (drawn in tribute on Walt's passing), which artist I was unable to identify.

NOTE: Other fictional communities of roughly similar flavor include A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, and Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons stories.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bootstrap Economics: Reaching for Escape Velocity

Maybe UP isn't the preferred direction?

Bootstrap's bootstraps. Hehe.
- From Pirates of the Caribbean

Bootstrap Economics: Reaching for Escape Velocity

I've been mulling over a reader's recent comment regarding the building of our new boat, WAYWARD:

To tell the truth, it is a little hard to see how 30 grand in materials for a boat is exactly shoestring living. Maybe it's different on the water, but where folks around here live close to the land, owning our own little places, people are very hard pressed to gather into one place a little pile of money one-sixth of that. HARD pressed.

We don't think of WAYWARD as a shoestring build, despite many shoestring aspects of our operation.

The actual number is closer to $20K for materials (now in retrospect... reduced by discounts and adjusted to eliminate costs of building remote). Our labor is 'free' to us. Almost half of that is copper plating costs, which we feel pays for itself over time AND - as a commodity metal - has intrinsic value. By making other choices we could possibly have cut the remainder in half (we made some expensive choices based on our build situation... it could have been much simpler and cheaper to build elsewhere).

So before copper but including infrastructure, our materials came to about $11K.

But the point is well-taken. THIS boat swallowed up a chunk-o-change. The question is a good one...

How do low-income folks sweep together this kind of cash money?

Income - Overheads => Disposable Income

Disposable income is money free to be directed where one will. Toward ease, entertainment, travel... or the fulfillment of dreams.

It is the left-overs from income after overheads - those costs necessary to one's lifestyle.

Low income folks seldom have reasonable opportunity to substantially increase our income. In fact, the general trend is downward. But lifestyle can be changed to reduce overheads.

Life on the water is potentially very low overhead. This fact underlies bootstrap economics that make it possible to attain the dream, even on low income.

Let's start with the simple life on land...


"...Folks around here live close to the land, owning our own little places..."

A whole economy is implied in this phrase.

Nowadays, property for habitable land must be rented, purchased or gifted. Before and after land is paid for, it is subject to property taxes based on assessed value (which may be far above actual market value). Access and rights-of-way must be reserved and maintained.

Structures either came with the property or must be constructed. If not let run to ruin, they must be maintained, often in accordance with zoning laws and regulations. Generally, their scale produces proportionally large expenses. Their value increases taxes.

Whether you rent or own, these costs find their way to the Occupant.

Generally, one or more vehicles are involved. Purchase, maintenance, repair, fuel, insurance. Secondary costs creep up, too... that trip to see Auntie, a wedding just a few hours away, that rendez-vous just a state over... each side-trip is festooned with small, extra-vehicular expenses.

From the full quote, above, the folk in question seem to be keeping up. Foreclosure is not mentioned, and some savings are possible.

NOTE: Children are sometimes thought of as generating overheads, but I'm not so sure. In our case, we're a couple of LINKs (Low Income, No Kids). This frees a certain amount of cash, though not as much as our culture generally assumes. Kids don't require cash... they mostly thrive on love, food, water and fresh air. I won't go into it further, here, but there are plenty of quality families persuasive on this point.

Crunching Some Numbers over a 5-year Span

Let's look at rent. Since 1985, $500/month has been near what's considered to be low end for a functional space in places I've lived (Pacific NW). That's $6K/year. Over 5 years, that's $30K!

NOTE: That rental price used to be for a modest apartment - nothing fancy - in okay condition... now it's getting to be dive price. In some parts of the country, rents may be somewhat lower, but will nevertheless generate large figures over time. My contacts assure me that ALL these numbers are wildly conservative.

How 'bout a car? Let's say $1K purchase price. You put 5K miles on it per year - half the national average - at 25mpg and $2/g for gas. Legally required liability insurance costs, say, $100/month. Over five years, you replace the tires with retreads for say, $500, and  do your own oil change/tune-ups every 2K miles averaging $25 a pop (oil, filters, plugs, etc). In five years, these conservative numbers generate costs close to $10K!

Okay... that's a $40K lump swept together from $8K/year given over to rent + vehicle.

If we could eliminate just these two overheads, the same, low income that had been narrowly paying the bills would generate relative heaps of disposable income.

Fortunately, there is a way...

