The Rhythm of Boat Life: Travel Days

It’s surprising how little free time there is on a boat.  It’s also surprising how much the same each day is, no matter where we are.  There’s comfort in the rhythm, but we hadn’t expected to have so little free time, so we’re adjusting our expectations.

Most days start about 6:30, when I wake up, brush my teeth, wash my face, and get dressed.  Then I clean up the galley; put away the dishes that have been drying overnight in the drying rack; do the dishes from the prior evening (on an awesome morning, Rich has already done them the night before); and take out the garbage.  By about 8, the galley is finally clear enough, with enough free dishes, that I can start coffee and breakfast.

About 9, everyone is done with breakfast, and unless it’s a lay day (which we have about twice a week), one of the parents heads up to the cockpit to clean up in there, pull up the anchor, and start the day’s journey, while the other helps the girls finish up breakfast, brush their hair and teeth, get dressed, and clean their rooms. 

By 10, the girls are generally settled, and they get busy reading or playing on their iPads.  They get 2 hours each day, and only when we’re underway.  For the parents, it’s time to start fishing.  We find a good spot, and spend about 20 minutes getting the lures all set up, before we finally get them in the water.  There’s usually a fish on within the hour, and Rich and I have developed a good system for getting them in – one parent reels while the other nets.  When there isn’t a fish on, we’re keeping watch, planning routes, filleting the last fish, and cleaning up the cockpit and boat.

By 11, we’re getting hungry, so one parent keeps watch and continues fishing while the other makes lunch.  Most days, it takes almost 2 hours to make lunch, get it all served and eaten, and then clean it all up.  Sometimes, this is because we’re interrupted by bringing salmon on board; sometimes it’s wildlife viewing, including Whale Watch and Bear Watch; and other times it’s just because 4- and 6-year-olds have the attention span of a newt. 

After lunch, the girls have usually used up their iPad time, so they mostly play pretend.  Sometimes it’s dolls, but lately we’ve been treated to daily reenactments of the entire Frozen movie, songs and all.  It takes them about an hour to get through the entire movie, which tells you that they stick to the script pretty darn well.

For our part, the parents’ afternoon generally consists of more watch, playing with the girls, fishing, cleaning fish, or cleaning up after cleaning fish.  By about 2, it’s time to figure out and prepare afternoon snack.  That activity is done around 3, when we usually arrive at our destination.  The girls continue playing, while the parents work on navigating whatever unreasonably shallow/rocky/narrow passage makes the entrance to that day’s anchorage, and then getting anchored.  Boat projects also make their way into the schedule most days.

Once anchored, usually around 4, an entirely new set of chores begins.  First, we rig and set the crab pot; then we rig the prawn trap (although we never actually get it set because the 600 feet of line we have for it has been tangled since the first time we used it, and we haven’t had a chance to untangle it); then we set the halibut rod (which has yet to produce a halibut, or any other sea creature); and on a good day, we have time for an hour or so to kayak around with the girls or explore the shore with them before it’s time to start dinner (which lately is always salmon). 

Dinner is usually cooked, served, and eaten by 7PM.  If we’re really awesome, we’ll do the dishes that same evening; but usually, we’re too tired, so we get the table cleaned up, dishes in the sink, leftovers in the fridge, and then collapse on the sofa.  Some days we’ll watch a movie; most days we just take some down time, which for Rich usually means working on blog posts; for me can mean crochet or just mindless puzzle games; and for the girls can mean playing a game with each other or with the whole family, reading, art, or more pretend.

By 9PM, we’re beat, and we’re all ready to begin bedtime.  It’s certainly not the same kind of frantically busy day we used to have when we were doing The Grind, but it’s enough to keep us comfortably occupied all day.  So, I’ve only read one book so far, not the dozens I thought I would have read by now; and I’m not yet sick of my crochet projects, which, before we left, I figured I’d be working on so much that I wouldn’t want to see another skein of yarn again after a few weeks.  I still have a number of projects I wish I had more time for, including writing letters and blog posts, and playing card games with the girls.  (Although I need to get a book of card games from the library – beyond Old Maid and Go Fish, my recollection of card games is very fuzzy.)

Today is a lay day, which has a very different rhythm to it.  Apparently my job this morning is to start proofing pizza dough for a hand-built stone pizza oven the Sail Alaska group built onshore a few years ago.  There’s always work to do!  But it’s work for ourselves, and for our family, not for others or for money, which makes it far more enjoyable and rewarding.  And, I’m sure tonight’s pizza will taste that much better because of it, too!  So, pizza dough, here I come.

3 thoughts on “The Rhythm of Boat Life: Travel Days

  • August 5, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Yes this easy life is definitely a LOT of work, isn’t it? lol. But it’s all grand!


  • August 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Good to read the update! Devon, I was going to ask you to proof my article i’m writing and was hoping for some feedback and possibly a letter of recomendation, but you seem busy enough! If you’re up for it, i’ll send an email! Cheers and loves to my girls! <3

    • August 12, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Mila! Thanks! If you still need the proofreading, go ahead and send it.



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