Ashore once more

Our maritime adventure is over for this year. Last Thursday we packed our bags, locked up Carina and said goodbye to her until spring. Well…almost. She’s currently berthed on a pontoon at Teignmouth in south Devon, waiting for her winter mooring to become available, which could be any time in the next few days. She’ll get some much needed care and attention over the winter months to get her ready for next spring and, hopefully, our permanent move aboard. We, in the meantime, are staying with Julian’s mum in Leamington Spa, about as far as one can be from the sea in the UK. In fact, around the corner from my mother-in-law’s house there is an oak tree with a plaque proclaiming it to mark the exact middle of the country. We are in a state of limbo, awaiting the take-off of our winter plans. Hopefully, within the next few weeks we will have settled down to some job or other, and can then proceed with preparing Carina for warmer, bluer, deeper waters in 2013.

We have learned so much in the past six months. What a steep learning curve it has been, and we still have a long way to go. Perhaps the most important thing we have learned is that we love this lifestyle, we love living aboard our boat. And it has been a tough summer for that kind of love. The wettest summer on record in the UK and Ireland. When we planned this summer adventure along the south of England and across to Ireland, I had imagined endless days of sunshine, long lazy days on the beach, eating our meals in the cockpit under the warm summer sun. I worried about not having enough sun screen for the girls and for the state of my own fair skin. I need not have worried. I imagined doing most of my own laundry, handwashing our shorts and t-shirts and hanging them out to dry in Carina’s rigging. Alas, none of this was to be. We had the occasional warm (or even, dare I say it, hot) day, when we dashed to the nearest beach. But the rain fell far more often than the sun shone. The boat was constantly damp and mildewed, and I had to resort to almost always using expensive launderette facilities (and bringing Moby aboard in the course of one such trip). On those rare warm, dry days we raced to open all the hatches and lockers, and air the bedding, in a futile attempt to dry Carina out (she sounds like a bit of an alcoholic!). There were times when high wind and driving rain prevented us from leaving the boat for days on end, and we struggled to keep the children occupied and entertained. If it was winter, or if we had embarked on a long trans-oceanic passage, we would be prepared for such things, but we had not expected such endless wet, windy and cold weather during the British and Irish summer.

But despite all of this – or perhaps because of it – we have discovered that we love our life afloat; we love Carina; and we enjoy each other’s company in confined spaces for extended periods of time (I hesitate to use the word ‘love’ for this experience, but being together all day every day has certainly been no endurance trial!).

And so, it is with somewhat heavy hearts that we have moved back ashore for winter. But this was always our plan, and we are filled with excitement for what is to come. We have learned a lot, and can now begin to put it into practice. We have both compiled lists of things we need to procure – mine concern improved food storage and waste disposal and educational entertainment for the girls; Julian’s concern the engine and sails and renewable energy sources. We have learned lessons through our own trial and error, and also from talking to other people and learning how more experienced sailors and live-aboards do things more cannily than we do.

We have learned how to deal with Katie’s tendancy to sea sickness and over the summer months we have gradually reduced the number of times she has been ill. I don’t think her tolerance for pitching and rolling has increased, but rather our skills at preventing the sickness from happening and spotting the signs early on have improved. We’ve learned the best sleeping arrangements for the girls under various sailing conditions; we’ve learned how to cook and bake our favourite foods with just a few minor adjustments to take account of our lack of worktop and cooking space. And we’ve learned to sail. Perhaps not very well, but we are more confident of our abilities having covered 1000 nautical miles in all sorts of weather conditions, and having developed our skills at mooring, anchoring and berthing.

We have so much still to learn and discover, and are already hatching plans for next year and a much more extensive adventure. My blog will continue throughout the winter as I look forward and look back.


4 thoughts on “Ashore once more

  1. Welcome aboard landlubber-tempo! It has also been the wettest summer in New Zealand this year also. We didn’t have a summer. Somehow it makes me feel better that we weren’t the only ones. Sad but true. Leamington Spa brings back memories of scones and clotted cream, if I remember rightly. Condolences for being on land but I sympathise with the dampest. It just gets down deep into the bones and you just need to dry out. And seasickness is far from pleasant. Even on dry land we can get seasick of sorts at times.
    I mentioned today to a friend I haven’t seen in two years of my desire to sail on the seas and she looked at me as if I were crazy. She doesn’t like water. I took it with a grain of salt. My determined nature at the moment is strong and it will be done as long as there is a boat. Need the sailing boat first! It also helps if the other half is just as mad, read as exceptional, to also have the same desire. We are both hypnotised by the sea at the moment. I am not discouraged by your stories of dampness and lack of sunshine. I think of it as your penance has been done already and the next season will be bliss.
    Will you sleep without being rocked by the waves? And can you walk among the non seafaring folk?
    1000 nautical miles under your belts. Congratulations.
    Look forward to reading more.

  2. What a lovely blog about living on your boat and raising children! I found your blog while doing research on the Westerly Conway as we are considering buying one. We are also considering the Sealord, which is a 39 foot. Can you tell me how satisfied you have been with your Conway? I am particularly interested in how you find the motion at sea, and whether you have been happy with the galley arrangement. Many thanks. I love knowing that there are families raising children on boats. I wish we had thought of it when ours were young!

    • Hello Melissa,
      Thanks for your lovely comments. I’ve been slack at writing lately, and need to get back into the swing! As for our Westerly, tomorrow marks exactly one year of ownership. She’s a wonderful boat, very solid and comfortable. She’s quite broad, and no racer, but when we were buying a boat we were looking for something that would be comfortable for sailing with small children. Lots of people recommended Westerleys and we haven’t been disappointed. She’s comfortable in rolling seas, and her deep centre cockpit protects us from the worst of big seas. That said, with small children, we have tried to avoid sailing in adverse conditions, but sometimes it can’t be helped.
      With regard to the galley, the Conway has two galley arrangements. The arrangement we have is good, but I don’t think I could have lived with the other arrangement. Our galley is starboard of the companionway. There’s not a lot of worktop space, but the previous owner designed a removable worktop, approx 50cm x 50cm which bolts quickly and easily over the corner of the starboard settee, giving plenty of extra space. When we first moved aboard I thought I’d only use it occasionally, but it’s become invaluable and I never take it down. It doesn’t really get in the way of the settee. The galley has lots of storage space. Our Westerley has two heads, which we don’t need. So we have dedicated the smaller, aft head as a storage space, where we store our spare and storm sails, but also, crucially, a lot of food. It works well.
      The other galley arrangement has the galley situated where our port quarter-berth is, in the passage to the aft cabin. There is less than 5 feet of head room there, so the cook would be permanently hunched over. There is also very little natural light there. I couldn’t have lived with that arrangement. And our quarter berth is another invaluable storage space!
      Hope that helps.

      • Thanks so much, Martina. I really love the Conway for sale up in Vancouver, but it does have a couple of issues that make me wonder if it would be comfortable for us. I hear what you are saying about that passageway to the rear cabin. And that’s where they have located the fridge unit. It’s a great installation, but such a cramped space. Also, it sounds like your aft cabin has a head, which would mean that your lazarette is not open to the air like the one in Vancouver. Basically, there is no aft head in that boat. Just a door that opens into the deep lazarette with engine access. I can just see that lazarette hatch working its way loose in a big sea, heeling over a bit too far, and then water plunging into the interior of the boat. In a knockdown situation (which we’d try to avoid but you never know) it could sink the boat. I hate to pass up this boat as we don’t get many for sale around here. But we’ll wait for now. You comments about how comfortable an sea worthy your boat is are very helpful.

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