Timothy Hill on St. Kitts: Atlantic Ocean on the left, Caribbean Sea on the right
Prius Low-Rider

Well, it’s hard to believe, but it’s been a year. One year ago, Kim and I packed up the Prius with all of our remaining worldly belongings and headed for Brunswick, Georgia to move onto Meraviglia. To say a lot has happened would be an understatement. To say there have been a lot of surprises would be an even bigger understatement. To say it’s been a success would be…premature. However, we have learned. A LOT. A lot a lot, in fact. We’ve learned about boat repair. We’ve learned about sailing. We’ve learned about boat systems. We’ve learned about people. And, perhaps most of all, we’ve learned about ourselves. In this post, which is a collaboration, we’re trying to lay out the biggest lessons of 1 year of boat life. Here we go!

A year ago-so naive… But in love!

First, we’re in love. And in like. With each other. Because if two people are going to live on a boat, they have to be both. We cohabit a space that is, effectively, 40 feet long and 10 feet wide. And we have been together every minute of every day for the last year. I mean, we sometimes ran errands separately, but otherwise? Together. Now, that is not really most couples’ thing. Whether it’s book clubs or poker night or Pampered Chef parties or watching the game, most couples have things they do apart from their spouses. Other than work, that’s never really been us. We enjoy doing things together. But boat life has put that to the test big time. And it’s not always easy, for sure. Boat life is a pressure cooker-it will pick the scab off of every sore there ever was. And we both have our share of time at the helm. But here we are. Still in love. That’s a win.

Second, boats are expensive. This, intellectually, we knew. But seeing the account balance drain is truly scary. If you’ve been following along from the beginning, you know the first 8 months of the last year were spent doing boat work-ripping everything out of Meraviglia and basically rebuilding her. Buying her was a mistake-we’ve admitted that. But even so, the expenses are just staggering. We told each other we were going to do this until the money ran out. We just didn’t think the outflow would be so fast. Are we broke? No. Have things stabilized? Sort of. But still, it’s scary.

Third, boat life can be, well, lonely. We miss our family a TON- Facetime and What’s App are great but definitely not the same as in person hugs and time together. We also have great friends we left behind in Seguin. And we had great work relationships too. We miss those people. A lot. I (Bob) am famous for saying that I just want everyone to leave me alone. But, in fact, that’s not true. At least not always. We’ve been told that cruisers do tend to form relationships with other cruisers. We had this a little in the Bahamas, but not since as much. It probably will improve, but so far, we’ve been so focused on moving south, that we haven’t stayed in any one place very long and we are a bit late moving south- many cruisers are already further south than we are!

Fourth, we can still eat well on a boat! Pre-Meraviglia we had every kitchen gadget known to man and loved cooking and hosting at our home. We were a bit concerned with the minimal space on board and in the galley that our love for eating well might be challenging. But we have learned that we can still cook some pretty great meals – we just sometimes need to be a bit creative and substitute ingredients. We have been really pleased with our ability to get fresh produce pretty much everywhere we have been.

Fifth, boats are frustrating. Something is either broken, recently broken, or soon-to-break. Now, I know some of you will say that about your homes, but trust me, it’s not the same. The toilet that runs or the faucet that leaks is not in the same category as a marine toilet being blocked or a watermaker being broken. If the toilet is blocked, WE CAN’T GO. If the watermaker is broken, WE HAVE NO WATER. It’s like everything is Level I Trauma.

Sixth, everything takes longer on a boat. Need groceries? Put the dinghy in the water. Put the outboard on the dinghy. Go to shore. Find somewhere to tie up. Walk to the store. Buy groceries. Walk back to the dinghy. Go back to the boat. Laundry? We can do two days’ worth of clothing in our washer-that is shorts and t-shirts and underwear. And then hang it to dry. And the we have to run the watermaker for an hour to replace the water. Rain coming? Close all the hatches. Close all the portlights. Then it gets hot inside. Rain stop? Reopen everything. Rain start again? Repeat the cycle.

Seventh, living outside is tiring. Have you ever noticed that, if you spend the day outside, you feel really tired at the end of the day? Even if you just went to the pool or the beach or sat around-you still feel tired. That’s a real thing. And we live outside. That’s the bottom line. Because even inside the boat, we’re effectively outside. There is no air conditioning. No heat. No kicking back on the couch. Even if we just relax on the boat for the day, by the end of the day, we’re tired.

Eighth, Kim never gets tired of the beach or being in the water 🙂 Seriously, we both have continued to enjoy snorkeling, swimming, and being in the beautiful waters – it has not gotten old yet. And the beauty of God’s creation continues to amaze us every day.

Ninth, customs in every country is just a bit different. Some use a system called Sailclear and some don’t. Some want a lot of information and others barely look at your forms and send you on your way. It has definitely been a learning curve to find the information we need and to successfully navigate clearing in and out of different countries but we have now visited 10 countries so we are doing something right I guess!

Tenth, there are really kind people everywhere. We have found some countries where people seem more friendly, but overall we have had some amazing interactions with people being so helpful. Just yesterday, we took the dinghy to a marina in St. Kitts. We wanted to leave it there for the day as we had a rental car to explore the island. We stopped in the marina office to make sure it was okay to leave it at the dock. The person in the office was so kind, he reviewed the local map with us and gave us great suggestions for places to visit – assuring us the dinghy was fine to leave and to enjoy our day. One of the blessings of this journey has been these small interactions that just reaffirm that there is kindness and good people everywhere.

Those are our lessons learned so far. And we’re still learning. Every single day. We’re not sure how it’s all going to turn out, but one thing we know: any regrets we have pale in comparison to the regret we’d feel if we had never given this a try. Onward!

Brimstone Hill Fortress on Saint Kitts-still smiling!