Thursday, 11 October 2007

A month on Monty B

The adaptability of human beings never fails to amaze me. It is our primary coping mechanism, enabling us to deal with whatever life chucks up by somehow convincing our brains that this is normality. Life on Monty B is dramatically different to anything we have done before and yet it seems so normal. All four of us have adapted to living in a 40 x 10 foot floating, bobbing, swaying box surrounded by green water with our only means of escape being a rotting, elderly tender with no seat, no engine and no oars.

Our days and nights are dictated by the weather. The wind determines where and how we lie – if it changes, do we have enough shelter? Is our anchor going to hold? Will we hit another boat? Will another boat hit us? What will the sea state be? Is that storm heading in our direction? A drop of rain hitting home or a distant flash of lightening is enough to rouse us from slumber at 3am to close hatches and check all is secure on deck. And this is before we have even thought about sailing.

The sunshine that floods our cabin upon waking most mornings puts a smile on my face and ensures that our world glitters – but it also has a more practical function. Our power is provided, predominantly, by the five solar panels strung along the gantry at Monty’s stern. So if, like today, the sun is hiding away, we hand pump our water and think nothing of it. It’ll be a cold shower tonight too as we have a solar shower (simply a black plastic pouch, with a shower attachment, that sits on the deck in the sun all day - or not as the case may be).

As a matter of course, we only turn lights on that we are using – literally, the ones we are using in order to see something in the dark. Our solar churns out around 6 amps per hour on average (when the sun is shining) so our power is precious. We use every drop of water that comes out of our tanks. All loo roll goes in the bin so you use it sparingly (I’m sure I don’t need to explain why). Every drop of water that goes through our pipes ends up in the sea (much like at home – but you don’t watch the Fairy liquid spewing out into the sea) – so you think carefully about the crap you put in it or if possible, don’t put any crap in it at all (except actual crap – which we haven’t, as yet, worked out how to stop us producing it, bar starvation – and as a point of interest, the fish love it – particularly dog poo).

A month on and this is all second nature – and it’s great. Sorry if it sounds like cringe-inducing worthy nonsense and I sound like a massive sanctimonious arse – I can’t help it - ha!

p.s we can get hot water by running our engine if we are desperate, ditto power for our batteries. We have had to chuck waste diesel in public dustbins as there is nowhere to dispose of it - so you can rest assured that we are still doing our bit to pollute the planet.

Everything centres around our boat. Whether it be sleeping, eating, seeking comfort, washing, cleaning, repairing, travelling around, swimming, diving, lazing – it all happens here. We watch the mountains turn pink at sundown, lying on our backs in the cockpit with a beer in hand and have our own star-studded, candle-lit table for two every night. Other nights it isn’t so rosy when the galley turns into a rocking, bumping, jolting box, while I’m trying to cook dinner then I feel too sick to eat it. Sleep is always broken. Monty B is our new world and we love it.

I have finally managed to play out my childhood fantasies of living a simple life with the elements – and multiplied it by 100. I’ve always wanted to have a home with a sea view. I’ve always wanted to live near the sea. I’ve spent 36 years of my life in the industrialised Midlands – it was a great laugh but pretty it wasn’t – now I’ve finally got my wish – and multiplied it by 100.

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