Monday, November 7, 2011

Autumn Images

This image isn't gray-scaled, but certainly appears to be.  Cold light on Lake Murray.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ladies and Gentleman, I present George.

George, I suspect (based upon the recommendation of my friend who shall be known for now as Red Kettle)  is a Red-Eared Slider.  I don't know his age, but he is rather young and very adorable.  It seems that he patrols the house boats and marina shore, but nearly always stops by my boat when he hears music.  Today, that station is my favorite station in the world, WMVY from Martha's Vineyard. (

Although not in his regular diet, (also noted by Red Kettle) Vermont aged cheddar, is clearly his favorite.  It is also the favorite of the myriad of fish that try to steel his cheese.  George is rather punchy and doesn't take lightly to having his cheese stolen, unabashedly chasing fish three or four times his size.

Today, for the first time, George climbed aboard my foot for a late-morning snack.

I think I love him. 

The View From Down Under

I realize this pic is rather slurry, but I wanted to share the color of the water with you.  Cool, huh?

Misc. Pics

Mynrva and The State newspaper.

Serious downsizing, living on a boat


Christine Johnson has been doling out the artwork she owns, asking friends to hang favorite pieces in their homes so she can visit them.
Paintings are the one thing she has a tough time doing without.
This summer, Johnson, 42, is downsizing from a loft apartment in downtown Columbia to a 350-square-foot pontoon boat she has restored on Lake Murray.

She can’t bring herself to sell her artwork.
Everything else is expendable.

She has to cull her professional clothes to three or four suits. That’s all that will fit in the closet.
A gourmet cook, she’s keeping the wok but getting rid of the KitchenAid mixer and Le Creuset pots.
When she considers buying something, she said, she’s guided by one issue: “Where am I going to put it?”
Her boat, she said, has become “an expression of me and my values and what matters.”
Johnson is a South Carolina native who moved back here about a year ago.

Before that, she was Rep. Christine Johnson, a state legislator in Utah, doing something she loved in a place she no longer wanted to be.  Her relationship with her partner had dissolved. She had just had a baby, as a surrogate mother, for two friends who are gay. Her daughter was moving away to college.
She found herself in a midlife crisis — 10 years early.

And so she decided to come home for a job as director of S.C. Equality, an organization advocating for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, addressing the bias she has learned to confront.
Life on the lake provides freedom, tranquility, simplicity.

In February, Johnson found a place in Camden she thought she might want to buy. It had four acres and a pond. But the thought of furnishing such a large home “made me feel really heavy,” she said.
She shook off the feeling and went online to find a rowboat for the pond; she could envision herself reading the New York Times in a rowboat, she said.
What she found was a pontoon boat — cheap, small, rough — and a big project.
She decided to become one of the small group of people who live on a boat on Lake Murray, a group so small census-takers don’t take note.
“It felt healthier and lighter to live with less,” she said. “To be more conscientious about my role as a consumer. And I thought, ‘This could be really fun.’”
The boat didn’t have a motor. Its flat roof leaked.
“It was just a mess, a mess, an utter mess.”
The owner was asking $4,500. Johnson offered $2,250.
And then she set to work, learning how to do electrical work and plumbing, lay carpet and set tile.
She gutted the inside and hired a contractor to put on a roof.
“Part of taking on something that was a risk was having the opportunity to learn things I don’t know,” she said.
This past week, the boat was finished, for the most part.

Carl Sundius, who owns the marina where Johnson is docked, sometimes fixes up boats to resell. But he said the pontoon boat Johnson bought was too big a project for him.
“She’s tough,” Sundius said. “She did it. It’s turning around really nice.”
Johnson figures she has $7,000 in the boat she named “Mynrva.” She probably needs to invest an additional $1,000 on furnishings and storage.
That would leave her with an $8,000 home, along with plenty of money to travel — Thailand is her next dream destination — and to pay for daughter Olivia’s college education.

“I just had to stop and reprioritize,” Johnson said, “because my daughter has been my priority and, finally, I’m living with a degree of freedom I haven’t known for 20 years.”
She enjoys having a “dock family” who shares an affinity for the lake — people who come aboard with a beer, sit down to share a story or two. Folks take turns visiting each other, she said.
“At night, it’s really very still, but every now and then, there’ll be a little bit of a rock, and that’s lovely,” she said. “I don’t think we can deny: We grow up in an aquatic environment until we’re born.”
Johnson gets up early, makes coffee and watches as “the light starts dancing and animal life becomes more active.” Geese, turtles and fish live off the bow. Here, she is a little more connected to her natural environment.

