Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name, Elizabeth Rose. Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart stories.
It’s six in the morning and I just poured an overflowing pee jug overboard.
To be clear, the “jug” is part of our compostable toilet. The jug catches one thing and the seat compartment catches another.
I’ll let you figure out which is which.
So picture this: The morning sun rises into an ombré pink sky over the Mexican coastline. We’re cruising alongside the remote Baja peninsula sans any boats save our own. Jason is tucked in, asleep in the cabin below. And I’m on deck, carefully dumping a container full of urine overboard.
This is “boat life,” my friends. Where sailing off into the sunset means just beyond that beautiful horizon, your compostable toilet will need to be handled.
This is not what I pictured when Jason invited me on this journey.
Lounging on deck with Jimmy Buffet blaring from the speakers was more of the general idea.
But as it turns out, life on a sailboat is like life anywhere else:
No matter where you go, you always (sometimes, quite literally) have to deal with your sh*t.
I’ve become highly aware of the waste we humans produce on a daily basis.
From cans of tomato sauce from last night’s dinner to the unmentionable waste I’ve mentioned too much here, it all has to go somewhere.
And since trash pickup every Wednesday doesn’t exist out on the sea, we’ve become up-close and personal with stuff we’d rather soon forget.
This is how we roll…
On our boat, we live simply.
Even our humor resembles that of ten-year-old boys where imitating flatulent noises is the best punchline we can think of.
We do not have a laundry machine, a dishwasher, running water, WiFi, or any electronic kitchen devices.
And believe me, there are sailboats that have it all.
But as Jason says, “It’s just another thing to break. Another thing to distract us.”
So I drink my warm mineral water and wear three-day-old clothes in solidarity, believing that we have a secret those yachties have yet to discover:
To live free from the confines of society, you must get a little dirty.
For example, we use Dr. Bronner’s soap (more environmentally safe) and seawater for washing dishes, then use a small amount of fresh water for a final rinse.
We use a solar shower, a ten-gallon black bag with a nozzle, which we hang from the boom to warm in the sun.
Our sink is powered by a foot pump.
Each morning, our coffee beans are hand ground with a stainless steel grinder.
Exercise is limited…
My body is another story. At every port from Washington to San Diego, Jason and I have searched for the perfect croissant and the butter has finally caught up with me.
And since we’re either anchored or sailing down the coast, exercise is limited to walking onboard where I clock in about thirteen feet.
So now when I look in the mirror, my bottom sags a little lower, ripples appear on the back of my thighs, and my stomach has taken an “odd shape.”
Yet when I describe it to some, it sounds a little magical.
Who wouldn’t want freshly ground coffee, croissants, and an open-air shower with a waterfront view?
But when you haven’t showered in a week because the seas are too rough, baby wipes are your only way to get clean, and your bikini is starting to fit a little “weird,” the romantic cruise you once had in mind continues to exist only in your head.
Compare and Despair…
Jason loves to watch YouTube videos of other cruising couples.
He points out where they’ve gone, what they’re doing, and the mega-sized boats that get them there.
I’ll look over his shoulder sometimes and sneak a peek.
True, the videos are incredible with underwater photography and a reggae soundtrack dubbed over each scene.
But I’m no fool.
I know what really happens when the camera stops rolling.
At some point, that girl is coming down from her yoga pose.
That guy will put away his rod and reel.
The couple will climb back on board, roll up their sleeves, and deal with their sh*t while sailing off into the sunset.