“What are you up to these days?”
It’s that question so often posed at extended family gatherings or work socials. It can be awkward or difficult to answer, because you don’t know if you should skim the surface or dive deep. Occasionally, you’ve got a big enough thing going on that you can’t not share it.
“You want to live on a boat?”
“Yeah,” I say, sometimes confidently, sometimes sheepishly.
Skepticism is warranted. Boats are wet. Cold, often. They rock back and forth. They’re surrounded by an environment that’s completely hostile to the human respiratory system. Lethally so. Fall off the boat, and you could drown.
But, by similar logic: drive a car, you could sustain an accident. Risk is everywhere. It’s virtually unavoidable; though it’s almost always manageable. Might as well indulge a risk worth rewards.
And, living on a boat has so many.
- New lifestyle. In this era of hyperconnectivity, like so many others, I’m yearning to reconnect with real life. I’m burned out on screens. I’m tired of viewing a flat, backlit world bound by a 13” silver frame. I want to be in it. I want to be outside, in the water, under the trees, in the sun. Go for it wind, mess up my hair.
- Traveling…with your house. A boat is a vehicle for travel, but it’s also your home — on the water. A boat connects you to lands near and far, to different people, cultures, landscapes, worlds. You can go somewhere new, then rest your head on a familiar pillow. Sure, an RV fulfills the same goal, but plying the oceans takes travel to a new level, bringing me to…
- Sea skills & knowledge. Cruising requires you to learn a wealth of skills. How to sail, if your boat has sails. How to operate the boat. How to navigate in and out of harbors, and in open water. How to understand the rules of the road (there’s no white and yellow paint on the surface of the water, but there’s right-of-way rules boaters need to know). How to maintain the engine. How to prep food/cook aboard (in a small space, and sometimes at a 20-degree angle). How to read the weather, understand currents, swells, tides. How to perform a man-overboard rescue, administer first-aid. How to to think out of the box when your spare rudder has snapped and you need to fashion one to make it the last 200 miles to land. How to be MacGyver.
I have little to zero sea skills, but I’m exhilarated learn. In fact, I’m starving to learn new things. Not book things. Real things. I want to learn how to convert between watts, amps and volts to calculate how much power we’ll need for everything from nav lights to running the fridge. I want to learn what grains keep for the longest in the hold of a boat that’s meandering through uninhabited South Pacific atolls. I want to I want to learn how to tie a rolling hitch, fillet a yellowfin tuna, and navigate by the stars.
So, yes. I totally want to live on a boat.