I have sat down to write this post so many times over the past month, that I think I must have edited the first line about five times: ‘In a few weeks’, ‘next week’, ‘less than a week’, and now…
I take a deep breath. Slowly exhaling, it catches slightly in my chest. TOMORROW we set sail on Haji, and I am experiencing mixed emotions. Excitement, naturally, floods me when I think of our upcoming adventure, but it is joined by a slight sense of trepidation, as well as a sadness when I think of everything (and more so everyone) I will miss.
We are about to embark on a massive, once-in-a-lifetime journey. Yes, we have spent the better part of the past four years travelling, but this is something different. We will be on the boat for the next five months at the very least. It is a small, somewhat cramped space, and although we are no strangers to compact living quarters (for those of you who didn’t know, we once lived in a yellow van called Eileen for nine months) we have never shared a moving home with three other people! Let alone one surrounded by water.
Being on the boat, you still have to do everything you would on a normal day; get up, get dressed, make and drink your coffee, brush your teeth, make lunch, wash up… but suddenly all these mundane tasks can become constant challenges. Going to the toilet – nothing simpler, right? Until the wind is howling, waves crashing over the deck, you are layered up in your waterproof clothing, safely strapped into your lifejacket, and with a tether securing you into the cockpit. You keep drinking water so you can stay hydrated, but now it has taken its toll, and MAN do you need to pee! The very thought of going down below has you feeling queasy, let alone having to peel off wet oilskins. Yet, after preparing yourself by rapidly gulping big breaths of fresh air, you manage it. Being careful not to exceed your toilet paper quota (boat toilets are fussy creatures), you just need to flush. Oh how you wish there were a simple button to press right now. Instead, a lever like handle juts out the wall towards you. You must securely close the lid, then begin to pump. Twenty steady strokes, back and forth. Pause. Count to twenty; then start again. Oh, and try not to fall over while you’re at it…
It is true that some things do suddenly feel like quite a trial when on a boat; however there are so many positives! You can get to places that are inaccessible to others, and that are often otherwise deserted. Arriving somewhere new by boat has a very special feel to it. You work hard to get where you are going, and it is a real accomplishment when you arrive. You find ways to keep yourself occupied when the wind doesn’t cooperate, and discover muscles you never knew existed when it does! I could go on and on. The point is, there are certainly pros and cons when it comes to boat life, and we are about to learn them all.
The months (over a year, really!) have passed so quickly since we decided to undertake this ‘project’, and now that the time has suddenly come, I’m not sure I feel quite prepared – in fact I’m not sure any of us can really believe it is happening… right now. It is. I hope you will stick around to see how things turn out, it is certainly a mystery to us! There will be ups and downs, excitement and challenges, but most of all I believe there will be many good memories and new friendships to show for our efforts.
Now, for the first time in my twenty-four years, I can say: “I live on a boat.”