What Do We Do With All This Stuff?

Part of “Let’s sell everything and move aboard a boat” involves selling everything — well perhaps not everything, as someday we expect to move back  on the dirt, but ‘most everything.  Our biggest quandary was what do we do with the house?  Yes, the alpacas and all the farm equipment need to go, but the house?


We built this house in 1989, and it is where we raised our two sons.  We have put our hearts and souls into it, but 2,400 square feet and 25 acres are simply more than we need, and a lot to take care of.  Personally, I couldn’t imagine renting our home to people who would not care for it and love it as we have, and the thought of coming home to find it in disrepair was unbearable.  I also didn’t want to be a landlord, dealing with crises while we are cruising.  Eventually we agreed we would put the house on the market in January and hope that it didn’t sell before KATIE MACK was ready.  Hugh has this feeling we are going to end up with 16 alpacas in a Motel 6.  They take pets, don’t they?

Selling the house means deciding what to bring aboard, what to put into storage, and what to sell, give away, or toss.  It means going through every drawer, cupboard, box, closet, and shelf — every nook and cranny.  I had hoped our sons would want some of our things, but other than a couple of prints, some books, the KitchenAid mixer (!) and stuff from their old rooms that was already in boxes, they are all set.  We rented a 22 yard dumpster and filled it — what a relief to clear out all that useless junk!

Hugh has sold quite a few things on eBay, but we have acquired so much STUFF over the past 35 years, that we realized we needed help.  At a boat show we met a dealer in old tools and made an appointment for him to come to the house.  When he left, I added $400 to the cruising kitty!  A marine consignment shop in Rockport sold an old windlass, an anchor, and some other equipment for us — unfortunately he closed the business before he was able to sell everything, but Hugh has since found buyers for the diesel stove and other gear.  I contacted a local auctioneer and antiques dealer who has grown up in the antiques business.  He came over one day and left with a pile of things that he thinks will have a market, but he readily admits the allure of antiques and collectibles is waning.  Someday prices may rebound as demand returns, but the reality right now is there isn’t much of a market except in the very high end.  We have to content ourselves with the thought that these “things” have given us their value in our enjoyment and use, and now it is time for them to do the same for someone else, while we add more funds to the cruising kitty.

One day Hugh was surfing the net as we were talking about continuing to “destash” — the thought of holding multiple yard sales didn’t sit well with him, and we were trying to figure out our next step.  He ran across a business in Biddeford, ME that specializes in holding estate sales, either to help folks like us looking to downsize or to liquidate complete estates.  Ellen Heath and Sandy Gnidziejko of Little River Antiques and Estate Sales met with us and explained how things could work.  In addition to their 35% of the gross, they charge a fee based on hours needed to set up and staff the actual 3-day sale.  Once we signed the contract and agreed on the dates, they came back and went over with us what we planned to keep and what we planned to sell in each room.

Next, they dropped off tables and cloths, and began setting up for the sale.


When the big weekend came, Hugh, Annie (our lab), and I drove over to the White Mountains in New Hampshire for some hiking.  Trust me, you do not want to be at a sale like this and watch your worldly possessions be driven off!  Sandy, Ellen, and their staff were terrific.  They priced, they negotiated, they haggled, and they sold a ton of stuff.  What remained was mostly the kind of thing that if a house burned down would never make it onto the insurance inventory.  A few things we decided to keep back, a few things will go on eBay, and the rest has been hauled away by a guy . . . .

It feels GREAT!

Finding the Little Things to Make KATIE MACK a Home

Although the original plan and budget were set to replace the floor timbers, several frames (many of which had already been sistered), and all planks below the waterline, Hugh’s father always said, “A job worth doing is worth doing right.” That goes along with a friend’s father’s telling her, “If you don’t have the time to do it right the first time, when are you going to have the time to fix it?”  This is the time to do it right.  KATIE MACK will be our home for who knows how long — we may as well start off knowing she is as sound as she can be.

The extra time needed to “do it right” has allowed Hugh to search high and low across the internet for period-appropriate “bits and bobs” (as I call them) of brass and bronze: a showerhead with curtain ring, 8″ portholes, searchlight, fastenings, gauges, hinges, latches, etc.  We are upgrading the electronics — all wiring is being re-done.  It’s amazing what has been cobbled together over the years, but we will be able to sleep well, knowing the wiring is all ABYC-compliant.  New safety features are being added after a great deal of research: automatic engine room fire extinguishing system; smoke, fire, CO, and propane fume detectors; engine coolant water flow alarm; high water alarm in bilge; GPS/AIS multifunction display (MFD) — no radar yet; PFD’s for dog and humans with alarm sensors in case one of us falls overboard, InReach Explorer by DeLorme, and much more.

“Bits and bobs” accumulating in the cellar

Hugh found a teak hatch cover from a Canadian minesweeper that will serve as the sole (floor) of the head.  Underneath is a copper pan for the shower drainage. The head now reminds us of the W.C.’s in London’s B & B’s which have a drain in the center of the tile floor, with no separate shower stall.  All plumbing will be new.

A new-in-box Shipmate wood-fired cookstove from the 50’s is replacing the diesel stove in the galley, and the stainless steel surround has new insulation behind it.

Shipmate woodstove fit check
Shipmate woodstove fit check

We will be spending plenty of time in New England waters which get chilly, even in summer.  Wood is readily available as driftwood and in boatyards.  When we find ourselves in warmer climates, we have electric oven and propane stovetop options.

It’s these little things that will help make KATIE MACK a very special home.