For those of you that didn’t know, we officially untied the lines on October 25th, 2016. It’s been almost three weeks since we’ve been full time liveaboards and we are quickly discovering that this lifestyle is different than we could have ever imagined. Before leaving our land lubber lives, we had a preconceived idea of what it would be like to live full time on a sailboat, but now we’re starting to understand what it’s ACTUALLY like. We’ve listed several aspects of liveaboard life and broken them down into two categories, perceived (before living on the boat) and reality (actually living on the boat).
Percieved: We’ll have so much free time! We can finally catch up on all of those hobbies we never had time for when we were working: reading, writing, drawing, painting, being creative, etc.
Reality: What day is it? What time is it? Our days revolve around the rising and setting of the sun. Time in between sunrise and sunset is a blur.
We lose track of time. We never know what day it is or what time it is unless we check. This could be good or bad, we’re not really sure. What could we be doing all day long that would require so much attention? Well, lets see:
- Constantly observing our surroundings in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)- other boats, crab pots, submerged pilings, shoals, narrow channels, docks, floating debris and logs and the occasional animal (check out our Black Bear video on youtube).
- Making sure we have enough depth under our keel.
- Slowing down for passing boats.
- Hailing bridges to make sure we can get through – swing bridges and bascule bridges are plentiful.
- Keeping an eye on the weather conditions.
- Checking our charts and books to research good anchorages and/or marinas.
Let’s not forget sailing overnight passages in the ocean – 2 hour shifts which basically means no sleeping, hardly eating, constantly checking our heading, looking around us for oncoming ships or markers for 24 + hours and oh, let’s not forget about Darby (our friendly boat kitty) because he needs attention too. Basically we can’t do anything but focus on the direction of the boat and making sure we don’t kill ourselves. SERIOUSLY!
If we’re not steering the boat or fidgeting with the sails (when we get to sail) we are cleaning up the cabin, washing dishes, tidying up the cockpit, making a meal in the galley or keeping the other company in the cockpit. We’ve discovered that even though the ICW is starting to look very similar wherever we go, we don’t want to miss anything. We spend about 90% of our day outside with each other. After we anchor, there isn’t much day light left, so we spend the evening in the cabin cooking, eating, cleaning up and then getting ready for bed.
To be honest, it’s tiring to be steering a boat for 10 hours a day in the fresh air. All of the alternate activities we thought we’d be doing (painting, making videos and blogs for the website, becoming enlightened) haven’t been happening because we’re just too tired at the end of the day. Recovering from overnight ocean sails is even more exhausting and it usually takes us a full day to recover and feel like humans again.
Perceived: We’ll make time to have personal space. I mean, every human needs personal space, right?
Reality: Alone time…what’s that? We are around each other 24/7.
We don’t ‘make time’ for personal space because we don’t have time for it. Some days, it never happens. If it does, it’s usually unintentional and is a result of both being occupied with something different. For example, today, Dave was working on a repair on the dodger so I took over the helm and steered for about 3 hours. He was occupied, I was occupied. We didn’t really talk. It was quiet,alone time for the both of us. I may not be curling up with a cup of tea and a book at the end of the work day like I may have done back in our apartment, but it somehow produces the same effect. Weird, I know.
Perceived: We are going to argue more since we’re around each other all day
Reality: We have good days and those days where we just bicker (let’s be honest).
If Dave and I had a different relationship or had different personalities, fighting every day may very well be the case with these new living arrangements. Being around somebody all day, everyday is challenging enough. You’re bound to disagree on something. When you share a bed, share meals, share transportation, share EVERYTHING it’s even more likely you’ll want to wring their neck at some point.
Thankfully Dave and I really like each other. We like each other so much we decided to get married, take this trip and choose to spend all day together, every day for an unspecified amount of time. A little crazy? Maybe.
Yes, we get annoyed with each other! Sometimes when everything seems to be going wrong, you can’t help but point your finger at the only other person around you and blame them. We get frustrated, but we hash things out and move on. We could sit around and pout about something that made us mad, but it’s a waste of time- especially when you’re trying to sail a boat and have more important things to worry about.
I’m not saying we have the perfect relationship or marriage. It’s always a work in progress like anything important. We have had some frustrating moments. A conflict errupted several days ago. I wanted to stick to the ICW for a while because I had gotten seasick out in the ocean and Dave wanted to go back out into the Atlantic so we could hurry up and get to Charleston. We both argued our points and were frustrated that the other couldn’t understand our point of view. Luckily we were at a marina so we could have some coveted alone time. I took a walk, Dave took a shower and an hour later we came to a solution. I also may have reminded him about the saying, “Happy wife, happy life”.
In most cases, we start bickering because we’re tired or hungry which makes us cranky. Who am I kidding, that’s mostly me.
Upkeep and cleanliness (living quarters)
Perceived: Living in a small space means we’ll have few things and probably just become super organized.
