From Land to Sea ~ Part One: Power

Riley on top of the cabin, looking mighty confident and snazzy in his life vest.

It is said that wisdom is knowing you know nothing. If that’s the case, then moving aboard a sailboat has certainly made me wise. I’m reminded of Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, who once said “I suspect you could fill several books with what you don’t know.” Big books. Tomes. Every day I’m confronted with a heap of information I do not–but need–to know. Brains are the most advanced supercomputer the universe has ever seen, but they can still overload.

There are two common ways to react to information overload and stressful situations. The first, and by far the most popular, is to panic. The process usually begins with some sort of expletive preceded with “Oh.” Such as “Oh (insert word for feces)!” It is important to note that though panic is the more favored reaction, it does little to solve the problem.

The second way to react to a brain overload is to try logic. Overwhelming situations happen all the time, either quickly or slowly. Example: you volunteered to clean up after a friends party. The house is a disaster area. Rather than look at the entire house and freak out (see panic, described above), you can break it down room by room. Similarly, instead of trying to drop 50 pounds in a week, the best solution is to wrap your mind around losing just one pound at a time.

Back to my sailboat. Once I had the idea of “It would be so cool to live on a sailboat” I did some research. Research to me means sitting on my tush with a cup of coffee and Googling: living on a sailboat. I then found that people who lived on boats are called “liveaboards.” I read as many blogs as I could find, searching for people’s stories, trying to get a feel for what types of people made this kind of change and if it was for me. When I decided it was for me, did the initial grunt work, and bought the boat, the real work began.

Sunset on my day. Not too shabby for Courtney.

It’s drop dead gorgeous outside, but a little wet in the cockpit for me to take the computer out and enjoy the rare sunshine. I have just finished my French pressed coffee and I’m sorting through my numerous items now on my tiny boat. Riley, Dog with No Fear, is at my feet, relaxing. We have lots to do today, like getting more ice for the icebox, organizing all my stuff, charging the batteries, talking with my financial planner, and on and on. And none of that includes making needed improvements to the boat or learning how to sail the boat single-handed.

As I said before, when confronted with a mountainous amount of tasks to accomplish, rather than gawking and mumbling like an idiot while sitting under a table, rocking myself, I like to set priorities. Not everything needs to be done at once, things must take priority. In the past few weeks I’ve managed to break down my huge list into littler, more manageable ones. After buying the boat, I bought a dinghy, then a transom ladder, an outboard motor. I then learned I needed something really important, a big thing I could never live without.


Yep. I needed electricity. I need power to charge all my batteries, both for the boat, and for my gadgets and the internet, so I can work and make some of that green stuff. I quickly found out that all of my outlets run on AC power, and if I’m not running the loud generator, the only power I have is DC, which means as soon as I turn off the generator, my internet dies and my computer runs on its battery. Hmmm… So I turned that goliath generator back on and got on the net.

AC (Alternate Current) is what most household items use to work: coffee machines, washers, lights, just about everything. AC requires an initial surge of electricity then powers continuously. But let’s remember that for the summer, I’m anchoring out, so I’m not connected to AC power all the time, which means I have no way to run my schtuff.

DC (Direct Current) is a battery, and my main source of power. Which means I had to find a way to run AC power off of a DC power source.

A DC/AC inverter will do just that, and luckily they’re not that expensive. I picked up a 410 watt inverter at Walmart for about $40 and am using it now to write and post this blog. For the summer months, while I’m operating on a battery, an inverter will happily convert DC power into AC power, and viola, I’m back to my power-hungry ways.

But the battery still needs to be charged during the day, which requires I run my loud generator, annoying me and possibly my closest neighbors (I’m not sure how loud it sounds to them), so I can get power. I’ll be bringing the boat into shore for the winter months, so I’ll be connected to AC power all the time. Next summer I’ll be in the same boat (ha ha!), and will need a way to charge my batteries. I favor the quiet and the clever, and while a generator is a marvelous device in its own way, it’s not quiet.

For next summer I’d like three things: a wind turbine, a monocrystalline solar panel, and a polycrystalline solar panel. All three should keep me charged up in all types of weather. The wind turbine will charge the batteries when it’s windy; A monocrystalline solar panel works well in very sunny days, so about 5 days a year up in the Pacific Northwest, but perhaps if I get one of these solar panels more sun will shine. Here’s hoping. A polycrystalline solar panel gets it’s juice from UV rays. Though it does not create as much electricity, it creates some, and in combination with the turbine, hopefully enough.

Asking for help

There are three ways you can help me.

  1. The first way is to buy my novel. That’s the best way, really, because you’ll get something out of it in exchange, and the e-book version costs about as much as a hamburger. I’m hearing from readers all the time, and the fastest reading time is two-three days, and that’s when you’re only reading the book and neglecting other household and work duties. So though the book costs as much as a burger, it’ll last a lot longer, even if you’re devouring it quickly.
  2. The second way would be to hire me to design your new website. I designed this one and built it in WordPress. It’s pretty nifty. The drawback to this option is you’d have to part with more cash (around 1200 smackers), which is fine if you own a business–a website will pay for itself–not so fine if you’re an individual working for the man. If you want to learn more about how I can help you create a great web presence, go to
  3. The third way is a direct donation. Can you believe me, asking for a direct donation? The nerve! Of course you don’t have to pay a gosh darn thing. I love just having you here to read my blog and share in my adventures. But if you thought, hey, I’ll donate a buck to that girl so she can have a solar panel, I don’t want to stop you. Even 25 cents would be helpful. As they say, every penny counts! If you think me asking for help is outrageous, please pass this post along to all your friends so they can read about my audacity, and perhaps they’d like to pitch in a few cents to my cause. PayPal button is on the sidebar at right.

Learning Tons

Moving to a sailboat has opened up the learning center of my brain. Because I own my boat, I’m interested in learning everything I can about her, including how she works, her wiring, the plumbing (not gross, just interesting!) how I can make this lifestyle work best, and on and on. She’s a 1972 Islander, so she needs lots of updates and improvements, and I’m so excited about getting started. I’ve already learned a lot in the past few weeks, and there’s so much more to glean.

Do you live on a boat? Do you have any advice for a new liveaboard? Have experience with solar panels and wind turbines? Or are you thinking of making the land to sea transition? Please leave some comments, I love hearing from you!


  1. Holly October 25, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    I bought a 30′ 1976 Clipper Marine Sailboat today that I’m going to live on with my dog in Portland, Or. Excited and scared!

  2. tom January 20, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    hi hay thinking of doing a deal on a 50 ft chris craft woody in love with it so its time