the adventures of a girl, her dog, and two cats.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Being a hoarder and a liveaboard are not particularly congruent lifestyles. I've had a problem with hoarding for a long time. And I'm not just being facetious when I use that term. Anyone who saw my various homes before moving aboard can vouch for that. Why do I still have unopened mail that is a decade old? Why do I have every little random knick-knack or pair of spare shoe laces or two-year-old grocery store receipts? It's a sickness and it is unbelievably easy to get so buried in "stuff" that it seems impossible to dig out so you give up and learn to live among piles and stacks and towering clutter.

But I have been on a mission to get organized, clean up the boat, and downsize. I gave away beautiful, expensive shoes but it was very, very hard. I gave away six pairs of shoes in one fell swoop a few weeks ago. That's more pairs of shoes than a lot of guys even own. Along with them were sweaters, some running tops, and a cute sundress. Just an hour after taking the deep breathe and putting it all in a box marked "free" by the recycle bin at the marina, some friends dropped by for drinks. One of them said to me, "Hey, there's a whole bunch of great stuff someone gave away and I thought you would like it!" He proceeded to try to hand me back half the things I had just painfully let go. I yelled at him "Oh my God, what are you doing?! Get that stuff off the boat; it was soooo hard for me to let all that go, don't bring it back in here!" We got a good laugh out of that.

I think a lot of the saving every little thing is that I have never had any financial security in my life. Things are boom or bust, usually bust. Every year I am more broke than the last. So to toss out a sweater because I don't have space for it right now is as if I will never have another sweater. Many cruisers have plenty of money, even if they talk as if they don't. They eat out, they buy sails when they want them, and they don't worry about having enough money to do laundry. That is not my life. I can't buy a space heater for the season and then just toss it and buy a new one next year. Not only is that wildly wasteful, I simply can't count on having the money next winter to buy another $30 or $50 or $120 space heater. So I tend to hold onto every little thing lest I need it tomorrow or next week or next year.

I am definitely past the sentimentality of having things. They really are just things and getting rid of the things does not mean getting rid of the memories that went with them. But I still struggle with keeping things out of financial fear of not being able to replace them. I don't know that I will ever be able to cure myself of that. But I need to be free of all the clutter and unnecessary stuff. I keep reminding myself that having a peaceful, uncluttered environment will help me in my efforts to have a peaceful, uncluttered mind and spirit.

So, what's the impetus for this post right now? I need cash and could save myself $57 today (and each month going forward) by bugging out of my storage unit. So, I had to light a fire under my ass and make it happen.  Here's the time-lapse of the storage unit each day before I started sorting, tossing, and hauling on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. (Huge thanks to my dockmate Stan for letting me borrow his car to get this done!)

I bartered away my big printer/scanner/fax for lunch, dinner, and drinks. I donated nine pairs of designer shoes, a Litter Quitter, and a couple designer silk blouses to the local Lutheran Mission Society (don't even get me started on how Goodwill is evil and unworthy of your donations or business). Cardboard boxes were emptied, broken down, and put in recycling. Four big black garbage bags were filled and put in the trash. Below is Saturday, start and finish, and a shot of the ninja who apparently stole all my stuff. 

At the end there was a cardboard box with three Christmas ornaments, a set of mantel stocking hangers that spells "J-O-Y," and a spritz cookie gun. They will either be donated or given to my friend who is letting me store the last boxes in his basement. (Big thanks, Karl!) He also gets the laundry basket, the car clothes-hanger, and a beautiful mirror I kept telling myself I could find a way to mount in the boat.  That leaves me with an inflatable mattress, a box of CDs, a dinette cushion, a box of files and office supplies, and a box with an old-school film camera, diplomas, and all my running medals. That's it. Everything else I own is aboard. Well, my dodger frame is being stored by a friend and there is a box of all my photographs from childhood onward, but that is missing-in-action and may be gone forever. That would be a shame, but not much I can do about it. (Fingers crossed it's in the back of a closet at a friend's house but he said the closet is too packed with stuff to see.)

As for the boat, I have been making a bit of progress. I think a week ago was the first time a couple of my friends came for dinner and were actually able to sit and eat at the newly uncluttered dinette table. I had gotten down to a short-list of more manageable organizing projects I planned to tackle day by day: nav station (a biggie), bookshelves, clean the head and better organize toiletries, organize and stow the huge bag of clean clothes. Unfortunately, I just added two boxes and five shopping bags of stuff to the mix from the storage unit. Sigh. Just over a week before I start training for the new job so every day will have to be productive. I was getting used to my new de-cluttered living space and I cannot go back to what it was like before.

I still have my work cut out for me getting things organized aboard, and my boat will never be austere and empty because it is my home, but being out of the storage unit is a huge relief. And in our hyper-materialistic society, declaring my independence from all those things is a defiant and revolutionary act of freedom. Nothing is left to tie me down.


  1. Congratulations. I am accomplishing the same thing, and I know how hard it is to let go.

  2. A friend helped me face my de-cluttering ANGST by asking me to consider this question: What if someone walking beside you has exactly what you need in their backpack... and what if they want to share it? In other words, maybe we just gotta have some faith in the "kindness of strangers" to help meet our needs in emergencies. Kind of a risk, but not a bad philosophy :)

    1. So true! I went half-way around the globe, ended up with my plans imploding and no money to just "cruise along," but the kindness of strangers and the commitment to put adventure before security made it all work out.


Thanks for reading! Have you had a similar experience you'd like to share? Have a link to an interesting blog fellow readers and I might enjoy? Just want to say hello? Post your comments below. I'm a smart, resourceful girl doing things her own way, so I just ask that folks keep the unsolicited advice to themselves.