Over six months in…….is it what we expected?
Taking the decision to sell up, buy a boat, and sail around the world, was one of the scariest and yet most exciting times in my life…. all sorts of questions flurried around in my mind:
“Is this the right decision?”
“We have stayed on boats before, but living full time on one….. will we be comfortable?”
“How will we cope with living in a relatively small space?”
“Will we be able to sail such a large & powerful boat?”
“Will it be easy to have friends and family stay?”
“How are we going to downsize our possessions to fit in a 40ft boat?”
“What will it be like seeing out bad weather both on the dock and out at sea..?”
This is but a fraction of the things I would ask myself everyday in the run up to ‘moving day’ ….. it seems like just yesterday and yet here we are more than 6 months in…. we are sat here in the Salon (Living Room) warm and cozy, cup of tea in hand and it feels like this has always been home.
Neither of us had ever imagined that this boat and the full time live-aboard lifestyle would be this comfortable or as fulfilling as it has been.
Flashback to April -
Moving day arrived and it was cold - even though it was the end of April, spring was yet to have sprung…
The boat was on the ‘hard’ in her cradle and the only way to describe living on a boat in this state, is that it feels like living in a house on stilts!
We had two weeks before ‘launch day’, when we would actually get to see our boat in the water for the first time, and we had a lot of ‘out of water’ jobs to complete before then. But, in the meantime we didn’t want to commission the kitchen or water tanks, with the extra weight that would add to her whilst in her cradle, which made living aboard a bit awkward, but we are very lucky with the facilities available at the marina.
Sleeping aboard whilst in the cradle also made for some rather bizarre dreams - with her big wing mast, even bare poles, she would feel like she was squirming around in the cradle! It was also cold at night if we didn’t run the heating…..
Once launched and in the water there was an immediate difference! The boat was warmer at night - in the cradle the cold wind could whistle up through the keel box - once in the water that stopped, also the water temperature never really gets below 10 degrees in April, so suddenly half of the boat was ‘blanketed’ from the cold wind by the water.
Also, being back in the water meant we could finally commission the water system and kitchen …. so we could start to really make the boat feel like home and start to live quite normally. The marina is so sheltered and with the boat having a deep, heavy keel, her centre of gravity is so low that the boat barely moves at all and what little movement there is we have stopped feeling. Now we joke that the only way we know the boat is moving, is that the fruit and veg net starts to swing!
The master cabin onboard, otherwise known as our bedroom, is incredible - the bed is palatial and the original owner John spared no expense when it came to the mattresses!
So one of the worries I had had about moving onboard, “would we be comfortable sleeping onboard?” was quickly quashed when on the first night aboard we slept like logs! It was the first time we had both slept straight through the night in years!
The house we moved out of in Bristol was lovely and we were very very lucky to have had the privilege of owning it, but we had always pined for an open plan living space, and the separate kitchen away from the living and dining room always felt quite anti-social.
So as we settled in aboard, we quickly fell in love with main salon and galley area, we finally had our open plan living! It is the heart of the boat where everyone comes together to cook, relax, and work.
The galley (Kitchen) is along the starboard side of the salon and is quite spacious for a 40 ft boat and it’s position in the boat is what makes it super comfortable to be in whilst at sea.
The galley is directly opposite the keel box structure which splits the Salon area in two, most specifically the oven is directly in line with the keel - which means that when conditions get ‘nautical’ it’s a comfortable place to be as the boat moves the least around the keel.
The other feature we absolutely love is the HUGE windows in the coach roof! They let in an incredible amount of light - more than I have ever experienced in a monohull! The other advantage to the huge windows is that where ever you look, you always have a horizon to look at when out sailing - as even seasoned sailors know, having a horizon to look at whilst ‘down below’ is the key to keeping sea sickness at bay!
(Conor) “I have to say Sarah has made some amazing meals while underway even in big seas and she has been perfectly fine! Having good hot food is a definite moral booster for long journeys, as I’m sure many cruisers would agree - so to say we love the galley onboard would be an understatement!"
The guest cabin / fore cabin / guest bedroom, whatever you choose to call it, with it’s own head (toilet) has proved ideal for visitors and we have already had lots of friends and family stay with us over the last six plus months and it's worked out really well. As we head off, this will be the space that hosts visiting scientists, academics, family and friends and it’s worked out perfectly so far!
When we made the decision to follow our dream of moving to a live aboard lifestyle, we knew that it would bring an element of freedom and that our quality of life would improve, but, in no way did I think it would come in such quantity…..
We are definitely both happier, healthier and way more relaxed - we both get way more fresh air and sunshine than we probably ever did - living on a boat forces you connect with the space around you in a way that you seldom do in a land based life - especially when you are out sailing or in an anchorage - sitting outside surrounded by nature and wildlife and watching sunsets and sunrises from aboard a boat is truly magical and food for the soul!
We are still learning and adapting to life as live aboards - like finding the best way to store food and clothes, especially now that we are into the colder, damp, very British, winter months - but it is all part of the learning curve and the experience!
But, six months in we feel like this is now well and truly our home! We are very comfortable and we certainly want for nothing! All those worries and questions that had previously flurried in my mind have been blown away!
We have both already had experiences and made memories that will be treasured forever and this is only the beginning…….