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Want to Live on a Boat? Read this First!

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

This so accurately describes the cruising lifestyle that so many “envy.” I cannot take credit for any of the below; it is actually written by my very good friend, Jennifer Roberts. Jen is currently cruising around the Bahamas with her husband, Ryan and 12-year-old daughter, Addison on their sailing catamaran, Dragonfly. As I read her Facebook post I shook my head in agreement, cringed at the accuracy, and laughed out loud. She has so openly touched on the highs and lows of fulltime life aboard that I had to share it with our Sailing Kuma Too followers.

50 Things that have changed since moving on the boat from land.

1) I spend more time on Predict Wind, Windy, Navionics and Tides Near Me apps than Facebook or Instagram. 2) I appreciate, value and use VERY conservatively purified/filtered water, Ziploc bags, toilet paper, fresh produce, canned beans of all kinds & any spare paper towels more than ever.

3) I wear the same outfits 2-3, 3-4 days in a row and it usually includes wearing my swimsuit and I'm 100% ok with it as long as I don't stink too bad. Well, not that I care but for those around me. 4) I haven't worn any makeup (maybe only lipgloss) for over 5 months and I have no idea where my makeup bag is and I absolutely do not care. 5) Being spontaneous is a regular routine. Meaning, there is no schedule and you have to be ok with it. If you have to get up and move and sail, a couple minutes at last notice, you do questions asked due to wind, weather or whatever And you sail for hours and make it happen. 6) Internet is a luxury and playing the connectivity game is a very real and frustrating challenge. 7) It's not always sunsets and cocktails. Neverending work and boat projects. 8) Rum can be an emergency go to. 9) The unknown can be terrifying but when conquered and you overcome it, wow, it can be completely rewarding and euphoric. 10) Freezer burn is ok. It's food. Make it work. Add hot sauce and it's all good. 11) I brought incredibly too much! I need 5 % of the wardrobe on my boat. Time to seriously purge!!!! 12) You pay attention to every sound on your boat and you wake up instantly from a dead sleep with noises. Could be a change in the wind, the anchor alarm going off, a concern about a derelict boat in an anchorage, the water pump when a guest is visiting and uses WAY too much or 1,000 other noises you are trying to identify and resolve. 13) I didn't really know what a bilge was but now I check it daily. Ya know, to make sure our boat (home) doesn't have a leak and is potentially sinking. 14) I've never felt so incredibly stupid in all my life. I didn't know shit about sailing 5 years ago but I've come a long way and I'll continue to learn more every single day...forever and so will the captain. 15) Vinegar is mandatory on the boat. Gallons of it. Use it for EVERYTHING!!!! MUST HAVE!! 16) I literally thank our anchor every time she goes down and every time I bring her up. Why yes, she's a girl. No need to ever question that. She's a powerful, dependable and top of the line classy lady. 17) I use to take a shower every morning on land and it was HOT, made my skin turn red and lasted about 10+ minutes and it was GLORIOUS!!! NOW, it's cold and 30-60 seconds and, again, totally use to it now and cool with it. 10 seconds to rinse off. Turn water off and lather entire body and scrub hair with shampoo, 20 seconds to rinse off. If using conditioner it takes another 30 seconds. Shaving? Shave on sugar scoop (back of the boat...our transom) or at a marina which is a luxury. Yep, I'm not a smooth no hairy legs girl these days. Oh well! Ryan's cool with it. 18) I'm terrified. Terrified of sharks, Barracuda, weather, docking, man overboard, the unknown and anything else out of my comfort zone and/or control. 19) No wind means bugs at an anchorage or marina which REALLY REALLY sucks. No see ums are the devil. They LOVE my daughter and husband. They "kind of" like me.....thank God. 20) I am craving pizza and Good & Plenty quite often. 21) I need to shave my head. My hair is EVERYWHERE on this boat and I'm constantly vacuuming it up. SO SICK OF THE HAIR. Time for GI Jenny again. 22) Turkish Towels are the bomb and I'll never use a regular bath or beach towel again. Easy to wash, quick to dry and multifunctional. Can be bathing towel, beach towel, tablecloth, blanket, make a room darker over the shades, sarong and so much more. 23) Ice is a luxury. Don't take it for granted...ever. Enjoy every single sip of that cold drink.

