10 things worse about living on land

spring-2

Well, it has been almost two weeks since we stepped off Never for Ever for the last time after living aboard for just shy of a year. Since then we have packed up, driven from Nanaimo to Edmonton, unpacked, then moved our son from his apartment to our basement and done some truly prodigious shopping. In short, it’s been busy. But mostly it’s nice to be home again.

But I have been noticing that, common sense to the contrary, there are a lot of things I enjoy about living on a (relatively) tiny boat and there are a lot of things not-so-hot about life ashore. So here’s my top 10 list of things that make me wish I was still living aboard.

One: traffic jams

The other day we had the “pleasure” of running into an accident that meant we had to detour down the Yellowhead Freeway at rush hour. One-and-a-half miserable hours later Leslie and I were more tense and terse than we’d been in years.

A traffic jam on a boat consists of circling a gas dock waiting for your turn. Occasionally you wait for another boat to dock or undock. As our first sailing instructor John Fairweather often said, “It’s all good…” The maddening frustration and road-rage inducing tension of dealing with thousands of other equally frustrated commuters just doesn’t exist.

Two: social engagements

It’s not the idea of social engagements per se I am finding frustrating, but not once, in all the time I have spent on the water, has a date, meeting, drink, or coffee involved daytimers and/or multiple exchanged emails with alternatives, backups or reschedules anticipated, demanded or negotiated.

Time for a bit of socializing

Time for a bit of socializing

Maybe it’s the more relaxed lifestyle or just the mere fact that if you can’t make it happen then one or more of the potential participants is likely to just move on, but crusing is so much more relaxed. Like a lot of cruising related activities, socialization s much more of a binary system; decisions are often reduced to “yes” or “no.” While that may mean you miss opportunities to connect with people, I have to say I really prefer the simplicity of the cruising lifestyle.

Three: separate rooms

Our boat has three cabins — four if you include the head — and another space in the cockpit usable on most days. And the v-berth quickly became too cluttered to be used as a reading space as I originally intended. That left the salon, aft cabin or cockpit as places you could “be.” 90% of the time Leslie was within easy conversation distance.

It worked for us. We had our own spaces but rarely did we feel alone or left out.

Chillin' indoors

A little alone time.

Our condo is four floors including the basement and generally we often have no idea where anyone else is, or even if anyone is actually home. And this quickly results in all sorts of pre-programmed anti-social habits. Once we are back to work and busy with our own thoughts and concerns, it is going to be a struggle to avoid falling back into the trap of living together separately. But at least after our year of living small we are more aware and can actually make an effort to avoid the worst of it and just make time to “be” in the same space.

Four: the tyranny of choice

The phrase “tyranny of choice” is often tossed off as a trite witticism, but it takes a year of living with limited choice to really realize that the world does offer us too much choice. On board we had a reduced wardrobes, minimal crockery, just the food left in the lockers, limited choices for entertainment, and our “toys” were few and basic… But back on land we have access to pretty much anything we can imagine and therein lies the issue. I am starting to think that we as a culture spend too much time imagining and not enough time thinking. Simple choices are no longer simple if you can’t readily eliminate 90% of your imagined choices. This leads to a lot of wasted time, worry and brainpower. In a lot of ways, I miss the simplicity of boat life the most.

Five: too much room

IMG_6608Hand-in-hand with too much choice is too much room. There are no piles on a boat. Discipline is enforced because there simply isn’t enough room. A day of maintenance that involves moving gear from its normal place will turn the boat into chaos for everyone — and everyone is always equally eager to get it all back to a semblance of order. Our condo has 1900 plus sq. ft; if you put something new down in an out-of-the-way corner, for us, it’s 60-40 that it will ever make its way to a permanent new home. And the next thing you know you’ve got a pile that grows to such proportion that simply dealing with it becomes something you actively avoid.

Six: indoor life

This one is purely psychological. On board I spent a minimum of a couple of hours outdoors every day. At home, not infrequently, days will pass before I step outdoors. I have no idea why coffee on deck on a cool morning is so appealing when on the water and so distasteful when in the city. But it is. I need to get over it.

Mornings

Seven: locked doors

We live in the city. We, prudently, lock our doors at every opportunity. I never realized how disheartening that is. And what an annoyance it is to take your keys with you every time you leave for 5 minutes. We locked the boat if we were going to be away for any extended period of time but rarely if someone was aboard. There is just something “wrong” with walking up to your own door and being locked out.

Eight: travelling in general

Say it’s eight in the morning and we have to go to Calgary; that’s a three hour drive away. Cue tension. The older I get, the more any long trip out of the city leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Traffic, boring scenery, the necessity of focussing your attention on all the other yahoos on the road — all of this makes travelling a big negative in my view. On the other hand, if we have a 5-hour motor or sail ahead of us, it’s just another adventure. You can switch off duties, enjoy the trip, eat, stretch and not feel tied down to a schedule, and, for me, finally make the journey just as interesting as the destination.

