How is life aboard Flying Pig different from my life ashore?
1: Flying Pig is a boat
. Aside from times in the boatyard, where it's up on stilts on shore, it's in constant motion. This takes some getting used to, but most accommodate it very well.
2: "Local" transportation is by dinghy
, a small inflatable boat
. Depending on weather
conditions, sometimes we get wet going from the boat to any other location. It's also nowhere near as fast as your car, so it takes longer. Despite its small size and related small motor
, the mileage on the dinghy
is far worse than the worst clunker you'll have ever driven, so frequent fillups of the 6-gallon tank are needed during high activity periods. And, lest you be worried, we've frequently carried 5 or six adults aboard the dinghy, so it's not THAT small!
3: Electricity and water
are not delivered through a pipe and wire, in as much volume as you care to pay for; we have to make our own electricity, and carry our water
. In many locations, water is either unavailable, or we have to carry it in via jugs, and, while in some areas it's free, most of the time we have to pay for it. Electricity is stored in massive batteries
, and has to be generated to replace what's used. Accordingly, in both cases, we're extremely conservative in what we use. See What Might I Not Like About Life Aboard Flying Pig? below.
4: Accomodations, for a boat, are generous, but very small by home standards. The best place on the boat for sleeping in "normal" (not rough seas) weather
is in what's called the VEE berth, so called because of its shape. It's a 7-foot equilateral triangle, and accomodates most "normal" sized couples handily, though, of necessity, the feet tend to be touching sometimes. Ventilation up front, being faced into the wind
most of the time at anchor
, is the best in that cabin
. Better yet, it's got an 8" Tempur-Pedic mattress, described by many of our guests as the best sleeping they've ever encountered, including having back pain disappear. Secondary accommodations, for times when it might be too rough for comfort (the front of the boat moves the most, in all motion-sensitive conditions) are in the saloon
, what boat people call their family
room/dining room/living room, in a pull-out double (48"x79" and tapering to less at the foot). This is the best place for sleeping in rough conditions, as it's nearly in the center of the boat, and has the least motion of any space aboard.
5: Bathroom and shower
space is combined. Nearly everything on a boat which is expected to get water in it is waterproof, so the marine
toilet and sink occupy the shower
space as well. As it's "imported"/stored water, see #3 above for reference, fresh water showers are rare, so getting the "rest" of the space wet usually isn't of any issue, and when it IS used for showering, a squeegie and washcloth make all dry again. Being a marine head
, it's got a smaller than household seat, and there are some issues about its use which are different from at home, which will be discussed in "What Might I Not Like About Life Aboard Flying Pig?" below.
space is limited, and uses the power we so jealously conserve. Accordingly, the amount of food
which can be stored is less than at home. Likewise, as it's not a household refrigerator/freezer, with its unlimited power supply and auto-defrost mechanisms, openings are limited to as few as possible. That said, cold stuff stays very cold, and frozen stuff stays hard frozen.
7: "Closet" space is a misnomer. Every boat has challenges with storage
, of every sort, and, aside from the VEE, every otherwise-hanging space has been converted into shelves-type storage
aboard. While there IS a closet in the VEE, storing typical checked hard luggage is nearly impossible, unless you want to sleep with it. So, soft luggage which can be rolled, stuffed, compressed, or otherwise compacted into flexible spaces is the order of the day.
8: For many reasons, we don't have a washer and dryer aboard, though some do. Therefore, you can't just dump in a load and retrieve your clean laundry
in a while. Pretty much, what you bring goes back dirty with you.
9: Space aboard, while generous for most sailboats, is very much less than landside living spaces. "Excuse me" because you need to get by someone while going from "here" to "there" aboard is common. Nevertheless, our home was designed originally as a charter
boat, and in its original configuration, could manage 11 people for sleeping (5 of those spaces have been converted to other uses, now) and meals
. Still, spaces are sometimes close for those accustomed to multi-digit feet distances between them and other objects or people.
