When I began this blog I was determined to be ‘real’ and ‘raw’. To share my feelings, my journey of discovery of me and tell the truth about our experiences in this new choice of lifestyle with whoever chose to read about it. It was to be a diary of sorts, not the daily kind, but one that showed our life, the changes in our lives, our growth and hopefully our improvement as humans.
These days people tend to present a curated life to the world. We add rose tinted filters, saturate colours, reduce wrinkles, pack away the mess that is our lives and always put the best version of ourselves and our surroundings online. There is a fear of being honest, to be seen as less than perfect, just ‘human beings’ with all our imperfections and ugliness even and frailties.
We then start comparing ourselves with those whose lives seem to be perfect, forgetting that we are also projecting this perfection to someone else who then believes in our perfection. We get lost in scrolling through all this perfection and often allow it to make us feel less than.
So in that spirit of sharing reality and rawness I feel it is important to share the where, what and how of living on the Phoenix. Friends and family have already asked questions about the ‘details’ – how big is our cabin, how small our fridge, how comfortable our living space, what we do for showering etc.
We suspect that many who know about our change of lifestyle think we are living the high life on a luxury launch and therefore can’t understand my misgivings and why I may sometimes pine for our lovely, comfortable home with all its mod cons.
Our cabin is actually very comfortable for sleeping. It is entered directly from the cockpit and the bed is about the size of a small double bed (so major downsizing from our bed back home which is a large king size!). It is slightly shorter at one end (at the pointy end of the boat) which is therefore where I comfortably fit my 5’2” self, and longer at the entry to the cabin where Ben just fits his 6’6” length. So we tend to generously describe it as ‘custom built’ just for us 🙂
I would love another shelf in there to store books etc but currently only have a tiny shelf that holds a box of tissues, space for our phones, watches, cotton buds, ear plugs and puffer (all the essentials!).
We also share our cabin with the control panel wiring looms and the fresh water pipe (which feeds our fresh after-swim shower/hose!). Not the most elegant of bedroom designs and definitely not condusive to romance – but we hardly notice these anymore. And if I wanted to I could drape a sarong/scarf over these.
There is a hatch (window) above the bed which when fully open on a warm summer night allows us to watch the night sky and star gaze. Now there’s the romance!
I actually love our little cabin cos unlike other boats I’ve been in, there’s no need to step down into it which immediately makes me a little claustrophobic as I feel as if I have stepped beneath the water level!
When our boys come to visit overnight, they bring their swags and lay them on the deck or on the roof.
When building our home 18 years ago I insisted on a large kitchen as that is where I like to spread out and where people tend to gather. Well on the Phoenix the ‘kitchen’ is as follows – a gas camping stove with one burner, a set of 8 drawers (beautifully made by the gorgeous Darion Knowles) to store everything from spices and sauces to crockery (the basics, mostly tin plates and bowls), cutlery, a kettle, a smoothie maker, teatowels and the washing bowl (there’s no sink! This is not the Hilton of boats! 😀 )! So if you ever visit for a meal don’t expect a gourmet spread! I have a small wok, a frying pan and a saucepan. That is it. But we have been eating well – lovely salads, bbqd meat and one-pot stirfrys etc with the occasional Mee Goreng noodles with fried egg thrown into the mix 😉
Food prep bench space is the custom built raised engine hatch (beneath which the drawers sit). It’s where meals get cooked and dishes get washed.
Currently we eat with a bowl/plate on our lap which is not great when you’re trying to use a knife. So I’m trying to come up with a solution/design for a drop down ‘table’ like on a plane to overcome this little annoyance. When I’ve needed a table to sit at (eg: when using my laptop to type this blog) I use a small esky as a stool and sit the laptop on the top of the fridge. Not comfortable!
Our ‘fridge’ is a 12 volt camping fridge which has a small freezer. Not much storage space so it ensures that we don’t waste food.
To answer the most frequently asked question ‘do you have a toilet’…. yes, I have a small portable chemical toilet for the basics on board, but we tend to use public toilets. Ben is keeping a log of locations of public toilets and also rating the cleanest ones if anyone is ever interested! 😉
We have a fresh water pipe on board to rinse off after a swim and can use if desperate for a shower. However, again we use the showers at the sailing club of which we are members, a reciprocal sailing club or public showers. Washing my hair has become more of a weekly chore over this last month (which by the way is better for hair I’ve been assured) and I regularly threaten to put my hair in dreadlocks!
We use washing machines wherever available and as needed – eg: Laundromats, my parents’ place, Ben’s sister’s place etc.
There are 4 seats and a small bench seat where we sit to eat, write, cook etc. These are moderately comfortable but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them comfortable enough to ‘lounge’ in! When we want to actually ‘lounge’ we pull out one of our beanbags on the deck or up on the roof – especially in the evenings when the sun’s heat has gone and if the body of water we’re on is calm. We love the roof on a warm evening! It’s also our favourite spot to watch fireworks from. I also love reading in bed 🙂
There’s not much storage on board. Our clothes are in a suitcase stored under the bed. Our ‘smalls’, socks, bathers and yoga pants live in a drawer for easy access.
There are a couple of underfloor hatches where large items or extra gear is stored. Eg: snorkeling gear, toilet rolls, fuel, dinghy motor, generator, spare water jerry can etc.
We have a small steamer (instead of an iron) if clothes need ironing – rarely used, but just for those times when we want to look somewhat presentable for polite company!
A few books and journaling/sketching/ painting items are in a bag which lives on our bed and get pulled out at night.
The boxes you see on the dashboard hold sunscreen, sunglasses, small electrical items including phone chargers and other bits and pieces that don’t have a real home.
Due to there not being enough storage, this small space can get messy real quick. So Big Ben is gradually learning that he really needs to get with the ‘put things back where you found it’ program! 😏
So my dear friends that is how our life on a small boat is – without frills or filters, minus any ‘perfection’. It is messy, it is basic, it is real … just like life really. BUT the sunsets continue to be breathtaking, the song of the birds is glorious, the dolphins swimming past, the fishes jumping and the swans, pelicans and other wildlife we spy is always awe inspiring. The colours and smells and the constant fresh air of living outdoors is refreshing and healing and therapeutic, and we feel constantly privileged to be here. We go to bed at night deliciously tired. And for now, this is our life and after one month spent on the Phoenix I am slowly learning to love it.