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Aannsha’s Blog #35 – Adjustment to living aboard

My office

As I write this blog on the deck of our yacht-home, surrounded by a myriad of affluent yachts and motor cruisers bobbing lazily in crystal clear azure water, I’m reminded how much my life has changed. So if you’re curious, or are pondering this lifestyle for yourself, you may like to join me as I review some of the changes Baz and I are making – daily – to life on board a boat compared to suburban living. While Baz and I both are enjoying and adapting to this way of life, I’ll only talk about the adjustments I’m making.

Caffeine hit cuts

Let me pause to drink a cup of earl grey tea out of my thermos mug. Ah, that’s better, and now I’ve stashed it safely into one of the teak cup holders sunk into the centre of the cockpit table, I’ll rest easy knowing I’m not going to short out the laptop electrical connections next time we start rocking around on the wake of a motor boat that just sped by. While a decent cuppa does taste better out of bone china, I really don’t mind glugging out of the plastic lip of my travel mug. I’m not that chuffed that the tea is a tad under-infused, but rather than ‘waste’ precious gas boiling water this afternoon, I’d rather use the boiled water I stored in a small thermos when I made this morning’s cuppa. It’s not a deal breaker really, I often use my ‘you-beaut’ Handpresso coffee machine to make me an espresso late morning with the stored water instead. I’ve also begun making an ‘iced coffee’ using instant coffee, cold water and milk from the fridge. So all is not lost in the caffeine department. But, if you’re considering living life ex-marina, then this is one of those small daily habits that may need adjusting if fresh water and cooking gas are limited for you.

Daily showers trickle to a minimum

We do have 600 litres of water on board, but we don’t know how long that will last us. Rather than find ourselves suddenly without the second most precious commodity to fresh air that our body needs, we’re eking water out almost drop by drop. It’s a fun challenge actually, seeing how little water I need in a (plastic) glass to brush my teeth, instead of cleaning the brush under running tap water. At night, what I don’t use to rinse my pearly whites with, I pour onto a facecloth and wipe my feet to get the red dust and salt off before hitting the bed.

sea blue

Jumping into the sea daily and scrubbing underarms is a great pre-wash, but showers are now almost a thing of the past. My mother would have conniptions if she could see me! I think the salt mingled with the oil in my hair gives me a free-spirited look, that is slightly offset by the conventional shorts and tees that I grabbed at a C&A store when I was in Murcia. I’m really going to have to work on a new image. I’m considering ‘Jack Sparrow meets Shakira’, but I think I’d probably need a massive attitude adjustment, a tattoo and tango lessons to pull that one off. Anyway watch this blog space. You never know.

And with that thought, here’s a transcript of a bizarre convo I had with my little inner voice (LIV) the other day:

"Where's ya bin?"

LIV: "Where’s ya bin?"

Me: “Over there, why?”

LIV: “Where?”

Me: “A fifteen minute dinghy ride to shore.”

LIV: “Why?”

Me: “To drop off my four bags of rubbish and recycling. You got a problem with that?”

LIV: “No! But make sure you take a dry bag next time!”

Me: “For the rubbish???”

LIV: “No! For your purse/wallet, camera, keys, phone …”

Me: “Oh, righto. Anything else?”

LIV: “Yeah, take a screwdriver in case the new outboard needs a fine tune. And shoes. If you have to jump out and pull the tender to shore, you don’t want to cut your feet on sharp rocks … like last time!”

Me: “Okay, thanks!”

LIV: “And one more thing …”

Me: “What?”

LIV: “Don’t compare your damp, windswept casual self with the other middle-aged woman who is going to glide stylishly into harbour in her husband’s tender, park next to you, alight gracefully on shore wearing her crease-free designer dress, hair coiffured, and with her sparkly gem-encrusted sandals as dry as the day she bought them!”

Me (shaking my head) “Really? … Lol… Okay!”

I kid you not, all of those things happened! If you, like I, are used to living life in a country town and you suddenly find yourself in a sea-based playground for people who can afford boats as second cars, you will experience various conundrums and paradoxes that you will find all at once absurd, funny, disconcerting and frustrating as you adjust quickly to your new environment.

This moves me on to coping during times when all of this new life becomes intense, and sometimes overwhelming. Because it will. Despite being surrounded by Nature’s stunning locations, there will be times when a sailor has to deal with her inner stuff.

Self-sufficiency, girlfriend

Be kind to yourself, especially when you feel like a fish out of water. Pun intended, but an accurate analogy too, I think.

Before I launch into How to be Happy 101, one thing to bear in mind is that men and women are wired differently. Men and women do solve problems differently. In fact, taking gender out of it, we are all unique and process the world, brainstorm solutions and cope with change in various ways. Despite our differences though, we do all have one thing in common. We experience emotions.

