Living in tight spaces.

A wide shot of the Cabin. Just out of shot on the starboard (right) side is the portrait of Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail single handedly around the world and the two gas burners where we cooked all our meals.

There is no doubt that living on the Arion was a change of pace. Going from a 2 bedroom townhouse in inner Melbourne where every thing I could possibly need was within a short walk to living aboard a 24ft single cabin yacht on the ocean was always going to be a challenge. Doing it with another person made it even trickier.

I knew when I was packing my things that I was going to have to be really careful about what I was taking with me because although I am pretty good at travelling light living on Arion was going to be a whole new experience for me. I have written articles before about packing light and letting go of our possessions but I have never written about the consequences of carrying your life in a backpack.

The longest I have travelled with just my back pack in the past has been a mere 7 days when I went to Vietnam. This trip was going to be six weeks. Surprisingly knowing that it was going to be this long didn’t influence my packing all that much. I knew that I would be able to wash my clothes onboard and in port, and when you know you are going to be living in a place and not just passing through you tend to settle in to the idea of packing for comfort and durability pretty quickly.

That being said I did pack a large number of Jockstraps and Swimmers because I knew that I would want to take advantage of the beautiful locations to do some shoots for the blog. In hindsight I didn’t take enough “work wear” because I ended up having to buy underwear and a jumper that I could just hang out in, and I didn’t wear even half of the jocks and swimmers I took with me. I had to narrow down the rest of my selections to just one good jumper, one pair of jeans, one pair of really good socks and so forth which in the end wasn’t enough.

My bunk. I slept most nights with only my towel as a cover because of the warm nights. The picture is taken from just inside the cabin door.

The Arions single cabin meant that we were eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom all in the same small space. With only a single locker for the entire trip alongside my bunk there was not much room for anything more than I took with me. Space becomes very valuable and forces you to prioritise your needs. One tube of hair product, one small deoderant stick, one small tube of toothpaste and so forth. It also makes you take more notice of not wasting anything because the nearest port was sometimes 2 or 3 days away, or in the case of the trip from the Whitsundays to Hunter and Marble, it was nearly ten days between ports.

Here you can clearly see my little blue locker. I had to fit all my gear in here. It all got soaked one day during rough seas when fresh water leaked from one of the storages under the bunks.

The cabin itself was small and when I first arrived on Arion I was very unsure about how I was going to cope but what ended up happening was that I spent nearly all of my time on deck. The weather was so warm that I didn’t really want to be inside and then there was also the sea sickness. Until I managed to get my sea legs it was better to stay in the cockpit in the fresh air.

Privacy is a premium in these kinds of conditions and the total lack of it makes you really lose your sensitivity to some things as you just get on with the business of living. There isn’t much room for diva tantrums and you quickly get over the embarrassment of the odd burp or fart.  Morning glory and sorting out your mans business become more of a daily challenge than a routine and even using the bathroom becomes a bit of a communal event when one person has to evacuate the cabin so that the other can use the loo. Learning how to use the toilet again was a significant source of amusement for me and a story I am saving for another post.

The consequences of living in this kind of environment for six weeks are that you really appreciate a double bed and your privacy. My bedroom right now is bigger than the cabin space we had to live in and even better, it doesn’t smell like diesel fumes.