shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Simply: Eurisko style

August 23, 2010

When we first meet people, they tend to question our sanity. I do it myself, on occasion. But after they get to know us, they realize that our lifestyle that they at first perceived as "doing things the hard way" is in reality so much easier than its "normal," complicated counterpart. This simplicity is what allows us to continue sailing and cruising after nearly a decade.

The most important element of our version of sailing simply is a small boat. At 34 feet, Eurisko is often the smallest cruising boat in an anchorage. When there were 5 of us onboard, we resembled a clown car in the circus whenever a neighbor stopped by—bodies just kept popping out of the companionway, leading our visitors to ask, "How many of you are in there?"

Da Boat
Drifter, main and water sail (under the main) on a downwind run from Trinidad to St. Croix

Though life isn't always about money, a smaller boat has many advantages, quite a few of them monetary. In addition to being cheaper to buy (or build), a smaller boat has smaller slip fees and haul-out rates, and it costs less to have the bottom cleaned. (Last week it cost us $68 for a diver to scrub the bottom; it cost our friends $104.) On the hard, if you pay someone to paint the bottom it is usually by the foot, and even if you do the work yourself, a smaller boat requires less paint and time, both valuable commodities. Even fees to clear into many countries are based on length or tonnage. Eurisko barely slides into the lower rate to clear into the Bahamas. At 35 feet the clearance fees almost double.

Even more important than money to us is convenience. A smaller boat means a smaller rig and more bridges you can sail under without hassle. Our 5' 3" draft allows us to tuck into more creeks and bays than a bigger boat. Many moorings have maximum size limits, usually over 15 feet longer than we are. But my favorite convenience about having a small boat is that people look at you differently. When we sail into an anchorage like Union Island in the Grenadines, the annoying boat boys don't even look at Eurisko on their way to bother the bigger boats. And like boat boys, thieves assume correctly that a small boat means we don't have enough stuff aboard to be worth the bother, so they leave us alone.

So let's say you have a small boat; you’ve already set yourself up for sailing simply. Eurisko's size precludes us from getting caught up in the buying frenzy that seems to accompany boat ownership. Contrary to what all the sailing magazines want you to think, you don’t need everything they advertise. Not only is it cheaper to not have them, it's usually simpler. We navigate with a handheld GPS and paper charts (and 2 sextants that I'm not very good with. But hey, I can get us within 8 miles and Dave says that's good enough. He can SEE that far!) Our small boat means a smaller rig (no power winches necessary) and smaller anchors (thus our manual windlass).

Sunset enroute to Mexico from Providencia, Colombia

Simplicity is a conscious choice for us and we apply it to all aspects of our lives. Before any item comes aboard (even the free outboard I wouldn't take from our neighbor—I bet he still tells the story of the girl in the anchorage who said, "No thank you" to the FREE outboard, as she rowed to shore.) it must pass the 4 all-important questions:

1. Where will we store it?

2. What will it cost (not only to buy, but to operate and maintain)?

3. How much electricity does it use?

4. When it breaks, can we fix it?

(The outboard failed on the first two questions.)

The simplicity of Eurisko’s systems is what usually causes our sanity to be scrutinized. We use kerosene lights (interior, anchor and navigation lights) and no refrigeration, so two 50 watt solar panels more than meet our electrical needs. Our plumbing consists of three thru-hulls (engine, galley drain and salt water faucet intake). The head is a completely closed system: no water in, no water out. (I'll explain later.) Chasing your dream can be hard enough without being burdened with the installation, maintenance, repair and replacement of complicated systems.

For those who claim cruising is "Fixing my boat in exotic places" I repeat the Eurisko mantra: If it breaks, throw it overboard. Even if you don't want to sail on our end of the simple spectrum, look over the tips, projects, anecdotes and philosophy and pick the parts that work best for the way you want to live and sail. But beware, if you sail too simply, you must be prepared to be considered crazy. We sort of like it.


WEDNESDAY we'll discuss some practical guidelines for living without refrigeration. Not only is it possible, it is cheap and of course, simple.

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