Once you decide to live on a boat, tons of thought goes into What BOAT? We’ve had three sailboats and so we’ve made this difficult decision three times. It probably shouldn’t be so difficult. In the end, it is how you live and not what you live on that makes for a happy/unhappy voyage. Its fun to talk the pros and cons of all the interesting, beautiful, quirky boats out there but, if you are facing a moment of indecision before a purchase or, worse still, buyers remorse, it is comforting to know that there isn’t such a thing as the perfect boat. You’ll figure out how to live with her flaws. Your flaws are probably the bigger issues.
We’ve lived aboard Foxtrot for only three weeks. We wondered if we’d miss the space we had on Capricious and we really don’t so far. However, I think we have a few rules we try to keep to which will be even more important for us aboard a smaller boat. Here’s our little list of Small Boat Living rules:
Don’t stand anywhere too long. If you are standing, you are completely blocking an important passage somewhere. Take a seat or remove thyself to the cockpit for your standing around enjoyment. The two scenarios that are hard to avoid is 1) the dishwasher on duty (me) is taking a long time to wash, dry and clear the galley area or 2) the mechanic (Randall) is tinkering in the engine room blocking any access to the aft cabin. If you really must get to the other part of the boat when important, time-consuming work is going on, your only recourse is to shimmy without complaint out one of the three hatches and make your escape via the cabin roof.
Don’t leave your stuff lying about. Lily and I are the most frequent transgressors. Between homeschooling, ongoing projects and mealtime, the dinette table is the most frequent dumping spot. However, shoes in the floor, jackets and hats on the settee and toys and books scattered on the bed must be viewed as mental health hazards to sane boat living.
Get mad if you want to, but get over it quickly. We read on another cruiser’s blog to actually set a firm time limit on how long anybody can be mad. Time them, if necessary. After the time is up, it’s over and only almost imperceptible surliness will be tolerated. Disagreement, of course, may continue but it should only be voiced in a respectful, calm manner with the goal of negotiating mutually acceptable terms. HUH? I’ve got ten minutes to be mad when someone is being an insensitive jerk and then I’m to smile and get on with life?? Doesn’t that just sound like something a guy came up with?? At the time I read this, I thought this is a little over the top and could so picture Randall smugly holding a cardboard sign with “TIME” written on it while I was only in my initial phases of fury. However, I concede that the time spent in emotional turmoil over a disagreement is not typically constructive and only leads to discovering ten or twenty more reasons to be pissed. Better to recognize that life is really about how we handle the rough patches. We all know our personal hang-ups. We can almost see it coming down the road and a little voice starts saying, “Overreaction ahead, baby!!!” Since it is going to happen, why not have an allotted time within which to flare uncontrollably, identify that, once again, we’ve been wronged/misunderstood/whatever and mentally push the RESET button. Pushing this figurative RESET button is meant to allow you to continue the discussion not “under the influence” of the your initial rageathon. You’ve just got to convince yourself that, after the initial burst of fury, your creative, diplomatic, willing to laugh side will step out and take over. If he/she doesn’t show, keep your mouth shut, smile and repeat silently, “Rum and coke at five o’clock. Rum and coke at five o’clock.” We call that “Pushing the Rum and Coke button” and it is usually easier to locate than the RESET button.