10: Because of #s 1, 4 and 9, not only will it make your life easier, but, under way, safer, if everything not in active use is stored and secured. If you trip over it, or, worse, it flies off where ever it was put and hits you, it's a safety
hazard to have stuff lying out in the open. That means we'll be "neat nazis" about stuff left out when it's not being used.
11: We have neither TV nor broadband internet
connectivity aboard, though we frequently will have an excellent connection to the internet
. Therefore, there's none of the shoreside mind-numbers available.
So, that's about it for the major differences from shore to our home.
What Might I Not Like About Life Aboard Flying Pig?
1: Everything's more expensive than it is at home. That's because everything must be flown in, boated in, or hand-carried, many times all three, to get it from - for example, the US or Europe
or elsewhere - source to destination
. In addition, most countries have no tax on purchases of any sort, so duties are added to everything which comes in. That makes it difficult - usually impossible - for merchants of all descriptions to provide the variety, freshness, and affordability that most Americans take for granted. Generally speaking, you can expect, WHEN IT'S AVAILABLE, that food
, gasoline, clothing
supplies, repair parts
, souvenirs, yada, yada, will cost a minimum of half again to as much as triple what you'd find stateside.
2: Food, in general: Because of #1, as much as possible, we bring what we can. As we don't expect to be in the US again with our home (though we may visit from time to time via air transport, provisioning
by carrying-back stuff is either impractical or impossible), eventually even what we have brought will be used up. However, things that do well with long-term storage and take up a minimum of space are basic staples to life aboard. Thus, fresh vegetables (see above about availability and cost), most meats (ditto), and some other foodstuffs taken for granted at home are many times unavailable, frequently unstorable, and, always, much more expensive. So, we do lots of pasta, legumes, rice and the like, along with PBJs. In the proper conditions (cooler weather, calm seas), we bake fresh bread. Milk is made from freeze-dried; we enjoy it, but you may not. Soft drinks, OJ, beer
and other commercial
beverages, when available, are cold, but we can't carry very much stock; we drink mostly water or lemonade/Gatorade made from lemon juice/Gatorade powder and water. When we succeed at it (not nearly as often as we'd like) we very much enjoy fresh (like, swimming an hour ago) fish
, conch or other shellfish when we can find it, and the Caribbean
equivalent of lobster (no claws). In any event, likely our diet will not be what you're accustomed to at home. While we don't ask our guests to contribute to our costs of having them here, we also don't change our lifestyles to accommodate their preferences. Some of our guests prefer to provision (stock up on food for the voyage) to their taste on arrival, and we'll then eat what it is they've provided, or to take us out to meals
ashore, but it's not required other than to suit your preferences. We can eat what we normally do, or you can change that to suit your preferences. See #1 for impact
3: Because fresh water is at such a premium both in amount we can carry, availability/difficulty of transport and/or cost, we normally bathe in the sea. We have salt-water friendly soap which lathers and rinses well in salt water
, and we've found that if you dry immediately after getting out from your rinse, you don't get the salt
stickies/residue from the salt water
. We reserve those towels for salt
4: Similarly, we wash and rinse our dishes/cooking utensils in salt water (we have a salt water tap in the kitchen sink), then rinse with fresh. They get clean, and are rinsed, but it takes an additional step. Ditto for handwashing (cleaning your hands, that is!). In addition, generally speaking, if there's not something under the water stream being either filled or rinsed, we'll want you to close the faucet. However, re: #s 3&4, we do carry a substantial amount of fresh water, and in areas where there is a ready and easy (at a cost, usually) supply, where, when we run out (it always does, eventually) it can be simply refilled, if our guests want to provide it, we alter our salt-water bathing/fresh-water use to as-you-like.
5: Electricity has to be made, and the storage (huge battery
bank) we have available, while ample under careful management, is finite. If the sun's not brilliant (we have solar
panels) and the wind
piping (wind generator), we sometimes have to run a small portable generator
to replenish our electricity. In addition to the cost and noise
of that generation, if the batteries
run down too much before recharging, they're damaged. To limit the amount of electricity needed, nearly all the lighting
aboard is either high-efficiency fluorescent or LED spot-lighting. You may not enjoy those lighting
levels. In addition, we limit electricity use to only as-needed. If you're not sitting under it, we'll want you to turn off the light, for example. Sort of like your parents' "Turn the light off when you leave the room" on steroids.
