Still Living Tiny: From Sailboat to Suitcase

As you all know by now, we sold our boat. And, after a decade of working towards our goal of living tiny aboard a sailboat, we now find ourselves traveling via the Shoe Leather Express instead of aboard our trusty steed, Vacilando.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard. We’re having (I’ll speak for myself here), I’m having a bit of an identity crisis. At least once a day, I think to myself, this has been a really cool break but, I can’t wait to get back to the boat. Then, the reality hits. We don’t have a boat.

We’ve gone from house to sailboat to suitcase and it got me thinking. Is there life after living aboard?

The Church of Santo Domingo; Oaxaca, Mexico

The short answer; not really. Living and traveling aboard a sailboat is unlike any other experience I’ve ever had. When you travel with your entire house, much like in an RV, I’d imagine, you’re never without a place to stay. You have all of your stuff and you never have to worry if you left the iron plugged in back at the house.

Is it difficult? Yes, of course. Nothing worth having is easy. Scary? At times, sure. The weather these days has changed and sometimes storms at sea can be downright terrifying. But, along with the weather, technology has also changed. It’s much easier to keep track of the weather and plan accordingly. It’s been the most incredible and rewarding experience of my life. I’ll go all in and say the same for Melody, too.

Living aboard, as we did for six years, we became professionals at living small. Tiny, even. Our 35-foot sailboat had about 115 square feet of living space.

At times, like after a week straight of rain, it could feel like the inside of one of my nasty running shoes. And then, just like that it could change. A hot shower and glass of wine after a frigid day on the water and it was better than the Ritz Carlton. Hitting both ends of that spectrum might happen within the same hour sometimes. That’s what was so cool about living on a sailboat. That’s what we miss.

Happy crew!

For the last seven months, we’ve been landlubbers. After selling V and leaving the Rio Dulce, we rented an apartment in Antigua, Guatemala for 6 months, then Xela (Quetzaltenango) for a month, and now we are in another apartment in the hills above Oaxaca, Mexico.

We’ve experienced a lot of change. What hasn’t changed though, is our ability and desire to live small. Simple. Going from sailboat to suitcase hasn’t been too difficult because we’ve trained ourselves. If we buy something, we usually get rid of something. We try to keep a zero balance with what he have to drag around with us.

Our glamorous purchase. Be jealous. Very jealous. (It’s hard to make a spatula sexy)

While in Antigua, we bought a spatula. Yep… a spatula for .75 cents. Melody bought some beautiful hand-made boots and a poncho. In Xela, we found a gorgeous hand-made wool blanket and, I too got a poncho. I had been wanting one since we got to the interior towns of Guatemala where they’re famous for their wool products. It’s stuff we may never have the chance to get again.

This is how we’re viewing this section of our journey. A lot of what we took off the boat was the stuff we didn’t want to buy again when we got the next boat. Navigation tools, chart books, and not much else. That’s all been shipped back to the states.

Handmade boots and our coveted wool blanket.

Before we left Guatemala for Mexico, we went through all 14 pieces of luggage we made off with when we left Vacilando for the last time. Our room looked like a cyclone hit it. “Why are we keeping this?” Mel would ask. “I have no idea, let’s get rid of it.”

After two days of that, we donated several pairs of shoes, jackets, sweaters, GoPro accessories, cups, coffee mugs, and God knows what else. And, you know what? It felt great! Just like it did when we downsized to move onto our sailboat the first time.

We transited the border with 11 bags, one guitar, a dog, and yes — the spatula. Our traveling band of gypsies is slowly making its way north. To what end, we have no idea.

I know blue water, beach and sunset photos have been conspicuously absent from my recent posts. Some folks have unfriended us on our Facebook page, I guess no longer feeling the need to follow a “bunch of quitters.” But, I assure you all; our feet may no longer be sandy but, our souls are.

We are forever sailors. We will never be able to return to the life once lived. The life pre-boat. I’ll admit, at the moment, life is weird. That’s not a word I use, ever.

Our little apartment in San Felipe is absolutely beautiful. Jet has trouble with the stairs. I carry him up and down several times a day. Just like I used to do to get him up and down the companionway ladder. So, as far from the water as we may be physically, I am ankle deep in salt water in my mind.

I peruse sailboatlistings.com at least once a day. I fantasize about a day sailor, just until we’re ready to go again. Then, I think about our savings. I think about the plan we made and I come to grips, once again, with the reality that we are just having to change — for the moment. The way one has to change when the wind shifts.

Jet is definitely not suffering.

This is our wind shift. I hope some of you hang around to see what happens at the weather mark.

Be good. We miss you guys!

 

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