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What Do You Do All Day?

 September 13, 2001 

Eileen having fun in the boatyard
Eileen recording her new CD in a Toronto studio

Contrary to popular belief, living on a boat in tropical paradise is not always perfect bliss. Even Eden had a serpent or two to mess things up. It's kind of funny, but it's usually only when we're getting close to leaving the boat for a while that the little inconveniences of residing in a cramped space in a remote location suddenly seem intolerable. The desire to take a really long shower, read a newspaper that's less than three months old, and sip a cup of cappuccino in a sidewalk cafe becomes overwhelming. Of course, once we've been ashore for a week or two and have indulged in about as many showers, newspapers and cups of fancy coffee as humanly possible, we begin to miss the boat. Freshwater showers are nice, but so is plunging off the side of the deck into clear, warm water. And, unfortunately, that chic sidewalk cafe comes complete with choking exhaust fumes and blaring car horns. We begin to miss the soft cries of sea birds and the gentle lapping of waves against the hull.

Right now we're in Toronto, about 2500 miles from our boat, Little Gidding, which is in Trinidad and undoubtedly feeling very forlorn and abandoned. The main reason we flew home for part of the summer was for Eileen to record her third album, Mean Low Water, in a familiar studio with talented technicians she knows. Like all trips home, we're also trying to cram in an impossible number of social visits with family and friends, and spending any spare moments scurrying around in search of elusive boat parts. The city is swallowing us up. The frenzy of activity has us actually looking forward to the comparative peace of the boatyard, tropical heat and rain notwithstanding.

When we first arrived prodigal-like in Toronto a few weeks ago we had to field a predictable collection of questions. We've found that, after a few initial niceties, most non-cruisers whom we haven't seen for a while want to know four things: "Have you ever seen waves like in the Perfect Storm?" "Have you been attacked by pirates?" "What's your favourite island?" and "What do you do all day?"

The answers to the first three questions are easy (no; no; and can't say). The last question presents a moral dilemma. There's a song on Eileen's new CD called (you guessed it) "What Do You Do All Day?" in which she struggles with the answer. Should I say "a cruiser's life is a life of ease, I'm lying in a hammock in a tropical breeze"? Or should I admit that "I'm breaking the bank, busting my ass, a slave to a hunk of fibreglass"?

The reality is that cruising has its ups and downs just like everything else. We used to try to explain this to friends and family who asked and discovered early on that they really didn't want to know the truth. Only other boaters are fascinated by in-depth discussions of anti-fouling paint and ground tackle. Most people want to hear about splashing dolphins and swaying palm trees. So now when people ask, "What do you do all day?", we don't exactly lie. We just tell them the good parts.

Cheers, David & Eileen