11/30 From the Boat Life Diaries: We only regret the changes we don’t take

Janna and Chris on their boat

Janna and Chris on their boat

Guest post from Janna of The Boat Life Diaries

Buying a boat and being a live aboard was something that we have always fantasized about. Many friends thought we were completely insane. “But you have such a beautiful home” they said. “But what if you have kids?” they said. “But…But… how will you shower? do laundry? cook? not kill each other?” they said. What about Charlie (our miniature Dachshund)?!?

Miniature Dachshund named Charlie

Charlie, our Miniature Dachshund

We considered everyone’s concern, but we tend to be the “go against the grain” type. We didn’t want to wait until we were retired to make this lifestyle change. We knew that the “American Dream” was not our dream, and we knew we needed to do something about it. We’re young, our bodies don’t have (too many) aches and pains yet and most importantly it’s the lifestyle that we’ve always dreamt about. We originally got the idea from a combination of my parents who lived aboard for many years (me just a babe when we moved back to land) and Chris’s family, who always had boats where he would spend many nights out fishing and sleeping aboard. I think that collectively our family’s affinity for the sea has brought us together and made our dreams into reality.

I recently quit my job (with nothing else lined up) so this gave us a chance to re-evaluate our options to start over and create a life that we have always dreamed of. Since I now had time to kill, Chris told me to call up the realtor to discuss the specifics. Needless to say I didn’t waste any time. It was all excitement, like a kid in a candy store, we’re really doing this! The realtor pulled out the papers for us to sign, then – all of a sudden my nerves changed, I got scared…really scared, like the kind where your butt cheeks clench together scared. I began to think – Are we making the right choice? How will I get rid of two closets full of clothes? How will I survive without a dishwasher? Will I dread showering, or stop showering all together? Will we kill each other? Our current home was 1,650 sq. ft. with four bedrooms and two full bathrooms, compared to our new home at about 200 sq. ft. Which means we have A LOT of “things” to get rid of.

Slowly we began to clean out our closets. We would donate only a little at a time so it wouldn’t become too overwhelming. Surprisingly enough, once we started the process my nerves started to diminish and excitement set in. The purging of material items began to feel good…really, really good. I ended up with bags and bags of stuff for the Goodwill. 10,000 glass cups – bye, 10,000 glass plates – bye, shoes upon shoes – bye, Cuisinart mixer – bye, Crockpot – BYE FELICIA! We started a little “keep” pile and the rest was out to the garage for our future yard sale. Luckily, the lady who bought our house loved our furniture and bought the couches, dining room set, outdoor furniture and master bedroom set. We didn’t have to deal with Craigslist people or even move the crap = Double Score! As the house slowly became empty Charlie grew nervous, but we grew with more excitement. It was sad (kinda) to leave the house, but summer is just on the horizon and we’ve got bigger plans! We’re moving onto a boat!

She’s a Keeper!

Boat shopping has always been one of my greatest affinities, pretending the gorgeous wood of Chris Craft that I’ll never be able to afford may actually be a possibility. After months and months of shopping for boats we found our baby! “Sea Wolf,” a 41-foot 1978 CHB Trawler. Luckily she also comes with little to no mechanical issues and just some minor aesthetics to repair. Really it’s just the teak that needs to be done, so I swore up and down that I would happily sand and varnish all of the teak on the boat. Telling Chris that I could see myself out there in my bikini with a cocktail in one hand and the sander in the other. I could even start a business called “Cheeki Tiki” since I do actually enjoy using a paintbrush. He laughed and could see right through my bullshit, answering with a chuckle, “OK babe, I’ll believe it when I see it.” Who knows…but so far, not so good, it will happen once the summer is over…swear!

The previous owner was a pilot and I’ve since learned that pilots are very meticulous people. The engine room is spotless, the records and logs are extremely thorough as well. Since this is our first boat of this size, we really appreciate that all the attention to detail was kept. The sea trial went flawlessly, confirming that Sea Wolf will soon be our new home.

