After living for a month in my affectionately dubbed “tiny floating home project” with a large engine in my salon and water poured out a 5-gallon jerry jug, we finally have running water again onboard Tulum V! The water situation was totally preventable, we were just scope locked on getting our engine fixed which required hoisting it out of the engine room and putting it on blocks in our salon (for what ended up being a much longer period than anticipated). In doing so, we failed to remember that the valve to switch water tanks was sitting directly under our massive engine. So, when the first tank ran out, we were out of luck (and out of water). Jerry jug to the rescue! We filled up that 5-gallon jerry jug daily and on most days that was all we needed for cooking, drinking, washing dishes, and basic hygiene (minus showers). I was surprised when Chad brought to my attention that our daily ration for a family of 4 humans and 2 animals was only 5 gallons. I mean, we typically conserve water as best we can on any given day, but 5 gallons a day for a family in the tropics was impressive! When running water was once again restored on the boat, we couldn’t be happier, and we realized once again how much we appreciate the small things in life.
Cruising does this to you: You appreciate the basics. Take water for example: Whether you make your own, catch it from the sky, pay for purified garrafóns, or pay for a slip where you’re filtering it from the dock – fresh potable water is precious! The same goes for fuel, electricity, fresh food, specialized spare parts, communications and basic consumables – especially in remote locations. Whether a product of being out at anchor and in need of sunshine for solar power or sitting in a foreign port wishing you had brought a simple, yet specialized spare part that will take weeks to arrive and oodles of dollars in shipping and import taxes, the basics are never to be taken for granted.
The pandemic only amplified this appreciation. Like most people in the world, we quickly realized basic staples were in high demand and did a reasonable job of stocking up, not knowing what we would find in our next port. Amid lockdowns and limited ability to obtain groceries in the Sea of Cortez, I will never forget how long I took in the bright colors and earthy aroma from our carton of “freshies” obtained from a local co-op after surviving off canned foods and a cabbage that was holding on for dear life! When we encounter a farm or source of fresh food in the middle of nowhere, we are always surprised at what we find. Being on the water means sometimes the vendors paddle over to you with their freshly caught seafood or whatever their farms can provide. Spontaneously ditch the previously planned pasta meal for some fresh lobster delivered to my boat? NO PROBLEMO! This too has expanded our palates and led to all new recipes for the family. I never knew beets could taste so good until they showed up in a few farmers baskets and we started experimenting. I also never pinned myself for baking bread in a solar oven, but it kind of becomes a necessity out here and like most baked goods, doesn’t last long onboard!
Beyond the basics, there are the luxuries: washer/dryer, dishwasher, pool, air-conditioning…clearly we haven’t adapted all of these to the boat so when we have access to them, we consider it a luxury! We made it clear when we embarked on this journey that we were not going to camp aboard, but rather live aboard our new floating home with some obvious modifications. So, when we scrapped the all-in-one washer/dryer that was already aboard and Chad bought a washboard and hand-crank clothes wringer for doing laundry in austere locations, I seriously wondered if we were both in alignment with our so-called vision. To date, we’ve used the wringer a whopping 3 times, and don’t even ask me about the washboard! I found it all too easy to adapt and succumb to the will of a laundromat as often as humanly possible and will happily pay for that luxury!
Our vision of living in this new environment looked very different from the creature comforts we had become so accustomed to while living in expansive homes supported by large water, power, and sanitation companies. The availability of a redundant system or just a failsafe enterprise supporting our basic living requirements provided a comfort that rarely crossed my mind while living in the US. Even while living aboard Tulum-V in the US, we had become all too accustomed to fully stocked grocery stores with endless options just a short drive away (and in our own vehicle). In larger cities abroad we still have options, but the transportation piece takes a bit of planning and typically results in what we refer to as “provisioning” vice simple grocery shopping for a few key items.
We’ve even learned to keep important information readily available when we leave the land of connectivity. Funny how your mindset completely changes without the ability to look up anything at any time and instantly retrieve the answer. You change both your method and your resource for finding out information…not to mention acquire some patience along the way. So yes, we carry a dictionary, hard charts, reference manuals and a full set of encyclopedias onboard. The last one is a bit extreme, but has served us well!
When we return to some form of land-based abode, it is my hope that we retain this same appreciation of the basics. It won’t be the same, no doubt, but I do hope complacency doesn’t set in. I won’t claim to preserve every drop of water and never waste food presently and I furthermore expect that the distractions of a busy fast-paced life will cause us to conveniently forget how much we relied on the basics out here. I do however, have faith that we’ve adopted some new habits that will continue to stick with us for the long run. Cheers to filtered, clean, never-taken-for-granted-again running water!
From the Editor: The HelmsMistress wasn’t kidding when she says we lived out of a 5-gallon jerry jug for nearly a month with an engine sitting in our salon. Here’s a picture of that chaos from up in the cockpit, looking down into the salon, with our ever present jerry jug sitting beside the freezer.
The HelmsMistress runs the helm on Tulum-5 as well as her own school for our kids and other assorted projects onboard our cruising sailboat. We’re currently in Panama winding up various projects and continuing to upgrade Tulum as she is for sale…check out her YachtWorld Page.
Click this link to read one of our pandemic provisioning stories, written early in the pandemic: Provisioning During A Crisis Should Be Continuous
Have an Awesome Day and if you are really motivated, we would LOVE to have you FOLLOW US!