Thursday, 31 March 2016

Small Boat Rules, Vol. 1

"told his wife, 'you can tell all your friends, it's been real but it ain't been fun, gonna get us one of them
                                                                                                  -Kenny Chesney


     While Karma is a bigger than Whiskeyjack, and while she is a bigger "big small boat", at just shy of 26 feet LOA, she is still a small boat.

    We are perfectly fine with that.

    Someone once said, "Buy as little boat as you can stand, not as much boat as you can find, for what you can afford."

    Like all good advice, that one stuck with me.  It's a great life- have we thought about getting a bigger boat?


    But going bigger would mean  leaving the Dock, and giving up the best sunsets in the marina:

       So, we make it work.

…. As seasonal small-boat liveaboards who still have full-time dirt jobs, here is a dozen things we have learned.

1. You wake up earlier. When the shower is a dinghy ride away, rather than just off the bedroom, you're not slapping the snoozebar as often.

2. The order of the morning ritual changes. Instead of stumbling out of the shower and surveying the closet, you have to figure out what you are going to wear, take it with you into the shower and hang it off the back of the door to steam out the inevitable wrinkles.

3. You don't need 8 pairs of shoes.

4. No one notices that you only have two sport coats.

5. If your clothes are black, khaki and beige, you don't need to have as many clothes because everything goes together.

6. As a salesperson, I find you can get away with guayaberas and flowered shirts when you tell people you live on your boat. It's also a great warm-up. In fact, if you don't wear flowered shirts and guayaberas, prospects look at you suspiciously. Dress too well and they think you are living on a 60 ft motoryacht, which means you are making waaaayyy too much.

7. Tight on storage? Underwear,socks, t-shirts and shorts go in pillow cases, your good clothes go in the drawers/bins. Voila- extra pillows, and less-wrinkled workwear.
edit-  CLEAN underwear and socks!

8. When doing laundry, let everything spend extra time in the dryer. You want your clothes DRY. Mildew is not your friend.

9. Keep a package or two of silica gel and a sachet of pot pourri, or at least a dryer sheet, in your clothes storage bins, and/or drawers, and/or lockers. Your clothes will stay mildew free and smell good.

10. Keep your bilge and engine bay/ room CLEAN. I like the nautical funk of diesel, icebox runoff and stuffing box drippings as much as the next sailor, but your clothes will pick up the smell, and it ain't as provocative in a client's office.

11.  There's no place for packaging aboard.  Unbox it, unwrap it, unpack it, recycle the box, wrapping and packaging before you hit the dock or the dinghy, label what's left and stow it.

12.  If something new comes aboard, something old has to leave- don't become an accidental hoarder. It takes a hell of a lot less time, and stuff, to fill up 200 sq ft. of space on the water than it does 2500 sq ft on the dirt.

and a bonus:

13.  if you take it out, move it, or use it, put it back.

Fellow liveaboards and cruisers, I'd love to add to this list, so feel free to sing out and comment with what works for you.

As always, thanks for stopping by.  Please, "Talk the Dock!"- spread the word.


  1. It describes living on a boat perfectly! #9 is a good tip. I use those large plastic storage bags for things I don't regularly wear. I've started to put dryer sheets inside them. It's a never ending battle with mildew.

    Cheers - Ellen

  2. Plastic bags of all kinds are good. I find I can store things in iffy places and get away with it.

  3. Brian,
    Is whiskey jack now in Newcastle? I was there a couple of weeks ago and thought I saw her.