Living on a boat for any period of time was never in my life’s plan. It’s never something I envisioned or even necessarily hoped for. Not a single thought of it had ever crossed my mind. Nevertheless, here I am, living on a boat. Almost every single aspect of living on the water is new to me, but I wanted to share with you five of the best surprising facts about living on the water. These are only my opinion, and everyone else’s experiences may be entirely different and you know what, that’s one of the best parts.
1. Sunrises & Sunsets are Life Changing. Every. Single. Time.
I can’t get the sunrise heading into Chicago out of my head. Pointing Patches into the city, the colors blending and reflecting off of the high rises were aimed directly at us. The sunrise was quiet. Can a sunrise be quiet? Well, it certainly wasn’t loud. The brightness felt muted, both blinding and eye opening at the same time.
The sunsets lowering into the horizon whenever we’re at a dock feel limitless. Like, soon we’ll be leaving the dock again and chasing the light. We sit watching as the boat changes shades as each day becomes night.
We think a lot about the morning before arriving in Mobile, when the sun was filtered through the fog. Eventually, almost in a conceited manner, the sun burned through the fog to reveal itself in the mirrored water. It couldn’t help but to reflect a perfect image of the sky above into the surrounding current below.
2. People Never Stop Giving You Things
Of course, there is an abundance of items our family has given to us over the course of planning, preparing, and being on the trip, but I’m not really even referring to that. I’m referring to the people who we have barely even finished a handshake with, who just hand stuff over without intending anything to be given in return.
An example, in the days leading up to leaving Michigan, we met Gary, the gentleman who owned the boat docked next to Patches. Talking only a little bit about our plans, he quickly let us resume our preparations. The following day, we ran into him at a local cafe, where he ended up paying our bill. Sitting down to breakfast together, he offered us brand new winches and a few other odds and ends. The day after that, he ran into us at the local marine store, Wolf’s Marine, and offered us a lift back to the marina.
There was another time when we were docked in Port Saint Joe, Florida, when someone walked by with a small anchor (perfect for a dinghy anchor) and, essentially, dropped it off just simply for saying hello.
I could list so many more, but it’s all to say that this really just seems to be a fact of cruising life. I’ll never get used to it though. I mean, how can you really get used to someone just walking over with a used dodger just because it looks like we might be able to use it? Each time, I’ll still say, “What? Why? Are you sure? But, why? Wow, thank you! But also, why? And are you sure?”
Truly, thank you.
3. You’ll Never Stop Meeting People (And Their Pets!)
RJ is a natural extrovert, so talking to the people is his thing, while I ultimately fall in love with their animal companions. Not that I don’t like the people, also. I just get nervous that they’ll find out I’m a fraud and know absolutely nothing about sailing (and the dogs and cats never seem to mind).
At least, for me. I guess you could say that maybe it’s not as simple for RJ, considering I’m the one sitting here writing while he works on the dinghy motor next door, but we’re both doing activities we enjoy.
He said once at the beginning, something along the lines of, though maybe not a direct quote, that, “I love the fact that I can be working on the engine in the kitchen while you are cooking dinner.” He said it was just to say that he enjoyed being in my company, but I took it as us both doing things we genuinely like to do. He loves getting greasy; I love cooking up new concoctions.
Even amidst the hard work, the sometimes questionable weather, and the zero alone time, at the end of the day, life couldn’t be more simple.
My dad will say, “Of course it’s simple, get a job.”
And, okay, I know, I’ll get there eventually, Dad! I do understand that making a living is important. But I also can’t understand giving up this experience, at least not yet. Admittedly, I tell RJ about once a week how much I want this trip to be over and how I wish for nothing more than to go home.
But, I’m still here, aren’t I?
And I’m writing again, which I had lost the inspiration to do for years. I’m taking the time to learn another language, pick up an instrument, and, of course, travel. Also, slowly (in my case), I’m learning about how a boat works.
These are all experiences I may miss out on if I just flew home to find a job doing something or other.
Sure, insurance, bills, and any other reason to stop what I’m doing and do something else. It’ll get worked out, I know that it will. For now, simplicity is the gift I’ve been given and I’ll be grateful for it.
5. It Forces You to Change
Maybe this isn’t that surprising, maybe it’s just surprising that it is such a good thing. Maybe it’s better said that it forces you to adapt to change, quickly, which is a great quality to have, I think.
I could explain how this is true just by saying the boat is facing a different direction every morning, or even, every hour, or actually, every minute, as the breeze shifts us around.
Our neighbors change.
Our balance is tested.
The water rocks me to sleep in our triangle shaped bed.
My foot has to pump for each bit of water that I want to come out of the faucet.
A goal of mine has been to practice yoga every day, but I never know where I’m going to do it. Adapt. Move. Change.
And it’s all okay.
Not only does everything change when you move from land to water, it changes every day after.