How to sur­vive wa­tery win­ter

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS -

It is 5.15am and a bit­ing six de­gree southerly wind. I’m wear­ing my pink spotty py­ja­mas, my arc­tic snow jacket and pur­ple gum­boots. I’d like to say that I’m bat­tling a high moun­tain or stormy seas, but I’m not: I’m march­ing down the pier hav­ing just come back from the toi­let block. I have a salty-dog bed-hair look.

‘‘I hate this, I hate this,’’ I chant. ‘‘I want to live in a bloody house’’.

My part­ner and I have been liv­ing on our 14.4 me­tre sloop yacht Peb­bles for three years. We are moored at Mana Ma­rina in Porirua.

We do have toi­lets on board but our hold­ing tanks aren’t very big so we use the toi­let and shower block at the ma­rina. We share this with about 20 other live-a- boards. It’s a bit like liv­ing in a camp­ing ground. Peo­ple leave grumpy notes in the laun­dry like, ‘‘To the lovely per­son who took my wash­ing out of the dryer while it was still soggy – re­ally?’’ But there’s al­ways some­one happy to help lash your hal­yards when a storm is com­ing.

There are peo­ple liv­ing on boats at Seav­iew Ma­rina in Pe­tone and Chaf­fers Ma­rina in Welling­ton city too. We’re or­di­nary peo­ple who want ex­tra­or­di­nary things – ad­ven­ture is a rope throw away. We have very lit­tle house­work to do, we get our nails done in the mall and we have jobs like you.

I hate that word life­style: there’s not a whole lot of style when you’re scream­ing at your part­ner to bring the sails in as your body crashes onto a steel winch as a 13 tonne boat suc­cumbs to 55 knots of wind. But it is a dif­fer­ent life that we have cho­sen.

I’m not a nat­u­ral boat per­son. I love moun­tains and rivers. In fact, I hate most of sail­ing – it ter­ri­fies me, still. But some places we sail to are only ac­ces­si­ble by boat. The dawn cho­rus, 10 me­tres from the boat, in Dil­lion Bell Point in Pelorus Sound, when you’ve opened the hatch to greet the day, is out of this world. Ev­ery­thing is for­given.

And it’s a very so­cial life. Another live-a- board popped in last week with his new girl­friend. She went home com­plain­ing that she wished he lived on a ‘‘lux­ury’’ boat like ours: she now wants run­ning wa­ter.

When we de­cided to buy a boat we re­alised that it didn’t make

‘‘We have very lit­tle house­work to do, we get our nails done in the mall and we have jobs like you.’’

much fi­nan­cial sense. Boats don’t have cap­i­tal gain and you can’t get a mort­gage from any bank to buy one. So we de­cided to wait un­til we were semi-re­tired. But a friend died sud­denly and we asked our­selves, ‘‘What are we wait­ing for?’’ All the rea­sons we came up with weren’t good enough. So we scram­bled for cash, mort­gaged our house to the max, and got an un­se­cured loan.

As I clam­ber back into our toasty warm boat and see our dog curled up on her sheepy rug in our cabin at the front of the boat, I feel at home. And the best thing about that is ‘‘home’’ is wher­ever they are and wher­ever the boat is, which could be any­where in the world. Well, mi­nus the dog – she’d get eaten in some coun­tries and she hates sail­ing more than me.

I wouldn’t re­place this an­noy­ing, rocky-rolly world for a house in the burbs. We’ve al­ready sailed around the South Pa­cific and we plan to go fur­ther afield while our knees and eye­sight can hack it.

Life will hap­pen be­tween now and then, so who knows if we’ll make it. But with­out a mis­sion, I don’t re­ally see the point.

Sail­ing to stun­ning places - the pay off liv­ing on a boat in win­ter.

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