Downsizing our life from a 2000 square foot home to a 200 square foot boat
Wedding albums, pictures, family heirlooms, clothes, and tools. It’s a process, a daunting process. After being together for 15 years, prior to moving onto our boat, you can imagine how much “stuff” we accumulated throughout the years. Luckily, our decision to buy and live on a boat was made well in advance so we were able to donate, sell, or store our whole lives. I would be lying if I said that it was easy or that we even did a halfway decent job of accomplishing it! We did sell our home in our quest to reach this point, so everything had to go…somewhere!
Physically touching every item you own and asking yourself if you should keep it, get rid of it, store it, or move it to the boat is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting!!
We estimate that we have just under 200 square feet of living space down below on Karuna. We have to be very strategic of what we have aboard. Back on land, we loved to entertain and cook; having every kitchen gadget, platter, and appliance. Downsizing our kitchen was a task within itself! Our boat galley has everything we need, but we no longer have 4 wine bottle openers, unnecessary gadgets, and decorative bowls for every holiday. We got rid of our massive pot and pan selection and moved towards a nesting set to save on space. Instead of having 12 place settings, we now have 6. We traded in our electric counter espresso machine for a small manual espresso machine (which makes the best shot of espresso and is pictured below). Oh!...and then there is glass. Glass and boats are not friends, so we switched to unbreakable materials where ever we could.
Another obstacle that we dealt with was all of Doug’s tools! He essentially had two sets of EVERYTHING…(plus some); one set at our house and another at his shop. We were constantly organizing and deciding what we would and could bring on the boat. We had to dig deep at times, knowing that the amount of storage we have on the boat is very limited. We also had to consider the harsh weather conditions that come with living on a boat, so we were strategic on not bringing anything that would not fair well or irreplaceable items.
So….this is how we did it. We started by evaluating what was essential for the boat. This included tools to work on the diesel engine, pumps, electrical and plumbing systems. Believe me, there were times that I wondered if there would be room for anything but tools on the boat! Next, we essentially went through each room of our home determining if an item would go on the boat or not. Like many people, we had a linen closet stacked with towels, sheets, extra pillows, and whatever else could fit. Going through closets was intimidating, but once we started getting rid of things, it felt good. It felt liberating! It was difficult once we got to our childhood memories and pictures. We each kept a box of memories which are being kept in a storage unit in Colorado. (Speaking of our storage unit, we paid for multiple years, upfront, so we do not need to worry about a monthly payment. As much as we tried to avoid needing a storage unit, it was not possible, especially towards the end when we were racing against the COVID-19 spread…I’ll expand on that another day!)
Once we identified what was moving onto the boat and what was not, we had a large multi-day yard sale, we listed items on Craigslist, and we donated by the truck load! Even after all that, we still had more than we needed and were constantly trying to whittle down our belongings. We learned a technique from a good friend that consists of taking whatever item is in question and move it to your car. If you don’t miss it after a week…get rid of it! We did this many of times, and we can honestly say there isn’t one thing that we miss or regret getting rid of....well ok, I do miss my garlic press. 😊
After living on our boat for 3 months now, we can still say that we have way too much stuff! Each week, we evaluate and reorganize the items that we have, to see what we can get rid of. I’m learning quickly from our marina community that this is the normal way of life on a boat.