Home   |   The Boat   |   First Mate   |   Admiral   |   Guestbook

Thanks for visiting my site. I have had 5,256,851 hits since 29 August 2013. Wow, and thank you!!!

23' mini-trawler
by Schucker

Janice aboard Seaweed,
living the good life afloat...

Trawler life on a nickel budget is possible.
I'm doing it and you can too.

Janice Marois, nautical journalist.
Accredited member of Boat Writers International.

Here, I share my views on living aboard a small boat with very limited resources. Hopefully my successes will help others achieve the life. And yes, I'll share the things I did wrong too -- though not everything 'cause a girl's got to have her secrets!

Thanks to Captain George in Maryland for the lovely surprise found in my mailbox. I appreciate that!

My mailing address is: Post Office Box 8284, Madeira Beach, FL 33738
15019 Madeira Way, Box 8284, Madeira Beach, FL  33708

Date: 28 July 2021 Computer Mistake (off-grid error)


Recently I was asked what I did wrong when I first bought Seaweed. What items were mistakes? These are errors I feel most of us have made in one form or another. It is the "quiet anchorages and life of ease" fantasy world versus the reality of life afloat. For those of us who prefer life off the grid, here are some of the changes made during those initial months afloat.


When I first was contemplating my boat I bought a laptop computer with a DVD tray. I envisioned long hours watching movies at anchor. Then I bought a 75 watt solar panel with a Morningstar-10 solar regulator.

Later I upgraded to a Morningstar
ProStar-30 solar controller.

ROUGH solar power calculation:
At the Florida/Georgia border (30th latitude North) take your wattage, divide by 3 and you'll have your average amps per day with the cheapest solar regulator (not MPPT). So my 75 watt panel generates on average 25Ah (amp hours) a day of usable power.

My old laptop used 7 amps per hour. Ouch!!! Newer models do require less power. Still, it is these "little things" that can bring your power consumption up dramatically. Thus I needed to make a change.

Additionally, the old 15" Toshiba laptop weighed a lot. I had imagined myself carrying the computer to shore in a waterproof bag, using it at a coffee shop and generally being the cool boat-girl. At my age, how silly was that? Well, the computer was heavy so hauling it to shore was a pain in the transom. Toting it, along with groceries, laundry and propane back to the boat was untenable. Basically, if there was a way to mess up the whole computer aboard a boat thing, I managed to tick every wrong way to do it.

In my defense, I did drag that dang computer to a coffee/bagel joint... twice. Because surely it couldn't have been "that" heavy the first time, so I tried it once again. It was too much. The second trip was the last time the laptop left Seaweed before being shipped to my daughter's house.

The option I chose was to replace the 15" laptop
with a Toshiba netbook that used 15-18 watts (1.5 Ah)

The netbook has a 10" screen. It is perfect for my
desk. I don't want something that takes a lot of space.

You may notice that the netbook is raised. That is to accommodate a height that doesn't require me to tilt my head downward. "Posture is important." Did you hear my Mother telling you that too?!?

So, to make this long tale shorter, I replaced the heavy power hungry laptop with a netbook that used 15-18 watts. Now I can use the netbook essentially at will. No more movies on the 15" screen though...

You see, when first aboard your vessel unless you are very fortunate your new boat will need things for life away from a power cord. This is why I strongly suggest that new boat owners stay at a dock for at least two months in order to more easily work out kinks where folks (and stores!) are nearby. You will definitely require both.

Friends can make early times aboard your vessel great. I met Tessie and Bud Hinckley (yes, he's one of the Hinckley brothers of Maine boat building fame) who freely offered advice.

Boat folks like Tessie and Bud aboard the Edge
can provide valuable advice. They were both gems.


Bud Hinckley along with Chuck from S/V Kairos repaired my Singer221 Featherweight sewing machine. Later Mabe and her sister were able to find another Featherweight machine which I used to make the quilt shown below. That *millennial quilt was sewn at anchor while the wind was blowing. The Air-Breeze wind generator I purchased from Ken powered the sewing machine.

*In the year 2000, millennial quilts were all the rage. They were to be made with 2000 squares of fabric. Mine has just over 1000 different fabric squares.

Boat friends make
a world of difference.


The Featherweight Mabe found for me.

My Utilitarian
quilt with Skipper.


What this article is saying in a rather convoluted fashion is that friends made out here can make a world of difference. No matter how smart we think we are, mistakes will occur. Goodness knows I've made more than my fair share of them.

Choosing a laptop computer that required so much power as to make it unusable at anchor was one of the first mistakes I made.

For more details on starting life aboard a boat, the articles Boat Search for Beginners (DIY survey) and Boat Buying with your New Partner may be of use to you.


