Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On Guests: How to Prepare for Your Live-Aboard Vacation

Al, demonstrating the perfect size of paper towel.
Guests on boats are a tricky thing.  They say you can learn a lot about people you travel with - and I have found that to be true.  I have found it to be even MORE true when you are traveling on a 35 foot sailboat.  Lucky for us - we have been blessed with wonderful guests - like our last (and most frequent visitor) - "Uncle Al" who now considers Rasmus his second home.

In case you are chomping at the bit to visit someone who lives on a boat - here are a few ways to tip the odds in your favor - and ensure you get invited back:

  1. Be flexible.  This is the most important aspect.  Those of you who read our blog know that our 'plans' change almost daily.  If you want to visit us, you are most likely going to have to be ready to book a  ticket no more than a few weeks before the intended visit.  "Where will you be next March?" is like asking a baby, "What do you feel about the DOW Jones average?" - we have no clue, and if we do have a clue - it will almost certainly change.  Our last (and one of our most favorite!) visitor, Al, booked his ticket with 36 hours notice.  It was perfect.  And, sometimes you can find a cheaper plane ticket by buying it the day before so keep an eye on ticket prices and our spot tracker and if the price is good and you like where we are, let us know right away!
  2. No rolly bags!  For the love of GOD do not bring any type of hard suitcase or a "it fits in the overhead compartment" rolly bag.  Space is at a premium on a boat and - chances are - there will be absolutely zero room for you to store that bag.  It will be cumbersome and get in the way.  Duffle bags, back-packs, or tote bags that can fold or roll up are the way to go.
  3. Pack light.  Very light.  You will not need the following things unless told otherwise:  any type of high heel, hairdryers, fancy dresses, sportcoats, dive gear (sorry, no room - and we've got 1 extra snorkeling setup), five pairs of sunglasses, sleeping bags (we've got you covered), foul weather gear (we have it), life jackets (we have one for you), any clothes that require hanging (again, no room), sunblock (we have every spectrum) get the picture.  If you are not sure whether or not to bring something - ASK!! We will let you know! Things to bring:  A camera, a hat, a couple pairs of shorts, a couple tee shirts, flip flops, one polo or a sundress for the occasional night out, a couple swimsuits, a book, and an open mind!  That's about all you need down here!
  4. Understand that we live "off the grid".  We rely heavily on the sun for our energy and when that isn't enough, we run our engine - which uses diesel, which costs money.  Living on a boat means you can't just plug in your phone, camera, and/or computer whenever you want - I mean, yes, we do have the ability to plug in regular 110v devices but it can throw off our energy balance.  Make sure you have spare batteries and why the heck do you need a computer or phone down here anyway?... vacation is the time to get away from all of your electronic tethers. ;-)
  5. Be ready to eat what we make.  If you go on a diet before coming down, please realize it will probably get thrown out the window once you set foot on our boat.  We have the provisions that we have, and we'll make meals based on those because we have no other choice.  We do not have the luxury of being able to work around "gluten free" and "low carb" diets - in fact, you'll probably go into carb overload on our boat.  Sometimes we eat delicious stir-fries, sometimes it's grilled cheese, sometimes it's lollipops and saltines.  You never know.  There will always be wine and rum... that I can promise you.
  6. Get over yourself.  Here's the deal:  you are going to have go to the bathroom (#1... and #2) in a small boat.  We are all going to know what is going on in there.  Don't be shy - and if you are, get over it or you are going to be very uncomfortable.  We also shower outside on the back deck and, sometimes, wash in salt water first.  Just go with it - it's all part of the experience!  While you won't be able to shower twice a day, you will feel clean and refreshed for at least part of it.
  7. Don't be wasteful.  Living on a boat means limited everything.  Water, electricity, food...etc.  Be thoughtful - when you are brushing your teeth, use only a splash of water and turn the faucet off, don't take long showers, use only the teeniest bit of toilet paper necessary, don't grab full sheets of paper towels...etc.  You get the picture.  You might find you learn something by thinking about what you really need, first.
  8. Keep expectations to a minimum.  I have written about this before - but I think having expectations can be detrimental to an experience.  They must be realistic.  If you think you will come aboard and it will be luxurious and "yacht-like", you will be disappointed.  Be ready for anything and know that, most likely, we live pretty rustically compared to you.  Your cabin will be cramped (but, unlike most boats, you will have your own private cabin, which is a huge bonus!), your personal space will be small, we will - at times - trip over one another (particularly if we are drinking rum!), you will be hot, you will go to bed early and wake up early, agendas will change and weather might not cooperate.  If you prepare yourself properly, you will have a blast.  Most people who spend time with us on our boat would agree that we are of the "fun" variety.
  9. Know that we are on a budget.  We live off a meager income and any money going out is usually staying there.  If you want to visit a marina - be prepared to at least split the cost with us.  If you are dying to eat out at a fancy restaurant, understand that we might not be able to dine with you, unless you're feeling generous ;-).  While you are on vacation, this is our life.  We love to party like rock stars - it's just we usually do it from the comfort of our boat (we have LOTS of rum on board!).  The cheaper, the better and if you can chip in here and there - it is greatly appreciated.
  10. Have fun and keep your mind open.  There is nothing better than sharing our life with our friends.  People tend to blossom with us on our boat and we love to see it.  We've even been told that our boat is a "Fountain of Youth" and could be marketed as a weight loss program - as we tend to eat light and healthy.  The life aquatic, if you let it, will do you good.  We've seen it happen before and it is the number one reason we enjoy having guests.  If you are having fun, we are having fun!!

Big shout out to Uncle Al - thank you for EVERYTHING.  For being a wonderful guest, an awesome crew mate, and a SUPER "pseudo" Uncle.  We love you!

PS. To check out pictures of just how much fun we had with Uncle Al, check out our Puerto Rico album on Facebook!


Neophyte Cruiser said...

This is such a comprehensive guideline for guests on board, I'm tempted to copy it and send it to everyone who has expressed an interest in visiting us. Great blog, as usual, Brittany.

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Love this! I'm going to have to use this in the future when we set sail. It covers everything, and very cleverly written ... can't help but smile! Uncle Al looks like a great guest!

Lisa said...

We have a bit more space and we are never too far from shore power, but I am seriously thinking of laminating this post and hanging it on the wing door and on the back of the doors in the heads. Way better than "please wear deck shoes or take them off"!

Antti said...

A great blog post, good guidelines that guests really should understand to follow! :)

Duff said...

This is excellent... you should have put a copyright on this.... just hope that I have copied it correctly :)

Elaine said...

Love it love it love it! Just found your blog and I am hooked after just reading this. You guys are fantastic! What a great set of "guidelines" for guests. I am going to enjoy catching up on your blog posts.

clubtrax said...

Britt....long time no comment for me. I love da'rules!! Makes me want to visit you with just a toothbrush and clean underwear. Hope you and Scott are well!

Elisha said...

These are unique tips. I haven't read any of these before. These will be helpful for our live aboard vacation in PNG.

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