Bootstrap onto the Water and Deep-Six Overheads

Once on the water overheads can be low to niggling - especially for engine-free sailboats, with solar or wind electrical generation and biomass heat/cooking.

If you anchor out, no rent. No utilities (though on-board electrical is in effect a utility cost). No fuel. No taxes. Reasonable costs to meet Coast Guard regulations. Low maintenance. Replacement costs are low and spread out.

How to get there?

Bob Wise, at Volkscruiser, has a lot of good advice on the how-tos of getting a boat under you for reasonable outlay. When I say 'reasonable' I mean obtaining a home for the cost a used car. It's a buyer's market, out there, with a lot of lonely, serviceable boats at fire-sale rates.

With both feet still on land, one can save toward a small cash-down purchase or build. The bar can be lowered by arranging 'owner-financed' terms.

Consider avoiding credit with attendant interest payments (which can easily double the cost of purchase).


We Water Rats have in our favor the ability to take on remote work while providing our own infrastructure, plus the generally handy skills we WILL develop aboard. Having to make-do naturally suits us to a range of jobs that drive Professionals nuts on the urban frontier.

We can get a job done without an employer having to worry about our transportation, care and feeding. Out-of-the-way work affords a substantial and uncrowded market niche for our services.

Odd jobs suit our kind; commuting to regular work does not... leave that to the Lubbers! We strike a bargain, fulfill our commitments, collect our pay and sail off.

Micro-streams of income, thanks to low overheads, can play a large role in our micro-budgets.

Special situations may call for something like a 5-year plan. In effect, we financed WAYWARD by working two extra seasons (seasonal caretaking), between recent every-other-year gigs. That extra push provided the 'extravagant' wherewithal without raising our prospects to anywhere near the official poverty level.

We're now looking forward to recovering from chronic employment.  8)


Much of this presupposes that we live aboard in areas which are not yet rigged to milk us, nor yet move us along. There are generally two types of suitable waters:

Waters remote from population centers - Concerned Citizens - and conformity regulations they tend promote - are few and far between. They're more likely than not to be friend, client and employer material. Much of Cascadia is an example of this type, especially its mid- to northern reaches.

Cracks - In these, regs might well be in place, but enforcement is low to lackadaisical. If Concerned Citizens inhabit the neighborhood, it has enough blind spots to keep out of their view. A bit more shuffling around might be in order to diffuse the profile. The Sacramento Delta is such an area.

Sometimes, a funky marina can be found for a reasonable trade-off between increased income (earned nearby) and low rent. But careful... a lot of us who enter, never return. Escape was hard enough the first time round!

If you wish to attain escape velocity but don't currently live in an area where on-board life is inexpensive, consider relocation as part of your plan.


Disposable income is very often disposed of. Money burns holes in pockets. A splurge here; a luxury there. Just doesn't seem to accumulate.

Your Money or Your Life recommends we spend consciously. Put that money toward realizing dreams, not impulses.

You might be surprised how quickly it accumulates.  How powerful money, well spent, can be!

Our Escape Trajectory

In 1990, Anke and I bought our first boat, used, for $5K - $1500 down and $500/month for 7 months (could see it as short horizon rent-to-own). To pay it off, I flipped pizza at a notch above minimum wage, while Anke worked at a winery and childcare for a notch below. We both quit steady work the day we put paid. From then on, we were able to live on odd jobs (easier to manage from the water), yet sock half our piddly earnings away.

We lived on BRAMBLE for five years, learning to sail and boat carpentry. When we sold her, we recovered our purchase price.

The financial story is a bit more complex than this, but the gist is, the low overheads enabled by that first boat freed up 'capital' for use toward building our own. A sizable portion of our investment in each vessel has passed from one to the next (equity). Our moderate income over the years has been divided between low overheads, family related travel and a short run of DIY, liveaboard vessels.

An important point... BRAMBLE was not our dream boat, but rather our 'kindergarten boat'.

All inadvertently (and thanks to Anke's pragmatism), we lucked into a viable, bootstrap approach which broke the financial burdens of life on land. If we'd followed my lead, we'd have dithered away years - if not our lives - vainly scraping for that 'perfect' boat, anchored by overheads.

From our first days on the water, it has been different.

