Monday, June 18, 2012

Moving on Board a Sailboat

Sunset off our stern

When I say that I live on a boat, the most common refrain is “How do you live in such a small space?” and I like to say, “with pleasure!” 

I’ll admit that at first I was a little worried how the transition would go – especially after I figured out that our actual living space equates to just 245 square feet!  WHY did I figure that out again?????  Did I really need to know that number?  No I did NOT!!!  

When we first moved on board, which was in August of 2009, there was definitely a lot to learn.  The first couple of weeks Brett and I started to refer to it as “learning the dance”.  Invariably, you always want to be exactly on the other side of where your partner is standing.  Because our boat is fairly narrow, we are left with two choices – either squeeze by (in a HIGHLY familiar manner) or to simply wait for your spouse to move out of the way.  We soon learned that having a sort of unspoken schedule of events in the morning helped move things along.  Brett showers a little earlier so that he’s out of the head when I need access.  He makes his lunch while I get ready for work in the aft cabin.  I make my lunch while he has his coffee and watches the morning news.  You get the idea.  By making sure we don’t need to be in the same area at the same time, we avoid those little frustrations that might build into something bigger.

Another big adjustment was the moisture issue.  You can’t meet another live-aboard in the northwest without eventually landing on the topic of how they keep their boat dry.  Two people living in a small space produce a LOT of moisture – we are composed of almost 60% water after all! We quickly learned that if we didn’t want it to rain inside, we were going to have to make a few changes.  In the dead of winter it was highly important to not cook anything that created a lot of steam unless we could open the hatch. Showering onboard also increases the moisture level, so we choose to use the marina showers instead.  But what made the biggest difference of all?  Buying a big dehumidifier from Home Depot.  That dehumidifier is the best purchase we ever made (hands down!) while still living dockside.  We run it every day while we are at work and always pull at least a ½ gallon of water out of the air – EVERY DAY!  After our first winter we spent the next summer completely insulating the hull above water line (taking every cabinet apart to get behind it!).  We also installed fans behind the walls to help move air around when humidity is especially high.  Making all of these changes made a HUGE difference and our boat is dry and extremely comfortable now. 

Another big deal is that you can’t just go buy stuff anytime you feel like it – because now you have to think about where you will put it.  With a limited amount of space, every item has its place – so if you bring something new on board you likely are also taking something off.  That gives you a different perspective when you are walking around Fred Meyer, looking at the gazillion different items they offer and you feel like doing a little “shopping-therapy.  So now I think about how every dollar I don’t spend on useless junk is going into the kitty towards our new cruising life – definitely an excellent motivator!  But on those days where I just need to buy…..something…..I usually settle for a nice little treat for us – like some shortbread cookies and good quality chocolate.  We will always have room for chocolate! 
Bella Vita always has plenty of cheese and wine on board!

So what are my favorite and least favorite things about living on a boat?  Nature and NATURE!  During the dead of winter when it’s blowing 25 knots in the marina, raining sideways and I have to walk the ¼ mile roundtrip to the shower – I sorely detest nature!  It is really miserable on those days and I find myself envying friends and family that take the short steps from bedroom to shower completely for granted.  But on the good days……oh the good days!  In early spring when the first bird of the season starts singing, when you can literally watch the buds growing on the trees and then springing open, when the whole world around you is literally coming to life – it’s suddenly 100% worthwhile.  I LOVE how much closer I feel to nature and my surroundings since I’ve been living on a boat – and I wouldn’t change this experience for anything.

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