Sailing Nakamal

What’s it like……

…to live on a boat?

There are many answers to that question. None of them are entirely true, but all of them are partly true.

This is written in pre-cruising days, so our experience to date is limited to several vacation charters and a few months living in a marina. Marina life – Unlimited electricity! Fresh, clean water from a spigot! Internet cabled directly to the boat! – is not indicative of the cruising life, but so far, it’s what I know.

John and I spent many a weekend in a toy-hauler trailer when he was doing off-road motorcycle events and when we had our first boat, a 1970’s vintage 24-foot Venture. After we traded up for the Capri 26, we spent many more weekends at Lake Roosevelt in Arizona staying aboard her. Before moving onto Nakamal we were no strangers to confined spaces but always returned home to our house, and all our stuff.

 At first living aboard Nakamal felt like a long weekend at the lake, only in more commodious surroundings.

Then the weekend just sort of never ended. But, it’s not the same as house-living.

So what IS it like?

 It’s like living in a dollhouse.

We have everything you have in a regular house, it’s just much smaller or there is less of it.


The “Perfect Size” cake mix, complete with tiny little pan. Perfect for the boat.

(As an aside, we bear no resemblance to Barbie and Ken, nor does our wardrobe meet their standards.)

Yes, we have an oven. The pizza stone we brought from the house would not fit in it. Not quite Easy-Bake size, but at first it felt that way.

We went from a five-burner cooktop to three burners. As it turns out, we’ve only ever used two at time and are far from starving.

We do have an “open concept” floor plan with living room, dining room and kitchen all combined to one great room. Except it’s the size of a one-car parking space in your garage. Speaking of ….

 It’s like living in a garage.

The workshop

The workshop

When the good Captain gets a project going, there are tools and boat parts spread everywhere. The “great room” becomes his substitute for a garage workshop.


It’s like living in an oval.

There are no straight outside walls.

 It’s like living in a blender.

On our one big trip to date, traveling north-northwest from San Diego to Catalina Island, we had confused seas with swells from two directions and wind from a third. The first few hours were full of learning moments as I spent time below decks tracking down and quieting various rattles and clinks from inside storage areas.

Boat fridge and freezer (badly in need of defrosting)

Boat fridge and freezer (badly in need of defrosting)

 It’s like living on a permanent picnic.

The refrigerator is like a cooler with a top-lift lid and about as much space. Most of our meals involve grilling. Our dishes are all plastic. Hopefully the flatware won’t rust, or that may be replaced by plastic too.

 It’s like living on a permanent trip.

When we traveled for work, we packed what we thought we needed and thus had limited selection of shoes and clothes.

One of the closet spaces in the house.

One of my closet spaces in the house.

My ENTIRE closet on the boat.

My ENTIRE closet on the boat.


 Constantly fighting the ‘find the ONE perfect pair of black sandals’ battle is part of my new reality.

One Hallowe'en I dressed up as my shoe closet. This is only the front.

One Hallowe’en I dressed up as my shoe closet. This is only the front.

It’s like living in a puzzle.

Boat pantry - those bins fit -but in only one configuration.

Boat pantry – those bins fit -but in only one configuration.

Everything has one place where it fits, and it has to go into that place in a certain way. This is especially true of our collection of plastic bins in those lockers that do not have straight walls – which is all of them.


It’s like living in a scavenger hunt.

We are getting better at knowing where things are but there are those infrequently used items that we think we know where they are. Turns out we remember where we first put them, but then moved them to a better location. The very act of moving the item seems to have indelibly ingrained its original location into our brains.

 It’s like living in a small city.

A boat has all the infrastructure of a small city – power, water, sewage, transportation, law enforcement – with the Captain as the mayor ultimately responsible for making sure it all works and all citizens are following the rules.

 It’s like living in a dream.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is my real life.

Our front yard

Our front yard

This entry was published on August 19, 2015 at 12:28 am and is filed under Getting Started, Tucson and San Diego. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “What’s it like……

  1. Pingback: San Jose del Cabo | Sailing Nakamal

  2. Too Funny! ..Thanks…I now am reading your blog as a break from measuring parts..


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