The first month of life aboard Gaviidae in Bayfield has been busy and generally chilly. Much, but far from all, of our spring launch to-do list was checked off by the time Gaviidae was launched in late April–almost 8 weeks earlier than last year’s launch in Duluth harbor. Cold weather or uncooperative winds delayed Gaviidae’s inaugural sail this year until mid-May, but that still beats last season when the last sail didn’t get loaded until the 4th of July! But more on this season’s shakedown cruise later. Today’s topic is about adjusting to our suddenly diminished living space.
To prepare for this dramatic lifestyle change, we bought a 10×12 enclosed cargo trailer to eliminate having to rent storage in Mpls. Wheeled storage keeps much of our ever-dwindling possessions mobile, and therefore closer
to wherever we are living. Keep in mind, we’d been on a downsizing bender since last fall. We sold all of our furniture–except for some of our art and a few Persian rugs. This was the second round of casting off material things; we parted with a huge amount of stuff when we sold the suburban house and moved into downtown Minneapolis condo. We still have more to shed.
What didn’t end up on the boat or shoe-horned in the trailer is scattered among friends who kindly offered shelter for the art and rugs. Or it is lodged in horse stalls in the barn on our lake property in northern MN. We also still retain a small storage unit near the marina where Gaviidae is tied up. By fall we plan to be able to empty the storage unit. Meanwhile, I’m doing my best to avoid being divested.
Julie has a comprehensive org chart that identifies who has what and where everything is. Sounds almost religious. She has inventoried nearly all of our earthly possessions down to which individual items are in what box in which location. Conspicuously absent from these lists is the location of the boat. I can quickly track down an extra pair of zircon-encrusted tweezers in box number such-and-such in, with Col. Mustard port side in the trailer,
but I’m damned if I can find out where to find a 20,000 pound sailboat in those charts. Probably better get that recorded before we forget where we put it. Probably better get myself logged in there, too.
So we’re on the boat adjusting to severely diminished living space–about 185 square feet, by one reckoning. When we laid our 227 square-foot staysail out for cleaning last spring, I recall thinking, “This is a big-ass piece of cloth.” That staysail is the smallest of the three sails in our sail plan, which has a total sail area of 1,071 square feet. That doesn’t include the spinnaker. That sail gets hauled out for special occasions–like the good china for guests. Otherwise the spinnaker takes up nearly 4 square feet of prime real estate on board when not deployed. It didn’t occur to me that I would be living in a roughly football-shaped space about 3/4 the size of that staysail, and it is almost exactly the same area of our two largest Persian rugs.
So we are learning to live in greatly reduced circumstances. I once would have observed that this amount of space is so small you have to step outside to change your mind. Ironically, I originally launched a second career selling wine largely because I was experiencing cabin fever in a 2,100-sq.-ft. house. Then we pared down to fit in a 1,400-sq.-ft. condo. Urban compression. Now we’re squeezed into 15 percent of that space.
It’s been helpful to be able to escape to the canvas-enclosed cockpit: the nautical equivalent of a 3-season porch. Knowing that we have nearly instant access to the nearly 31,000 square miles of Lake Superior vastly opens up conceptual roominess–but that’s intellectually intimidating. Like trying to fathom the night sky that is now open to us when we sit on Gaviidae’s deck. That puts all the downsizing and cramped quarters into perspective. Neither Julie nor I have yet significantly reduced our personal size to better fit into our new microcosm, but this new Lilliputian living space has brought us significantly closer to each other. Which opens whole new dimensions.