The vast majority of the time, living our nomadic life under sail is highly entertaining, rewarding, stimulating and challenging. It’s an amazing way to raise our children and to see the world, especially the great Pacific Northwest, and there’s nothing more we’d rather do.
That said, we’ve recently dealt with a couple realities of this life that are particularly difficult and often get amplified by our situation. Fortunately, they’re typically ones that we can live with and move past in a positive direction.
Small spaces can be tough
While out for a short sail last weekend, I knew something was up. Rather than being on deck sailing like usual, Porter really wanted to take a nap. He never naps.
Not long after I put him in his bunk, he called up to me and mustered the effort to get his gear on and come out. But a short time later he just wanted to be held. While cradling him in my arms in the cockpit it hit me. He was sick. Uh oh.
A while later and after another nap, we took his temperature and found it to be over 100 degrees. Double uh oh. We live in a very small space and my fear soon turned into a reality: The entire crew had come down with a wicked flu.
Of course, it barely stopped us from proceeding north and we sailed from Bainbridge Island in one big hop to LaConner and then on to Anacortes. All the while though, the temperature of every crewmember was high, coughs were forming, noses were leaking and body aches were the topic of the day.
I realize that if we lived in a house there’s a high probability that we could all get this sick at the same time, but in a house we could all have our own space. On a boat, the close proximity of dealing with the illnesses makes handling it particularly difficult. Not wanting to infect others, we holed up on Yahtzee for days sleeping, drinking water and trying to eat decent meals. There have been other instances when we’ve been boat-bound for several days at a time like this and it’s always restless. But when we’re all sick, it’s just flat out no fun.
Thankfully, we’re all on the mend now and with life aboard returning to normal our daily routines are starting to take shape again.
For starters, I have to say that I rarely mention money on this blog because I hate talking about it and I believe it’s something that, in general, is nobody else’s business. But if I’m going to be real. And I’m going to present what it’s truly like to live on a cruising sailboat, this part of the post has to happen.
The question of “How much money do I need?” gets thrown around the cruising community fairly often and there really is no answer. At least no good one. My response is that it’s different for everyone. What I make to keep us going by managing Three Sheets Northwest and writing freelance has been ok for us, but it might not be for other cruisers. Our society is highly driven towards making and spending money, so if you make a lot and spend a lot on land, you’ll probably do the same on the boat, and vice versa. The reality is that it depends on what you’re used to and what you have, and it’s oftentimes fluid.
Last August while basking in the beauty of Barkley Sound, Jill and I sat and did a bit of financial planning for the year ahead and where that would take us cruising throughout 2017. There were some necessary upgrades that we needed and wanted to make to Yahtzee and a winter vacation to warmer climes to visit family sounded nice, too. We could do it. We were doing ok.
But when we got to Seattle, pulled the boat out of the water and then unexpectedly launched into the long and very costly battle with our skeg and rudder, all of that came to a crashing halt. We knew the repairs would be costly and create some financial discomfort, but not to the degree that actually happened. A new rudder, massive fiberglass work and all the man hours to get the jobs done hurt. Bad.
For most cruisers that live on one salary or a fixed income, there’s little to no room for a massive layout of cash like that. Somehow we made it work but dug a deep chasm that brought us to our knees in the process. And now that tax season is here for us and our small business, we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to claw our way out of the hole.
Our situation and this reality is not unique amongst cruisers and like everyone does, we’re exploring our options so we can move forward. For now, one of the only ways we know how to spend less is to fill the boat and leave, because the bleeding always slows when we get away from the relentless monetary pull of cities and services.
So where do we go from here? I literally have no idea besides — out sailing.
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