Its A Nice Way to Live, Isn’t It?

Teresa Carey Words 42 Comments

I have been hard at work lately. While during the winter, I struggled to find work and pay the bills, now I am swamped with several, although modestly paying, jobs. I find all of my work very satisfying and have no trouble working overtime. But with several days of overtime strung in a row, I decided to take the day off.

I began the day with a long lie in bed. So long, I could have recited the entire script of West Side Story, given that I was driven to do so. But I was driven more to relax. And at just the moment when staying in bed any longer would have been more work than relaxation, I could hear the sound of John Rose’s dinghy motor growing louder and louder.

I sat up. “Ahoy,” I shouted. Even from a seated position in my aft cabin, I need not move much to see in either direction outside my boat.

It was his usual morning “drive-by.” On his way to satisfy his need for coffee, he slowed as he passed by Daphne. “Good morning,” he shouted back. And with a tip of his head, he was off again.

I decided to get up and begin the day’s work. I opened my forward cabin doors and out spilled Dory with a squeak and flutter of his voice. He went about his morning routine of climbing atop the dodger, sun bathing, chasing the bitter ends of loose lines, and patrolling up and down the deck of the boat so as to make sure that the gulls or dogs ashore don’t cause any trouble aboard Daphne.

I dove into my daily work too. It began with a jog, short brisk row, and a dip in the ocean. Then, I went straight to work scraping the varnish from my bowsprit. I was in no rush to complete the project right away, so a small ripple in my plans wouldn’t worry me. But this wasn’t a small ripple, it was a splash! And I was very worried because Dory had fallen overboard! Peanut, my dinghy had drifted over to the boat and Dory, being the curious sailor, hopped aboard. Then, when he tired of the little boat, he turned to jump back into Daphne, missed the cap-rail, and slid into the ocean.

Dory can swim! He began swimming around the boat looking for a way to get back in, while I hopped into Peanut, released her painter, set the oars, and pushed away from Daphne. But I didn’t go far. Rushing to get to Dory, the painter knotted and was stuck. As I worked to untangle myself, Dory was swimming further and further away. Finally free, I headed over to Dory. His wet little head, ears tucked back, was just visible above the water’s surface. Cold and scared, he began to cry out. His loud wail sounded through the harbor, and I swear he was saying, “Momma! Momma!”

“Its okay, Dory, Momma is here.” And I reached in, grabbed him by the neck, pulled him into the dinghy and breathed a sigh of relief. Dory, hiding under the thwart and shivering, was safe again and the beating of my heart slowed.

When we returned to Daphne I gave him a shampoo, freshwater bucket bath, and lots of treats. The sun was warm and fifteen minutes later he was nearly dry and fluffy again.  

On this day a boat I had never seen before pulled up next to me and tied on to the nearest mooring. The boat, just launched that day, was named Magic Time and a young couple began the work of setting her up for summer. They were bending on sails, coiling lines, and inflating the dinghy. Ein and Nora, a handsome couple, were speaking quietly to each other. I watched for a few moments as they worked. Nora spent more time in the cabin, and Ein, dressed nicely in khaki pants, leather shoes, belt, and a button down tucked in dress shirt seemed on a mission to complete the work.

“Are you going sailing?” I asked.

“We’re hoping to.” He shouted back. I could see Nora’s head emerge from the cabin. They were locals, not liveaboard transients.

“I’m Teresa and this is Dory.” I said and held Dory up so they could get a good view. After they introduced themselves, we had a brief chat about the usual; where we are from, our boats, how long we plan on staying, and closed with the resolution that the next time they are aboard, they will have me over for cocktails and I will have them for carrots and hummus.

Then I had a craving for carrots and hummus. I still don’t have refrigeration yet. I’m saving money and searching for a solar panel to provide power to my boat, but for now I am growing used to using flashlights and making frequent trips to the grocery for fresh food. Once I knew Dory was warm and happy, I headed ashore, hopped on my bike and pedaled to the grocery store to purchase only food that does not require refrigeration. I selected powdered milk, a large bag of carrots, hummus, crackers, two apples, and some raw milk cheese.

