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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!

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To you, ZV

To the boat that is the answer to my dreams

To the woman she is named after

To my mother who not only gave me life but gave up hers for mine

To the person that lifted me up for 26 years

To the one that caught me when I fell

I’m bringing you with me one way or another because this is not my, but our story to tell


Some of you might be wondering what SVZV stands for. I only use her initials purposely, because to introduce her name without telling the story behind it wouldn’t feel right. SVZV stands for Sailing Vessel Zayna Vnnette. Zayna Vnnette is my mother’s name.

For those who have lost a loved one, you know that there is nothing I can say to adequately describe the pain. The all consuming darkness that eats you from the inside out and rears its ugly head every time there’s silence. The physical discomfort of every heart beat. The dreams where you can still feel their embrace. The pit in your throat blocking your breath every time you see something beautiful, hear something funny, or have a story to tell and the one person you want to share it with is gone. Forever.

Dying of cancer is a painful and ugly ordeal. My mother fought every day to stay on this Earth until she knew her family would be ok. She not only waited until I had officially moved in with my family, she waited until my two aunts and grandmother were on island to support us. More than that, I think my mom had a vision for my life that I wasn’t able to see. She knew by bringing me to Maui I would be supported and loved in a way I never imagined. She knew that the opportunities and adventures that waited for me here would give me the strength to not only survive, but thrive. She believed in the community she loved to love us when she no longer could.

I remember sitting in my moms hospital room after they shut off life support. Only my grandma and aunt stayed. She had been gone for about 10 minutes when my aunt asked me if I wanted to leave. Shakily, I was able to whisper, “ Not yet. This is the last time I’m going to see her.” I was right in the respect that I would never and will never see her physical form again. But I could not have been more wrong in the grand scheme of life. I see my mother more now than I ever did when she was alive. I see her in every sunset, every dolphin, every picture of me, my sister, or my step father I see. She is more a part of me now than I ever recognized when she was with me. I feel her warmth and love radiating from inside of me. Every smile, she is smiling with me. Every tear, she cries too. Because what am I but the DNA of the one who created me? I carry her with me. Always.

Had I not been at Longs Drugstore the day after I moved to Maui, picking up medicine for my mom.. I wouldn’t have met Austin. Had I not met Austin and fallen in love, we wouldn’t have this boat. Furthermore, had my mom not created me, I wouldn’t have this life.

I never made enough money to take my mom on her dream trip to Paris before she died, so it’s my honor to take her around the world with me now.

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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.