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I have so many pictures like this :-)

Nine: feeling the necessity to get out of the rain

Kids, at least when I was a kid, will play in the rain, sit in the mud and generally disdain common sense. But I haven’t spent more than 5 minutes out in the rain for years if I wasn’t camping or sailing. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out when “wet” became such a bad thing.

Ten: socks

IMG_6898And for number Ten, I have saved the worst for last. I have come to the conclusion that socks are the devil’s creation. They are hot, uncomfortable and are always trying to strangle my feet. For the last year aboard I wore socks, if I was lucky, once a week. Now it seems I am expected to wear them a minimum of 10 hours a day. I am so tempted to go by a pair of Birkenstocks and embrace my inner hippy.
—Captain Why #Liveaboard

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Instagram This Week

Home again, home again. #endofanadventure

Home again, home again. #endofanadventure

 

Double rainbows bidding us goodbye to BC #valemount

Double rainbows bidding us goodbye to BC #valemount

 

That's it, that's all, c'est tout!

That’s it, that’s all, c’est tout!

 

All packed, boat mostly clean, and last night aboard. #neverforever #yegbound

All packed, boat mostly clean, and last night aboard. #neverforever #yegbound

 

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Boat Cleaning, Gear Moving & Goodbyes

We decided to spend our last few days at anchor in Nanaimo Harbour, which has become one of our favourite places. It has good holding, nearby hiking, washrooms with showers on Newcastle Island, access to groceries, booze and boat parts wishing easy walking distance and is a great place to simply sit and people watch. The weather turned out to be glorious and we enjoyed the warm sun and ran errands without thinking too much about the next week.

Over the next couple of days we had a visit with Leslie’s parents, enjoyed a beer/cider with an old high school chum (Hi Katie!), filled the propane tanks and hike some new trails on Newcastle Island. But all too soon it was Sunday morning and time to move onto the next phase.

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Get Trucking

In the meantime however, we did need to make plans to move off the boat. We had no vehicle in British Columbia and I had sold my truck in January. Flying home to get Leslie’s car and driving it back would have cost too much and the and the little Pontiac likely wouldn’t hold all our stuff anyway. The next option we looked at was flying home and shipping the rest of our stuff. This was my referred solution. But I looked at the cost of flights out of Vancouver (we try to fly by seaplane to YVR and then home on Westjet or Air Canada, as it usually saves time and costs roughly the same as a taxi ride to Nanaimo’s airport and a direct flight) and then started to add in the extras. Shipping our stuff by truck wasn’t too much but it would mean I had to find a pallet and boxes and packing material and then get the all stuff to a depot. Total cost of around $1200. Another option I looked at was to leave a lot more stuff in storage and just ship 3 big boxes via Loomis — they would pick up and deliver. But the cost was pretty much the same and we would have ended up leaving behind way too much stuff that I wanted to take home.

Then we looked at booking a van one-way. The rental from a traditional rental agency was going to be at least  $1100. A U-Haul was more like $500 but then I had to drive a big, half-empty cube van across the Coquihalla and pay for all that fuel. Not my referred option. In the end, we settled on renting a full size car which would likely fit most of our stuff if we crammed, and only cost around $800 all-in. With ferry, meals and a hotel half-way that worked out to around $1200. Roughly the same cost as all the other options and Leslie’s preferred solution. As I was booking the car though, I discovered my license had expired back in April (Alberta decided to stop mailing out notices while we were away) so it looked like Leslie was going to have to drive — another good reason not to go with the U-Haul.

Up Anchor for the Last Time

On Sunday morning we hauled up the anchor and headed into the pumpout to give the holding tank a good flush. For once it worked—we’ve had a lot of bad luck with the Port of Nanaimo’s pumpout. We pumped it out, flushed and pumped it out again. Then we cast of and headed to the Gas and Go right by Stones Marina to fuel up. Once we had topped off all the tanks, Ian from Nanaimo Yacht Charters and Sailing School met us on the fuel dock and directed us into one of their slips at Stones and that was that. It was time to start getting ready to go.

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On the bow the last time for a least a year.

As soon as we hit the dock we started by dividing the boat into three zones. The v-berth became the place for things returning Edmonton. The salon housed things going into storage and lockers were strictly for things remaining aboard.

IMG_7568In less than an hour the boat was a disaster area and remained that way until the very last minute. After nearly a year of an orderly and tidy boat it didn’t take long for us to start losing, misplacing and more importantly, miscommunicating, about everything we owned. Living in such a small place for so long relies on consistency and cooperation and once we started disassembling our little world, it didn’t take long for the clutter and the differences in our methodologies to create havoc.