As I pedaled down the hill, I could see the town lying low in front of me, the ocean stretching far behind it. The harbor was packed with boats, with many rows of masts standing tall and quite. And I thought to myself; what a wonderful secret little world it is out there. While shore folk bustle about, strolling up and down the streets, stopping in for a drink or to shop and never saying much to each other but an occasional, “excuse me,” the liveaboard folk buzz between boats, sharing food, stories, company. And when a new boat arrives, they are always greeted and treated warmly.  

Back at the dock, I unloaded my groceries, carried them across the beach to my dingy. I noticed an old man back his truck to the beach. There was a fiberglass dinghy in the truck bed and after a moment, I realized that he was going to try to carry the dingy to the shore alone. I set my groceries in Peanut and headed over to him.

“Would you like some help?” I asked. His reply was sweet and slow. “You are so kind,” he said, “I’m here only a few minutes and kind people are already offering me help. Thank you.” His hair was graying, his movements were slow, and he was hunched over a little bit. I wished there was another person to help, so that he wouldn’t have to lift a finger. But his looks were deceiving and he surprised me as together we carried the dinghy down to the shore.

By this time, my stomach was growling and I was ready for lunch. On my way back to Peanut I nearly tripped over a bucket of crabs. I stopped and stared. There was at least twenty, piled on top of each other. “I caught them all myself,” said a round little boy with a pale face and pick cheeks. “Wow!” I said, “You weren’t scared that they would pinch you?”

“No way!” He shouted and off he went down the beach.

I tie Peanut to the town dinghy dock right near a public beach. There are often sunbathers and beachcombers, few actually go swimming. At the end of the dock a young man was lying with his arms outstretched and his neck tipped back so that just the crown of his head was touching the water. His eyes were closed. “Excuse me. I’m just going to get in my boat now.” He opened his eyes and a slow smile spread across his face. “Where did you sail in from?”

“What?” I couldn’t understand him. Hi accent was thick. It was obvious he wasn’t from here and English wasn’t his primary language.

“Where did you sail in from?”

“I live here.” I replied as I climbed into Peanut.

“On your boat?”



And as I cast my painter from the dinghy dock, setting Peanut free and en route to Daphne, I turned back to hear him calling to me, “It is a nice way to live, isn’t it?” 

Comments 42

  1. John

    When I first bought my present boat, I found aboard a couple, very odd-looking, 6 foot long lengths of what looked like a very narrow rope ladder with lots of extra knots tied into it. Wondering what the heck they were, and not wanting to throw away something I would need for the boat, I called the previous owner to ask. She said that they were in fact rope ladders. They had a very rambunctious cat who was inclined from time to time to throw herself overboard whilst chasing invisible prey. When anchored or at a dock, they would hang the ladders over the bow and stern, so the cat could climb back on board.

    They did have to teach the cat to look for the ladders, though, and I was glad I wasn’t around to witness THAT… 🙂

  2. Alicia Petty

    Awe sis, I can’t believe Dori fell in the water!! I bet you were scared to death. Glad he can swim! Miss you!

  3. Patric

    Well good to see you back at giving some updates on yourself. Our cat went for a swim once we think that the water must have been just ground to him, for as we watch him in slow motion step off the boat, with a great suprise that the water wasn’t solid we quickly scooped him up, and ever since he just looks at the water and doesn’t try that any more. So in reading all your postings it doesn’t say where you are at.

  4. Susanne

    Poor kitty! LOL. Glad Dory is okay.

    Great post. I’ve been checking in to see whether you’ve put something new up. This was a nice lunchtime treat – a good break from work.

    Your boat looks gorgeous! For some reason, it seems larger than 27 feet. What kind of boat is it?

  5. Neil

    Hi Teresa,

    I am slowly moving toward living on a sailboat with a cat, and was given some advice by a couple who do the same – they say that it is a good idea to hang an off-cut of carpet in a fixed location so your cat can clamber aboard if there is a similar event in the future. Your cat might have a difficult time with a Nor’sea (due to the shape and height of the sheer) so maybe a carpet-covered “boarding ramp” might be more appropriate.

