Bridgie's Babble - Jan. 29, 2008
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Surviving  Year One

Maybe you’ve been sitting at your desk or peering out a window on a cold, snowy day. You decide to look at our website and are struck with envy, awe, perhaps even a bit of jealousy.
Heck, that’s what I used to do before we made this dream come true.  What you see are blue skies, beautiful beaches, tanned bodies (large and small) and lots of wildlife all in tropical
settings. The food is good, the drinks flow freely and it’s a never-ending gathering on the beach with friends. We can go to bed whenever we want, wake without an alarm and nap or rest
between events.  

Jan. 31, 2008 marks the completion of our first year. It’s time to set the record straight. Yes, all of the above statements are true. However, there are situations beyond what we capture in
photographs.  First of all, we live in a one bedroom, one bath, 220 sq. ft floating condo with a 24 sq. ft. patio (a.k.a. cockpit). The passageway from the kitchen (galley) to the bathroom
(head) or bedroom (V berth) is only wide enough for one person at a time. The living room (salon) also serves as the dining room. Let’s go through the list:

There is only room for 1 person in the kitchen. When there, that person is in complete control of the refrigerator, stove, sink and all cook/eating utensils. Should another crew member need
anything from that area, they have to ask (nicely…..or they won’t get their wish). When underway in sloppy seas, the person in the kitchen must spread their legs and wedge themselves in so
as not to be thrown around. You could tie yourself in (tether) but then I feel like someone’s puppy. The stove is gimbaled to allow it to swing with the motion of the boat. A hot pot on the
stove is just plain scary to me. This is peanut butter and jelly time (with a dull knife).  The top of the refrigerator, the top steps of the companionway and cutting boards laid over the double
sinks are multifunctional, serving as part of the countertop. Creative, isn’t it? Sure, until you have 10 ingredients sitting on top of the fridge and remember that you FORGOT something inside
it! Now you must move them to the “preparation area” you’ve set aside, which probably is already crowded with your mixing bowls, pans, etc. Now, take out that milk and put everything
back so you can start the meal.

The dining table is normally stowed against the wall (bulkhead) and lowered for eating (or computer use,etc). We like to keep it in the stowed position…in case we want to use it as a dance
floor.  Make sure the table is set and ready to take on the prepared meals. There’s certainly no extra room in the kitchen! We have an extension leaf that swings up when we have guests.
Let’s just hope nobody needs to use the bathroom during dinner because you can’t pass through.

Who wouldn’t like our bathroom? You can sit on the seat (if you get my meaning) and put your head in the sink, all at the same time. Sometimes this is necessary if you have a “tourista”
illness. It’s compact and easy to clean. The only drawback to Sailsoon is that we only have 1 bathroom. Careful planning is key here! Although we could shower there, we choose to use the
spacious patio instead.  There just isn’t enough elbowroom and everything in the room has to be wiped down afterwards.

The bedroom has a bed that measures 6’ wide at the head and 1.5’ wide at the foot. It’s shaped like a V. John and I take turns fighting over foot space. Access onto the bed is only at the
head. Hoping up and turning around can only be done one at a time. John has to be sure he’s on his side before I get in or he could get bumped. If you have to get out quickly, make like a
pretzel and slide your butt down. I hated making the bed so we purchased V shaped zip together sleeping bags. They don’t fit perfectly but it’s better than trying to tuck rectangular sheets
under a V shaped mattress.

Previously we talked about fresh and salt-water usage, hot water solutions, etc. so I’m not going to cover it here.

Inventories must be kept and updated when items are depleted or moved. In a house you would never stow the engine oil or plumbing hoses in the living room hutch.  You’d probably stow
your spaghetti and canned foods in the kitchen. It’s not likely that you’d have to move all the food in the pantry to get at those not so often used tools. The Ditch bag and emergency beacon
don’t do much to compliment the décor of our living room. Hopefully we will never need to use them but at least they’re within reach if we do. When organizing a boat for convenience one
must put aside all of the “on land” preconceived notions. It’s important to be organized and have immediate access to things used on a daily basis.

Non-skid fabric is used everywhere everyday. Whether we’re at anchor or in transit, we’re on a boat that moves and sways. Sometimes it moves from bow to stern and other times from
side to side. Go ahead and put that cup or mayo jar down without a non-skid. I dare you!  We have several sizes and shapes onboard and they are always within reach.  I’m still waiting for
designer colors and patterns; it’s difficult to give up the slight decorating flair I possess.

Food, drinks and excess items that don’t fit in lockers are stowed in crates. These crates are stored on the spare bed (quarter berth) behind the office (Navigation Station). When you need
something, you slide them out (several times a day).  Guests wouldn’t be comfortable sleeping in this area so they stay on the couch (settee) in the living room, which opens to make a
double. John and I also use these couches (we have 2) while in transit when we’re off watch. It’s closer to the centerline of the boat and more comfortable than using the bedroom.

I hope my explanation conveys an element of time and how much longer it takes to do things. We don’t have a dishwasher, washing machine or microwave. Most things are done by hand.
We don’t have a car. We either walk (many miles) or wait and take buses to do our grocery shopping. We have to carry backpacks. Beer and wine are heavy but necessary items. (oh,
groceries, too!) Heck, even fishing can take hours for a meal or two! We’re older and slower now. Things just take longer! No wonder we’re usually in bed by 10 PM.

I could go on and on but I’m just trying to paint the picture of life in a small space. Respect, trust, consideration and appreciation are key ingredients to successful cruising. No matter how
large the boat, the space won’t be sufficient if you don’t have these things going for you. It’s a two way street; both of you must work to maintain the harmony. You must be willing to forgive
the others’ shortcomings and moments of crankiness. It’s good if you can help your partner understand and deal with anxiety and fears, too! There will be lots of compromises. I would say
the largest single factor is trust. The huge learning curve (electronics, weather, systems, navigation, maintenance and housekeeping to mention a few) is constant. It’s important to get some
sleep while underway. You can only do that if you trust that the person in command can and will react to whatever is dealt to them. We’re fortunate that our personalities and love for each
other have allowed us to maintain the traits necessary for a continued journey.

Yes, we are experiencing the trip of a lifetime. In the last 12 months we’ve learned and seen lots of things. I just wanted you all to know that even if every day looks like a picnic in the
photos, there were a few clouds and difficulties. A lot of adjusting took place. A whole heck of a lot of down time does occur. It’s been a lot of work….in a sense. But right now, I’m not
ready to trade places with anyone just yet…and I’m sure I can say the same for John. So, please, don’t have a pity party yet!
On Jan. 31st. 2007 we made some tough choices. Which type of shovel did we prefer... snow or sand?
Next Bridgie's Babble Feb 02, 2008