personal

Diary Of A Sailor With A Dirty Galley

Moving onto a 43’ sailboat has made one thing painfully clear: I have a procrastination problem. Looking back, I’ve had this problem my whole life. Even when I was a little kid, I can remember waiting to clean my room until my mom got mad at me and I absolutely HAD to. In middle school I would spend my recess frantically trying to finish my homework before class started. I even convinced myself that I work best under pressure, so waiting until the last minute to start a project would benefit me.

It hadn’t been a big issue before moving onto SVZV because I’ve always managed to get everything done. And that’s all that matters, right? Wrong. Two people and a cat living in a small space requires almost constant upkeep, plus the regular maintenance that a boat requires. I found that after a while, Austin and I were stuck. We weren’t accomplishing anything, the boat was always a mess inside and out, and it was an ongoing struggle even though we were doing the bare minimum. It finally got to a point where I had to take a step back and really figure out what was going wrong. This is what I found:

When I’m not on top of my day-to-day responsibilities, they pile up. A mountain of tasks is overwhelming. When I am overwhelmed nothing gets done. When nothing gets done, I get stressed out. Being stressed out drains my energy so I do something fun to replenish it. Repeat.

That’s when it hit me- I’m not stressed out because there is all that much to get done, I’m stressed out because I’m not doing it. Procrastinating worked when I lived on land, but it just wasn’t conducive to living on a boat. No one said life on a boat would be easy. In fact, they said the opposite.

The most important thing I began working on was changing my mindset.

Instead of being upset that it requires so much upkeep and maintenance to live on a sailboat, I think of how lucky I am to call SVZV my home and keep her clean and running well. Instead of getting frustrated I have to do the dishes, I think of how grateful I am that we have food and fresh water to wash our plates. In one small task I can show this boat and the people in it I’m grateful for them.

Now that I had the will to stop procrastinating, I had to put my newfound motivation to good use.

My new motto is: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”

In general, I take care of the interior, make sure the cockpit is tidy, make the grocery lists/do the cooking, handle paperwork, and help with various boat tasks when needed (ex: cleaning the bottom). Now, any time I say to myself, or out loud, “I’ll do it later” I get up and do it. Even if it requires taking a quick break from work. Even if I’m tired, even if I don’t feel like it, I do it (ok like, 75% of the time). Holy smokes. It has worked wonders.

I’m obviously late to this party, but, who knew how much easier it is to keep a home clean when you’re working at it constantly?! No mounting piles of tasks to overwhelm me. Just small, quick ones. We are getting more accomplished around the boat and we are able to focus on longterm goals.

It hasn’t just helped with life on SVZV, I am overall transforming into a more productive person. When I receive a text or a call, I respond asap. If I realize I need to pay a bill, I go online and get it done. If I remember I needed something at the store, I stop and grab it on my way to the boat ramp. All of these small things add up and after a few weeks I am already feeling the benefits.

Now that I actually use our galley, Austin and I are eating healthier and not spending as much money eating out. Now that the boat is usually tidy, it’s always a joy to come back to. These small details help SVZV feel more like our home, not just a floating house.

Overcoming the urge to procrastinate has also given me the time to start (and actually finish!) way more projects than ever before. I bought a handheld sewing machine and began making covers for our wenches and the dingy motor. I started a new writing project. I have had more time to catch up with friends and family. I started doing yoga in the morning.

Here’s to finally becoming an adult!

Boating 101

Top 5 Things I Should Be Doing Instead Of Writing This Post

I feel like people assume I’m over exaggerating when I say no to plans because we’re working on boat projects. To be fair, half of the time I’m truly just sitting around stressing about those projects… But that is a boat related activity nonetheless. To give you a better idea why we are frequently busy during the week and because I like making lists (mostly because I like lists), I thought I would give you a little glimpse into the top 5 things on our “To Do” list.

* I have these listed in order of importance. That order is subjective. Ask Austin and this order would be completely different and some, dare I say most, wouldn’t make the top 5. *

  1. Fix/Setup The Inverter.

As someone who has worked in admin since I graduated, and someone who has recently started a blog, being able to use a laptop on a boat would dramatically improve my life. I could not only work from home, making decent money without the stress of a dingy ride/ having to leave the boat during a storm, but I could watch Netflix, browse the internet, and enjoy some of the luxuries I have grown so accustomed to over the last two decades. (Ok closer to three decades, but that is neither here nor there.) Being able to use a conventional 3-prong outlet would also allow me to plug in whatever electronics I wanted (within reason)… I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it.

