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23' mini-trawler
by Schucker

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

Trawler cruising on $14 per day 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!


My friend on Sparrow was able to get Comments back for me. They are still wonky and soon will be perfect. I have faith, and LOVE comments. Thanks are due to Ken and his feline crew consisting of Princess and Thunderfoot otherwise known as Erin and Lessa. I am very grateful for their efforts... Thanks Ken. See you on the waterways.

Princess & Thunderfoot

Date: 1 July 2016. Boat Buying Decisions (what is important?)


Often folks come online with basic questions. "What boat should I buy? How much does it cost? Can I live well on a small budget?" These are Normal for those in the beginning stages of exploring the life I live. One has to have a point to start refining wants, needs and desires. Buying a floating home is a major investment. Spending wisely is the goal.

Who wouldn't like a view like this?
(Photo by Irene on Katja)

I love my girl and she's just 23' long. Truth to tell though a bit longer would have afforded me more space for Stuff. And a girl's got to have her stuff. For me being comfortable means I'm happy. I truly love my home.

Roughing it is for kids. I do decadence.

Lockers full of high quality food equals
great meals at anchor or while at a dock.

In my canned goods locker I've got a stash of delicious items. There is a jar of home-canned applesauce from my friend Lynn on In Ainneoin I'm saving for a holiday. I've got pork, chicken, stuffed green peppers and even a few peanuts for roasting.

This year I preserved blackberries, made a rather runny blueberry sauce (tastes yummy on chicken) and some not-so-terrific strawberries.

My strawberry preserves are not red. Though the taste is okay they are not as good as the jar my friend Louise in Carrabelle gave me. Her sister had canned it. I still have a smidgen left. It's for savoring and I'll be Very sad when it's finished.

Side Note: Stuffed green peppers are a favorite. If you would like to can some like mine visit the Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Peppers (new canning theory) page. I love them.

Preparing stuffed peppers is time consuming. The end result is worth the effort. Much like boating... we work to play.

Serious advice: IF you are planning to live life off the grid you'll need a flat surface (large topside) that you can use for solar panels. It's something to keep in mind as you search vessels.

Buying solar panels (see next paragraph) should be a later item in the budget. Folks living mostly in marinas won't need solar panels. Save your money for the near-term needs.

Those who desire a step by step primer on having electricity off the grid should read the Solar, Batteries and an Inverter piece. Now I'm not an expert so don't expect techno-babble. That article details what works for me.

Make sure you like boating
 before you fully outfit
your floating home.

Schucker made just six of my little boat. When I spotted her I knew I had The One. She was cute. The boat had great living space. She met many of my requirements. Seaweed did not tick off all the boxes in my list. I knew that over time I could make her mine. She'd be nearly perfect.

Except for the stuff that is broken or needs upgrading, replacement, etc. Seaweed is spectacular.



These were my concerns/wishes/desires:


#1) Safety. I wanted to be inside the boat, imagining myself going forward to the bow in a thunder-boomer to check the anchor. (Seaweed is not so good at this aspect)

#2) No gasoline engine. (I bought a gasser, and have swapped engines. Don't ask. It was UGLY.)

#3) I wanted to entertain guests without them seeing my bunk. Men are men, you know? Entertaining new acquaintances in my boudoir would be uncomfortable for me.

#4) I wanted to be able to use the head privately. My head is down below next to my bunk.

#5) Inside shower. Displaying all in the cockpit for a sun shower won't work for me. I do rinse off outside after I've been swimming. Then I go below for my shower.

#6) I wanted the head close to my bunk. I'm at that age when using the head overnight is a regular part of interrupted sleep.  Some small boats tuck the head into a corner of the salon. Getting up, getting dressed, walking through boat just to tinkle wasn't going to be a good plan.

#7) Plentiful locker space for my Stuff. I wanted room for not just tools. I have a sewing machine and quilting supplies, oil paints, beads, silk floss, etc. Room to store my hobby gear was important.

#8) An adequate weight for me meant more than 5,000 pounds. The weight to length ratio is often an indicator of build quality. Generally speaking, heavier is better. [Sailors who enjoy buoy racing of course would opt for a lighter boat to get that added speed on race day.]





