16 July 2012

Cleaning the attic

Our attic, also known as guest cabin...
One thing all cruisers seem to share is too much clutter on the boat. Despite tons of spares and tools you move a complete household around the world. But most of the boats are fairly small, if not tiny if you compare them to a house or an average flat. Just imagine you had to move all your possessions into the smallest room of your house. Yes, you need to include the kitchen stuff, your books, food for a month or so and all your so loved memorabilities which you normally keep in hidden boxes in the attic. It may have become clear that there is no room for that couch and a 100 inch plasma TV with twelve speakers.

Since cruisers are per definition poor (or that's what they claim they are!) they hardly throw anything away. Which means after six months of sailing the boat carries an additional ton of gadgets which you bought new or was a replacement but you never got rid of the not working unit - it may become handy at one point again, right?

And you know what? On a boat you can see (yes, SEE) how much useless stuff you're carrying in your life. It's not the cramped lockers (they're well hidden behind the cabin sole). It's the waterline. Every boat has obviously a part which is under water and a part which is above the water - or at least you hope so. The part under water is painted with a special stuff called antifouling which prevents growth of alges and barnacles so your boat keeps moving easely through the water and does not become an artificial reef. The line where this antifouling, or bottom paint, meets the normal hull color above the water is called the waterline. So as heavier a boat gets as more it sinks into the water, means the waterline goes higher.

That's where we are now. Our waterline became slightly higher and higher, the water is now just even with the antifouling paint. Which is not a big problem, it's just that this damn marine growth seems to know that there is a boat with some unprotected (new) underwater area in the marina. After a few days the stuff starts to inhabit that area and slowly turns the boat into a living reef. There are three ways to fight that: 1. Raise the waterline 5 - 10 cm and admit that you have too much stuff or 2. get rid of some unused junk and make the boat lighter. 3. Optional you could dive every week and clean that waterline with a scraper for two hours.

Since I'm fairly lazy I decided for option one and two only. We will raise the waterline next time we need a new antifouling and second I will force Rahel to get rid of some high heels, handbags and clothes - tools are more important anyway :-)  No really, we use the current harbor time to get rid of a lot of stuff - the rule is simple: If it's not a spare and we did not use it the last three months it gets kicked out! You would not believe......

After all it's amazing how living on a boat can change life. Since you literally see the weight you carry, you really start to think what you actually need, just to realize how less it needs to be happy. While cleaning our boat "attic" from unneeded ballast, a quote from Mildred Lisette Norman, also known as Peace Pilgrim who wandered the USA for 28 years (her only possessions were basically the clothes on her back and the few items she was carrying) came to my mind. And I guess there is no better saying:

"Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions."


  1. I recognize that very much. It's a long process to get rid of all non necessities. Our boat is still full of things we won't need, but we think that we "might" need them one day... it seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world to trow the junk overboard, but for some stupid reason it isn't.

  2. Nice to hear from you Taru and Alex! If someone knows where we are at then it's you. Hope all is well and maybe we'll have another glass of wine some day... Do you think you might pass by Grenada on your way south?

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