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  • Writer's pictureMariana Bertalot

Day to day on board, how's it?

How is the everyday life on board? How do you go to the market? How do you wash dirty clothes?

This and other questions arrive every day in our message boxes and in conversations between friends who don't know the life on board. How about knowing a little more about how life works on our sailboat Trouble Maker.

Chaos inside Trouble Maker after we moved..

To be honest, the everyday life on a boat is not very different from the daily activities of life on land. We have to take care of the sailboat: cleaning, maintenance, organizing spaces for each one's individual activities, just like you do at home!

Organization and Maintenance

Since it is a limited space, there is little organization and there is no way to move forward onto the next task of the day, without making the bed or storing the toys. The limited amount of dishes forces us to face the sink at each meal and on top of that, save water, drying the bathroom after each shower and clean it constantly, especially for those who don't have a shower stall - in our case. I confess that here it is: more boring than taking care of the house because here you can't hide the mess, open a closet door and stuff everything inside. The tiniest little thing out of place “shows up” and gets in the way of everything else.

Trouble Maker stopped for maintenance

Next to tidying up, another task on the boat is maintenance. Although the vast majority of sailors, including us, refuse to do major maintenance in the summer seasons, we are constantly checking the condition of the boat, making small repairs and adding to the winter list. In winter, as it is not possible to sail, in the Mediterranean, "legend has it" that major maintenance is carried out at this time, but at the end of the season the "winter list" is so large that it would need at least 3 winters to complete it!

Market and Laundry

The things we need to do off the boat like washing clothes and shopping are a little complicated, but doable. We stop by the market every time we go to town. We bought a market cart (super tip, buy one if you can) and we continued like this: everyone in the inflatable raft, including our dog, Snow, our bags, backpacks and that market cart. When we arrived, we walked to a market and bought our things, taking out as much packaging as possible, putting the heaviest purchases in the cart and dividing the rest in the bags between the 4 of us, the children actively participate in this task from the execution of the list to carrying the bags. Not to mention going back to the boat with everything full and put it inside. We take the opportunity to buy heavier things like drinks when we have the boat docked closer to the market or in a city where the walk to the market is not too long. Another thing that relieved our purchase was the acquisition of one of those jugs that filter water, running out of juice or wine is tolerable, but without water it is not possible and in that we save a lot of trips to the market, space in the cart, money and garbage!

Finally ready to go

Clothing is a real drama. There's no easy answer here, if you put a washing machine (dream!!) you need to find the space, adjust the water inlet and provide energy, that is, high investments (watermaker and generator) and when you don't have a machine you have to stay looking for a public laundry on every island that passes, which is not an easy task. Last season we did it like this: in high summer as most clothes are light like bikinis and bathing shorts, we wash them by hand. Sheets and towels only when we stopped in a town with laundry facilities nearby. At the end of the season, with the arrival of autumn, we ended up accumulating the clothes until we found a laundry room because it rains a lot and we wear more heavy clothes in the cold.

Water, Gas, Electricity and Garbage

Getting water for the boat is a special task. In the Beneteau we had 550L in our tanks and now in the Bavaria we will have to make do with 360L, both split into 2 tanks. So, we control the water consumption as much as possible! Baths are quick, turning off the shower while you apply the soap or shampoo. We use the first cold water to wash the day's underwear and then, nothing is left without being reused: if we wash other clothes, we reuse the water several times and finally use it to wash the boat on the outside. The dishes are the biggest villains and are washed with the minimum amount of water possible, I remove the leftover food from the dishes, then lather everything and put it in the sink to optimize the rinsing.

To fill up, we can either stop at marinas or piers in the city at a certain cost, but when we can, or we hunt for a public tap and fill gallons of water every day – in this case, the task already includes the cross-fit of the day: filling the 10 gallons of 6L that we have here, put everything in the bottle, transfer to the boat later and still fill the tanks. That is, if the consumption was very high, we have to use 20L gallons and then the task becomes heavier. What a toughy!

Electricity in the boat can be generated in many ways, by the engine - like a car, a diesel generator, solar panel(s) and wind generator. We usually combine more than one form of generation: Trouble Maker has the basics that are the boat's engine and solar energy system. Along the way, we realized that the size of the batteries directly interfere with the energy autonomy and that, no matter how sophisticated the electrical system is, energy must also be consumed with caution. And yes, we have hot water for the shower, generated by the motor and, if needed, by the batteries through an inverter.

Cooking on the boat is like camp-cooking with a 2-burner stove and oven (on larger boats it is possible to have a larger stove). For safety reasons, we try to use the stove only when we are stationary. When the crossing is very long, we prepare the food in advance to avoid accidents with the hot pans and the movement of the boat. Another important detail is that each country has its own cylinder. We use the small ones that are the same for camping and we have 2 of them that are reusable, we found that depending on where you are, you have to buy the local cylinder! We weren't expecting this one anymore! And that maxim that the gas ends in the middle of the roast also applies to the boat.

What about the garbage? Garbage is chaos and ecological awareness is suffering. In life on board we have a real notion of the amount of waste we produce, at the same time we are aware that there is no simple choice for this topic in current life. For now, we minimize packaging at the time of purchase, giving preference to fresh local products. On the other hand, when we are going to make crossings, we prefer the canned ones, as they do not break and are easy to prepare. In addition, we depend on the resources available in the places we stop, and it is not everywhere that we find garbage separation and as our space is limited it is not always that one can expect to find a more suitable place to unload everything we bring with us! We have a maxim that if it did not come from nature, it cannot return to nature. Sometimes we walk days after a place to leave our garbage correctly. Anyway, we are still working to improve the management of our waste. We accept suggestions!!

For me, the big difference between tasks on the boat and at home is that besides the boat not being possible to leave for later, the most common and simple tasks have their importance and relevance. Everything will be put on the day's to-do list is turned into hours of conversation during meetings with sailing friends. On the boat, nothing goes unnoticed.

See you on Med!

A hug,


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