Wednesday, September 29, 2010

So You Want to Live on a Boat, but Where do You Start?

Hans loves sailing. He loves the challenge, the water, the life.

I love water, but will probably never quite grasp the concept of sailing (I have severe problems with following direction, and would like to blame my mother who smoked while she was pregnant with me).
But I do love Hans and whatever Hans wants to do, I want to do.

So when he expressed a desire to fulfill his lifelong dream of living on a sailboat I made it my goal to do my part and research this lifestyle to the best of my ability.

And I did what any other land lubber would do under these circumstances; I turned to the Internet. Sadly, I'm a very literal person, and If I'm unfamiliar with a subject I'll believe just about anybody who professes to be an expert. Okay, I'm gullible!

So for the next year or so, depending on whichever sailing forum I was (un)lucky enough to stumble upon, I vacillated between wanting to sail away right now... blue water/freedom from the rat race/sunny skies ... to wanting to hide under my bed in fear of, Oh my God... engine failures/bad seas/pirates/custom's officials.

I still remember the day I breathlessly informed Hans (over the phone while I was supposed to be working) the exact type of motor we would need for our (still non existent) dinghy because a fellow blogger had done exhausting research on this subject and should not be ignored. And Hans said, "It's a f***ing motor! It's not rocket science! Who the hell is this joker?" And I realized I needed to relax.

So now a word of caution about forums (whether they be about sailing or not); unfortunately they remind me of my old bartending days when I was forced to spend my entire evening with the buffoon... the know-it-all wannabe... and my advice is to ignore them! At least until after you've bought your boat.

I do visit forums now and then for technical stuff (but again, beware of the know-it-all) and just last week I was furious when I stumbled across one that totally blasted our boat!

We have a Bob Johnson Island Packet Cat, and being a bit boxy she doesn't resemble a typical catamaran. A couple had expressed interest in buying one, and that's all the naysayers on this particular forum needed to read. They immediately unleashed their completely uneducated opinions like venom, but what really pissed me off was that not one of these idiots had ever set even one dirty toe nail on board an Island Packet Cat, yet they knew everything! I won't go into all the uninformed comments but one asshole in particular stated that if this couple was stupid enough to buy a Packet Cat, they better want to own it for life as its resale value was nil.


All I can say is that when we fell in love with this particular model, there were 10 of them on the market. They all sold within a year and considering the thousands of boats that are sitting out there now, rotting away and desperately needing to be sold, I think those are pretty good odds. And let me add, each one of these cats held their value very nicely! So there!

I realize the Internet is a fabulous place; it's been an invaluable resource for my sewing questions, but I've also learned to take some of the stuff I read with a grain of salt. Can you imagine what craziness you'd be bombarded with if you went onto a home buying forum? Speaking of which, I remember years ago when I was unfortunate enough to run into a parent of one of my kids' friend's. This woman held me hostage for about an hour (of which I could ill afford) while she informed me, via a very trembly voice just this side of a nervous breakdown, why she would never buy a house because of the danger of lead.

But finally, by the age of 50, I'd had it with the 'Oh My God Something Might Happen' way of life because I figured out 'Oh My God Something Might Happen' no matter where I lived, be it land or water! And when Hans announced this summer that we were moving aboard, I was ready.
We were only out for two months, but during that time we realized what was going to work for us and what wasn't. We got rid of the microwave (hellishly heavy and never used) that came with the boat, and we're having solar panels installed in order to keep our batteries topped off.

I ditched the TV (also only used once, and the absolute bane of my existance while we were on board because every day that we were moving, it had to be moved down to the settee in order to keep it from flying through the air and beaning Wilbur in the head!), and Hans finally installed some DC fans.
When we sail away in January it will be with a lot less clothes, a huge supply of dog food, and more than a weeks worth of food provisions. Yet, I've no doubt we'll learn even more about life on a boat and that's just fine.

Wilbur the Salty Dog is anxiously awaiting a new life in the Bahamas, and hopes to meet some Salty Dog Chicks.

Here is his SeaHarmony profile pic.

I have a feeling he's going to be quite popular.
Give me strength!


  1. Oh, I love the way you write! It's so true about the internet, and I had to laugh when you said you mentioned something to Hans about a motor and how he reacted. I've been through the exact scenario with my husband! Can't wait to hear about the Bahamas! You'll be there before me.

  2. Cheryl, you wouldn't believe some of the things I got myself worked up over! You better hurry up though; the Bahamas may never be the same after Hans and I have been there (with Wilbur of course).

  3. i just stumbled upon your blog. It's an entertaining read, particularly about opinionated know-it-alls. Fortunately, the rational sailors, while maybe not as vociferous, are out there in greater numbers than the know-it-alls and are more than willing to lend a hand, if asked. I enjoy your perspective and look forward following your blog!

  4. Neophyte!!! Thanks for commenting and I have to say I was thrilled to meet some wonderful live aboard people this summer and none of them were know-it-alls!! I think those kind of sailors live on the forums, and not on boats!

  5. You are always so entertaining! Looking forward to more posts, Wilbur updates, and on to Round II in January!

  6. Two Pitties, I think some of our friends would prefer 'fewer' Wilbur updates! But it is my blog, right?