06 August 2014

Cruising Questions From The Family

While I've been visiting my family, I've had some questions from my 12 year old nieces and my sister about this crazy living on a boat thing that we did in New Zealand. So here is the Q&A just in case you're thinking about moving onto a boat and your family has questions for you too.

1. What's the coolest animal you've seen?

Probably this guy and all of his dolphin friends as we were leaving the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. They were swimming and frolicking alongside our boat as we headed out and it was just magical. There was even a little baby dolphin along for the ride! 

Oh, but then there was the time we saw wallabies on Kawau Island. They were adorable! So cute and cuddly. I kept trying to grab one so I could pet it but they move fast!

2. What's the hardest part?

I'm not sure that anything was terribly hard, but there were some very frustrating moments. In particular, the weather really made things challenging at times. When you are stuck in one place for days on end because the winds are blowing too hard to move your boat, it can be a bit frustrating. And there were times when we slept really poorly because we were worried we might drag anchor or because there was a strong swell which kept rocking our boat back and forth and back and forth and back and forth in the most unpleasant way (like that time in the Mercury Islands).

3. What's the funnest part?

Spending time with each other. Aww....isn't that just sickly sweet? Scott and I have fun together going for walks, exploring new areas and just laughing about stupid things. Living on a boat is really neat - you can move it to new places each day and you get to anchor in beautiful places each night. What could be more fun that that?

4. What do you do all day on the boat?

I like to play Minecraft all day on the computer and ignore my mother when she tells me I've had enough screen time for the day. Oh wait, that's not me, that's someone else I know. 

What we do each day on the boat really depends upon where we are and what needs doing. From time to time, we would head into a marina to take care of life chores like getting more water, getting rid of the trash and recycling, doing the wash, getting provisions at the grocery store, taking proper showers etc. You would be surprised how long it takes to do these types of things when you live on a boat! However, most of the time, we would be anchored out somewhere and would spend time going for walks, practicing our sailing skills, fishing, reading, cooking, cleaning etc. 

Because our last boat was our "for now" boat and was in pretty good shape, we didn't have to spend a lot of time during our days on boat maintenance or improvements. I expect on our next boat, we'll be spending a lot more time in that area. 

5. Do you have beds on the boat or do you sleep on hammocks or sleeping bags or something? 

Hammocks sound fun! But sadly, we didn't have any of those on our last boat. Because Scott is tall, he slept on the settee in the saloon. I slept in the v-berth cuddled up next to the laundry, provisions and other bits and bobs. There just wasn't enough room in the v-berth for both of us, unless we twisted ourselves up like pretzels. We slept on top of sheets and had blankets for those nights when it got a bit chilly. It definitely wasn't the most comfortable sleeping set up. We'll be looking to get a much better sleeping arrangement on our next boat, ideally with a queen size bed.

6. When you flush the toilet where does it go?

We didn't have a holding tank (like you have on an RV) on our last boat, so when we flushed the toilet, it all went out the boat and into the water. I bet you think that is icky. But holding tanks can be pretty icky too and sometimes smelly and kind of gross to clean out. So, in some ways our set up was better. 

You can't just flush the boat anytime you want though. In New Zealand, you can only discharge if you are a certain number of meters offshore and in a certain depth of water. While many boats (especially smaller ones) in New Zealand don't have holding tanks, in other parts of the world they are required and they are much stricter about when and how you can empty your holding tank. Of course, you can always try to get around having a holding tank by using a bucket or a bag like the Art of Hookie.

Okay, that was a gross topic. Hopefully, the next question is about something a bit more pleasant.

7. How much toilet paper do you need?

Again with the toilet questions - what is with you people? 

You probably need less toilet paper than you would on shore. Marine toilet systems can be tricky things and the last thing you want is to clog everything up, especially when you're in the middle of nowhere. Trust me, you don't want to be putting a lot of toilet paper down your toilet. Especially, not all at once. Some people (like SV Necesse) put their used toilet paper in paper or plastic bags and dispose of it later on shore. You can probably use more toilet paper using this method, but you do have to think about where you're going to store the bags until you get to shore.

8. How many months of stuff do you have onboard?

This one depends upon how big your boat is, how often you have access to grocery stores, and, if you have access to grocery stores, the cost and selection of stuff available. If you're going to make a big passage across an ocean, then you'll have a lot stored on your boat. Or if you're starting off in the States, you might stock up on a lot of stuff because it is cheaper there than in other countries or just your favorite things aren't readily available. 

For us, because we cruised in New Zealand, we had ready access to grocery stores. But because groceries were more expensive in stores in remote areas, we tended to stock up when were were in Auckland or larger towns. We probably had a month worth of groceries onboard our boat at any given time. I also stocked up on a lot of stuff before we headed off - especially the important stuff like chocolate and coffee.

9. Where do you wash your clothes?

Just like you do on land - in a washing machine. We don't have our own washing machine, so we use the ones at the marina. Kind of like going to a laundromat. Insert your money, put the wash in the machine, read a book, put the clothes in the dryer, insert some more money, read a magazine and take the clothes out of the dryer and fold. Other people wash their clothes in buckets or in a hand cranked washing machine onboard. That may be us someday too!

10. Purple?

I have no idea what this question means, but the answer is no.

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!


  1. Fantastic. I love your answers, especially the sickly sweet one, as I was saying aww just before I read it. As for the toilet, I thought holding tanks were required in anchorages. I don't want to ask any more questions though. I have been "looking" at blogs more lately. I don't know when you added it, but I love the wave background. I am sharing this post at my new FB page.

    1. Glad you liked it Rhonda - thanks for sharing on FB! I just made the wave background a couple of days in PowerPoint. It was really easy to do and turn into a picture.

      In terms of discharge in NZ, from what I understand, you need to be at least 500 meters away from land and in water 5 meters or more deep, which rules most anchorages out. There are other rules in regards to proximity to marine farms etc. Portable chemical toilets are a good option for smaller boats who don't have a holding tank or don't have room for a holding tank. There are some regions in NZ which have stricter regulations and I suspect NZ overall will become much stricter over time.

  2. We have a 34' Sea Ray Sundancer so we know about boats. We cruise all over the place and are on the California Delta. It's a 1000 miles of waterway that goes all the way to the golden gate in San Francisco and out to sea. Yes I could relate to almost everything you talked about here.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. Thanks Sandee - maybe one day we'll make it out there and do some cruising!

  3. "....I like to play Minecraft all day on the computer and ignore my mother" - LOL! It's always interesting to get an outside perspective on our life - I love the twelve year old POV especially. Great questions *and* answers!


We LOVE when people leave comments. It's so much more fun hearing what you have to say. If you have a blog, make sure you leave a link and I'll be sure to pop on by.