Guitars onboard – no one likes a crooked neck!

“How will my guitars stand up to the punishment?” Was one of the first things that occurred to me when considering our adventure. Anyone who knows me know that music is a major part of my life and here was I being confronted with the most serious of questions.

Fortunately a few years back I had decided upon the purchase of an Ovation MOB. Ovation guitars are an oddity amongst the acoustic guitar world in that

The Ovation MOB has stood the test of time being hammered at gigs and seems to hold up well onboard

Charles Kaman had decided to create a round-back guitar with a bowl made out of composite synthetic material (not wood).  In the Ovation MOB a guitar was made that had been purposely designed to be played on the beaches and left in sunlight. But still, how would the extra moisture affect it? Well, I couldn’t be without my songwriting and gigging tool so the risk was taken and on board it came.

Unfortunately I also owned an Epiphone Les Paul Custom, a solid wood guitar with a reputation of dodgy necks (usually snapped). Whether it would have stood the test of time I’ll never know as I just couldn’t justify taking it on board.

So how has the Ovation coped? The neck is still straight and I rarely have to even tune it. When it’s not in use it’s always kept in its hard case, but I have been impressed with how well it is keeping.

I’m now looking into my next purchase, a much-needed guitar for recording the

Would an all-wood guitar last?

album (the Ovation just doesn’t cut it for recording purposes), and have fallen in love with the Epiphone Masterbilt AJ500RE. It’s a solid wood guitar (danger!) and am wondering whether it will last aboard or will it have to live with a fellow band mate (lucky sod!).

I’ve created a poll to decide the outcome of this procurement… it’s up to you guys!


Well the weather outside is frightful…

…but the fire is so delightful. We’ve had that continuously sung in the boat this past week courtesy of the delightful Hannah.

This week, as many of us in the UK may have noticed, we had a touch of snow.

Dan & Sophia poke their head out for a second before quickly retreating inside

And yet again we watched the country come to a halt.

This weather, of course, made us long for the hot air system that we plan on installing. But for the time being we have been making the most of seeing how quickly we can make the dial on the electric meter turn.

Despite the weather we have managed to keep snug and warm and I have been pretending to be an ‘ice warrior’ by hiking to work through the snow as it’s been far too dangerous to drive (as the 4×4 that almost drove into me demonstrated). Other adventures included; Hannah’s pontoon snow angels, running out of water and the filling tap being frozen over, and the appearance of Hannah on BBC radio Sussex who were interested in what it is like to live on a boat in this weather (they asked some really stupid questions!).


The marina felt like a winter wonderland

I thought I’d leave you all with a picture of what our boat would be like if, instead of planning a voyage to the Caribbean, we were actually in the Arctic. Enjoy….

Beating Condensation – Keeping the water outside the boat.

The biggest problem we have encountered with our experience, so far, has been the dread build up of moisture known as condensation. Everywhere I have lived (in houses) has had some degree of condensation but now we are in a smaller space it’s that much more noticeable. But how do we beat mouldy shoes, drips on heads, damp bedding and (my worst enemy) clogged up salt shakers? Well let’s see….

Air Flow

Condensation has a habit of forming where the air is static, this is because surface has been allowed to cool to the outside temperature and the gaseous water is able to transfer it’s kinetic energy to said surface and become a lower state molecule. In laymans terms; if the water molecule hold more energy (heat) than the surface it was cease becoming a gas and will revert to a liquid.

By increasing air flow around the boat the surfaces (e.g. windows etc) will be more likely to retain the ambient temperature. Air flow also reduces the effects of moisture in enclosed spaces (such as lockers).

In order to do this I am looking at installing low amp computer fans (costing as little as 11p) around in strategic positions around Pinafore, anywhere there

Small low amp CPU fans can increase airflow and cost as little as 11p

could be an enclosed space fans will be installed. This includes cabins, lockers and vents to the outside.

Reduce the number of surfaces

The second approach to reducing condensation is to reduce the number of surfaces on which it can fall. This is where carpeting comes in. Not on the floor but on the walls and ceilings.

This will be done in the cabins, where people frequently sleep. It’ll be sad to lose the nice white headlining in these areas but it will provide a warmer drier area to sleep in, and that is the goal.