But we had many, many reviews and reconsultations and the occasional moderate dispute and we kept moving forward. Step by step we made slow progress using what I like to call the box-step method. Two steps forward, one step sideways, one step back. Repeat. We tried to make lists of everything we packed and to  make sure things were labeled so that we weren’t going to be sitting in Edmonton wondering where things had got to or if we needed to  bring it out with us on our next trip. And while we didn’t expect to actually clean the boat to “charter” status, I wanted to get it unloaded, cleaned up a bit and then get at a few things I hadn’t been able to do in the spring. This included scrubbing the outside lockers, cleaning some hard-to-get-at spaces and rewaterproofing the canvas

Keeping it Clean

Keeping a boat clean while living on it is a test of skill, ingenuity and good systems. And I have to admit, we seemed to have failed. Most of the things I had scrubbed in the spring, inside and out, were even dirtier than after the winter and the things I hadn’t scrubbed were downright disgusting. The aft locker especially was a mess. I hadn’t done it because it was hard to get at on our old dock and frankly it was crammed full of so much stuff that I kept putting it off. But since we were tied stern to at Stones I had no more excuses. Out came everything and then down I went. The locker is a bout 2 and a half feet deep with and opening wide enough for more torso but not wide enough for my shoulders to easily pass through. By slipping one arm and then the other in I could hand from the waist and almost reach every corner of the dirty, mildewy locker. But getting out again was an exercise in controlling my mild claustrophobia as the leverage was just not there. But I got it cleaned out and all the junk was sorted and then the stuff that was staying aboard was restowed. Ian agreed to take my old plough anchor on consignment so was one issue I didn’t have to deal with.

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The non-skid was another thing that seemed to collect dirt and grime at an excessive rate. I had scrubbed it all back in March April but it seems to get much dirtier, much faster when we are cruising. I tried a number of products from regular deck soap to special “corrosive” noon-skid cleaner but my best results were by using liberal amounts of FSR (fibreglass stain remover) and letting it soak in. Amazing stuff, that FSR. I also smeared it all over the small rust bits on the stainless plate mounted under our arch and it cleaned up all the rust in all the crevices and corners.

Over the course of the next few days we scrubbed the canvas again, although the rain later in the week prevented us from waterproofing more than than the dodger and connector. We cleaned out the fridge again (another thing really hard to keep clean when living aboard) and dug as much accumulated grunge out of the seemingly infinite crack and crevices that exist in a boats interior.

Although we had tried to keep up with the mildew over the winter and spring, as soon as we started unloading our stuff it became apparent that there were a lot of places (mostly the aforementioned cracks and crevices) where mildew had taken hold. I am not sure how one would deal with this long term other than to constantly shuffle ones belongings from space to space and cleaning as you went. But that would mean always having an empty space available to shuffle things to and that’s not really feasible.

Nanaimo Yacht Charters and Sailing School

IMG_7546I’ll do a separate post later on the wrap up of turning the boat over to NYCSS but Ian, Lorraine and Shari were their usual friendly and helpful selves, offering us use of their car and access to all the services. We discussed the repairs the boat needed (the d@mned Webasto heater stopped working sometime in the last 2 months among other things) and cleared up some details. On Tuesday we did the haul-out, pressure washed the bottom and replaced the zincs. The zincs were mostly gone and I really should have replaced them much earlier. But other than that everything looked good.

IMG_7566I had a chance to chat with the owner of Stargazer who was just returning from his cruise. He has had his boat at NYCSS for a couple of years now and was happy with the arrangement, which just reinforced our decision to give it a try. He said one of his deciding factors when choosing Nanaimo was their integration of a boatyard, service people and haul-out. Since everything gets billed back to the owners I can see how not having to pay the extra costs involved in moving the boat to a separate location for any work would be desirable.

We also met Selma, who is one of the local liveaboards’ cat and a bold and bossy little girl. But it was nice to get a little cat love again.

NYCSS also provided us with locker space on site (at a cost of course — tanstaafl), which was a great bonus for us during the week. We slowly hauled out everything that made the boat our comfortable home up and stored it in big, labeled rubbermaid containers. That way, when we come back we can just move what is appropriate for the length of our cruise. The charters are called bare boat and they mean bare boat. We were provided with a list of gear that needed to be aboard and they really didn’t want  any extra things like the percolator or dutch oven unless we were willing to bear the risk of loss or damage. So we packed it all up and moved it ashore so we would have it for our own use later.

We stored things like our nav equipment, charts, and pfds as wells as sheets, comforters and pillows—Leslie even left a bunch of clothes. There was also lots of extra galley gear, some reference books and cleaning stuff. All in all, there was a lot more than I thought there would be.

Saying Goodbye

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Our last view of Never for Ever for 2016.

We didn’t get it all done. It was too much, having to sort, move and clean at once and when we finally stepped off the boat on Thursday morning it was still a mess. But they have over a week to work on it and were going to go over it bow to stern anyway. All the cushions were going to be steam cleaned, bilges scrubbed and all the surfaces and lockers cleaned out by their experienced and well-equipped crew so I didn’t feel too bad about leaving it half done. We’d worked hard all week and it was time to go.

Thursday morning we packed up our last bits, stuffed the sheets in a laundry bag, hauled the pillows up to the storage locker and walked through the boat looking for forgotten items. Then we walked the keys over to the office, said goodbye and jumped in the car.

And like that our adventure was over.

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Back to the old way of getting around.

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Horsehoe Bay from the ferry. The last view of salt water for a while.

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We were greeted with a lovely double rainbow just outside Valemount


—Captain Why #Posts