Category Archives: Life Aboard

Posts describing the experience of living aboard

Frugal Living 2.0

My last post touched on our need to live frugally on board and I just thought I’d expand on this a bit.  This is something I’m not embracing particularly graciously at present due to the fact that we’ve had a friend staying with us for the last month and I’ve just gained some materials for my new role as a breastfeeding peer supporter that I need to find a home for (an unaccomplished task thus far).

However, if you catch me on most days I will wax lyrical about the joys of not having a TV, a game console, boxes of papers and books that we never look at and a general accumulation of junk! I won’t lie; it was hard sorting, giving and chucking when we moved onto the boat. We had only been married for a year but had still managed to gather a lot of possessions! I only shudder to think how many more there might have been years down the line. We had been blessed enough to have been given enough furniture to fill a 2 bedroom house so we had to find homes for these, Dan had to sell his precious PA, electric guitar and amp and cherished X Box and I parted ways with my Electra cruiser which I loved (possibly more than I should have). I found books especially hard and it took me a long time to feel ok with giving them to charity shops or friends. But we did it, and I think that we are better for it!

I googled ‘frugal living’ and it came up with a lot of results on how to save money but this isn’t what I’d associate with the phrase. Although it’s relevant, I think it is more about not getting caught up in our consumerist society of want, want, want and then often regrettably clutter, debt and no answer to your feeling of need.

Jesus instructed us:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6: 19 – 21

I am aware that Dan quoted this same passage in a post at the beginning of our liveaboard adventure but I decided to use it again in writing this as I think it’s a message that we can’t hear enough. We are born with nothing and will die with nothing; our time on earth isn’t or shouldn’t be characterised by the clothes we wear, the place we live or our possessions but rather by our deeds and our character, how we live and how we treat other people.

Before we moved onboard I would read this passage and think, ‘Oh yes, don’t get too attached or obsessed with ‘things” but even then, I was doing just that. It has only been in the last 6 months that I have really had to face up to that challenge. And even now, I still get caught up in things, things that at the end of the day, we don’t really need.

I think that regardless of your faith, this is something that we can all take on board  (no pun intended)! Having a lot of possessions, nice clothes or a big house does not make for a happy life. I’m not saying that people in these situations are necessarily unhappy, just that happiness should be found in spending time with people you love, following your passions (be that art, music, sport or anything else that takes your heart) and making the most of every opportunity that life throws at you.

So I try to embrace our limited space for the opportunities that it presents us –  it makes me search for interesting and worthwhile things to do, it will take us across the world and back and it reminds me that spending time with  my family and friends, reading a book or doing some craft is much better than the alternatives that we might have if we still lived on dry land.

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Who Needs Toys When…

…your home is a giant playground

….a bowl of water can provide hours of entertainment

….a simple bag of wooden pegs or cardboard box is tons of fun

…the galley holds enough interest (or food!) to occupy you all day

…you can learn to sail

This is not to say that we are horrible parents who deprive Sophia of toys or that I am condemning people who do provide their children with lots of toys but it is merely an observation that given the option, most toddlers that I know will choose to explore or play with something that isn’t a designated toy rather than raid the toybox. With the exception of a few ‘cuddlies’ and balls (the current obsession!) Sophia will always opt to explore some unexplored nook of the boat, read a book, do some colouring or generally wreak havoc in the galley rather than play dutifully with the lovingly picked toys that we have provided her with!

In my desire to home educate, I have started to read about different educational philosophies and gather that this is what Montessori/Steiner folk are getting at – that playing with everyday items will encourage your child’s imagination and entertain them much more than the latest electronic, plastic contraption designed to give parents a headache with lots of flashing lights and tinny music!

Luckily for us, this ties in well to our living situation on the boat. We had to discard nearly everything we owned when we moved on board and have now implemented a one-in-one-out policy of everything on board and are living rather frugally in comparison to our former lifestyle. If Sophia had been attached to lots of toys when we moved on I think we would have found it very hard to take them off her so we were especially grateful that she was more excited about her new home than concerned about what quietly found its way to freecycle or charity shops.

