This is the time of year when long-term dreams have a way of sliding helplessly into the black hole of winter rain and darkness, and holiday plans. Some days it’s comparable to driving on black ice: you think you’re tooling along just fine when suddenly you realize the car is sliding backwards. Or maybe a better comparison would be the sudden accidental jibe at night in 30 knots and 10 foot seas in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, your heading suddenly 180 degrees off. Been there, done that. So I approach the coming winter with fear and loathing, knowing it looms just beyond the horizon and wanting to stay the course.
This knowledge really lights a fire under my hiney to get out here and take advantage of every bit of sunshine that is left in this year. It feels, somehow, just wrong for anyone to have to be working inside when there is so little sunshine to enjoy. So I spend as much time as I can on the boat. In fact, I’m sitting on the boat right now as I write this. Of course, it’s at the dock, but I’m still there. Heck, if I lived here, I’d be home by now. Sitting in the cockpit with a blanket on my lap, computer keeping me warm, my mind tends to wander a bit, probably in response to the cold. I think about what it would be like if we actually DID live on the boat. Is this what happens when people begin to have hypothermia?
It’s pretty hard to type wearing fingerless gloves and shivering to this degree, but no one is going to call me a quitter. Moonrise is a great boat, I tell you. A perfectly great boat! Especially in the summer when the sun is shining. As soon as we get to Mexico, I’m going to love being on Moonrise in the winter. Of course, in order to GET to Mexico, we have to have a bit of money in storage. You might know we have a child in college. We love our boy desperately and we want him to be in college. So we’re thinking we could save money by renting out our house and living on our boat, thereby cutting our monthly expenses down considerably. It’s a good plan if we ever get to that point.
But could I actually live on Moonrise during the 10 months of the year (more, lately) when the weather is disgusting? Moonrise is a great boat for coastal cruising, but she offers a number of drawbacks for year-round living. Let’s start with the salon with its one settee. This is the land equivalent of having one loveseat available for lounging. I know there are billions of people who live with less than this, but I am in the U.S. of A. here. If the table is folded down, the person behind the table will not be able to get up without disturbing the person at the end of the table. Am I making myself clear here?
Another issue is the V berth, our ‘owner’s cabin’. It is very comfortable once you get settled, but I’m a woman of ‘a certain age’ and rarely do I sleep through the night without getting up at least once, usually more than once. Getting in and out of this berth is challenging, believe me. You don’t want the details. There is crawling involved, and pivoting on my back while trying not to kick my husband’s delicate parts. Enough said about this.
Then there is the issue of the ‘head’, which is boat talk for ‘the bathroom’. Again, I’ll be brief, sparing the gentle reader details that may lead to abandoning the reading of this post. Suffice to say that boaters of all kinds can have lengthy and animated conversations about the problems with the head in their boats. There is no ‘stealth’ bathroom useage on a boat of this size. It’s noisy, smelly, and on some level you just have to accept the fact that you are sleeping next to a container of raw sewage. That doesn’t keep me up at night when we’re cruising, but I’m not sure living with it for several months would be okay with me. Never mind how guests would feel.
In many boats, there is a shower in the head, but there is not one in ours. We also don’t have hot water on the boat. These little modern day luxuries start to feel more like necessities when I think of long-term living. (Again, I refer the reader to the fact that I’m an American.) I really do not mind heating up water and pouring it over my body during our cruising trips. Many is the time my husband and son have openly laughed at me because I insist on clean hair when cruising. (How can I enjoy that carefree, windblown-hair look when my hair is plastered to my head by dirt and grease?) But I admit that the idea of having a hot shower on the boat creates a lot of opportunity for fantasizing. Darker fantasies revolve around how I’ll possibly look presentable for work.
Then there is the galley. On Moonrise we are fortunate that we have actual refrigeration. But let’s be clear: As much as I do enjoy cooking meals on the boat on my tiny little Easy-bake-style oven, I really get tired of having to take everything out of the top-loading fridge just to find the mustard. And let’s not even get into how tired I get of having the only available workspace double as the lid of said fridge. Think about it. I’m chopping vegetables for a stir fry and suddenly remember I left the garlic in the fridge. I have to move the vegetables, cutting board, etc, then clean out the fridge so I can find the garlic nestled among drinks at the bottom, which I have to stand on tiptoe to reach. At this point the cabin is a complete mess. You never see scenes like this in a boating brochure. And I have a sneaking suspicion that there would be fewer top-loading fridges on older boats if the boat designers of the 1970’s had been women. It would be manageable if it happened only once a meal, but as I mentioned before, I’m a woman of a ‘certain age’. Read ‘short term memory’ issues. Are you getting it now?
The little propane oven is really cute and we’ve learned how to bake in it, too! We’ve learned that one ignores the temperature control knob since the only setting one has is ‘high’. That’s right next to ‘incinerate’ unless one knows to prop the door open. Prop it open about an inch for 500F, and about 6 inches for 350F. Baking gluten-free is always an adventure anyhow, so it’s hard to know if the outcome is due to the uneven baking temperature. I can roast a mean vegetable in that oven, though. Hey, I love a nice charred green bean!
I was going to talk about storage, but I fear the reader will be overwhelmed if I get into that.
I don’t want to sound like a complainer. Regardless of all of its shortcomings, I sit on Moonrise enjoying the last bit of sunshine of the year, enjoying just being in the marina with all the boats, keeping the dream alive somehow just by being here. I know there will be plenty of rainy and dark days to come when I can be working inside the house. And while I’m here appreciating a boat that I love in spite of her shortcomings, I think about how much I enjoy the fact that just being on this boat feels like a vacation. And then whether that ‘vacation feeling’ would last if I lived on this particular boat for months at a time. And if it wouldn’t, then what do I need in a boat in order to make that feeling last? What kind of boat would suffice? Do you see how my mind works?
And as it begins to get dark and even colder, I pack up and head home to my house with a beautiful bathroom tiled in stone, a steamy hot shower, a comfortable king size bed that I can get out of easily, a toilet that takes sewage to parts unknown, a full kitchen, and many choices of seating. And I am filled with gratitude that in my life I have this choice.