    They say to rig it up then throw the cat overboard(!!!!) in the general location of the ramp, then various places around the boat, so they learn the way back under supervision.

    I know it is difficult to cause distress like this, but seems to be a good plan (they developed it after friends lost cats overboard when they weren’t paying attention)

  6. Sarah

    We live on our boat without refrigeration as well. I suggest reading Lyn Pardey’s “Care and Feeding of a Sailing Crew” for lots of suggestions on how to live without a fridge. We find there is very little that really needs refrigeration. Although I haven’t found a great solution for milk once it is opened or yogurt after a day or two.

  7. Post

    @ Susanne, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I check your blog from time to time also, but I’ve been out of the blogging loop for a while now. Any closer to buying a boat for your family? My boat is a Nor’Sea 27. Its a Lyle Hess designed boat, and I didn’t look at any other models. She looks like a bigger boat because she is so well designed. She has a small cockpit, and an aft cabin. That makes her look a bit bigger too. But to be honest, she is tiny.

    @Sarah, You are right! Most things do not need refrigeration and can last a long time. The milk is the biggest challenge. But I don’t worry about eggs, cheese, most veggies, etc. Thanks for the tip on the Pardey’s book. They are great writers and sailors.

    @Alicia, Sissy!!!! I may live on a sailboat, but I do still have a cell phone! Call me. Visit me. And, yes, I was worried for Dory. Right before I got to him, his little head started to go down. But I wish I had a video camera to record the sound coming from his mouth. I PROMISE YOU he was speaking English and crying “Momma! Momma!”


  8. Lara

    Hi Teresa!

    My boyfriend found your blog a couple weeks ago and told me to check it out. I moved onto my boyfriend’s sailboat (with him) about 3 months ago and have been blogging about my experiences too. I really like reading your posts and seeing another female perspective on the boat life. I am loving it and am glad to see you are too. 🙂 Are you planning to do any sailing trips in the near future? I was wondering if it would be ok for me to put your blog on my blogroll, as I think my friends and family would enjoy reading your posts.


  9. Post

    Thanks for taking an interest in my blog. Feel free to add it to your blogroll. Thank you. I’m glad you are enjoying it. You and your boyfriend live aboard a nice boat…I checked out your blog too. GREAT drawing and painting. Thats a skill that I wish I had. Its also a great hobby to have aboard. My future sailing trips are determined by work…if I can find it and where. Keep reading and should I go anywhere, you’ll read about it.

  10. Susanne

    @ Teresa – It’ll be a few years (I think) before we buy a boat. We would like to purchase one outright, and we’d like to live aboard. We have a young child, so that adds a few considerations (though I think he would love living on a boat).

  11. Doug

    Neil’s post about creating a carpet boarding ramp and his description of teaching the cat how to use it reminds me of how drownproofing was taught on Hurricane Island many years ago, as students progressed from fully clothed, to hands tied, to hands and feet, and so on. Here’s to hoping Dory is a quick learner!!!

  12. Jack

    Thanks for your post. I hope to live on a sailboat someday. Do you have any problems with living things attaching to the bottom of your boat? Does the cat ever catch mice/rats or birds?

  13. jomamma

    A Cat Ladder, no matter what it’s made of is a good idea. After seeing the cats perform in Key West, I think a cat could learn to do just about anything.

    I just found your blog and love it! My daughter lives on a 82′ sailboat as crew, currently in Newport,RI. I’m fascinated by this lifestyle and would sell the 3br/2bath in a heartbeat if only the hubby didn’t get seasick in the bathtub.

    Can’t wait for your next post.

  14. moneyfunk

    I am glad to hear Dory is okay. Poor things. It breaks my heart when they wail for help. Your such a good mama.

    Its neat that you have adapted so well to your life on a boat. Does your father still think you’re crazy?