NOTE: There are many reasons to council that one NOT build one's first boat, but rather buy used. There is so much that first boat will teach you; lacking that experience to inform your choices, it's difficult to justify the time, effort and expense invested in building, unless you simply enjoy the process. Triloboats attempt to lower that cost, while this blog attempts to fill some experiential blanks. But the main goal of both is to help those of you who wish it toward the water!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Introducing Ray Jason's SEAGYPSY TRIBE Proposal

Pair of Wharram Catamarans

I believe that a catastrophic global collapse is coming and that the best escape is through small bands of enlightened sea gypsies surviving and then sculpting a style of living that is authentic, just, sustainable and joyous.
- Ray Jason

Introducing Ray Jason's SEAGYPSY TRIBE Proposal

Ray Jason (aka the Seagypsy Philosopher) is one who balances a love of the moment with the belief that our modern civilization, built on 'conquest agriculture' - he calls it Humanity 2.0 - is going down. Hard. Hard enough that NTHE (Near Term Human Extinction) is, at least, a plausible outcome.

But he has a proposal for us... the Seagypsy Tribe.

Loosely networked, anarchic tribes of sea gypsies sailing vessels able to keep the sea for considerable periods, he argues, would have the best chance of surviving local and/or global disaster. In his Start-Up Manual, he outlines his thinking on how the tribe might coalesce.

In case of local trouble, head 50 miles offshore - beyond the range of fuel-strapped marauders - and await developments. Should the region become untenable, set sail for a new one.

For Ray, as or more important than survival is a better way of looking at things. Wisdom.

His proposed Seagypsy Tribal Principles include such as Life is a web - not a pyramid. Simplicity is better than complexity. Embrace co-operation and not competition. Each a step-stone toward Humanity 3.0.

If you don't agree with all of them, no problem... they and your own can be discussed over a friendly cup o' kindness.

Preserving some of what has been wonderful about civilization while warning of its pitfalls is part of the Seagypsy Tribe's true essence. Ray calls it Mozart without the mushroom cloud.

But what about piracy? And a sailing vessel can't stay at sea forever! Ray addresses these concerns and others in further thoughts.


Of course, this is right down my alley!

I pine for such a tribe in an earlier post, TAZ, Sea-Steading and Water-Borne Communities. A coming together - and going a'venture - of similar souls in a watery environ. In no small measure, this blog has been a way of attracting such a community. Scratching that itch, as it were, and I thank you all for your friendships.

Like Ray, I see the hand-writing on walls closing in. Limits to Growth tightening everywhere I look. The sea is no exception. But the sea is old, and vast.

Gaia Theory notes that the liquid state of water can only pertain in a very small range of temperature. Below freezing (273.15deg Kelvin) and above boiling (373.15 Kelvin) - a tiny fraction of possible planetary surface temperatures- our oceans freeze solid or vanish, taking all life with it. Yet, for 3.5+ billion years, the liquid sea has harbored life, which has in turn moderated planetary geophysics within that narrow, crucial range.

If our life is to go forward, what better refuge than the sea? What better vessel than one which sails?

What better tribe than one composed of friends?

Here are Ray Jason's SEAGYPSY TRIBE essays to date, recapped from the preceding text:

The SEAGYPSY TRIBE - The 'why'.
The True Essence of SEAGYPSY TRIBE - The spirit.
The SEAGYPSY TRIBE Start-Up Manual - The 'how'.
The SEAGYPSY Tribal Principals - The wisdom.
SEAGYPSY TRIBE Further Thoughts - Responding to the response.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

R2AK!!! The Race to Alaska

Right now teams from all over North America are rolling into town, packing gear into dry bags, carbo loading, and praying to whatever god will listen.

-- From

R2AK!!! The Race to Alaska

Now, I'm not a fella who ordinarily gets excited over a race.

Puddle Duckin', here and there, maybe, for the fun of it. I keep tabs the Everglades Challenge and Texas 200 for the innovative ideas that course through them. But mere competition? Leaves me cold.

But 4 June 2015 (tomorrow, as I write) marks the commencement of the first R2AK - The Race to Alaska, the longest engine-free race in North America.

I find myself excited!

Organized by the folks at Small Craft Advisor, it's a wind-muscle-brain push up 750 very nautical miles of the Inside Passage. Starting in Port Townsend, Washington (USA) they'll head up the coast of British Columbia (Canada) to finish in Ketchikan, Alaska (USAgain).

Clearly, this covers a lot of challenging waters!

