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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.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Accepting Reality

It is pretty clear that we'll stay in Vero Beach again this year until it's time to head north.  Bad colds and the lingering coughs took a good two weeks of feeling completely whipped.  But we're still in slug mode.  There are lots of things we need to do but neither of us has gotten our act together enough to do them.  If we're not careful, we won't be ready when we need to be.

I really wanted to go to the Bahamas again this year.  It's too late to go now.  I'd thought for a while that it would just be great to go someplace else.  But where?  Florida south of us hasn't had much warmer weather than we've had.  Not worth the effort. And we heard yesterday that the train of cold fronts we've had here have affected the Bahamas, too.

I guess the upside is that I've tried a few new recipes that turned out pretty well.  Always nice to add some variety to the menu.

At least with the full enclosure around the cockpit we can sit outside and read.  On a fully sunny day it gets like a sauna up there.

So how do we get ourselves motivated????  Maybe by beginning to plan where we'll stop when we leave here.  Time to get out the guide books.