Our Vessel


In spite of a flurry of activity among friends and family in early 2008, mainly in the form of taking bets on (1)how long we would last aboard a boat or (2) how long it would be before one killed the other (3) how many times Type Triple A YING would need to pace on the boat every day, etc. etc., we purchased our dream boat and began the preparation to move aboard as quickly as possible.

In reality, the first thing we learned is that there is no QUICKLY anything in dealing with a boat. Commissioning the boat took months longer than we thought and the only QUICKLY was how rapidly our funds poured out of our savings account in amounts far beyond what we had originally budgeted for.

In reality, transitioning to life aboard was easy - it took me, the Triple Type A YING a full thirty seconds to switch from corporate high heels to flip flops and YANG a little longer as he organized our land life to water (i.e. all financial transactions on line, etc etc).
On Board & In the Water!!
Finally Fun

Operating this 50', 3 story DeFever Trawler that weighs about 60,000 pounds and does not have brakes, was and is still certainly a LOT harder than in theory. We are basically a self contained little city, producing our own power with John Deere 300 hp twin turbo charged engines, a generator and an inverter that allows us to have power/electricity at all times.

Engine Room
We must turn the generator on in the morning and again in the evenings for a few hours each time.  With this generator motor running, the 12 large batteries on board get charged up, allowing us enough power to run the electrical appliances (microwave, hair dryer, coffee pot, etc. - things that draw a lot of power) and to keep the batteries charged up in order to start the boat engine -- just like a car needs a battery to start the engine.

Once we turn the generator off, the inverter converts the battery DC power to household AC power so lights stay on; the TVs have power, etc.  With the inverter we do not have to have the generator running at all times - just enough to charge up the batteries.  Now, if I need to do a load of laundry or use the microwave or hair dryer, for instance, I need to turn ON the generator while using those larger power hungry appliances because they draw down so much, depleting our batteries quickly.

Our Saloon - the Living Room as seen from Galley

We have two toilets on the boat and handle our own waste using pump out stations along the way or, if in other countries such as Bahamas, BVIs - churn and spew it out via macerator pumps.   We must use special toilet paper (at $2 a roll!) that dissolves quickly so it can be pumped out.   Trivia:  Waste water on a boat is called BLACK water and the water we use washing dishes, clothes, or washing the boat with is called GRAY water.  

Bathroom or "Head" as seen from the shower
Student Discussion Topic:  Why are holding tanks for waste is important on a boat and what would happen if every boater just dumped waste overboard on a boat.

We compact our own trash in our trash compactor located in the galley.  This appliance is a luxury - allowing us to go 7-10 days or more in a single trash bag - a huge benefit because trash is hard to dispose of!  Some islands can’t handle trash at all - all these islands burn their trash and often charge boaters $2.50 to $5 to be allowed to bring their bagged trash ashore.  One sees black/gray smoke billowing up all along these island chains!

Galley as viewed from the Saloon
We store 350 gallons of water that pumps on demand just like at home.  I turn the faucet on, and splash!  Water!! (I do hear the pump quietly going pump, pump, pump as it sucks the water up from the tanks in the bottom of the boat up to the faucets.)
Fire Extinguisher & Water Maker

We make our own water via a desalination process as fresh, unsalted water is difficult to obtain in the Islands.  (See photo on right - The Little Wonder is the water maker - small & simple)  The folks living on Islands make their own water via desalination or simply just catch rain in barrels.  Conservation is the name of the game.  Ever hear of a ‘boat shower’?    When not at a dock, where fresh water is readily available and free, we hop in the shower, get wet and turn the water off.  We then soap up, wash our hair and then turn the water back on to rinse off!  In other words, the water is not running while we are soaping, putting shampoo in our hair, etc.  While brushing our teeth, we wet the brush & toothpaste and then turn the water off while scrubbing our teeth.  We turn it back on to rinse!  One should do these things at home, too, as all our resources are ultimately limited.

Student Key Learning Topics:  Describe the desalization process and why it is important on an island in the oceans and on a boat.  

Student Discussion Topics: Discuss conservation & why conserving is important.  What can one do at home and at school to conserve energy, water, etc?

