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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction 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... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
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Monday, April 18, 2016

Square Pegs, Round Holes
By Anthony Taber

“Want a reliable road to emotional and spiritual suicide? Spend your life trying to fit in.” ― Brandon Mull

Square Pegs, Round Holes

Living voluntarily on the edges of society - on the water, on the road, or anywhere outside the platted grid - we at least have a shot at a joyous non-conformity.

But try to interface with that society on an official level, and joy fades. Time and treasure flush down the drain of trying to fit in, at least enough to further our cause.

Here's a sample story:
Anke and I had made our first move from land to sea, gratefully letting go our apartment and all its attendant bills and expenses. We were now living aboard! Our dream coming true!!

But that first boat needed to be paid off, and considerable work before we could sail over the horizon. To keep in contact with friends and family (pre-internet), we needed a PO Box. So we went to apply.

Oops. Our physical adress? We don't have one... that's why we need a PO Box. Gotta have one?? Um... we're right downhill about 300 yards. We can see the boat through your window. Not enough? What would it take? A bill to that address?? But we don't generate bills, anymore, and you wouldn't deliver there if we did. Can't we sign something? Leave valuables in hock? No??

Turns out, they cheerfully accepted Anke's parent's address in Germany (where she no longer lived).
Hooboy! This was our  first introduction to being square pegs to the round world of bureaucracy and commerce. Passports, PO Boxes, occasional taxes, fishing and driver's licenses, I.D., voter registration. And mis-representing one's self to the fine organizations behind these, albeit in an honest attempt to answer what cannot apply, courts heavy fines or even prison!

Registering or ordering online present form hassles (shipping addresses get complicated). There are many vendors who seem to think that Alaska is some foreign country. That USPS somehow isn't available, but UPS or Fedex have an office in every hamlet (they don't).

NOTE: Evil, socialist gummint USPS is cheap and reliable; those fine, private free-marketeers gouge us deeply for extra hassles they call 'service'. Oddly, it's the free market forces who pressure vendors into exclusive service contracts from which we suffer!

National security has made it all much worse.

In the last bout with officialdom, the national headquarters were to assign an appointment date with our conveniently located local office (800 miles away by air, contact numbers a secret!), by snail mail (must be forwarded to another town and flown to our current, remote location) with two days notice (gotta fly out in winter, jet north and show up, or else... hefty fees forfeit and start over). Fortunately, human error gave us a human 'local' contact, and we were able to work it out.

Despite the fact that we don't live as expected, we've got nothing to hide as 'upstanding citizens'. The sole problem is figuring out how to translate a fringe lifestyle into their one-size-fits-most forms and procedures.

So, if you are considering a life beyond house-numbers, consider ways to maintain the appearance of conformity. A foothold with friends or relatives, a mail service, a business or property in your name? Develop a paper trail to support your claims.

I don't recommend fraudulent claims... each must be legitimate in some sense if you don't want official trouble to one day come stomping after you. Make sure that all involved on your end are familiar with the details, and present a unified front. Officials perk up at inconsistencies!

One thing to keep in mind is that, if legitimate, one has every right to expect success. It takes a while, but there are few bureaucracies that leave no way forward. Take the time to learn their lingo and ways. Be polite but persistent. Seek and find someone helpful and humane, take their contact information and deal with them directly for the duration.

For those of you already living over the edge, have you any strategies to share?


  1. For a couple of decades I was a single male living alone in a truck. I was an Over the Road truck driver.

    I had NO address. My typical day was that I'd wake up in one state and go to sleep in another sometimes eight hundred miles away. I had NO schedule. I'd get one load, deliver it, and get another. I had NO idea where I would be going from day to day, much less week to week.

    So I feel your pain.

    Society, and by that I mean the gubment, is NOT nice to the non conformist.

  2. Let's see...retired couple spending a lot of time on their 'yacht'? Children with convenient addresses? All kinds of possibilities. I guess the secret is not being in anyone's face about a chosen lifestyle. Look and act rich and eccentric and like you are having fun. Don't lie to the authorities, be cagey with friends and let all others make the right assumptions. Wear a jacket and tie once in a while (Tom McNaughton's advice on being a liveaboard)...

  3. Once in a great while I have to deal with the real world and it's confusing for them and us.

    It was a real eye opener trying to replace my legal and financial identity after losing my wallet in the shipwreck. Good thing my passport survived.

    The state of NH would not forward a new driver's license to FL. I had to be standing in a NH DMV office to get it replaced -and they had my photo on file.

    Drove almost 2000 miles with no license and no car registration. What else was I supposed to do?

  4. In Canada, we have private companies that offer what are effectively post office boxes, but the real post office objects to them using the word "box", so they list the address as "suite". The suite I rented was 4"x4"x16" deep. For a small fee, they would also forward your mail in a new wrapper to wherever you wanted. I was using this service because an address in the big city was required, as people seemed more comfortable with an address they recognized. They would also receive FedEx and UPS parcels, and hold them until you picked them up. The store hours were about 16 hours a day, 6 days a week, so it was easy to get there when open.

    1. You can't use it as an address as far as driver's licence, medical plan and anything else government is concerned. They want to know where to physically find you. Nonetheless I know someone whose address is (boat name), (street address of harbour) BC, Ca. But he's had it for quite some time and I don't know if one could get away with it now. I might try, though.

