Boat Life Isn’t Easy

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Our first year of living on a boat has pushed me both mentally and physically, more than I ever could have imagined. Peter and I love the life we have chosen, but we definitely have our challenges too.

“You don’t know your strength until you know your limits”

-Peter Pieschel, 2014

It took us awhile to get over the initial exhaustion of becoming liveaboards. It takes a LOT of work to live on a boat and for the first month we were just plain exhausted every day. We knew it would get easier and as the weeks passed by, everything eventually did get easier. A year later we are still dog-tired every night but we work and play even harder than before.

Here are just a few of the things that make life on a boat more challenging than it was for us on land:

  • Our muscles are constantly working to keep us balanced since the boat is always moving.
  • When we buy groceries, we have to take a taxi to and from the store, unload the groceries into the dinghy, transport everything out to where the boat is anchored, pass everything from the dinghy up and over the lifelines into the cockpit and down the 5′ vertical ladder into the depths of the boat, then try to make everything fit in the tiny and awkward storage spaces.
  • Sometimes we spend all day catching our own food from the sea.
  • We must be weary of real-life pirates and properly secure our boat, dinghy and belongings.
  • Safety is a priority and the utmost care must be taken to inspect every single component to ensure everything is in working order. Even something as small as a hose clamp could have catastrophic consequences if overlooked.
  • Making sure our anchor is properly set determines how well we sleep at night.
  • Squalls can be on us in a matter of minutes whether we are prepared or not.
  • We need enough wind to sail, but not too much so that it’s dangerous.
  • Our 150 lb dinghy  and outboard motor has to be hauled up on deck for long passages, and returned to the water when we are anchored.
  • Internet in foreign countries is often unreliable and weather reports may not be available.
  • We have to lift a ladder up onto the bed to get the dogs in and out of the cockpit.
  • We haul a 5-gallon bucket of salt water up on deck every time the dogs go potty to rinse the astro-turf.
  • Every time we want to get something out of the fridge we have to stretch our Gumby arms way down to the bottom, take everything out to get to what we want and then put all the other items back in.
  • When we want a pot or a pan, we have to get down on our hands and knees to get it from a locker underneath the stove which extends way down against the hull.
  • When we want to use the kitchen table we lift it down from its latched position against the bookshelf.
  • Taking a shower requires us to jump in the ocean to rinse, lather and repeat before we do a conservative final rinse with fresh water.
  • Power is needed for LOTS of things we once took for granted: lights, fans, radio, cell phone chargers, computers, hot water heater, dehumidifier, navigation instruments, coffee makers, microwave and air conditioning. We have to generate our own power with solar panels, a wind generator, or by running the engine or diesel generator.
  • We make our own water with a machine that converts salt water into fresh water, but only when we have enough power to run the machine.
  • If we need to supplement our water supply, we lug 6-gallon jerry jugs to and from shore, then lift them up onto the boat from the dinghy and slowly pour them into our tanks.
  • When something goes wrong, we have to be very innovative and creative to figure out how to fix it with the tools that we have at hand.
  • When we’re done using something, it has to be put away because there’s no room to leave clutter out and we don’t want it to roll away or break when the boat rocks from a passing wake.
  • When we use dishes, we have to wash them by hand every time we eat.
  • We have to be plumbers, electricians, mechanics, navigators, chefs, fishermen, sailors, excellent communicators and fun-havers.

Living on a boat is much different than living on land. There was a lot to get used to, but it has all become normal to us now. We absolutely LOVE our little home and we say it out loud to each other every day. Its hard work but SO worth it at the end of the day. We maintain our home in such a way to be able to travel across oceans, visit far off lands, and discover beautiful tropical beaches and crystal clear waters. We’re going Where The Coconuts Grow and the wind in our sails will take us there!

This journey has been an incredible education too. As the months go by we continuously learn so many new skills and we learn how to live with ‘less’ all around. We need the basics, safety equipment, gear, a few personal effects and all the rest is just stuff. Our priorities have definitely changed as we work on the boat every day and keep everything in ship-shape. We appreciate the little things we didn’t even notice before. We take a lot less for granted and our happiness increases by the minute.

We do get frustrated sometimes but I think we’re getting better about understanding that we’re both doing our best. Our patience with ourselves and with each other is growing too. Everything we do, we do it as a team and it seems much easier that way. We’re helping each other figure out how to do things we haven’t done before and it’s actually really fun! It’s hard at first to step outside of your comfort zone, but when you do, that’s where the magic happens :)

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After the initial exhaustion wore off a little, Peter has been my primary source of inspiration. His quote about strength and limits really did get me thinking and even though everything we do seems so hard, he always helps me to see things in a positive light instead. We really are stronger than we think we are, and as a good friend once said to me, we have to BELIEVE in ourselves!!

