After a dizzying, confusing, frustrating, elating month of packing up the house and Gene’s wood/canvas shop, a roadtrip from Denver to Seattle (which with a 1yo and 3yo was both challenging and better than expected — they love to be on the move!), trailering everything we were planning to cram aboard, staying with our eccentric friends (in their yurt in the mountains of Boise) and family (who still think we’re nuts, but are being cool about it)…we arrived and stepped aboard BRIO. Collective sigh of relief!
We all slept so well that night!
Then we awoke to the reality of getting our little family fed, washed, diapered, fed, washed again and dressed in a room the size of some people’s closet…and, good lord, finding anything while the room is moving!
We’ve had a few meltdowns — I’m not gonna lie — but not a whole lot more than a 1 year old and 3 year old have in a normal week. Gene and I, on the other hand, have actually had less. For the kiddos, the meltdowns are about unique things like not being able to step outside the cockpit coaming, or that the deck prism is too light during his nap, or not having milk (because we don’t have refrigeration). We are constantly trying to find novel ways to entertain them for the eternal few minutes it takes us to pack a bag and load up the stroller — when they would rather not be cooped up a moment longer. Cabin fever is real ya’ll! But we are actually doing more walking, biking, and family outing time now than we were when we lived in a house. When the world is your backyard, you gotta get out into it! Rain or shine. Byron was actually thrilled to be the last man standing on the playground, after the rain sent the other kids scurrying for shelter.
We’ve been stowing, and re-stowing, and losing, and finding, and re-stowing our life for the last week and a half. Thank heaven we had my family in town for the first few days to entertain the kids while we made a relatively sane home out of piles of boxes and random equipment we found aboard.
We’ve spelunked through the boat and her various odd-shaped lockers…and found some fantastic things, some of which we actually could identify: a copper and cast iron manual fog horn, a (I shit you not) cedar honey-bucket, a full set of signal flags, six (because five would be too few) spare raw-water impellers for the engine, a one-gallon-per-stroke bronze (seriously, it weighs like 60 lbs!) emergency pump, a hand-pumped water maker, a spare bronze propeller!, a full wetsuit that fit Gene perfectly, and a spare glass fresnel lens for the kerosene anchor lamp.
Did I mention this boat was owned by one man since 1977, now in his 90’s, who has done maintenance, but very little updating and is considered “quite a character”?!
We’ve also explored the guts of the boat – tanks, hoses, seacocks, etc — and are learning more and more each day. None of it has been too surprising, but a few more projects to add to the list.
Living without refrigeration has been our first real challenge. We’ve had to toss some slimy spinach and some lovely peas that were just not up to the challenge. But overall, we are adapting and beginning to shop accordingly. I keep reminding myself that much of the world lives without refrigeration and so can we. Things like eggs, butter, yogurt, and fresh fruit and veggies will keep for days, if stored properly. And resisting the urge to buy too much at once is also key. Much of the world goes to the market every day for fresh veggies. It’s going to be a whole different story when we’re out cruising. But one baby step at a time.
I am writing this from the cockpit — both kids are asleep (choir of angels!) — by the light of the kerosene lamps and the lights of downtown Seattle in the near distance. It’s an odd, and strangely appealing contrast.
I’m listening to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project right now, in the quiet and dare I say blissful moments when I am alone in the boat, stowing and cleaning and figuring out where everything is going to live. She quotes William Butler Yeats: “Happiness is neither virtue, nor pleasure, nor this thing nor that — but simply growth.” That may be why Gene and I have had far less meltdowns in this 10 days than in the recent many months. We were straining to get moving, to grow into our new life. One that we’ve been imagining, reading about, even blogging about for goodness sake, but not living.
We’re here, were squeezing our life into 37 feet (and a zillion tiny totes, and ziploc bags) with the world as our backyard, and we ARE growing everyday. I feel it. Now we just need to get sailing!