Let’s continue the lessons learnt in this Part 2 of the sailing journey series.
These lessons are in no particular order and just the way that they melted from my brain. Memories of living on 2 boats – Naiad and Reality – for 21 years swim through my mind. So, I wanted to share some insight with you. Maybe you’re thinking of living on a boat long-term?
Let’s continue with the lessons learnt.
Living on a boat teaches invaluable teamwork between skipper and crew.
Each person needs to trust the other to know what to do in any situation that may arise. This comes with time, experience, and making mistakes. Call it a ‘conditioning‘ of situations and hopefully, you only make the mistake once.
But, it’s not just about the sailing and discovery of secluded amazing spots.
Because you’re continuously living in a confined space with each other, this is also challenging.
Depending on where the boat is anchored, you can’t just step off following an argument. What can you do? Leave in a huff? Sit in your dinghy for an hour to cool off and enjoy a little space?
This may be just my experience, but the boating community is different.
Maybe it’s because everyone is in the same boat so to speak (no pun intended). If something goes wrong, typically, other yachties come to your aid. Not that I expect everyone to do everything for me – I don’t. It’s comforting to know that if you’re in trouble out there, then someone may come to help. We helped other yachties many times over the decades.
The yachting community seems to be more close-knit, but this also depends on where you’re moored. It’s not uncommon to bump into other boats whilst anchored behind an island. Before you know it everyone is invited for a BBQ, party on the beach, or to another boat.
Have you ever heard of a Progressive Party?
A popular gathering while in Brisbane but also while cruising and usually involves several boats. Everyone visits the first boat for sundowners and snacks. A second boat for starters. A third for the main meal. A fourth for dessert. A fifth for after-dinner drinks and games. After a couple of drinks on each boat, hopping on and off the dinghy to change boats, becomes very challenging.
Progressive parties are loads of fun and something that you really can’t do in a house, as you can’t drive after drinking.
Coping with seasickness
Have you ever been seasick? I mean severely seasick? Not just queasy.
During rough weather or just confused seas, the motor goes on. The diesel fumes linger around your face and set’ off seasickness, for me anyway.
It starts with clammy sweats. Then, a queasy feeling creeps in. Trying to fight this off for a while until bam, you’re puking.
Throwing up over the boat’s side or with your head in a bucket on the boat’s sole – not enjoying the view – becomes the norm, for hours. Once it starts, it doesn’t stop. Dry-retching is even worse. It’s at this delirious point that I dream of being back on land.
I’ve tried pressure bands, ginger, seasickness tablets, everything. Nothing works. Another sailing friend suggested eating lettuce leaves to calm this infliction – yeah right.
Once seasickness starts, the only way it stops for me is by anchoring behind the lee of an island in calm water again. Sounds like fun?
Does land sickness exist?
Yes, you read correctly. Land sickness does exist.
After being out at sea for some time, returning to land may cause land sickness. It’s because your body is still adjusting from the continual movement of the water to the land’s stability. Some sailors experience this worse than others.
Unlike seasickness, which I’ve experienced too many times that I care to remember, I did experience land sickness. But, only once in my life over a couple of sailing decades.
I remember it well. It happened after sailing along Australia’s New South Wales coast for a while, without setting foot on land.
On returning to land and while in a phone box (remember those?), the whole box started swimming slowly around me. Or, I was floating around the phone box – not sure. I felt as though I was still on Naiad until a wave of queasiness washed over me. Luckily no puking followed, as does with seasickness.
No one understands you
The number of times that I’ve been asked ‘Why would you want to live on a boat’ beggars belief. And, although I moved off Reality 10 years ago, I’m still asked this same question.
Friends, family, and colleagues look at you strangely when you say you live on a boat. Family hope that it’s just a silly phase that will pass or you’ll grow out of it soon. Because why would you possibly want to give up creature comforts to live in a confined space?
What people don’t really understand is that you have the sea as your backyard, not just a small piece of turf.
Each anchorage, a new island, and a different coastline become your new playground. With the bonus of if you don’t like your neighbour or new abode, you just shift your boat. Easy. Can’t do that in a house without the drama of selling, or ending a lease.
Often, landlubbers perceive yachties as gipsies. Tramps. Vagabonds. Weird. Living a nomadic existence with ‘no fixed abode’.
There’s a stigma attached to living on a boat and it isn’t great. The nickname ‘grotty yachtie’ comes to mind.
Living on a boat is similar to living in a motorhome with a couple of major differences. You can’t sink a motorhome and it’s much easier than living in a boat.
No fixed abode
This is an issue with authorities. Or, with people that think you’re a little weird because you live on a boat. I’ve experienced both.
Bureaucracy and laws dictate that you must have an address. That address must be a street address. A post box isn’t always accepted as an address.
When renewing a driver’s licence, anything to do with banks, or any formal documentation, having no fixed abode creates all sorts of prolonged dramas.
One way to fix this hurdle is to rent a post box. Although, this isn’t always a solution as some authorities will not accept a post box as proof of residence. You can’t live in a post box. So, “where DO you live?”
The questions begin. A boat never crosses anyone’s mind. It’s such a foreign concept to so many people that when you explain your abode, an incredulous expression transforms their face.
How do you get around this glitch? You need to use a kind relative’s or friend’s address. This solution isn’t strictly legal either for some authorities.
It’s a real dilemma and I haven’t found any other way around the ‘no fixed abode’ problem.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that living on a boat teaches you many valuable lessons. Only shared a few here and in Part 1.
Hope that you enjoyed this perspective and insight from an ex-live-aboard that spent 21 years of her life living as a nomad. First on Naiad…
…and then on Reality.
This sailing journey series has exploded to 16 chapters and counting, with over 22,000 words.
I still have loads more to share with you on sailing. If there’s something particular that you want to know, then leave me a comment below. I’ll respond or include this in a different post.
More chapters on life as a liveaboard
Check out a couple more chapters in this liveaboard series!