6: Limited space makes for strange bedfellows, so to speak. In addtion, the foregoing may be a bit like camping for some folks - similar, perhaps to RV'ing, other than the limitation that you can't just walk out the door and go someplace else - and if you're not accustomed to it, it can be challenging. Physical, mental and noise
space is limited. You may find that uncomfortable. That said, you have your own cabin
, and, in settled weather, lots of space on deck
or on the platform at the stern of the boat, so you CAN "get away" from others.
7: While there's not the always-on TV noise and distractions of the typical shore life home, there are other noises present aboard. While we do what we can to minimize it, "halyard slap" (a line hitting the mast
, making a noise), wind, sometimes, the aforementioned generator
and other boat-related and unfamiliar noises are pretty much a fact of life. None of these, other than to active cruisers, are likely to be something you're accustomed to.
8: Most of the time, whether you have and bring a cell phone
, you'll not be able to pick up the phone
and call someone at your whim (or get the calls you're accustomed to receiving, of course). That's because of international differences and the fact that we may be (usually) nowhere near a cell connection point. We have a state-of-the-art WiFi
system aboard Flying Pig and are not usually without internet connectivity, even, many times, while we're under way. However, sometimes the quality, consistency and continuity (always there) is of the third world, which is basically where we are when we're cruising. When we have an excellent internet connection AND there aren't a pile of people already using it AND that connection has a good supply of bandwidth, our Vonage internet telephone service
does allow calling anywhere in the US, Canada
, UK and 4 other European countries (and anywhere to call us) at no additional charge to our basic service
. However, the foregoing conditions make it such that those opportunities are limited. If you're accustomed to being constantly connected via voice, you'll find that a distinct limitation.
9: We have a very small hand washer, capable of several T-shirts, to give you an idea of size, but, at that, rarely use it due to water storage and availability considerations. Because laundry
isn't avaliable on board, and, when available (only sometimes!) ashore, is not only inconvenient but expensive, we ask our guests to bring their own linens - sheets
, towels, pillowcases and, sometimes, their own pillows, in addition to their own clothing
, of course. That allows us not to have to find a way to clean them when they leave. However, see # 3 above; eventually, bedding will have some salt residue accumulation, sometimes just from the salt air, let alone your own bodies, and therefore it won't be the same as freshly laundered. If that's a problem for you, you'll have to bring a change of linens to meet your comfort standards, most likely.
10: Related to #9, and just generally, as it's our preference, as we're predominantly in very warm (not uncomfortably so) climates, we tend to wear very little clothing, not only for comfort but for laundry considerations. Worse, Skip's and Lydia's preferred bathing suits are bikini-style. Skip's gotten a new wardrobe of less-revealing bikinis, but, they're still bikinis - just as you'll find the dominant swimwear for men
in European countries (you could google
Euro beach sites for reference, if you're not familiar with the type). Lydia's aren't thong/string style, either, but they are bikini bottoms and tops. If you're uncomfortable with exposed skin, and/or form-fitting swimwear for either or both of us, you're likely to be uncomfortable aboard.
11: Being a boat, motion is a fact of life. Sometimes that motion can be uncomfortable if you're not accustomed to it. Seasickness, in its severe forms, is a condition in which most folks first are afraid they might die, and then afraid they might NOT die
We have very effective seasickness prevention medication aboard, and taken early, usually mitigates any effects. However, in REALLY severe weather, even the most seasoned sailors sometimes suffer the mal-de-mer. It will pass. However, if you're prone to seasickness, you may find life aboard uncomfortable at times.
