Returning to the boat was an experience I was heavily anticipating. 2.5 years is a long time to be away from your home and after only a single season before Covid hit. By the time we were setting off it was almost as if we were coming back to a new boat and a new life on that boat.
Lists of odd things from chopsticks to pegs to O rings and tools that had been diligently collected over the first few months after we returned to Australia in 2019 were like looking at an archaeology dig of someone else’s life. Did we really need these things? Are there really no shops selling good pegs in Greece? Can you really not find a single shop selling dish drainers, underpants, stockcubes or chux superwipes? (The answer to the chux is no!)
Thankfully I had taken a few photos of clothes we had left on board when I was packing up so we had a small idea of what we needed to add to.
I like to think that I am good with change. I welcome it. Going from a tiny house in Hobart to 8 months in a covid getaway campervan, back to tiny home then off to the boat I’ve had a bit of practice. But what I have learnt is that change comes with a requisite adjustment period.
My first few weeks on the boat (and incidentally in the van) I found myself just unable to find my feet. I bashed into everything. The body muscle memory had abandoned me so now I had to think before I headed down the corridor to our aft cabin which is not head height and requires you to duck. Bang there goes my head. Ouch! My thigh as I ran into the table in the saloon yet again. There’s a new bruise on my forehead as I crack it on the window in my shower bay (which is pretty tight to be fair). Scratches appeared on my hands as I caught them on screws and nuts on the gas cooker in the galley. And it goes on.
And it’s confession time, I love our boat, but being a pretty prolific cook I find our ocean going galley incredible pokey. Those first weeks I cursed it as I forgot how to lay up our supplies so I didn’t have to unpack absolutely everything to find that essential spice that was behind 20 others or grab that packet of flour that had been shoved in the back of a locker behind every other packet of dry goods I’d purchased.
But it was also more than this. During our first year we had decided, perhaps even without speaking about it, not to throw away anything the previous owner had left on board as we figured with limited space he must have kept it for a reason. This year I realised in my irritation I was utterly over this and there were definitely things kept for no good reason I could ascertain. The 15 old heavy duty plastic wine glasses, the weird tongs that didn’t really work, the books, the odd plastic bags, the oversupply of plates had to go. While I started in the galley Rick also went into the various tool cupboards and tool boxes and boxes of fishing tackle (that we’ll never use). How many hacksaws do you need on board? How many screwdrivers? How many bottles of random cleaning products bought at boat shows with no use by dates on them? How many out of date suncreams? Off they went and as the load of unwanted ‘things’ went so did the mental load on us. Happily there is a time-honoured system at our boatyard where all things that can find another life elsewhere are taken by the staff so we were confident all would find new homes. I’ll never forget seeing one of the boatyard guys heading off on his motorbike with a cigarette hanging from his mouth wearing a pirate hat at a jaunty angle and carrying the plastic sword that went with it with a huge smile and yelling to all his mates to take a look at his new hat…yeah they were not ours and nor were they wanted. We are still trying to figure out just what the proper Englishman had them on board for!
As I refined and refined what was important to me fortunately so too did my irritation begin to dissipate. Then I started to repack. Obvious really to most people perhaps, but the things you use all the time need to be the most readily available. Doh.
Oh yes, the spare pump can come out of the cupboard we store the wine in……because the wine is never needed. Joking! Wet weather gear can be well stowed as in Greece and Turkey it’s not really needed as it’s never cold enough. And perhaps the giant socket set that weighs 10 kilos can be stowed away under the fenders and not in the clothing cupboard where it falls over constantly.
The thing I haven’t mentioned so far is ropes. Well. We used to have many, many, many ropes. The current Captain was a little reluctant to toss them as you always need rope. But you do not need garbage bag sized amount of small bits of rope and old okky straps with perished elastics plus old life-lines. Time for a bit of reconciliation there. Now we have one shopping bag sized amount of useable straps and ropes that all still have life in them.
But that is not all. Under the forward v berth there was also a large locker that was full to the brim with old jib sheets and every other sort of larger gauge rope you could think of. Do we need so many? Well, of course we need some, but not this many particularly when changing out some on the rig for new ropes was in process in Turkey. Fortunately, we have some friends who have moved onto some land and could use all the spares so the bigger ones went to a good new home.
So as time passed and I refined my own mental systems for where things go and my body got used to the need to pretzel myself into odd places (think of me leaning across both the engine and the generator, trying not to break or catch myself on anything as I help Rick with a seacock that was stuck) I felt like I had truly arrived back on the boat. The boat felt more in sync and me with it. Everything has it’s place until work is being done and then EVERYTHING is taken out! And it shows. She looks great now.
The other lovely thing that happens organically as this process ends is that the packet of flour at the back of the cupboard is no longer a problem. You just haul everything out and pack it all away again. After all, there’s plenty of time right? And this is the most significant change really. Me slowing down. Unfortunately the attitude adjustment stage seems to be compulsory for me.
I wish I could tell you that therein lies the end of the bruises but I can’t. Life on board, particularly a monohull, is just inherently bumpy. But you know, it’s also part of what I actually like. I am constantly being stretched out of my comfort zone. Just how do I make coffee when one of the rails (on the edge of the deck) is in the water? How do I get onto the loo for a wee when we are dropping off waves in 20 knots. Well that one ended badly but nothing broken so there was something to be grateful for right? While I may not be fitter I am definitely stronger and challenging myself to improve all the time. And I love our life on the good ship Intention, perhaps more than ever, given that it requires a level of discomfort to get there.
8 replies on “Attitude Adjustment”
Always love your word smithing ramblings.
It’s like engaging with a bubbly brook, as it makes its way across the cornerstones, aligns itself with a new current and a different flow. Cheers Maggy
Thanks! Bubbly brook. That’s a first.
Great blog, Cath! As I was reading it, I could see the evolution in your thoughts, behavior & then overall attitude to…embrace boat loving with all it has to offer. The boat’s Zen look & your guys’ smile are evidence that your new attitude is working!!!
What I most remember with the few sailing adventures with hubby are bumping my head all the time, getting sick while cooking & “pretzeling” myself into small places, which left me cranky & cursing all the way through in Spanish, English & Portuguese (ha ha ha). I have since worked on my attitude. So, let’s see…
Ahhh Pato. I simply can’t imagine you getting frustrated! I find wine helps….
I love reading your Blog’s Cathy. Now time to start afresh in your organised abode. The sailing looks amazing & you both look pretty relaxed. I do understand at times though it is a very different story. Enjoy your adventures. Annie X
Thanks Annie. Xxx
Love this refining down Cath, it’s like nautical feng shui when you get it right, it all flows smoothly ish after that… love your reflections and news 🙏