Category Archives: Liveaboard Lifestyle

Spring Ahead

For liveaboard boaters, the spring equinox means longer days and the end of winter hibernation.  It is a busy time to begin boat chores in order to get the boat ready for summer cruising. During our time living aboard, winter would find us hunkered down in our boat watching movies, reading books and enjoying long sleeps as long as the marina wasn’t being battered by a winter storm. During storms, the cacophony of rigging clanging in the roaring wind would keep even the deepest of sleepers awake and would draw us out of our warm bunks to check on lines and fellow sailors.

But the change of seasons does not come without resistance often in the form of strong wind storms. We had one of these wind storms last week in which the wind peaked at 109 kms/hour. In fact, the worst storms that we have experienced on the boat came at the change of seasons in November (fall to winter) and March (winter to spring). Two separate March storms broke the finger that our boat was tied to and made for some scary moments on the dock.

The long, winter rest allows you to store energy that will be needed to complete spring chores.  The beautiful Cherry Blossom trees in my city, Victoria, BC bend with the winter storms during their deep slumber only to awaken in early February with beautiful blossoms. So too, should we rest during the winter so that our bodies have enough stored reserves to meet the energy of the spring equinox. If you overwork yourself during the winter, your immune system will  be depleted and you will be more susceptible to getting sick. This combined with too much sugar from  Easter which unfortunately has become more about sugar than rebirth, will deplete your health further.

Cherry Blossoms, Victoria, BC |
Cherry Blossom trees start blooming by mid February in Victoria, BC.

Some people find the strong, pre-spring winds disturbing on their bodies.  You might feel the need to wear a scarf to protect your neck from the winds even though others are wearing lighter clothes. Your neck houses the throat chakra and if you feel yourself craving protection from the wind, than listen to this message from your body and wear a scarf. I also find that my body still needs the warm, comfort foods of winter; if I switch to lighter, cooler  foods like salads too early, I will be very tired.

The change of seasons inspires me to think ahead of summer cruising plans, boat chores and walks in nature with friends.  I am filled with the energy of the season and everything seems possible. Now that we are no longer living aboard, the inside of our boat needs a good cleaning from accumulated dust and mildew growth during the winter. The exterior canvas and decks also need to be cleaned of mildew growth. The boat smells of vinegar for the first few weeks of spring cleaning but it is a small inconvenience for an effective yet environmentally friendly cleaner.

The signs of spring are everywhere from spawning herring to baby Pigeons who have already fledged from their nests.  May the energy of spring fill you with light.

10 Things My Sailboat Taught Me

  1. Patience

Sailboats move slowly. Slow down your life and enjoy the sail.

  1. Communication

Be honest and respectful with your communication. A small boat becomes smaller with disharmony.

  1. Embrace fear

Resistance turns the fear in on itself and gives it strength. Let it move through you like a passing storm.

  1. Community

Help others and they will help you when you need it. There will come a day when you will need help.

  1. Be a sponge

There is always something more to learn. The sailor who thinks he/she knows everything is destined to experience a difficult lesson.

  1. Attachment

There is only so much room on a boat so don’t get attached to things. Take care of the stuff you do have so that it doesn’t have to be replaced.

  1. Repurpose

A small space means using things for more than the intended purpose. Do you really need it? Can it be used for more than one thing?

  1. Rhythm of Nature

Be in awe of the natural rhythm of the earth; this rhythm is delicate. Do not contribute to its imbalance.

  1. Gratitude

Be grateful for a safe passage, a beautiful sunset, a peaceful anchorage – anything that reminds you of your shared connection to source.

  1. Simplify

Life really is simple if you strip away all the crap we get attached to. Live simply. Love completely.

Live simply - Love completely |

Ropes and Socks

A story from our first year on the boat 

“What’ya doing?”

“I’m splicing a line.”

“Kinda looks like macrame without the beads”, I say laughing.  My husband is not laughing.  It’s not that he doesn’t have a sense of humour, it’s that I am lacking in appreciation for the fine art of tying knots.

“I made a plant hanger once.”  I said.

For a moment I consider how a plant hanger would look in our boat and decide I don’t need something else to bump my head on. My husband is concentrating on his knot and I leave him to his work.

I loose patience when I don’t grasp a new concept quickly.  So when we were practising tying two half hitches around the table legs during Power Squadron’s Safe Boating course, I decided that ropes were not going to be my thing, but it inspired my husband.

A few days later, cozy inside the diesel-warmed boat while it poured rain outside, my husband pulled out some rope and a book called, The Marlinspike Sailor.  “What’ya doing?”  “I’m making a leash for the dog.”

That’s pretty cool I think.  I take the book and thumb through the pages. Who knew you could make cool things out of rope? A few more moments of silence – always a dangerous situation for my husband because he knows my wheels are spinning on some crazy tangent.

“I could make that!” pointing to the mat on page 43.

“What are you going to do with a mat?”

It’s really not the point, but I take his comment into consideration and think of something else that might be more useful.

“I know, I can make some beaded curtains.”

Now I’ve caught his attention and he puts down his rope and studies me with curiosity.  It’s funny how you can be married for so long and still not be aware of each other’s tastes in interior decorating.

If I had been born 10 years earlier I would have been one of those girls, arms outstretched twirling in the mud at Woodstock.  My  enthusiasm for knots and ropes is increasing as I imagine beaded curtains dividing the state room from the galley.

The reverie is broken when the he says, “I don’t think beaded curtains would be very practical.”

He knows how to get me to compromise.  Play the “practical” card – appeal to my sense of reason as it is stronger than my sense of fancy.  “I suppose you’re right.” More silence.

I imagine I hear a slight sigh coming from the corner of the boat when I pull out my knitting needles.  “What ‘ya making?”




My Little Black Book

When we made the decision to buy a boat and move aboard I vowed to be a full partner and competent sailor in the adventure. I did not grow up around the water so this was a very steep learning curve for me.  We quickly fell into his and her chores; some boaters refer to these as blue and pink tasks.

One day, I decided I wanted to understand how our manual windlass worked. This was a blue task while I “manned” the helm.  Fifteen minutes later and a deep wrinkle developing between my brows in spite of the layers of lotion I diligently apply each night at bedtime, I could not figure out how to operate the bloody windlass.

Perhaps a diagram would help and in that moment the little black book was born.  Well, it’s actually a turquoise book because that’s all we had on board.

So page one of this book has a diagram of the windlass in with arrows and explanations in my handwriting so that I can understand it.  Soon to follow were serial numbers of parts and where to get them from; window measurements for curtains; diagrams of engine components so that when you take the alternator off, you don’t put it back on again upside down; the size of the zinc we prefer so that you don’t have to dive down each time it needs replacing because you can’t remember the size you bought last time; the location of all the sea cocks throughout the boat – well, you get the general idea.

In frustrated moments, we refer to it as the first thing we will bequest to the next owner of this money pit we call a boat, and when things are going well, we refer to it as our bible.  We keep our little “black” book in the same place so that it can always be referred to quickly if needed and it has become a conversation piece with other boaters on more than one occasion.

So, I share with you this idea that came of my determination to learn something new and who knows, one day your boat may have a little black book of her own.  I could also tell you about the colour-coded lines so that I know which sheet to pull when tacking or the labels on the gears so that I don’t accidentally put the transmission into forward when I ought to have put it in reverse.  We have basically idiot-proofed the boat so when under pressure we don’t screw up.