We’ve settled into a familiar boat-living routine. Each day we make coffee and enjoy it on the deck, watching the last of the sunrise dance on the translucent blue, flying fish skim across the water’s surface, or a mama goat foraging for food on a nearby island. The wind sings us an invitation to raise our sails and come play, but first we must attend to our boat, Kazijin or Kaz, as we’ve come to call her.
Boat chores take up a lot of our time and also get us moving in a nice rhythm. The normal-life-maintenance errands like swabbing the deck, cleaning the cabin, and doing laundry happen on a weekly basis.
Every morning we check the engine (belt, oil, and coolant), check the battery, count the engine hours to determine if we need gas, take a look at the bilge and pump out any water, and estimate our fresh water supply. We learned the hard way by spending two days without fresh water to make sure we fill both water tanks and keep track of how many days a tank last. Our refrigerator is a glorified icebox, so we need to restock ice and empty the water if we don’t want soggy food.
Being on a boat has raised our awareness about energy use. Since we have to pay $3 a garbage bag to get rid of waste, we’ve been thinking a lot more about what we consume and throw away. Since we have a limited DC battery, any time we turn on a light, fan, or use energy in any manner requires consideration.
Our first provisioning effort was a mad dash to the grocer before getting on the boat. After spending a week limited to what we bought, we started thinking hard about “must haves,” those food items and drinks we craved. Out on a boat anchored on a remote island, we usually don’t have access to supplies and are stuck with what’s on board.
Living on a boat takes some getting accustomed to. Take going to the bathroom. The nautical term for toilet is head and flushing builds the biceps. I’m pumping for two since Tobin can’t manage the pump yet, so I’m getting ripped. Ok, not quite, but I’m using it as an excuse to eat a few more chocolate bars.I’ve honed my ability to pee off the stern, which involves hanging off the rail, squatting and sticking my butt as far out over the water as I can. I’m also encouraging Tobin to pee off the side of the boat, perfecting his balancing skills as we sail through big swell and wind chop.
Another novelty of living on a boat in the British Virgin Islands where squalls pop up on a daily basis is getting up in the middle of the night to close all the hatches, reopening them or else getting smothered by one’s sweat, and then closing them a few hours later when the next rain shower threatens soaking one’s sheets.Boat living requires a more active lifestyle, always thinking about the next chore and cultivates an awareness of our surroundings. That’s part one of the reasons boat bedtime tends to be on the early side, and we’re usually asleep by nine.
It suits me, this windblown, shower-scarce, almost-always outside lifestyle.