27 August 2012

from sailor to non-sailor

I recently spoke to my dear friend Mary on Skype (what would we do without Skype anyway?!). We became friends literally in the desert namely when we used to live in Dubai. Even though she likes to swim her element is the earth and not the water (sea). So far I know she has never been sailing and doesn't know a lot about it.
She asked me how I feel to live on board a boat since nine months, how I did adapt to that life and how it was to be around my husband 24/7?

So, how can you as a sailor answer those questions to a non-sailor?
I might better ask: What is the DIFFERENCE of this two lifestyles?

Mmh, first of all - we sailors travel with our HOME, a complete house with all its technical and personal stuff on it. Water piping, electrical wiring, sanitary installations, kitchen appliances, a motor, water maker, communications system and so on. All those systems need to be maintained, daily, weekly, monthly or by the hour. When a problem pops up there is usually nobody else around who could fix it, so my man has to be a plumber, electrician, carpenter, communication specialist and a mechanic. My job is to act as the "nurse" as I'm supposed to hand him the right tool at the right time. Do you have this on land? I doubt it. You pick up the phone and call a specialist whenever a problem occurs. Unless you're married to a handyman of course...

When it comes to STORAGE, this is limited - but in comparison to other boats we learned that we're still on the good side on Habibi! What makes it even worse to find all the stuff again... I guess, that's not such a big issue in an apartment or a house. You have a cellar or a storage room and you have lots of closets. There might be the problem with accumulating things you don't need anymore - that's not going to happen on a boat: What's not used gets off! You'll have to live with a limited wardrobe, what might cause a serious fight in some marriages... But even I had to learn that spares are more important than shoes ;-)

I think we live quite an ECOLOGICAL life on our boat (as anyone living on land should or could do as well): we make our own power with solar panels and our own water with our water maker. We don't throw any garbage over board (except some biological one) and collect it instead till we hit land for the next time. When we store food or anything else we take it usually out of its packing and keep it in containers or boxes. A sailboat of course can benefit from the wind and we try as much as possible to avoid using the motor. While on anchor we don't turn on the water heater. As we both like a warm if not hot shower we have solar shower bags.
When it comes to water we anyway started to reduce our consumption. In comparison to other cruisers we are still using far-above-average amount of water, as we like COMFORT. We both don't like camping therefore try to live a comfortable life as much as possible. We want to take a shower at least once a day, wash dishes with sweet water, work on our laptops, charge our devices, drink cold beer and switch on lights and fans. This doesn't sound at all as we had to compromise to a non-sailors life, doesn't it?
OK, I have to confess that I'm still dreaming of a washing machine and a vacuum flush toilet...

Sailors (usually) stopped working to travel fulltime while non-sailors work fulltime to travel occasionally. As cruisers we have to plan our TRAVELS, to study guide books and charts of our next destination, prepare the papers for immigration, make decision like what course to sail and when to set off according to the weather forecast. And most of us have a chart plotter to navigate. Once arrived at our DESTINATION we of course enjoy it! We can drop anchor in beautiful bays and discover the country on land and on sea, meet new people, eat local food, speak foreign languages (at least we try!) and struggle with different currencies. So traveling for a sailor means to shift his "home" with him while he's exploring the world. That's pretty neat! Non-sailors on the contrary always should travel as light as possible as you have to carry your baggage and it can get expensive if you exceed the limit on a plane!

We are moving around constantly. So how do we make FRIENDS? The cruiser's community is quite special. If you are just a little open minded you can meet people on every island, in every anchorage or any port. People announce potlucks (which I don't like), cocktails on the beach or happy hours over the radio (VHF) or from mouth to mouth. This community is very helpful and likes to socialise. I guess it's easier for the guys to hook up as they can talk about boat stuff or fishing forever. For me it's sometimes more difficult as I'm an introvert person and need some time to open up. I've always prefered to have just a few but trustworthy and long-lasting rather than many but shallow friends. When I finally connect to someone it's usually time to move on again...

But I'd like to point out here: our LIFE does not only consist of sipping cocktails on the beach while watching the sunset - well, sometimes we do and we have fun, but reality looks different! It's not all romantic and rose-tinted. But hey, this isn't the case on land either, right?
There might be one big DIFFERENCE though: we are not directed by others. Nobody tells us what, when or how to do! Only the weather has the power to stop or guide us (and maybe the insurance company during hurricane season). We make our own decisions, every day! We've chosen this lifestyle to gain freedom and self determination. Consequently we don't have an income and have to live on a budget, this is our limit ;-)

Marco and I literally "are in the same boat". We make decisions, plan, sweat, swear, solve problems, argue, laugh together almost 24/7. What's the secret then, that we aren't at each other's throat? Either of us has its tasks on board and we give each other a lot of space. Is this different to a non-sailor's life? Honestly, I hope not!

With love from paradise

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