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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dowsizing III

When will I learn not to promise a post tomorrow? It never seems to work out for me when I do that. Sorry everyone. So...

If you missed the beginnings of this thread, follow the links for Day One and Day Two.

Otherwise, on to Day Three!

First, a status check:

1) If you didn't have time for a donation run last night, there will be a pile of cast-off kitchen equipment/dishes/utensils by the front door. Get rid of it today. If you already made the donation run, move on to number two.

2) Take stock: Your kitchen is now your experimental "boat galley." All your food is still present and occupying its usual spot. And somewhere, in your home, there are carefully labeled boxes of kitchen things you want to keep but don't plan to use on your boat. What next?

The "what next" depends on your time frame. If you are moving aboard in less than a month, it is time to get cracking. If you have more time than that, you can take the following steps at a more liesurely pace designed to fit your specific plans.

First, enjoy your "galley!" Each time you prepare food, take note of what is working and what isn't. If you decide that you packed something you wish you hadn't, now is the time to grab it (while it is still easily accessible).

Second, it is time to move on to those other rooms....

For your own comfort, I hope you have a head on your boat. I expect you will. What you may or may not have on board is a shower. If you do, don't tell me about it. Just quietly enjoy.

If you don't have a shower, think about how you would like to transport your toiletries up to the nearest shore-shower (usually marina based, but maybe a friend's). Our family has one primary "shower bag" that holds the shampoo, conditioner, soap, and film canister for tokens/quarters. The bag is large enough to also accomodate a towel and a change of clothing. Then, we each have individual, smaller toiletry bags that live in the head but can be easily tossed into the shower bag. The smaller bags hold toothbrushes, paste, razors, moisturizer, etc. This system has been working well for us.

Basically, just think space and transport. If you currently have 10 big fluffy towels for your bathroom/s and are moving onto a 36' boat, you're going to have to pare down. I'd suggest a couple bath towels per person. Keep in mind that all of this depends on the size of your boat. If there is only one of you on a 36' boat, you could probably keep all ten towels if you really wanted to (and you had a compression sack).

Your biggest concerns for paperwork on board are going to be compact organization and keeping things dry. I have two "snap shut" file boxes, and several plastic, zip shut folders that fit into the file boxes. Depending on what you are doing, how you are living, and what your work is, you may need less than this. Or you may need more. Think about where you will stow the file boxes, how you will secure them for sailing.

Your bedroom is about to get really, really small, unless of course you are moving aboard a great big boat. My guess is that isn't too likely, so it is time to think "less." Your closet is most likely going to require a great "weeding out" session.

This is a difficult spot for me, because everyone is different in what they like or need to wear for warmth, comfort, and sense of self. That said, you are not going to be doing laundry on your boat, nor will you likely be spending a lot of time ironing and pressing. You may have room to hang some clothes, but the rest will likely be stacking into cupboards or dry-bags. I'd advise erring on the side of plenty of extra socks and underwear, and less pairs of pants and shirts. Also, you'll likely bring too many clothes on board initially, and you can continue to pare down as you go.

For bedding.... after four years of sheets and blankets, our dream is to buy a warm and wonderful double sleeping bag, with several liners that can be easily taken out and washed. Unless you can afford custom sheets for your bunks, they are just a pain in the neck. Tucking them under cushions makes them wet from condensation, they don't fit well, and I just don't like them. That is our experience, and I cannot wait for that sleeping bag with liners! And if we sail somewhere hot, we'll just use a liner. Or we'll sleep on top of a liner. Or we'll sleep on deck. We haven't had a heat problem yet...

But truly, think about how you will outfit your sleeping area, and how you will deal with moisture if it is a problem. In the Pacific Northwest, we have found that the cushions you sleep on often need to be propped up when you leave for the day so that they can dry out (and thus not ever get really wet, which breeds mold).

Does anyone have specific questions about any of the above? I could tell you what I have in my dry-sacks for clothes, but won't bore you with those details unnecessarily. I could write more about how much I don't like sheets on boats, but it isn't really needed. If there is something I've missed, however, or information you do need, let me know! I'm happy to share our experiences.

We did move aboard with a five month baby. It can be done, and quite easily at that. I promise you that a baby will never ask you why it doesn't have a fully decorated and color-coordinated nursery, or why it doesn't have a table exclusively for changing diapers, or why you haven't spent all of your money on brightly colored plastic. The baby will be fine, and again, I'm happy to share our experiences if you have questions.

Coming Up:
The final downsizing installment. Number IV will be a short one! You're almost done!

Please leave your thoughts and comments. Cheers!


  1. Very well written. I wonder about mail. If you dont stay at one place what do you do? I have met a few others blogging that are at the cusp of becoming a liveaboard and that question comes up frequently. Thank you Scott

  2. Hi Scott,

    I started to respond by comment, but it was getting too long, so I am going to do a blog post instead :-)

    Thanks for the question!


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