We also plan to introduce some kind of covering to the windows either by shutters or by using suction cups attached to some foam (removable). This should create an airspace between the window and the interior hopefully keeping the boat a little more insulated at night.

Look familiar? Caravan carpet lining should reduce the area condensation can form

Whilst we on the subject of surfaces it may be worth mentioning that dry matt bedding will help solve the problem of mattresses going mouldy. It is essentially a honeycomb structure that allows air to flow below the mattress and carry away excess moisture.


It seems to me that one of the most common misconceptions is that heat reduces humidity and therefore condensation. Unfortunately it’s not that easy (I wish it were!); heat will remove water from windows and the like. but all it is doing is increasing the amount of water that can be held in the air and therefore humidity. Don’t get me wrong, heat will help, but as soon as the temperature falls it will return just as before. The secret here is to pump in warm dry air whilst removing the damp air. We will be installing a diesel powered warm air system, providing Pinafore with much dry, heated air.


There are two schools of thought on dehumidifiers that I have encountered. Those who will sing their praises to the ends of the Earth, and those who will

You needn't spend much on a dehumidifer. This 10L model from B&Q was relatively cheap but came top in Yachting Monthly

insist that they just don’t work on a boat and that it’s a pointless waste of electricity. We decided to go with the former school of thought since we figured it could do no harm. After all; the ways of actually removing the moisture are very limited (air flow to the outside being another way) that we’ll take all the chances we can get.

Any comments you may have would be very gratefully received; I will keep you updated with the progress and the success (or not) or the work over the coming months.

Our first guests

This weekend we welcomed our first guests aboard Pinafore. The newly- weds Lorna and Greg came down to get a taste of the liveaboard life! We didn’t get up to a whole lot, but was a lovely chance to catch up with friends and get told off for making inappropriate jokes!

It was so nice to have some extra company in Brighton and I have learnt two things from this experience;

  1. Space is not an issue with two extra bodies on board
  2. Condensation definitely is an issue!

I think I’m going to have to hurry up and get on with my moisture busting ideas as winter is closing in; the thermometer is hitting minus figures but unfortunately breath stays the same temperature.

Sadly the weekend is almost over now and our friends have departed, now all that is left to do is to shake off this bug (feeling very flu-y) and get back to work tomorrow.

The first voyage

Last week the time came for our first journey away from the mooring where we initially found and purchased Pinafore. I had taken the week off work to do some last minute work and prep with the help of my father-in-law and we were ready to set sail for our new destination; Brighton.

It was to be a two stage trip; on Thursday, at high tide, we cast off and motored our way down the channel in search of a mooring from which we would be able to leave early the next day.

We were sad to be leaving such a beautiful place but the excitement of the journey ahead was greater and we had fun practising mooring up at buoys and manoeuvring with the twin diesels. Phil made it all look very easily, gently motoring up to the buoy and holding her steady, my turn was far

Out for a sail in the calm before the storm...

more haphazard but still resulted in a successful mooring. For the the first time I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the idea of skippering our modest craft. We even got the sails up, catching the southerly wind, as we head up towards Itchenor to look for our resting place for the night. Confidence came over Hannah and I and we had taking turns at helming before settling down for the evening.

That night I could not sleep for the excitement of the next day. We were going to be taking her out to sea and testing her against the waves. Unfortunately in the early hours the wind picked up, thinking nothing of it I finally got some shut eye and awaited the favourable forecasts that had been published.

That morning, around the breakfast table, the only topic of discussion was the weather. The forecast had changed to Southerly winds between force 5-7, after almost calling it off and waiting it out in the channel for one more day we decided to set sail and take on the weather. Time was pushing us on and commitments could not wait, we had to go.

Phil had warned that it would be uncomfortable, and so right he was. As we motored out of the channel the waves were getting bigger – we had to

get to deeper water to lose the most violent of them. It was quickly becoming apparent that this wasn’t weather you choose to go out in. We motored on, pushing Pinafore somewhere she didn”t want to go, all the while letting us know in her creaking and smashing against the water. One by one we all fell prey to seasickness and Phil and I took on a half hour watch schedule; one steering course and holding course the other curling up in the corner of the cockpit trying to stay warm and dry and to get a little bit of rest. Roll on Brighton….

I could tell the whole story about how we all managed to ‘paint the decks’ and how Sophia slept for two thirds of the journey but I fear this is getting boring. Suffice to say – we arrived safely in Brighton ready to start the next chapter of our adventure.