So, what’s wrong with the inverter and how do we fix it? I have NO idea. I have watched countless YouTube videos and have a pretty strong understanding of how an inverter works. That being said, I have no idea why ours doesn’t work. Is it wiring? Are we missing a part? I have no clue. I don’t even know where to begin looking for the problem. As a woman, I was not brought up tinkering with things. I was never encouraged to take things apart and put them back together. It frustrates be because Austin always has an idea of what the problem could be and where to find it. I have to take three extra steps to get to his starting point. But hey, I’m getting into it now and learning as I go. Better late than never!

2. Oven/Stove.

Currently we are using a single burner camp stove for all of our cooking. I’m so grateful to have that and have grown accustomed to using a single burner, but its still a huge pain in the ass. Having access to multiple burners and an oven would be a complete game changer for me. We would be able to have a much wider, healthier variety of meals. To me, nothing makes a place feel like a home quite like the smell of something baking in the oven. I love using cooking and baking as a creative outlet and I’m bummed that I don’t get to share that with Austin. He never complains, but its something that would be fulfilling for me.

How do we fix it? This part is pretty straightforward, just tedious. If we hooked it up to new propane tanks, it would probably work as is. But do a quick Google search of “Boat Fires”, and you’ll understand why we are taking these extra precautions. Essentially, we have to follow the gas pipes throughout the boat to make sure they’re not leaking. To do that, you put soap on the outside of the pipes and if you see bubbles… there’s a leak.

Why haven’t we done it yet? It’s hot as hell out here guys. I say that in every single post and I’m not kidding. It is hot all of the time. There are only two tiny little fans on the boat. This project will require hours of hunching over, drenched in sweat, looking for tinny little bubbles to appear. My eyes are stinging just thinking about it. Although its number two on my list of priorities, it’s a lot lower on Austin’s. It’s a two-person job and I can’t blame him for not being stoked to start on this project. As long as I have the camp stove, it hasn’t been worth stressing over this one.

We do have a camp stone with two burners but due to its size it has to be used outside.

3. Buy and Install New Water Pressure Regulator.

With all of the parts we are looking at an ~$80 purchase. As far as boat repairs go, this one is not too bad. With COVID, no job security, or guarantee of unemployment, we do have to prioritize our purchases. On top of the money, all of our deliveries are sent to our family’s house 45min away and take 1-2 weeks to reach the island. This project has proven to be more annoying than anything.

Why is it so high on your priorities list? Well, unfortunately, we cant use fresh water on the boat without it. Have you ever washed your dishes in salt water? Its gnarly. And while I have become more accustomed to public showers, I never can get quite as clean as I would if no one was watching me. I also have quite a few plants to water and take care of. We have been refilling and hauling a 5gal water jug to/from shore for necessities. Luckily the part has been ordered and is en route!

4. Interior Upholstery.

Although I love our boats interior and the feeling of being in an old school ship, the upholstery is soo drab. It’s grey (I believe it was once blue), dull, and stained. I want redo the curtains and the cushion covers. Overall, this should be pretty easy to figure out. I am by no means an expert seamstress, but with a sewing machine I’m sure I could do a great job. This project is, again, time consuming. I will have to get the fabric, measure/cut it, find a friend with a sewing machine, bring all of the materials there, sew it all together, bring it back to the boat, install everything and hope for the best. Luckily, Pinterest has some incredible resources on redoing your interior that I am planning to use as a guide.

You can get a idea of our cushion covers and blinds.. you can also see the camp stove we have been using. Plus little Tuna!

5. Move the Mooring. Again.

So after our 6 month struggle to move our mooring block, it turns out we moved it ~50 yards off from its approved location. To register our mooring, the harbormaster will come to the mooring field with a GPS to ensure we are in our assigned location. Due to people illegally moving moorings, they are now very strict about the blocks placement. If you are following my blog, you know all that goes into moving a mooring block. So we’ve gotta go through getting the skiff, getting the dive gear, getting the lift bags, finding a driver for the skiff, moving the block, and re installing the gear one last time (hopefully).


