Life in My Floating Home (Cont'd)

By fall, the rest of the boats come out of the water, leaving us to the peace and quiet that the winter brings. Those months have their own charm, a time of silence and serenity, cozy and warm in our cabins. The most beautiful time to me is during a snowfall. The only thing breaking the stark whiteness, interrupting the quiet, are the ducks that have stayed on, huddled in little groups, chattering on in strange tones.

Looking back, I am amazed how much this life aboard has changed me. The boat has become my little cocoon, sheltering me from stress of Los Angeles life. 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.

My free time is spent differently too. Quiet has become something I crave. The TV no longer plays for background noise, the programs seem fake and dull compared to the nature that surrounds me. Evenings are more likely spent reading or listening to music. The silence offers me time to think, time to plan, to learn and to dream.

I have gained an incredible amount of self-sufficiency also. A boat requires a different type of upkeep than a house. I've never heard of a house sinking from neglect, but a boat needs frequent checking for wear and tear. Inevitably, things deteriorate faster in the salty environment, and with each new repair to tackle I come out a little more accomplished from the experience. I have learned how to repair hoses, change engine oil, install new pumps, rewire electrical systems and a host of other skills.

I have learned a great deal of patience, accepting that things will go wrong, that I'll be able to handle the challenges that come my way and even being able to laugh at myself in the process. These newfound abilities have spread to every area of my life.

All in all, this life is one I wouldn't trade for the world. For the next few years, until it's time to cast off the lines for different ports, I look forward to each day at the dock. When that day finally comes, I know it will be a lot less frightening, having this experience to look back on.