|Our home, Northern Star|
It's been a long time since I've been home--since I've slept in my own bed on Northern Star. Six weeks since I flew to Memphis for medical care and two weeks since Carl's arrival here. Perhaps folks who live on land may find it odd that we call our boat "home" but that is the only one that we have at present and that is the place that conjures the feeling of belonging.
|Ardys, atop the mast|
|Ready to cross from FL to Bahamas, 2015|
We told our friends and family when we decided to live on a sailboat, that we would do it for "two to ten years, or until it's no longer fun." "Fun" isn't really the right word to use when describing a cruising life though. And I'm not saying that just because we were unable to leave the dock for two months this winter due to lightning damage; and not even because I had to be evacuated out of the Bahamas to the U.S. in order to address a very painful herniated disc requiring surgery and recuperation on land. Even if neither of those had happened, "fun" still wouldn't be the right adjective.
|New cruising friends, human and canine, 2016|
Oh, but there are many wonderful things about living aboard to be sure. Being part of the cruising community is really quite special. A bond develops between live aboard cruisers rather quickly, that is probably unlike anything that is likely to be replicated on land aside from such experiences as summer camp, college or military service, I would imagine.
It IS exciting to explore new places--there are so many beautiful sights to see in this world. And so many interesting places, historically and culturally. To find these things just a short hop away from our boat, our home, feels miraculous at times.
|Stunning clouds after a storm|
Living on a boat where we are so close to the water, and so close to wildlife and the weather is such an elemental experience. We often feel as though we are living outdoors. We experience weather up close and personal. We notice immediately when the humidity changes, when a breeze picks up and when it dies. We live and plan our movements by the weather.
There is something quite freeing about having vastly decreased the mountain of possessions that we lived with while on land. We do still have a storage unit in Duluth, MN so we cannot say that we "sold everything we owned" but we certainly have far less baggage than we have ever shared since our marriage in 1999.
|Carl replacing a water filter, 2015|
One of the appealing and at the same time, challenging aspects of a cruising life is the level of independence that is required. When something on the boat breaks or we discover that we need something we don't have, we must figure out how to make do, or to make it work, or where to go or who to talk to in order to solve the problem. Carl has become quite knowledgeable about a wealth of mechanical, electronic and otherwise complex systems within our home on the water. Though this is certainly true, he takes no pride in this achievement, having learned of course, that he still doesn't know enough and says he probably never will.
|Provisioning for Bahamas 2015|
Planning ahead for our basic needs is way more critical now than it ever was when we lived on land. Take grocery shopping for example. Provisioning the galley requires more care and is far more time-consuming than shopping for the kitchen on land. A grocery store run can take the better part of a day. First there's the dinghy ride, then the walk to the store (maybe a mile, more or less) while bringing along several sturdy cloth bags and maybe a wheeled cart to pull our heaviest items. We must choose our groceries carefully to ensure that we have adequate space aboard to accommodate them. And, we must consider the weight of our purchases as we will be carrying, backpacking, pulling or otherwise schlepping them back to the dinghy.
|Sewing in the cabin of Northern Star|
Frankly, there are many things about living onboard that are just plain inconvenient and/or unpleasant. There are plenty of times that Carl wishes my sewing machine and supplies didn't take up so much room of our living space. Times when I would wish I could just toss my laundry into my own washing machine and walk away to do something else. Times when I am tired of fighting the good fight against mildew on the boat. Times when we just don't feel like tackling one more grubby chore that is, unfortunately necessary for power or water or some other essential thing. Times I'd like to not have to pull up anchor and move because the direction of the wind is changing. Times when it is unpleasant to be motoring upwind, in the cold, or rain or fog.
|Jax waiting to meet us with our groceries|
|A rainy and cool day on the Intra Coastal Waterway|
|Jax is ready to go home too|
Getting excited for all three of us to return to our home with water below in just another day or two.