We asked Frank and Marijke, who visited us on Moondust recently, to share their impressions as newbies of what it entails to live on a yacht. Herewith their experience….
We gladly accepted Karin and Pete’s generous invitation to join them on board Moondust and loved their company and living at sea and virtually in the sea, as we did a lot of snorkeling! Being Duchies we stem from a sea faring nation, but personally we had no experience at all of life ‘adrift’, therefore Pete had to give us an induction.
He explained a set of necessary rules of conduct on board a ship. They were quite logic for living at sea and concentrated on aspects like safety, living together in a confined space, and the use of water.
For safety reasons one never walks on deck without a firm hold whilst sailing. It is extremely challenging to retrieve somebody who fell overboard because of currents and difficulties to keep track of the exact location of the man overboard.
When sailing, you have to make sure that all hatches and portholes are firmly closed, unless you like sleeping in a soaked bed.
A fire on a ship can be life threatening, so there are special safety measures for cooking with gas.
What struck us was the ‘war against salt’. Salt is everywhere around you, but you don’t want it in your living space because it inevitably attracts moisture. Preventing this is an ongoing battle. Clothing, shoes and towels soaked with salt water are NOT permitted beyond a certain point.
You even try to keep sweet water and damp out as much as possible. You shower in the open on the back sugarscoop, which is a sheer joy.
Sweet water has to be used very sparingly and for us Duchies this required a change in mindset. In Holland we have an abundance of sweet water but on a ship you have to find ways to economise without compromising on hygiene.
When the desalinator, which turns seawater into potable water, is in operation nobody is allowed to use the toilet!
Living on board
The catamaran has four cabins, but nevertheless you live in a confined space. Moondust has an inner and outer living space but we spent most of our time in the outside cockpit area, enjoying the wind, the sea and Cuba Libre sundowners. As this space is covered, it offers shade as well as protection against rain and spray from the sea. This is the nicest spot on board with ample room for everybody.
Happy hour on Moondust is at 17:00 when we would have Cuba Libre (rum, coke, ice and lime). Everybody took turns to prepare dinner and do dishes. We normally went to bed early as we were up early in the morning.
At night you can hear the wind howl through the stays, ropes and mast, which makes you think a Dutch November storm is raging. However, when you get outside you often realise it is only a light breeze that is blowing and the cockpit is still comfortable.
One of the problems of living aboard is the lack of bodily exercise. This is partly compensated for by snorkelling, which we thoroughly enjoyed, and brisk walks over steep terrain on deserted islands. (Believe me, launching and boarding a dinghy on a slippery rocky shore with strong waves offers good exercise!)
We had a more or less fixed rhythm for the day. We would start the day with Pete’s oats porridge and coffee, after which we would either sail or snorkel. In the afternoon we would do the activity which we had not done in the morning.
Sailing instead of motoring is Karin and Pete’s favourite, which is indeed much nicer and what Moondust is built for, and we have also come to appreciate this energy-efficient way of gliding over the water. However, sailing comes at a price: the genoa and main sail have to be raised and set to make most use of the prevailing wind. When the wind or your bearing changes, you have reset the sails! The course over ground, depth of the water and the local current conditions must be monitored constantly. We discovered that sailing is not for lazy people.
As a geographer I took special interest in the array of navigational instruments on board, like the autopilot, chartplotter and the wind-, depth- and speed meters. The AIS (Automatic Identification of Ships) is also a valuable source of information.
A ship can only have one captain and on Moondust it is Pete. (But of course Karin is the admiral.) Pete’s accuracy and talent to discover potential problems timeously is a necessary pre-condition for living on board. Karin always says that Pete is the only person with whom she will cross an ocean, and we fully agree!
Travelling off Moondust
We took the opportunity to stay on land at Grenada for the last four days of our trip and we enjoyed the exposure to the local culture as a complementary experience to life at sea. We understand, however, why Karin and Pete mostly stay on board. The land, nice as it may be, is very expensive and the heat combined with humidity and mosquitoes can be very unpleasant. On the ship the sea breeze alleviates these discomforts to a big extent.
We enjoyed our stay very much and are sure that whoever visits them during the remainder of their trip, will also do so.