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Relaxing On the Bow Sprit
~ Relaxing On the Bow Sprit ~
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Top 10 Pleasures About Life Aboard
Why We Love Our Salt Life
In Moby Dick, Herman Melville wrote that [life at sea] was 'an asylum for many romantic, melancholy, and absent-minded' souls and I'd have to agree. Even if a seafarer hadn't begun that way, time spent sloshing around in a tiny vessel on an almighty ocean is bound to bring these characteristics to the surface eventually.

For the romantic will condone his aquatic love's heart-breaking indifference to his welfare, all the while craving that moment of euphoria which occurs when wind and waves align. And there is no greater depth on earth than this unfathomable abyss in which the melancholic can sink his woes. As for the absent-minded … drifting with reckless abandon toward an empty horizon into the unknown is the perfect canvas in which to portray a life.

But no matter whether we're considered sentimental, morose, or absent-minded, the important thing is we've found our asylum. And it's on the sea. It is the haven that brings us elation, the sanctuary that releases our sorrows, and the retreat that allows our imaginations run free.

I tend to get philosophical when I take stock of our reasons for enjoying this lifestyle. Perhaps it is because these pleasures are less tangible; esoteric to the outsider. Or perhaps it is because these pleasures were recognized slowing, and strengthened over time. No matter the reason for the philosophical rhetoric, they fit our disposition and give our lives a sense of purpose.

Although we understand this lifestyle is not for everyone (and are grateful for that fact), we've discovered these are the things about living aboard that make it so ideal for us.

The Belay Pins
~ The Belay Pins ~
1. Always Something to Do
Always having something to do is pleasurable, when the things you do provide meaning, comfort and beauty to your life. I wouldn't say that I get bored easily, but I find it comforting that I've always got something to tinker with, and in doing so – I will learn how it works, how to use it properly, or how to fix it.

I gain a great deal of pride in being able to spin a newly greased winch, or rub my fingers over freshly polished bronze. I would rather be outside scraping varnish and bringing the teak back to a beautiful glow, than sitting inside, in a cube farm giving precious hours away to some task that is completely meaningless to my own life.

And when we just don't feel like spending time ticking off another task, there's still always something to do because cruisers are the most sociable creatures on the planet! Between the bon fires and barbeques, the AM noodling and PM hold'em, the sundownersWhen several cruisers are invited to someone's cockpit for cocktails at sunset. and full mooners, Many Caribbean islands celebrate the full moon with an outdoor party on the shore, that usually includes music, barbecue, and rum. the sandbarsAreas where the tide exposes an offshore sandbar and shallow draft boats beach or anchor nearby to party until the tide covers the bar again. and tours, the hashes and classes,Wherever cruisers gather, information sharing sessions, such as celestial navigation, AC repair, and cooking local cuisine are often organized. the gamsAn organized, multi-day event for cruising seminars, marine vendors, and social activities. and jams,An unrehearsed music session for talented boaters with instruments onboard. the meet-n-greetsOrganized potluck dinners at marinas or on beaches where cruisers can meet their anchorage neighbors. and bon voyages, the jumblesOrganized gathering for cruisers to sell, buy and trade useful gear that is otherwise taking up space on the boat. and limes,A Caribbean term for hanging out and whiling away the hours chatting. the dinkin' and drinkin',Load up the cooler and take the dinghy where the big boat can't go. the chippin' and whinin', The dance step done in the Carnival parades. the rallies and regattas, the angling, snaring, and spearing, the kayaking, snorkeling, and diving, the barge concerts, music festivals, and happy hours, there is always, ALWAYS something to do!

When asked that age old question "What do you do for a living?" my answer is now closer to what I am in my life.

"I'm a sailor."

Full Sail
~ Full Sail ~
2. Freedom to Go Anywhere in the World
Very few things in life are certain and forever. Of one thing I can be assured of is the wind will always blow. And this certainty provides us with our one real inalienable liberty – to go anywhere in the world. In our blue water cruiser, we are truly capable of crossing the only real borders for humans on this planet – those created by our oceans. And because it is the wind rather than a costly, not to mention non-renewable fuel source that powers us, we can travel far and wide without worrying too much about moving expenses.