Peter and I have set sail on an adventure of a lifetime with our two dogs and we both feel so lucky that everything has just fallen into place.  It’s one of those moments where we know we’re in the right place at the right time and now is the perfect time in our lives to follow our dreams. We’re young, we are finding strength we didn’t know we had, and we’re throwing our fears and doubts aside in exchange for this amazing opportunity. What better time in our lives than now to travel and see the world? There’s so much beauty and joy out there just waiting to be shared.

We hope our adventures will inspire others to take a leap of faith, step outside your comfort zone and find out where the magic happens. Dreams really do come true, if you believe!!

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

 

Tiny Floating Homes: Dos Libras

Tiny Floating Homes: Dos Libras

Last week I shared a personal story about one of my Favorite Things I brought with me when moving onto a sailboat last year. Inspiration for that post came from my friend and fellow cruiser, Tammy.

Now I’d like to give you a little perspective and introduce you to Tammy’s own tiny floating home. Tammy and her husband Bruce live and cruise on a 45′ sailboat, Dos Libras, with their two cats. Tammy has put together a great article and photo tour of what a typical liveaboard sailboat looks like and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you!

*The following post and photos are being republished with permission from Tammy Swart, originally published on her blog, Things We Did Today. The original post can be found here: <HERE>. 

Cool before it was COOL?

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Never let it be said that I was any kind of trendsetter… I had bangs when nobody wore them… now that I’ve let my hair grow to all one length… the “Cool People” are wearing BANGS!!!

After spending decades aspiring to a bigger house full of more (useless) things… we’ve thrown it all away and moved onto our 45 ft floating home.  It has now come to my attention that there is a new movement afoot… the Tiny House Movement.  HA!  We’re finally on the leading edge of something!!!  We were doing something cool… before it was cool!

Tossing years of collected stuff out and walking away induced a healthy dose of stress.  But once the deed was done, it became less difficult. I will admit that we have not gone “cold turkey”.  We do have a pretty big boat… and we still own a townhouse where some of our things are stored.  But the amazing thing is that I really have to think hard to remember what those things are!!!  (Mom, that doesn’t mean you can start selling things off!)

Moving from almost 2,000 sq. ft. onto this small (comparatively speaking) boat, was accomplished in stages.  We moved onboard two years ago with our favorite things and household items we thought we would need, and then continued bringing things from the house as we needed them for a while. That eventually dwindled to nothing, and then we began to actually take things OFF the boat in the never ending fight against Clutter.

Clutter is a problem in a small space.  If a thing had no designated place, it must either find one or GO!  Every few weeks, usually spurred by a search for something, we identify things that we forgot we had.  Toss!  Now if only we could make good on our vow to never experience Winter again… we could offload about half of the clothes and blankets we carry around and we’d be set!

Fortunately for us, we have a lovely garage v-berth that we use to store things used less frequently where they can be out of sight and out of the way until we need them.  Unfortunately… those things must be shuffled to temporary homes whenever we have guests aboard.

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The garage V-Berth

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Port side v-berth

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Starboard side v-berth

Off the charts on the Clutter Scale!  Don’t get me wrong… we LOVE having guests!  But if you come to visit us, prepare yourself to live as if you’re spending the weekend in the bottom of a teenager’s closet.

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V-Berth as a Guest Room

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V-Berth stuff shuffled to the Aft Cabin

Why would we want to leave all of our STUFF and do this?  Well, the reasons are different for everyone considering downsizing… but for us, it means that we no longer have to divide our time between caring for a home, and cars (and a job) and doing what makes us happy… SAILING!  We can spend our time doing the things that we enjoy doing.  We can travel together and see parts of our country (and the world) that so few people ever see.  Every day can be different from the last… and all the while, we’re snug as bugs in our cozy little home.

Now I’ll get to the fun part, the part where you get to see how we live.  But before I do, I have to say that we are so very lucky to have found this boat.  Lots of Cruisers are living happily with so much less than we have.  And… there are also those who have far more luxurious floating homes…  We have found the perfect niche somewhere in-between… Even “Tiny Houses” can be as individual as the people who live in them.