Reality: There is stuff everywhere. ALL OF THE TIME!!!
Everyday items like cell phones, food, notepads, etc. go through “the daily shuffle”. These things occupy one space, but are then moved to another space and another and another as the day goes on. They are never put away for good because we need to access them, but there is not enough free space for them to just ‘be’.
For example, I keep butter (in a container) and a gallon jug of drinking water on our kitchen galley counter. The counter space also happens to sit right over our storage locker for trash and/or pots and pans. When we need to access either of those, the water jug and butter get moved onto another surface like the the chart table which is over our cooler. When we need to use the cooler we are again moving those items somewhere new, like the couch because it’s clear. Then we need canned items, which happen to be in storage under the couch and we have to move them ALL OVER AGAIN. And the cycle continues. It’s basically a constant shuffle of the few items that we have onboard.
“Just put it all away and then you won’t have to worry about it”, you may think. Well sometimes we don’t have the energy! I’m not quite sure how to solve this problem, so if you have any advice, please advise. It’s slowly driving me insane.
Perceived: We’ll be environmentally responsible and separate our trash, recycling and toss compostable items overboard (at a safe distance from shore).
Reality: NOBODY HAS RECYCLING BINS! Wtf??!
This was never really even on our radar but has become an active cause for concern. We can NOT BELIEVE how many marinas do not have recycling. It’s appalling. We’ve been forced to just throw everything into one trash bin because we don’t have space to store our trash onboard. It’s painful. It’s 2016, right? Why are there so many places without recycling bins? WE DON’T UNDERSTAND!
So far, there has only been ONE marina, out of the six we’ve been to that had a recycling bin – Southport Marina in Southport, NC. You would think that being by the water, marinas would be particularly sensitive to protecting the environment. That has not been the case in our experience and it’s really disconcerting 🙁 Somebody get me Leonardo DiCaprio’s phone number. Seriously.
On a more positive note, this problem has caused us to become more mindful of what we’re consuming onboard. We’ve decided that we’re not going to toss everything in the first trash bin we come across. We’re still going to separate everything and come up with a solution. Crushing beer cans will help condense our recyclables and we discovered that we have a storage area in the cockpit that is fairly large and a good spot for trash and recyclables. I refuse to succumb to the “whatever” mentality and toss everything in the trash and forget about how irresponsible it is.
Perceived: We have a shower on board, we’ll use it sparingly.
Reality: We only use our shower for a fresh water rinse.
I know it sounds gross, but it’s true. We save ‘real showers’ for a marina. If we each took a five minute shower on our boat every day, our fresh water tanks would be empty in record time. If we’re anchoring and we’re feeling icky, we opt for the ‘sponge bath’ shower which consists of a bucket filled with an inch or two of water from our tanks, some liquid soap and a wash cloth. Lately, with the colder weather and lack of activity, we haven’t even been using that method.
When the weather was warmer we were jumping in the rivers, scrubbing ourselves in the cockpit and then jumping back in to rinse off. We’d use our shower for a fresh water rinse.
To be honest, we’re averaging a real shower every three days (when we’ve been stopping at marinas to refill our diesel). Go ahead and judge, we don’t care. We haven’t been sweating all day long since the weather is still cool, so it could be worse. We both stink a little and we’re fine with it. Thank goodness for love and marriage 🙂
Rate of travel
Perceived: It’s going to take us 2 months to get to the Bahamas.
Reality: It’s been three weeks and we’re in South Carolina (much sooner than expected).
Neither of us really knew how long it would take, but we assumed it would be a while. I mean, if we averaged 6mph (on a good day) and did things at a leisurely pace (exploring towns, relaxing at anchor, etc) it’ would take FOREVER to get to the Bahamas. One thing that has helped in expediting things has been sailing in the Atlantic Ocean. We weren’t expecting to go out into the ocean until we would cross over the Bahamas when we first thought of this trip. We never factored in the time it would save us if we did a few overnight sails and busted out 100 miles in one day vs. two to three on the ICW (we usually average between 30-45 miles inland).
Perceived: We’ll be sailing in every type of weather because we’re hardcore like that.
Reality: It’s raining? Ew, I don’t think so.
Everything we do is weather dependent. 20mph winds on land doesn’t mean much when you’re in a nice, solid, unmoving building. You can drive your car to work, go about your business and when you get uncomfortable you can go back inside, get warm and not think much about it.
Now that we’re in a floating home we feel everything that’s happening outside. 20mph winds create an uncomfortable motion and the wind cuts through your clothes and makes you cold. It also means sailing in rough, choppy conditions which means seasickness for me. Sailing in the rain is not fun. It’s cold, wet and just unpleasant. Why deal with that when you can just hunker down and binge watch Game of Thrones?
So there you have it
I’m sure we’ll have a lot more bullet points to add to this list as the trip continues. So far we’re doing just fine and are learning to adapt to our new situation. Every day is a chance to learn something new and we welcome that with gratitude 🙂