Time, finally some free time! One might presume that once a person moves aboard a sailboat for that long sought after lifestyle of freedom and travel that the last thing they might lack is time. Let me assure you at this point that nothing could be further from the truth! I have failed to write much on our blog due to a great restriction in time. I apologize to those of you who have been waiting for our news. At long last the boat is outfitted, fixed and underway. The logbook is up to date and my children are fed and schooled. Therefore I am free to write!
So what might you ask has taken up these 2 months and 6 days? These are the details many want to know but I am resistant to relive in writing. These 2 months are the nuts and bolts of what makes a journey of this sort possible. Most sane souls take a year or more to prepare for such a large undertaking. Just saying that makes me feel better about our tardiness to leave by our anticipated departure date. It also makes me realize what big expectations we had of ourselves.
On November 11th at 11:30 pm we arrived on the boat with 6 of our exhausted children to find our 7th child already asleep after waiting many hours for us to arrive and finally giving up. At first light we began the process of removing what was left from our 2200 sq. ft. house and packing it into the boat. We anticipated this would take a week. We had to find room for the kids clothes and toys, most of which ended up in the forward cabin and large forward closet. The only way to accommodate so many was to use an idea I read about on the internet, hanging shoe racks. Each child got their own shoe rack in which they placed their rolled up clothing. There were also 3 drawers and a cubby which were divided amongst the 5 oldest kids to share. Isabella’s clothes were placed in a drawer in the master cabin so I could help her curb her diva-ish clothes changing habits. We also had to cram our excessive kitchen utensils and cooking ware into a 6 ft.x 4 ft. galley. These dimensions include standing space countertop, double sink, refrigerator and stove/oven as well as storage space. Needless to say it is very small. We spent much time reassessing our need for many items we’d brought. Goodwill was a healthy recipient of the many items deemed unnecessary. We also had to stash toiletries, first aid, linens for 9 and the endless list of household items necessary for life. Needless to say many items became less and less necessary over the weeks as we packed, unpacked, and repacked our small space over and again. The 2 weeks it took me to unpack the van and move into the boat I felt like a troll. I rarely left the boat except to use the facilities, shower and get supplies. Not only did I rarely leave, but I rarely stood up either, as I was upside down and immersed in cubbies, often on my knees and contorted to many undesirable poses stuffing and stashing stuff. I felt strung out and overwhelmed. One would think that it would be easier to find things in a small space yet it could take 30 minutes to find one required ingredient for dinner. I did “take a day off” to fix a true Thanksgiving feast so as to help the kids feel like things were “normal”. I am certain the next year will be spent finding all that was stashed and slowly assimilating all things into a logical space.
The first few weeks on the boat are a confusing blur of trying to accomplish the impossible! When we weren’t stowing our things away and throwing out the rest, we were making lists of things we required for the trip and what must be fixed or altered. It does not take long when outfitting for a trip before one begins to feel rather schizophrenic. One minute you are throwing away everything you can and the next you are acquiring all that you need. Of course I was rather used to this side of my personality already due to the months spent liquidating our house and preparing for boat life. Unfortunately, I was accustomed to it and sick of it! Knowing that “patience is a virtue” and “good things come to those who wait”, I was trying to press on and not get depressed.
Simultaneous to all the joys of prepping we had the extra fun of taking care of a large brood at the same. The needs of children large and small never end. Hunger never ceases and the constant prep and consumption of food never ends, as well as the dirty dishes and galley that result. Cook and clean, cook and clean, cook and clean … Then there is the laundry and the desire to visit the mall to go shopping, to go swimming, to go anywhere but the boat, all done by foot, walking miles at a time as the luxury of transportation left when my Dad took the van to sell. Obviously, the physical demands are great and yet pale in comparison to the emotional challenges of removing 6 children from their home and school environment in which they were well pleased. I should have had a degree in child psychology and yet I’m certain I now qualify for an honorable doctorate in the study of a child’s mind. As the physical work never ceases neither does the mental/emotional. This is not a job for the faint of heart!
Just writing about it makes me know why I didn’t want to write about it. These are things, like childbirth, that one heals from and does not want to re-remember too vividly. It’s why mothers can have multiple children and continue rearing them in love. The grace of God is big and as each day begins I get to begin again fresh with new grace for them and myself!
Funny how at the time prep things seemed to last forever! You mark one more fix it off the list only to add a new one. Everyday you go run “last minute” errands and people ask when you’re leaving over and over and over again. The stock answer was this day or that day “hopefully”, until you just give up thinking about it and just say whenever we’re done we’ll go! And then suddenly you are, or are you?