Saturday, April 30, 2016

Blogging from A to Z: Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper ("salt and black pepper," in Dutch)

During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.

Chayote (image from here) will forever be associated with Hilda in my mind.  Awkwardly, I later learned that the Jamaican nickname for this mild, zucchini-tasting vegetable sounds remarkably similar to a Spanish slang word for a portion of the female anatomy. 

When we first visualized exploring the US East Coast, Bahamas and Caribbean by boat, I imagined lots of opportunities to explore exotic foods. And to be sure, that happened. Almost twenty years of friendship with my Jamaican friend Hilda began when I asked her, then a near-stranger, how to use an odd greenish vegetable I found in the supermarket. 


I have no idea what these are, or how to eat them. If their name doesn't translate to "porcupine fruit," well, it should!

I'm as happy, no, happier, browsing a new grocery store than I am in a jewelry store. I'm just curious about how people from other cultures make their way in the world. 


Part of a pickup truck load of pineapples

Trinidad's version of the Saturday morning farmer's market
Of course, you can't roam the Caribbean without thinking spices, and we were always on the lookout for the exotic -- especially those without too much extra heat.  (You know you're in trouble when the haban~ero sauce is labelled "mild.") Yet one of the most intriguing things I found in my wanderings was also one of the plainest: salt and pepper. Mixed together in one jar.  


St Martin/St Maarten, I think.  At least, it's labelled in Dutch on one side (zout & zwarte peper) and French on the other (sel & poivre noir). 80% salt mixed with 20% ground black pepper, in one shaker. Handy for picnics or the ultimate minimalist.

As we've downsized and streamlined and minimalized and downsized some more, the topic of cooking ingredients in general -- and spices in particular -- took up a disproportionate amount of space in our minds and on our boat. We would invariably bring back a packet of something exotic to try and recreate an interesting flavor, only to be disappointed months later when what we did failed to match our memories.  In fact most of our carefully-selected herbs and spices resembled jars of gray sawdust more than the bursts of flavor we were aiming for. That, we learned, was because heat and sunlight and humidity -- all things we have in abundance aboard -- are the enemies of freshness. We tried different kinds of jars and transitioned to blends instead of individual spices, reasoning that if we had less of each, we'd have a decent chance of using them up before they went bad, and save space at the same time.  Our lockers are now full of blackened fish rub, curry blend, chili powder, Italian seasoning mix, sweet baking blend (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves) ... but we never thought of the very simplest and most basic combo. That, to me, is the ultimate benefit of travel -- to reexamine ordinary things you've always taken for granted.

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This concludes my "official" A to Z posts.  The challenge was fun, and tiring, and, well ... challenging. I met some interesting new bloggers and had lots of fun following 5 other boat bloggers (listed in the lower right sidebar). I'll be back to posting roughly weekly, or whenever I have something cool to talk about, next week.

The Monkey's Fist has some truly outrageous grocery "finds" in other countries here.  The Boat Galley lists some hints for storing spices here.




Friday, April 29, 2016

Blogging from A to Z: Y is for "You Never Know"


During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.

You never know. (image from here)

One of the biggest challenge for me is finding a balance in living simply.  On the one hand, we want to live with less and be open to new experiences.  But on the other hand, when we think about having what we need to be self-sufficient when we're off the grid or at sea, we can get into almost hoarder territory. You never know if you're going to be able to find a marine supply store if something breaks, better carry a supply of spare parts. You never know if you're going to find friends in the next anchorage and want to invite them over for happy hour, better provision with lots of snacks and munchies. You never know if you will (somehow) find a way to reuse the  piece of teak left over from the last boat project you did, better store it somewhere. And, my particular challenge: finding a special food ingredient or condiment that I love and learn to depend on. Knowing I'd be frustrated if I couldn't find it again when I wanted it, so stocking up on lots.  All too often, it sits in the lockers slowly aging when I find a new enthusiasm. 

It reminds me of the parable about the traveler who was walking to another distant village and found the path blocked by a wide river. He cast about in the woods and gathered materials and made himself a raft. He crossed the river safely.  The rest of his voyage, though, was terribly burdened, because he decided to bring the raft along, just in case he came to another river. 

The moral of the simple-living story, of course, is that the lesson of the raft can be taken two ways. Certainly experience has taught our traveler that there are rivers that need crossing, and it's handy to have a tool to cross them with. But experience has also taught him that he's creative and can build a good-enough raft from materials at hand. He might have to repeat his work if there is a second river, but in the meantime he can travel lighter.

