My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Monday, September 25, 2017

What it's like to live on a boat

I read a blog post by Mary Fons today (she writes the best blog, by the way) about what it's like to live in a condo.  And I realised how utterly foreign that would be for me.  Doormen and garbage chutes (just calling rubbish garbage is foreign to me!).  So I've lived on a boat for three years, and I realised how utterly foreign that would be to someone who lives in a condo.

So do you want to know what it's like to live on a boat?  Well, my boat in particular, because certainly there are boats and then there are boats.  And my boat is tied to a wharf most of the time, not floating in the wild sea or bobbing on a mooring.  It's not a sailing yacht or a super yacht, but it's home.

  1. I sometimes hear penguins at night and they sound like donkeys.
  2. I hear seagulls ALL the time and they sound like seagulls.
  3. It's a lot noisier than you might think.  I have a set of earplugs next to my bed because I need them when the gangplank squeaks.  Or it's particularly windy and waves are slapping the hull beside my head.  Or we forgot to tie the dog up and she has insomnia and her little claws are click, click, clicking around on the deck above me.  Or the seagulls and the penguins are having a party.
  4. We need more fiddles.  Fiddles are the raised edges on benches and shelves that you have on boats to stop things sliding off when it rocks from side to side.  Last time we took the boat out I realised we need more of fiddles, more tie downs, more latches, and then hopefully we will have less stuff on the floor.
  5. We don't get power cuts.  When the houses on shore lose power because someone has crashed a car into a transformer or a tree has fallen on a line, we don't notice because our system automatically switches over to using the boat batteries. 
  6. But you can't use the microwave and the heater at the same time because the fuse blows.
  7. There are rust stains on all our bedlinen.  Old wooden boats leak and we are always finding tiny leaks and fixing them.  These are rain water leaks that find an old bolt or something and just a tiny bit of water runs down it, picks up a bit of rust and whammo, there is a drop of rust stained water on a pillow or a duvet cover.  It sucks.
  8. If we want to go away for the weekend, we can just throw the ropes and leave!  No packing a car or a camper van, no booking motels or putting up tents.  My home is totally portable and that is pretty cool.  We just need to make sure we've have got enough groceries, fuel and bait for fishing and we're good to go.
  9. But it's all dependent on the weather.  Bad weather and boating just don't mix.  And if you forget to shut the portholes before you leave and there is a bit of a swell running, ugh.  
  10. I'm a lot more aware of weather and tides.  When it's a really low tide, the gangplank is on such a steep angle that I take off my high heels if I'm wearing them to traverse the gangplank.  Some people won't visit us on board if it's like that and I don't blame them.  The dog can't make it up - she slips and slides and yes, she has fallen off into the water.
  11. I have really interesting ceilings.  There are planks and bolts and beams and funny shaped bits of wood that I think are called knees (or is it elbows?)
  12. I can tie a bowline knot.
  13. I get seasick, but since living on a boat I'm much better, except I can't use the computer or read a book when there is an easterly wind because that makes us bounce around a bit.
  14. The beds are a pain to make because they are tucked into corners.  The kid's beds are particularly weird shapes because they are fitted to the hull and they are up in the bow where the boat is pointy.
  15. If you leave lightweight things lying on the deck there's a good chance they might end up in the water.

And it's cool fun to live here, and so different, I'm glad I gave it a chance.  But the kids are getting bigger.  My son is almost as tall as me and his feet have been bigger than mine for ages.  It's starting to feel a little cramped when four of us are trying to use the galley all at the same time.  

I can see a time in the future when we will move off the boat and look back on our time here with fondness and nostalgia.  But for now, this is home.


  1. Quite the experience! I am not sure if I would like it or not!

  2. Ah yes! I remember boat life! I lived on a commercial fishing boat for five years. No kids though, so it didn't get more crowded. I just remember the cold/damp 24/7. And the freedom!!! We were only docked at night, sometimes moored to a buoy. sometimes in our home port but more often in a port close to where the salmon had moved...and during Albacore season just drifting two hundred miles (give or take a few) out at sea. I loved it, but I like being land locked now too!


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