Living part-time on the boat for half of the year is an incredible blessing, and one that we take advantage of for as long as we can. But along with that “glamour” of life on the water comes the reality that it’s a lot of work. Not double the work of one home. It’s at least quadruple.
My responsibilities of keeping up the household at home transfer to the boat, too, which means making sure both are fully stocked. This includes food, clothes, toiletries, cleaning supplies, diapers (hopefully for not too much longer), etc. Many times, I’ve been sure that I had plenty of wipes at the boat, for example, only to get there and realize that I really should have grabbed some from the box I just bought for the house. I’ve learned the hard way to become very intentional about keeping a mental checklist of what’s where, and for bigger trips, writing it all down.
Aside from the material things, there are two houses to clean. Sure, the square footage of the boat is not the same as the condo – if you only include the interiors. With s/v Clarity, keeping the topsides clean doubles the job, and in many ways is much more difficult than vacuuming the saloon and wiping down the head.
One of the pesky Chicago harbor problems that all boaters have to deal with is spiders. Spiders in mass quantities. As soon as the sun sets, they come out to play, weaving webs around the gates, the dock boxes, and in particular, the boats. We found a spray halfway through last year that keeps them pretty well at bay, but you still have to regularly hose down the deck and brush off the lines and the sails (whadoyaknow – actually sailing helps with this, too!). When we are gone for more than a day or two, we head back to the boat knowing that at least a couple of hours of work awaits us. The plus side? Out of necessity, I have faced my spider fear head on and can now manage it fairly well.
On the reverse side, when we’ve been at the boat for days, the condo inevitably gets dusty and Tink makes sure to coat a variety of surfaces with fur. And regardless of the zip code, there are always loads of laundry to be done, meals to be made, dishes to be washed. This doesn’t even take into account all of the effort Aaron puts in to make sure everything on the boat, like the engine, the steering, the toilet, well, works.
Maintaining the households and a toddler is a full-time job.
One of the other realities is that taking the boat out for day-sails is a lot of work. It requires unhooking the water, AC and cable (I know, first-world problems); stowing anything down below that may fall when the boat heels, like the television (again, first-world problems); getting Claire situated in her harness and tether, and with plenty of snacks and toys to keep her entertained while we cast lines and motor out; and more. And when you get back in, you have to put it all back.
But the work is worth it. This past weekend, we got to the boat on Friday afternoon and on a whim, Aaron and I decided to try taking Clarity out for a night sail and putting Claire down while we were out. Amazingly, she went to sleep like a dream, and we didn’t hear a single peep when we motored back to our slip and climbed around the deck to reconnect the lines, which was what we were most worried about. Then, on Saturday, a dear friend joined us at the harbor and we decided to take the boat out again for the afternoon. Claire went down for her nap about a half-hour after we left the dock and snoozed for three hours! Any families that sail with kids know that these chances to actually sail as a couple without one of you having to manage a kiddo are moments to be cherished, and we did.
I made us dinner back at the dock and we curled up down below with books for the night.
Sure, there were some loads of laundry thrown in there, and lots of scrubbing of the deck (thanks Aaron!). It was a perfect weekend.