Thursday, May 3, 2012

Small Space Organizing: Living on a Boat

Selene 35 Trawler
Photo: Selene 45 Trawler

Want an organizing challenge? Try living in a converted bus (as I posted about some years ago) — or on a boat!

In the May 2012 edition of CoastViews, Phyllis Neumann wrote about her experience living on a 47-foot ketch — and what caught my eye wasn't especially about the use of space, but rather this:
Cruising life changed our perspective on life. We learned to slow down and smell the sea air. We learned how to live in harmony together in a small space, and to value the people around us. Most importantly, we learned not to cram so much into our lives, but to live each day to the fullest.
But others have written about the space constraints of boat living — and how they adjusted to those constraints. Here's part of a post from Jilliam Simensky, who wrote about her transition to living aboard a boat. (OK, I might wish she had said "donation and dumpster material," but the ideas about what we really need are still worthwhile.)
As I started to pack, a strange thing happened. None of my things seemed that important. I looked at each item being put into the box and easily made the distinction between necessary and dumpster material. In the end, I moved aboard with about a third of what I owned. ... 
Looking back, I am amazed how much this life aboard has changed me. ... I have reduced my possessions again by half, discarding the things that no longer add value to my life. My wardrobe contains only the things I actually wear. I no longer have a desire, or the space, for the latest gadget, another seldom-used appliance or dust collecting knickknacks. Now you'll find displayed a small collection of items I've picked up in my travels, each one holding special meaning. Typical American consumerism is rapidly becoming a thing of the past for me.
And Dave Zeiger, who writes about affordable living on the water, has a bunch of interesting stuff to say about living in small spaces, including this:
There’s an ever-evolving art to living small. Attitude is most important. Humor, tolerance, flexibility, ingenuity… not a bad set for life itself. 
A friend told us early on, “To live in a small space, you’ve got to be ruthless.” The more you can dis-attach yourself from stuff, the easier it is. Jettison those old high school medals, momentos of this or that, tureens. Cultivate a rich, internal life. Treasure memories, not souvenirs.


Claire Josefine said...

Yes! I love small spaces, and the picture of that bed makes me want to crawl in and fall blissfully asleep. Small spaces feel nurturing to me.

My house is much larger than a boat, but smaller than most homes these days (24 x 28 feet) and I find myself in awe of all the stuff in larger homes. All I can think is how I would hate to move all of it... :-) And a small home works much like the boat in terms of limiting acquistion. I can admire something, but won't bring it home because I have nowhere to put it.

Thanks for this post, Jeri!

Louise said...

I'm in an odd position. We are planning to move from our bus to a boat soon, and all the boats we're looking at have MORE storage space than the RV.

Since I downsized my life so drastically to fit in the bus, I wonder how it will feel to size up again? Will I just end up with some empty drawers (bliss!) or will I slowly start to re-accumulate?

There isn't much on the web about keeping your life simple as you move into a bigger space. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

mary said...

i lived on a 42'sailboat for ten years! my living space was 8'wide by 28' long...with that little of space you really do learn to slow down and appreciate things in life.
i now live in a single wide mobile home (older model with little storage) and still live minimally and appreciate life

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Looks lovely, but in scrunchy spaces like this, I always wonder how one changes the bedding!