But we recognized that to gain the ultimate liberation we desired, we'd not just have our dock lines to release. Our financial ties must also be loosed. So we emancipated ourselves from mortgage payments, car loans, and credit debt – a situation that I doubt would be easily achieved living the current American way. Now we have the security of knowing that no institution can take away our home for a defaulted payment.

Furthermore, we preferred to live with some of the modern luxuries, otherwise known in most households as 'utilities', and so conscientiously invested in possessions that would allow us these conveniences without burning money in fuel; solar panels, a wind generator, a water maker – not to mention all the hand tools that lets us FIO (Fix It Ourselves) and manual equipment that lets us conserve the electricity we make.

Between the encompassing breezes and the sun above, we can keep our batteries charged to run our fridge, play our music, radio our neighbors, or watch a video. And last, but far from least is all that we are provided from the water under our keel. From this awe-inspiring ocean, we're able to obtain every one of life's basic requirements; purified thirst-quenching liquid, nourishing sustenance, and endless aquatic entertainment. Living within this bounty has brought the real meaning of freedom into perspective for me.

I sometimes joke about being prepared for the zombie apocalypse, though in the back of my mind, those mindless demons represent more than Hollywood's fictional horror. It could represent those infectious fears being cultivated over threats of terrorism, biased hatred, societal breakdown, governmental misconduct, and warfare. But on Re Metau, we're living nearly sovereign on a small floating island, merely observing the laws of the land in our closest proximity. Should we find the situation in conflict with our wellbeing, we can move our island and pursue our happiness elsewhere. We can leave the zombies to their fate and escape to more peaceful locales.

This pleasure is really all about being self-reliant, sustainable, and independent. Re Metau shelters us, provides for all our creature comforts, and she's mobile – built to cruise the blue waters of the world that further bestow our every last need. That, to me, is real freedom!

Caribbean Sunset
~ Caribbean Sunset ~
3. The Best View from a Real Deck
You can have a cassette deck, a sun deck, and a deck of cards. You might be decked out, you may get decked or you could clear the decks. I found 24 different definitions for deck, but the first – and most often referenced – was the nautical definition of a deck.

I smile when I see ocean front property for sale, promoted as "right on the water" with "spectacular views from the sun deck". Only a gazillion dollars and it could be yours – all yours!

Well – we're right on the water, we have a real deck, we didn't pay millions, and what a view we have! While anchored out we have a completely unobstructed vista of the setting sun. We can hang a hammock from the rigging and sway with the waves in the warm ocean breeze. We grill our dinner and enjoy it on the deck, or rendezvous with fellow sailors for evening cocktails and conversation. And we've got the biggest swimming pool on the planet!

Basically, we spend more time living outside, on deck – taking in the masterpieces that Mother Nature is forever creating in her realm. Her work of art might be the irresistible sparkle of a star studded sky, or the ethereal glimmering of a phosphorescence trail. It might be the mindboggling grandeur of the billowing clouds, or the hypnotic resonance of the rippling sea. It might be the brilliant radiance of a rising moon, or the pastel-splashed blush of a setting sun. It might be the silvery shimmer of a flying fish, or the graceful spiral of a floating frigate.

The subjects of her artistry are endless, and floating in our little vessel seems to put us right into the middle of all that majesty. We truly have the best view from a real deck!

Diana on the Sand Bar
~ Diana on the Sand Bar ~
4. Independence from Stuff
A funny thing about the stuff you own. It begins to take on a life of its own, and before you know – you become a slave to it.

I truly believe that American society has gone a little insane with ownership. I could start a top 10 list of examples that prove this imbalance; Self storage facilities, Space-saving storage bags, Shopping as a hobby, Enormous restaurant serving sizes, Disposable EVERYTHING, Open 24 hour anything, it goes on and on. All this stuff becomes baggage that metaphorically or physically is carried everywhere by its owner.

When we decided to commit to our dream, we began selling all our household contents on eBay. The first few items were tough to part with I'll admit, but shortly afterwards – almost nothing was excluded from the purge. I found things I'd long forgotten I owned, things whose purpose I couldn't fathom, and things I couldn't believe I'd kept. Each possession sold, donated or given away was something less to dust, store or protect. It was liberating to be finally free of the extra baggage, and the space around us grew so it felt easier to breath.

