I moved aboard Counterpoint September 1st so I’ve been living aboard for a month now. I wanted to record my thoughts about my first month living aboard while they’re fresh in my mind; if only to come back and chuckle at them later. And I’m sharing them here in case anyone else needs a chuckle.
First, some context for readers who aren’t me: #SVCounterpoint is a Bristol 45.5 aft cockpit. I am living aboard solo. Counterpoint is berthed at a marina with easy walking access to downtown Boston. If anyone is reading this years after 2020: September 2020 is COVID-19 times so marina facilities and many other “normal” conveniences are unavailable to me or are simply much less convenient these days. I’ve lived in Boston for 13 years now and learned to sail here 10 years ago. This marina has a higher concentration of my friends than anywhere else in the world which is great but in COVID-19 times we’re also all keeping our distance.
My first day aboard our summer of drought decided to take a day off and properly welcome me to liveaboard life with a deluge of rain. All of the sudden the few leaks in the deck that had been a nuisance while sailing became the top priority projects; a drip when I was out sailing was one thing but incessant drips while I was trying to concentrate on work was quite another. Most of the drips were pretty easy to fix by rebedding some deck hardware with butyl tape but the “drippiest” one was actually coming from my starboard dorade box. It turns out when you have a wooden dorade box the varnish on the outside of that dorade box is not just cosmetic: varnish is a thin layer of plastic that makes the dorade box waterproof. So my vow that varnish projects would be absolutely the last projects I undertook was out the window and I re-varnished the dorade box. So far, no more leaks.
The leaks were my first surprise but my biggest surprise, so far, is how much I sleep. Living ashore I rarely go to bed before midnight: most nights I go to bed between 1am and 3am and I’m up between 7:30 and 8:30. During COVID, getting out less I definitely had a lot more 3am nights than 1am nights. But now that I’m living aboard I only stay up past midnight if I have company. It’s almost 11 right now and this article is going to have to wait until tomorrow for me to finish it. I’m still up 7:30-8 but now it’s after 8 hours of sleep instead of 5-7 hours. The weirdest thing is that I don’t know what about living aboard makes me so much more tired. My additional chores amount to cooking a hot meal every day or two and washing the dishes daily. Going anywhere requires a half a mile round trip walk from my boat to the gate but but pre-covid I also averaged a few miles of walking whenever I went into the office: my fitbit indicates that it’s basically a wash.
The only thing I can think of to have me so much more tired at the end of the day is that the boat doesn’t have heat or air conditioning and so my body is self regulating my temperature. Many days it’s chilly in the morning and hot in the afternoon. I use the fans aboard, sweaters, haches and choosing between hot or cold meals/beverages to keep the boat as comfortable as possible. Last week I was lent a space heater that I’ve used for two quite chilly nights.
The only other possible explanation of the need for more sleep is the novelty of living aboard. I haven’t watched any movies or TV shows since I’ve moved aboard; I don’t have any devices or subscriptions set up to do so. But I haven’t found any time to miss it. The few extra chores, boat projects and figuring about living aboard keep me largely occupied until it’s bedtime. I started listening to podcasts while I eat or wash dishes to keep up with the news. I’ve read that a day when your mind is largely engaged can lead to feeling tired even if the rest of your body hasn’t done much. It’s not a stressful mental load but there is no denying I’m always pondering the next project or how I’m going to wrap up the season or what I want to try and have done over the winter.
The last truism of living aboard for me is that, even from the protection of a marina, the weather can still demand most of your attention. This article is an example of that: I was well on track to publish this on October 1st but instead I spent the night before being kept up by the howling wind and that morning dealing with the fallout from the wind having gotten so strong it managed to crack the beams within the dock right near my boat! The lack of sleep and effort moving boats around in strong winds led to me getting behind on the rest of the week and put this article off to the weekend. When I’m out sailing I am used to being at the mercy of the weather but it’s new to be at mother nature’s beck and call from the comfort of my bed and my living room couch.
I don’t have any above the fold conclusions yet. Except that I’m still enjoying myself and am looking forward to seeing more of what living aboard has to offer. Besides, it’s tough to beat the view from the back porch over the infinity pool!