How to survive watery winter
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.