If I had to use one word to describe life on a sailboat, it would be interconnected. This word applies to our boat, our marital relationship and our friends. I find life on LIB forces me to understand and acknowledge how much Frank and I need each other to accomplish everyday tasks that require coordinated effort by two people, or at least are much easier with two.
We rely on our friends to share their experience and knowledge about everything from anchorages to weather to boat repairs and spare parts. They rely on us to do the same.
Finally, the systems on our boat are intertwined and enmeshed such that if something happens to one facet, it is likely to affect other parts. LIB is a tiny city. We must produce our own energy and water and we must regulate how quickly we expend them. On land, these things were automatic and inexhaustible as long as we paid our bills.
Plus most of the systems in our land home were independent of each other. Suppose you walk out to the garage and the door opener has quit working. You check the fuses and all is fine. Assuming you have paid your electric bill, you probably need a garage door repair person, but for now, open it manually.
That system is independent of the rest of your house. Everything else in your home continues to work and is unaffected.
Now suppose on our sailboat, I turn on a light and it doesn’t work. I check the fuse and the fuse is fine. The light is not burned out. Well, if this light doesn’t work because it isn’t getting energy, then on our interconnected boat, other parts on board are probably not getting energy.
Since we generate/maintain our own power, we have to determine immediately where the issue lies because if the lights are not receiving power then our refrigeration, freezer, bilge pumps and other things probably aren’t getting power either.
As a result of the interdependency of systems, when there is a problem on the boat, it cannot be neglected until its source is detected and we understand the repercussions of the problem. I know it sounds overly dramatic, but if we neglect to diagnose a system problem, it could lead to some extreme issues.
Take the example of the lights not working. We know we have a little problem with our energy but we don’t really want to worry about fixing it right now. We decide the refrigeration will stay cold for a while and we will determine the problem later. Well, what if the boat also has a leak and water is slowly entering the bilge? Our bilge pump is designed to detect the water, sound an alarm and pump the water out of the boat. But the bilge pump is electric. No power, no bilge pump, no alarm. I guess the water will continue to accumulate until we fix our electrical issue or we see water in the boat.
This example demonstrates how one problem on a boat can have a domino effect and lead to some serious problems.
Living on the small city of Let It Be requires us to learn and understand all the electronics, engines, charging systems, etc and be able to diagnose and fix problems. Essentially we must become our own engineers, repair people and hardware supply store.
This leads me to the second word I would use to describe life on our sailboat: Balance.
No, I don’t mean learning how to stay upright on a shifting platform. I mean finding the balance of having enough spare parts, tools, reference manuals, etc and living in a relatively small space where we don’t have a ton of extra room to store those parts, tools and manuals.
We have to balance the work required to keep our little city functioning well and having time to play and explore the new places we drop our anchor. AND we have to balance our toy to tool ratio ~ which can be difficult for us!! 😉
For these reasons and others, when friends ask; “Don’t you get bored out there?” or “What do you do all day?”
The resounding answer is no, we are not bored and we have plenty to do. We are challenged both mentally and physically in this lifestyle. Everyday tasks, maintaining balance and making sure our interconnected systems are in order require extra effort and time compared to life on land. We keep detailed records of maintenance done to all systems/engines and we have a calendar of when things like oil changes, water filter changes, etc are due, and we have an inventory of supplies for maintenance.
Additionally, everyday tasks on land become time consuming events on our boat. Please read about our grocery adventures here.
So for us, for now, we are far from bored and we find the challenges, the learning and the skill building suits us.
Perhaps in time we will long for the simplicity and convenience of land life, but currently we are happy with our boat life choice.
Do you agree with my one word description of living on a sailboat? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Gratuitous photo of Let It Be in the fabulous blue Bahamian water!
Hard to believe these colors are real!