Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our Life Aquatic

Up until now, I've only been writing about the technical aspects of Moitessier and have yet to mention what living aboard a boat is really like.  I'm sure you've read my rantings and ravings about things going wrong, but I've never mentioned the emotional aspect of being afloat.  I've found that since I've moved down here, life has taken a much slower, more peaceful pace.  I'm much more in touch with nature and all that's going on around me, and find that I'm much more introspective.  I wake up everyday to the sun rise, and even as I write, there is a squall outside and I can feel every movement the storm is making on our boat.  I can hear the wind howling through our rigging, the raindrops smacking on our decks, our halyards banging on the mast, and Moitessier is bobbing around like a bottle.  If I were in a house or at my apartment, I wouldn't be aware of any of this.  It's a bit frightening but it makes me feel alive.

Wall cloud coming to get us...


The greatest thing about living on a boat is I'm around animals all the time. Dolphins come by every morning and evening to fish, turtles swim around the boat, manatees play in the water, pelicans and cranes hang out at our docs and you can watch them hunt.  We're surrounded by edible fish, and most evenings Frank fishes for dinner.  Every evening we watch the sun set from our cockpit, casting pink and orange light all around us, and though it's been 2 months, it's still breathtaking.  Some nights, there are phosphorescence, and it's fun to stir the water and watch them glow.  Other nights, I love seeing the flat calm water mirror the lights of the other liveaboards around us.  And every night, we fall asleep to the sound of shrimp crackling under water, it sounds a little like rice crispies.

Sheephead for dinner

There's a level of self sufficiency that I can't explain, and you become hyperaware of your surroundings.  I find that I spend a lot of my time cleaning up after myself, checking filters, checking our bilges, watching our water consumption, making sure I don't leave the fridge door open, making sure our AC and fridge pump water, tying down the boat, making sure our propane tanks are off, checking that we don't leave lights on that drain our batteries, etc etc.  These are the trade offs and I don't find them too compromising considering how much its taught me about myself.  On land, your garbage disappears as fast as it's produced, your electricity and water is unlimited, and your shit goes away when you flush it.  You don't think about how much you consume and waste, and how much unnecessary packaging you use.  We have become very aware of this, as we find ourselves taking off as much packaging as we can in the car, so that we don't have to transport it to the boat, back into the car, and then to the dumpster. It's really put into perspective how wasteful we are and just how much crap we have.  Not that I'm getting all green, but I think extremes are never good, both for the environment and for our state of mind.

Another thing that you don't think about with living on a boat is just how much your surroundings affect you.  We recently moved our boat to an end slip (only 30 yards away) and I tell you, what a difference it made.  Initially we had a neighbor who liked to party late into the night and we could hear his Jimmy Buffett CD on repeat almost every night.  It drove us crazy so we moved.  Now, we can't hear a thing, and our relationship with him is far better (as we're not sitting around hating on him and his loud music).  That's the cool thing about boats, you can move them, if you don't like where you are...just pull up your dock lines and go, the view is always waterfront....

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