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Old 01-10-2015, 13:48   #1
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14 Side Effects of Cruising

I enjoyed this and wanted to share.

Original "Windtraveller" Blog here: Windtraveler: Cruising Perspectives: Fourteen 'Side Effects' of Living on a Boat

Here are 14 "side effects" that I have experienced from five years of boat life:

1. Water usage: sure, we have a high output water-maker and carry 120 gallons on our boat. But still, even that is a finite and limited supply and must be monitored so as not to run out. Remember that time I carried 60 gallons of water to refill our tanks? I have not forgotten it. Even on land we use water sparingly and letting a tap run for any extended length of time feels wrong. Letting it run while you don't need it, i.e while brushing teeth or in-between doing dishes? That's just criminal.

2. Storage Envy: Houses are full of pretty right angles and nice, square (or rectangular) storage spaces. THIS IS A LUXURY, PEOPLE. Boats have none of those things. We have oddly shaped 'cabinets' and 'cubbies' which make general storage annoying, difficult and - in some cases - impossible. We have gear stuffed so deeply in the rabbit-hole recesses of our boat I'm pretty sure we'll never see them again (in fact, we never did find that spare mast-head light in our last boat...). Gear is stored on a priority basis because you simply have no other choice - which means items used daily or regularly are semi-easy to get to, and things that you don't use daily or regularly require blood, sweat and sometimes tears to get to. All those years of playing Tetris paid off. Luckily, our Brewer has a ton of storage - but even still, it's a struggle to get to and when I see boats with nice, big closet-like spaces (cough-catamarans-cough), I get a little twitchy.

3. Everything is a Compromise: I just mentioned that our boat has a ton of storage, and it does. But guess what? It comes at the cost of living space. The sides of our boat are so chalk-full of cubbies and cabinets, that our living area is significantly more narrow to accommodate it. Boats who are smaller in size, can end up feeling much bigger than ours because of this. That is just one of a MILLION examples I could give you. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING on a boat is a compromise. You install a freezer, you become a slave to your generator. You spring for the wind generator, you get the noise. You re-configure for more galley storage, you loose your microwave. And on and on it goes. Be prepared. Nothing comes on or off the boat that doesn't have a price, both literally and figuratively.

4. Spacial Awareness: When you buy anything for your boat, the first things you will think about is, "Do we have room for this?" and secondly, "Where will this go?" because, at least on our boat, the golden rule is: A place for everything and everything in it's place. This comes very easy to me because I am by nature an incredibly OCD 'tidy' person, but for those of you who are less inclined to put things away, going sailing will be a messy ordeal because, NEWSFLASH: boats are prone to rocking side to side and items not stored properly can and will go flying.

5. Power Struggles: When you are not concerned with space, you will be concerned with power. Amp hours are another limited commodity on a boat, and even though we have a nice array of solar panels and a decent sized battery bank, we still need to run our generator from time to time to keep up with our energy needs. Rare is the boat that has all their power requirements met by sun and wind day in and day out. Want to bring aboard that Vitamix blender that you love? First of all, see #4 (space) and second, better check out how much juice that thing will suck out of your batteries. Before you buy that system or appliance, you will (or should) be wondering "What does this draw?"

6. Hoarding: I realize this sort of contradicts #4 (space), but hear me out...Living on a boat where simple chores like grocery shopping can become one hell of an ordeal, not to mention the fact that certain places don't have certain things, mean that you try to stock up when and where you can. The Exumas in the Bahamas had grocery stores that looked like they came right out of socialist Russia and the grocery stores in the smaller islands of the windwards had cans on the shelves that were over ten years old! When you get somewhere with good bounty, you'll want to stock up. The same applies to boat parts/supplies. If we order a new "o" ring for our generator's heat exchanger, you better believe we're ordering an end cap, gasket, cover and capscrew as well, and two of each!