One of the best parts of boating is making new friends. I hope you meet some great folks too. Thank you for reading.

Comments welcome and encouraged on the
Computer Mistake (off-grid error) page.

Categories:  Boats, Characters, Entertainment, Gear, Locations,


Announcement: Folks who want to be notified when I post are welcome to become subscribers. I email readers every time a new article goes up. That's usually once or twice per week. If you'd like to be included via BCC* simply drop me a line to janice@janice142.com and I'll add you. It's free.

*BCC - Blind Carbon Copy. Basically no one but me will have your email address and the list of subscribers is not available.

Now this is not fancy. Basically I copy off the top three items in my Archive file. That way you can catch up if life gets in the way of your reading fun.

Secret: If you want to know what's what, start in the Archive. It offers you the title, first paragraph and topics (Categories) covered in each article published on my website.

Something a new reader might not realize: Almost every picture on this website can be clicked. The photo will get larger when clicked. Do that a second time and the picture should be full size. Enjoy...

My Cruising Kitty earns money each time you buy on Amazon through my links found in the upper left corner of every page. This is a tangible way to support me and is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your support, and heck, just for being here. I appreciate that more than you can imagine.

Paypal Tablet link:  *CRUISING KITTY
*for those who wish to donate direct to me via paypal.

Pet of the Week: Bear
on M/V Edge

Submit your pet's photo.
Please email pictures of your crew!

More canine, feline and feathered crew members can be found on the The First Mate Gallery page.


The Archive holds a chronological list of every item published on my website. It includes a brief synopsis (not just the title) along with the topics covered in each article.

Click on the title and voila: you're there. Enjoy!

Skipper, First Mate extraordinaire

Of course every boat needs a Deck Swabbie. Mine, born in 2008, is a papillon mix. She weighs in at five pounds.

Coming soon ...



Topics of Interest:
You can achieve a simple satisfying life

Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak enough food for a week.
But I'm darned if I know how the helican.
(Poem by Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1879-1972.)


For years I've been collecting short pithy statements otherwise known as aphorisms. If you're like me and enjoy the weird, go ahead and CLICK!

These are previously posted at the bottom of each article -- for new, you'll have to come visit again.

Seaweed is in St. Pete right now.

The above chart (#411) can be a wish book of sorts as you look over your domain and wonder where to go next. And yes, I do have the originals (sans red arrow) as jpeg's for download should you desire your own for closer perusal. Enjoy!

The Writer's Block

It's my belief that other folks who boat are some of the most interesting in the world. Inside every boater is a story. Let yours out! I'd love to post short stories, vignettes, or even longer articles that focus on some aspect of our life on or near the water. Suggested topics include:

1. I Remember When...
2. My First Boat
3. Who inspired you to be a boater?
4. Fishing Trips or Tricks
5. Or another subject of your choosing

For the novice, here's how to write: Simply pretend you're sending a letter to a friend. Tell about an event or a memory from years ago that you still recall.

Life has changed so much on the water since I was born aboard. Personally I'd love to hear your memories of life when you were younger. Boats were smaller, narrower, and much slower. Kids were kids and our families often shaped the adult we have become. Here are my two aboard the tow boat my dad ran for a time:

Your pictures would be wonderful too. I posted one of Boot Key Harbor taken in 2001 that has gotten quite a few downloads and really, that's not so terribly long ago... Do you have any photos to share? Email me.

Do you want to help out?

Often an article for the website will be completely written yet lack photographs. I like pictures and am looking for some for up-coming pieces:

  • Pets afloat (include pet and boat name please)

  • Any picture of boats underway or at anchor

  • Photos of people enjoying life in or on the water

Size: a minimum of 1000 pixels across please. If that doesn't make sense think bigger versus resized for emailing. I prefer the full-size version. Also, the name you'd like me to use when I add the copyright stuff to your picture. And thanks bunches!

My email address is janice@janice142.com

23' Schucker mini-trawler, circa 1983.

Thanks for visiting. If you happen to see my boat along the
waterways, give a call on Channel 16. I'm always listening.

click picture to enlarge

My home is not fancy by any means, however you cannot imagine how wonderful it is to come back to her after an expedition on shore.

If I can live this life, why not you too?

Skipper, First Mate

Aphorism Alert: Begin doing what you want to now. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake. Marie Beyon Ray.

Contributions to my Cruising Kitty
are always appreciated.

Every gift helps.

The Cruising Kitty is what boaters refer to as spending money. There's never enough aboard Seaweed!

I am also an Amazon Affiliate.


Copyright Janice Marois  |  Home  |  Archive  |  Topics  |  Boat List  |  Site Map  |  Email Me  |