12: If you're not an active cruiser, marine toilets ("heads") can be both a mystery and a nuisance. Not only is the seat smaller (altogether round, too), unlike at home, where you just push the lever, it goes away, and the municipal supply refills it, here, you have to work
at sanitation. Sea water has to be pumped into the bowl which was previously pumped dry (see below), using a lever. Anything in the toilet is moved out via the same pump
. However, unlike ashore, it's not only a measly 1.5" instead of 4" like home sanitation , it has to go through some interesting bends and devices designed to keep the waste from returning to the toilet. More pumping
and whatever it was which goes down there has to come from something you ate and toilet paper. Anything else won't fit and will jam up the works - and if it was you who jammed it up, we'll show you how to rebuild
the toilet (take the pump
mechanism apart to free whatever is caught - with it and any other substances unavoidably coming out into the shower/toilet area - you probably get the picture on why you'll want to avoid that!) so it will work
again. Worse, because an innate feature of combined salt water and urine is to create scale if it sits anywhere for any length of time, a major rinse is done to keep the pipes from scale accumulation, reducing the likelihood of diminishing from their already-small size (more pumping). And, finally, to empty the pipe of all that rinse water, where it goes above the waterline (the rest goes down from there, but you wouldn't want the sea to make back pressure on the line), more pumps of just air (not letting back in the seawater which does the flushing). You'll develop muscles you didn't know you had in this process (it's not difficult, but very repetitive).
13: Our time ashore is nearly all afoot and looky-loo. That is, we don't do tours, rent cars, pay for museums, and the like. There's lots to see and do without cash expenditures, so we don't, in light of our budget
. If your idea of cruising is marinas
, tours, maybe hotels, dinners out/pub-bar entertainment and the like, we're happy to join you as your guests
- but we don't need it.
That's about it for what's not to like. For a humorous, but not very inaccurate, view of living aboard
, go to The Liveaboard Simulator -
This was written by a good friend of ours, Larry Butler, our HAM radio
and component-level electronics
repair guru, and hosted by Roger Long, another good friend of ours who's a marine architect. It's oriented toward marina living while not in transit, something extremely rare for us due to the costs associated with it, so add going to shore in the dinghy rather than just stepping onto the dock
to all you see in the simulator
If all that doesn't put you off, I'm sure you'll enjoy your time with us.
What will I do aboard?
Life aboard Flying Pig is greatly determined by the weather, so:
1: Weather permitting and location-appropriate, we love to dive/snorkel and, where available, forage underwater for food (gather shellfish/spear fish/lobster). Bring your flippers and mask/snorkel if that appeals to you also. You might also like having an underwater camera
, if you have one; we do, and will share, if you don't. Many places have stunning photo-ops. Swimming, usually in gin-clear water, too, if that's your thing.
2: Getting from one place to another is usually by sailing (we are, after all, a SAILboat). However, sometimes, we'll either motorsail, or just motor
our way from one point to the next. We much prefer not to have our propulsion
motor going, not only for the noise, but for the cost, and, mostly, because sailing's a lot more fun. If you like, you'll help with all that's associated with that, or you can just watch. If you want, we'll teach you about the many different "ropes" (all named something else aboard) and what they do - along with how they control stuff, and how to recognize when things are set correctly or for best performance, navigation
, reading the water, weather, the various instruments aboard, radio communications
and the like. Generally speaking, we won't be under way if conditions are "difficult" to your comfort level, unless you've joined us specifically for a passage
, in which case, we take what's delivered; unavoidably that sometimes includes nasty weather or water or both.
3: Once "there" we usually like to explore ashore. Whether that's just beachcombing, sightseeing (local attractions - artists, sculptors, lighthouses, wildlife), walking (beaches, wilderness, little towns along the way, and their architecture and shops), or anything else unusual.
4: Read. Bring paperback books
. There's lots of down time, particularly if you're not interested in helping or learning
about the transit-related stuff. If the weather stinks, we're largely cooped up aboard. If it's just blowing like stink, as they say on the water, if the dinghy ride isn't too daunting (distance, water conditions), we can go ashore, but otherwise, we can read in such conditions. You may want to bring something waterproof, like a windbreaker, for wet transits or times when we might be in rain conditions.
