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]

 

Yurt Life

Our good friends and fellow cruisers Eben and Genevieve Stolz live aboard Necesse, a 41′ Morgan Classic sailboat, with their two little girls Arias and Ellia. They share a passion for simplicity and adventure traveling the world with their tiny floating home.

I was reading Genevieve’s blog, It’s A Necessity, and discovered a recent trip they made to visit Eben’s brother Jair, and his family up at their mountain property in Golden, British Columbia.

Jair and his wife Mel have built a yurt, fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, wood burning stove, a bedroom and a loft. They haul their water, live off of solar power, their toilet is not your regular flush toilet, their shower is bucket fed and they are living completely off the grid while they save up enough money to build themselves an Earthship.

The following article featuring the Stolz Family Yurt was originally published by Genevieve Stolz <HERE>. Article and photos republished on Tiny House Blog with permission. *All pictures courtesy of Jair Stolz.

Yurt Life Revisited. By Request.

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It seems there has been some great interest in how our other Stolz family lives, yurt style. It is true that against our better judgment, when we come across something new and strange, what do we do? We gawk at it. So let me allow you to gawk at the yurt in the privacy of your living room.

In my original post on Yurt Life I gave a brief glimpse at how my brother-in-law Jair, his wife Mel, and their two kids, Nova and Asher, are living. They have chosen to live as off-the-grid as possible, and found the yurt to be an ideal home as they save money up to upgrade to building their Earthship. To live in a yurt you don’t have to love yak fat or be a hipster-woodsman, although Jair’s beard did get slightly out of hand at one point. They chose it because it was a cheap alternative, an eco-friendly way of living, and it is cool as heck.

Like everything else in life, having good contacts is a huge bonus. With the help of friends that own a lumber yard, and many friends for manual labor, they managed to save a fair bit of money in the building process. They built it from scratch.

I’m sure that many people would consider a yurt a “tiny home” but with the main floor being around 800 square feet with an additional 100 sq feet of loft space this place isn’t actually that small. And its about 24ft tall from the ground to the tip, which gives you that vaulted ceiling airiness.

One of the things that struck me when seeing this place was the amount of cross pieces required to make the wall portion. Here I thought they had bought them pre-made and just had to bolt them together, but I was totally wrong. They have 125 cross pieces making up the inner wall, each with 9 holes drilled in to them. That means Mel and her friend Dee had to stand at the drill press for hours perfectly aligning every one of these holes. That’s insane!

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The women, hard at work at the drill press.

It took them about 3 months from start to “move in”, and then follow up, of course, the smaller random jobs that they can accomplish while living in the yurt. Jair equated the time to: building the base = 1.5 months of lazy work, the walls = 2 weeks of lazy work, the roof = 1 afternoon with 6 friends helping, and the insulation and cover = 4 long @#* days. And for a little extra motivation to get er’ done while they were building their yurt, they squeezed their family into a 30ft trailer as a temp home.

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The temp trailer settlement while the yurt was underway.

Since they were willing to put in the hard work to build this place themselves, and to take the time to look for good deals, they built their home for about $13K. That was for everything from the gravel underneath, to the solar power, to the yurt cover (which is actually a slightly modified vinyl cone-shaped grain bin cover). And don’t assume that you couldn’t do it because you don’t have the know how. Neither did Jair, but the Stolz men are industrious. They will learn what they don’t know and make it happen. They are amazing like that.

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If this scenario seems dreamy to you and you are keen on doing the same, there are a few things to keep in mind before you jump in head first.

Yes, it is dreamy, they are living up in the woods, with no one around, living off the earth and sun, and doing what they find important for their family. But like boating and many other “odd” lifestyles, living off the grid comes with some harder duties that may not be for everyone. Such as hauling a bucket of your poop out of the house to the compost area, lugging jugs of water in and trying to conserve it (meaning shorter showers, and efficient dish washing), or using a smaller solar power system, restricting you in your energy usage, and totally denying you the use of anything with a heating element (goodbye toast) or plugging in your diesel truck on freezing Canadian mornings. It is hard work but satisfying in a wholesome kind of way.

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The temporary bathroom, until it could be relocated to inside the yurt.

What did they not expect about the yurt life:

The beautiful snowy wonderland that surrounded them last winter, in the mountains near Golden, had them walking a lot more than foreseen. The entire driveway up to their place is about 1.5km long, but with the snow, the last 500 meters of that was completely impassable for about a 2 month period. They had to park their cars at that 500 meter mark and use a snow machine, quad, and their legs to get to and from their yurt. Even their 4×4 was useless. There was just too much of the white fluffy stuff.

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It was a neat experience getting to stay in their yurt and seeing all the similarities that yurt life has to boat life; just swap out snow for ocean. And it is nice to know that if ever we get real sick of what we are doing, there is always the “winter getaway” option.

If you have more specific questions about what and how Jair and Mel did all this, feel free to ask and I will try and get the answers for you.

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The base being built, after the gravel was put in.

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Choosing the view for the kitchen window.

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For more articles and photos from the Stolz Family, be sure to ‘LIKE’ It’s A Necessity on Facebook <HERE>!

Would you live in a yurt? Leave a comment!

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]