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Making pancakes in my little Galley

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Galley

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Our “kitchen table” Starboard side saloon

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Our forward head (bathroom)

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Port side settee main saloon and nav station

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My vanity in our aft cabin

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Port side aft cabin showing our drawers and hanging locker

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Our bedroom

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In suite head (bathroom)

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The aft head with designated shower and bathtub

That’s IT!  That’s all there is to it.  Everything you’ve seen shows all of our available living space down below.  We do spend lots of time in the nice center cockpit with full enclosure to keep out the elements.  Our boat has a lot of hidden storage space below the floors and inside the built in furniture.  Living in a home this tiny, the builders have taken maximum advantage of every possible inch of useable space. Are there things we miss about living in a house?  Well sure… Bruce misses having a real garage to store his tools.  I miss having a full size bathtub and our cozy reclining leather chairs that we used to watch TV in upstairs… but the tradeoff is that we now get to lounge on the deck and watch nature and the world go by.

** You can read more about Tammy’s Tiny Floating Home on her blog, Things We Did Today. For more details and specs on Dos Libras, click <HERE>.

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

 

Favorite Things

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Just a few days ago I joined in on a conversation about favorite kinds of coffee mugs for living on a boat. It seemed like kind of a silly question at first, but I started to think about it a little more. I listened to what several others had to say and one comment really stood out to me.

…even if it means having to pick another.

You see… when I first started downsizing in preparation for moving onto a sailboat, I had more things to consider than just how much will fit. Boat life requires a bit of extra planning.

Will it break?

When it does break, do I have something else that can work?

Will it rust?

Will it get moldy?

Will it fade in color?

Will it disintegrate from UV damage?

Will it tip over too easily?

Most liveaboards (people who live on a boat) recommend not bringing glassware or regular dishes on board. For the most part, boats are constantly in motion. While underway it’s very common for anything inside to go flying if not stowed properly with padding placed around breakable items. You know the term, “prepare for lift off,” well, we practice that on a boat too! Sometimes it’s just gonna be a bumpy ride!

Instead of ditching all my glassware and regular dishes, I decided to bring it along anyway and lovingly use each and every piece until they break. I mean, I do still have a vacuum :) It seemed silly to me to either get rid of or store all of my dishes that I spent my hard earned money on and trade them for cheap plastic stuff. Why spend the extra money on going out to buy plastic when I can just use what I have? Sometimes it makes all the difference using a real plate instead of a flimsy, soggy paper plate or a plastic one that has knife marks slashed all over it.

Well, the same goes for a coffee mug. I absolutely LOVE drinking my morning coffee. I’m originally from Seattle… are you surprised? Travel mugs are great but it’s just not the same as holding onto a heavy ceramic mug with one handle and feeling the warmth soak into my hands. It’s that moment, on a cold wintery day, sipping on a sweet white-chocolate-toasted-marshmallow-nonfat-latte, that brings instant comfort to my soul. Do you know the feeling? Even though I now live in the tropics Where The Coconuts Grow, I still LOVE drinking my hot coffee every morning and it brings me JOY!

So back to the original question… My dear friend Tammy replied, “I brought ceramic mugs with wide bottoms (sailing motifs) and a few of my favorite mugs from home when we moved aboard. We’ve lived aboard for two years now and have just had to say goodbye to the second of my faves due to small cracks. I don’t know if they would have eventually broken on land or not… but I have enjoyed having my ‘favorite’ every day on the boat, even if it means having to pick another.” **

I love that! Even if it means I have to pick another… You nailed it Tammy. I’ve also found now that I have spent a good amount of time living on the boat, I’m less attached to THINGS! Stuff breaks all the time and it’s no one’s fault, really. It’s hard enough getting around on a boat without bumping my head or stubbing my toe or drawing blood without even knowing it, let alone preventing things from breaking. Everything breaks on a boat. It’s okay though because they’re just things. When things break, it’s real simple on a boat. Either fix it, or find something else.

Just because I live in a tiny and unforgiving space doesn’t mean I need to sacrifice my favorite things. Like I have explained before, it’s okay to hold on to sentimental things simply because they make me happy. It’s very likely that I’ll find room for them no matter how much space I’m working with. On the flip side, if a sentimental item is accidentally destroyed, I don’t let it ruin my day. I can choose to hold on to the sentimental memories and know that I thoroughly enjoyed that item as long as I could.

My life is so much more simple now. I am not able to just hop in the car and drive to the store to buy another whatchamacallit. It’s much easier to just use what I have and make it work. And if my favorite coffee mug breaks, I’ll just get a new favorite!

**Quoted with permission from Tammy Swart. Tammy and her husband Bruce live and cruise on a 45′ sailboat, Dos Libras, with their two cats. You can see Tammy’s Tiny Floating Home on her blog, Things We Did Today.

What are a few of your favorite things?

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]