Leaving peaceful behind

Well the past month has flown by; we’ve begun our liveaboard adventure and life has been hectic to the extent that my intent to blog has been overlooked.

So, we moved aboard but for the first couple of weeks we had to juggle adjusting to our new life whilst clearing up the old one. The house needed rectifying before we could finally leave that chapter behind.

Since that time we have been attempting to overcome all the little differences that the floaty home brings. Differences like emptying the toilet – yuck!, bending your knees (so your back isn’t constantly hunched), tiny galley (washing up must be done right away), laundry (where did we put that damn washing machine!) and condensation… (I’ve waged war against the latter, current strategies include carpeting the cabin walls, installing shutters instead of curtains, keeping air flow in the form of open hatches and stopping the crew from breathing).

Tomorrow we set sail East down the coast to our new home; a concrete jungle compared to where we have been. The stars have been too many to count, birds and swans graze at every low tide and the nights are so peaceful compared to night time in Portsmouth, littered with cars and drunks.

But onwards we must sail, tomorrow we anchor out and Friday morning we’ll catch the tide and sail to our next destination. Let’s hope the winds are in our favour!

Southampton Boat Show

It’s strange to think that this time next week everything that we currently know will be different. Everything that we do now will be reorganised in different ways, from the way we cook to the way we sleep; and even the way we go about going to the toilet.

Yesterday we headed off to Southampton Boat Show, not just for a bit of a nose around other boats that we could never afford (a major appeal of the show to myself), but to buy those last few items for our preparations to the boat. Amongst the bits and bobs we bought was the glamorous Portaloo for on board use (cheaper than installing a holding tank) and a brand new hatch for the coach roof.
It’s hard not to sometimes feel a bit of ‘stinginess’ towards buying these things as we’ve had to sell nearly all our Worldly possessions in order to afford them.

This weekend I finally say goodbye to the XBox, and we will put my gorgeous Les Paul guitar and amp up for sale. These things I have found so hard to part from and I will be sad to see them go but I reminded of the passage in the Gospel of Matthew (6:19-21)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So when I feel sad about the loss of my possessions and grumpy over the thought that the money from these things goes to buy mundane equipment like hatches, I will keep in mind that we are following God’s plan for us and that these things will only wither, rust, die and, in time, be gone.

Anyway, time to head off to Pinafore for some more handiwork and preparations.. this time next week we’ll be living aboard!!! I’ll leave you with a picture of lil’ S enjoying her berth…

20 days and counting – the begining of our new adventure…

Well as we were always taught at school; ‘ the first is the worst,’ and I’m sure this post will not differ from the theme.

I thought I’d start this blog with a retrospective look at how we got here, to this point in time, where we are now facing a daunting but exciting task. It’s at this point in most young couples lives where they are looking to settle down, get a mortgage, furnish their house and perhaps even add to their family count.

Well we’ve managed the last one, but H & myself are far from the average couple and very rarely base our decisions on rhyme or reason, although I must say I am a fan of both.

Just over three months ago we felt something in our lives needed to change, we weren’t unhappy but we felt a pulling towards a different life, it was at this point we reminded ourselves of that month we spent aboard the 38ft Catamaran, Pumpkin, whilst sailing around the Philippines. We recalled how we were happy living with the simplest of comforts and the lack of baggage. Granted, it was only a month (well just shy of a month actually),  but we just could not shake that feeling of change.

We set about planning a similar lifestyle. Mission: To live aboard a sea faring boat. Time-scale: 1 – 2 years. Enough time to leisurely scout boats, do some sail training, get funds together and, of course, get used to the idea!

Sorry? Did I say 1 – 2 years? God had a different plan, the mission remained however, and he provided a boat and the means to accomplish the feat within no time at all. Before we knew it we were to be preparing for the move.

The boat which had been provided was Pinafore, a 1983 Prout Quest 31, set out with 2 cabins, a spacious saloon, toilet/washroom, galley, chart table and a spare cabin for storage.

So here we are – 20 days left until we move onto her and begin the next chapter of our life as liveaboards. It’s a daunting time as we still have much stuff to sell, give away and throw out but we are reminded that we are not the only ones to come up against such challenges:

Mark 10:21-22
’21 And Jesus looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.’