One of our biggest concerns about moving on board was that she might miss out on some opportunities that her peers (in more conventional living situations) are afforded but the more time we spend on board makes me realise that this isn’t the case at all. If anything, developmentally she appears to be trying to do it all at once – running around like a mad thing, climbing on everything she finds while providing you with a running commentary of what’s going on (even if we have absolutely no idea what she’s trying to say)! We have started to trust her more on deck as she seems to have grasped the idea of the sea we are floating in (although she did test the float on my keys the other day by chucking them in at the excitement of coming home to find Dan on board) and have more or less totally settled in to being a family of 3 gently bobbing the days away.

So I say out with the overflowing toy boxes, lets give our kids the freedom to explore their homes fully, not worrying if they take apart your kitchen or litter the floor with books and scrawled on bits of paper. And trust them! They understand much more than we give them credit for, they can get involved with cooking, cleaning and everyday household chores and yes, they probably will hinder you but what’s the rush anyway?

{this moment} 6/5/2011

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


(Inspired by Soulemama – http://www.soulemama.com

{this moment} 29/4/2011

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

(Inspired by Soulemama – http://www.soulemama.com

Bad Blogger Extrodanaire!

Over four months have passed since our last post, an eternity in this medium where people update their online profiles, personalities and blogs daily. I suppose it was partly due to us being busy and party due to there not being a whole lot to report and partly because we were just hibernating and watching far too much ‘Chuck’ and ‘House’ while we waited for the sun! But excuses aside, the sun has now most definitely reappeared and we have been busy on board.

I’ll leave Dan to report a bit more on the DIY (he’s been sanding wood like a mad thing!) and our plans to make Pinafore even more liveable and just update you a bit with our sailing and thoughts on life afloat.

So far in 2011 we’ve taken Pinafore out a handful of times, at first with experienced sailors in case we froze and forgot what to do once outside the Marina walls but recently braving to take friends out for a trip to Brighton Pier and back.

We are starting to feel more comfortable about doing the latter but have yet to take her out with no extra people on board as Sophia has developed a fear of the engines and as we need one to steer and one to do the lines as we come in, we’ve no one to reassure her that they aren’t going to jump up out of the hulls and eat her and genuinely are just getting us safely to our destination! We’re hoping to take her out for longer than just a few hours this weekend (weather permitting) and are looking to pop to Eastbourne Marina for the night at some point before our first big ‘trip’ in July.

In July we’ll be joined my by Dad and will coast hop down the South Coast making the most of our free visitor nights in the other Premier Marina’s to hopefully pick up my Mum and sister’s in Dartmouth and then follow through to Falmouth. We’re looking forward to getting away for a few weeks and finally getting a taste of the real reason why we’re living aboard!

The sun has definitely improved our quality of life afloat, there is little to no condensation in the night and things are so dry! We can have the door, hatches and cockpit cover up and generally just enjoy spreading onto the deck a bit. Sophia is already learning to look into the water for fishes and can be found splashing around with a bucket of water on deck quite regularly!

But there’s no point in having a blog if you’re not gonna tell it how it is, frills, spills and all so I won’t lie to you dear readers. We’ve been on board 6 months and during that time have had a rollercoaster of emotions regarding whether we made the right decision and whether we should stay on Pinafore, buy a different boat with a better layout for living aboard with a family or just give in and move onto land.

However, we’ve chatted and ummed and ah-ed and prayed and done all sorts and have decided to stay put at least for now! Living with few possessions is still a really refreshing way to be and we love the idea that we will own some floating ‘property’ in just 4 and a half years. After being launched into the deep, cold, frozen end over the winter we know what adjustments we need to make to get through the next winter more comfortably and without losing too much more to mould.

I’m reading ‘Chasing the Dragon’ by Jackie Pullinger at the moment and when you read about some of the squalid living conditions of people on the other side of the world it makes me realise how incredibly blessed and privileged we are to have the space we have, the luxury of food every day, clean water, clothes, a warm bed and toys and books for Sophia. It seems insulting to gripe about what we have when there are so many with nothing at all.