I have to be honest with you guys. I’ve been feeling lazy, like I should be accomplishing so much more with my time. I’ve been feeling guilty for prioritizing SVZV over my social life. I’ve been embarrassed that I have a never ending todo list that I can’t get a handle on. But after typing this out I’m starting to realize I deserve to be stressed out! I deserve to be a little overwhelmed and I deserve to take the time needed to accomplish all of these projects. This is more responsibility than I’ve ever had in my life and it has been a learning curve learning how to balance “boat life” with my “real life”.

Looking at where we are from where we started back in February, we have come a really long way. I’m actually so proud of all we have accomplished so far. Next I’ll have to come out with a list of “projects we have completed”. See, I told you lists rock!

Gardening

Green Sailor with a Green-ish Thumb

Here is a list of tips and tricks I’ve learned since I started growing plants on the boat:

1. Keep the plants in the shade. This is easily the most important part of keeping my plants alive but it took me the longest to figure out. I specifically got plants that grow well in full sunlight, because I thought they would thrive with all of the sunshine they on deck. Makes sense, right? Wrong. It’s WAY too hot for that.

Although my plants were still growing in size, I noticed their leaves were always droopy and would sometimes turn brown. Within 24 hours of moving them under the dodger in the shade they perked up. Within a few days my sunflower began to bloom.

Current plants: sunflower, basil, pea sprouts Just planted: catnip, broccoli, spinach x2 Not pictured: cilantro, chives

2. Water twice a day. Because it’s so warm in Hawaii watering the plants once a day just wasn’t enough. For the plants that like to have damp soil (ex. Basil), I soak the soil first thing in the morning then give it a quick mist in the afternoon. Even plants that usually don’t require regular watering (ex. Sunflower) I’ve found I need to give them a little water every morning.

3. Plant in a larger container than suggested. I’m not sure if it’s the tropical weather or if I’m just an exceptional gardener (kidding, haha), but my plants tend to grow deeper and a little larger than predicted. I have had to move each plant into a larger than predicted container at least once.

Example: It is suggested to plant basil in soil that is 8-10in deep. My basil is in soil that is ~8in deep and the roots are running out of room. I might move it to an even larger container soon.

4. Touch the plants. This one sounds weird but I swear by it. I like to feel the plants to judge how much water/sunlight they need. Plants that are getting enough water have heavy, pliable leaves. When they need more water the leaves tend to be brittle. If the plant is getting too much sunlight, I’ve noticed their leaves get thin and crunchy. Not enough sunlight and they get soft and almost mushy.

I also think the plants like the affection.

5. When growing sprouts in a mason jar, keep them in refrigerator: it is way too humid below deck on a boat to grow sprouts on the counter. I went through four moldy, smelly, and/or gross batches before realizing my mistake. I just started a new batch that I’m keeping chilled, we will see how it goes!

Bonus tip for sprouts: start small! They expand A LOT more than you would think for such tiny seeds and it is hard to properly rinse them when the container is jammed packed. I also think the jar being too full is another factor in my sprouts going bad.


All in all, I think I’m spending too much time with my plants.

Gardening

Sprouting Up

Day 1: letting the sprouts soak for 8-12hrs

Update: after 3 days the Mung Beans began to sprout.. but they did not look quite right. I think the humidity caused them to go bad. The garbanzo beans turned to mush after a few days.

I am going to try again, this time with broccoli sprouts. I’m going to keep them refrigerated to see if that defeats my humidity problem. Let me know if you have any suggestions of what sprouts would do well in a warm, humid environment! Or if you have any growing tips for sprouts.

Day 3: Mung Beans. I tossed them after this photo.

personal

Smooth Sailing

I knew when we got SVZV, she would come with her own set of challenges. The physical labor I already knew would be an adjustment. I’m lazy by nature and a even chore as simple as scrubbing the bottom of the boat every 2-3 weeks was daunting. I had mentally prepared for the loss of air conditioning, WiFi, and almost all other luxuries I held as constants in my life. Although I knew it would be an uncomfortable adjustment at first, and poor Austin would have to suffer through my attitude at times, there was never a doubt that the payoff would be worth it. Owning a boat was by far the most responsibility I had ever taken on and I fully understood the effort that I would need to put in to maintain it. Only, for me, I’ve found the biggest challenges aren’t related to the maintenance of the boat.