So while I try to prepare for you-never-know-what, I have to also learn that I don't need to prepare for everything; it's also okay, even advisable, to leave room for spontaneous solutions so I can travel a bit more lightly. Our boat's waterline will appreciate it.   

= = = = 

(Except for knowledge, of course. I love filing away random bits of knowledge, that you never know when they will be applicable. Besides, knowledge takes no space!)


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Blogging from A to Z: X is for eXpressions


During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.

X marks the spot! (image from here)


For "X" I really wanted to do "X marks the spot" on pirate treasure maps. But I get so tired of explaining that galleons weren't pirate ships.  In fact, they were pirate targets, for their contents. But pirates wouldn't really want the ship; it's too slow, not maneuverable enough to be a great fighter, and needs too many crew.  Of course, the captured galleon may be in better condition than their own ship; you know, they're pirates, they may not have done the regular maintenance on their own ship because they're not anticipating a long life span!

Anyway... on to expressions.

Intriguing to hear that many of our common expressions originated in the work world of several hundred years ago.  Fellow A to Z blogger Counterweight Press explained how the phrases "all out of sorts" and why we call letters "upper case" and "lower case" (go to the comments in the previous linked blog post) came from his world.  A couple of weekends ago four curious visitors to El Galeon asked me what phrases came from our ship.  They were a great audience, every time I walked them through one their eyes got big and they smiled and nodded appreciatively. Here are a few of the phrases I told them:


Learning the ropes: Our ship has 6 miles of rope rigging. The first thing a new recruit must do is understand which does what, to raise or lower or otherwise adjust the sails.  So today when you start a new job, it takes a few months to "learn the ropes."



Down the hatch: This is the cargo hatch on the main deck.  They would remove the grill and use ropes and pulleys to lower items two levels down into the cargo hold. At the end of the day, when you chug your beer and say "glug, glug, down the hatch," this is the "hatch" where that expression comes from.




Feather in your cap: The plumes in my tricorn (depending on where and when you are) signify that I've acquitted myself honorably in battle, or that I'm an officer. So now when you complete a project that looks great on your resume and enhances your reputation, it's a "feather in your cap."


Knots: To measure boat speed, they throw the wooden end off the stern of the ship and as they sail away the line unreels. There is a knot tied in the line every 50 feet, and they’d count how many knots slip between their fingers in 30 seconds. 50 feet in 30 seconds is 100 feet in a minute. 60 minutes in an hour, 6000 feet = 1 nautical mile per hour, and that’s why we measure boat speed in “knots” even today.

I have no idea why this picture is vertical instead of horizontal; it's correct on my computer. When I figure out how to rotate it I'll modify this image.

Lock, stock, and barrel: This is my replica 18th century flintlock pistol (a bit late for the galleon period, but it's the only one I could find that was Spanish-made).  It has 3 parts: the flint-and-steel spark-producing mechanism is the "lock;" the handle is the "stock;" and the gold-colored "barrel." So when we describe "lock, stock, and barrel," we mean you have the entire thing. 

Flash in the pan: A small amount of gunpowder is placed in the outer part of the flintlock firing mechanism, called the pan. The spark ignites this, and it in turn ignites the larger amount of powder that is placed in the barrel to propel the musket ball.  But sometimes there is a misfire and the powder in the pan ignites but fails to set off the remaining powder, resulting in a "flash in the pan" meaning something showy but that fails to have lasting or significant effect.

(Note there are many more nautical phrases that have made their way into common English, though some of them come from a later period than our galleon.)


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blogging from A to Z: W is for Writing


During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.

I don't find a blank page intimidating. In fact, I love a blank page -- so many possibilities!

Earlier this year, fellow blogger Ellen posted thoughts on her own personality and how it shapes her writing process.  It got me thinking about my own.  

I'm an extrovert, intuitive, enjoy connecting disparate ideas, love openness and possibility, get bored easily, dislike structure and deadlines and details, and tend to view circumstances as situational rather than having many overarching principles. I think the most important part of a cathedral is the spire, not the foundation. In Myers-Briggs terms, I'm a ENFP. Actually, I'm very strongly E, N, and P, and near neutral on F/T, meaning I have some characteristics of an ENTP. So, what does this mean for me writing?

I love new ideas and new experiences. I'm extroverted, so I want to share them with you, and know what you think about them.

