Galley: 1) the kitchen of a boat. Sally: 1) a venture off the beaten path, 2) a military action in which besieged troops burst forth from their position, 3) a witty remark.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Alright. We have a question. I say "we" because if any of you silent readers would like to sound off on this topic, please do!

Here it is: "How did you downsize and adapt [to life on a sailboat]"

First answer, it is most definitely a process, and every boat you live on will offer different challenges, and present different opportunities. As an eighteen year old living and working aboard, I found myself sleeping in a tiny room with seven other people. Men. Women. Young. Old. We were all crammed in there. We each had three small shelves, a few hooks, and our bunk. And it was much easier for me to stash my stuff than it was for me to put away my modesty. But, after a few days of trying to get dressed lying down and hunched up behind my bunk's curtain, I figured it out: just get dressed already. And I did, just like everybody else.

So, if you're moving aboard with others, you're going to see and hear things you might not in a house. But after awhile, you don't see or hear any of it. Or at least it doesn't register on the scale of unacceptable. It becomes your "new normal," and works out just fine.

But what about all your things? All the important, personal, assorted, strange, lovely and mysterious things you have collected to make your home your home. They won't all fit on a boat, at least not the boat you are planning for yourself. But can you get rid of them? The easy answer is sure. The real answer is, it's not easy. That said, I can give you an action plan that worked/is working for us. It isn't very philosophical, and I won't preach about how less is more, but I will say I honestly felt relieved as the piles kept shrinking. (Please note: the following is not only based on actual events, it actually happened)

Day One: Pretend you have to either pack up or get rid of everything in your home. SPEED is of the essence. Have a friend make runs to grocery/liquor stores for boxes, or do this for yourself in advance of day one, then get going. Quickly. Furniture should be easy. Its gotta go. "But wait!" you say, "The end tables were great-grandma's." That's fine, keep them for now. Heirlooms stay, everything else goes. I hauled our furniture out to the curb, and put a big free sign on each item. Either we had nice stuff or I was lucky, 'cause by the end of the day every item was gone (if this doesn't happen for you, it just means Goodwill trips later). If you just cannot imagine giving something away for free, fine. Take a picture, get it on craigslist, and keep moving. The point (and I'll keep beating this) is to not slow down.

(Note: Don't move your bed out to the curb, you're not moving yet)

Boxing is next. Remember, you are pretending that you have to pack up your entire home fast... so that is what you are doing. As you hold each book, vase, picture, ornament, lamp, throw pillow, figurine, shell, or ancient ticket stub, ask yourself: Must I have it? Not neccessirly Do I NEED it, because a great many of us have plenty of things we don't need to physically live, but still... there is undeniably some emotional life of import attached to some of our objects. Those are the objects you are trying to identify. So ask yourself, quickly, Must I have it? and answer quickly. No lingering over the stuffed beany bear to remember all the colors of the sunset as you walked down the pier after winning the carnival game. Once you begin engaging in lingering reflection, the pile of things to keep will begin to rapidly outpace the pile to go. And you want a big "to-go" pile.

That said, Don't Worry if your "keep" pile is getting way too big for your boat. It is okay. You are just sorting right now.

So! Yes or no? If no, into a box and into the pile by the door. If yes, into a box and into the "keep pile." If your friend is hanging tough, have them make runs to the Goodwill/Salvation Army/Thrift Store every time a car load is ready. If there is no friend, you can make trips tomorrow. The point is that you don't slow down with your boxing efforts. You are downsizing!

For this first onslaught, concentrate on the living room, dining room, hallway, family room, etc. Stay out of the kitchen, bedroom/s, bathroom and office (if you have one, you probably need it for your work). I pretty much completely emptied our living room, dining room, bedroom and kitchen on day one... and then spent about a month wishing I hadn't been quite so efficient (think air mattress and borrowing dishes from the neighbors).

I will write about tackling the kitchen next, and the tactics I employed there.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions?

"Day Two" will follow.

1 comment:

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