Be My Guest

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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Don’t Forget – You’ll need a pair of sunglasses and a smile! (Polarized lenses are best).

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Think you could stand to come stay in my tiny floating home? Please, be my guest!

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

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Carol - January 9, 2015 Reply

Love it! It is awful tough for outsiders to get used to a small space that isn’t theirs. For me it is comfortable, but when family pops by it is fun to watch their faces as they step in the door and sort of look around in shock as to where they are going to go, so I can imagine that it must be even funnier for you. It is one thing to think you are prepared another to actually see it.
I love the “must love pets” part! I have the same issue, I have two big and two small in my wee space and if you don’t like them you are free to meet up elsewhere. I don’t mind if you don’t want to hang out in my space.
Love reading your posts! They are entertaining and enlightening!

    Jody Pountain - January 9, 2015 Reply

    Carol, thank you!! It is kind of funny to watch others adapt, thinking back to how it was when I adjusted.

    I’m so glad you liked the pets part… I agree, I’m happy to meet friends and family somewhere else if they don’t want to get cozy with us 😉

    Thanks for commenting!

Marcia Weber - January 9, 2015 Reply

Your lifestyle sounds wonderful to me, and it certainly appears to be working for you. Such freedom!

scott h. - January 9, 2015 Reply

hey there ya’ll…yeah yeah I know I got an accent….funny thing is I go up North and within a matter of moments I have garnered an accent? heres the funny part send a Northern boy down here, we git ‘im talk’n rite in a couple of days! ha…
boat living? oh yeah, love the 80(X3)rule. had a houseboat, currently building a boat(built a barn to build a boat). potty training guests…hmmm, rebuilding your masticator quickly becomes a “dark and lonely” job….dark I’m tellin’ ya!!!! keep livin’ the dream….blessings to you and your children….scott

Cookie Johnson - January 9, 2015 Reply

LOVE this list!! We are currently living aboard and working ashore until we can build the cruising kitty, but most of it applies even while at dock!! Hope you don’t mind if I use it!!

    Jody Pountain - January 9, 2015 Reply

    Cookie, thanks!! Glad you found it helpful 🙂 Please share away. And if you want to revise it to fit your boat, feel free. Original link credit is always appreciated 😉

Gerald Bonchek - January 9, 2015 Reply

Hello:
Your floating home is amazing.
Thanks for posting your pictures, We had our dog for over 16 years until Louis got ill. Now I am forced to live with cats .lol
Gerald Bonchek

    Jody Pountain - January 9, 2015 Reply

    Gerald, thank you!! Gunner is almost 14 and getting up there. I don’t think Betsy would like it if we brought cats on board 🙂
    Fair winds!

Jackie Parry - January 9, 2015 Reply

A well thought through and concise article – well done! 🙂

Joe Fahy - January 9, 2015 Reply

What are your dog safety procedures/equipment?

Thanks

Helen & Joe

    Jody Pountain - January 9, 2015 Reply

    Hi Helen and Joe,
    We selected Kyjen’s Outward Hound lifejackets for our dogs. You can read more about why we chose this kind here:
    http://www.wherethecoconutsgrow.com/2014/04/keeping-our-dogs-safe-at-sea-outward-hound-life-jackets/

    We tether them into the cockpit in really bad weather and take extra care when taking them potty on deck during a passage.

    For the most part, they keep US safe in some of the countries down-island.

      Joe Fahy - January 12, 2015 Reply

      Thank you very much.

      We have a Pembroke (tail broke- docked tail) Corgie and Osprey has no appreciable gunwale, just a 2″ high aluminum extrusion toerail and relatively narrow sidedecks . Lassie( original, I know) is only 13″ at the shoulder and built like a long, low, dense meatloaf. I am worried that she could topple over the side. We have considered putting up mesh netting from the lifelines to the toerail. Other than the astethics, any comments on the playpen mesh and small dogs?

      Thanks,

      Helen & Joe
      s/v Osprey

Andy. Kapuscinski - January 9, 2015 Reply

Thank you for your list
I love your boat and your lifestyle
My wife Melissa and I and have a dream to live like you one day ,
Right now we own a 25C Catalina , and we are in Connecticut on the Long Island sound
It was 5 below this morning I enjoyed reading your list and looking over your pictures.
Thank you
One of these days we will make it out to an island like they one you are on so we can enjoy a some time in the tropics

    Jody Pountain - January 9, 2015 Reply

    Andy, it sounds as though you’re already on your way! Keep the dream alive, it’s closer than you think. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, if for any reason then just to keep your inspiration going.