Moving comes with an array of emotions – excitement, fear, curiosity, oh…and exhaustion! Now since we don’t have much stuff, we arrived at the marina with Chris’s Frontier and my Altima full of our things to meet and pick up the keys. It was a Friday after work at dusk, we were really exhausted and just wanted to load a few things aboard to make our bed so we could celebrate with a cocktail…or three (in true sailor fashion – not that excuses are needed here either but it was the day before Chris’s birthday so cocktails were not even up for discussion, it was necessary). We ended up meeting with the owner’s wife who was the sweetest and nicest lady ever, since the owner was away flying somewhere. She wanted to show us a few things with the boat like how to use the head, tricks for the stove and to point out the central vacuum system (which is not a central vacuum system at all, it’s actually the manual bilge pump – we really got a kick out of that later). She had also mentioned that she was leaving all of their belongings on board because they no longer had any use for it anymore. Let me add that they owned Sea Wolf for ten years, so you can imagine the built up clutter. We thanked her for her time and she was on her way.

It’s Ours At Last!!!

We then looked at each other excited but so drained. “We really have to clean all of this stuff out before we can even more in?” “I just want a cocktail!!!” I said. We decided first, instead of getting overwhelmed by all of the stuff left behind we would A: make a cocktail (DUH) and B: go from there. It was not the end of the world that they left all of their stuff, but just part of the ebb and flow of being a boat owner. So we began yet another purge process. We started with the master stateroom because we did eventually need to get some rest. So we just began throwing things out into the dock cart, and many very full loads later we had cleaned out enough of their crap to replace it with our crap. We did find many things that we found a use for and many things that were still in good condition that we could not find a use for and many things that I really don’t want to mention or even think about ever again  We ended up throwing everything on board just so we had it, and we would figure out the organization later. But first…cocktails!

inside the boat

Inside the Sea Wolf

Man Overboard

Living on a boat comes with it’s challenges; challenges that are different from those day to day challenges of living on land.

Sure, dropping your heavy groceries on the ground when opening your front door can suck, but dropping heavy groceries that you have laboriously lugged 200 yards from the car through the gate down the slippery gangway and you’re so close but the stupid bag breaks and everything falls into the water before you can put it on deck…yeah, that can really suck. Or having to use quarters for laundry sucks. But when you actually went to the damn bank, and sat in the line on your damn lunch to get those damn quarters, and for those damn quarters to ever so slowly go rolling off the deck and into the water; that can really suck.

Quarters were not the first thing to sink down into the depths of the sea, my jewelry was. Since getting rid of most of all of our belongings I didn’t really have much jewelry anyway. I kept only the things that had either sentimental value or was something that I just loved – my malas, some crystals, beads and a ring my grandmother gave me. Everything that has gone over has its own story behind it whether funny or frustrating, but one thing seems to be the same in every situation – it happens in slow motion! Slowly rolling, slowly sinking away. For the case of my jewelry, the basket it was in slowly rolled out of the dock cart and onto the dock, then it slowly rolled into the water but first hitting the side of the boat where my grandmother’s ring flew out and landed in the kayak, which happened to be the only thing saved.

“There went my jewelry,” I told Chris in a very nonchalant fashion.

“Oh NO!” he replied.

“Well…oh well.. look… at least my grandmothers ring is saved!”

“We can find a diver to go down and get the rest of your stuff, we will get it back for you,” Chris said.

“Ya, OK, oh well, not a big deal” I replied a little bummed out, but really not feeling anything – I mean it’s just jewelry.

“Non attachment, I’m practicing non attachment, it’s really ok”.

sunset at the marina

Sunset at the marina

Chris and I have both learned a few lesson’s in non-attachment. A few weeks or so later we were out fishing in the dinghy, Chris using his favorite pole with his favorite reel that he has had for 15+ years since he was a young kid (an oldie but a goodie). After being out for awhile we decided it was time to head in, so he strapped his pole down and we were headed back. The bay was pretty rough, but Chris is great at maneuvering though the madness. We hit a wave and we both watched his pole slowly fly up in the air and land in the water. “SHIT,” he said, turning the boat around as quickly as possible. Just as were turning around we see it slowly sinking, almost floating and bobbing back and forth on the top of the water. He grabbed the other pole to use it to levy the sinking one. It was at our fingertips, we were so close, but not close enough…it sunk. …OH…and a few weeks after that, his second favorite pole: same story.

So, since we have been aboard for a few months, we now practice non-attachment quite often because things are just things, right? I’m sure, no actually I’m positive this list will continue to grow, but here are all of things that we have lost to the great big blue…so far.

  • all of my jewelry (minus my grandmother’s ring)
  • a roll of quarters
  • 2 fishing poles and reels
  • 2 cell phones
  • 4 vape pens
  • 1 oar
  • a cell phone wallet combo (a friend’s)
  • Tools

Read more about life aboard a boat –


Elaine Walker

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