Some long, high-current narrows are unavoidable. Queen Charlotte Sound might as well be open ocean. Hecate Strait is a shoaling and narrowing approach, funneling the North Pacific. By the time they re-enter Alaskan waters, it's almost anti-climactic... archipeligan intimacy is re-established. Harbors re-abound. Summery, inshore weather is likely to be clement. And the fleshpots of Ketchikan to salve their aching muscles.

Any boat without an engine may enter.

One might think that a long hull with ample spread of sail would nail the $10K first prize. But this country has a way of leveling the field.

Small, muscle driven boats can drive through calms and skirt currents that will slow the larger vessel. A boat that can be hauled above the tideline can save hours of detour, entry and exit to and fro safe anchorages.

Skill, cunning and persistence will get a crew further and faster than their vessel's dimensions might dictate.

Too much reliance on wind, and one is at it's mercy; too much reliance on muscle, and one is on a strict budget. Sprinters won't stay the course; laggards will lag.  Time, distance and geophysics moderate the impact of fortune, be it for good or ill.

Pace, balance and good decisions are everything.

It's got my attention!

PS. Good luck, good times and safe travels to all ye who enter!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Gypsy Rules for the Road

Cruising Live-Aboards

 The sky became their canopy
The earth became their throne
And as their raiment ran to rags
They thought it nothing wrong
For earth and sky are robe enough
When you sing the Gypsy Song.

-- From Beggars to God by Bob Franke

Gypsy Rules for the Road

The term Gypsy - our outsider's name for the Romani peoples - stirs in settled folk a feeling of nostalgia and sometimes unease. Nostalgia for their own, lost, nomadic past, whether real or imagined. Unease from xenophobia - fear of the stranger. As a consequence, the Rom have had to navigate many hostile centuries, yet largely kept their identity and cultures intact.

Live-aboards and shanty dwellers have much in common with them, to the point that we often share the Gypsy moniker. We too are mobile among those who would prefer to see us settled down. We too often have more in common among ourselves than with those ashore. We too live along a fringe; in the cracks, as it were.

The following Gypsy tips, or rules for survival/thrival appeared in a post by Ugo Bardi, plus a few gleaned elsewhere. I'll start with the bare list, which I've paraphrased, generalized, rearranged and loosely grouped, then take them one by one. They're presented as 'rules', but consider them advice...

Be yourself.
Cultivate a free spirit.
Family First.

Protect your privacy.
Blow smoke.
Never stand and fight.

Stay mobile.
Live light, travel light.
Seize opportunity.

Cultivate know-how.
Minimize overheads.
Waste not.


Be Yourself

BE yourself! Don't yield to conformity. Homogeneity. The pressure to be like everyone else. To blend in. You are unique in all the world. In all the Universe. Don't trade that away for love nor money!

To do so is to impoverish yourself and the world itself.

Cultivate a Free Spirit

Dance, sing, celebrate, make love! Never lose sight of the joy of living.

It's what makes it all worthwhile. What makes living more than mere survival.

Family First

Your family - be it your partner, your children, your kin or your tribe - are your first priority. Your family is your strength and well-being.

Invest yourself in them and theirs.


Protect your Privacy

Lots of folks are curious about how we live. But be cagey about what you tell whom. Not all of those interested are your friends. Detail can be used against you as gossip, rumor or as a pretext for official action.

Loose lips sink ships!

Blow Smoke

Mis-direction and mis-representation have their place, especially when dealing with officialdom. We want to appear as though we fit within the boxes on their forms, whether or not we do. We want to appear more settled and 'legit' than in fact we are.

Never Stand and Fight

When in danger, when in doubt, hoist your sails and bugger out!  - Tristan Jones

Those dedicated to keeping American freedom freedom free tend to have the upper hand. To fight them is at best a full time job. At worst a losing proposition.

This is not to say that one shouldn't give due process a chance. But standing on principle come-what-may is a good way to lose one's home and possibly more.

Consider moving along before push comes to shove.


Stay Mobile

Mobility has us ready to roll on a moment's notice. Extends our range of options and access to resources. Keeps us fresh in outlook. With mobility, we are not bound to the misfortunes of one place. Nor must we suffer a bad neighbor.

If not mobile, we are sitting ducks.

Live Light, Travel Light

Don't you carry nuthin' that might be a load. Ease on down, ease on down the road. - The Wiz

To live and travel lightly keeps one focused on essentials. This good advice has been passed on from the most ancient of Wise Ones to the most successful of present-day sailors.

