Life in the Bubble (shrinkwrapped in Portland, Maine)

We’re optimistically referring to “life in the bubble” again, so it must be winter in Maine! 🙂


Some days I feel like our current life is not all that adventurous — we aren’t crossing oceans or collecting passport stamps, and I don’t have a great answer to “when’s your next sailing adventure?!”. Heck, I have a REGULAR full-time job that I love (I always thought people who said they loved their jobs were just flat out liars), we have bills and cars and health insurance and all the trappings of a regular ole life.

But every now and then someone will find out that yes, we really do live on a sailboat, and yes, that means even in winter, and I’m reminded that this, too, is an adventure.

Just of a different variety 🙂

DiMillos Boater's Party - December 2016

Recently a co-worker said, “don’t take this the wrong way, but you look so… NORMAL. I never would have guessed you live on a boat!” 🙂 I think it was a compliment, but I also get it. Permanent liveaboards especially seem to have a reputation for being unshowered, cheap, slum-living bums.

When I was 8, my best friend asked me if we lived on a boat because we were poor. I didn’t know the answer. Maybe?!

21 years later, I know that’s not why we live on Brio. Boats are damn expensive, guys! But I don’t have a satisfactory sound-bite for why we love living aboard so much, especially in Maine in the winter.

It’s not a life that I remember choosing… there was no vision card with images of snowy docks or frozen water lines. No hopeful “letter to the future Leah” that included dreams of shrinkwrapping and Newport Dickinson stoves.

Instead, it just sort of… happened. We knew we wanted to sail Brio to Maine, we tried spending a winter in a house, and the loneliness / misery of that winter made the decision to try a winter on the boat dead simple.


And that first winter really was a trial. People had told us that they loved living aboard in the winter, that in some ways it was even better than living aboard in the summer, and I just assumed they were job-loving liars too. Who could love the winter??

But we promised each other that if it sucked, we’d bail and rent a house, no questions asked, and it went…. really well? We had just as much fun living aboard in the winter as we’d had in the summer (I still can’t quite say that I prefer winter to summer… summer in Maine is hard to beat).


So here we are… fully into our second year as Maine winter liveaboards. This year we didn’t even talk about other options — we knew we wanted to spend the winter at DiMillos. This is home!


We shrinkwrapped just before we left for Vancouver for Christmas… 17 days away from the boat in the middle of winter, would she do alright? We hadn’t left Brio unattended for this long since our Mexico days, but thankfully Jon’s mom offered to check in on our home for us while we were gone.

We left the heater on low, doubled up our docklines, and didn’t look back. Knowing someone would check the bilges (dry!) and keep an eye on the shrinkwrap in the big storms (intact!) made leaving MUCH easier.



Christmas with family is my absolute favourite.

The highlight this year was sneaking in some matching pyjamas (fabric designed by my sister!) and a quick trip to LA to visit Jon’s brothers and soak up as much LA-sunshine as our very pale, frosty bodies could absorb 🙂



Side note: Did you know grapefruits grow in California? Like, on trees in backyards? #mindblown

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Now we’re home, settling in for the real winter to begin and contemplating 2017 and all that it might bring. Why do we love living on Brio? Because it’s an always-evolving, ever-changing experience that brings freedom and challenge in (mostly) equal parts!

Along these lines, the top of the current life-list is installing a brand new engine in Brio 🙂

First we just have to figure out how to get the 460 lb old engine out of the boat… think it’ll fit through the door? 😉


Nothing better than a sister (visiting in Portland, Maine)

My sister came to visit. She’s not really keen on the whole boat thing, or the cold, or being on a boat in the cold, so this was quite an exciting occasion 🙂

My two favourite people in the ENTIRE world

We put a little effort into her arrival, starting with a new halyard to hold our bosuns chair lifting-tackle setup 🙂 (Look at that beautiful bold color!!)

A new halyard for the lifting tackle

This system worked out quite nicely…

Lifting tackle and bosuns chair for accessible boating!

…down the hatch she goes!

Down the hatch she goes

We stuck her as near to the Newport Dickinson as we could, but she still found Brio a little chilly…

Jess looking chilly inside Brio

Although she did appreciate our Christmas decor!

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Jon sometimes refers to us as “the Kruger whoos” (from the Grinch) — we sisters are seriously into Christmas. Please note the matching toques (complete with battery-powered LEDs 🙂 )

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According to my iPhone, Jess and I spent her week here primarily taking pictures of ourselves #selfiesistersforever2016-11-27-08-42-43 2016-11-24-10-19-09

Although we did manage to get the girl a good lighthouse picture 🙂


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And take in some of the Christmas lights around town…


And OF COURSE, eat some lobsters 🙂


Jess was so in love with her lobster that she arranged for her flight to be cancelled so she could spend one extra unexpected night in Maine 😉 A delightful surprise for us, a bit of an annoyance for her! 2016-11-28-18-39-40-1

Don’t wait 4 years to come back bubz!


Venturing out in November (Richmond Island, Maine)

We thought we might have seen the back of our sailing season, but we snuck another weekend in…
Portland Harbor on a November Day

Left our “summer slip” for the last time (we’re in our “winter slip” now, much closer to shore and a little more protected from big weather — shrinkwrapping is not far away!)
Brio's last day in her summer slip at DiMillos

More Leah artsy attempts

November sailing!

Not leaving until mid-afternoon meant I had all sorts of opportunities to take sunset pictures 🙂 Winch and the sunset


Although we did manage to get the anchor down before the sun completely disappeared…


Giving us a chance to try out our Newport Dickinson for *real*… One fun side effect of running the heater is we can boil water on top of it — this is my first cup of “heater tea” for the night.


Tea aside, we got completely COOKED by the heater — 80*F in the cabin after 4 hours of continuous running — so turned it off and went to bed. Woke up freezing (as expected), and started her up again.

(By which I mean, I laid in bed under the covers while Jon started the heater and made the first few cups of coffee, stalling for the approximately 30 minutes that it takes to get the whole cabin warm again before I dared venture out from under the down duvet!!)

Brio at anchor at Richmond Island

Richmond Island is a beauty, connected to the mainland by a LOOOONG breakwater.  Richmond Island, Maine

We ventured ashore in the morning to explore a little, landing on the super nice sandy beach…

Landing - beautiful       Richmond Island, Maine - Trail Leah and Jon on Richmond Island, Maine  Richmond Island, Maine

Of course by the time we’d finished our explorations, the skies had darkened, the anchorage was a lee shore and we had 15-20 on the nose. “The Windex Points The Way” seems to always be true on the good ship Brio! Or maybe it’s operator-error…. 🙂

Leaving- here come the headwinds

We had a bit of an “energetic” bash back to Portland, including a nice little hail storm to round out our weather conditions…

November sailing in Maine - hail

But at the end of the day, it’s the sunset sails and the morning explorations that you remember, not the hail and the headwinds… right?? 🙂


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