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  • Writer's pictureAmber Ward

The first three weeks of living on our boat

For three weeks now, we have lived aboard our sailboat, “Koinonia.” We're not living the full cruising life yet, since we are working to finish some big projects while at the marina before we migrate south, but it's made the transition from life on land a bit easier. Our girls have looked forward to each new day as a chance to go fishing, to run and play with Easton (the yard manager's dog), or watch their dad wrestle tenacious blue crabs from the crab pot.

They finish school and boat chores as quickly as possible to go have "girl time." Their first stop always being the marina office to get bubble gum before their adventures begin. These easy-going parts of the day help bring light and joy to the endless maintenance projects that come with living on a boat.

Our girls love fishing!

As mentioned in a previous post, this is our 7th move in 14 years. Each move has brought new challenges, but I’m certain this one takes the cake in terms of creative problem solving. In the past, moving from one house to the next was mostly a matter of organizing all our belongings into cardboard boxes, labeling the boxes, and adding to a mountain of other packed boxes. But not with this move. To put it into perspective, walk into a closet and take note of every garment, shoe, or accessory. Now find a new home for 95% of it. Go through your kid's sock drawer and get rid of any worn pair and collect all of the good pairs, then keep only a third of them. Give each of your kids a plastic milk crate (like the ones you see at Walmart with the dorm room items), and tell them to go through all their toys, keeping only what will fit into the crate. Sort through every drawer, cabinet, and closet; don't forget the attic and garage! If you pick up an item and find yourself thinking, "Do I need this?" The answer is “no.” Now decide which rehoming pile it belongs in. In the end, we donated, sold, or gave away about 90% of our belongings. We took a small number of keepsakes, photo books, and a few furniture items to gracious relatives to store for us. The remaining 5%, made the cut and joined us on the boat.

The big yard sale at our former land home

Once we whittled down our earthly possessions, we began to stow and organize all these essential items into every compartment on the boat. Labeling is very important or you may never find the item you‘re looking for again! Our cabinets above the saloon hold the kid’s school books. If you move the saloon cushions, you find more storage compartments, filled with canned goods and craft supplies. Under the saloon cushions, you will find a large water tank and, under foot a diesel tank. Above the settee, on the starboard side, you will find a small library, board games, and cuising guides. Behind the settee cushion, more storage. Every space of our floating home has a purpose. Stowing everything from tools, to cookware, to clothes, to medicine, in a suitable space, is literally like solving a game of Tetris. And, without fail, once you have it all perfectly organized so everything fits, you remember you need to take out the instapot at the bottom of the cabinet to cook dinner! The kids have been warned: if you mess up Mommy's "puzzles" in the cabinets, there will be consequences!

Things were a bit chaotic in the beginning

To us, all of this work is worth it! I have always felt the most calm and at peace when I am outdoors. Some of my fondest memories as a child are of camping with my grandparents and cousins each summer. For the majority of my childhood, my Mam-Maw and Granddaddy had at least one camper parked at Lake Eufaula in Alabama. My cousins and I spent our days riding bikes, fishing, exploring, playing games, and riding the golf cart. To this day, everytime I hear the white noise of a fan, I vividly remember those hot summer days with fondness. Now as an adult, I get to see our girls making similar memories.

Ah, now that feels more like home!

Each choice we make in life is a trade-off. Our smaller living space means we now spend half of our time outside working or playing. Instead of owning our own washer and dryer, we share a set with fellow cruisers while staying in the marina or washing them in a bucket (more on this in a later post). Neither we nor most of our neighbors are permanently fixed in one location. As a result, we meet new people weekly and discuss everything from what the fish are biting to the beauty of the stars to the best anchorages. The simplest of circumstances has brought an attitude of gratefulness. I am thankful to our Lord for all the items precisely stowed, meals shared with friends, and watching Ben teach our little loves about sailing life. It has taken 10+ years and a lot of prayer to reach this point of making a boat our home - our floating home with an endless backyard.

Amber Ward

S/V Koinonia

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1 Comment

Nov 11, 2020

Love seeing you all and hearing about your adventures 🥰

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