For Johnson, the serenity of lake life provides balance. “The more our lives have been ramped up into making money, and work, and stress, and all this stuff, maybe the more we seek that balance.”
She has found her boat is just enough.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Comments on Contractors

Well, it's been a while and for good reason.  Part of posting on the boat is actually having progress on which to report.  I've gone through two contractors who although well-intended have not really held up to their ends of the bargain.

The bedroom is pretty well done, with the exception of sun-proofing the windows.  I've replaced the air-conditioner, refinished the shower, replaced carpet in the sleeping area and addressed the needs of both decks.

 Plumbing has been an adventure.  I'm happy to report that the plumbing which I replaced is leak free...the remaining original plumbing is not leak-free and so Joe, the plumber at Lowe's and I are becoming well-acquainted.

Affectionate-friend, Nikki (that's what I like to call her) has been keeping me company, well hydrated with Heineken-light, and lending a hand.  My mother's friend, Dana popped on board and helped out in exchange for several beers (beer is both a wonderful motivator and troublesome sedative).

So here are a few pics and now that progress is once again being made, I promise to post more frequently.

House boat party second weekend in June.  Mark your calendars!

Bedroom with walls up and windows trimmed out.

Paint and an Oil Pastel up. 

Dana helping with the front deck.

Front complete!  WooHoo!!

Thanks to my WONDERFUL Mother, Toni for the teak chairs!  They are perfect!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Slowly but surely!

Finding time to work on the boat has been a bit challenging since I spent a few days out west to visit Olivia.  This week however, the walls will go up and I can move in!

The shower works!  The hot water heater works! WooHoo!



I used glass tile on the backsplash.  Not too bad for my first ever tile job!

I'm so hungry to move onto the boat.  I can almost taste it!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's gonna get worse before it gets better!

 Bringing in reinforcements!  Wayne is taking down the steel bunk-bed to make room for a real bedroom.  After taking the paneling down I realized there is NO insulation.  Better to find out now, rather than December. When I have more energy, I write about the funny things Wayne says.  You will laugh, I did.

My project on Sunday was to insulate the walls.  DONE!~

Moving the boat to a slip closer to the shore.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Time well spent....

For the first time in a long time, I was focused on one goal; finishing the swim board.  It should be a swim board, but on Mynrva, it is a counter or buffet or bar of sorts.  It sits off the bow, and although not used for it's original intended purpose, makes an excellent addition to the deck.

Since I am a bit in limbo awaiting a new roof, I decided to start sanding and somehow refinish this mysterious piece of dried wood.

One thing I've noticed about my dock family is that people are friendly and warm.  My car clearly displays that I am gay and liberal, yet no one wants to discuss politics.  They discuss their boats, their projects on their boats and what a gift it is to spend time on the water.  Yes, it's just a lake in South Carolina, but it's water and for those magnetically attracted to its ripples, reflections and sounds, it's a little slice of paradise.

Larry, a contractor, who is married to Brenda, who works for Merrill Lynch, pass by Mynrva frequently as they go back and forth, having pleasant but brief conversations with other house boaters.  Larry would like to live on a houseboat if Brenda would let him.  Brenda would let him is she could quit her job.

Larry stopped and commented on my 6 hour sanding job.  " You're enjoying yourself, aren't you, Chris?.
"Yes, I really am.  It just doesn't feel like work", I replied.
"That's going to be a beautiful swim board and you're going to feel proud."

Although it was a bit patronizing, he was right.  I am.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Learning the lingo.

  • Bow - the front of the boat
  • Stern - the back of the boat
  • Berth - the bed. If the bed is located at the bow of the boat, where the shape of the structure usually makes a "V" shape, the bed is called a V-berth.
  • Stateroom - the bedroom
  • Galley - the kitchen
  • Head - the bathroom
  • Cabin - a place where passengers can meet. A living room is also known as the salon.
  • Cockpit - the place where the boat is steered, also known as the bridge. The helm is the specific steering station.
  • Nav station - the place where navigation equipment is located, necessary for bluewater houseboats. This is where the boat's radio, charts and GPS will be.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

String some pretty lights.

It's final!  I've handed over money, signed documents and Mynrva is now mine.  As thrilling as it is to have a piece of South Carolina actually belong to me, I am nervous and feeling a bit intimidated by all that lay ahead.

First- The roof, the roof, the roof is NOT on fire, but only because it is saturated with that non-flammable liquid called WATER!  The roof is coming off and getting replaced with an ever so slightly sloped surface that will hold the weight of Chandra, his Guitar and the posse of people that seem to relish his 3 am serenades.  I am one said posse. 

