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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The complexity of simplicity

This is aimed at land based readers. Our fellow cruisers are in the same boat – so to speak. It was inspired by one of John D Cook's blog entries

We lead a very simple life. Or do we? Living on a sailboat, we’re off the grid. No car. No cable. In fact, we do not own a TV. We don’t own a land-based home. We’re free to travel the seas as we please. It sounds sort of like a simple life. Some people who do this truly do simplify their lives. The purists enjoy the challenge of leaving technology and convenience behind.

I thought it would be a simpler life, and in some ways it is; but we’re not as tough as the purists who get their fresh water by collecting rainwater, go to bed when the sun goes down, use the sun to heat water for showers and do laundry by hand. The true purists don’t even have marine toilets on board – they use a method called “bucket & chuck it".

Budgetary issues dictate that we must be very prudent about when we splurge by tying up at a marina slip. We anchor whenever possible or tie up at a mooring ball.

Rather than living the easy middle class existence we’d had on land, we now live a more complicated existence. We rely on laundromats – hauling laundry and supplies back and forth. We’re thrilled when we’re at a city that has good public transportation. The grocery shopping list is limited to what we can carry.

We make our own electricity. And we’re both electricity hogs. We use our computers to get news, stay in contact with friends and family, and for some entertainment. We stay up and read. We have solar panels that do a good job, a wind generator that needs repair just now, and a portable Honda generator for which we have to haul gasoline.

Our fresh water tanks hold 150 gallons. When we run out we can either head for a marina fuel dock where there’s water available, or haul our 6 gallon jugs in the dinghy to a water source. Four 6 gallon jugs at roughly 50 pounds each (because we overfill as much as possible) make a water run a bit of a workout. No we don’t fill the tanks to capacity – we just get 4 jugs of water at a time so we’re doing 1 water run each week when we’re at anchor or on a mooring for any length of time.

Our two 10 pound propane tanks (for cooking) last a long time but when they need refilling we can’t take them in either a bus or a taxi. Replenishing propane means either getting a ride from someone or renting a car.

Except when we’re at sea, the toilets drain into holding tanks. Some places have pump-out boats that will come to us, but when that’s not available it’s a trip to a marina dock that has pump-out.

And then there’s mail. We use an excellent mail forwarder so it’s not an issue but just one more thing that’s not as simple as on land.

Ah, the simple life. Last Fall when we were taking a vacation, my daughter said “But you’re always on vacation!’ Yeah, right.

But I’m just explaining, not complaining. Some day we’ll be ready to become CLODs (Cruisers Living On Dirt) but not just yet.

1 comment:

BlueRoseLover said...

Mary, I found this blog when looking at your genealogy research. I have long wondered about your sea life, and it is as fascinating as I thought. I've had several questions in my head, but you've answered almost all of them. I'll certainly let you know if I have any more. Thanks for the peek!