SimplySailingOnline.com 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 Sailing: In a Van

November 11, 2013

The sun was making its initial contact with the horizon when we finally decided to call it a day. We counted the miles to the stopping spot we had finally decided on. Since Dave is usually steering, I follow our progress on paper, giving him ETAs as encouragement when he gets tired. We pulled into our temporary home just as dusk started to make lights necessary and, as is our usual style, we circled around the area like a dog trying to get comfortable. Not too close to the passing traffic, tucked up in a corner as close as we comfortably could with plenty of space between us and the others who had found this spot before us. Once we were finally stopped and I began the daily chore of transforming our traveling machine into a comfortable home, I said those famous two words that have been our family custom any time we stop in a new place for the night: We’re home. In a Wal-Mart parking lot.


However we travel, we like to do it simply.

Anytime we travel, we prefer to anchor out, since it is free and usually less crowded than marinas. But when there are no anchorages nearby and we are traveling, we prefer to be comfortable rather than anchor somewhere we're not wanted. Just like we would never anchor where we are not legally allowed, we also don't guerrilla camp. Plenty of people do both and that's great. But I prefer to be comfortable and be able to sleep all night, without having to up anchor or start the van in order to find a new place to sleep in the middle of the night. So when a "No Overnight Parking" sign prevents us from sleeping in a parking lot, we find a marina with moorings, more commonly known on land as KOAs.

Unlike a hotel (marina), KOA campgrounds give us an opportunity to continue our simple self-sufficiency. They also allow for spectacular people watching. Sitting in the grass (on deck) watching the scenery (which oddly doesn't swing around in front of our eyes) at our primitive site (no electricity or water hook up, just like being on a mooring) we can see the big boats pull into their full hook-up slips. They are usually towing a four-wheeled dinghy, sometimes two. After we hang one curtain and slide two more closed, we are settled in. We cook dinner and then pull out the lawn chairs and over a cup of coffee, watch how the other half lives.


Home at Devil's Tower

The passenger door of a giant rig opens and the steps slide out automatically so Mrs. RV can step out to spot her husband as he tries to slide his boat into a narrow slip. Much gesticulating and mumbling (loud enough for us to hear, but inside his hermetically sealed box Mr. RV is oblivious to the ranting of the Mrs.) they finally can turn off the motor. They immediately plug into life support (water, electricity, cable, holding tank) and start settling in. By full dark they have leveled their beast to perfection and have started pushing their Go Go gadget buttons. Up goes the RADAR, or is it probably a TV antenna? Another button activates their power winches for their awning. The oxygen tent gets set up around the picnic table so that all chances of enjoying an authentic outdoors experience are eliminated. Most of one side of the rig slides out so that there are mere inches between boats, but they must need those extra 100 square feet of interior space it provides.

By the time Mr. and Mrs. RV have got their traveling home set up for enjoying, it's time for bed. Our entertainment is over, so we close the hatches/windows and slide the companionway/side door closed and go to bed. Of course, if we happened to be anchored out, things are often a bit noisier. When the big boys anchor out, even in a Wal-Mart parking lot, they often run their generators late into the night. It seems some rude behaviour transcends the land/water barrier.


Badlands camping with an awning

In the morning I do some yoga in our 48 square feet of living space. We remove one curtain and slide two others open. I brew a pot of coffee and over breakfast we watch Mr. and Mrs. reverse the process. Or as much of it as they can get done before we roll away in our simple home.

Simple land travel has the same merits as simple sailing. We use less fuel, are more maneuverable, can park many more places than a larger yacht (land or otherwise), and spend more time enjoying the benefits of travel and less time trying to maintain a mansion lifestyle. Not only does our vagabond budget prohibit extravagances, we have also learned that we can make our money, time and energy last longer by going simply. But after nearly 5 months of traveling in a van, you'd think by now I'd stop trying to stand up in it.

As many of you head south, you may be encountering more bugs and increasingly more sunshine. MONDAY we'll share how four small snaps can be put to many uses.

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