5: Cook, if you like. We have a propane grill
, propane stove
, all of which are reasonably close in behavior to those ashore. We also have a reasonable assortment of the usual hardware
associated with those activities. If you like to cook or bake, we're happy to have you do so. If not, we're happy, of course, to do that. However, sharing in the cleanup chores is appreciated (see above about seawater washing/rinsing, and modifications to that plan based on water realities).
6: Go rowing, if you like. We have a PortaBote, in addition to our inflatable
, which has dinghy oars as well as actual sculling sweeps (10' oars I used to use in my rowing shell on Lake Lanier) which go in the modification I did to that boat.
7: Go exploring on your own. Same PortaBote, we have a second outboard engine
suited to that dinghy, and it will readily plane 2 for quick transit.
Back to weather considerations, we usually recommend more than a week with us, as you could be totally shut out of recreational (other than, perhaps, sailing) activties if the weather was wrong. We've learned that 10-12 days is ideal, and best if done when we're already somewhere that we have scouted for the best "entertainment" activities, so that time doesn't interfere with your enjoyment.
What should I bring?
1: As above, linens. We suggest about three changes of clothing (unless you want to be bathing-suited most of the time, as we are) plus, perhaps, extra underwear, and at least two bathing suits (one on the line, drying, the other to wear). Something to keep you dry if things get messy weatherwise, as in #2 in "What will I do aboard?". Mostly, other than coming from a very cold climate, and you need something for your return, you won't need much in the way of "warm" clothing, because we're mostly in warm areas. Sometimes it might get to 50 degrees F, but that's rare. Life aboard isn't very different from camping in regard to clothing, otherwise.
2: Snorkeling gear
to suit, if you want to do that. We have several spare pairs of flippers and a few masks and snorkels available aboard, but can't guarantee that they'd fit you. If you're experienced, already, likely you have something you'd prefer, in any event. Those items will generally live in the dinghy until you leave, so it's not a space issue once you're aboard.
to suit you. We have a fairly extensive library aboard, but it may not all appeal to you. Our books are mystery, marine (about boating) and classical ("great literature") in nature. For both this and #1, we have bins to store stuff, as well as the closet, in your cabin. However, you should bring any "stuff" in soft luggage which can be compressed or otherwise made to fit in unusually shaped space so as to reserve as much as possible for your stuff you want out of the soft luggage. Generally speaking, something which would travel as carry-on luggage on the airline, for each of you, will easily fit in the space you have available to you. And, just to relieve your mind somewhat, while duffels are certainly the preference, the closet is substantial and will easily handle a wheeled pull-behind.
to suit your lifestyle as relates to stuff to buy, of any sort. Your time aboard is "on us" as above, but you may wish to buy stuff to take home, do any ashore-adventure stuff other than our walkabouts mentioned, and the like.
4: Camera(s) - surface and underwater, if you have them. We can download any digital images
you have for backup, if you like.
5: Laptop(s) if you simply can't be without them. When we have internet connectivity, we have a router aboard which will give you access. We turn off the AC power (like at-home plugs - we're not ENTIRELY backwoods) when we aren't using the computers
, but you can keep your batteries up. Likewise, if you use rechargeable batteries in your phone/camera/whatever, we have the power available when we're running the computer, as Skip's screen
6: Various items we might have to ask you to buy for us, which we'll of course pay you for, because they're either not available where we are, or exhorbitantly costly, or are emergency parts
For detailed looks at our home, go to the gallery link below. Click on the Flying Pig Interiors gallery front page for a look around, and, if you'd like, browse through the various other galleries' front pages. In all cases, if clicking the picture doesn't open more galleries (the picture in this case would be the "front page"), clicking any image will allow you to look at larger views.
That's about it. If you're still motivated, we look forward to having you aboard!
Skip and Lydia
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at Web-Folio -- Your Portfolio on the Web
Follow us at TheFlyingPigLog : Morgan 461 Hull #2, Flying Pig
and/or Flying Pig Log | Google Groups
"You are never given a wish without also being given the power to
make it come true. You may have to work for it however."
"There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in