If you would like to be a guest in my tiny house, there are a few things you should know…
When I first told my family and friends I was going to move onto a boat and sail away, they all thought I was crazy! I mean, who does that, really?
After just a few months of sharing stories and photos of all the amazing adventures Peter and I are having, everyone became a little more intrigued in this “life less ordinary.” The questions moved from WHY to HOW. They wanted to know more about how we live in such a tiny space, with two dogs, and without being at each other’s throats.
They wanted to know if we have fresh water, if we have toilets, if we can cook and if we have power. They thought it all sounded so cool, so easy and fun! Then, we started actually having our friends and family come stay with us on the boat. It usually takes a few days for our guests to adjust to our lifestyle. We LOVE having visitors, but we also understand that our way of life is not for everyone. For the most part, you either love it or you hate it. We, of course, love our crazy life on the water!
Preparing Our Guests
How do we prepare our guests for what they are about to experience? It’s harder than you think. It may all sound good over the phone but living on a boat is something you really can’t understand until you have actually done it.
Here are just a few things to keep in mind before planning a visit:
- Clothing – We are in the tropics. It’s HOT. For the ladies, bring a couple bikinis, cover-ups, sun dresses, tank tops and shorts. No long pants! Maybe a light zip-up or jacket for the evenings if you tend to get chilly. For the fellas, be sure to bring a couple pairs of swim trunks and t-shirts. That’s it – really. It rarely gets colder than 80-degrees! Oh, and bring enough undies for your entire trip. You may not get a chance to do laundry!
- Dirty Laundry – We do have a small washing machine on board but it takes a lot of power and a lot of water to run it. Most places we visit have a Laundromat nearby if you really need one, but down here in the islands it’s not uncommon to wear the same clothes over and over again. Same goes for beach towels and bath towels. We hang them up to dry outside and reuse them again the next day. You don’t need to bring your own unless you have a favorite beach towel you like to use.
- Shoes – Bring a pair of flip flops for your arrival and one pair of comfortable shoes for the airport and your return to your home climate.
- PJ’s - We usually have a nice Caribbean breeze in the winter evenings, but sometimes the wind dies down making it really hot inside the cabin. Bring light and comfortable clothing to sleep in.
- Bedding – We supply our guests with pillows and sheets. We can always give you a blanket, but we sincerely doubt you’ll ask for one. Please remember this is not a hotel and you won’t get your own queen size bed. In fact, you won’t even get a mattress. The sleeping arrangements are comprised of foam cushions so if you don’t like camping you probably won’t like sleeping on our boat. It’s not terrible, but it’s probably not what you are used to. If you don’t mind crashing on a friends’ couch, you’ll love it!
- Baggage – Leave your baggage at home. Seriously. Not only do we want you to leave your stress behind, we want you to leave your suitcases too! Please do not bring any suitcases or bags that have frames in them. Whether you check your luggage or just bring a carry-on, make sure it can be folded, fully collapsed or easily stuffed into small places. Your sleeping quarters will be reduced proportionately by how much stuff you bring.
- Hair Styling – Leave your curling iron, hair dryer and straightener at home. We swim in the ocean every day and no one cares what your hair looks like out here. Instead, bring a few rubber bands, hair clips, headbands or hats. If anything, you’ll want to get it tied up and out of the wind as quickly as possible.
- Makeup – Bring it if you must, but you probably won’t want to bother with it once you arrive. Before I moved aboard I was a little hesitant at just the thought of reducing my makeup application from daily to maybe once a month. Now, I prefer only putting on makeup two or three times a year for special occasions. If you like to wear makeup to the beach, you very well might want it on a boat too. For me, mascara and saltwater don’t mix
- Toiletries – We have shampoo, conditioner, soap and toothpaste if you prefer to use ours, but feel free to bring your favorite items along. Bring a bathroom bag to keep them nice and tidy so they don’t go flying when the boat is under way. We have sunscreen and bug spray but you’re welcome to bring more.
- Clean Feet – Just like you might remove your shoes before entering your home, we leave our shoes in the dinghy. This prevents sand, black scuffs and dirt from getting all over our decks and inside the boat. If our feet are dirty or salty, we rinse them off with fresh water from a hose at the back of our boat before coming inside. We do everything we can to keep saltwater out. Saltwater that ends up inside our boat will attract and retain moisture, making everything feel wet. Salt is also extremely corrosive. Please respect our home and help keep the salt in the ocean.
