Chapter 5 comes a few months after writing all the other chapters even though it looks like it was posted in sequence.
After the initial mayhem of finding, buying and moving on board a boat, we have settled into life on board and WE LOVE IT. In saying that, after a little while you start realising the small things that make life on board quite different to life on land.
I know it sounds obvious but walking along the dock in the rain to your boat is something you just get used to. You can moan and groan about how long the walk is and about the fact you now don’t have a garage you can just park your car in but at the end of the day, it isn’t a big deal. We have umbrellas in the cockpit area ready to grab if we need them. A tiny bit of planning helps solve this one.
You begin noticing the lack of space and how you can get in each others way easily, but in saying that even in a large house you can find yourselves in the same room trying to access the same space. We both work full time (and sometimes very different hours), so generally we don’t have too much of an issue in terms of needing time alone in a small space. Sure we get cabin fever sometimes, but it isn’t hard to solve. The best thing for us is we can grab the car and just head out for a bit. There is even a cafe on site at the marina if you didn’t want to drive!
The lack of space also means that, unlike in a normal house, you don’t have multiples of things. For example, we have one baking dish for the oven, not 5 like we used to. One spatula is sufficient, you don’t need 3. It turns out you actually just need one of each thing to get by comfortably! Even better if you can find a single item with multiple uses…..
A common question we have had is whether we don’t get bored living in such a small space. The answer? No, not really. Normally when we are both off work we are out sailing, which is our main hobby! However, if we are stuck at the dock for a few weeks due to weather or work we still have other hobbies!! I (Cadi) have all my oil paints on board and love to paint. This blog and our Instagram are both new pursuits for us and a bit of a joint hobby. There are lots of blogs out there about living on board but their authors tend to be based overseas, or actually out cruising. We love reading those but we want to show what living aboard in Auckland is like, while we’re still working to pay off our boat. So often you read about this amazing new product for the boat or a brilliant solution to a problem, only to find that the product is only sold in the States (and of course doesn’t ship to New Zealand). We hope for this blog to be a resource to anyone trying to do what we’re doing.
The Internet is a big difference when living on a boat and through phone plans and mobile broadband you can easily get by. We have a 120GB mobile broadband plan with Spark here in New Zealand. Skinny also offers a similar (100GB) plan. Sure you can’t watch unlimited Netflix or download the latest iOS for your phone without potentially busting your cap but at the same time we are smart and use families’ internet when we can. Nothing like saving 15 app updates for your parents’ internet! We often go away for work too so if we must we just download a few episodes on Netflix for when we back home. When we are out sailing we are normally only away for a few days and don’t need internet, and although we could get a 12V adapter to power the router the internet is actually registered to a fixed address (and past experience tells us they WILL shut it off if you move to a new location without telling them…). When we are out we tend to use our phones if we really need to check emails or Instagram.
Some people have asked how we watch TV and to be honest, we don’t! We occasionally watch an episode or two of Netflix but although we had a small 12V TV up until very recently, we found ourselves just watching on our iPads or laptops. To be honest, when you live on a boat the last thing you feel like doing is sitting down and watching TV all day. Partly because there are always boat jobs to do, but also because sitting outside in the cockpit area with a book is even better. Recently, we invested in a projector set up so that we can watch a movie (or our favourite sailing channels on Youtube!) on a big screen if we want to.
Another thing everyone asks about: Laundry. Laundry on a boat is something I can’t turn into a positive. It isn’t the washing part because RV stores or marine stores have all sorts of manual or small washing machines that do a great job. The drying part is the really tough part, because with our little manual machine you still need to wring the clothes by hand. We have learnt a useful little trick which is to wrap the item around a pole or stay and then just hold the two ends together and twist, which is easier on the hands than just wringing. Of course you just can’t get it as dry as if it went through a spin cycle. We try and hang everything up outside under the bimini whenever the weather allows, but you can only get it half dry if it’s raining! We tend to bring all the washing downstairs when it rains – if we didn’t have our dehumidifier (known as R2-De-Hu) then we would be struggling with condensation problems. Condensation and moisture on a boat is something you are always very aware of!!
We both work full time so we get the question from colleagues about how we iron our uniforms – the answer is usually “with an iron!”. We have a little table top ironing board which normally lives in the back cabin and we just set up on the saloon table when we need it. We do need to be on shore power for the iron to work, which normally isn’t a problem (why would you need to iron a shirt while out sailing??) however when we first moved to Fairway Bay marina we had a little glitch with our shore power cable. We had a cable with 16A connectors on both sides – however the marina supplies power at 32A. This meant that for 3 days while we were getting a new cable made up and certified, I was “breaking in” to the cafe at night to use a borrowed 220V iron (remembering that we are 115V on the boat and so are all our appliances…). Life is never boring on a boat!
Entertaining guests is an interesting one. People come over and the fact you are living on a boat is more obvious to them than yourself. Small things will come up in the conversation like how to flush the toilet. You know how it all works but then you realise it isn’t common knowledge that the sea cock might be closed or the switch that powers the toilets is turned off at the DC Panel. A friend of ours was panicking because they used the toilet but it wouldn’t flush. Things such as making tea or coffee can be funny too. Only recently did we buy an electric kettle for when we are docked – up until then, and even now when we are out sailing, we use our old-school whistling stove-top kettle. Most people don’t seem to even realise these still exist so the look on their faces is priceless! Friends initially seemed quite surprised when we invited them over for a BBQ, mainly because they didn’t think you could even HAVE a BBQ on a boat. We inherited a little Magma with the boat and that thing is better than any BBQ we’ve ever had!
You will realise these small differences as you go along but when you talk big picture it isn’t really that difficult or even that different to living anywhere else. At the end of the day, life on a boat is what you make of it. If you want to carry on about how you don’t have a garden or the fact that having the electric heater and kettle on at the same time might trip the AC circuit breaker then this life isn’t for you.
If you want to talk about the amazing sunsets, the fact you can pick your house up and move to a quiet anchorage for the night or not paying to live in someone else’s house renting away then we are on the same page.