One year living on a boat

First up, this is an extremely long and rambling post, with far more than it’s fair share of navel-gazing. You’ve been warned.

I’d missed talking about the one year anniversary of owning the boat back in December, due to being pretty upset about personal stuff. But! Today marks the one year anniversary when I moved out of my last apartment and onto a sailboat. I’d like to say it was a dignified and carefully planned operation, but the sad truth is I had done VERY little packing at the point when I found I had to move out a day earlier than I thought, leaving me to take the ‘throw everything into me and my friends cars and ditch it in a storage locker’ approach.

There was also no cushions, water, AC or DC electricity (which meant no lights), no refrigeration or heat. This meant for the first week I was sleeping in a sleeping bag, on the floor, in the dark. Like camping, but with perhaps less glamour.

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I got my cushions finished first, then the AC power working, then the DC, and then finally the water and a toilet. Once I was in the 20th century, everything else was a bonus. Nothing makes you appreciate being able to flip a switch and get instant light than a week of fumbling around in the dark smacking your shin off stuff. I now have heat, light, a fridge freezer, toilet, hot/cold water and almost every other convenience of a flat. Just with a better view 🙂

Now a year later, do I think it was a good idea? Absolutely. In fact, I wish I had done it years ago.

One of the reasons I got my pilots license and was working to become a pilot was because of the opportunities it presented to go to unusual places and see things that are beautiful. If I’d known about sailboats, and the things you could do on them, I’d probably have skipped the whole flying thing and be several years closer to my goal of sailing off.

Since living on Gudgeon I’ve gone from being unable to use an electric drill to almost completely refitting a 36′ sailboat, including extensive plumbing, electrical and fiberglass work. This is going to make me sound like a pretentious tonk (ok, I am a pretentious tonk) but there is something really fulfilling about physically creating or reforming things. It’s satisfying in a very kinetic way. My new skills will be extra handy once civilisation collapses, meaning that I will be among the very last to be sacrificed to the war god or whatever.

I also now know what a ‘halyard’ is.

It’s the first time I’ve lived in a space that I’ve owned, and that combined with the fact it’s a pretty small, easily managed area have meant that I feel a lot less anxious and out of control than I have in the past. Strangely, I also feel a lot more settled than I have, despite the fact I can literally go anywhere in the world. Maybe it’s because finally after years of spending no more than 12 months in a place, I finally am somewhere that I feel I will stay, no matter what the outside surroundings are. Unless it sinks or catches fire, of course. I feel that the fact that this object, this thing which feels so much more than a collection of fiberglass, teak and metal has really helped me through what has been a pretty eventful year, with a horrendous breakup, failed marriage proposal, donating sperm to a same-sex couple (and then seeing the baby – THAT is an unusual feeling!), being an actor in a film, moving onto a damn boat, and having to clean out the end result of the urine part of the composter being blocked, causing it to flow into the solids bin (never let a drunk person use your bathroom unless you are positive they have a very through understanding of how everything works).

The weather is a huge part of my life now – in bed, I can tell when the wind changes direction, even in dock and I check the weather forecast a lot. Storms in a boat that is safely in a marina are fun, however become less fun when you didn’t secure stuff down well enough because you didn’t check the forecast, and you are forced to go outside at 3 am in your underpants to try to figure out what is banging around.

When I first got a boat, I didn’t know anything about sailing – in fact I thought that moving the rudder adjusted the sails somehow because magic?!? I didn’t even know if I’d enjoy it, and expected I’d spend almost all my time on the water fishing. In fact, it turns out that I love sailing, and I spent almost all my time out doing that instead of fishing, which is quite the turn up since I really love fishing. In fact, I liked it enough that I am planning on starting a circumnavigation of the globe in two years – by then I should have finished my refit and got my renewable power sources up and running. And have some new sails that don’t sag like my old underpants.

Lastly, as I am going to end this before I disappear up my own arse, I want to thank my amazing friends Nancy, Emma, Candace and Elysse for all their support and love. You guys pulled me out of some pretty rough times, and I hope I can repay y’all someday.

 

 

 

Matt

7 Comments

  1. Ha! This reminded me of how rough my start was. It was December, too. There was no battery, so no cabin lights. I was left a broken desk lamp in the only working outlet. Man did I feel like a princess when I had that fixed after four months! Besides everyone telling me “Yeah I didn’t think you were going to last!” I didn’t think I would either. But there’s something special about living on a boat and doing all that work. It’s something nobody can take away from you. Plus when people say “what have you been up to?” you can show them all the cool stuff you’ve done.

    • Christ, December. At least my start was in July, I’m not sure I’d have lasted if I’d started in December!

      I got the ‘you won’t last’ a lot too. In some ways that is encouragement, I’m pretty stubborn!

      • It was the last time we had so much rain! So, every winter has seemed awesome compared to when I moved aboard. Stubborn seems to be what makes a good sailor!

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