  5. OK, let's see if I've got this straight. If I'm a free person, living in a free society, and I actually want to exercise said freedom, I need to hide and pretend. Is that about right?

    Don't fit. Never gonna fit.

  6. P.S.
    That quotation at the top of the post by Brandon Mull is brilliant. Wish someone had showed that to me when I was about 16. :/

  7. Guess I'm just talking to myself here ... OK then. On the bright side, it's a sure way to get enough air time ;-)

    The funny thing to me about the P.O. box story is the contradiction between Dave's experience and the intent of the rule. Mandating a physical address in order to get the P.O. box (technically applicable even at private mail places) was designed to achieve two purposes that I'm aware of:

    1) Ensure that the box could be tracked back to a box user

    2) Ensure that no user with a foreign address rented the box (think 9/11).

    The beauty of bureaucracy without comprehension.

    BTW, if you do succeed in getting a USPS P.O. box, last time I checked, UPS and Fedex won't deliver to a P.O. box address. >8-[

  8. Vote with your feet.... sorry.... with your sails and blow off the burgeoning bureaucratic buffoonery before bludgeoning begets braindeadery. Collapse might solve things if we get lucky and anarchy sets in awhile during a reset. But some backwards, poorly funded country with government intent on mere corruption over mass control might offer some nice cruising grounds. A place a little easier to "fit in". Fijis outlying Yasawa chain and such. Something on that order.

    Surprisingly more folks going "stateless" these days and renouncing the bureaucratic control talked about here. South of the equator makes a LOT of sense anyway due to a ton of reasons. One could get lost for a lifetime in Oceania dodging predatory governments. But bad news, Happy Sea Campers, the U.N. is actively talking over parceling off the worlds oceans into "no go zones" ostensibly to protect against resource depletions but small boat voyaging being globally bureaucratized and legislated out of existence now looms just under the horizon. Where's a reincarnation of Joshua Slocum into a 21st century two fisted, butt kickin sailing anarchist when you need him? Slocums onboard beer tap might rub some U.N. control freak way wrong in todays times. Grab your good times while they exist ragboaters!

    1. Robert,

      Bit late, but two things come to mind:

      1. I hereby nominate you for an award at the 1st Annual Triloboat Blog Comment Awards Ceremony. The multiple "b" sentence pushed it over the edge! ;-)

      2. I think the topic of alternate places to be, boat-based, would be an excellent topic for a blog article, such that many readers might contribute potential locations with associated facts and experiences. Too bad we don't know anyone with a boat-related blog.


    2. Such a micro-niche of real sail geeks but a pleasant one, for sure. I really hope Dave puts a book out with his web content flowing in a sequential building order and lots of pix. Great e-book potential and maybe really a butt saver for some of the disenchanted youth the USSA is churning out right now.

      Yes, micro-niche cruising grounds abound also. Maybe, just maybe, they'll escape satellite and drone surveillance on the fringes of "no go" ocean zones. Jeez........ Probably best not to publicize said locales. No reason a trilo, well built, couldn't loaf along, downwind mostly, on the classic tradewinds milk run to Oceania.

  9. Cruising grounds: On one hand, I understand the reluctance to name them. On the other hand, wandering a really big place in a slow boat looking for a specific thing without guidance isn't very efficient (i.e., "might not happen before you die" type of inefficient).

    Book: In general, I'm reluctant to buy regurgitated web postings in book form for obvious reasons. That said, Dave might be the rare exception to the rule because of the high quality of his blog posts and that fact that he'd surely add more value. A book featuring a building sequence as its backbone, with filtered and rearranged content (synchronized photos and drawings, text, etc.) providing the meat on those bones, would be outstanding. Then, if there's any room left, add the touchy-feely stuff like barge history, philosophy of flat bottomed boats, etc. That type of approach would be the most valuable/useful and the greatest enticement in my mind.

    At the risk of speaking for someone else, I think that Dave thinks that the sequence is different for each person/build, so of little value to document. As someone contemplating undertaking it for the first time, I disagree. Though I'll do what I want to do regardless, it would be nice to have a basic flowchart to use as a starting point, checklist, reminder, anti-stupidity protection, etc.

    In addition to the reasons above, buying such a fabled book would be a way to give something back for all of the very helpful work that Dave's done on these blogs. I sense that's a sentiment shared by many. So, I also hope Dave gets a book out soon. It'll likely be a bit late for me, unless I delay some more, but a guy can dream, right? ;-)

  10. Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for all the kind words! I apologize for not responding, this round... must've slipped by during one of our sudden exiles from the internet.

    RE Where O Where - I favor remote, temperate ocean archipelagos, such as the Inside Passage of N America's Pacific NW or The S Chilean coast. Other archipelagos are loverly cruising grounds, but mostly come saturated with human beings.

    RE Blog Book - Good idea, and I'm gratified for the interest. So far, though, there's not much time for it, but maybe in the coming decade?

    RE Build Book - That is slowly gelling up in three part form: Design, Construction and Examples. Will have sample construction schedule(s)... for now, see for the latest shot at it. Debriefs should follow.

    Thanks for all the good ideas!

    Dave Z