Take what you need and leave the rest.

Seize Opportunity

Make the most of good fortune. Recognize the Opportune Moment. Act decisively when a windfall comes your way.

Strike while the iron is hot!


Cultivate Know-How

DIY maintains your independence. Knowledge is portable, cannot be taken from you and makes you intrinsically valuable to others. What you can do is stock-in-trade.

Minimize Overheads

Overheads eat away at our substance. While we can never eliminate them entirely, we can keep them low.

The lower our overheads, the greater the return on any investment. The greater our freedom.

Waste Not

We want to make full use of what we've acquired at cost. We often want to make full use of what others have neglected or abandoned.

Recycle, reuse, repurpose.

Thrifty does it...


So there you have 'em. Rules for the Road from those who've been traveling a long time gone.

Like most advice of this nature, they're for your consideration. Take 'em or leave 'em. Adapt them to your unique situation. Add to them from any source you deem fit...

And ease on down the Road.

PS. Here are the original rules from Ugo Bardi's post, Survival Tips from the Gypsies, in order presented:

  1. In battle, the best strategy is flight.
  2. Don't carry and don't use weapons.
  3. Cherish your mobility.
  4. Travel light in life.
  5. Cultivate creative obfuscation.
  6. A man's family is his refuge.
  7. What you learned to do yourself, can never be stolen.
  8. Catch the occasion when you see it 
  9. Be jealous of your identity.
  10. Be a free spirit.
Note:  I skipped number two in the preceding post. Definitely a point to consider seriously. It may be somewhat more context dependent than the others? Certainly, the use of a firearm against a human being is a choice fraught with consequence, however justified one may feel.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wind, Course and Sail: A First Look

The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it will change.
The realist adjusts the sails.
- William ArthurWard

Wind, Course and Sail: A First Look

Sailing - matching sail and course to wind - is surprisingly easy.

[NOTE: For this article I am conflating course with heading, for simplicity's sake. For now, be advised that I am using it 'improperly', and that there's an important difference between the two.]

What I'm going to do here is skip all the jargon and terms that tend to make it seem complicated. Words are useful, and a few are introduced, here, but don't get hung up on them... they'll fill in over time. What we want is a framework to plug them into. Once you have the basics, it's much easier to see how all that fits in. So for now, let's look at the big picture.

Let's take a look at the above illustration. Picture your vessel able to spin like a dial at the center (heck, print this out and make one out of paper!). There are a few ways to divide this circle up, all of which are variously useful.

The line perpendicular to the wind divides our courses into on and off the wind.

The labels divide them into Irons, Reaches and Run.

But for simplicity, lets ignore lines and labels and focus on color.

Red is no-go; yellow is proceed with caution; green is go-go.

Red means you can't get there, directly. A rock in that quadrant is no danger (barring strong current)... unless you take action, it may as well be on the far side of the moon. To run on to it, or reach any other point in red, you MUST zig-zag, sailing in yellow.

If you set your course into red, no one will punish you, but your sails will flutter and flog, and your boat cease to move forward.

Yellow is sailing on the wind (aka into or toward the wind or to windward). Sails are hauled toward the centerline (how is a detail for another time).

This is the region you must sail in order to move the boat toward the general direction of the wind. The boat heels (leans over) and develops leeway (side-slips away from the wind) in this quadrant. If the wind blows hard enough, you will find yourself beating (smashing through waves).

Because of leeway, you're never going where the boat is pointed but always at an angle downwind of that. Thus, dangers on your downwind side deserve attention and avoidance. Ergo, caution.

Green is sailing off the wind (aka across or down the wind). Sails are eased out and away from the centerline, usually toward a maximum of 90deg.

Life is good in this hemisphere! Lots of power, even if your sails aren't optimally trimmed. Lots of choices in course - all of green, and yellow if necessary - good for approaching a buoy, say, or running a reef.

The only green concern is a jibe (read up on it, elsewhere in your further studies).


Now that we have this basic understanding, we'll venture a step into the 'how'. Let's focus on our labels, now...

Reaches require matching the angle of the sail to the wind and course. In doing so, we trim sail.

If the sail's out too far, it starts to flutter and won't generate power. If it's in to far, the wind blows flat into it... the boat heels more than it should (wasting power) and the sail stalls (losing power). Like Goldilocks, juuuuuust right is right. We have two methods.

