Twice in the past two weeks, we’ve had the pleasure of introducing Clarity to friends who are not boaters and who had never been aboard before. And they both respectfully and understandably asked, “How do you do this?!”
They were referring to the space down below. Sure, we have the aft cabin, the v-berth, the head, the galley, the salon. They are rooms, for lack of a better word, since they’re separated by doors. But the boat is 36-and-a-half feet long from stem to stern and 12-feet wide at its largest point. The entirety of the space is a little bigger than a decent walk-in closet.
The first summer that we had the boat, and Aaron told me he’d like to spend half-time (or more) aboard for the season, if I’m being honest, I had the exact same thought. How the heck am I going to do this?! And with a kid?!
But the more seasons we spend on Clarity, the bigger it seems down below, and also cozier. It just feels like home.
With this lifestyle, our living quarters aren’t limited to down below. We have meals in the cockpit. We run around on the bow and climb the topsides. We set up our wooden table, chairs and candles and create a living room on the dock.
And after awhile, quietly, I started to realize it. Lake Michigan is our backyard. Everywhere is our backyard.
We are a five-minute walk from a pool, a playground, a splash pad, a beach and the ice cream cooler in the ship’s store, to Claire’s delight. We hunt for caterpillars along the lakefront path and greet the ducks that pass by our slip.
We start up the engine and Claire’s big blue eyes light up as she says, “Are we going for a ride?!” We fill the sails with a course headed in no particular direction and spend an entire morning floating while Claire dunks herself in a bucket of lake water in the cockpit.
Every evening, Claire yells, “Mommy and Daddy: I found the sunset!” Along the lakefront, away from the concrete jungle, they are never the same, and they never disappoint.
Somewhere along the way, too, the question changes from how we do it, to why we do it.
We do it for the freedom. We do it because we can take off – just leave – toss lines- escape – whenever we want, and take our home with us.
And Aaron and I both work from the boat. We spread out our computers at the salon table, sometimes side by side. Aaron will head to the airport from Clarity for business trips and I’ll do calls with clients while walking the dock.
I do laundry, make meals, play hide-and-seek with Claire. We do life, but we do it on our terms, in a setting that speaks to our souls.
“How do you do this?” is a hard question to answer. I hope I’ve scratched the surface.