Monday, November 22, 2010

Doing Without

Living on a 35 foot sailboat does take some adjusting - you are lacking many of the creature comforts that most people take advantage of on a daily basis.  Things like washing machines, dishwashers, unlimited water, refrigeration, air conditioning, central heat and flushing toilets are not on most 35 foot sailboats.  In addition - we are without big closets, a pantry, adequate counter space, and we have to crawl in and out of our bed.  Here are some of our thoughts on a few of these modern conveniences that landlubbers take for granted every day and how we deal without them:

  • Refrigeration - this was the one thing that boggled people's minds the most.  "What on earth will you eat if you don't have a refrigerator?!?" was one of our Top 10 questions.  Well, we are happy to announce we have not missed having a refrigerator once and, dare I say, we have been eating pretty well.  Plus, we don't have all that energy being drained out of our battery banks.
  • Closets - ALL of our personal clothes are in Ziploc bags (the jumbo kind) and stacked on shelves in the v-berth.  This keeps them all fresh and dry (put a dryer sheet in each bag!) and you know what?  It's not nearly as big of a pain in the 'a' that we thought this would be.  Would a California closet be nice?  Sure.  But it's not necessary.
  • Pantry - Ah, the days of opening a pantry and pondering what to eat are long gone.  Now - we need to think in advance about what we have and then gather all the ingredients in the various places we have stowed them.  For example, to make some spaghetti - we need to go into five different places to get the fixings - an exercise that includes removing 2 seat cushions, crawling under one table, reaching underneath one settee and removing several items from a cabinet.  A process which at home takes 2 minutes and on a boat takes about 8.  
  • Unlimited water - our water tanks hold 60 gallons of water.  In addition we carry a spare 8 gallons in jerry jugs.  To put it in perspective, that is the amount of water most of you use to take four seven-minute showers.  We have been very good about conserving water  - and it's a very good lesson in learning what we really "need".  We've learned we can wash dishes in just a few cups of water as opposed to a whole sink full.  It just takes a little more effort, and a little extra effort never killed anyone.
  • Microwave - we barely ever used ours in our apartment (in fact, it was kept in a cabinet) so we actually kind of forgot about this one.  Microwaves always grossed me out anyway, truth be told.  Also - since we don't have a fridge/freezer, the whole microwaving thing is rendered obsolete.
  • Flushing toilet - We have to pump our marine toilet manually to flush it, but this is hardly a problem compared to the fact that our innocent little toilet can actually sink our boat.  To flush, we need to turn a lever that brings seawater in and if for some reason you forget to switch that lever off* it will slowly and innocently fill with water, overflow, and (eventually) fill the boat with water.  This little lever has turned both Scott and myself into OCD-style freaks checking it over and over and over again.  If we left that lever up, and then left the boat for a few days, we'd step into a few feet of water.  As we experienced before, not fun.
  • Washing machine - we have definitely begun to be a little more selective about what is "dirty" (Scott is taking this to the extreme with the mindset of "if it doesn't touch your skin, it doesn't get dirty") since doing laundry involves getting in the dinghy, schlepping all our stuff ashore, finding a laundromat, getting quarters, waiting for a couple hours and doing the reverse.  When our clothes get littler (like shorts, tanks, and BIKINIS!!) we will probably just wash our clothes in buckets on the boat - but for now, this is how it's done and the whole process can take up to four hours.
  • Crawling (literally) into bed -   Once our v-berth is converted into a bed - we need to crawl (like, on all fours) in and out of it.  No more monkey's jumping on the bed over here - we have zero head room!  Sure, at first we kneed and elbowed each other quite a bit - but now we move out of each other's way with such precise expertise, it's like we've been crawling in and out of bed for years!

So, the bottom line is this: life on a boat takes a little more work, a little more resourcefulness, and a lot more creativity.  Not so bad at all.


Brittany & Scott

*Yep.  We have done this twice now in our middle of the night sleep-walking forays to the toilet.  I now have dreams of shutting off that damn valve.  Seriously.


Anonymous said...

Interesting... Great post (and blog) for those of us hoping to do this in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Better start learning to do laundry on the boat. Thay make this nifty portable laundry device. Cannot remember what it is called but check cruiser forum.

Anonymous said...

Toilet overflowing if you don't flip switch back? Just a thought: Have you tried to change out the joker valve in the head? Might have a totally different setup than a normal marine toilet, but that is a common occurrence when joker valves go bad. Mainly it isn't seawater though, it would be back flowing from the holding tank.

Melinda said...

I don't remember how I found your blog, but once I did I went back to the beginning of the story to get all caught. I really enjoy the updates and following along with your adventures.

Alex Rooker said...

We did extensive weekend and week long cruises on our Hunter 27 and later Catalina 30. We found that a spray bottle of fresh water could extend out reserves by using it for hand washing, rinsing small quantities of dishes and small clean up jobs. Simply refill from the main faucet.

TaylorMad1 said...

I am having a better winter here in Michigan following your adventure makes me smile keep on writing.

karen said...

be forewarned that laundry is probably the #1 most despised "pink" activity on the boat. Everyone I've met hates it and eventually your motto will be anything that touches skin and has been worn for less than a week is not "dirty"!! Out here in the SP, we've paid over $100 to get our laundry done because it's the only option other than doing it ourselves and it was totally worth it. So, enjoy your close access to US laundry services! :-)

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