Dual Purpose Pillows

by Connie McBride

From a three-bedroom Cape Cod in a quiet neighborhood, we moved our family, including three small boys, into a home of less than 300 square feet. With our new home came a new lifestyle: we were now “cruisers,” living and traveling on a small sailboat. We had planned and schemed for years and were confident that we could both live in small spaces, and comfortably raise our family while traveling through the Caribbean. When the five of us tried to move what we considered “essentials” onboard, though, the space quickly shrank.

While I was chastising the boys for bringing too many toys and my husband, Dave, for his multiple lockers full of tools, I discovered that I too had overestimated our boat’s capacity. I was left with 10 sarongs and skirts that would not fit in my clothes locker. After questioning why I even own 10 sarongs and skirts, Dave jokingly gave me the same solution we had been telling the boys, “Guess you’re going to have to sleep with them.”

cat and pillow

I glanced at the throw pillows we had inherited with the boat but planned to throw away. The stuffing was mildewed and not worth trying to save, but the shells were salvageable. I smiled, thanked Dave for the suggestion, then got to work.

I cut along one seam of each pillow, removed the stuffing, washed the shell and sewed Velcro on the inside of each cut edge. Next, I folded the clothes to the width of the pillow and rolled them, placing them on top of each other, filling the shell. I Velcroed the edge shut to complete the “pillow.”

After a few years we replaced these aged pillow shells with covers designed to go over throw pillows. They have a flap on the back, eliminating the need for Velcro. I have learned not to store anything with zippers or buttons in the pillows because we do still lean and lay on them. These clothes storage pillows are uncharacteristically heavy, but they are comfortable and look good. Best of all, I don’t have to sleep with sarongs and skirts.

Connie McBride

pillow cover

Liveaboard Life: A Tiny Home at Sea

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to go out with a friend on the bay in a small boat they plan to live in part time. It gave me a chance to see what it would be like to live on a boat. Teresa Carey shares her experience here.

When Teresa Carey lost most of her possessions in a house fire years ago, she felt liberated.  “I didn’t miss a thing. It was almost like a burden lifted off my shoulders.”

This was the first step toward a more minimalist lifestyle. The second motivating catalyst was her decision to life aboard her sailboat. Before making the move she began to downsize her stuff keeping only what would fit in her car. When she finally made her move to her 27 foot sloop she had given away or sold the majority of her belongings.

Today, Teresa lives on her sailboat Daphne with no flush toilet or shower, an icebox for a refrigerator, no television and few electronics. She doesn’t see it as a sacrifice, but as an opportunity to live a bigger life unfettered by her possessions.

In this video, Teresa gives us a tour of her boat and shows us a few days in the life of a liveaboard.

Video via faircompanies.com

Living on a Boat

I’m sure many people like me have had the romantic dream of living aboard a boat: being rocked to sleep by gentle waves and waking up to new neighbors in the marina, chatting with friends over drinks in your cockpit while cooking a freshly caught fish on a tiny stove. Having your home on the water can be both extremely rewarding and more work than you ever thought.

People who live on boats are probably the top experts on how to live in a small space and how to conserve limited water and power.

Courtesy of Bumfuzzle.com

Courtesy of Bumfuzzle.com

Courtesy of Bumfuzzle.com

Living on a boat does take some adjustments to the way that you would live in a house. Space is a major factor when living on a boat and every inch needs to be used effectively. While most boats are built with an eye on efficient storage, you will have to downsize your possessions quite a bit to get things to pack neatly into the boat.

Life Lessons: Moving onto a Boat

Living on a boat is also different from living in a small house. Water and weather is a constant threat to the integrity of your home and your comfort. While many newer boats have everything you need for comfort, some older, less expensive boats may need constant upkeep and maintenance. The ability to know your boat inside and out, and be able to make repairs yourself can save you big headaches and bills.

Courtesy of Toast Floats

Courtesy of Toast Floats

Once you do have a boat, if you are not cruising, you will need to find a marina or dock you can rent or buy. Prices for docks vary for different areas. They are usually priced by the foot or the yard. However, not all marinas are liveaboard friendly. Many marinas consider someone who lives on their boat as a transient. On the other hand, you can find a few marinas that offer showers, storage, laundry facilities, electricity and cable TV to liveaboards.

If you are able to create your own power (many boats come with solar panels), haul your own water and wastewater and be as self-sufficient as possible, you may be able to live very cheaply on anchor or on a mooring ball.

Dock Search is a database of docks and marinas around the world for rent and for sale. Some offer liveaboard options. Marinas.com shows aerial and map views of marinas around the world.

Mark Nicholas, who lives on a sailboat, has written the book, The Essentials of Living Aboard A Boat, and also has some interviews with liveaboards that are available as video podcasts. His blog also has loads of information and links about how to be a successful liveaboard.

I found some additional excellent blogs, videos and websites about living aboard a boat and each covers the issues of space, boat problems and maintenance, cruising, cooking and docking.

Living On A Boat: One Woman’s Transition to Living Onboard A Boat

Toast Floats: A Family of Five Living on a Catamaran

Sleeping with Oars: Living on a 47 foot Hans Christian Traditional

We Live On a Boat: Family of Four Living on a 40 foot River Queen

On the Boat Where She Lives
Hillary Johnson is a writer who lives on her 35 foot sloop, Surprise in Ventura County, Calif.

Landlubbers No More

So You Want to Buy a Boat: Liveaboards in the UK

Living Aboard Magazine

Although they no longer live on their boat, Bumfuzzle, Patrick and Ali Schulte have an excellent blog about their travels aboard the 35 foot catamaran.

They now live and travel happily in their VW panel van. But that’s another story.

By Christina Nellemann

Courtesy of Sleeping with Oars

Courtesy of Sleeping with Oars

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