So we continue to thank God for guiding us into this adventure, providing us with what we have and look to him for the future!

Baby Onboard!

Having spent some time at both my parents and my in-laws over the festive season, I realised that looking after a one year old (or at least our one year old) is by no means harder on a boat than in a house, in fact, I think it might be easier!

When we decided to make the move from solid ground to a floating home the biggest concern most people had was how we could safely live with a child on board and wouldn’t it become claustrophobic? I will talk about our experience of both of those issues here!

Firstly, safety – you have to take many many precautions when living in a house with a child and being onboard is no different, they are just different precautions. We have no stairs she can fall down, no fire or radiator she could burn her hands on and very few plug sockets that she could put her fingers in! She is almost able to safely navigate the entire inside of the boat by herself (not that I’d let her or else I would find moment, seen below, repeated far too often for my liking!)

Spilled Cheerios!

Sophia making breakfast...

She cannot get out of the boat into the cockpit unless the door is open and as long as the cockpit cover is fastened she cannot make it out on deck. She wears reins while toddling throughout the marina and when summer finally arrives she will have a line clipped onto one of the mast stays so that she can play on deck without the possibility of falling overboard. I’m sure there is much more that I could say on this topic but I will move on as I’d like to finish this while she naps!

We don’t have any stairgates but she of course does have a lifejacket and as mentioned, reins and I have also read about ‘turtle watches’ which I expect we

Safety Turtle will alarm when wet

shall invest in this summer (a watch with an alarm that goes off when it gets wet).

The second issue is one that originally, I was most worried about – the lack of space. However, it has turned out not to be a hinderance in any way. As there is less space she cannot ever be that far away from me and therefore, get into mischief that I can’t easily stop. Due to the layout of our cat, as she was learning to pull herself up and walk, the sofas were perfect in being a constant source of support and so she rarely fell as there was something to grab onto. We have a large table for crafts when she is older and low worktops in the kitchen so she can help me cook as she gets older as well. We have two (currently) spare cabins and she is already enjoying exploring and hiding in these!

The key, I have found, is just to make sure that we go out lots, not only so I don’t go stir crazy but so she can have space to walk and play and so we can see other parents and children. Given that we have only lived on Pinafore during the winter and during this time I have been out most days, I think we’ll be fine for the long haul! I’m just looking forward to better weather and trips to the beach and park (we’ve had to stick with indoors visiting this winter!)

Other than these issues, living onboard with a baby is much the same as living in a house with a baby, there are still days when we both get mega frustrated and fed up and still days spent giggling at the silliest things having more fun than I ever thought I could with a pint sized person!

Escape!!

New Years Resolutions

So another decade has passed and I guess it’s time for some Resolutions for the new year. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has trouble keeping up with them and usually by the end of January I’ve failed miserably at the being more active/eating healthily etc. This year I have figured that I will choose more positive goals instead of trying to break negative habits; who knows, maybe by doing so, the negative habits will follow.

So here’s my list of things to do in 2011:

  • Finish RYA day skippers course
  • Complete the radio licence
  • Foam the interior of Pinafore (for insulation)
  • Investigate installing a wood/coal-burning heater (for warmth!)
  • Read more about Atlantic Crossings
  • Long term (within the decade): Cross the Atlantic

I’m sure there’s many other bits to do but I think this is a start and all necessary for our trip to the Caribbean in a few years time and to make us more self-sufficient. In the mean time here’s a picture of the New Years dragons that appeared to take over Pinafore in my absence.

The Dragons came to stay whilst I was away...

Christmas on a boat!

The title of this post is somewhat misleading as we abandoned our floating home in favour of Christmas with my parents in their

Christmas

snug house in Dartmouth (complete with roaring log fire). However, as we weren’t leaving until Christmas Eve I did find some time to put up some Christmas decorations in the boat to get us in the festive spirit…though I suspect it worked better for me than Dan as he merely noticed the varnish stripped away by selotape and kept banging his head on my hanging wooden ‘Christmas’. However, Sophia seemed to enjoy the preparations and so did I; that’s the main thing!

