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.
It started with a simple picture. A few weeks ago I posted a picture of our cat on Simply Sailing Online's Facebook page. Though I was taking a picture of our cat sitting in the bilge, the only part of the picture that readers of Simply Sailing saw were the labels on the cans. The comments poured in. I chuckled, I took a good ribbing, and then I started to think. Why was it such a big deal that I decided to experiment by leaving the labels on the cans? Yes, I know, I have been touting the importance of removing labels for years, but a girl is allowed to try something new, right? After all, things change.
The original purpose of label removal was to prevent the labels from coming off the cans and their contents becoming mystery meals. I have avoided this by labeling these cans with a Sharpie like I have thousands of others. We also didn't want the labels to wash into our bilge where they could clog our bilge pump. But our bilge is dry. It has been for 15 years, so I think we can pretty much make the blanket statement that we have a dry bilge. Period. The glue that adheres the labels to the cans makes a great cockroach snack, but again, things change. Since I wrote Simply Sailing we have added two furry crew members to the team. We don't have cockroaches any more, or at least not for very long. Like so many other things that we do, I made myself answer "Why?" before I removed the labels after this last provisioning run and could produce no good answer for myself. Thus the experiment with the labels.
But this entire Facebook exchange, though good natured, made me realize that it may be time for a sequel. After all, we have been cruising for twice as long now as we had when I wrote Simply Sailing and our upgrades and changes may appeal to other simple sailors. It's not just the labels on the cans that have changed.
When we had three teenage boys aboard, big provisioning runs consisted of 600 cans. Last week we provisioned for the Caribbean with 150 cans. We don't have as many mouths to feed, but we have also changed how we eat, with an eye to fresh and healthy more than ever before. Trying to fill up three boys on sprouts and avocado wraps was never going to happen. We would have had to sprout by the five-gallon bucket instead of the quart jar. But now, a half recipe of homemade tortillas (rather than a triple batch), a few sprouts, some cabbage salad and a yogurt dressing and we have dinner, even if we haven't been to the store in weeks. A single batch of homemade granola lasts us almost a month. It would have been gone in a few days before. Feeding two people who can fill up on smoked fish dip and a few crackers is a lot easier than feeding the army we used to have aboard.
But food isn't the only change. When our middle son went to college we designated his room the "shed" and proceeded to fill it: our fifth anchor, an inflatable megayacht fender, two extra sails, and Dave's jewelry studio fill the space nicely. (Or at least completely.) He had always wanted to get into creating silver jewelry but we never had the room before. We probably have less room in that bunk now than we did when Garrett was home, but Dave gained a hobby in the process.
When I wrote Simply Sailing, seven years ago, we had given up on marine heads and were using a bucket. I still believe a bucket is the best answer, but moving back into the land of regulations required that we switch to the second best: a composting head. We would have installed one much earlier, except that the manufacturer assured us there was no way it would keep up with five people. So we had to wait until we were three. Our youngest son is such a convert that he can't wait to have the money to replace his conventional marine head with "the only head that should ever be on a boat." (He is as opinionated as his mother.)
Without three crew/kids, we may have more room and be able to change how we eat, but we also have to change how we sail. We have yet to do a passage longer than three days with just the two of us. There has always been a kid to tuck in a reef, keep us company on watch, take a bearing on a ship, identify bizarre phenomena and constellations. Now it's just us. To compensate for our smaller crew, we purchased an AIS. Even on our short passages it has proven its worth as an extra set of eyes. And this one knows all the answers immediately, even if I just woke him up.
Yesterday we bought two automatic inflatable PFDs with harnasses. "There is no longer anyone to tell me if you fall overboard." Any survival gear that helps him sleep more soundly when off-watch is worth the price. With only two of us, his watches are longer than previously, and he still navigates, gets weather, cooks, fishes, and keeps the log.
We may have lost three helpful crew members, but we gained two furry ones. A 34-foot boat was too small for five people plus cats, but once we were down to three, we found room to squeeze in a litter box, some food dishes, and toys. And two entertainers.
A lot has changed in the last few years: in how we sail, how we live, what we eat, and even who we are. And when our grandson gets old enough to go sailing with us, they will likely change again. I had better get writing that sequel.
This time every year we have to remind people: It only takes one. MONDAY we'll talk about the season that doesn't follow a calendar and arrived several weeks early this year.
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