Tuesday, May 15, 2018

1st Year As Liveaboards!

Nirvana at her new slip, 2017

It's no lie .. the older we get, the faster the year goes by! I can't believe that this past Sunday was not only Mother's Day, but one year since we moved onto Nirvana. Can you believe it?! We've been liveaboards for one year already!

I remember turning in the keys of our 1-bedroom, furnished condo last year. It seems like yesterday. I remember giving the condo one last glance before shutting the door .. and I wondered what the year ahead would have in store for us. Closing the door to the condo felt so symbolic .. another door was opening! After more than 7 years of working on Nirvana, we were finally moving on her. The dream was getting closer to becoming a reality!

So how was our first year? Was it all we thought it would be? I'd say our expectations were realistic, and therefore our first year of living on a small sailboat was as we'd imagined. This past year has been full of ups n downs .. adjustments, sacrifices and some amazing experiences too. The first couple of weeks were great ... like a camping vacation! Those sunsets the first few weeks were amazing (one of the first in photo below), and it felt so good to finally be living on the water again after selling our waterfront house 2.5 years earlier.


We were so excited to be living on Nirvana that we brushed aside any discomfort. As with anything, the "newness" died and the reality of living on a sailboat started to creep in. Like the first year of living together ... we learned to live with Nirvana. We learned to compromise, adapt, and take the good with the bad. Things like ... climbing in & out of the v-berth in the middle of the night, dealing with the head (and its odors), walking a really long distance to our vehicles in all types of weather (below freezing temps, high temps & humidity, and rain!), sweating our butts off last summer (even with a window a/c), packing up our toiletries & walking to the marina shower to get clean, going to the laundromat, washing dishes in a really tiny space, living with a tiny refrigerator (we love our 12v Engel fridge!) & without a freezer, and probably our most challenging .. cooking on a boat! I hate to cook, and it didn't help when we decided we hated our alcohol stove & removed it. For most of the last year, I cooked on one electric burner. With tiny counters, tiny sinks and one burner .. let's just say we spent a lot of money eating out the first six months! Oh, and another challenge .. storage. We're still working on that one. We just got rid of our winter clothes, which helps.

We eased the transition to living aboard by traveling quite a bit. We flew to Mexico, camped in Georgia with our "kids", took a 3-month insurance adjusting gig that sent us from Florida to California, and we even sailed to Mexico with our friend, Charlie, on his boat!

Many cruisers mention that they have days they want to sell the boat, but then they have days that are so amazing that they can't imagine every getting rid of their boat. I'd say our first year of living aboard at a dock was similar. We never wanted to sell our boat & give up, but to tell the truth .. we wouldn't want to live on Nirvana if we never planned on leaving our Louisiana dock! Perhaps we'd be happy living at a Florida dock somewhere that had a pool, outdoor kitchen, and weekly pot-lucks. Heck, we visited a couple of marinas in Isla Mujeres recently that we could definitely live at .. they even had there own beach! We love Louisiana, but we've given up a lot of comforts & conveniences, so we wanna get out there. We anticipate some awesome experiences in the near future once we start traveling after this year's hurricane season!

Our daily walk to the bathroom/parking at the marina ...


Let me back up and say that we've met some fantastic people & have made some great friends since living aboard. Our dock has been full of great folks, and one of them was our friend, Charlie, that we sailed to Mexico with! We've met a liveaboard couple that sails to the Bahamas every winter, another couple that's living on a really nice power boat while building their house, a few married guys that come to escape (we've never seen their wives .. they don't like boats?!), another liveaboard couple that recently moved onto their Catalina 30 (we need to tour each other's boats soon & get ideas), a cute lil 84 year young man that's been living on his small sailboat for over 15 years, and an 83 year young widowed woman that visits her power boat for a few days every month. She drives about 3 hours from her house, stays on the boat a few nights, and works her butt off maintaining it while she's here! We took a ride on her boat recently .. she makes herself take the boat out on a regular basis so she can practice docking it. She did much better than I could ever do. She's such an inspiration .. and tough as nails. As a retired trauma surgeon, I guess she's seen a lot! Oh, and we even met a couple while walking past their condo every day. The guy is from Egypt, has a dreamy accent, and loves to cook .. we've had some great dinners at their place! Here's a pic of Ken & our friend, Charlie ..


Okay, so living here on Nirvana has been pretty good. Downsizing, reducing our bills, and reducing our living space this past year has brought us opportunities that we'd have never had. If we hadn't already streamlined our businesses, we wouldn't have been able to leave on short notice for a 3-month insurance gig, we wouldn't have been able to fly to Mexico .. then sail to Mexico with Charlie, and we wouldn't have been able to go camping with our "kids" in Georgia to see the solar eclipse! We wouldn't have met all of our new dock friends and enjoyed "docktails" with them at sunset ... good times! Yeah, we're ready for more adventure but it's been a pretty good year. We're already getting a taste of what's out there, and we're so glad we hung in there. I think our dream, while not cruising yet, has already become a reality! Life is about new people, new experiences .. and change. In my opinion, change & challenges are what makes us grow .. and live life to its fullest!

As the year passed by, we learned to deal with the inconveniences mentioned above. I finally got into cooking one-pot meals, and we started spending less money at restaurants .. and more on boat stuff! Ken recently finished our propane project, so now we're livin' large with TWO burners! I'm looking forward to using our Omnia oven in the future .. I can finally bake again! We also found a few things to make living aboard more efficient & comfortable, including making curtains. Nirvana is feeling more & more like our home! I'll be sharing some of our ideas in future posts, and hope to learn more from you all as well. As I mentioned earlier, storage is always a battle so feel free to give suggestions! Here's a photo of our new curtains .. blocking the sun!


We love our occasional "lounging" area .. just lower the salon table, add a few cushions & viola!


It's really nice in the evenings .. yes, we have a tv and we watch it! We are at a dock.


While we didn't officially celebrate our first year as liveaboards, it was "Mother's Day" so it kinda felt like we did. The day started with a visit from this momma & her babies ...


We went to New Orleans to visit the zoo with our daughter, son-in-law, his family and .. our 3 month old grandson! It was a great day walking around the zoo under the oak trees and watching our daughter on her first "Mother's Day". I can't describe how it warms our hearts!

Here's the new lil family ...


and me with our baby girl ..all grown up!


How many can we cram into this Indian rickshaw?!


Once we got home, Ken installed a bigger window a/c in Nirvana's hatch. We had a 5000 btu last year .. hopefully this 8000 btu will make things more comfortable inside. It's gotten hot fast! Time with family and a new a/c unit to beat the heat .. can't think of a better way to start our 2nd year as liveaboards!


We're excited about the coming year, and in the meantime we're working on more boat projects, enjoying evenings in the cockpit listening to music, and we're still enjoying those sunsets!


Hasta luego .. until then. Mid-Life Cruising!
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