Sophia Decs

During our landlubber Christmas we visited my parents newly acquired yacht, ‘Lucy M’, and did much brainstorming on how to improve Pinafore and prepare her for our Atlantic plans. On this note, looking back over the blog, Dan seems to have neglected to explain our long-term boat plans so I will correct that now!
We bought Pinafore in September excited about living aboard but with only vague plans of where we would actually sail her. Our adventure was in living afloat and that was sufficient at first. However, as we realised the potential of Pinafore, we started to formulate plans. Now, we wish to stay in Brighton for 5/6 years in order to pay off the loan which we took out to buy Pinafore and save up some money and then we will be off! We plan to sail down to the Canary Islands, across the Atlantic and then spend 6 months to a year exploring the Caribbean before we head back to the UK where we hope to reside on the River Dart for a while.

Although much more needs to be said on this, I must beg baby brain (is that still an excuse when she’s a year old?!) and cut this short.

But stay tuned for another guest post on crossing the Atlantic and my perspective of living aboard with a toddler!

Guitars onboard – no one likes a crooked neck!

“How will my guitars stand up to the punishment?” Was one of the first things that occurred to me when considering our adventure. Anyone who knows me know that music is a major part of my life and here was I being confronted with the most serious of questions.

Fortunately a few years back I had decided upon the purchase of an Ovation MOB. Ovation guitars are an oddity amongst the acoustic guitar world in that

The Ovation MOB has stood the test of time being hammered at gigs and seems to hold up well onboard

Charles Kaman had decided to create a round-back guitar with a bowl made out of composite synthetic material (not wood).  In the Ovation MOB a guitar was made that had been purposely designed to be played on the beaches and left in sunlight. But still, how would the extra moisture affect it? Well, I couldn’t be without my songwriting and gigging tool so the risk was taken and on board it came.

Unfortunately I also owned an Epiphone Les Paul Custom, a solid wood guitar with a reputation of dodgy necks (usually snapped). Whether it would have stood the test of time I’ll never know as I just couldn’t justify taking it on board.

So how has the Ovation coped? The neck is still straight and I rarely have to even tune it. When it’s not in use it’s always kept in its hard case, but I have been impressed with how well it is keeping.

I’m now looking into my next purchase, a much-needed guitar for recording the

Would an all-wood guitar last?

album (the Ovation just doesn’t cut it for recording purposes), and have fallen in love with the Epiphone Masterbilt AJ500RE. It’s a solid wood guitar (danger!) and am wondering whether it will last aboard or will it have to live with a fellow band mate (lucky sod!).

I’ve created a poll to decide the outcome of this procurement… it’s up to you guys!

Well the weather outside is frightful…

…but the fire is so delightful. We’ve had that continuously sung in the boat this past week courtesy of the delightful Hannah.

This week, as many of us in the UK may have noticed, we had a touch of snow.

Dan & Sophia poke their head out for a second before quickly retreating inside

And yet again we watched the country come to a halt.

This weather, of course, made us long for the hot air system that we plan on installing. But for the time being we have been making the most of seeing how quickly we can make the dial on the electric meter turn.

Despite the weather we have managed to keep snug and warm and I have been pretending to be an ‘ice warrior’ by hiking to work through the snow as it’s been far too dangerous to drive (as the 4×4 that almost drove into me demonstrated). Other adventures included; Hannah’s pontoon snow angels, running out of water and the filling tap being frozen over, and the appearance of Hannah on BBC radio Sussex who were interested in what it is like to live on a boat in this weather (they asked some really stupid questions!).

 

The marina felt like a winter wonderland

I thought I’d leave you all with a picture of what our boat would be like if, instead of planning a voyage to the Caribbean, we were actually in the Arctic. Enjoy….