Adjustment to Living on a Boat

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The past several months have been a period of adjustment for all of us, to put it mildly. I suppose it was a bit easier on us, first moving to an RV before moving onto the boat. It helped us figure out what we really needed for small space living. We had already gotten rid of most of our belongings, moving from a four bedroom house down to a 27 foot RV. Moving onto the boat, we still ended up getting rid of about half of what we had saved. The hardest part for me was deciding what books we needed to keep and what to get rid of. For Sam, it was figuring out what tools to keep. Thomas really didn’t have a hard time getting rid of toys, but was more worried about not having video games. He still has his Nintendo 3DS and the games on his computer so he is set. We did also save the Wii, but we have not hooked it up and we’re not sure that we even will. That will probably end up being donated too.

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The galley is a big adjustment for us. Sam and I both enjoy cooking. We don’t really do anything gourmet, but we enjoy cooking. Our boat galley is tiny, with very little storage and very little counter space. The previous owners of the boat had removed the propane stove/oven since it was rusting apart, and replaced it with a small two burner gimbaled stove top. It is an adjustment getting used to not having an oven nor a microwave. We’ve been looking at grills, but ones intended for boats are crazy expensive, especially considering how small they are. We also have been considering getting a solar oven. These are also pretty expensive, but could be worth it. They also have the added benefit of not heating up the cabin.

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Kevin really likes the galley arrangement. with great access to whatever’s cookin’.

We did have to replace most of our cookware. There is such a shortage of storage space, we just couldn’t keep everything. I found a nice nesting cookware set that we are really liking. It came with 4 sauce pans, a frying pan, a universal lid and universal handle. They all stack up so they take up very little space. We also got a 6qt pressure cooker, which takes up more room than I’d like, but it cooks things very quickly, so we end up with less heat in the cabin and use less propane, so it’s a trade off.

There is a decent sized top loading fridge/icebox, but it is hard to arrange in a useful way, my arms are not even long enough to reach the bottom, and the separation of the fridge/freezer part was not very good so refrigeration things kept getting frozen. In the end though, we figured out that the fridge just uses too much electricity, and decided to go without, at least for now. We may update our battery bank at some point, but that will probably run around a thousand dollars, so we will make due without. Not having refrigeration is probably the biggest adjustment. We try to have some shelf stable veggies and fruit at all times, and I am getting used to cooking with canned chicken. I’m not a big fan of it though so we end up eating vegetarian a lot more than we used to. Once in a while we get some fresh meat or cheese, but it has to be cooked and eating within a couple hours, so we don’t really do that very often.

Now that we are living anchored rather than in a marina, we also have to be careful with our water usage. Our boat is supposed to have a 100 gallon water tank and a 50 gallon diesel tank. However, the original owner had them switch the tanks. So we only have 50 gallons of fresh water. Unfortunately the water tank is original and needs to be replaced so we don’t drink any of the water from that tank. Instead, we have two portable (five and seven gallon) fresh water jugs. We fill them up on land, haul them back to the dinghy, transfer them to our boat, and then use a Britta water filter before using the water for drinking and cooking.

We’ve gotten very good at conserving water. In the galley, we have a salt water foot pump, so we can wash dishes with the salt water (which is filtered, just not desalinated), and then rinse in water with vinegar. The vinegar helps with the sanitization of the dishes, and also makes them rinse nicer. I found a water bottle with a little hand pump to pressurize it, which makes it really easy for rinsing dishes with the added pressure.For showering, we use a solar shower, which we fill with water and then put in the sun to heat. I really miss hot, plentiful showers. Running the motor also heats the water, so that’s a nice plus on the days when we’ve been out moving around.

We do have a water maker on our boat, which filters and desalinates sea water. However, the previous owner never used it so we are not even sure if it works. The pump motor does power on, but that’s as far as we’ve gotten. We’ve bought a rebuild kit, so we will be figuring it out one of these days. In the meantime, we bring our empty water jugs to shore and refill at the beach. They are incredibly heavy to carry.

Organization on the boat is also a big challenge since we have such little space. Plus, I did not inherit the organization gene that everyone else in my family seems to have, so I’m not very good at arranging the spaces we have. We keep rearranging things, so it is slowly working out. Plus we keep finding more things that we just don’t need. It has been hard, but having fewer possessions really does make me feel free. We just don’t need all the stuff we continually accumulate.

Kevin has been adjusting better than expected. When we first came to the anchorage, our dinghy motor was not working and our dinghy is not very easy to row, so we didn’t go to land much for the first several days. Kevin waited for about 24 hours, but he finally did his business using the little astroturf we got him. He loves being on the boat, and doesn’t even complain about putting on his life-jacket. He maneuvers around just fine, even when we are out sailing and heeling to one side. Mostly he prefers sitting in the captain’s seat.

Thomas has been doing awesome as well. Homeschooling is getting a bit easier now. It is still a struggle sometimes to get him (and if I’m honest, the adults too) to stay on task, but it’s better. We set timers for all of it, which works much better for all of us, just to make sure we put in the time. We went with a rotating schedule, so it is not the exact same schedule each day, which I think we all like. It is a work in progress, but we’re getting used to it now. We also go to the local library several days each week, which is a nice opportunity to use the internet.

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I think overall we are adjusting well. There are still times that we wonder if we are cut out for this, like when the wind is howling outside the boat and we are rocking uncomfortably in the rough seas. But even then, we are glad that we took this chance. We love this lifestyle and we love being on the water. It is a lot of work, but in the end it is so totally worth it.

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