To trim a sail, hold your course. Ease the sail out until it luffs (forward edge starts to flutter). Haul it back in, slightly. There is a sweet spot where you can learn to feel the power kick in. Practice makes perfect!

To sail full and by (sails full and by the wind's whim), trim sail as before. Whenever the wind shifts, alter your course - using the same indicators - until the sails hit the sweet spot.

Irons is still no go... you can't trim a sail there. Done.

Run has the sails out at about 90deg, so no further trimming there. Done.



With only this much info, you can sail most any small boat in wind from any direction. It's that simple! Early sailors had no clue about the Bernoulli Effect, say, or vector physics. Not needed to make the boat go.

This is not to say that continuing our education - a lifelong pleasure - won't increase our understanding and efficiency, and our abilities, options and safety. It will. Learning the language of sail, understanding the mechanics of sail and hull; your rigging, sail controls and the physics involved; the effect of currents and weather; and countless further adventures will endlessly enrich your seamanship.

But it's all building on simplicity!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Options for Late in the Day

Old age needs so little, but needs that little so much.
- Margaret Willour

Options for Late in the Day

There will come a point, if everything goes well, when the toll of years will curtail our sailing.

While it's easy enough to imagine scenarios, it's very difficult to foresee which will pertain. Will our capacity - in the sense of ability to sail nearly as we have - ebb like the tide? Or will incapacity ambush us from one day to the next? Will the vigor of one linger? Or will we decline as one? The answers will affect our choices, of course, assuming any are left us.

Many of our older friends and relations have described aging as a process of one's world shrinking. They have outlived most or all of their contemporaries. Their senses - especially vision and hearing - often diminish, drawing inward. Their reach - and ours - grows shorter.

With all respect for the choices others make, withdrawing to a marginal living on some urban fringe has no attraction for either of us. Even less does institutional care. When the prospect for life more or less on our own dwindles to nothing, we're done.

But there is that time between the twilight of ability and the end. I see our options of interest boiling down to one of three...

Longer term anchorages - We might limit our major moves to the occasional transition. Meanwhile, the anchor goes down in a rich environment, and we putter together a mix of resources, on board and ashore.

Move ashore with the boat - At some point, even the short commute across the water might be too much. We could pull the boat ashore and 'terraform' it... make it more accessible for elder access by land. A side door, say, that allows us to board with a single step or low ramp.

Move ashore (possibly) without the boat - If, by some miracle, we could be of some use to some form of intentional community and were offered shelter and sustenance in return, we'd consider it. It would surely be interesting. As things stand, the possibility seems remote, but who knows how the world will go?


I see three things necessary to these first two options:

1) A capable, small boat - This would be an adjunct to the bigger liveaboard we no longer sail regularly. Able to be sailed and rowed with little effort, beachable, have shelter for overnighting, and be manageable with our remaining strength.

I see this as necessary since no place (in SE Alaska) we've come across has all necessary resources in one spot. From the First Peoples on, mobility has played an important role in obtaining sustenance from a range of resources.

2) A garden - This can be a purely indigenous Guerrilla Garden, which has the advantage of requiring very little physical input. Merely concentrate productive strains of local plants within easy reach would enrich our diet. Add spuds and we're golden!

3) A larger community - Among all the Oldsters that lived along our shores, even the most independent were abetted by younger, or at least more able folk. Often, firewood was cut and chopped, a bag of grain or coffee gifted, a roof leak patched. The very gift of company was cherished. One can survive without these friends, perhaps, but they helped the Old Ones to thrive.

Making new friends from across the age spectrum has always seemed a habit of the most vital elders I know. These interactions stimulate and involve the aged, and entertain and educate the young. These relationships carry on with gifts flowing each way.

Such elders partake in a multi-partner dance in which it is a joy (as a relative youngster) to participate. Such elders inevitably, one day, bow out of the dance. But they dance to the end.

Something to keep in mind!


To prepare for old age, we pretty much need to live our lives.

Have a boat in hand, and learn how to live aboard. Live in a region from which we can subsist, and learn its ways. Make friends and cultivate relationships.

Anke and I aren't among those who think old age is merely a state of mind. We see it as one stage in a beautiful journey which eventually winds to its end. We love it, from its beginning to that end we face without regret. Oh... perhaps a hint of anxious wonder. But that's only natural.

It's all good.

For more thoughts on aging sailors, see this related post.