When we tell people what our plans are for next year, sometimes we get positive, excited "wow" responses, sometimes negative frowny faces, most often quizzical looks like we are aliens, coupled with pure non-comprehension. Regardless the reaction, this is always a part of the typical conversation:
"How big is your boat?"
Their minds start to churn, imagining living in something the size of a tent.... and slowly realizing the next logical question...
"Do you have children?"
When we reply that we do not, a look of relief appears and they sigh and nod understandingly like "ahhh, well of course you can do this idiotic mid-life crisis exploit, you don't have kids... no college to save for, homework to deal with, soccer try-outs, etc." (BTW there are plenty of successful cruising families with kids, and living in boats as small or smaller than ours.)
Once they discover we don't have to deal with the children issue, then they start really thinking about space, stating "I could never live in that small of a space with my husband/wife. He'd/she'd drive me crazy." Well, I don't doubt that is a real potential for many people. In fact, I joke about that all the time. When someone asks how long we will be out there I say "at least one year is our pact, after that... until we get sick of each other ". Truth is we've been married 18 years and we do everything together, so that part of cruising does not concern me much. In fact, my main reason for agreeing to this scheme is essentially so I can quit my job. And spend MORE time with my husband who I enjoy doing things with more than anyone. But no one wants to hear that (mostly about quitting work). More on that in a later post.
The next thing that is asked is "How do you keep enough food on the boat?" Well we have lots of storage and we'll have a very small fridge; so food is the easy part. No one ever asks about water though, which we think is funny. Without water we'd die in 3 days.
There are are a couple schools of thought on water. Get it from someone else: meaning carrying huge jugs to land in the dinghy, filling them up and lugging them back, or getting water from a marina/fuel dock (not always convenient or available). Or install a watermaker (for seawater desalination) and make it yourself. If our destination was the Caribbean I probably wouldn't worry so much as it rains constantly and we could fill our tanks often with clean rainwater from the scuppers (holes in the deck leading to the water tanks). But we are headed for arid Mexico and while I know that yes, you can still get water there...
- I want plenty of water so I don't feel like a homeless person. I know that is incredibly vain, but it's the truth. I want to be clean, to rinse off every day without feeling guilty about my water usage, and have clean water in which to wash my clothes. Is that so much to ask for? Well it IS an expensive thing to ask for, actually...very expensive. But understanding how my mood significantly improves after I take a shower, I think this is a huge investment in Brian's sanity, and our potential cruising future, especially in sub-tropical (RE: sweaty) environs. Look, I'm not high-maintenance: I get a manicure maybe 2-3x a year, my hair colored every 2 months, I don't buy $200 shoes or $100 sunglasses. Is it so bad to need clean hair and clothes to feel sane?
- I do not want to lug heavy jerry jugs back and forth to the boat. Food shopping via dinghy will be interesting enough. I also don't revel in the time consuming act of dragging clothes to laundromats, so I'd rather hand-wash everything I can. (I know there will be days I dream of the 50ft Cabo Rico we saw at a boat show with the full-size washer/dryer...)
- I feel better making our own filtered water without worrying about water quality from various unknown sources. We won't be running the watermaker in small or crowded harbors due to potential contamination, but will be quite happy to run it in open water while going to the next stop.
- We may decide to continue on to the South Pacific, a good likelihood as long as we decide we like cruising. Some of those islands do not get rain for months at a time and most of their water is actually brought in by boat. I do not want to beg or pay for water in such places if I don't have to, taking it from those who really need it.
- I know there are lots of cruisers out there without watermakers, and they all get along just fine. I'd just rather be self-sufficient if at all possible. Everything comes down to personal preference. Watermakers are very expensive and not a "need-to-have" by any means. This was my necessity. I agreed to the removal of a perfectly good hot water heater (and have been laughed at for that by many people) to make room for it and have also given up a ton of other storage space for all the various motors/filters. Only time and experience will tell if we have made the right decision.
More photos on the watermaker project soon. We still need to run wires and hoses...