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The Boat

Lessons #1: Less Stuff

We don’t have much stuff! Somewhat stereotypically I’m going to express this first through the medium of clothes.
I have 3 pairs of shoes with me, my scruffy boots, my scruffy sandals and some impractical silver sandals that I’m saving for the Med when my toes are brown enough to do them justice.
1 pair of jeans, 4 pairs of leggings, 2 tights, 7 socks, 3 hoodies, about 4 dresses, probably 10 tops including vests, t shirts, long sleeve tops, 10 pairs of pants, 3 jackets, 1 jumpsuit, 1 playsuit (with gold studs, I had to pack it, haven’t worn it yet but I TOTALLY will)… actually considering the size of our boat and technically what a person needs, that’s starting to sound like quite a lot. But compared to what I had in our house it’s nothing at all. It fits easily into a barrel 3ft high and 1.5ft in diameter. In a way it’s liberating, and along the Kennet and Avon I really didn’t care. But we’re in London now and I’d kind of like to dress up a wee bit or at least pull off the right kind of scruffy. Ah well.
I’ve always liked shopping, and struggled with it as I became aware of the environmental and human rights costs of new clothes. For extravagance I’d sometimes splash out on a nice bit of vintage, but just as often I’d sate my clothing lust with a cheap H&M frock. As much of my working life has been of the ‘creative but skint’ variety, I’ve made a virtue of necessity with lengthy browses in charity shops. Being part of the Invisible circus community also gave me access to the in-house Freeshop which was always full of loveliness. Freeshops in general are a brilliant idea, and I’m discovering after mainly encountering them in anarchist/alternative contexts that they often have them in marinas as well. Boats: where people see freedom in shedding their material possessions.
Having literally no space for new clothes has removed at a stroke this guilt-inducing compulsion. I could happily skip through shopping centres in the villages and towns we’ve visited and view the glittering displays in normal and charity shops alike as nothing more than dead weight. Which is of course what they usually became over time, in the back of my wardrobe in my old house. I just didn’t have to deal with the fact until much later.

When the rubber heel came off my beloved boots the other day I damn well nailed it back on. Unfortunately I had to use a lump hammer as Sam didn’t pack a normal hammer. More space saving, in this case misguided, I feel. So it wasn’t a precision job. But goddammit, the bugger is still hanging in there after 2 weeks.

The other ‘stuff’ I hoard is books. Sam is also guilty of this.
Our bookshelf however is miniscule and contains intrepid books like ‘Fishing Skills’, ‘Weather Forecasting for Sailors’ and a couple of true adventure memoirs including ‘The Unlikely Voyage of Jack DeCrow’ (highly recommended and awe inspiring) and ‘Two in a Boat’ (good and relevant to us in a close-to-the-bone way, but stretches the nautical/marriage/emotional weather analogies too far sometimes).
We also have some maps, some charts and the biggest book of all, the Dark Mountain Anthology #3(covered in a previous post). This book is far too beautiful to be on our tiny shelf and has already got its lovely bindings scratched.
And then there’s the mere 3,000 books on the digital eReader. Take that, ye who rail against civilisation! Oh, that’s us isn’t it?

Regarding other stuff, our film making kit is pretty minimal and small as well. However, there’s still enough of it that keeping it all charged has drained our solar charged battery to dangerously low levels and possibly damaged it. The reason we didn’t notice how low it was getting is- ha- the voltmeter battery was too low to give us an accurate reading. Ha.
With the washing up, having only 2 plates and 2 sets of cutlery is an utter dream. We’ve always been lazy with the washing up, but now if we don’t get round to it in the evening we have to do it before breakfast. And if you don’t tidy up regularly and leave too much stuff lying around you will definitely regret it within the hour.
Tiny spaces impose discipline. Sometimes it gives you a good feeling, like you’re in a tiny renegade Navy unit. Sometimes you just want to stretch out on a big pile of cushions, eat bonbons in your shiny new frock and leave the dishes til next Wednesday.

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