Second- The electrical.  I am convinced the only blind electrician in North America is responsible for the wiring of Mynrva.  When I get a bid under $2,000, I'll jump right on that one. 

Third- New walls.  Each time I walk into the boat, I ask myself, "Self, have you been drinking?  Or do the walls really buckle like warm taffy?".  Each time, the answer is the same...."no, it's not the booze, it's the taffy walls".  THIS IS NOT WILLY WONKA'S FACTORY, I am not eating blueberry bubble gum nor is my name Violet.  The walls must be replaced.

Lastly- The head.  It still freaks me out to call it that, but now that it is officially ripped out, it must be replaced.  Until then, I'll use the facilities at the marina.

All of this work and the only thing I want to do is paint the boat a pretty color, string some festive lights and blast a Bachata.  Que esta Bachata? Link below.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Eyes on the Prize.

This will be my view each evening.  C'mon, you know this is going to be worth it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Helm restored...minus the motor.

(Helm Before)

This weekend, I have sanded and stained the door to the bathroom and also the helm.  I am amazed at how much improved the helm looks.

(Helm After)

No, the hole on the right side is NOT intended for an 8-track, although it sounds enticing.

Glamour Shots ;-)

Mom meets Mynrva

I knew it was coming, or rather SHE was coming.  My Mother, Toni wanted to meet Mynrva and it happened today.  I spent a few hours today removing items affixed to the walls.  Shelves, random screws that once suspended an item upon the wall, four coat hangers, a broken toilet seat lid, two mirrors, a secretary desk top that had been used as a bathroom cabinet and so on.

The phone rang and as I looked out the door, I could see my Mother had arrived to meet the new girl in my life, Mynrva.  I felt as nervous as if introducing someone I was dating for the first time.  My Mother appeared quite nervous herself as she slowly walked down the dock....and then she climbed aboard.

Hugs, smiles and then.........."Okay, just let me take this in."

"So this is the living room?"  "Yes, Mom".

"Oh, the kitchen is larger than I expected."

" And this is the......Oh, Dear God!"                                        

She had discovered the bathroom.

Two full dock carts of misc. items later, we sat down to eat and announced almost simultaneously that we had a headache. I am lucky because my Mother supports this adventure.  She has remodeled or restored more homes than I can count and tends to be quite fond of projects herself.  Perhaps it is from her that I inherited the "take an ugly thing and make it pretty" addiction.   It's going to be stressful.  It's going to be costly (relatively speaking) and it's going to be more fun than I might be able to handle. There is something about the obvious insanity of it that thrills me to no end.

Tomorrow I meet "Billy Jr.", the roofer.  Cross your fingers he has good news and speaks in small numbers.

You could add a lattice and grow a clematis.

When looking at Mynrva for the second time, the Marina owner, Carl approached with some sage advise on reinforcing the roof, fixing the marine toilet and information about the slip rental.

At some point, a look of utter amazement and shock must have come over my face, particularly in consideration of the necessary roof repairs.  "You know, if you added another reinforcement right here, you could add a lattice and grow a Clematis." he stated.  Thanks Carl, I think I might want to start with electrical.

Now I don't think Carl is akin to a used car salesman. After all, it's not his boat, just his marina.  But I pretty well need to deal with a little more than aesthetics at this point.

Not to suggest that a lattice is a poor idea.......

First Weekend of Work

This Saturday, I'll head to the marina and start to assess the realities of owning this humble vessel.  I'll start with exact measurements of each area, replacing windows and removing cabinets, mirrors and coat hangers attached to the walls.  Once the walls are bare, I'll map out the areas of the boat (living/dining, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom) and design the interior.  I'll be removing the lighting and excess wires which seem to meander from ever possible corner in preparation for more permanent and intentional lighting.

On Sunday, I'll met the electrician and on Monday, the roofer. I hope they both have good ideas which are affordable and what I visualize.

In my mind, I fantasize about moving in, falling asleep to the gentle toddle of lake movement and waking that first morning to enjoy coffee on the deck.  It makes me smile and nearly giddy with anticipation.

The one thing I can't wrap my head around is the color of the exterior, particularly if I can paint the new roof.  Wouldn't it be great if I can add a skylight?  I'll have to look into that.

Limitless possibility and what's better, it's my brainchild.  There is no one with whom I need to consult on preference or decor.  Just me, myself and I.  This is the first time in my adult life I can make those decisions alone and I can hardly wait.  Each color, fixture or decision is mine alone and will be relished and devoured like it's own unique delicacy.  Delicious!