So as I mentioned before, Matt had been working on patching a ton of places on the roof of the boat in hopes of getting a handle on the leaks that we have. He has been applying a primer, layer after layer for about two weeks now. Then sanding edges and in the next few days he will paint over all the primer with a matching paint to our boat color. In a perfect world all the leaks will stop and we will live a gloriously dry happy little life in our boat. If only it were that easy.
I’m not one to carry on about the weather but when you are living on a boat that leaks it kind of happens naturally. I watch the ten day forecast like a hawk. With all of the warm sunny summer weather we have had the wood of our boat has dried out. This is all fine and normal, but when it rains it means more little cracks for water to enter. It seems that every August right about now, a little summer storm always rolls through the San Juan Islands. This year was no different.
We went to bed knowing that it was going to rain but I think we were both hopeful that all the patching would slow the water down and maybe make it a nonissue. Matt was less hopeful than I was mostly because he had been doing all the work and knew that he still had more to do before it was done. This ill-timed storm was not fitting into his boat work schedule. We were each hoping for a miracle. Point being, we didn’t do any prep.
At 4:30 in the morning it started raining hard. It sounded like marbles hitting the boat. So loud and so much water. It sounded close. Like on my pillow close. Sure enough, three leaks sprang above our bed. We were up. More leaks in the room and more than a few in the kitchen. In total I counted twenty-two leaks. We had towels and buckets and mason jars everywhere. It was a full time job. Jars filled quickly, towels needed moved, new drips came out of nowhere. I was so annoyed. I had this total little tantrum in my head over the whole thing. I was personally offended that it was raining. My bliss of sunny summer days on a boat came to a screeching halt and I was pissed.
What I did know that morning as I ran around for four hours in a less than a jovial mood managing buckets and towels was that we needed to declutter our boat again and get moving on projects for the winter. I spent the better part of the day cleaning out cabinets, closets and dressers. With colder temps and more moisture coming, it’s time to live with much less again. Everything is wet on the boat in the winter so there is a greater risk of items getting ruined with water or mold. It feels funny to have to live a different way for the winter months but it’s necessary.
I can honestly say that in retrospect, that day of being pissy over the rain was the kick in the shorts I needed to better understand exactly why we are choosing to live this way. It would have been so easy to let that become all consuming leading to negativity about so many aspects of our daily life. It would have been an easy path to self destruction and I would have had all the right stories to support why this didn’t work. I want this to work though. I like our life on this boat. I like the environment we live in and I actually thrive off of the physical challenges created by living on a boat. Living this way is definitely making me a stronger person…. and a little jealous of all you people with roofs that don’t leak.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We purchased this boat with the intention of saving money for three to five years to buy land on San Juan Island. We wanted five acres and a tiny house so that we could essentially homestead on the island. We underestimated how much we would enjoy living on a boat. I think we might be in this boat for the long haul.
Each time we stay overnight somewhere other than our boat, I miss being on the boat more and more. What I miss most is the closeness to the out of doors that we feel each day. When we stay in a house or hotel I have no idea what the sunrise or sunset looks like, how the stars were that night or what stage the moon is in. Even for one night, I miss it. I miss the fresh air. I miss feeling the boat move with the change of weather. I also miss that cozy feeling of our family hanging out in our small space.
Now when we talk about buying land, it’s more about starting a family farm to work on, but not live on. We talk about using the land to provide for our family but having our home on our boat. There is something so beautiful and unique about living on the water. I didn’t know how much it would influence our family when we made this choice. I didn’t know the profound impact it would have in relation to who we inherently are and the beauty in simplicity it has unlocked.
I know this journey has only begun. Hell, we haven’t even left the dock yet. Ha! In time, in time. With each new change in life, we grow a little more individually and as a family and this adventure is proving to be no different. It would be so easy to find negative things with how we are living, but why? Focusing on the positive of this experience has allowed us to have clarity on where we are headed and all of the beauty this path in life has in store.
I am grateful each day that the choices we have made in life have lead us to the opportunities we have. I truly believe that my eyes have only been opened up to this gratefulness because of the change we have made in our lifestyle. Simplicity has given me a sense of place and it has provided such a feeling of comfort. I am also only beginning to understand the true gift we are unintentionally giving our children and so eager to see what this next season of spring brings.