We’re approaching 3 months underway on the Great Loop and have passed the 2,000-mile marker in this adventure, so it seems time to offer some observations outside of the usual travelogue.
How Can You Stand Living In Such A Small Space?
One question we get frequently from folks who aren’t fellow Loopers: “How do you stand living in such a small space together for so long?” To begin with, it helps that we like each other. And it helps that we lived in an 8’ x 21’ recreational vehicle in Mexico for 3-4 months each of the past three winters. So we had practice.
This boat at 14’ x 42’ is much bigger and has FOUR living levels (staterooms fore and aft on the bottom, next up the salon, then the sundeck, and finally the flybridge), not to mention the bow, where we’ve spent little time, though Bob did a bit of napping there recently while Cathryn drove the boat. But mostly the answer lies in our ability to completely ignore each other when we need some “space”. We might be in the salon together, or Bob on the sundeck and Cathryn in the salon, but we plug into our books or iPads or Bob’s ear buds to his iPod, and we ignore each other for 2-3 hours. Not unhappy with each other, just pretending we’re alone. Works for us.
Remember the Deal!
And how is this boating business going? You may recall Bob placed a Co-Captaincy requirement on Cathryn when he agreed to undertake this Great Loop adventure. In the early weeks, we had some challenging times as we sorted out communication methods that worked for both of us. There were actually some tense moments, but as usual, we worked out some compromises that satisfied both of us.
Whenever Cathryn asked “How is the co-Captaincy thing going?” Bob always had kindly worded suggestions for things he’d like to see handled differently. Cathryn tackled each one (sometimes with fear in her heart, like docking in high wind or current), but lately when she asks this question, Bob doesn’t have much to say.
Most of the routine duties on the boat have fallen into a pattern in terms of who does what. Cathryn does most of the meal planning, grocery purchase and food prep, Bob does most of the fluid checks and long term navigation research, e.g. what are our waypoints for the next day? We both seem content with things this way. We more or less equally share responsibility for driving, docking, navigating-in-the-moment and selecting a marina or anchorage for the night, but most of the rest has become “his” or “hers”. Occasionally Bob still finds it necessary to remind Cathryn she needs to “Remember the deal!” when it comes to route planning. Cathryn continues to be the one that maintains all of our social connections with family and friends via email, phone, text, facebook, blogs, etc.
Anchoring versus Marinas
We still mostly prefer anchoring to being in a marina, but many places or towns we want to see are more conveniently accessed from a marina, or else the weather is too hot for comfort, so we stay in a marina to have electricity and air conditioning as we don’t like the noise of running the generator constantly in order to have A/C.
We’re very much enjoying the things we’re learning about our country. It’s as diverse a place as we already thought, but now we “know” more of the details, at least in the regions we’ve covered, more intimately than we did before. We have greater appreciation and respect for this diversity, though sometimes feel our country is really 4-5 smaller countries in one, based on significant regional differences. Those differences span the areas of speech patterns, food, politics, the role of religion, racial/ethnic diversity, history and much more. For example, our current passage through NY’s rust belt gave us an appreciation for the sense of desperation some of our fellow Americans must feel about the future.
So How Is It Living On A Boat?
In balance, Cathryn likes boating better than RV-ing, though it’s more complicated, inconvenient (no car to go to the grocery store, for example) and expensive, at least the way we’re doing the Great Loop compared to our RVing winters in inexpensive Baja, Mexico. Exploring America by waterways is much prettier than touring via the freeway system, and even marinas are much more attractive than RV parks. As far as Bob is concerned, the jury is still out. There’s a lot less work involved in an RV, fewer threats or safety concerns, and RVs provide more options for travel. One hour in the RV equals 50 miles, where as one whole day in a trawler is also 50 miles. On the other hand the parking spaces for boats tend to be a bit more scenic then for RV’s.
People Are Friendly
People are friendly everywhere we go. Even on the streets of New York, where by reputation people are notoriously rude, we stood on a street corner saying to each other “Ok, we need to get to 72nd and 13th”, and a woman walking by overheard us and without being asked said “Go four blocks that way, then 3 blocks that way”. When we dock the boat somewhere, if there are other boaters nearby, they jump on the dock and rush to catch our lines. If we’re tied up to a canal wall, pedestrians passing by often want to chat about our adventures or their nearby town.
So, we’re both enjoying this journey, Cathryn perhaps more intensely than Bob, but we both really like it. But then, Cathryn is more enthusiastic (like her mother) about almost everything than is Bob, and her emotions span happy, unhappy or worried at a far greater range than Bob’s.