June 15, 2012

Life Aboard--how we keep busy

Charlie needs hobbies too--he's taken up knitting
 I’m late on this—late on most things this week… But the good ship Ceilydh has pulled into the raft-up a bit behind everyone else and is now eager to share our thoughts on the topics as they come up.

This month’s question was about hobbies. Dana asked us: “With limited space and often a lack of ability to get supplies what do different boaters do for fun? What do you carry on board? Are these the hobbies you had at home? Is sailing a hobby?”
we wish this was how every day was spent--but it tends to be the exception...
 How we spend our days is often a factor of where we are. I think you could say our primary hobby is travel. Our main goal is to get ourselves to as many interesting locations so that much of our time is spent off the boat exploring: hiking up hills, visiting museums, swimming with sharks. To support this hobby we carry a plethora of guide books and other literature. We have the Lonely Planet books for the world and we collect up whatever else we can find that applies to the location we’re visiting.

But that’s sort of what we all do. What I think the question was really getting at is what we do aboard? On those stormy or grey days where shore doesn’t hold much allure or when we’re making a passage from here to there--what have we got aboard the boat to keep us happy:
making sundried tomatoes in Baja
 Cooking—We all love to eat and enjoy cooking and when we had a home I spent summers preserving, baked gifts for Christmas and had weekly dinner parties. So while I know many people strip down their kitchen contents when they move aboard, we didn’t. I still have most of my cookbooks, I have a huge spice rack, we have loads of pots and pans and we really don’t skimp on ingredients.

Truly there is nothing cooler than being in an isolated anchorage somewhere and being able to whip up a batch of English Muffins (and pull out a jar of preserves), or cook up a complex Thai dish or show up at a potluck with something that is more than “a jar + a box + a tin = our contribution”.

Maia and Carolyne wearing the dresses they made (and fetching laundry)
 Crafts—I’m not hugely crafty, but Maia has always loved to build and create, so we keep a variety of supplies aboard. Some are simple craft store items, but as she gets older she’s interested in creating things that are more durable and long-lived. So she’s learning to knit and sew, and we’re trying to integrate the places we travel into the hobby by buying local materials: hand spun New Zealand wool, bula fabric from Fiji, pearls from Tahiti. Some of the supplies (too much of it if you ask Evan) are stashed away for future inspiration, but I know the tapa rolls I bought have a purpose we just haven’t thought of yet.
nothing beats having a few decks of cards around
 Games—When we first left home, Maia was seven and her board game skills were just developing—so we brought (and have since parted with) a few simple games. Most of our games are more oriented to group play—the three of us rarely play on our own, but games days and games nights were a big part of our crossing, our days in Mexico and weekend afternoons in Australia. We find games that suit a variety of ages, numbers, and skills work well. We love: Apples to Apples, Mexican Train Dominos, Make and Break, Boggle and Clue. Games for two are also important and these come out mostly on passages, when one of us is sleeping and the other is entertaining Maia. Stuff to take ashore gets less use—but a volleyball and bocce set do make appearances.

Entertainment comes in all sorts of forms
Media—At some point early on in our cruising we were given access to a hard drive with hundreds of movies and TV shows on it. Initially I had been collecting up DVDs but quickly realized they took too much space and only 7-year-olds really love watching the same movie over and over. With the hard drive came movie night. The trick though is figuring out the family friendly movies when all you have is a title—when we have access to internet we check them in IMDB. But sometimes we need to guess. Must admit Maia’s gotten the odd unintended eyeful and earful…
meeting the ukulele maker in Tahiti--nothing like getting a useful souvenir
Music—Both listening and playing. One of the real losses I feel while cruising is being cut off from new music. We make a point of downloading Q (a fantastic CBC program that highlights new musicians, which over the past few years got me hooked on Adele, the Decemberists and Florence + the Machine) but it’s not as organic as listening to the radio or heading out to gigs with friends—it takes work to keep up. Maia and I are also (slowly) learning to play the ukulele. Seems like we should have loads of time and be good at it by now but I’m undisciplined...

choosing pearls for future projects in the Tuamotus

Learning Something New-I must say that I've probably spent more time trying other peoples hobbies, and learning a few new skills, than I've spent pursuing my own. We've dyed clothes, learned to bead, learned how to cook new things, made jewellry from pearls and so much more since we've been out. I think if the boat had been filled up with hobbies of our own I would have been less quick to try something new--but we left a bit of room for this.

Sailing—I love sailing. And there was a time where going for a day sail was an enjoyable pursuit. But these days when we take the house out for a whirl—mostly it’s because we’re going somewhere. The funny thing is when we do actually sail for fun, it’s fun; It’s this wonderful reminder that sailing isn’t just transportation. Mostly though—it’s transportation.

The funny thing with all our hobbies is how little time we have for them. It seems like most of the time we’re on the go—exploring, doing chores, socializing or simply soaking it all up; so most of our hobbies really are saved for the rainy Sunday afternoons of our life.


Princess Aboard said...

Thanks for the info! Being new to this entire lifestyle and getting started at cruising, you wonder if everyone has this question (or just yourself). I really enjoyed this read.

Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

It was an interesting question--I enjoyed giving it more thought. I recall thinking the first time we cruised I'd have so much time on my hands--and people often ask if we get bored... There's never time to be bored though...