Trawlers are noted for their comfortable living arrangements and for the fact that they are a more economical boat to operate versus a 'go fast boat' such as a SeaRay, etc.  We generally cruise at 8 knots (or about 9.2 mph) and burn about 7.2 gallons per hour.   Another way of saying that is that we cruise about 1.2 miles per gallon.  We hold 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel and can go long distances to various places in the world - if we choose & if we plan very carefully to find fuel - hence, the term "PassageMaker" used to describe these trawler boats.     Our top speed would be about 10 mph and at that speed we nearly double the amount of fuel burned!  So, going fast (relatively speaking as 10 mph is really NOT FAST!) becomes an expensive proposition for a few more miles gained...and not worth it to us.  We say that one must be retired to travel on a trawler as it takes so long to get from Point A to Point B....but remember, life is about the journey and not about the destination! 

Student Discussion Topics:  Math is important in everything we do - we figure this out when we finally become adults!!  I hated word problems while in school.  Now, I have to figure them out all the time in order survive on this boat!  So, tell me:

At the 1.2 gallons of fuel burned per hour and traveling at 8 mph for the 5,000 mile trip, how much fuel will we need in total?  At an average price of $4 per gallon, how much will we spend on fuel for this entire trip?  (We have to figure out if we have enough money to PAY for the fuel in our budget!  AND, we must always know how much fuel we have left in the tanks and how many miles we have to go before we get get more fuel.  What could happen if we mess up the math and miscalculate?

When we want to stop, we drop our anchor.  We pick our spot carefully, looking for good holding, such as in sand or good mud -- not on rocks or certainly not on coral.  I play out 5 feet of chain for every foot of water we are in plus 5 feet for each foot from the bow of the boat where the anchor is to the water line. That allows for the 'scope', and gives the boat the holding power it needs.  I could go to 3 feet of chain per foot of height/depth in good weather since I am using all chain, but I stick with 5 if not in a crowd of boats.  If bad weather, I go to 7 feet.    We have 2 other anchors on board, ready to go if needed, for safety.

Life is not rough aboard Finally Fun. I use a central vacuum system to keep the boat tidy. 
I wash and dry our clothes in a modern full sized front loading washer and a separate dryer located in a closet in our master stateroom... my ‘laundry room’.  I know my washing machine uses 15 gallons of water per load versus the older one I had in my house that used about 50 gallons per load washed! 

There is a separate ice maker on the aft deck. We filter our drinking water and ice maker line three times before consumption and with two refrigerators and two freezers aboard, the wine stays chilled and Andy has his ice cream.  We also have a separate small refrigerator on the flybridge.

Aft deck where ice maker & plants are located

   I grow my own herbs after an argument with Andy to bring the dirt and plants aboard this new boat.   I won...given the the choice between home cooked meals with fresh herbs or no food, Andy capitulated.   Satellite TV and satellite radio give us all the news we want, plus movies and regular TV shows.    We are able to pick up wifi fairly well in the islands, but it often comes with a $10 a day fee to log on, so we are careful in our planning so we don’t spend too much money but get things we need to get done - like paying bills on line and communicating with family and with you guys!

We have plenty of room to move about on this 50’10” long boat (that includes our swim platform and our bow pulpit!) which is 16 feet wide at the middle.  So, inside we are about 14‘ wide from wall to wall, as 2‘ is ‘lost‘ on the deck, in order to provide for a full walk around the boat which makes line handling and docking very easy for me to do.  I don’t miss a house at all!

Master Stateroom King Size Bed

Our Master bedroom has ample closet space, drawers and shelves for all we need.

Two large port windows (see in the photo) could be an escape hatch if ever needed.  There are a number of port holes along each side to allow light & air in.  The bathroom (head) is in this cabin, as is the separate closet for the washer/dryer you saw previously.

Foot of bed & desk area in Master Suite

Photo on the right is in the master stateroom showing the foot of the bed, Andy's closets and the desk area.

Our bathroom & shower are just to the right at the foot of the bed, in a separate room with a door.

