Vice or Virtue

Teresa Carey Words 13 Comments

What do you get the girl who doesn’t have much, but wants even less? When Christmas comes around, what do you do when the only items on her wish list are more than five hundred dollars? Solar panels, self-steering, anchor chain… Perhaps a basket of soaps and lotions from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. All girls like that, right?

Wrong. Not this girl.

Living on a boat has certainly taught me more about the difference between wants, needs, and really really wants, especially because to much abundance becomes a burden rather than a blessing. Before I bought my boat I lived in a small one-bedroom apartment with large closets and an attic storage space. I had a lot of stuff. Two closets of clothes, a kitchen full of Fiestaware, four shoeboxes filled with old letters, a framed painting or photo hung on every wall and more. I hadn’t bought my boat yet, but I decided to make it my goal to downsize to only an amount of stuff that would fit in my car. Backseat and trunk only (because Dory rides shotgun), no roofrack allowed. Inspired by my housefire and the following year of traveling and living out of a duffle bag, I wanted less and knew I would be happier with less.

Now, totally comfortable and living on my boat, feeling content with the “things” in my life, what did I get for Christmas that won’t end up for sale at the local thrift store?

1) Food. I simply cannot live without it. In fact, I’m snacking on some delicious holiday treats right now as I write this. 

2) A Dory pillowcase. I have only one pillow, and now I have two pillowcases. But since my other pillowcase has a hole in it that I hadn’t gotten around to sewing up, the Dory pillowcase was a perfect gift.

3) I hesitate to share with you the third. This is a “simplicity” blog after all, and I’ve already been called a fraud for living on a nice boat and owning a computer when I should be spending my days fishing for food, churning butter, and weaving fabric for clothes.

But for someone who is trying to shed life’s excess, I can indulge on occasion, can’t I? Besides it was a gift….a non-returnable gift. Its not an option to exchange this for something lasting and durable like tools for my boat or even money to start a savings account. And I don’t know anyone else who would want this item and has a birthday coming up. So, this gift is mine. All mine.

I’ve been told that its my only vice. Knowing exactly what a vice is, I looked it up in the dictionary anyway, hoping to find a meaning that suits me. But all I found was “immoral or wicked behavior” and “a weakness of character or behavior.” I started writing this blog to share my exploration of simple living, sailing, and happiness and have many inspired reactions. People write to me asking for advice, telling me their story of downsizing, and being very supportive and encouraging. In that light, perhaps this is a weakness and I will disappoint those people. Or, perhaps I’m just enjoying the simple things in life like:


You tell me.    

I’m going to a Britney Spears concert. 

Comments 13

  1. Ken

    Music that makes one sing and dance is one of life’s great pleasure.

    I’m a little confused however. What does that have to do with a Britney Spears concert?

    “Have a great time” he said with a puzzled shrug.

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  3. Jolea

    Hey Girl! Don’t let anyone call you a FRAUD! How dare they!!??!?!? You are living YOUR life YOUR way. If they don’t like it they can go read someone elses blog. Sorry bout the rant! 🙂 Just came across your blog and I just had to drop a line, you are an inspiration! I too am a “boat chick” but I don’t own one just yet. Keep up the good work!

  4. Steve D


    I thought it quite funny that other folks are trying to define how you should live, what you should have and what you should do without. I know people who say sailing is not sailing unless you do away with all electronics, communications and only use charts and a lead line to dead reckon with. Oh yes, and a compass too.

    I could never agree and it is what you make of it.

    Living on a boat that makes you happy and meets your requirements puts you on your track. Whether you are coastal cruising, going around the world or sailing in your own neighborhood, it is what you make of it.


  5. Marce

    The only place you have nearly limitless storage capacity is in your head. Memories are not clutter or objects, so shed any guilt and go Pursue your Happiness!

  6. Maitreya

    Hi Theresa,
    I just found your blog through ‘Adventures in voluntary simplicity’.
    It makes me nostalgic. I lived on a 27 foot O’day in Key West with my orange cat Spanky. (he wasn’t fluffy like Dory tho)
    Living on a boat was fascinating, and ‘boat people’ are some of the best in my opinion. I really enjoyed the community.
    But I missed grass and dirt so I moved to land. Now I am applying the skills I learned on the boat to my land yacht ‘The Beast’ which will be a liveaboard after I tackle my very long To Do list.
    Glad to have found your site, enjoy the concert!

  7. Jerry

    A Jimmy Buffet concert would be the cats meow. You could be the girl in the Fin song.

    A year and a half to retirement, then we go sailing. After 3 years of searching, reading, looking, debating, I’ve settled on the Norsea as the boat to own. There are two sayings that rattle around in my 20 year memory of boats, “Big boat, big problem. Little boat, little problem.” “Go simple, go now.”

    Fair winds and calm seas.

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