Come along, come along with me, come along now, come along and you’ll see, what it’s like to be free… whilst living in a tiny space that is. This would be the extended version of Titiyo’s inspirational hit song “Come along” from her album released in 2001, because although free, Titiyo had no place nor gear to sleep, cook and be autonomous for more than a day. Here’s what it looks like if you really want to live the nomad life.
They key to a lasting nomad adventure is to choose your means of travel and that determines your level of comfort, so it is impeccable to know if you’d rather sleep in a ditch somewhere next to your trusty bicycle or if you at least need a mattress of some sort to sleep on and a dry place to work, store your electronics and such things. This could be an RV, a van, or in my case a small boat which are comparable in size and comfort. But make no mistake, even a sizeable van or boat will rarely accommodate all the stuff you’d like to take with you, and Instagram pictures of the flashiest vanlife conversion can be very deceiving. If you browse through inspirational images and you stumble over a lovely little flowerpot on an otherwise completely empty rack, be sure that no one lives in there. You never waste rack-space for the looks.
Once I moved aboard Serenity, I took way too much stuff with me. Living space was almost non existent and my gear, utensils, tools, accessories and toys took up every nook and cranny, even the saloon benches had to become temporary storage for big boxes of clothes, diving gear and whatnot. But that’s okay I tell you. You can always get rid of redundant stuff, sell it when underway or just throw it out. The few most curious things I mismanaged where a strange collection of FOUR big bowls as if I ever needed to prepare salads for a 30 people barbeque buffet. Or sporting 12 spoons but only 4 forks. At one point I even had 2 different vacuum cleaners on board, in a space where I can reach pretty much everything while sitting in one place. But as you slowly shed away your old lifestyle and embrace the new, you’ll also have a much better understanding of what you need and what you just want to keep.
A Nomad’s transport is more than just something that gets you from A to B. It’s part of your journey, it’s that one little treasure chest you always have by your side and I for myself love to keep and collect memories of my journey inside. By doing this I feel like my boat becomes my life’s diary and a place that feels like home, a place of refuge and empowerment. May it be gifts from friends or the shells, flags, and other items you collect on the way. Each carries a story and needs a place to be.
Once easing into the new lifestyle, you’ll find that you automatically adjust to the limited space and lowered comfort. It would be pretentious for me to think that I should tell you that you can do your exercise routine outside instead of inside, and that a few smart boxes make a good storage system, so I’ll just show you how I live to maybe give you some inspiration and paint a more real picture of the insides of a liveaboard boat.
Call it galley or kitchenette, this is all I got when it comes to cooking. And that’s not even bad for a boat my size. The oven I installed to replace a simple 2 burner stove and thus increased my options and level of comfort by many folds. It is however as you can see a tight space. There is not much space for storage or actually preparing food, so I have to keep my groceries in seperate storage containers in the aft cabin and usually prepare my food outside in the cockpit or on the saloon table.
And since I cannot have the luxury of having dedicated lockers for every kind of kitchen utensil, I create quite a mess every day I cook. Some pots and bowls are readily available, others are somewhere hidden far behind other stuff, like my toaster. In fact, as of Today, I do not know where my toaster is… I kinda miss him…
Without a doubt my favorite place to be when the weather gets rough! The V-Berth is in the very bow of the boat and thus shaped like a “V” and like most other areas, it is cramped as well. Laptops, backpacks, bags full of clothes, books, shoes and personal items find a place here and sometimes even serve a double purpose. When rocking through the waves, the clothing bags offer a nice protection from unwanted rolling around and hitting my head on sharp edges. Padded cell or cozy cocoon?
The Chart Table
No matter if vanlife, boatlife or rvlife, when equipping your transport for the long road ahead, you might need to do some electrical upgrades and need a place where you can control all the new gadgets, like solar panels, a diesel heater, battery charge controller, water pumps, lights and so on. In my boat, this place is the chart table area. Formerly the place where you would plan your sailing trip and now the place for electronics, an onboard computer and devices to monitor solar and wind generator output.
The only place inside the boat that is actually suited for sitting and living during daytime. 2 settees of which one usually is covered in stuff and boxes and a central table. In the background you might recognise my sleeping place, and on Serenity the transition between sitting and sleeping is pretty much seamless. There is really not much to say about this area, I work there, I watch Netflix and I eat there.
The Aft Cabin
Would you use my sailing vessel for a fun weekend trip around a lake, the aft cabin would provide sleeping quarters for two additional grown-ups. It’s the biggest separate cabin and would make a great place for guest… just not in my case. In my case, it’s just Mordor! A dark and uncomfortably cramped storage space for everything I need to keep the boat floating and other oddly shaped items that cannot be stored somewhere else.
Every time I need something from there, I play Tetris on level 9, height 5. A spare drive belt for the alternator? Sure, it’s somewhere in there. Either under meters and meters of cable, behind the dinghy outboard motor, the suitcase or? Maybe in one of the boxes with the power tools? Oh, I hate to crawl in there.
But that shall be it with the room tour for now. You see, even after 2 years of traveling, I still have not figured out the perfect storage solution, and I am still carrying around a lot of stuff I probably never need again but haven’t thought of getting rid of it. It’s a constantly changing, dynamic environment and even though it works for me now, it might not in the future. Then it’s time to change it up.
Maybe a lesson would be that it’s okay to jump headfirst into your adventure and adjust on the way. No one needs to have all the answers from the get-go. I hope by sharing my semi to full blown messy boat I could show you that most things do not have to be as polished and neat like many Instagram channels suggest feeling comfortable and most importantly, at home!
And last but not least, the link to Titiyo’s smash hit! Enjoy! Youtube Video here