• Xanthe

6 Things You Didn't Know About Boat Life

We bought a boat in Croatia over a year ago and have been living on her full time since then. Is it what we expected? In many ways, no there have been some things that have surprised us and we wanted to share with you THE REAL BOAT LYFE.

1. Drinks Vanish

This is partly to do with sailors loving a drink, but mostly due to salt water. If you’re storing aluminium cans in bilges and the bilge takes on salt water. It only takes one grain of salt to come into contact with that can and it makes a surreptitious pinprick sized hole in the can. And slowly over time the contents of said can will be sacrificed to Neptune.

2. Hot Water; Sometimes

The one and only great thing about motor sailing. Our water heater runs by the engine, so if we haven’t run the engine for a while, we’ll be taking cold showers. Which is a catch 22 as we love having nice warm showers, but we try to avoid running the engine too often to save on fuel and keep a bit of serenity in here.

We only run the engine if there’s not enough wind to sail or if we need to charge the batteries. We live on a boat because we like sailing so we’re obviously rarely going out sailing in no wind. We’ve upgraded our solar energy to a good point so we only have to charge th batteries on a really cloudy day.

3. Clothes Get Wrecked

When we first started this adventure I brought with me all my cute summer dresses and thought that would be my mainstay. But that died in the arse very quickly as it’s amazing how quickly your clothes get destroyed.

First of all, sailing is sweaty stuff and we don’t get access to laundry very often so running around the deck, operating winches under heavy load and steering in the scorching sun will soon stink out your clothes, so best to save your nice ones.

Secondly anchoring, mooring and docking can all be very dirty affairs. Marina mooring lines are muddy and gross, mooring ball lines are covered in algae and the anchor can splash up all sorts of mud with it when you pull it up.

Don’t get me started on fishing- fish blood gets everywhere. If you’re sailing and a wave hits you, or indeed the captain decides to single-handedly tack just for fun, without warning - your tea or your food is going all over you. When hanging your clothes out to dry the lifelines and stanchions leave rust stains. Mould gets into everything! We just can’t air clothes out often enough to keep up with it.

Lastly- mysterious rips appear everywhere. I don’t think either of us can pinpoint when it’s happened but one day you look down and there’s rips in your clothes. Every single pair of pants we own have ripped up the arse crack.

4. Sailor’s Midnight

It’s quite typical for cruisers to go to beddybyes not long after the sun has gone down. Much to the horror of friends who come to visit, Jackson and I usually hit the hay at 8 or 9. Even if you’re up enjoying some merriment on shore or with other cruisers, people start dropping like flies at 10pm. Don’t ask me to explain why, maybe it’s a combination of spending time in the hot sun, tiring yourself out sailing or exploring but it’s a real phenomenon and it’s called sailors midnight.

5. Musical Beds

We have four beds to choose from on Avalon, and whilst we have our designated bedroom in the foreword cabin, it’s not always practical to sleep in there. It’s a half island bed which gives us space and mobility, the room itself is light and airy and we’ve got the deck hatch which lets us watch the stars every night, but the minute any amount of chop or swell arrives, it’s a living nightmare.

It’s really rare we would experience these issues at anchor, it’s mostly an on passage phenomenon, but we have experienced it a few times. It’s right next to the anchor chain too which can bring and be noisy, there’s a stainless steel water tank underneath the bed with no baffling in it so it makes a racket if we’re rolling around, and the swell slapping on the hull is noisy too. On passage our bedroom is a no go, not only for the noise, but because it’s a half island bed, you just get thrown around with the waves and on a port tack, you’re clinging on for dear life.

So thankfully in rolly anchorages we have the option to cosy up in one of the the aft cabins. We’re away from any sounds in here and nice and cradled in the v-berth.

On passage it’s favourable to be in the middle of the boat to minimise movement and also to be able to see the sails or be at quick disposal for your crew mate. So that’s why Jackson built a bed in the saloon which has been a game changer on passage. It’s also super airy down there- it can get quite hot in those back cabins, especially if the engine is on.

6. Fairydust Every Night!

Bioluminescence is everywhere. It’s hard to capture on camera which is why you’ll likely not have seen it in any YouTube sailing channels. You’ll see it when you flush the toilet at night, in the wake of the boat on night watch, or if you’re really lucky, you’ll get to see glow in the dark dolphins swimming alongside you. When Jackson saw them for the first time he thought they were torpedoes being fired at us.

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© 2018 by Xanthe and Jackson.

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