They’re actually the same damn thing. No, really.
Sometime back in July, we celebrated five years of living aboard the s/v Excellent Adventure. Generally, once you’ve lived somewhere for five years, you’ve got it dialed in, your stuff is in the space it’ll live in permanently, and you are on your domestically merry way. Somehow, we missed the bus. Because five years later, I am still purging stuff from the boat.
I’ve uncluttered. I’ve done 15-minute banzai attacks of decluttering. I’ve scrubbed, taped, tacked, disinfected, polished, trashed, and organized. I’ve containerized. I’ve got a Pinterest board of organization for small spaces. I mean, I got this!!!! Or, erm, I don’t.
I’m also a pretty clean person. So the first time I saw a cockroach on the boat, I *freaked the heck out*. I mean, who wouldn’t, right? I researched. Turns out that they love cardboard, so all cardboard went off the boat, and more was forbidden from ever crossing the transom. Cardboard-free, and cockroach free. We were dialed in!
Being liveaboards in Emeryville was a transition from land to boat, and that took some serious purging, and a bunch of learning curves. Then the trip from Emeryville to Chula Vista involved really testing out what living on a moving vessel in high seas was going to be like, and hey, the ocean took care of decluttering, when stuff got thrown across the room and broken. So la! We arrived lighter than we set out. Bonus!
And then, more cockroaches. But they were different. In Chula Vista, they fly around, through the windows, and your answer there is aggressive baiting, and poisoning your docklines. I did small purges the whole time we were in San Diego, just to hold the tide against stuff coming on board, sneakily, in ones and twos and threes. But then in prep for the big trip, we purged again, in a big way, over a month. If we hadn’t used it since Emeryville, off it went.
I purged as we traveled; nothing like long stretches of open sea miles to really bring home how little stuff you truly need. We got rid of stuff every place we went. We also got different species of cockroaches at each stop, even when we weren’t touching land in any way. Cause remember, they fly, and some like glue and paper and some eat sugar and some come aboard with your fruit and others with your packaged goods and… whatever. It’s a process. Some you can repel with vinegar, some with borax, some won’t shift without application of a nuclear bomb. You adapt, and so do they.
And now, after all that… I am still ditching stuff. Clothes, linens, kitchen tools, … stuff. Just… stuff. I don’t want the next few years of dock living to result in having to move the waterline again. I have sailed long and well, and I will not allow my boat’s performance to be kludged up by junk any longer. I just won’t.
But I can’t figure out where all this stuff comes from, and I can’t figure out how to keep it from coming back. Just like with the roaches, who are yet again a different kind. Two kinds, actually. There’s a third kind out on the dock, but thank goodness I haven’t seen any of those on the boat; they’re fully half the size of my foot, and they pop! when you step on them accidentally (because you would never ever step on one of these intentionally, for fear they’d do a Chuck Norris on you and flip you onto your back, judo-style.) We get these two different kinds of little ones in the boat, and I’ve cleaned and baited and done everything I can think of, and new ones appear in the weirdest places…
…just like the clutter. You find yourself staring at a cabinet that was perfectly organized, that contained only what fit neatly into it just a few months ago, now stuffed to overflowing with all kinds of things that weren’t in it before. So you yank everything out, sort, purge, wash/fold/whatever, replace. There. Neat and tidy.
And then you just pray that clutter doesn’t breed like roaches do.