The Stewart family buy a boat, jack it all in and go sailing!

Things I never thought I’d say

When you start living aboard a boat, your whole idea of “essential comforts” is thrown out the window.  (Well, unless you’re loaded and can buy a whopping great gin-palace, complete with a crew in white uniforms).

For most cruisers, especially those of us at the budget end of yachting, there are certain compromises to be made.

There’s a great quote (and annoyingly, I can’t find it) about letting go of comfort to find adventure.  You quite often have to choose, you see.  When we lived ashore, we had a very comfortable life; a comfortable house with big showers and big beds and a big fridge … but I felt like I was being slowly buried alive.  I know, probably just me.  But there is something about letting it all go which is tremendously liberating.  Terrifying.  But liberating.

I was catching up with an old and dear friend on the phone the other day, as I lounged on the aft-deck giant bean-bag, counting the bruises on my legs.  There are a lot of parallels in our lives, and I would say our values are very similar.  But she was flummoxed – nay, horrified – to hear that we have no real shower on the boat.

“There was one”, I said carelessly, “a gas hot-water thing in the heads.  But we took it out.  We just use the marina showers, and at anchor we have one of those solar-camping-shower bags. It’s fine”.  Even as I spoke the words, with studied nonchalance, I was amazed at myself.  Listen to me! No shower, no worries? Really? This from the girl who wouldn’t leave the house only a few months ago without foundation, mascara, eye-liner and having wrought magic with the heated tongs.  Who is this person?

I started thinking about it.  Adjustments have certainly been made.  I started listing the things I hear coming out of my mouth that would not even have been thinkable a few months ago.

“I think I’ll wee in a bucket.  So I don’t wake the kids.”

I know.  Unbelievable.  Well, the one loo we have on board is forward, right next to their cabin, and I’m an early riser.  Crack-of-dawn sort.  And peeing like a racehorse (that’s just the sound it makes, ok, don’t judge me) right next to their ears makes no sense.  But a swift wee in a bucket on the aft deck at a quiet anchorage in the pre-dawn light DOES make sense.  And it means that our growing kids get their sleep (read: I get quiet me-time before everyone else gets up).

“Washing-up in cold water? No problem!”

It even sounds disgusting.  When old-hand cruiser friends said they got into this habit when cruising remote Pacific locations – to save topping up their gas bottle or because they couldn’t be arsed to boil the kettle, who knows – I shuddered.  But now?  Yup.  We have not always been adhering to standard washing-up protocol.  And the world hasn’t ended.

“E numbers? Yum!”

I used to be the queen of healthy food, feeding the family a variety of fresh, homemade, nutritionally balanced meals.  But to do that, you need first world privileges like a massive fridge, access to a massive supermarket, massive car etc.  So, welcome to you, vegetables in tins and cook-in-sauces.

The list goes on.

The kids aren’t exactly going feral, but we’re all a bit more on the wild and wooly side.

Sometimes they have hair that looks like it’s bordering on dreadlocks.  But we’re all happy and healthy.  We get to be out on the sparkling water in our beautiful strong boat, cruising between stunning tropical islands.  Snorkelling and swimming by day and playing monopoly and card games at night.

There are definite highs and lows, and it’s not all plain sailing.  But I’ll take it, I’ll take this life of difficulties and inconveniences, and feel alive.