Such as, when you’re on a 45ft yacht, you and your partner are both reeling with the latest wave of intensity that you’ve just experienced – for example, finding an anchorage in one of Spain’s busiest coastlines at peak tourist season, when you haven’t anchored before. Taking into consideration the tightly knit boats, differing depths of water and ground medium (sand/rocks etc), wind conditions, length of anchor chain to pay out which defines the swing of the boat as it moves to point into the wind (when you can’t work out the chain length markings) are all major considerations; and on Day 5 of our very first sailing experience, after four previous days of steep learning curves, Barry and I really had to ‘suck it up’, ‘stuff our emotions’ and get on with the job in hand.

That experience in itself was all very nerve wracking and I think in part why we haven’t thought about moving to another site in the last week, never mind me considering getting back into scuba diving just yet, which for me is also a brand new activity full of learning curves.

Both of us have dealt with our own ‘stuff’ in our own way and as I said before, I’ll only talk about what’s worked for me.

Appreciating what you have

I do miss my girlfriends. I know we can chat on WhatsApp, but nothing beats sitting down with your BFF over a glass of wine or cup of tea, doing what women do well – sharing and laughing and crying and healing. But that’s not an option for me right now.

God forbid I try to make Baz turn into a girlfriend though. In a kinky way, I don’t think he’d mind the cross dressing, but I think he’d draw the line at doing emotions like girls do! And I wouldn’t want him to! I appreciate him as the straight-talking, practical-minded, solutions-oriented guy that he is. I know it must be hard being a guy living in close quarters with any woman who’s feeling a bit wobbly on the inside and I appreciate that he and I are learning to take each other’s personal space into consideration. And learning to talk through tasks beforehand (such as raising the tender with the outboard attached) so we can complete these tasks safely and efficiently.

Downtime creates space for emotions to surface

Since we anchored here at Formentera in the Balearic Islands in Spain, and now we’ve settled into a daily routine of sorts, a bit of exploring and oh yes, emptying bins – the ‘sucked up emotions’ from the wild ride of sharp learning curves of our first five days of sailing (breaking mainsheet block; putting up the sails; discovering that our autopilot thinks we’re 270 degrees port of where we actually are and turning in circles when we try to engage it; mooring for the first time; nearly losing the boat hook while mooring for the second time; rolly moorings; trying to anchor …) have risen up to greet me each morning.

I’ve tried to continue ‘getting on with it’ as Baz seems to have been doing (or maybe he just isn’t plagued by stuff like I am LOL), but by this morning I just couldn’t deal with the feelings of anxiety and heaviness I was experiencing. It had been colouring many of my thoughts the last few days to the point where I was feeling anxious about pretty much anything I turned my mind to. And that was the key. My mind. It needed sorting out.

Missed meditation messed with my mind

Meditation group ladies

Many of you will know that in my former Australian life, I ran meditation groups each week. Not only did I love the participants and facilitating these sessions, but I personally benefitted from a weekly ‘enforced’ meditation, especially when I was too busy on a daily basis to meditate regularly.

Since moving to Spain, I’ve not only felt cut off from my girlfriends, but I also haven’t meditated. While that wasn’t been a problem to begin with, because I was been bolstered by the high of our move – just lately, with all the growth curves, I’ve been experiencing the downside of lapsing from mindfulness and energy balancing.

Over the years I have found that when I pay regular attention to keeping my chakras (energy centres) clear, and bring white light down through my centres and ground into the earth, I am brighter, lighter, more creative and much more fun to be around. That, coupled with mindfulness (which more accurately is present-moment-body-centred) and continuing to bring my awareness to the Here/Now rather than getting caught up in past/future worries, works a treat for me. It allows my secure, sassy inner chick to emerge and be at the helm of my life. When I’m in that mindset, I am creative, have a quick sense of humour, I am adventuresome and meet challenges with aplomb. My blogs don’t turn out too bad either.

One of my wise girlfriends recently told me about Belinda Richardson's book From Dark to Light: A Modern Mystic's Guide to Healing the Shadow & Embracing the Light and I downloaded it in Kindle. It was exactly what I needed to read as this woman is very aligned with my approach and it kick-started me right back into meditation again. Thank goodness for synchronicity, connected friends and wise authors.

Life adjustments, attitude adjustment

So in short, a massive change of lifestyle will give you stress, you will have changes to incorporate into your daily routine and you will be challenged on lots of levels. But that is one reason why you’d want to sign up for a sea change isn’t it? No more boredom. Discovering your strengths and limits. Feeling more alive. Experiencing all of this while being surrounded by changing, stunning locations. Sharing these with your best mate? These are some of the reasons I have made this change, and why am glad to be sharing it all with Baz.

In order to integrate these new experiences, it is important to bring a healthy attitude on your journey. I’ve found my own methods that work for me in mindfulness and energy work – I simply have to take the time to do these regularly. So if you’re looking at making a lifestyle change yourself, remember to collect your own inner tools for resilience that you will need, as well as learning new skills, and packing appropriate clothes for your new lifestyle.

Talking of clothes, I wonder what my Inner Sassiness likes to wear … pirate’s hat and short sarong? Hmm.

Until next time, I wish you light, love and equanimity.

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