When my husband and I decided to live on a boat, I thought #boatlife would be like The Lonely Island song, “I’m on a boat.” I pictured us drinking champagne on the flight deck while our daughter quietly played with her dolls. I thought we’d eat steamed fish and vegetables for dinner every night. I thought we’d live a simpler, quieter life if we just lived on the water. Then reality hit.
That #boatlife only exists in music videos and romance novels. I haven’t had a sip of champagne in the three months we’ve lived aboard and have yet to see my daughter quietly play with her dolls anywhere on the boat, let alone outside. Living aboard is cramped, it’s complicated, and sometimes just plain uncomfortable.
To brush our teeth in the morning we have to make sure the pressure pump is on so that water can flow into the boat. To cook we have to be strategic about where we place our pots and pans because the galley (kitchen) is the size of a children’s play kitchen. Our tiny bathroom is suitable for a family of raccoons instead of grown adults. Gone are the days when I could just open the back door to let Lucy, our dog, out. I mean, I could go on, but for the sake of all our sanity, I’ll stop here.
In all of the messiness and discomfort of living aboard, there’s been plenty of good, too, that I can’t dismiss. As a family, we’re closer than ever. Like, figuratively, but also literally. It’s hard to be alone when your entire living space is 35-feet-long and 12-feet-wide. Because there are few places to be alone on the boat, we’re together most of the time. We only have one TV (*gasp*), and rarely do we turn it on. We’re watching less TV and spending quality time together as a family.
Oh, and that dog I mentioned earlier? Yeah, she practically demands that we be more active since there’s no grass around to do her business. Lucy needs to be taken out, and that means we need to get out of our seats and actually walk her, like more than we’ve ever done. Sometimes it’s a pain to walk her multiple times a day, but it’s actually benefiting our health.
We’ve also been forced to become sort of minimalists in figuring out what we need instead of what we think we need. The countless kitchen gadgets, the throw pillows, the knick-knacks, the useless furniture — it’s all just stuff. And thankfully, there just isn’t space for any of it aboard. We only have the essentials, and that’s liberating in its own way. Our spending has gone down, too, so that’s an added bonus.
This boat life won’t be our reality forever. I know we’ll one day sell the boat and go back to living on land. But for now, we’re being attentive to what this season in our lives is teaching us and what we can take with us once we decide to leave this lifestyle behind. I’m thankful for the adventure, the memories, the bonding, and sometimes even the discomfort.