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The Reality of Living Aboard

By The Ithaka - Published August 12, 2005 - Viewed 778 times

The Reality of Living Aboard

Now that you've moved onboard the boat, how does the reality of that compare to the anticipation of it?
- Mary Talbot, Newport, Rhode Island

From Bernadette: The anticipation of moving aboard was overwhelming in so many ways, and I was so glad when we were past it. Up until we officially moved aboard Ithaka and slept here, I felt as though I were living two completely separate lives. One life was lived on land, in our house, as we cleaned and repaired it, and boxed things up to get ready to move out - a giant task. The other life was this new one afloat, bringing with it all the daily challenges of learning a new boat, and the excitement of stepping into the unknown. That last month was one of chaos, not to mention exhausting. Plus, we felt like we were living in Grand Central Station; friends we love stopped by constantly to have tea and chat, offer good wishes, express their sadness at our leaving -- or blurt out their concerns for our safety. Workmen went in and out the front door at will. The house echoed everywhere as it emptied out and more people wandered around shaking their heads - all very weird.

During the last week, we placed away the last of our furniture, only to realize we had nothing left to sit on but the bed and the floor! We had dinner at a friend's, and sat on our own couch, which was now in their living room. The night before our last night in the house, we went to a local bistro named Tucker's, and on the walls around us were our own paintings and pictures; Tucker had been at our yard sale the week before. On our last day ashore, I brought most of my "office" clothes to a consignment store, and now I half expect to see women walking around town in my outfits looking like I do, I mean looking like I did, oh it's all so confusing! Finally, we gave our dog Gracie to a wonderful friend and I thought my heart would break when the two of them drove out the driveway. There are parts of us everywhere now, and this has given life a disconcertingly surreal quality that is very cool in one way, but in others not at all pleasant.

Of course we brought too much stuff and too many clothes onboard during this frantic moving process, and there was no place to put any of it, so on day two aboard, after the closing on our house, we began the process of taking stuff off the boat that we'd painstakingly brought on only days before. Friends who've been cruising say we shouldn't feel too silly about this. Before they left on their voyage, they took a couple of cartons of stuff off every week until their boat could breathe again.

Cutting ties with land is a process far more complicated than I'd realized. We all have so many more tentacles than we know, reaching out into so many corners; pulling them in is a formidable undertaking. Selling the house was bittersweet. I admit it was neat to get the money, but at the same time it was tough to close the door on our home, and know that we wouldn't be going back. Whatever happens now, for the first time in my life, is something I really can't anticipate at all. That feels pretty exciting and completely petrifying, all at the same time.

As I write, at the end of our first full day as liveaboards, the sunset is just beginning to give the inside of the boat a warm glow. Douglas, taking a break, is stretched out in the cockpit reading a book. The air is still. My head seems to have stopped spinning. The kettle is beginning to sing, and life is beginning to look pretty good to me again.




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