From the time we first began telling our friends and family that we were planning to live aboard our sailboat again, this time with our two children, we have answered many questions about life aboard. What we have noticed is that the things people ask us seem to have a sort of pattern; in fact we find ourselves answering the same handful of questions over and over. If there is one thing we love, it’s to talk about our unusual life on the sea and put to rest concerns that many people have, maybe even you.
So, here we present the Top 10 Questions We Are Asked About Our Liveaboard Life:
#10: Isn’t It Cold?
Outside, yes. We live in the Pacific Northwest and it’s always cold outside. That is why we are going south to Mexico next year. Inside the boat, however, never! In fact, knock before you peek in the portholes as you’ll often find us in our skivvies, enjoying the warmth our space heaters provide at the dock and our Sigmar diesel furnace provides at anchor. One of the many benefits of living in minimal cubic feet is that it is easy to heat. And the best part is it costs us very little to keep the inside air temps well into the 70s all winter.
#9: Do You Eat Freeze Dried Food?
Ok, while this question has never been asked quite this way, when the subject of food comes up people always are surprised when I tell them how well we eat onboard. We do have a refrigerator (although you have to stand on your head to reach the items at the very bottom) and a gas stove/oven which has cooked a fair number of delicious soups, stews, lasagnas, pizzas, pastas, breads, muffins and cookies already. We do miss having a freezer. We have a second insulated icebox we believe was originally planned to be a freezer and we may install a unit in there but are currently weighing the added expense, complexity and power draw. Ice-cream would sure be nice though….
#8: Do You Have A Washer/Dryer Onboard?
We do not have the space for such a convenience onboard (although many larger boats do it seems these days!) At our marina we have a nice laundromat right at the top of the dock which gladly exchanges quarters for clean and dry clothes. When we are cruising we will still hunt down laundry facilities on shore (budget permitting), but once we are traveling in more remote – and hot — areas we’ll be washing our speedos in a bucket of soap.
#7: Don’t You Get Seasick?
At the dock, no. Sadly, the boat moves very little in our snug and secure slip, excepting for the up and down with the daily tides. In the Puget Sound, not usually: if the waters are bouncy enough for seasickness we’ll probably just stay at anchor. At sea, yes, we expect to have a bucket handy for the first few days out.
#6: Do The Girls Get Lonely?
Besides having each other to play with, there are a number of other kids on our very dock. We’ve also hosted a few playdates with our other small friends. So far we’ve found that the girls’ friends love to visit. The boat is fascinating to them and probably feels like they are exploring a giant fort.
#5: Do you still have the cats?
Yes. We do. Want one?
#4: How Can You Afford It?
There are as many ways to afford this lifestyle as there are cruisers out there but how we choose to do it is very simple: we have absolutely no debt and save as much as we can each month. When we owned a house, it became clear that there was no way we could handle the upkeep and mortgage payments of even our small house as well as a boat. So we sold the house and bought Wondertime with the proceeds. Our (one) car is 10 years old and has been paid for since the day we purchased it used. We do use a credit card (generally for online purchases), enjoy the 1% cash back, and pay it down to $0 each and every month. I’ve also stayed home with the girls since day one and have saved countless dollars a full-time career costs (clothes, transportation, daycare)! And as I’ve written before, we continually pare down our monthly expenses so we can afford more, well, sails and stuff.
#3: Do The Kids Get Bored?
It has been nearly two months since we moved onboard and still it’s so new and exciting that boredom has yet to show up. While we couldn’t fit many larger toys onboard that we had in our house, here the girls have coloring books and art supplies, legos, blocks, cars, Little People, stuffed animals, dress-up clothes, games, puzzles, jewelry beading supplies, books, Barbies and of course, DVDs. Outside, our marina has nice grassy areas to run in and little groves of trees to explore. Farther, there are playgrounds, the farmer’s market and the local Children’s Museum. And of course there is nearly always something interesting to look at in the sea.
#2: Isn’t It Small?
Yes. And no. Boats are marvelous things; when everything is in it’s place and our home is tidy and cozy it feels so efficient and right. Wondertime is laid out just right for us, with the girls having the whole forepeak to themselves and the entire aft section of the boat being our living space with the dinette and galley. It really is enough room for us to spread out when we need our space. But we are finding that the more time we spend in close quarters together, the more we like it. But sometimes, I have to move two people, a pile of books, and a cat to get the can of diced tomatoes out from under the settee cushion and then move another person out of the galley so she doesn’t get scalded with splattering olive oil and then I step on a yowling cat’s tail who is drinking water out of the bowl that is under the aft companionway stairs and then someone spills their glass of water all over the table…. Then it seems a little small. And it’s time to head outside for a little jellyfish hunting.
#1: Don’t You Worry About The Kids Falling Overboard?
No we don’t actually. Just like we’ve done for ourselves all these years we just prevent it from happening. The girls are excellent about following our lifejacket rules: Leah wears hers whenever she is outside of the cockpit (or if it’s rough sailing she wears it anywhere outside); Holly wears hers whenever she is outside. So quickly they have just come to accept this as a part of their life, just like putting on their rain jackets when it rains. Of course, this doesn’t prevent them from falling in, it just would assist us in retrieving an overboard child. The center cockpit on Wondertime is well protected. We will also be installing lifeline netting this winter to make our boat safer still. Mostly, we just know where the children are at all times; Leah always tells us when she is going outside, or heading to the “poop deck.” I can say with certainty that I feel they are safer onboard than when we lived right off a busy street with cars zooming by at 30 mph regularly.
We’ve had to do a little adjusting, moving from 1500 square feet to about 300. Sometimes it feels like we are living out of a storage locker as well as the boat, although it’s surprising how many things in there have already been forgotten about. We are getting used to bumping elbows a lot more often, planning in an extra 10 minutes for getting lifejackets on and hiking up to the car. The girls miss bathtime but have discovered the handheld shower heads here are pretty fun too. Our rainy months are coming swiftly upon us with new challenges. But, as with everything else, we will adjust. And find a little fun in it too.