7. You Wait for the 'Other Shoe to Drop': I wish we could say we were in the types of cruisers that falls under the 'minimalist' category, but we are not. While Scott could probably swing that way, I like certain creature comforts. I love our water-maker. I love our generator. I love our engine. I love our cockpit speakers. I love our refrigerator. I love our AC (at the dock.) These things make our boat more comfortable and livable for us but, sadly, they come at a price (see #3 - compromise). As much as we appreciate these systems, they are prone to breaking. They say a cruising boat is in good order if 80% of it's systems are running and truer words were never spoken. It is ALWAYS something. ALWAYS. From the mundane (polishing ever-rusting stainless) to the disastrous (a leaking fuel tank) you will never not have something to fix. As the 'worrier' of our duo, I'm always looking ahead and wondering, "What's it gonna be next?" The windlass? The stereo? The main halyard? The autopilot? Scott always says, "We're always just one ring-ding away from disaster!" Sad, but true. Boats break. A lot.

8. Heightened senses: An odd vibration under foot, a faint waft of an unusual odor, a dull yet different sound emitting from the engine? All of these things will not only put you on high alert, but set you into action to figure out "why?" You will grow to know every creak and groan your boat makes, you will be unusually familiar with the 'normal' vibrations of your engine and you will know *immediately* if any of your pumps, from those in your bilge to those in your water maker, are acting up. On a boat ignoring these sounds, feeling and odors can be detrimental so you'll be hyper aware of it all. Fun fact: You'll also be able to predict wind speed within a knot or two based on the sounds it makes through your rig.

9. Resourcefulness: The need to be 'resourceful' has been a bit atrophied in this day and age when we can pretty much have whatever we want or need in a matter of hours, but in the islands this is not the case. Sometimes (actually, a lot of times) we must improvise. Lack of facilities, under-stocked stores, and public holidays are all things that can wreak havoc on you getting that part, talking to that agent, or finishing a project. As such, you need to be resourceful and use what is on hand. Scott has become a veritable McGuyver as a result of living on a boat and his handiness is a mega asset.

10. Hitting the Road (on foot): We walk, a lot. It's so funny to me how little islanders walk or how they seem to judge distance. A very normal conversation will go like this: Us: "Excuse me, but could you point us in the direction of the grocery store?" Islander: "You're not walking, right? It's too far to walk?" Us: "How far, would you say?" Islander: "Oh, I don't know...a really long way." Us: "Okay, well, we like to walk - is is this way?" Islander: (Shaking head with a laugh) "Okay, yes - just up that road there..." And then we walk and it's, like, two miles away. But, yeah, when we're moving around on land we walk a lot to get from point A to point B.

11. Putting it all Out There: Underwear on the line, bras hanging from the the mast, food scraps in a bowl in the cockpit (ready to be tossed overboard later), and sometimes, donning nothing more than our birthday suits, cruisers are not a shy bunch. We tend to put it all out there because, well, we don't really have room to put it any place else. We shower off teh back of our boats and sometimes greet our cruising buddies in our underwear. Every year of cruising trades few more social mores/graces for a little more 'heathen' I think.

12. Patience: I am not, by nature, a patient person. It is yet another of my less-than-desirable traits and perhaps the one that I do battle with most regularly as a cruiser because a) a sailboat is S L O W and b) "Island Time" is more real than you can ever possibly imagine. Whether it be having to wait two weeks for your simple package to clear customs (sorry, it arrived during Carnival!) or sailing into the wind and making almost zero VMG for twenty-four hours, living on a boat in the islands will test your patience daily. As a result, you will have no choice but to become more patient or drink a lot to take your mind of the frustration.

13. Settling for Second Best: When you combine #7 (things break) and #9 (resourcefulness) you sometimes need to settle for a solution that is for sure second-best. Boats are constantly breaking down under the UV of the sun and the corrosion of the salt and unless you have a staff, you will not be able to stay on top of all the work and maintenance your boat needs, meaning you will get used to having certain things not working and/or not looking pretty. Our teak toe rails are a disaster. In fact, all teak on our boat - both inside and out - needs a good re-doing, but we just don't have the money or time right now. And that's okay.

