When I tell people that my family lives on a boat, often the first question they ask is about space, or rather, the lack of space. It’s akin to the usual first question when I tell people I have lived in Nunavut – “How cold did it get?” The answer to that is “very”, but it’s probably the least interesting question you could ask about the Arctic. It’s cold. So what? Similarly, our boat is short on space. But so what? It’s not the same as living in a tiny apartment. Because we live on a boat, a lot of our time is spent out of doors, where the sky is our ceiling, and the view of our garden changes constantly. However, we can’t ignore the fact that we are four people all living together in a space that is 36 foot long and only 11 foot wide at it’s widest part. So it comes with its challenges.
So, to give you a better sense of our use of space below deck in Carina, I thought I’d give you a little tour around our home. So, come with me. We’ll start at the front – in the bow – and work our way to the back – the stern. And please…ignore the mess!
The girls love their bedroom. Katie sleeps to port, with Nellie, and Lily sleeps to starboard, with polar bear. Many of their clothes, books and toys are within easy reach. Sometimes Lily sneaks off, only to be found sitting on her bed ‘reading’ a book. The boat’s water tank is located under the bed.
The foreward heads – our bathroom. I can’t say this is my favourite place on board. Yes, it’s functional, the toilet works perfectly well, the shower um…how do I put it? Functions? Yes, that word will suffice. The toilet seat is always cold and to be honest, I love nothing more than a long soak in a hot bath. I’m not a smelly candles and bubble-bath sort of girl, but I do enjoy hours uninterrupted in a skin-scalding bath with a good book. No chance of that happening in this bathroom. So, if I ever visit your house, can I take a bath…please?
A view of our saloon from the kid’s bedroom. This is where we do our in-door living. The drop-leaf table for eating, playing, preparing food, writing, studying. We snuggle up on the sofas for reading and playing. The port sofa converts into a double bed and the starboard into a single. There’s a surprising amount of storage space under and behind both sofas.
Our kitchen is tiny, and for those of you who know how much Julian and I love to cook, it may come as a surprise that I, at least, quite like it (Julian’s not here, so I can’t ask his opinion). We’ve got a little two-ring gas hob, and separate grill and oven. The fridge is the thing that looks like a wooden chopping board – that’s actually the fridge door. I enjoy the challenge of cooking in a small space with few pots and pans. The food still tastes great.
Another view of the saloon, this time taken from the galley. Currently functioning as my office, while the rest of the family is away, at other times it’s play dough central and, until I got our bedroom organised, it served as my bed. All the floors in Carina lift up too, for access to the bilges. Last year, we stored a lot of excess non-perishable food down there, and will do so again when next we go cruising long-term.
Our mascot, Nanuq the Inuk!! hahaha. Made by Cecilia Gibbons, in Arviat, about a decade ago, and he’s lived aboard Carina for as long as we’ve owned her. I can’t remember who named him – I’ll blame Julian because he’s not here to defend himself. But Nanuq is an important member of the crew (ps…he’s a hand puppet).
Our electronics are above the chart table, which I won’t show you because it’s too messy at the moment, because we’re not sailing right now. Our electronics include the NavTex (top right), VHF radio (left), chart plotter (right), and the panel of switches for all our lights – domestic and navigation, water pump, gas alarm, etc. A lot of important and expensive stuff in one small space.
We’re moving towards the back of the boat now. The quarter berth is on the port side, with the passage to the aft cabin. The quarter berth sleeps one person but, as you can see, we use it to store a lot of stuff. We keep most of the food that we want quick access to – there’s a box of fruit and veg, the carb box (rice, noodles, pasta, etc), the baking box. The laundry bag is here too, the computer, tool bags. And underneath the berth is the bank of domestic and engine batteries – like in a car, only bigger!
The aft cabin, master bedroom, call it what you want, this is where the grown ups seek refuge at the end of the day. My mother will recognise the blanket that was given to her as a wedding gift in 1972…still going strong. This is a much bigger, wider and more spacious cabin than the girl’s. And if Julian’s snoring gets too much, I can always escape through the hatch!
Being a posh boat, Carina’s got two bathrooms. And whoever said two heads are better than one was absolutely right. We don’t use this aft heads for its intended purpose. Instead, it’s a much needed storage cupboard. The toilet is hidden underneath all of our spare sails, non-perishable food is stored in the cupboards. Our excess toiletries, excess first aid stuff is also stored in here.
We’ve even got his ‘n’ her’s wardrobes! Julian’s looks far tidier than mine, but then he’s not usually grabbing clothes first thing in the morning before a mad dash to catch the ferry to catch the train to….you get the picture!
So there you have it. A guided tour of Carina. Small, but perfectly formed. And we have space for everything. But somehow, even in this small boat, I still manage to lose things all the time!