1. Sleep. I have struggled with insomnia for most of my life. It seemed to get much worse after I hit 40. I wasn’t sure what to think about this whole boat living situation at first. I had a really hard time sleeping because of being afraid that the boat would sink or one of the kids would sleepwalk (not that they ever had, but still) and fall off of the boat, or that the boat would come untied from the mooring or the anchor would drag, etc.
Now we still have times when there is a storm/really bad winds and I can’t sleep, but more often than not, the only thing that will keep me from sleep is when its too hot with NO wind. I definitely sleep better with the fresh ocean air and the gentle rocking of the boat. I even have the occasional morning when I wake up to see the sunrise!
2. Physical Wellness.
Unlike on land, when we were constantly so busy with work and worn down from life stresses, here we have the time to exercise. More importantly, its not only more convenient to work out (No getting a gym bag and driving to the gym), but its more fun to workout when your exercise options are kayak/paddleboarding to shore to swim, jumping off of the boat to swim, etc.
3. Emotional/Mental Wellness.
This one has been both more difficult and easier at the same time. When I’m dealing with big emotional shit, I can take time to just let things be. I have the ability to have a bad day or an emotionally intense day and I don’t have to put it off so I can make it to work. I can vent (sometimes on here!) or I can talk it through or just write. I can go sit in the ocean and just enjoy the water whilst listening to the waves and the breeze. There is definitely something to be said for the whole concept that people who live near the ocean are happier. It has definitely had a marked impact on my own emotional and physical being!
4. Relationships (good & bad) Living in such close quarters makes it really difficult, if not impossible to avoid connecting with those people who live on the boat. This can be both good and bad. For Patrick and I, it has had its ups and downs. There is a weird balance going on with that. Unless you’ve already been spending 24/7 together all the time, you have to find that right ‘happy spot’ between being/feeling smothered and having personal one on one time. I wrote about it in Sailboat Life: The Challenges of Living Aboard in Close Quarters as a Family
5. Contentment in Solitude. I’ve spent many hours alone on beaches thus far. I know I wrote about feeling lonely and secluded (back in Florida)… but for some reason, solitude on all of the uninhabited places we’ve found feels different. Its just so peaceful, with the gorgeous turquoise waters that seem like something from a movie or a dream. The white sand beaches and rocky hills with the waves alternately softly washing up on the sand and crashing against the rocks. That has definitely become one of my all time favorite sounds. I can sit there, in the shade of my umbrella and just feel deeply at peace. So now, either because I just got used to the lack of communication or because I am just feeling more peaceful because of my surroundings, I have little desire to talk to anyone or to check email or facebook, I just want to sit and be. This may be the first time in my life that I really enjoy just sitting in the quiet with nothing in particular to do. Of course, it isn’t long before I’m writing blog posts in my head
6. Outdoorsy Stuff. Back on land, none of us were really big ‘outdoors’ people. The A/C was always so much nicer than the sweltering heat (and mosquitoes!) in the summer and in the winter… well, it was freezing cold! We don’t have A/C on the boat, so there is really no way to avoid the weather (or those damn mosquitoes) so we all end up spending more time outside. It also helps when we’re moving from place to place, so everyone wants to explore and see new things. Of course, there is also swimming in the awesome ocean, so who wouldn’t want to be outside? Speaking of this beautiful ocean, I thought I’d miss my bathtub, I was so wrong!
As I’ve mentioned numerous times, we are doing this on a pretty strict budget. We don’t have an entertainment budget to speak of (*at this point, Jaedin is going into town to play the $5. poker nights. Since its just the two of us at the moment, we can eek out that much) so for the most part, our entertainment consists of talking about whatever odd questions/discussion topics that Jaedin can come up with, playing card games, watching DVDs, watching the stars, snorkeling and listening/singing along with Abyni on the ukulele. Thank goodness she’s such a good singer
I’ve spent way too many years (decades, really) worrying about what I’m eating, trying to cut this that or the other thing in hopes of losing weight. It obviously did me no good in the long run, since all of the dieting and restricting just led to my body being exhausted and dysfunctional when it comes to weight. At this point, we eat a lot of carbs. A lot of beans. They’re cheap and they work. We’re starting to add more fish to the diet, now that Jaedin is actually catching fish on a somewhat regular basis, but basically we live on a lot of rice, beans and tortillas. Our diet is pretty boring. Eggs and potatoes for breakfast; tortillas, beans and rice or pasta/rice with fish for dinner.
I’ve stopped worrying about what I eat and I just eat what we have when I’m hungry. Add to that the slightly increased physical activity and wouldn’t you know it, I’m losing weight. I don’t even worry about THAT often, but I’m noticing a lot because the clothes I came here with are starting to be uncomfortably big (ie: falling off if I don’t remember to tie the string on my shorts before I leave the boat!)
Not that I was really interested/bothered with ‘fashion’ on land, but I’d say we’ve all changed quite a bit. We don’t worry about what we’re wearing much at all. 99% of the time we’re wearing swimmable things. Abyni, Patrick and Jaedin pretty much live in swimsuits all the time. I have three pairs of shorts and three tank tops that I fluctuate between (and the tanks are all black, the shorts are gray/black, so it probably appears that I never change my clothes EVER!). I toss on a bikini top with my shorts if I’m going to swim, otherwise I just change out of dirty clothes, swap them out for clean clothes and wash what I was just wearing. Basically my wardrobe “closet” is just the clothes line.
We do tend to “dress up” when we go into town for things (Ie: the guys put shirts on and some of us wear shoes)
10. Energy & Water Conservation. (Specific to OUR boat)
Energy Conservation: On our boat, we have both solar and water energy resources. When its sunny and windy, we’re pretty good. We can have laptops plugged in during the day, run the icemaker until the sun is starting to set and watch a movie in the salon at night. Our batteries aren’t the best at actually holding a charge, so we have to remember to charge things during the day and forget about using them in the evening, but that’s not a great issue. We do need to remedy the battery situation at some point, but for now, it works. It isn’t difficult at all for just two people. Once we’re back to four of us, we might have some issues, mainly with the ice. That little ice maker doesn’t crank out a huge amount of ice and when its really hot out, everyone wants ice.
Water Conservation: When you live on a boat without a water maker, this is likely to be your process for getting water.
- Put all of the empty water jugs in the dinghy.
- Take the dinghy to shore.
- Take all of the empty jugs to the place where you fill with water (usually not too far).
- Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.
- Unload all of the full jugs of water from the dinghy.
- Pour water into tanks.
- Repeat until you’ve filled all 180 gallons of water tanks with water (In our case, it takes 3-4 trips because we don’t have very many jugs)
Needless to say, when you have to work that hard to get water, you’re VERY careful not to waste any of it, because you know that when its out, you have to go through that aforementioned process again. I am looking forward to the day when we can get a watermaker so we don’t have to worry about running out of water when we’re in between water-able places!
So, there you have it! Six months on board and already so many changes for the better. We all feel pretty freaking lucky to be able to do this!