10 Surprises About Marina Life

It been 53 days since we moved onto Breaking Tradition full time.  This isn’t the longest amount of time that we’ve lived aboard (that would be 91 days), but it’s the longest we’ve lived aboard while living a daily life that consisted of more than vacationing.  Every morning, I get up and take my turn in the shower, then greet the two other professional women who live on the East Pier, as we head off to work.  After I get home each day, Beanie and I do her homework at the dinette, read her take-home reader, then practice her piano lesson on her battery-powered keyboard, which fits perfectly on the kitchen table.  After that, we either play Wii or head out to the grassy area (our “back yard”) so that Beanie can run around and kick her ball.

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Unlike our cruising days, we have consistent electricity and water, and our stove is dual-powered, so cooking fuel is not an issue.  Breaking Tradition is 6 feet longer than Moonraker (although it has the same beam), so we are living in more than 100 square feet, although definitely not more than 200.  We have about the same fridge space, and slightly less storage area in the galley.  Also, we don’t have a working head in the boat at this time, and we won’t be using the boat’s bathroom for more than emergencies, until we have a working engine and can make it to the pump-out area.  Fortunately, our slip is right next to the restrooms.

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Here are some other surprises that we have found, from marina life:

1.  Daily life is surprisingly “normal.”  When I go to work, it’s like it always has been.  Sure, everyone was initially fascinated by our new lifestyle, but now my focus is on my students, their progress, and the daily reality of teaching seventh grade.  The same is true for Beanie, at her school.  Her school is in Clear Lake Shores, and there are more golf carts than cars picking kids up, but when she’s there, it’s down-to-business.

2.  It’s kind of like living in a floating commune.  Most of the slip-tenants in the marina don’t live there full time.  But those of us who do, have a shared world all of our own.  We don’t own property, we don’t have houses or apartments, and we don’t even have patios of our own. And so we pool our resources and share.  Then men in the marina have gone in together and rented a large storage unit that they have converted into a workshop.  Everything there is for everybody to use!  There is a large vanity in the ladies’ room, and I have claimed a drawer.  I leave my blow dryer out, and everybody uses (and appreciates!) it.  Somebody else has contributed an iron.  There is also a communal grill, as well as lots of coolers.  We often brainstorm ways to create an outdoor eating area on our pier.

3.  Beanie gets her village.  There are only two full-time live-aboard kids in the marina, and only one on the East Pier, so Beanie is well-known.  She’ll talk to our neighbor while she’s on the deck playing under the tarp (her “tent”).  Sometimes, she will hang out by the vending machine, hoping to bum a soda off of one of the live-aboards.  Everybody knows her, and everybody looks out for her.  As a result, I’m able to give her more freedom.

4.  Weird things sometimes happen.  This morning, our dock was blocked by two photographers and two models, shooting photos for something.  Two of my neighbors, one of them in his bathrobe and the other in her pajamas, waited awkwardly by my slip, wondering how to get past them, to the restroom.  Wearing the dress I’d worn the day before, with my hair disheveled, I led the way past them, commenting that I’ve never had anyone have a photo shoot in my front yard.

5.  Having a shared bathroom is worth the inconvenience.  During the week, 5 ladies share the restroom on the East Pier.  Somehow, we all shower at different times.  It gets cleaned once a day.  And I don’t have to do it.  That’s right.  I now have to clean zero toilets.

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6.  Living in a smaller space is not much of an adjustment.  Breaking Tradition is 6 feet longer than Moonraker, so instead of living in 100 square feet, we’re probably just under 200.  And that hasn’t changed our life much at all.  If we’re inside, we’re probably reading, using the Internet, or playing video games.  Otherwise, we’re not inside.

7.  I spend a lot less time online.  And I’m more intentional with the time I do spend online.  I’ve unfollowed a lot of people on Facebook, and just check in with them periodically.  And I hide all forwarded posts.  If doing something online doesn’t enrich my life, I don’t do it.  Instead, I’ve done a lot more reading and writing, and I’ve spent a lot more time with my family.

