Wednesday, April 27, 2016

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.


  1. This made me think back- in the backseat with my brother headed to the Jersey Shore and "he's breathing in my space" whine. My mom put an end to that. No shoulder surfing indeed!

  2. I like the idea of a DADT locker. I'm going to have to think about how we organize this on our boat and what sparkly things I can put in mine :-)

  3. The DADT locker is a brilliant idea. I only wish I would have thought of it 15 years ago! I did make an extra locker space for David by removing the TV in the salon (one of those 14 inch VHS combos) and filled it with guitar accessories. It didn't help though, I still can't find more than a shelf for myself.

  4. "Shoulder surfing" that's a great term for a hated practice!

  5. I love the private DADT lockers! What a great idea and I wished we had two of those on Irie. One of the hardest things to do when you live together 24/7 is go birthday shopping... First, you have to discreetly go to shore alone (mmm...), then, you have to find a suitable store to buy a gift (as hard) and once purchased, you have to bring it on board unseen and hide it somewhere to not be found. Challenging task to say the least!

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

  6. Hmmm. I think that DADT locker might find its way onto Galapagos. Also, Mike has the entire port side of the boat. It's his workshop. I'm saying that this counts as his space, so I need my own. I've taken over one area of the vberth for storing my art supplies, which I am DETERMINED to use!