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? 😉



Life in the Bubble (shrinkwrapped in Portland, Maine) — 2 Comments

  1. Hi Leah, haven’t heard form you for a while on OMentoring, and remembered you have your own blog (how could I forget, must be age). Glad to her everything is going well. I love the way you pack your boat. It looks more professional this year.

    Miss your comments on OM. When do you plan your next big trip?

    Well you are right, winter does suck. Although my 4 year old boy, has been really excited about the snow. But, I bet he would be excited about a warm beach in Mexico too. I wish you the best for 2017. Dave

    • Hey Dave!! I know, I miss the Omentoring community a lot!! It’s nice to have a group of “bums” that understand non-traditional goals to hang out with 🙂 How’s trading going for you?

      We’re *always* planning our next trip while simultaneously working on refilling the cruising kitty and taking care of Brio. The new engine is essentially us re-committing to Brio as “our boat” for the foreseeable future… a decision we’ve struggled with quite a bit over the last couple years! 10-foot-itis is a real thing… 😉

      Winter has been kind to us so far… although we’re installing a bus heater with the new Beta 25, in hopes of extending the short Maine cruising season 🙂 We’ll see how that goes!!

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