14. Bi-Polar Tendencies: And finally - if you are anything like we are - living on the water will make you bi-polar. You will, at times, have a love/hate relationship with: your boat, the ocean, the lifestyle, the islands and (most likely) your spouse. High highs and low lows across the board. We can't have it all, right?

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Old 01-10-2015, 14:11   #2
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Re: 14 Side Effects of Cruising

Great! All prospective boat buyers :read and be aware!

"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 01-10-2015, 15:07   #3
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Re: 14 Side Effects of Cruising

What a great list! Those of us who have spent years living aboard as you obviously have can read it and say 'oh ya' to each of these feelings at one time or another. ( my wife more than I , I would guess!). Cheers, Phil
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Old 03-10-2015, 17:38   #4
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Re: 14 Side Effects of Cruising

Yes all true and all good points.

On the other side of the coin and also true;

I had a 26' wooden Seabird Yawl back in the 70s that I lived on and cruised for over 10 years.

Only systems I had was;

1. one large SS
water tank with hand pump at the sink along with seawater pump at sink
2. One large SS
fuel tank (both tanks under the aft quarter births)
3. one compass
4. one sextet and charts
5. all Kerosene running lights and cabin lights and stove

the only thing I used the one battery for was to start the motor

no refrigeration, I just got used to it.

I cooked and and washed with salt water sometime rinsed with fresh water

Nothing much ever broke, I just painted the bottom and changed zinks and repacked the shaft every year, replaced a few ropes ect.

Spent all my time diving, surfing and Sailing and having lots of fun

I ate Lobster, abalone and fresh fish, slept well most of the time.

When at a slip I would go to work

there is something to be said with keeping things simple.....great memories


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Old 03-10-2015, 17:50   #5
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Re: 14 Side Effects of Cruising

C-Man: Other days, other rules. Have you seen the list of requirements for a Cat 1 inspection before you leave New Zealand nowadays?

That said, coastal cruising can still be simple. But I'm pretty sure I'd like at least one radio on top of that short list, if nothing else.
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Old 03-10-2015, 18:14   #6
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Re: 14 Side Effects of Cruising

I never had a VHF radio but always wished I had, planned to get one just never got around to it.

I did have all the other safety gear though, epirb, life raft, flare gun, V-sheet, life vest mirror ect.

just basic working sails and a drifter took me wherever I wanted to go.

I did pull out the motor and had it rebuilt when I bought the boat,

I also changed the Keel bolts and added more ballast and a new heavier standing rigging but that was about it.

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Old 03-10-2015, 18:41   #7
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Re: 14 Side Effects of Cruising

I didn't fall in line with agreement with much of the list. We are careful with water, but we don't have problems with just the two of us and storing 200 gallons without a water maker.

A third of the items on the list are concerns with space. We've never had a home with more space than we have on our boat. We've never "down-sized".

A perfect solution to having a great amount of space aboard is to raise two children aboard and have them grow up and leave. Ours left home twenty years ago and we still have not filled the void!

I guess we're patient, our senses are normal, we're not "putting it all out there", we're not expecting a shoe to drop, and we have no bi-polar traits.

I think there are a couple of reasons why this list is not ours. First, we're casual cruisers who re-visit many ports where we feel we share in the community. We are very comfortable and familiar with our life aboard.
Second, this is a list made by those that have been aboard for five years and probably had a former life in a house. We've been aboard well beyond forty years and we've never had a house.

I don't think I could make a list like this. I know people that live in houses and I've seen their garages, basements, attics and spare rooms full of stuff. It all seems overwhelming. I've been in these homes that have six places to sit down in each of five or six rooms. This list can only be made by those that used to fill large spaces with squared boxes and carry dishes from the dining room to the kitchen.

Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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