Equipment Wish List:

  1. Oversized anchor with all chain rode.

  2. Windlass to raise and lower anchor.

  3. Watermaker.

  4. Solar Panels.

  5. Battery Bank.

  6. Wind Generator.

  7. Autopilot.

  8. Tuna door.

  9. Hard-bottom dinghy.

  10. Stove and refrigerator.


Seaweed lacked everything except the stovetop and refrigerator in my secondary/nice-to-have list. The anchor was inadequate, there were no solar panels, no wind generator, no autopilot, etc. She came with two batteries. They were old and barely held a charge.

Structurally she had good bones and I knew that over time I could add items to increase my decadence level. Now, finally, eight years into the journey I have an AMAZING boat.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you have the patience to build infrastructure over time? I did not have the budget freedom to install all that I desired from the get-go.

    Side Note:  Even if you do have the funds I would still advise you spend some time living aboard your new-to-you boat at a marina. Acclimate yourself to this life.  Things you are certain you require might not be so important once you're out here.

    I was Positive that a hot water heater must be aboard my boat. In that regard I spent $250 to buy a water heater and ended up selling it a couple years later to Edwin for $50. Be smarter than I was and wait for major purchases.

  2. Caltexflanc on TrawlerForum said "Even as we sit here quietly at the dock, enjoying our drinks, things are breaking." How is your frustration level? Patience?

    Last Friday I took Seaweed for a spin. We were gone from the dock for a few hours and all was well. On Tuesday I wanted to meet my new friend Tracy and her family at McDonald's. The alternator belt was slipping so I ended up hitching a ride with Mr. Uber.

    Add to List: Tighten alternator belt.

  3. Planning and boats do not go hand in hand. We have ideas of what would be nice. Implementation has inevitable issues. I "go with the flow" and enjoy the ride. Others start twitching and are really miserable. What sort of person are you?!?

  4. Do you have the ability and inclination to attempt repairs? If not, do you have the means $$$ to pay someone to make the problem go away?

    Even if you do not want to do the job yourself you would be well advised to know how it should be done. Not all service people are honest so knowing the fundamentals is important. Buy
    Calder's Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4th Edition after you get your boat.

Seaweed is just about perfect except for the stuff that is broken, needs upgrading or tweaking.

Two things are next/upcoming in this year and 2017 if all goes according to my plan:

  1. I'd LOVE a small autopilot that will drive my girl on a compass course. That's about $2k. I have to find one that will fit in my Very Limited space. A larger boat would have more room for such gear.

  2. I want a half-size tuna door cut into the transom for easier boarding from my dinghy. Climbing over the transom is still okay. My bones are not getting any younger.

Seaweed is my Forever Home and Last Boat. I have been adding infrastructure and truly life is wonderful afloat. I LOVE my boat. Here she is:

To those of you still seeking your dreamboat I offer this advice: Remember your boat does not have to be Everything you wish at the time of purchase. You can gradually make her into all you desire.

If you're at the shopping stage, this series may be helpful:
Finding Your Boat (part 1)

We have a limited amount of time on this planet. I would rather spend my time messing about in Seaweed than doing anything else. If you are like me you will have the best time of your life out here.

See you along the waterways...

Comments welcome and encouraged on the Boat Buying Decisions (what is important?) page.

Categories: Boats, Books, Characters, Galley, Gear, Locations, Recommendations,


Announcement: I did start a few months ago emailing notices to readers when new articles go up. 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.

My Cruising Kitty earns money each time you buy on Amazon through my links. It costs you nothing and helps supplement my cruising funds. I appreciate it so much when you click through my site's Amazon links. It really does help keep me afloat.

Thank you.


Pets of the Week: Erin and Lessa
aboard S/V Sparrow

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 who weighs in at 4 pounds 3 ounces.

Coming soon ...

VHF aboard Seaweed

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, and inside every boater is a story. Well, 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

Life has changed so much on the water since I was born aboard, and personally I'd love to hear your memories of life when you were younger. Boats were smaller, narrower, and much slower, but kids, well, kids were kids. 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:

  • Parrot or a macaw

  • Electric food dehydrator

  • Any picture of boats underway or at anchor

Size: a minimum of 1000 pixels across please. If that doesn't make sense think bigger versus resized for emailing -- I'd 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!

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.


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