I have basically been camping on a boat for a month. Not really camping, but you decide what to call it. Let’s assume that my day starts at 6:30 am like many many other peoples. Even though I may have been up all night checking my boat position and the positions of other boats around me during a relentless gale, or perhaps was up on the deck in my big-whites at 3:00 am trying to find out what was slapping at the mast, or I had to close all the hatches because the Google weatherman had mistakenly inserted a clear crescent moon pictograph instead of an ‘all hell breaks loose’ one, lets just start at 6:30. Six thirty seems like an appropriate starting time for the first day of the rest of my life. Beginning with a glow at the eastern horizon, a new world record is set for the most continuous days of sunrise. At 6:32 the voltmeter connected to the solar panels rises from 12.55 to 12.56. Even during the darkest dawn, photovoltaic panels are starting to pluck photons from the universe. On the sailboat, there is a dearth of popular entertainment. I swear, watching the voltmeter climb 1/100th of a volt at a time is as exciting as watching a Tarheel basketball game, sans video, sans audio, just the score, updated at some non-repeatable interval on my cell phone. So my day starts. Already, it seems like it could not get any better. As I lay on my single-wide 4” foam mattress, I struggle to remember what I left undone from the night before. It has long been my policy to leave something undone the night before that gnaws my craw, something that is so irresistible that laying in bed past 12.60 on the voltmeter would be impossible. After the previous evenings fog of vodka and Diet Coke lift, I see the day ahead of me. It would start where it ended, with glorious, glorious , sanding. I was repainting the interior of the boat. In preparation, I had started with 40 grit sandpaper. Then , I went over the same surfaces with 80 grit. I had saved the best for today, 120 grit. Anyone that has sanded before me has likely documented it for its full value, so I will not try to outdo them here. A live aboard sailboat is like a carryon case packed for a three week vacation. Everything is in a compressed state of order. Shifting anything causes disorder. There is only so far to spread out before things start falling into the water. During much of the time, a sleeping surface and refrigerator lid are the only surfaces accessible for living.
I prepared a breakfast that would sustain me for at least as long as the skin remained on the tips of my fingers. For breakfast in the old days, I would drive my F-150 up to a metal post and tell it what I wanted for breakfast. I would then move forward to a person behind a sliding window. We would imitate a meaningful encounter and at the next window, if I performed suitably, I would be rewarded with a bagful of packaging and the consumables that I showed moderate interest in. Being a solo sailboat camper means eliminating the metal post, the human interaction, and a passenger seat full of landfill. Though I do have a full time refrigerator onboard, having a varied food selection leads to food spoilage. To compensate, variety is limited and consecutive meals, are made out of ingredients based on their ‘best if eaten by’ date. Sometimes consecutive meals are served in the same frying pan, with the same fork, and often the same food. Today’s meals will be BLTs. Tomorrow’s would LT’s and cheese. Then it will be toasted cheese with tomato and so on, until the fridge is empty and a new cycle starts. I must admit, that in the old days, my drive-thru meals and my meals prepared by people that put thought into what goes into their mouths are missed and missed dearly.
Unlike the dark hours when I entertain regrets and self-crimination, the effects of photons striking my solar panels and my retinae send me into fits of accomplishments. Yes, I sanded, but I also painted, coating every surface with sunrise. I took things apart that succumbed to darkness, and I gave them brilliance. If that reflects onto me, and I think it does, then I am better for it. The skin on the tips of my fingers is inversely proportional to comfort I experience when the flotsam and jetsam of construction is in its proper place, and order is re-compressed. Camping is testing ones ability to make do with less. That means sleep, comfort, skin on the tips of fingers, and certainty. There is never certainty. From time to time , it is good to ‘camp’. It is so easy to become dissatisfied with our lot in life even while we are living a life of convenience. If you want to remember the gratitude you had when you got your first car, or washer and dryer, try cruising on a sailboat or working on one while cruising.