I believe many people hold onto stuff for various reasons; for a sense of wellbeing, as a definition of themselves, or as a memento of some place or time. But ultimately, a person's sense of happiness and comfort, individuality and personality, and memories are internal. No external thing will ever provide a fraction of what's inside.

Florida Keys Friends
~ Florida Keys Friends ~
5. Meet Your Neighbors
For 17 years, I lived in a house on the outskirts of a city, surrounded by literally hundreds of other dwellings similar to my own. It was an idyllic neighborhood, each house with a modest yard, a single driveway and sidewalks around every block. In the near 2 decades that I lived there, I'd estimate knowing approximately 2% of my neighbors. We'd emerge in the Spring; sometimes talk over the hedges – but the majority of the time we were locked up inside our four walls, living very separate and disengaged lives. To be fair, we'd nothing in common except the neighborhood.

Now, with each marina or anchorage in which we reside, we are familiar with every boat and her owner. We have made so many close friends with this way of life, more then I believe I'd ever made before. We share tips, tools and tales, give a hand when help is needed, praise each other's triumphs and pull together in stormy weather.

Live-aboards are a close knit tribe of people, bonded by the lifestyle that we've chosen to live. We float in on common ground. We understand the importance, security and connectedness we have with fellow cruisers. I've never felt more at home as I do now, surrounded by my tribe of sailors out on the sea.

Boot Key Rainbow
~ Boot Key Rainbow ~
6. Moving is EASY!
Like most anyone, over the years I've moved myself, friends and family many times. Each incident was an ordeal; the packing, the cleaning, truck rentals, loading, unloading, unpacking. It takes days, boxes, bucks and bribes to relocate your stuff. I believe the majority of the relocation stress people experience is caused by their stuff; not being able to find it, worrying that it will get damaged, and finding a new place for all of it. It's no wonder people plant themselves in one place, unwilling to venture on to new experiences. They are deeply rooted under all their stuff.

This is one of the best things about having a floating home. When we want to have a new experience in a new location – even if just for a few days, there is no need to go through all the stress. We don't even need to pack a suitcase! All we do is untie a few lines, and sail off.

One time while friends were visiting, we took them for a weekend sail to a nearby key. After several hours at sea, I happened to observe one passenger's face go through a quick succession of emotions; deep thought, annoyance, enlightenment, and finally amusement. I inquired as to what just went through his head, to which he replied sheepishly "I thought I forgot to bring my coat, but then I realized all my stuff was here on the boat!" Whenever wanderlust strikes us, this is the delighted elation we've commonly come to appreciate.

Thirsty Manatees
~ Thirsty Manatees ~
7. Environmental Consciousness Satisfied
Wind is our primary and preferred mode of transportation. It is a renewable resource that creates no pollution. That much is obvious. But there are a lot of not so obvious environmentally conscious habits that most sailing cruisers have.

We generate our own electricity with wind and sun. Because we are highly aware of the amount of amperage we have available to us, and the wattage of our gear that consumes electricity, we regulate our use of that equipment, and rely on some by-gone technologies to conserve what we do generate. Remember manual can openers, stove-top peculators and oil lamps? If only shore side consumers would adopt these habits, imagine the positive impact that would have!

Sea Turtle
~ Sea Turtle ~

We are also acutely aware of the amount of water we use and so we tend to conserve it. Not just because we don't want to be stranded in the middle of the ocean with nothing to drink, but also because we have tanks with specific holding capacity. For us, accessing fresh water doesn't mean just turning on a tap. We have to get it, desalinate it, filter it, clean it, test it, pump it into our tanks, pump it out of our tanks, and then we can use it. You tend to conserve the things you work hard for.

We've substantially less stuff now. Most of our possessions have a dual purpose, provide a means for us to be self-sufficient, or maintain our vessel. Little is stored unless it is a spare part, or frequently used. Our gear is built to withstand the harsh marine environment, and at some point may be the one item that saves our lives. Therefore superior quality is of a greater value than cheaply made, mass produced, economically priced junk. Disposable goods are an inconvenience for us; they take up too much space both before and after they are used.

Basically, live-aboard cruisers tend to be more environmentally consciences because we don't wish to pollute the area we live in – the ocean, any more than the home owner would wish to turn his yard into a dump. Not only would it be foolhardy, it'd be counterintuitive to trash our sanctuary, our sustenance, our asylum.