Becoming the owner of a new sailboat was a lot like becoming a new parent (I would imagine). Since we were on anchor at first, we couldn’t leave her unattended for a long period of time. We couldn’t come back past sunset as it was a long dingy ride to and from the boat ramp. We couldn’t go out sailing past sunset either, as it’s ill advised to drop anchor with no light out. There were no more spontaneous drives or nights out. Everything was planned and we ran on a schedule. We took shifts watching her if the other had to go out for the day. Even when I did go out, I found I had to alter what I did in my free time.

I enjoy eating out, happy hours, decorating my home, bargain shopping, trying new Pinterest crafts, and other things that cost money. Now when I get paid, I first think about what we need to get done on the boat and how I can put each dollar to better use. Having something I am monetarily responsible for has had a wonderful effect on my life. Although it does cause me some stress and heartache at times, I found I am more creative and innovative than ever. I’m in the water constantly and get regular exercise. I was recently dive certified and on the road to becoming a dive master. Getting dive certified was a necessary decision for us to maintain our mooring and take care of SVZV. A practical skill set introduced me to one of the few things I can truly say I’m passionate about. It wasn’t easy to transition into an (extremely) more frugal person but the reward surpassed what I expected. It’s easy to only focus on how this move has effected me but it has proved challenging for both of us.

Austin and I never fight. We don’t bicker. I don’t have to nag him.. that much. We rarely snap at each other. Austin has one of the best dispositions of any person I’ve ever met, and if you knew him you’d understand that it’s easy not to fight with him. The first few months as we were adjusting it was fun and exciting. Besides some heated moments while I was learning to drive the dingy or we were dropping anchor, no disagreements really came up. As weeks rolled by and turned into months we spent a lot of time on the boat. 1. We have been locked down for a long time due to the pandemic, so there really aren’t many places to go 2. We were on anchor and didn’t want to leave her unattended for too long and we didn’t want to dingy back at night. Sometime during those months we started bickering.

Who knows about what. It was rarely important enough to remember the subject matter. I’d imagine being quarantined for months with your partner would cause any couple to bicker. Especially being confined to a 43’ sailboat, I cut myself some slack. Although not monumentally impactful on our day to day life, it was an unexpected adjustment. The shift from everything feeling perfect all of the time to the real world is a tough one. Overall I have learned so much about being a better partner and being a better roommate through this experience. It’s made us so much stronger and more understanding of each other. It’s just… if I have to clean up one more wet wad of paper towels from the sink I might go to prison for homicide, ya know?

After writing this whole thing out it’s clear to me that I have it pretty good. If what I’ve described above are some of the bigger challenges I’m facing, I’m doing well. That’s the thing about SVZV, the amazing life she provides me makes it all worth it.

Gardening

Good Chives Only

While dreaming up ideas to make this boat feel more like a home, I had a vision of creating an onboard garden. I was attracted to this idea for two main reasons: 1.) it would be nice to have fresh herbs, spices, veggies, or sprouts to diversify our meals without having to dinghy to shore. 2.) I love bringing my space to life by adding elements that are constantly growing and changing.

One day I impulsively picked up 4 plants without doing much research. I figured most things grow well in Hawaii. I was right! My basil, romaine, chives, and sunflowers are all flourishing.

When I brought them home I planted two of them and then put all four in a container. I fastened them to the stainless on the stern of the boat, then moved them under the dodger for some shade after a few hours. I originally had the idea to transfer them to a hanging shoe rack (I got the idea on Pinterest, I’ll add it below). When my plants started to grow I couldn’t bring myself to contain them in such a small space, so I transferred them into water jugs. It was also a great way to recycle!

All of my plants are now strong and healthy. I’m thinking of adding two more to my collection, but I can’t decide what I should plant. Let me know if you have any suggestions.


Update: 9/18/2020. I have expanded my garden! Unfortunately, the lettuce didn’t grow well on the boat and the leaves kept rotting, so I got rid of that. I now have chives and cilantro growing in the galley (pictures to come) and will be adding more herbs to grow indoors.

Outdoors, Sunny the Sunflower is about to bloom! That has been exciting for everyone on the boat. My basil plant is flourishing. My pea shoots are doing well, but I have no idea when they are good to eat or how to eat them.. let me know if you have any experience with pea shoots and have any tips or tricks for me!

I broccoli, catnip, and mixed greens in the starter pots.. I will keep you all updated on their progress.



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