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.

Boatyard Madness: Worse before it gets Better

March 2, 2015

The date was set. Friends had been invited to shove us off the dock. Goodbyes had been said, cars were sold, the boys had given away their bikes. We were set to go. Except we had no toilet. The list had been longer than the hours allowed, so some projects hadn't been completed before we left civilization with our three boys to begin cruising 13 years ago. My mother came aboard to say goodbye, took one look around at the mess of tools, half-finished projects, provisions yet to find a permanent place to live, and the toilet in the middle of the salon floor. "How can you live like this?" Well, normally, we don't.

Removing the fuel tank

Every time we haul out there is a list we have been building over the previous year (or three) since the last haul out. It's titled, "While we're on the hard we may as well..." The concept is easy to understand. Your life is in turmoil. You're uncomfortable, your routine is upset, and all the tools and materials are out of their usual hiding spot, so you may as well. But when you move off the boat for the first time in 15 years, the possibilities are magnified. As is the mess.

When you live aboard, it is nearly impossible to paint the inside of lockers (what are you going to do with all the stuff that lives in them while you do?) or varnish the wood in the head (do you know how hard it is to pee in a tiny boat without touching any of the varnish?) or resurface the decks (with three kids coming and going and all the boatyard dirt). But when you move off the boat, anything is possible. You don't have to make the boat project a home in which you can cook, homeschool, wash, and sleep. You don't have to pick up the mess after every small stage. So you don't. Herein lies the beginning of an unpleasant realization.


It was one of those rare days that real work (for which one is paid real money) prevented my joining Dave at the boatyard to work on Eurisko. Over dinner, he explained that our newest acquaintance had come aboard to look at Eurisko, since she's so unusual.
"What did he say?"
"'Wow.' Just "'Wow.'"
"Because she's so big and roomy below?"
Eurisko has a beam of 11 1/2 feet, so even though she's only 34 feet long, she appears much bigger inside.
"Because she's so bright and airy?"
The lack of ports (or "holes in the hull" as Dave calls them) often causes people to erroneously assume that she is dark and dreary below. But she has two huge hatches plus the companionway that allow light and every bit of breeze to caress her interior. The cabin soles are holly and teak (rather than teak and holly) so the lighter wood dominates and accentuates the varnished purlins and trim surrounding the bits of bright white.
"Well then, why the 'Wow'?"
"Because she's a mess."
I couldn't believe it. Over the years I've grown accustomed to the exclamations of admirers when they get their first look at her interior.
"Someone said 'Wow' because she's a mess? She's not that bad!"
Dave gave me the look that 25 years has taught me to interpret as "Open your eyes. You're seeing with your heart."

Not as bad as it looks

The next time I went to the boat, I was determined to look at her interior with objective eyes. We've removed the mattress and all cushions so that the fiberglass dust from a dozen projects doesn't get into them. The floorboards currently reside on the front porch of our log cabin (To be perfectly honest, at this very minute they are in the living room. Don't ask.) so you have to walk in the bilge. The fuel tank is in the backyard getting cleaned. The motor is hanging from a line while we wait for new motor mounts which means the engine cover that doubles as a step is removed so the companionway ladder is vertical. The shaft, muffler, exhaust elbow, and other bits are laying in various illogical places in the aft cabin and the lids of most lockers are removed to make getting to their contents easier. The table is covered in bags of mixing pots, brushes, roller frames, covers, and trays, sour cream containers full of bolts and fasteners and parts we don't want to lose. And the prop. Don't forget that. When we can't find the prop later on, for some reason, it's on our dinette table. The galley--even the stovetop--is buried under materials, parts, and bags, all under a fine layer of fiberglass dust. She's a mess.

The aft cabin

From experience we know, as does anyone else who has lived long term on a boat, that if we had to, we could make her livable in a few hours. Slide the tools and supplies into the paint locker, wipe off all the dust, replace the locker covers, bring in the mattress, cushions, and floorboards and boom: We're home. But when it's a work in progress, taking her back to "home" status every night takes time and energy that we can't spare right now. So every night, after a day of grinding, sanding, epoxying, scraping, painting, and mechanicing, we check that all the hatches are closed, whisper goodbye, slide the companionway closed, and leave, knowing that she may be a mess right now, but she's still home. And sometimes, when you're working on a masterpiece, things have got to get worse before they can get better.

Our current major project is refinishing our decks. MONDAY we'll share the method a friend taught us that is an inexpensive, uncomplicated way to nonskid your decks.

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