I suck at deadlines. Last year I first learned about the A to Z challenge on April 1. So I had a totally valid excuse for writing my posts on the fly just before (or in some cases, at or slightly after) the deadline. This year, I had no such excuse, but I'm writing on the fly anyway, because structure and I just don't get along. To me they're not deadlines, just due date suggestions.  As for posting, even though I have good intentions, I'm just not regular in my blog updates. When I have something interesting to say (and a solid internet connection), I'll post. When I don't, you may not hear from me for weeks. I don't do structure or consistency well.

I'm a big-picture girl. If there's an unlikely connection or leap of logic, I'm probably going to find it. Or invent it. Whatever. 

I get bored easily. Although Life Afloat is nominally a sailing blog, it's really a "what's-on-my-mind-right-now" blog.  That means it might go off on tangents about math, cooking, history, environmental science, or the metric system at any given time, without notice.
In the final analysis, no matter what personality traits inspire it, I just like the entire blogging process. I like the connections I make through writing, I'm much richer for the things I've learned from other bloggers, and I like the fact that it forces me to sort my own thoughts.  Glad you're here!





Blogging from A to Z: V is for Virtual Privacy


During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.

When we tell people we've lived together on a 33-foot boat for the last 14 years, they often ask how all that togetherness affects our relationship. Actually, I reply, it makes it better, since we really get in sync with each other's moods. But still, we are two strong individuals, and sometimes we need space. On the one hand, we've got the entire outdoors to get away in should we need to.  On the other hand, sometimes the space you need is more psychological. There are two essential tricks we use to give each other that.

No shoulder surfing!

We can’t give each other physical privacy, but we can respect each other’s mental space with “virtual” privacy, courtesies familiar to any cubicle dweller. No shoulder surfing or reading each other’s drafts without permission. (It helps to have illegible handwriting!) No commenting on overheard cellphone conversations (or *bathroom noises.*) Of course you heard it, but you pretend you didn’t, and don’t comment unless invited.

There’s very little discretionary space aboard the boat. Once we’ve filled the lockers with food and tools and safety gear there’s not a lot of room left over for personal gear (clothing and hygiene) and even less for toys. Still, although almost all the lockers are communal property, each of us has a personal locker that the other doesn’t access. We call it the "don't ask, don't tell" locker.

My private DADT locker, full of seashells and sentimental keepsakes and sparkly things

In mine, I can store frivolous items like collected beach glass and seashells, silly sentimental keepsakes, or the pastels that I keep thinking I’ll miraculously acquire the talent to put to good use, and Dan doesn’t get to comment on how that precious storage space could be put to better use storing something that will, you know, actually serve a purpose.

In Dan’s he can also store, without comment … um, I have no idea what he stores there. That’s the entire point of a DADT locker.

Those two very simple solutions have worked for us, and set up our expectations for when we summer as crew on El Galeon, where each person's private space is just one bunk shielded by a green curtain.

El Galeon crew dorm for sixteen. I can do this!

Parts of this blog post appeared previously in Women And Cruising blog.  To read the original go here.



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blogging from A to Z: U is for Uniform


During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.

What do you think about wearing the same uniform every day? (Photo, US Naval Academy)

When I was in (public) elementary school, several of my friends were in Catholic school, and they had to wear uniforms to school every day. I thought it was weird. Still do, in fact. Being a kid or adolescent is a great time to learn to express yourself and differentiate yourself, and doing so by your fashion statements is one way. My friends were distinguishable only by their hair color or styles, while I loved plaids and stripes, magenta, blue-green, and sapphire. Together. I distinctly remember my dad telling me that people don't dress like rainbows, before sending me back to my room to change before we went ... somewhere. I no longer remember where, but I still remember joking with him in later years about his sartorial advice.

Kids in school uniforms in India. (Photo by Byronkhyangti, licensed under Wikimedia commons, from here)

Conditions are very different for an older adult than for a school-age child. I experimented for a while in my 30s with a daily work "uniform" of blue jeans and a gray sweatshirt. I enjoyed not having to think at all about what to wear, or spend time and money shopping for it. The lack of focus on clothing was great until I was promoted and required to dress corporate. Yet now, 50 years later, when I wear my uniform for work as a tourguide, whether it is historic sailor garb or shirt with ship's logo, I remember how simple mornings could be.  It must be something human that we take something so straightforward and artificially complicate it. I mused about what a waste of energy micro-decisions such as choosing clothing are, as part of last year's A to Z challenge. Now, I'm somewhere in between mindlessly wearing the same thing every day, and having fun with my clothing and "dressing like a rainbow." 

