Two months into winter…or Surf and Turf is looking pretty good!

We’ve been in Port Townsend for two months now. A blustery October and a wet November. It’s now the second sunny, but cold, day in December. Snow flurries are expected tonight.

I’m working at the local theatre in marketing and Gene has just finished two long weeks of building their holiday show set. They dubbed him “Gene, Gene, the Building Machine”. He’s also been working with a local sailmaker, lofting sails for a square-rigger. We are finding more and more of the kid-friendly activities in town and Byron is loving preschool. So, we’re starting to find our place here.

But, what to do? We want to do some more cruising. But living aboard through the winter, even with a cozy wood burning stove (burning off-cuts from the set), is tough. If it was just the two of us, I think we would be snuggled up beautifully. But our kiddos are struggling a bit.

They like the boat, they like sailing, overall. They loved playing on beaches and islands this summer. We are getting out and about as much as possible, even on rainy and blustery days. But, playing at home, having a sense of a play-space that is their own, is tough in 150 sq feet (and none of it “square”). We have to clean something up before we get something else out. We can’t just say, “go play in the backyard” or “go ahead and make a mess”. They can’t bring mud pies home and fill their space with found treasures and experiments. There just isn’t room. The crumbs, and scraps, and detritus that children create would bury us, if it wasn’t cleaned up everyday. And I find that, if I want to get anything done when they’re on the boat, I default to letting them watch a video, so I can work. And it’s happening way too often.

I recently found a book called Activities for Children in Small Spaces and I’m excited to see what fun projects I can come up with. They loved building with tiny marshmallows and toothpicks on a rainy afternoon recently.


A 2yo and a 4yo would be challenging in any circumstance. They are too young to really be autonomous in their play. But so much less so when they don’t have their own play-space or yard they can rule.

We are looking into the possibilities of a “surf and turf” situation in Port Townsend. A place ashore to live, while keeping the boat for summer cruising and extended liveaboard times. But not all our eggs in one floating basket.

And speaking of eggs, if we had a place ashore — shared in some way with others — we might be able to have chickens again! And a garden. As you can tell, I’m missing so many things about a home on land, but not quite ready to let the potential of the boat go yet.

I’m just starting to feel at home on the boat. But, full-time living aboard, when we’re not moving is a real challenge. We had a taste of cruising this summer and hope for more. It will get easier as the kids get older and having a break and a different pace and space during the winter may be the key.



3 thoughts on “Two months into winter…or Surf and Turf is looking pretty good!

  1. I think you and yours are heroes! I applaud you for your lifestyle…especially with two toddlers! Do you plan to home school when they are older? What a great life you are giving the children! God bless.

  2. I still think you’re just about the bravest family I’ve ever known! All of you. I’m going to use Eleanor again in audition, for a tough lady! Thank you, Crystal.

  3. That’s a good idea with the marshmallows and toothpicks. I am already imagining some big structures Jonah and I can build together. I can understand the frustration of the kids not having a back yard. We have a kayak on our yacht which Jonah and Pippi use to escape their parents.
    Surf and Turf sounds like a good solution to me.

    Happy Sailing

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