About a month ago we finally made the dream of living aboard a sailboat become a reality. The journey from making the decision to leap, to actually leaping, seemed painstakingly long at times but as is always the case, I look back now with rose tinted glasses. Or perhaps that’s an exaggeration. The constant cold, loosing my dignity weeing in a bucket and the frustrations that came with saying goodbye to what had been my main purpose in life, teaching, have not been forgotten and nor do I wish to be back there! But spending nearly every day with my amazing Dad, being close to my friends and the small successes that came out of the struggles, are things I reflect on with fondness, and things I miss greatly.
So what have the first few months in Sicily living aboard our very own sailboat really been like? What will we look back on and miss from our time in Marina di Ragusa and what will we be pleased to leave behind for a new set of challenges?
The ups of living aboard a sailboat
Making our first ‘house’ together a home
That’s only partly true. We haven’t been making it a home as such, but we have been making it fit for us to live in. You can check it out here! Things like making sure the cupboards don’t fly open and spill out their contents every time the boat is heeling, and replacing worn ropes that might cause us problems half way across the ocean have been important jobs and although I’d much rather be making pretty cushion covers and choosing expensive bed linen, I know that I’ve signed up for a different set of priorities out here. Where most couples spend hours searching the internet for that perfect sofa or argue about where the TV should live, we have been researching chart plotters and compromising on who has the first shower (and who has to wait three hours for the hot water tank to fill). Living aboard a sailboat is different, but kind of the same, and it’s new and exciting and frustrating and satisfying all at once.
I was blessed with great neighbours in England. Some of my friends weren’t so lucky. But I would never have dreamt of asking them if they’d give my friend a lift to the airport, or if they’d mind spending a day trouble shooting my engine, or if they’d give me stuff they weren’t using for free. If I take nothing more than what I have learned about the generosity and thoughtfulness of humankind away from this whole experience, then this would be enough. When we arrived at the marina we knew no one, but we were greeted and welcomed by endless streams of people, all who couldn’t wait to help out. Me and Adam have often joked about how it’s hard to get anywhere, as on the walk along the pontoon you are bound to bump into several people who will stop and have a chat with you.
We have been offered all sorts of help, in fact just yesterday we were given a whole folder of charts from a lovely American couple who have just arrived. An ex sailing instructor came over for a coffee and left five hours later after giving us an extensive theory lesson, complete with teaching materials. We have been given cutlery, mugs, glasses, a toilet seat! We’ve been offered sailing lessons and fishing lessons, we’ve attended incredible yoga classes three times a week. Our friend who came out to visit was given a lift here and back to the airport, and while we were out sailing in less than ideal weather, we were messaged by people to check everything was ok. One couple (without us knowing!) had even planned out a road trip to come and get us if we got into any trouble!
I thought we were leaving family behind, but here I have found a whole new sort of family and I will miss what we have here so much in a few weeks time.
The free electricity in the marina
At the moment we have it, soon, who knows!
Having an address while living aboard a sailboat
We have a delivery address at the marina, and we have been doing a lot of ordering, knowing that soon the only way to get parts we need will be from the ridiculously over priced chandleries! When we leave the marina we will be avoiding them like the plague, as in the summer months they become ridiculously overpriced. Instead we will have the new challenge of finding sheltered anchorages, and trying not to drag anchor (something I have nightmares about already!) It will be very strange not having a base. But it’s also something I quite like the idea of!
The downs of living aboard a sailboat
There are some things I really miss that I didn’t think would bother me. Like clothes. Obviously we hardly had any luggage allowance, so I packed very sensibly. I have a few pairs of leggings (two of which now have holes in them), several jumpers, some t-shirts and a weeks worth of underwear. And I didn’t think it would bother me (I’m not particularly fashion conscious!) but I’m so bored of wearing the same thing! I also miss baths, and nice shampoo and conditioner (big thanks to Jodie who left me hers when she came to visit-I’ve made those travel sized bottles last over two weeks and my hair is so soft and shiny!)
To save money I’ve been hand washing as much as possible. It’s not fun and it’s not pretty.
The constant mess on a sailboat
You would think that living in a small space would mean less mess. That we wouldn’t have as much cleaning to do. But you would be wrong. Firstly there is very limited storage, and the storage that there is is tucked away in very clever places, like behind every single cushion or under the floors of cupboards. Whoever plans storage on boats is a genius. I love them and I also hate them. Every time we need a screwdriver, or a spanner, or a bolt (which is every day), we have to pull everything apart to get to it. So during the day there really is little point trying to live in any kind of sanity.
Then there’s the kitchen. Imagine this. You’re making a delicious pasta sauce for dinner, so you lift up your chest fridge door (which is also your only worktop), pull out your tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms. Close the fridge and get out the chopping board ready to get going and then realise that the courgette is still in the fridge. Now you have to move EVERYTHING off the worktop (because it’s the fridge door) onto the nearest available space (usually the bed) just to get out those courgettes. Don’t even get me started on what happens if Adam then decides he wants a nice cold beer.
This was Adam’s input when I asked him wishes he had here. My Dad. Back in England we were lucky enough to see him nearly every day, as he was always round helping with the boat. Him and Adam would spend days discussing mole grips and screw fix, and I think they taught each other quite a lot too. So now when I speak to my Dad on the phone Adam’s eyes light up, ‘Is that Graham!?’ and the first thing my Dad asks me is ‘How’s Adam doing?’-yeah I’m fine Dad, don’t worry about me, your first born child.
Joking aside though we both miss family, a lot. With Adam’s up north and my brother in China we both know what it’s like to go for long amounts of time without seeing them, but out here they seem even further away. Missing Adam’s mums birthday (21 again) feels particularly hard and we can’t wait to spend quality time with them when we come back and visit-and we’re hoping we’ll see them out here one day too!
Our plan is to come home to see Adam’s mum so we can say happy birthday (sorry it will be a bit of a late one) and see my brother who is back from China briefly, then fly back here and sail to Greece to start our adventures off the hook. I’m really nervous about leaving the safety of the marina and I haven’t been sleeping well thinking about it! But this is the next step of the adventure and I can’t wait to see what it brings.