I'm getting ready to sail on the Galeon again, and using my experience last year, as well as my experiment two years ago of dressing with 33 items for 3 months, to make my packing list. I'm not limited to 33 items this go-around but simply limited by space(I found that last time I did the clothing challenge too -- on the boat, volume matters more than number of pieces; 33 wool sweaters take up a ton more space than 33 swimsuits! For this summer cities tour I will have about as much clothing space as I do aboard our sailboat -- about the equivalent of two airline carryon bags. Making it more challenging is the additional constraint that we need to be prepared for hot summer weather as well as night watches in chilly Canadian waters. On the other hand, it's night watch, so no one cares about -- or can even see -- whether what I'm wearing matches!

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If you're really curious, here's my packing list:
warm jacket: navy blue with ship's logo
fleece sweatshirt: dark teal
sweater: gray wool
foul-weather rain jacket and pants
5 t-shirts with ship's logo (3 navy blue, 2 white)
4 shorts: khaki, black, blue, gray
2 stretch jeans: khaki
2 summer weight pants: khaki, off-white
3 t-shirts for off-duty: 2 short-sleeve & 1 long-sleeve
orange Hawaiian shirt (fun for BBQ nights aboard)
2 cute tops for exploring in town: pink/black/white/tan geometric print, and abstract blue rainbow criss-cross neck
nice black semi-dressy pants
long-sleeve silver sunblock shirt
2 warm turtlenecks: dark gray, light blue
Keens (closed-toe water sports shoes)
tennis shoes (black, so they can fade into the background to wear with the black pants)
flip-flops
wool hat, gloves, scarf, fleece long underwear
Tilley hat for sun
scrimshaw "ship's anchor" earrings with pink, blue, and diamond studs
backpack
purse
swimsuit
one raggy outfit for painting in
oversize t-shirt and shorts for sleeping
other stuff:
prescription sunglasses
head lamp
energy bars
name tag
rigging knife and Leatherman
phone and universal charger for European power
notebook and blank paper
small camera
sleeping bag, sheet, pillow
decaf tea
chapstick

Blogging from A to Z: T is for Take a Tenth of Your Tools and Toys (and get some help from Technology!)


During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.

Moving aboard, we were able to take about a tenth of our possessions


We got a letter from our then seven-year-old godson, asking us to describe what life on the boat was like. We told him that it was like being a turtle, 'cuz we went really slow, but we got to take our home with us everywhere we went. And that even though it was very small, it had everything his home did: a place to cook, a place to sleep, a place to hang out with friends, a place to sit an think. He got a charge out of hearing that our bed -- a.k.a. V-berth -- spanned wall to wall so we could never fall out of bed no matter how rough the seas got. (We didn't go into the fact that in rough conditions we'd actually sleep on the settee in the main salon with a lee cloth; too much information.)

But what really got him was when we explained that we didn't have room for very many things.   One in ten, we told him.  For every ten toys you own, you get to pick one to take with you.  Same thing with books, and t-shirts.  And we had a conversation about what you'd pick, and why; and if two small toys would be as good as one big one.

That simplification closely mirrored what we actually did. We had moved from a 2,800-square-foot house, to a boat with less than 280 square feet. And when we did the extreme downsizing we called "shopping at our house," for each category of possessions, we ended up with close to a 10:1 ratio of things we had to get rid of to things we could keep to bring aboard. Tools, we ended up with a bit more than 10%, and kitchen gadgets a bit less, since we only brought hand-operated things and big electric items like a waffle iron or popcorn popper or stand mixer wouldn't be practical.  Clothing was right on, and most toys.

Things that could be replaced simply with cash, like a sofa or a car, we sold. For the sentimental or meaningful stuff, we got a storage unit. Technology was going to be our ultimate savior, we reasoned. All the music we owned, plus all we could borrow from friends or the library, would take the exact same amount of space -- essentially, none -- if we were willing to rip CDs to the computer or iPod. Every family photo could come with us, if we took the time to scan it. Every book I could ever read would take the same negligible amount of space on an e-reader if we were willing to repurchase it in digital form.

Interesting that our sorting rule for those things became, "Do I want to take the time and effort to scan/rip/digitize this?" The process gave a totally concrete meaning to the downsizing advice to look at each item and ask yourself if you saw it in the store today, would you buy it again if you had it to do over again?


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Blogging from A to Z: T is for Time Out to Travel




During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.




My plan for today was to write how we could only Take a Tenth of our Toys, and Technology coming (somewhat) to our rescue.  But instead, I'm taking time out to travel. We had an unexpected opportunity and we've rented a car (a treat in itself!) and are headed to meet up with a blog friend I made while doing A-Z last year. When we get back on Monday or Tuesday, there will be stories, and I'll write about Toys, and Uniforms, and Virtual Privacy...