The guest suite is shown in the photo below.  Your teacher has slept in here & can tell you more about it.  One goes down some steep steps from the front of the saloon into this room. We put a mattress insert into the center of the V, making a Queen size bed - V shaped.  

Left side of the V Berth w small desk, bookshelves & closet


We've equipped this trawler with the latest in electronics in order to safely navigate from place to place.   Our equipment is duplicated -- one full set in the saloon helm station and another full set of electronics up top, on the fly bridge that you see here.  We love the large flybridge & spend a lot of time here.  Off the back of this is a large upper deck on which we store our 12' dingy.  We get it off/on the boat via a davit that swings it off the boat with help from both Andy & I.

We've only used the inside saloon helm station twice in three years -- both times when the lightening was popping all around and it was not safe to be outside, up high.  

We have a Raymarine Chart Plotter that shows us, among other things, how deep the water is that we are cruising over; shows us our compass direction; our speed over the ground;  shows our current position; & has the satellite picture overlay of the area we are cruising over.


Our VHF radios keep us in contact with anyone else with a radio, including the U.S Coast Guard.  We use the radio to hail other boats, receive messages from others and of course, it is for the ultimate emergency call - Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.

We receive weather through Sirrus Radio and from our radar.  The radar will show the position of any object with metal, such as other boats, bouys, etc. and it also will show us the storm clouds forming & exactly where they are and how they are moving so we can potentially steer out of their way.

We have another piece of equipment called an AIS, (Automatic Identification System) that automatically tracks vessels & transmits their location and data about the ship such as name, tonnage, destination, nationality, size, etc.  We can then call that ship via VHF and communicate.  This is especially important at night to make certain the ship sees us and that we are each aware of how the other is navigating.

So, in a nutshell, we are a self contained little city that takes a lot of work to make her run smoothly with all these systems to monitor and maintain.  But, at the end of the day, we are very comfortable cruising where ever we want to be!

Photos showing our circuit breaker panels and other instruments
that enable us to monitor what is going on with the boat.

I've had several questions from the students & others regarding exactly how we use toilets and how that system works.  Here are some pictures that help explain how we get rid of the waste in the holding tanks.

1.  Use the toilet just like at home and flush.  Our flush lever is a pedal on the lower side of the toilet.  We have fresh water pumped from our fresh water holding tanks in the toilet just like you do at home.  Some boats  pump water directly from the sea/river where ever they are. When you flush, everything goes into a holding tank inside the boat, down below in the engine room.  We can't really smell nor see anything.

 2.  We use a special quick dissolving toilet paper that we buy from a marine store that costs a lot more than regular toilet paper ($2 a roll).   This special toilet paper dissolves quickly so that when we pump out the holding tank, the paper doesn't clog up the small hose that is pumping the waste out into a tank on shore.  That on shore tank gets emptied by the sanitation department and put into the sewer systems, just like in a city to be disposed of.  We always tell guests, "If you haven't eaten it, it does not go into the toilet!"
The photo below shows Andy pumping out the front toilet in the v-berth area.  Note the yellow colored hose running across the deck.

Andy putting pump out hose into tank outlet on the front starboard side of the boat.  There is an extra nozzle there on the deck in case he needed a better fit.

See the pump out hose running from the dock to the side of the boat where the holding tank is on the dock.  This tank is what I call the 'pooper scooper'.  This is where the waste from the holding tank is being pumped into from the boat.  This tank will be ultimately emptied by the local city sanitation department & disposed of along with all the other waste from the City. 

It is legal to dump from the holding tanks into the Ocean if you are 3-5 miles out offshore.  We adjust some buttons and levers and it pumps straight out into the water.  We prefer to never do this, not liking to pollute and try to use marina pump out stations.  However, in some countries there are NO pump out stations.  I find that so unbelievable but that is the way it is.  Those countries believe that the ocean currents take the poop/pee away quickly.  I think someday this will all catch up to us!

The guest head and full separate shower are through the door you see on your right.

Your feet go where the pillows are -- we remove them at night when guests are aboard, using the bed. 

There is a large closet on the left side of this photo that shows the desk area.