Don's Lobster Catch
~ Don's Lobster Catch ~
8. Living Real Life
On average, Americans spend 4 1/2 hours per night watching someone acting out a life on TV. I always found it ironic that none of these television characters spend more than a few seconds in front of the tube during any given program. Imagine cameras showing up at the average home on an ordinary night. "It's a new reality program – just do what you normally do!" the director would say. 60 minutes of uninterrupted television watching – including the 14 minutes of commercials would be captured for the hour long segment.

Put 3 average Americans in a room together and in a matter of minutes, you're guaranteed to have one of them bring up whatever hit television series is choking up the airwaves. Put 3 sailors in a room together and you're guaranteed to have hours of delightfully entertaining conversation about eventful voyages, close calls, lucky breaks, cultural enlightenment and extraordinary experiences.

As live-aboards, we seem to have disengaged from the commercial world – not an easy feat in American society. But in doing so, we have reconnected with our real lives. Every day we are learning something new, by doing something different. We are reliant on, and thus more aware of, the natural world around us. Most every moment becomes an adventure; every voyage a fresh experience; every new place full of discovery. All the precious time we have in this life is genuinely ours, and we find each Real Life episode to be very entertaining.

Pirate Ship Flags
~ Pirate Ship Flags ~
9. You're Where Everyone Wants to Be
At the time of this writing, United States citizens average about 12 vacation days per year. And a family of four pays close to $2000 for food and lodging during a weeklong respite. And the most popular places for Americans to spend those precious days and dollars is ocean side. Take a look at any commercial targeting the illusion of freedom; be it from credit card stress, from some physical malady, or from the daily grind, and you'll see blue seas and white sails somewhere in the video. The ultimate escape is packaged in crystal blue water, soft white sand, and shady palm trees.

That is exactly where we are year round! Our lifestyle allows us to spend extended periods of time and considerably less money in the same vacation hot spots to which Americans migrate. We often take long walks along the beach. We can hoist the sails and go out for the day, or forever whenever we choose. And we are surrounded by happiness, as all the vacationers relax and unwind, becoming more open and friendlier than normal. I know for a fact that our little ship can even be spotted in some of the photos these sightseers have snapped!

I still pinch myself when I step outside of what's become normal to me, and appreciate that I'm not just visiting – but actually living in places like Clearwater, Key West, The British Virgin Islands, Antigua, The Bahamas, St. Martin, Martinique, Barbados…some of the top vacation destinations on the planet! If I wasn't me – I'd wanna be!

Wedding Day Sunset
~ Wedding Day Sunset ~
10. Proof of Our Abilities to Create
Some years ago, both Don and I were independently exposed to the concept that we have within us the ability to create our own existence. Typically, this idea is accepted metaphorically, in that by altering your view or attitude you can accept what life sends your way. However, we have interpreted the idea in a literal way and believe our current experience is proof that we possess the capacity to transform our thoughts into reality. Reviewing the events that occurred to get us to where we are attests to the fact that deliberate, focused, positive statements expressed in word and deed are the medium for bringing forth our experiences.

In our past, we were normal, land-dwelling citizens, living in the Midwest – surrounded by acres of farm land. We were both living typical lives, working regular jobs, making mortgage and car payments. There was the occasional small water craft or sailboat experience here and there for each of us, but generally, life on or near the sea was completely alien to us and everyone in our lives at that time. But we both had this dream, which developed into a strong desire, and then further evolved into a goal.

The spark was when we made a conscious decision to progress toward our aspirations. We took focused action in whatever pursuits were attainable to us at any one time, always with the ultimate goal in view. We centered our thoughts toward a particular vessel, visualized specific experiences, verbalized our future repeatedly, and planted seeds of our conviction all around us.

Unfailingly – the universe responded and yet continues to respond. Consistently – our experiences are what we create for ourselves through our thoughts, our words, and our actions. If you doubt the power within yourself, or question the effect your imagination and ideas have on your life, consider this; All things created began first as a single thought.

Pearls of Wisdom
Some Good Sailboat Gear
One Cruiser’s Opinion
Random Reflections
On Being Re Metau
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