Blogging from A to Z: S is for Storage, and Stuff

During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.

A whimsical beaded bird, similar to this one from Beadworx, is one of the things I wasn't ready to part with

As we started grappling with the massive downsizing that would be necessary to cram our previous land-lives into a 33-foot sailboat, the reality was enormously intimidating. It seemed it would be impossible to fit even the essentials of everyday living into the space we would own, much less the impractical or sentimental stuff.

 And yet, as I read the books and blogs and websites, they all seemed to require the first painful step: get rid of everything. Nope. Not gonna happen. There were things I didn't want to part with, things that had a history that mattered, or merely, things that made me smile. Fortunately, no, more than "fortunately" -- sanity-savingly -- we had made a pact with each other at the start of this venture. We weren't going to do anything that would make us resent the process. Either one of us had veto power, no questions asked.

Note to self: All those internet pix of adorable tiny houses, with every precious thing perfectly in place? They are staged. So if you've been feeling like a failure because you can't quite match that Zen state in real life, you can stop fretting now, and stop comparing yourself.  You can't get there in real life because they aren't real life.  Real life is a bit messier -- where do you put the 8-pack of paper towels in those pictures (that you bought because they were on one of those weird sales where the 8-pack was cheaper than the two pack)? The dirty-laundry bag? The stack of books to return to the library? Worst of all, where do you put the box of wine or the bag of chips?

On the boat, the impossibility of that standard is magnified. There's more stuff to store (spares, tools, life jackets, foul weather gear, sail stuff, and sufficient provisions and other things you need if you're going to be off the grid for a while). And between lockers that can get moist or moldy, and the need to protect things that could be tossed around by the sea, there are fewer places to store things.  Somewhere between minimalism and self-sufficiency, the desire to be prepared for anything would leave us with no space left for actual living, to accommodate the storeroom.  We'd need a ten-foot-longer boat just for storage.  Yikes, no thanx!

So we have storage on land.  We (*gasp!*) rented a storage unit.  It houses some mundane things, summer clothes in winter, winter clothes in summer, things we needed once and are likely to need again but not right now, income tax records and other original paperwork that needs to be saved for legal purposes, materials for some boat projects, books we want to keep in our lives, but don't need immediate access to. But it also has sentimental items or souvenirs we've acquired in our travels. Yes, it goes against the conventional wisdom of minimalism to pay money to store things we don't absolutely need. But at the same time, that storage unit costs 1.8% of our pension. I consider that a teeny tiny price to pay, for the saving of my sanity. And my beaded bird.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Blogging from A to Z: R is for Rebaselining


During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.




"I'm going to be offline next week," my friend Jorge told me. "I'm going on vacation and I'm so jazzed -- we're going to be on a liveaboard sailboat, we'll sail to a different island every day and we can just jump off the stern to go scuba or snorkeling."

"But Jorge," I had to chuckle, "you've just described my everyday life! When I go on vacation, I want to live on land, in a fancy resort, with a big shower, and a car."

In business management, rebaselining refers to adjusting project status when a project is delayed or external conditions have changed so much that the original timeline is no longer feasible. (definition from here) Adjusting expectations when external conditions change is also a feature of long-time living aboard. Our life afloat is rich in luxury for the spirit, not so much for luxury of the body.

It's actually been kind of cool, as we've developed a new appreciation for ordinary things. Our shower is the size of a phone booth and fresh water very limited so we do water-saving "Navy showers" -- turn the water on, wet your body, turn the water off, soap up, turn the water on, rinse off. In fact on the Galeon at sea, showers were with sea water, and each crew member was rationed one gallon of fresh water in a plastic jug for final rinse off. So now, a long shower in a big shower stall, with sit-down space and all the hot water you want, is my version of a spa day. And the odd thing is, it gives me just  as much pleasure as a spa would have when we lived on land ... because in each case you appreciate whatever is more luxurious than your baseline. Adjust the baseline, and it takes such little, ordinary things to make a big impact. We have a small freezer aboard, but in order to keep it cold enough to keep ice cream we would use an inordinate amount of power. So instead of being something we can grab whenever we want, ice cream becomes a special, infrequent treat to savor when we're in a new port.  Same is true of fast internet, washing machine, walk-in closet, all sorts of mod cons. Amazingly, doing without these things on a regular basis has increased our happiness -- because such small things now make us happy.