Easy Living in the San Juan Islands

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Well we’ve made it six months on the boat.  I’m sure our congratulatory plaque is just being finished up.  I do have to say though; the living is easy these days.  Summer on a boat in the San Juan Islands is pretty beautiful and relaxed.  Life is simple which is allowing for way more time to do the things we love. 

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Don’t get me wrong though, it hasn’t all been sunny days on the deck around here.  An old wood boat needs lots of work and I’d love to say *we* have been busy but really it’s been Matt.  He’s done an amazing job organizing what needs to be done in what order and he is always asking people what they recommend.  We have had a steep learning curve but that is also what we wanted.  The challenge of something new is what keeps the days interesting.      

It has been so fascinating to live smack dab in the middle of a tourist destination.  Literally.  Boat loads of tourists arrive every day.  Some days I start to believe I am on vacation too.  Everyone is so friendly, it’s always cocktail hour and ice cream seems to be the official food of the marina.  It’s glorious at times.  Some days though, I dream of fall when the island slows down a bit.  Fall makes this place feel like a secret again.

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I never could have pictured what summer would be like for our girls.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I knew what they wouldn’t have such as a yard or a quiet neighborhood to roam.  In all honesty, I was a little nervous as to whether we were robbing our children of a certain kind of childhood.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  This is where they belong.  They are masters at catching shrimp, their knowledge of boats is increasing rapidly, their playground is everywhere and socially they are growing leaps and bounds due to the insane number of people they talk with daily.  Lyla knows what dock has the best fishing (it’s totally G Dock) and Savannah has a solid handle on who has the fluffiest and nicest dogs.  It can be easy to want to recreate situations we had in childhood for our children but I can honestly say our girls are getting to draw the map for themselves.  This is all new to all of us.

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swimming

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As for the boat, it has everything we need.  We have plenty of space and it’s a solid home for us.  We got this specific boat because of the size and space not because we loved classic wood boats.  We quickly learned though it’s a wood boat enthusiasts’ dream.  I may never get used to people stopping by and just staring at our boat.  We have learned a lot this way though.  It seems our boat might be one of two of this kind ever made with a hardtop.  I guess it was too difficult to ship so they stopped making them.  I find this so fascinating and continue to look for more info on the history of this style of boat.  We are always looking for similar boats to ours and when we find them we are quick to go talk with the owners to learn as much as we can.

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Matt has been hard at work patching all the spots where we think the leaks are coming from.  You need long stretches of dry warm weather to fix the spots so time is of the essence.  We can take as many guesses as possible this summer and then wait till the rains arrive and hope for the best.  I think we have a good handle on it though.  Matt also got one of the engines running and the other is not far behind.  We are in no hurry to take the boat out.  We see this as a long term process for us so we don’t want to rush.  Plus it’s our house- if something happens we really don’t have a lovely two-story to move into.  It’s our journey and it’s unfolding at the pace we need. 

Hands down this has been the scariest yet best decision we have ever made.  It has forced Matt and I to work together in new ways and allowed us to see our girls grow with us in this new experience.  We are going to be on the boat for a long while.  I often wonder why everyone isn’t living this way, but I also get it.  Taking a leap into the unknown is scary but let me tell you, it’s totally worth it.

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Lessons Everywhere

We have only been on the boat for about a month and already we have learned so many new things. Some we expected, others we didn’t. For instance, we know now that we for sure need a new toilet. It’s not terrible; it’s just seen its day. I’ll just leave it at that.

We wondered if we were bringing too many things onto the boat and we now know that we did. I am already taking things back off daily. Someone just recently told me, “An item must have three uses for it to stay aboard the boat.” At first I thought that seemed a bit much but honestly, it’s not far from the truth. The rest is just clutter and we have begun to feel the uselessness of so many things. The decoration of our space is the ever changing beauty out all of our windows. I don’t want items to distract that view. That’s easier said than done though. It’s hard to get down to the minimum items needed.

Cooking….such a love/hate relationship. Our galley is wonderful in a variety of ways. We have a good size refrigerator and a two burner stove. Room for the dishes/cups/pans we need and enough space for food. It really isn’t bad. What has been harder than I thought is the loss of having an oven/microware. I thought we would be fine. I didn’t think it would be this hard. Turns out we toasted/roasted/baked/reheated more than I thought. I didn’t expect to overhaul how we eat with this move but it’s so necessary right now. I mean, we have to face it three times a day, may as well deal with it. The Crockpot has been dusted off and the good ol’stir fry is appearing quite a bit more. Not going to lie, I might have mourned the loss of the quick and easy chicken nugget lunch for the girls. I know there are some good toaster ovens we can get. In time though. I am curious if it’s necessary or if we can just move past needing it.

Our girls have bunk beds for the first time. It is also Sissy’s first big bed. Lyla of course claimed the top bunk before we even purchased the boat. It’s been good, better than I thought. We broke a vicious cycle of bedtime games that had evolved in our old home. It was always one more thing. This is such a welcome reprieve and a chance for the girls to learn new things too.

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Our family has always enjoyed being outside. Our vacations usually involve camping and we would much prefer to be outside than inside. However, we had lost that a bit, maybe from having kids or maybe living in houses/apartments in neighborhoods. It was easy to just stay inside. Our time outside now has grown exponentially. We didn’t think about the impact that would have. The fresh air of the ocean is so nice to take in each day, the skies are beautiful and the moon shines off the water in a picture that almost looks fake. Wildlife is already aplenty and I know the change in seasons will only create more to see. There is a constant awareness of the weather mainly because you can feel the movement and change of wind and currents. We are way more attached to Mother Nature than I thought we would be. Talk about naive to boating now that I think about it. Ha!

We have found changing our lifestyle to be pretty invigorating. It has allowed us to look critically at a variety of pieced in our life. I highly recommend taking the leap to trying something new in your lifestyle or learn something new. It doesn’t have to be big. It’s so refreshing and I don’t think you will look back with regret.