Aqua Map Blog


Live aboard recap after one month


Finding someone who has the courage to sell the house and live on a boat in Italy is not so usual! The Barberis family did it, despite the difficulties of the historical period that the whole world is going through. This is the beautiful testimony that Sara wrote to tell us about their first, complicated month of navigation. Enjoy it!


by Sara Rossini (Sailing Shibumi)

2021, January 19th



Find time to write when you live (five people including 3 children) 24 hours a day in a boat is a bit complicated.
I usually write at night when peace and silence allow me to rearrange my ideas.
I started this post on November 6 and finished it on December 10. I managed to post it only today, December 20, absurd! I’m about to tell the first month of navigation, although now we are already in the second and luckily things are slightly better.

Stintino, November 6, 2020

If I close my eyes and think about the word "boat" I immediately think of summer, the heat, the dives, the bathing suits laid out, the search for shade from the burning sun, the open portholes and breeze that brings in the scent of the sea. The cup of coffee in the bow as the sun rises, or the aperitif in the stern as the sun sets.
Here, let's reset this poetic vision for a moment, because the boat in winter, is a different story.

Now, I’m not saying it's bad, but when this experience doesn't end in a winter weekend, but has become your life, then it's a very different thing. Especially when in your plans there was to chase the heat!

First of all, space is reduced even more. Summer life is mainly outside but winter life is almost exclusively below deck, except for a few hours of warm weather where you can risk a trip on deck in a T-shirt, provided that the cool November wind does not throw you overboard.

Living below deck is not bad, the boat is cozy and heated...but we are 5, three of which are children, which means: mess, always, everywhere. And if the mess annoyed me at home the situation can only get worse in 35 sqm.
As soon as you take out a book and a pen it's already a mess. We live in three different areas, even though we have five: the children's cabin, where they are the only ones to stay because it's practically a 2x2 m loculus and one metre high in the best part, then there's our cabin, which is always the ring of the three brothers, and the dinette (living room), where we live 24 hours a day. In these three areas we live our lives, in addition to the two bathrooms one used as a physiological evacuation room, one used only for washing.

Having said that, it is easy to imagine how mental stability is particularly fragile.

I had foreseen this being catapulted into a boat in winter, but I didn't take it too seriously. I thought that we would be able to chase the heat, to take a bath every now and then, but the reality is different. At 3 p.m. it starts to get a little chilly, the humidity rises and it's time to "close everything up", because otherwise the humidity will take possession of everything, from our clothes to the sheets, which are often damp when we go to sleep at night, and then at 5 p.m. the sun sets and the day is over.

In the summer, as soon as we get on the boat, we always need a few days to settle in. In addition to adapting to the space, there's that whole aspect of intelligent use of resources that requires a bit of fine-tuning, but in the winter the settling in never seems to end.

The shower (fortunately, starting this year, it's hot) has to be very fast, the dishes have to be washed at the speed of light so as not to waste water, and then, as soon as the engine starts up, you do the sprint to recharge your laptop before someone else gets there.

The kitchen always needs to be cleaned and tidied up because being small, with two pots and 5 plates, it already looks like a self-service kitchen. You spend your days looking for things that you wonder where they go as if you were in a palace...It seems silly, but these things take habit, require adaptation, take time and patience.

Add to that the cold weather, that we're not on vacation, that we have three children and a homeschooling to organize, a boat with work to do, navigation to deal with, a pandemic that gets in our way... It's not all as easy as you might imagine, the days go by in a jerky way, like a rusty gear, you wonder where you're going wrong, what's not working. I thought I was the queen of organization and right now I can't even make a plate of pasta. I feel that something is not flowing, I feel that the days aren't taking the shape I'd like them to, and meanwhile time flies, as it always does. The spirit of adaptation is now putting me to the test.

There are three things that are slowing us down for the moment: Homeschooling, the washing machine, and the covid pandemic.

Let's start with the most frivolous one, but not too much: the washing machine.

In the summer you live in a bathing suit, every once in a while you wash your underwear when you don't have any left, or a t-shirt...but in the winter you're dressed like at home and you get as dirty as at home...multiplied by 5. And if you've brought two sweatshirts because "we're going to a warm place so we don't wear too much heavy stuff", you actually have to wash them often and if you wash them in the boat

and hang them outside when you take them back, they've become dirty and sticky with saltiness, the result is worse than tomato spots.
The result is that my children always have stained clothes!

Covid scares us, not so much because of the possibility of being infected, we are super careful and we have no contact with anyone except for shopping, but because the restrictions of Spain and the Caribbean states and the risk of getting stuck in a boat without even being able to go down to the beach are many.

The school deserves a separate post because there is a lot to tell. Our organizational plan with the daily program (made in June) is almost never followed because there are always many problems, from the computer that is needed by one or the other, the printer that maybe cannot be turned on because there is not enough power, so you have to postpone the work you had in mind until the next day. Timo (our youngest son) who wants attention too and therefore either you hypnotize him with cartoons or one of the two teachers (me or Stefano) has to dedicate himself to him. Then there are the days of navigation where you cannot write because the sea is rough and read makes you sick and above all the kids don't want to do anything, because in their head there is the word "boat" so vacation!!!

This first month was difficult, not dramatic, but it was a good test. Fortunately, to compensate for the inconvenience there is this crazy, imposing and wonderful thing that awaits you when you look out of a porthole: the sea.

Being wrapped in blue below and above gives a crazy sense of freedom and there I find myself when life below decks suffocates me.

We hope that the next few weeks will give peace to this settlement that seems to never end, let's try to reach the heat as soon as possible, by thawing the brain I will have the right clarity to see things from another aspect.

Unfortunately, the stage in the Balearic Islands is taking a little too long because the weather is not on our side!

But we are confident. Stay Tuned!

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