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.
Last week marked the one year anniversary of our "year on land" experiment. Dave wanted to stop moving for a while, grow a garden, raise chickens, and generally think about something besides boat maintenance, weather windows, hurricanes, and customs and immigration procedures. Though I wasn't initially a thrilled participant in this new farming experience, I chalked it up to being part of the "for worse" part of our vows. I complained (mostly tongue in cheek), whined about the cold, and seriously missed my floating castle that we had called home for the past 13 years. But in the end (and it IS coming to an end), I learned a few things, too.
LIVING ON LAND IS EXPENSIVE
Or, as Dave puts it, "Land will suck the money out of you." There's the rent to live on land, which isn't as much as we're paying to keep Eurisko in the work yard, but is still significant. Then we have to pay for electricity, which is free when we are onboard thanks to our solar panels. The log cabin we rented is not convenient to any grocery, so add the cost of a vehicle (insurance, gas, maintenance) and our land experiment threatens to leave us as broke as we were when we first slipped away from land. It'll be a miracle if we get to sail away without going into debt!
HOUSES ARE TOO BIG AND TOO SMALL
The cabin is 485 square feet, which most people would consider small. (I believe it fits the "Tiny House" description.) It is so small that we have no room to store everything that we have taken off the boat so that we can paint her interior. How could a house be smaller than our 34-foot boat? And yet, it's too big. On Eurisko, Dave cooks and I sit at the dinette and chat with him while he does. Then, he sits at "his seat" on the settee and keeps me company while I clean up. But the cabin is so big that it separates us unnecessarily. In this big/little house, we can't see or (thanks to the log walls) HEAR each other if one of us is in the galley and the other is in the living room. We can no longer easily keep each other company as we do our chores.
NO HORIZON IS CONFINING
Houses make me claustrophobic, and I have finally decided why that is. It's the lack of horizon. On the boat, the entire world is my backyard. Here, I can't see past the first few rows of trees and palmettos, and seeing the sky is a stretch, much less the horizon. It feels like the world is closing in on me, like I can't breathe. The cabin isn't quite as bad as some houses, since it has 2 doors and 12 windows which I leave open when I can, so I'm outside as much as inside. So maybe it's just the four walls boxing me in that creates that feeling. Whatever the cause, I need to sit on deck and stare at the horizon SOON!
LAND IS TOO HOT OR TOO COLD
Water is a great equalizer of temperature. It takes longer to cool off and heat up, so life is always a bit more temperate on the water. On land the temperature can fluctuate by 50 degrees in a matter of hours. In the summer a log cabin is stifling. In the winter it is a meat locker. (And we live in Florida: I can't imagine our plight if we had "settled" somewhere farther north!)
LAND SEPARATES YOU FROM NATURE
We live on 40 wooded acres, yet we have nearly no connection with nature. We don't check the weather (unless there's a chance of frost and we have to cover the garden) and we don't need to know from where or how strongly the wind is blowing. When the weather no longer has a huge effect on your life, you lose that bond. The sun no longer shines down the hatch on my face every mid-day. The breeze doesn't blow through the boat, flapping the flags and making the bimini sway. The snubber doesn't creak as we pull up tight on it with each gust. The anchor chain doesn't clank as the tide swivels us around our anchor. I can put the French press on the edge of the counter and know it will still be there regardless of wind or wakes that may come our way. Our house doesn't move, hum, sway, rock, sing, or rejoice with each new day. And I will never call this or any other house "she" because there is no personality. It is logs, chinking, and glass, (really not much different from wood, fiberglass and epoxy) yet this house (as cool as it is) has no soul.
WHEREVER YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE
Though I miss my home, I have enjoyed parts of our little experiment. We have become part of a unique piece of history on this land where you can't see another house or road. We have benefitted from having chickens and a garden, and even having refrigeration has changed how we eat, since Dave can now more reliably make homemade yogurt. It has been fun watching our grandson ride his first go cart and zipline. The Model T excursions are always entertaining, and I'll forever cherish my pictures of Dave driving a tractor. My point is that anywhere you go, anything you do, can be enjoyable as long as you are looking for adventure and not escape. Dave wanted different, so we tried different, but we weren't looking to change or avoid who we are. We weren't running from anything, we ran to the next exciting scheme. If you are content with your life, anything can be a positive experience. Just be careful trying to use any major change, even sailing away, as a means of self-improvement. You might be disappointed since wherever you go, there you are.
As our experiment on land comes to an end, I will reiterate what I have thought about houses for almost 20 years: they are best used as a staging area for getting ready to go somewhere else. Ours is currently a sail loft, canvas shop, woodworking shop, metal works, paint booth, storage unit...
One of the greatest joys of traveling by any means of transportation is the people you meet. Since sailors of all nationalities unite in the same anchorage, tie up at the same dinghy dock, and walk to the same grocer, we get to meet some interesting characters. MONDAY we'll reminisce about some of the more unusual people we've had the pleasure of sharing an anchorage with.
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