“One can furnish a room very luxuriously by taking out furniture rather than putting it in.” F. Jourdain
I’ve shared a lot of things with you, but I’ve never properly invited you into our home. I’ve never pointed out the little catch-all basket where I keep the things that don’t have another home like my half-sized notebook or shown you the little pot of plastic grass that holds my pens. When I have visitors, and I’m giving the elaborate fifty cent tour that they can take in two steps, I always save my pot of grass and pens for last.
“And here is where I keep my pens,” I say, sweeping my arm in a grand gesture toward the 6″ pot prominently placed on the table, holding pens in a variety of colors. Sailboat living does not allow for many knick-knacks, and when I packed up my apartment on land I had to give away my beloved plants, so it made sense to keep my little pot of IKEA grass. I’ll always know where to find a pen, and my charming makeshift pen holder smugly adds to the enchanting allure of stepping into the cabin of a sailboat paneled entirely in Honduran mahogany.
In this photo of our living room, also known as the saloon, my back is to the kitchen, also known as the galley. I am probably leaning against the stove. The bedroom, or Captain’s Quarters, is on the left. The bathroom, also known as the head, and the front door, or the companionway, are on the right. The table folds out to seat six, or it can be folded away, and the couch can be turned into a bed that comfortably sleeps two.
Our selfie on the wall was taken at the Goreana Tea Plantation on the island of Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal.
We store our dry and canned foods in the sliding cabinets behind the couch, also known as a settee, and soon we’ll give you a closer look underneath the table, also known as a table. There are a lot of vocabulary words to know about life aboard a sailboat, but since this is my home, I have a couch, kitchen, and bathroom rather than a settee near the galley, adjacent to the head. While it may sound romantic to tell Charles I’ll be whipping something up in the galley, it feels more like home to say I’ll be in the kitchen.
In this photo, I’m standing in the companionway, and you have a bird’s eye view of our entire home. Think songbird or seabird but please don’t try putting one of those giant birds of prey in here.
The kitchen is on the left, and the bathroom is on the bottom left. Hello, little corner of my stove peeking out! The bed on a sailboat is commonly known as a v-berth because it’s generally situated in the forward-most part of the boat which comes to a V in the center. Most v-berths have more pronounced V shapes than ours, and couples typically sleep with their feet at the point. Again with the sailboat vocabulary words; snuggling in bed seems a lot cozier than saying you’ll be snuggling in the v-berth.
We can slide the wall behind the table upwards, and we can close the door on the right, so we can easily create a properly enclosed bedroom. I can count on one hand how many times we’ve done that, but we frequently use the sliding window because I go to bed much earlier than Charles. With the window up, the overhead light off, and the small brass wall lamp on, it is dark enough for me to sleep and light enough for him to burn the midnight oil. (There’s no pun intended because yes, that is a real, vintage oil lamp on the table. It creates a beautiful glow when we’re tucked into a marina, and the wind is light.)
In this photo, we’ve opened our bed into a second living room, but we keep the bed made unless we’re having guests. The four cabinet doors along the back of the couch open into 5′ of closet space which is generally unheard of on a 36′ sailboat. Our sailboat is designed for a couple to live aboard, so we have many more comforts than sailboats intended for racing crews or weekenders.
We have space for very few decorations. If you look closely at these photos, you’ll notice a set of hand-hammered sparrows hanging on the walls. This vintage wooden sun hung in my various land kitchens for decades, and I brought him aboard not knowing whether I’d find a place for him, but sure one would reveal itself.
Fruits and veggies live in three hammocks that hang over the couch. The kitchen is only a few steps away, so they’re always within easy reach. Sometimes these hammocks hold chips and bread in addition to produce, and today one holds a pound of Medjool dates.
I was probably sitting on the couch to take this photo. On the left side, the two panels on the cabinet wall control our diesel forced-air heater, and our propane, used for cooking. Our sink features a brass hand pump that can switch from seawater when we’re at sea to the fresh water in our tank when we’re in port. The option to choose water sources saves fresh water which is precious when we’re at sea.
Our chest-style refrigerator is on the left side and closed in this photo, and we have a traditional propane 3-burner stove and oven on the right. The countertop over the stove closes when not in use to increase our counter space exponentially. Notice there’s no room for a microwave or many other things on the countertop?
There is plenty of room for a microwave (and boxed wine) under the table! Sure, we have to sit on the floor to heat up leftovers, but we rarely use the microwave, so it isn’t too much of an inconvenience. The chest doubles as an ottoman with ample storage inside, and when we fold the table out for guests, it serves as a convenient extra seat.
Charles and I each have an identical “nightstand,” but my side is neater and more festive. I left many, many boxes of books on land and I miss them dearly; however, Kindle and Audible are the next best thing. Notice the speaker? One of the previous owners installed what was once a state of the art stereo system complete with four speakers, a dual CD player and tape deck, and an AM/FM radio.
Side note- I’m telling you about our old-fashioned stereo because it’s a throwback from the quaint previous owners, but don’t forget that most of us coveted the dual CD and tape deck at some point in the 90’s. I just decided to get up and see if the stereo actually works because years ago Charles and I ditched every function this stereo features and neither one of us has given it a glance since moving aboard. After pressing a few buttons near the instrument panel, then pressing a few more, I unexpectedly ejected the CD The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975 that the previous owners must have been looking all over the place for once they discovered the empty case. I popped the CD back in, found the play button, and discovered the previous owners were audiophiles. Hello, surround sound, I think I need some CDs! Everyone is invited over for an impromptu Eagles singalong because there are more among us who know all the words to every song on this greatest hits CD than those who are asking who The Eagles are.
Charles has a proper dresser with drawers. This door on the left is in the open position, creating a bedroom door and exposing Charles’s dresser, but when the door is closed, our bedroom door is open, and Charle’s dresser area is closed. His shirts stay organized, folded, and stacked using a plastic tray system called Ezstax. I have two cabinets on my side with the equivalent space, but instead of drawers, I use bins and baskets.
This is our bathroom, featuring more built-in storage space than we had in our last two apartments on land. In the mirror, you can see the shower head and the shower curtain on a track on the ceiling. The shower curtain runs along the track and creates a totally enclosed space so we can shower comfortably and not get anything wet.
The Eagles CD is playing on repeat, Charles and Sylvie are on their way home, and I’ve been enjoying a stunning display of heat lightning over the water since I began writing this. I try to appreciate the little things and right now there is so much to appreciate!
Charles is planning to share the details of his European sailing voyage soon. I think it will be a joint effort where I’ll ask him some questions, he’ll tell me stories for hours, and I’ll figure out how to pare down the stories from volumes to paragraphs. There were 30′ waves, crazy Aussies, a brand new sailboat straight from the factory, and a kind Italian woman who came to the rescue The Day the iPhone Broke.
Thank you for joining me on this grand tour of our floating home. If you have any questions, such as I just saw the size of your home. Where do you think you’re going to put CDs, please ask them in the comments.
Has anyone used a cassette-to-Bluetooth converter? I think this may be a better option than trying to make room for CDs on a sailboat.
“Make things as simple as possible but no simpler.” A. Einstein