When a friend offers to spend the winter with him, going to his 27-foot Bristol to the Grenadines islands in the southern Caribbean, the fact that in your life you have only gone in a canoe and are scared to death of sharks, does not matter. There can only be one answer - yes! A month later, after 50 miles, you find yourself in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (no land on the horizon, wind 13 knots and ahead of the storm), hanging on the safety ropes and giving the last strength to not throw up again.
Trying to hide from the outside world deep in the cabin is like going down into the heat of personal hell. You want to leave everything behind and go home to warm pants, a sold chair and the last season of your favorite show.
But living on a boat is a challenge. Your only chance to escape is to stay where you are, let yourself be blown by all the winds, clear your head of the rules, take a sip of freedom. Will you decide whether to swim or sink?
You don't have to take a shower.
It will be days before you notice that your cuticles are torn almost to the joints. Lack of fresh water literally disintegrates your skin before your eyes. But you live on a boat in the Caribbean Sea! You sail every day! You read three books a week! You've practically become an Olympic-level professional synchronized swimmer!
Living on a boat allows you to forget about such a minor problem as personal hygiene. About once a month it will be raining, you will bring a washcloth and soap, undress and take a small shower on deck. There is no such thing as shame about nudity. Look around you. Every self-respecting yachtsman does it. By now, you've seen too many fading penises of 70-year-old retirees to be shocked by anything. So rub yourself harder, next time you're gonna introduce yourself.
People living on land have a toilet, you have an ocean...
If you have not visited the shower cubicle for weeks, it is likely that you have not sat comfortably on a chair for as long. Of course, most boats have a toilet. The sewer system there is arranged so that before you wash away your «big business», you have to notify all the divers half a mile around - so that the surprise does not land on their heads while they explore the coral reefs.
But let's imagine that you (like me) have the smallest boat in the harbour. It's so small that there's no room for a latrine on the lower deck. So, my dears, your toilet is behind the stern.
You might even compose a joking song about it with the captain. «You go in the evening, I go in the morning, everyone says: awful, we say: cool». Something like that. «And why does anybody use the bathroom, anyway?» - you ask yourself out loud during an 8-hour transition to Becia, tying yourself to a duck to pee behind the stern. The key to a successful «little»trip when the boat is on the move is to tie yourself well to the duck, squat, bend over with the boat and call «the spotter». Always call for a spotter!
Living on a boat doesn't necessarily make you cool in real life.
You wake up every morning as the sun rises because it shines from the front hatch into your face. You dive to a depth of 5 metres to check that the anchor is securely fixed. You row a boat to the shore for provisions every fucking day. You think this adventure makes you cool. You might be wrong.
You're not going to be a rock star just because you bought an old guitar in St. Lucia and picked up the first few chords «of a pack of cigarettes».
Just because you and the captain and that guy at Oyster 29 put together a band called «Caribbean Soul Stew for a sailor»and drummed up a rehearsal on Tuesday doesn't mean they're going to sign a contract with you. Get it through your head. Before you make a mistake and buy a handmade coconut drum with goat skin, drum up in a circle of other ethnica lovers on Union Island and decide that percussion is yours. Bring this 8-kilogram fool home on a five-flight connection and, while waiting for a confession, bring a drum to a party where you'll be horrified to realize that all the genius rhythms you've created are just a ref from «We will rock you».
Life on a boat is simple.
Your daily schedule may look like this: wake up, stay in bed for another 45 minutes. Eat a mango. A little swim. Swim on an inflatable mattress. Soften up the joint. Try to pull up the railing (unsuccessful). Thinking about how life would change if you had strong hands. Eat a variation of beans or rice. And so on, forever and ever.
At home, on land, you have a clear schedule. You have a phone that rings. You have to answer people their stupid questions like «What are you doing now?» Answering honestly will only be bewildering. «I was just sitting there staring at my geranium». «What? Why?» And now you're making up a digestible answer for them. It's all really annoying. Life on a boat doesn't have that kind of talk. On a boat, to live another day, you have to solve simple survival problems. «How do I get to the shore to buy an Eskimo? I have to row», «when do I get to Grenada? Two days after the wind dies to 5 knots», «how am I going to kill the blue tuna I caught? I'm gonna hit him on the head with a stick, and then eat»him.
You're stronger than you think.
Having spent the winter on a small boat, having lived a very primitive life, you will return home a happier and more persistent person. As you moved from island to island, you were inspired. Every day the islanders welcomed you with open arms, every community was unique and ready to welcome you. You are now in perpetual motion. You have learned to manoeuvre your boat's nose and use your weight to lift its sails or to secure its schools.