Stripped Back?

17 Jul


A non-sailing friend asked me recently about the basic aspects of life on a boat. She had been struck by how “stripped back” it was in terms of luxury and “stuff”. She got me thinking. We’ve always described living on board as somewhere between camping and caravanning with the added attraction of your table, bed and loo bouncing up and down.

An additional difficulty compared to being land based is that a boat, on the whole, needs to be self contained for basic requirements. Unless you’re going to spend the majority of your time in a marina, which, speaking as a very fair weather sailor, I am not knocking at all, by the way, you’re going to have to plan for everything from drinking water to internet access and how you go about it will vary enormously from boat to boat.

Fresh water is carried in tanks on board and these have to be filled at regular intervals. Desi can carry 150 litres which, with just the two of us, we can comfortably make last for three days without being excessive but about six days if we have to by being very frugal.

You soon learn not to waste water. It’s amazing how you can make a little go a long way but of course there’s a definite risk that you might whiff a bit! However, if you’re faced with the prospect of carrying it in 40 litre plastic jerry cans from a tap that may be some distance away that seems like a small price to pay. Fortunately, where we’re based now in the Ionian, there is often water available on the quays either in standpipes which you can attach a hose to or delivered in small tankers who will fill you up at set times. Sometimes taverna owners will supply water as an inducement to eat in their restaurant.

Whether you use this water to drink is a personal preference. It can be of very poor quality and even if it is drinkable it never seems like a good idea to me after it’s been sitting around in the tank, so we choose not to. This means at the moment we’re having to carry an awful lot of bottled water as well which takes up a good proportion of our limited storage space. On the previous boat we had a filter giving us potable water on a separate tap. On Desi we have a non-functioning water maker. Watch this space!


Sea water is used to flush the toilet which I won’t go into again (see The One About Poo ) other than to say the delights of a marine toilet know no bounds.

Some way of generating power and a means of storing it is the next requirement if you’re going to have a reasonable standard of modern living. As well as the starter battery, which is the same as for a car, we have a couple of heavy duty big boys for “domestic” use. Running the engine will charge these as well as providing a small tank of hot water but who wants to run an engine all day? Doing that will certainly make you unpopular in anchorages and in the close quarters of quaysides.


Here in the Ionian the obvious answer is to have solar panels. Ours keeps the batteries full, running the fridge and lights without difficulty. For anything that requires plugging in, though, it either has to be run on a 12 volt cigarette lighter style socket or through a fitted inverter. We have a non-functioning inverter. Currently everything is going through a small 12 volt inverter which is great for keeping various devices charged or to run a small fan but won’t cope with hair straighteners (suppresses sob).

Internet access has become a crucial part of sailing life being the most reliable method of getting a weather forecast and staying in touch with the outside world. It is never straightforward in Greece, though, and deserves a blog post all to itself. One will definitely follow in the not too distant future.

When I mentioned the fridge I bet you had an image of your own at home. If pushed you’d probably scale it down in your mind’s eye. Think again. It is, in fact, something nearer to a cool box. This means that you are constantly having to juggle the contents around just to get at the milk for a cup of tea, for instance. We seem to have got it reasonably organised using big plastic boxes but it always seems that what you want is at the bottom or the tomatoes are getting crushed by the water bottle.


Cooking, in the absence of a slow cooker and a grill, is done on a two ring gas hob supplied with gas from camping style bottles. There is also an oven but I find it unusable in the heat of a Greek summer when it further heats the interior. The whole thing gimbals i.e. swings with the motion of the boat or you can lock it steady. I never cease to be amazed at the assortment of meals that some people can create on two hobs even with the limited range of foodstuffs available in most small Greek shops. I am not one of those people.

So, stripped back? You decide.

Father: “The secret of happy sailing is preparation.”
Daughter: “No Dad, the secret of happy sailing is shore power!”



11 Responses to “Stripped Back?”

  1. GeorgieMoon July 18, 2016 at 7:47 am #

    Reblogged this on Third Time Lucky! and commented:
    An excellent post written by some sailing colleagues. I could have written this myself, everything is exactly like this on a yacht……

  2. GeorgieMoon July 18, 2016 at 7:47 am #

    Love this post! I could have written this myself. Have reblogged it…..

    • lamputts July 18, 2016 at 10:49 am #

      Wow! That’s brilliant, Georgie! Thanks so much 🙂

  3. southamptonoldlady July 18, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    The same goes for camping – my husband used to refer to our boat as a sea-camper

    • lamputts July 18, 2016 at 10:46 am #

      Sea-camper is definitely appropriate!

  4. Clare July 18, 2016 at 9:39 am #

    It’s a good post 🙂

    • lamputts July 18, 2016 at 10:44 am #

      Thank you, Clare, much appreciated

  5. pilch92 July 18, 2016 at 11:53 pm #

    Yes, stripped back, but worth it for the beauty you get to take in every day.

    • lamputts July 19, 2016 at 3:45 pm #

      Most of the time I agree with you but when the wind is whipping up I’d prefer four brick walls and a roof!

  6. Suvi July 23, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    Great post! I have just experienced my first three week sailing trip here in the Finnish archipelago and Estonia. We only have a 40 l water tank but of course no shower. Still it’s a nightmare seeing the water level near the red zone! xx

    • lamputts July 24, 2016 at 5:25 am #

      40 litres and no shower! Now that really is stripped back!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: