Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Two Piles

Not so long ago, I saw some good advice in the Tiny Liveaboard Facebook Group. Someone suggested that in preparation for moving aboard a small boat one should make two piles. One pile of all the things that you don’t really need; things that you haven’t even touched for months. In the other pile place all the things that you feel you can’t live without. It is important to take time to carefully consider each item and which pile it belongs in. Most important of all, once you have everything carefully sorted -- throw away both piles.

I lived aboard a very small boat in the 1990s, and I should have known how little I could have brought with me. Still, I showed up in North Carolina after cleaning out my space in Dad’s basement – AND – having emptied a storage unit in Florida near my last boat project. I have a small trailer here full of stuff that I thought I couldn’t live without. Some of what I have is boat-worthy, but not much. I did actually find a couple kitchen items that I threw in a box years ago that have become quite useful in the campervan galley while I’m waiting to use them on the boat. But many of the things in my pile(not yet two piles) are things that I valued some time ago. I am a different man and a different sailor than I was then – and I’m working on a different boat.

Some decisions are easy and quick. I opened a box recently and couldn’t decide if it had been apartment stuff, truck stuff, or boat stuff. It had been years since I had laid eyes on any it. Just looking at the top layer, I knew none of it was needed in my life today. I also knew that handling each individual thing would be such a temptation to keep some of them. I closed the box, picked it up, and marched right to the dumpster. Such a satisfying clunk when it all hit the bottom.

My issue is books. I am a voracious reader and I’ve been collecting books for a long time. Some were resources to have on a boat. Others were books that I was looking forward to digesting when the pace of my life slowed; like “The Essays of E.B. White.” Many were just my favorites; favorite books, favorite authors, favorite topics. I just can’t take them all. I probably could not have taken them all on my last boat which had almost double the displacement as Ruth Ann.

Nevertheless, I have made some recent progress in lightening my load. I’m loath to confess that a few books went into the dumpster too. It was a shameful thing to do, but in this time we’re in, the schedule I’m on, and as isolated as I am right now – it was just a cold, hard fact of my life. Lots of goofy trinkets I’d been saving are gone. Duplicate items and things that I know now that I won’t need are gone. There are three tubs in the nose of my little trailer that I have yet to go through. At least two of them have more books! A great majority will be replaced by ebooks.

Then there are tools. I have a pretty good collection of tools for a vagabond. Many will be necessary to properly maintain my boat. As I work on her now, I’m sifting for which tools I really need and which I could do without. Some of the bigger things are going to be hard to stow. My sewing machine will not only allow me to fix my own sails and do my own canvaswork, but I should be able to make a little money doing the same for other boaters. A shop vac, even a small one, however, is not likely to make the cut (I currently have two).

Perhaps the biggest benefit to all this work minimizing doesn’t pertain to “things” at all but to my life. In making decisions about what things I might need, I’ve had to repeatedly consider exactly what my life is going to be like. How would I know what types of things I should keep if I hadn’t already considered, in detail, how I was going to live?

When I first started this plan to escape on a boat, it was mostly about bikinis and booze; chasing the former, encouraged by the latter. For a few years now it has become more about a quiet lifestyle; more like a personal retreat than a party. I’m looking for peace and a simpler life. I’m looking forward to days with nothing pressing when preparing coffee and a simple but delicious breakfast might take a few hours to accomplish. I am already very content and know my priorities and aspirations very well.



I am currently buried in boat stuff. Two weeks ago, I ordered a bunch of stuff for Ruth Ann. It’s all arrived now. I’m set for boatwork chores well into June. Barrier coat and bottom paint should go on the hull next week, if the weather cooperates. While the weather is not cooperating, I have been rewiring the boat working inside. I have solar panels, wire, brackets, fittings, lights and lithium batteries to install. By the time you read this I will have gone up the mast to remove the last shackle of the furler. While I’m up there I’ll measure the stemballs, a mast fitting, so that I can order them. I’m hoping that the mast will come down in the next week or so. That depends on the schedule of the boatyard. I am so close to getting all I need done that if the boatyard doesn’t have time, I will do as much as I can by climbing the mast. Stay tuned!

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