24) I'm exhausted and my body aches and joints are making popping and creeking noises I've never heard or experienced before now that I'm on this boat. But boy, am I ever stronger than ever before. 25) Boxed milk was soooo disgusting at first but is now the complete norm. If I come across refrigerated milk it feels so wrong and kind of "uppity". Ha! 26) Things that I have conquered on the boat that I never touched on land because I thought I would blow something up: Propane tanks, Jerry cans (Gas and Diesel), InstaPot (still scared when releasing the pressure), generators and engines. I'm a pro now...well, kind of. 27) I've had my hair in a bun for 5 days. Actually, maybe a good week.  Like, I've only re-tightened it. Meaning, I haven't brushed or washed my hair for 5 days. Is that bad? Don't answer. I don't need to know cause I may go another 5 days or just have dread locks. 28) Everything takes serious effort on a boat. Cooking, cleaning, and really anything. Showering even takes serious effort.. Yes, I know that's messed up but it's the truth. Unless the engine or generator has been running and the water heater is good to go with hot water you are going to have to brave through the very cold showers. Shaving is another issue…Again, everything takes serious effort. 30) SOC (state of charge), AMPHOURS and Voltage were completely Greek to me but now they are vital bits of information that I must know and stay on top of throughout the day and night. Our livelihood and keeping things going on this boat absolutely depends on it via solar panels, wind generator, lithium batteries and our generator. 31) On land, I was never one to read books. I'll read magazines and short articles but if you gave me a book, I would read a little and not know what I just read and have to read it again and again because I could not concentrate or I fell asleep reading. On the boat, my brain is more relaxed, I am reading books, I'm engaged and enjoying it. It's a freaking miracle. 32) Boxed wine is the best. It stores well, lasts long and is lightweight. 34) The dinghy and I have come a long way. Our relationship was in serious turmoil when we first met and I almost killed myself (literally) as I was in a serious dinghy "mishap" but I wiped my tears and stood right back up. My bruises healed (well I do still have some hematomas) and we're on a new chapter. Now, it's a different story with me and the outboard. It hates me and the feelings are reciprocated. BUT, I can now get from point A to B somewhat safely.

35) Perfume to cover the stench? Forget about it. That only attracts more bugs! 36) "I don't know...Google it" isn't always a solution especially when you have poor connectivity. 37) The stars and the moon are, in my honest opinion, brighter and way clearer at an anchorage than on land. It's super special when viewing them from bed through your hatch. 38) I've met more people in the past 5 months than I have in the past 10 years and felt they were genuine, friendly, super helpful and they're there for you at the drop of a hat even if you met them an hour ago. Cruisers are definitely a different breed and it seems everyone, for the most, is just trying to help each other achieve their cruising dreams/goals. 39) The ocean is really, really big, daunting, beautiful, intimidating, fascinating, mysterious, unpredictable and scares the shit out of me sometimes. 40) When your freezer and fridge go out for 2 1/2 weeks it is not fun...AT ALL. When you have decided the Mayo should be tossed, things are REALLY bad. 41) Groco strainers are the best. I'm in charge of the strainers on the boat. When we changed our strainers to Grocos I was soooo ecstatic and it was an early Christmas gift. Life was so much easier. I was excited about Grocos because it was life changing!! What?!?  Me, Jen Roberts, freaking out about strainers?!? What has happened to me?! 42) Rainwater in a bucket is such an added bonus and treat. You can clean so much with it...dishes, the deck and so much more 43) I've cooked more meals as First Mate than I did our entire 18 years of marriage. Of course, I may be cooking the same thing over and over (and they are sick of burritos) but I'm feeding the family. Winning! 44) I'm a bit nervous every time I open and close a seacock. I feel I've really accomplished something when the task is over and water didn't come in and sink the boat. 45) Before sailing if someone talked about draft I figured it was either beer or football related. 46) Laundry day is awesome when you have undies and bras hanging on the lifelines and everyone's happy about clean under garments. Well, except for the 250-foot mega luxury yachts (that probably has the Kardashians on it) anchored all around you. They don't like us hippies with our Laundry all hanging up decorating Dragonfly. Oh well! 48) Field trips with the family make me excited and happy. Exploring places only accessible by boat is priceless. 49) Seeing our daughter thriving more at sea than on land validates all of the craziness. 50) Some days I feel so weak, dumb and I want to quit and some days I'm super strong, resilient, and I'm so proud of myself.  TODAY and everyday is a mystery but I AM WOMAN AND HEAR ME ROAR.

To follow along with Jen and her family’s adventures, check out her daughter’s blog, Addy at Sea. And to learn about charters on board Kuma Too, visit

Until next week, Happy Sailing!

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