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.
For reasons that even those who know us well find hard to comprehend, we are currently living on land. Dave had an urge to play Farmer Brown, Eurisko needs some interior work that is so much easier to do if we're not living aboard, and, well, frankly, it has been 13 years. Anything can become a rut if you do it long enough. As our youngest said a few years ago, "Cruising is getting old. You sail some place new, you learn all about it, explore it, make it feel like home, then you up anchor and sail some place else. It's always the same thing." Time for a temporary change.
Critics of our simple lifestyle often attribute their inability to live as simply to circumstance. "It's easy for you to live simply. You live on a boat." So while we are on land, we have accepted the challenge that this change of lifestyle presents us. Consciously and stubbornly, we have decided to continue our simple style.
It's not as if we're living a life of luxury on land, anyway. We are renting a 485 square foot log cabin in the woods. Over the years we have learned that when the perfect opportunity falls in your lap, you change your life to make it fit. So when a friend mentioned that his cabin was empty at about the same time we were looking to buy land, we took a hard left in order to take advantage of the situation. And here we are.
We decided from the beginning to invest a minimal amount of money in this experiment. Our friend was nice enough to allow us a month to month lease, knowing that we may not be able to handle land life for very long. Since we don't know how long this is going to last, there is no sense in investing a lot of money into what may turn out to be a few months. With that in mind, we outfitted the entire house (La-Z-Boy, glider, 2 bookcases, dresser, 6 lamps, dining room table and 4 chairs, two desks, office chair, 2 end tables, wood to build a bed frame and pantry, and a new mattress) for under $500. Everything we either built or bought used, except for the mattress, which happens to have the added benefit of fitting on the bed frame in the back of the van. For future adventures.
Once the house was livable, we turned our attention to the chickens. Yes, we have chickens. That's part of the Farmer Brown plan. Dave scrounged used materials from around the farm, cut down small pine trees, used repurposed wood and wire from various free sources and for under $100 (the price of some new wire) built a coop, two separate runs and a chicken tractor. $60 later we had six young hens and are now getting nearly half a dozen organic, free range eggs per day. Quiche, anyone?
Next it was time for the garden. Starting with the square foot gardening idea, he worked the land, brought in organic material from other parts of the farm to enrich the sandy soil, and for under $300 (6-foot fence, organic fertilizer and organic seeds) he has a 24' by 30' garden. All of this we have accomplished in the past two months.
Part of our plan to live simply on land included not giving up our already simple habits from the boat. Yes, we now have running water. However, we turn it off frequently while using it. I wash a full day's worth of dishes in a few inches of dishwater--and you know there are a LOT of dishes, the way Dave cooks. Notice I didn't say hot, running water. We do have a water heater, but we only turn it on for a few hours every few days to shower. Otherwise, for dishes and other times I need hot water, I resort to the boat method of heating a tea kettle on the stove. Not only are we saving money, it is a habit I don't want to get out of.
We heat with a wood stove. We changed every light bulb to LED to save electricity. And in an effort to save space, we removed the head door and replaced it with a curtain. This house is too small to have as many doors as it does!
One of the ways Dave bribed me into living on land was with the promise of a washer and dryer. Though I do use the washer, I now make my own laundry detergent (as well as dish detergent) and only wash on days I know the clothes will dry on the line and thus never use the dryer.
Even though going to the grocery store or even out to a restaurant is much easier living on land than it was when we were anchored out, we actually do less of both. We find that we make more of our own food now, which was part of the draw for Dave to make the temporary move. Cooking is one of the biggest ways to save money. Though we try to impress this upon certain friends and family members, it never seems to sink in. We currently spend less than $400 a month on food, down from the $600 we have always budgeted. This includes the rare meal at a restaurant, but when you can cook, going out to eat loses its appeal. And when you become conscious of how healthful your food is and most food isn't, you become more leery to eat anything you didn't prepare yourself.
Part of the drive (and capability) of making more of our own food, comes from a concession that was difficult to get a consensus on. The cabin came with a refrigerator. The debate was whether or not to use it. After 10 years without out, I was reluctant to change now. Our decision was finally made when Dave agreed to make all our yogurt and to sprout continually. To this promised list he has also started making all our bread (see last week's post) and, thanks to a birthday present from a dear friend, all our ice cream. He also grows pea shoots for salads. The savings in not buying organic yogurt (our breakfast and snack of choice) and organic ice cream alone pays for our tiny electric bill. While we can sprout and make yogurt without refrigeration, we can do it on a larger scale, making it a daily staple rather than an occasional treat, if we can keep it cool.
We compost anything the chickens can't eat, recycle or burn what little packaging we do buy, and have lived here two months without filling the trash can. Our simple lifestyle continues to be as good for the planet as it is for our health and budget.
Our lives are still simple. We still don't have a TV, we still don't buy things just because we now have the room for them, and we still spend evenings perusing charts, sailing directions, and pilot charts. We are still sailors, we're just waiting for the tide to come back in and carry us back out to sea.
MONDAY we'll share some thoughts on what to consider when you're looking to buy a boat.
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