It happens whenever I row up to an anchorage or dock around dusk; heads turn, as sailors of cabin boats scrutinize Row Bird and me. Of course, I always hope they’re noticing my careful scanning of the scene, my skillful approach, or the anchors and mooring lines well organized and ready in my open cockpit. But I’ve been through this routine often enough to know what’s truly on the minds of my fellow boaters: The Question. Find out what the question is over at 48 North Magazine.

Note the tan Sunbrella rain fly to my left.

Here are a few more photos than wouldn’t fit in the article. Setting up my two-layer tent just takes a few minutes.

The tent is long enough that it covers the entire boat fore and aft, which great for rainy nights.

After unfurling the tent and attaching it to the masts, I move all gear to the port side of the boat, make sure the floorboards are dry, lay out a camping pad and sleeping bag on the starboard side and I’m ready for bed.

My systems works pretty well, but I tend to sprawl quite a bit when I’m ensconced for the night. It feels like a teenager’s room with clothes, gear, cooking supplies, and bedding all a jumble. I sleep in the widest part of the boat, head pointing aft.

Sleeping aboard allows me to go places I couldn’t if I had to camp ashore and it keeps all my gear in one mildly convenient place. I still lose stuff though… only I find it hours later when I pack up to depart.