    Hope to see you and Melissa down here soon! 🙂

Phil Washburn - January 9, 2015 Reply

I’m a dog lover, my second best friend in the world is named Melton and he’s 40lbs and 20 inches tall. Also, I’m a bit of a slob, don’t mind messes of any kind and in fact seem to attract them, but letting the dogs clean the plates. That would take some major mental adjustment. Also, how do you take a dog to potty on a boat. I’d love to know.

    Jody Pountain - January 9, 2015 Reply

    We sanitize our dishes thoroughly 🙂 We keep a piece of astroturf on deck, tied to the lifelines with paracord. We’re thankful our dogs don’t need to go to shore 4x a day and that they have no trouble going on deck.

Mark - January 9, 2015 Reply

Well you got that list about right although you may be asking them to bring far too many clothes. What a wonderful life this is.

Sue - January 9, 2015 Reply

Good points all round. We lived aboard while cruising the Bahamas for 6 months with our 4 month old and 3 year old sons. Many people thought we were crazy to take our very young children on this trip and wondered how we would make it work, but it was nothing short of spectacular! Our schooner was 37′ but it’s design below was very narrow and not at all spacious. We lived simply and adapted easily (in many of the ways you outline). I treasure the memories and the part it played in shaping our lives and our relationships. Planning the next adventure… can’t wait!

    Jody Pountain - January 10, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story Sue! It’s hard for some people to understand. Of all the cruising families we’ve met (most with small children) all of them are incredibly happy! Their kids are all very intelligent and so well-rounded. It’s an amazing experience. I’m excited for your next adventure! I’d love to hear about it when you begin… feel free to contact me through my website!

Leyanne Battle - January 9, 2015 Reply

excellent article! thanks for sharing

Heather - January 9, 2015 Reply

Dogs aren’t my cup of tea, but otherwise sounds like a dream! My family has been chasing boat life but hasn’t yet been able to realize it. I hope someday to have a similar list for our visitors. 🙂

    Jody Pountain - January 11, 2015 Reply

    Thanks Heather! Completely understandable. Dogs aren’t for everyone, but to each their own! I hope you are able to find your boat life soon 🙂 Fair winds!

Mary Grace - January 10, 2015 Reply

Jody, this is a great list!
It actually helps me right now as I think about what to move onto the boat and what to leave behind. SO easy to think I “need” more than I do, especially clothing.
Safe travels to you and Peter.
Mary Grace

    Jody Pountain - January 11, 2015 Reply

    Mary Grace – I’m so glad 🙂 I brought way more things than I have ever used in the last year, but that’s okay too. There’s always time to reevaluate!

Bob Ratcliff - January 11, 2015 Reply

You couldn’t have written a more precise yet sincerely warm article. Your lovely sailboat is just the environment. It’s your heart that would make time in your world some of the most special ever lived. For 7 years my wife and me had a 27 sloop but then an accident forced my into a class III wheelchair plus some other radical medical situations that took away the best chapter we ever shared. Only those who’ve cleaned up with their bucket of precious fresh water in the self bailing cockpit followed by a cocktail and an evening of stargazing can appreciate then wonderful life you’re enjoying:)

    Jody Pountain - February 13, 2015 Reply

    Wow thank you for the kind words Bob! I’m sorry to hear of the accident, though I’m sure the memories you once made on your boat were memories you’ll cherish forever. You, I know, can definitely appreciate the stories I tell here 🙂

Stacy Najar - January 17, 2015 Reply

Jody such a wonderful article you really hit all the highlights for us novice sailors! Your graciousness and hospitality was so appreciated, you taught us a lot about the daily riggers of boat life and all the hard work you both do to maintain your home, we feel so blessed to have been welcomed into your beautiful home on the water!! It was such an incredible experience and I cant wait to do it again….less clothes this time lol! I miss the puppy kisses, drinking coffee and enjoying the serenity, swimming in beautiful blue waters, Peters daily jokes and your amazing meals!! It was a trip.of a lifetime, thanks for putting up with us!!!

Tiny Floating Homes: VACILANDO - Tiny House Blog - January 23, 2015 Reply

[…] you still think the cruising lifestyle sounds perfect after reading my post a couple weeks ago, here’s your chance to have your own tiny floating home… Vacilando is currently FOR […]

Quinn - May 6, 2016 Reply

I LOVE that you admit that you let the dogs clean the dishes, haha!! We do the same thing, but rarely admit that we call our Ruca pup the “pre-wash!”

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