- Showering – Okay, you might not like this one, but we take our daily showers off the back of the boat. We shower at the end of the day when the temperature begins to cool down a little. If we were to shower in the morning it would be a waste of water since it’s inevitable that we get hot and sweaty during the day no matter what we are doing. Before the sun goes down we jump in the salt water, lather up on the swim ladder, jump back in the water to rinse, then repeat. For the final rinse we use the fresh water hose on the back of the boat to rinse off all the salt water before coming back inside. We also rinse off with fresh water after every time we go swimming.
- Fresh Water – We make our own. We have a watermaker on the boat that converts salt water into fresh water at a rate of 6 gallons per hour. We can only run the watermaker when we have enough power during the peak hours of the day when the most sunlight is hitting our solar panels. It’s difficult to keep up on making enough fresh water, especially for guests that aren’t used to being conscious of their water usage. Please do your best to conserve water. It comes at a premium on a boat!
- Dirty Dishes – We let the dogs clean our plates, or brush food scraps into the water. We avoid stinky trash and try not to let any food particles go down the sink drain in fear of a clog. We don’t stack dirty dishes because it takes more fresh water to clean off the back side of a plate unnecessarily. We scrub dirty dishes with soap and a lightly wetted sponge, then carefully rinse with low water pressure to conserve fresh water. We never leave the water running!
- Electricity – Our power comes from the sun and the wind. If we need to charge our batteries more than what the solar panels and wind generator can provide, we run our inboard 5KW diesel generator.
- Cell Phones, Laptops and Cameras - If you need to plug something in we have to run our inverter which takes more power to run. We can do it occasionally, but don’t expect to be able to plug things in whenever you want. If you have a 12-volt car charger, bring it!! This will allow you to charge your device at any time on our boat. If not, your charging time with a wall charger will be limited.
- Internet – The ability to connect to the internet varies greatly depending on which country we are in. We are currently in the U.S. Virgin Islands with US cell and data services available and we can boost signal to you if your service doesn’t work here. You can use our laptop to check messages if we can pick up an open wifi signal with our long-range booster, otherwise you’ll have to wait until you can get a wifi signal at a restaurant. Connection speeds are often painfully slow and far from what most people are used to.
- Toilets – Our potties are manual pump marine toilets and are referred to as ‘the head’. You pump in salt water to flush. Due to the size and inaccessible locations of our plumbing lines, we have taken the advice of other cruisers and opted to NOT flush toilet paper into our lines. All toilet paper and feminine products are placed in a lined trash can next to the toilet. This may sound gross but it’s common practice in most boats and also in foreign countries with less than quality sewer systems. The last thing we want is clogged toilet paper in the lines! We empty the trash frequently and keep the windows open. It’s really not as bad as it sounds.
- Strange Noises - You’ll hear noises you’re not used to hearing. We spent months identifying all the strange sounds on our boat when we first moved aboard and now we know instantly when something doesn’t sound right. We can even tell how much wind there is by the harmonics it makes on our rigging. Try to relax and let us worry about the noises.
- Sea Legs – It may take about a day or two to get your sea legs. Some people take to the ocean naturally, and some have a harder time getting used to the rocking of the boat. Bring seasickness medication if you know you’ll need it. Being sleepy is much better than being sick. After awhile it will feel more strange to be on land than on the boat!
- Finding Food – Help yourself to whatever you can find inside our boat but feel free to ask for help getting it out. Our cupboards and fridge are like a Rubik’s Cube where everything has to be carefully arranged to make it all fit. Lucky for me I love to organize
- Physical Abilities – Unfortunately, visiting our boat requires a fair amount of physical abilities. The primary method for boarding our boat is by climbing up the swim ladder on the stern, then up and over our stainless steel railing. Once on deck, you take a step up, then two steps down into the cockpit. To reach the main cabin, choose from one of our two 5′ vertical companionway ladders. Watch your step, hang on tight and remember to descend backwards taking six steps before reaching the cabin floor. Practice your squats and lunges before you arrive and be prepared for a mini-workout just to move around our home.
- Must Love Dogs – Having pets in a small space means there is no separation between you and the dogs. First and foremost, this is their home, not yours. Be prepared to have them sit next to you on the couch, lick you for attention and try to sit on your lap. They love to share your pillows with you and think cuddling is what they were born to do. The dogs have free roam down below and are usually in the cockpit with us when up top. They are big and in your face. Don’t be surprised to see dog hair everywhere – despite vacuuming all the time it never goes away. We have a specific routine to feed them and take them potty at certain times of the day so just know we need to attend to our furry children before we can attend to you.
- Don’t Forget – You’ll need a pair of sunglasses and a smile! (Polarized lenses are best).
Think you could stand to come stay in my tiny floating home? Please, be my guest!