  15. Rachel

    Teresa, I love your blog. I’m currently searching for the right boat to liveaboard, and hope to be aboard by the end of the year. You give me hope that a single gal can make it on her own after all. Thanks.

  16. Steve

    Hi Treesa.

    Glad to see you are doing fine and still hanging in there.

    I just thought I would come in and say hi

    I’am held up in a hurricane hole on the west side of fla. for the summer, then it is back to the Bahamas or who knows where, lol I never really do know where I will end up.

    Take care and Godspeed to You, and remember always keep the pointy side forward and the stick side up.

    Steve. On Sasi

  17. Ruth

    It’s such a treat to read your world here. I’m no sailor (‘though i love the water) but your experiences resonate to the huge part of me that longs for more simple living. One day…
    Meanwhile, I look forward to your posts.
    Strength to you…

  18. JC McDowell

    When we tell people that we live on a sailboat with out 2 year old daughter people look at us as if:

    1) we’re insane
    2) we’re masochists
    3) we don’t know any better

    How can I explain the benefits of voluntary simplicity by living on sailboat to people that would rather trade a big screen TV or a new iPhone instead of the most valuable commodity we have- time?

    Besides the obvious benefit of being closer to nature and having a terrific view, a boat is smaller so we have less ‘stuff’. With less stuff, we have less bills. With less bills, we have to more time. With more free time, we can be together as a family, explore, and learn.

    Great writing. I’ll add you to our blogroll.


    JC and the family unit

  19. Rob

    Ahoy Teresa,

    Our 2 cats have been “swimming” many times. 😉

    When you are away from a dock you need something for them to climb up. A piece of carpet or something hung over the side works well.

    We love following you and your adventures.


    sv Bella Rose

  20. Douglas

    Is it possible to develop trust again, once it is lost ?

    What would your , guidelines , be ?

    I miss your blog postings ,,,, hope they continue in the future ,,,, there is sooo v much to learn and share , when you are ready !

    Douglas , S/V Calliste , Singapore

  21. Post
  22. Patric Collins

    Was wondering where you’re at haven’t seen any updates for awhile, although did see you make a comment on one of the sailing forms about heading south how about an undate, we have cat as well here and he has learned all about the water and he knows his limits, although the other day he had a stand off with an otter, very interesting it was neither would give ground. Look forward to hearing and reading more of your adventures.

  23. mike page

    hi teresa
    i hope to see you blog again, i have been following yours for a while, like you i am a school teacher, my wife and i have charted in the bvi, and i am pretty sure i have convinced her to get a boat and make it our home,,,,we’ll see!

    i look forward to your next blog


  24. Douglas

    Hi Rosie, a bit strange to be communicating on “T’s” blog , but ,,,, I am not wise, and not so worldly, either ,,,, my current wife reminds me of this, frequently.

    I can tell you that a sailboat owner’s two best friends, are a machinest , and a powerboat owner.

    There will be endless part fabrications needed, and that powerboat has watermaker fresh water and and Ice , to share,,,, movies, too.

    My first wife ( we are still great friends) did a page on her website, for my travels, you can check it out at : This will give a bit of background.

    BTW , “T” , she was a school teacher, too ,,,, just not a sailor .


  25. Nina

    I came across your blog a few months ago and love it! I keep checking back and would love to read an update. Have you met any new liveaboards? Have you discovered any super-great not quite so perishable foods to have onboard? You write beautifully; please keep it up!


  26. Stanley Snodgrass

    Morning Teresa,

    Was late last night when I first read your blog. I had just received a Force 10 diesel/keroseen heater and did my first fitting of the fuel tank inside the boat. My current propane Force 10 mounts on the port side on the forward side of the head. (On my Nor Sea 27 #141) I found the fuel tank sits in the under-seat storage just under the heater. Where is your fuel tank for the heater?

    I do not live-aboard at this time. After hurricane Katrina it was months before I was able to get the boat into the water. I did live-aboard with my mate for five months while the new home was being built.

    Anyhow, good blog.

    Stanley & Jasmine
    SV Gypsy Moon

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