The Adventure of a Lifetime
Living on or near the water has always been a way of life for Mindy and Mark Yuknat. The Connecticut couple, who says that they’ve each been boating since they were young, lived aboard Adventure, a 65-foot -long, 900-square-foot yacht for four years.
“It’s not for everybody,” says Mark. “You have to have a pioneer spirit, and you have to be able to adapt.” The Yuknats confess to meeting the criteria, and they will tell you that their boat was aptly named, as living on it was, indeed, an adventure.
One day, Mark read an article about a couple living on The General, a boat they had restored. “I saw them on Block Island, where they shot a cannon off the boat every night, and they seemed to be having so much fun. It got me thinking,” he says.
Making their living as owners of Connecticut River Expeditions, offering cruises up and down the Connecticut River on RiverQuest, the couple found Adventure, a neglected boat that was destined to become scrap. They fixed it up, sold their house, and took up residence on the water. “Our son had gone off to college,” says Mindy, “and we were spending so much time on RiverQuest that we didn’t care about living in the house anymore. We wanted to live on the boat.”
Adventure was comfortable; it had four main rooms, two heads, a full galley, and three decks (including one off their bedroom which became a winter sunroom when they enclosed it in clear awning), and storage in the hold. Life was good, recalls Mark. “Every night Mindy and I would sit up in the pilot house with a glass of wine and watch the sunset, then wake up every morning to a million-dollar view. We were never looking at the same thing. Every minute was different.”
“We moved around a lot,” Mark continues, “with part of each year anchored at a marina. We had a lot of fun, with plenty of room to host parties. One year we had Thanksgiving on the boat with friends, with us doing all the cooking in our galley. Every year we had a New Year’s Eve party. In the winter we had movie nights, where we would invite friends over to watch a DVD on our big screen TV.”
Mindy loves the same things as her husband. “We were surrounded by wildlife and ducks and geese. We’d wake up and see the beautiful Connecticut River. Before I’d go to work [as a project engineer] I’d stop and take pictures of the sunrise. I loved it.” She also appreciated how they were forced to simplify. “Everything had to have its proper place.”
However, life aboard wasn’t always leisurely. There were challenges such as readying the boat for approaching storms and being bounced about by big waves. When there was flooding, Mindy had to trudge through water to get to her car for work. “If the tide was very high, and it was early spring, the water was so cold that it hurt. I’d take off my shoes and roll up my pants. Sometimes I brought a spare pair of pants.”
During the winter, they’d climb up onto the roof to clear off the snow so that it wouldn’t alter the boat’s balance. Filling up their water tank each week was also difficult; they had to drag a hose to the marina’s hook-up, 200 feet away. “It was tough dragging it through the snow,” says Mindy.
Mark adds that “sometimes we were in survival mode. And jumping in and out of the boat was not easy, because it if was low tide, it was a big jump. But all these little hardships went away when the sun came up and we had a beautiful sunrise and a great view. It’s a magical place to be, especially in the winter when there were ice floes, and geese and ducks and the sun and the mist. It was very peaceful in the winter because nobody was around.”
The couple’s escapades aboard Adventure ended when Mark needed back surgery. The big jumps on and off the boat, and climbing up and down ladders, would be out of the question, especially in icy conditions. They’re now renting a house and are in the process of converting Adventure into a commercial boat that they’ll make available for private charters.
Looking back on their time living aboard, Mark pronounces it a success. “This truly was an adventure, and we have no regrets at all.” And yes, he expects that they’ll probably live on a boat again someday.
Top photo and story by Diana Carr