8.  I’ve simplified our meals.  I also spend less time cooking.  Our kitchen is tiny, and getting our any large appliances is a pain.  So we eat a lot of wraps and salad.  If I do cook, it’s something that requires very little clean-up, such as  quesadillas or pasta.

9.  I’ve overindulged my addiction to take-out.  Since we’re currently not paying any rent, and we pay almost nothing for electricity, I have money to spend at restaurants.  We’ve theorized that there are enough restaurants in Clear Lake Shores for all 1000 residents to eat out at once, with nobody waiting for a table!  At least once a week, I pick up take-out and enjoy a lovely dinner on the boat, without having to cook at all.  So far, we haven’t gotten food from the same restaurant twice.

10.  I have the best morning routine ever.  I shower at night, then wake up at 5:30.  I get dressed, enjoy 15 minutes of coffee and conversation with Rob, then drive over to the island.  From 6:00 to 6:30, I treat myself to a walk around the perimeter, along with all of the islanders.  Not since I moved out of my childhood home (in a very safe, 1950’s style neighborhood, complete with a milk man!), have I lived in a place where I would feel safe talking a mile+ walk before sunrise.  But here, everyone is out and friendly, and all dogs are trained and on leashes.  My walk is the perfect way to start my day!

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I have to say that we have enjoyed our new life, and we love all of the surprises.  I’m sure, as we approach our 92th day living here, we will only discover more!

19 thoughts on “10 Surprises About Marina Life

  1. Hi Bethany! I loved hearing about how you’ve adjusted to daily life in your new home. I also think that it is such a powerful example to all of us that we need far less room than we think we do. I know that advertising, the media and our culture are constantly planting the need for more and bigger everything in our minds, but there really are so many advantages to “right-sizing” your life and you’ve pointed out a bunch of them in this post. Every now and then Thom and i find ourselves asking if we need something more, a little bigger yard, an extra bedroom, etc, but most of the time if we REALLY think that through we don’t need it at all. It’s silly to give in to a momentary craving when really all we need is usually right there in front of us. ~Kathy

  2. Hi Bethany! My husband’s dream is to live on a boat. Very interesting to learn about how you live day-to-day on-board. Just putting the idea out there: This might make a good book! I think there are plenty of people who dream of ditching life on land and living on a boat. You definitely have the expertise to write it! You could tour around to various boat shows (Newport and Annapolis have large boat shows, as I’m sure you know) and boating clubs to publicize it. (My two cents, from a former PR person!)

    • Now you’ve got me thinking, Joy… I’ve written a first draft of a book about our adventures on Moonraker, but something based on our current adventures could work a lot better. 🙂

    • Oh, Sandy, it is wonderful! And–if the truth be told–I don’t think I EVER cleaned a bathroom everyday. Not even when I was doing Fly Lady! 😉 So this is definitely an upgrade.

    • Well, Pat, tonight I took Beanie out to the park on the island. It was sunny and beautiful, on the water, surrounded by palm trees, and full of kids from Beanie’s school. I’d say it definitely is utopia. 🙂

      • I love that, Bethany. It sounds like total bliss and happiness. Looks like you’ve found your spot. I couldn’t be more happy for you, my friend. 🙂

  3. You are inspiring. I can’t wait till I finish renovating my vintage trailer and can try it out. Just about the time I get discouraged, I read your blog and feel inspired again. Thank you!

  4. It is hard to imagine Marina life being ‘normal’, but ‘normal’ is most definitely relative.

    It is so fabulous that the life you have been working towards is turning out just as good, and probably even better, than you had imagined 🙂

    • It’s still a journey–there isn’t that neat and tidy “I’m happy for the rest of my life” kind of ending that I once sought. But it’s a wonderful part of the adventure right now. 🙂

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