If we made a video about a normal day on Kittiwake for our YouTube channel, it would get zero views. Why? Most days we work a lot and not much happens. Before setting off, I would have killed for an honest account of a typical cruising day. So I (Elena) figured I’d tell you exactly what a day on board Kittiwake is like, here, on the blog.
Here we go. This is what I did yesterday, in detail.
We are anchored in front of a nice beach by Villasimius harbour, in south Sardinia (Italy). The water is green and transparent.
7am A sunray peers through the hatch, slowly waking me up. I remember the forecast is for strongish winds (again!) – gusting around 25 knots – while I rub my eyes.
7.15am I stretch in bed and get dressed, trying not to wake Ryan up.
7.20am After having a quick wee in our composting loo, I brush my teeth bent down on the low galley sink using as little fresh water as possible. I also turn off the anchor light, which, as usual, I forgot to do as I came out of the heads.
7.30am I open our heavy companionway door and struggle to move it to the side, then I prop it up by the wheel. I turn on the outside electrical socket, grab my laptop, phone and cables, and get out into the cockpit. I look around and rotate my shoulders. Not too much wind, just yet. I lift our foldable table and sit down to work.
8.30am Ryan’s head pops up from the bedroom hatch. I chat briefly with him, then wrap up the work I’ve been doing.
8.45am I make breakfast: coffee, yoghurt, and cereal for me and coffee, biscuits, a fried egg, and crusty bread for Ryan. We eat it in the cockpit, wearing sunglasses. As soon as I’m finished I wash up.
9am I’m back working in the cockpit, but now the connection seems slower – we must have moved around in the anchorage in the wind. Ryan is in the saloon and he starts calling up our insurance (again) to finally sort the renewal. He also searches for chandleries in our area, as we need a new VHF aerial – no one can hear us on the radio!
11am My connection is still slow and I can only log half the time I’ve been working with my client. I pray the wind changes direction soon. In the meantime, it got so bright and hot, that I sought refuge in the saloon.
11.30am Ryan asks me to call up a number of chandleries, as he doesn’t speak any Italian. I call five of them and finally locate a VHF antenna in Cagliari. While he figures out how we’re going to get there and where we’re going to stay, I go back to my slow work.
12.30pm I make lunch while Ryan puts away our laptops and cables. We eat salad, cheese, crackers and fruit in the cockpit, enjoying the fresh wind. It must be about 18 knots now, but this anchorage is well protected, so we feel fine.
1pm I’ve washed the dishes and put them back in their spots, just in case there’s a wake which can make them all fall off. I go back to work. While I’m working, I come up with the idea of writing a blog post about a normal day on board Kittiwake. Damn! I can’t log those 10 minutes either.
2pm I book a cheap marina where we can go up the mast and change the aerial (Ryan tried going up the mast twice in the last anchorage, but the boat moves around too much). Ryan orders some essentials to be delivered to the marina (a cable, some computer fans for the composting loo, and other bits and bobs).
3.30pm I’ve been working again; Ryan is bored and hot, so he makes me go for a swim. He gives me my bikini and pushes me to go now, when the wind isn’t too crazy. I get in the water from the swim ladder and enjoy how cooling it feels.
The wind is too strong for a leisurely swim, so I alternate between holding onto the boat and swimming on the spot, as if I was on a treadmill. After ten minutes I have enough of the waves splashing in my face, so I get out and dry off.
3.45pm I’m back at work. After 20 minutes I realise I have a big headache and I can’t work anymore in the heat. I log my hours and stare at the work I’ve done today – I can log 3.5 hours total, even though I’ve been working solidly on the laptop for more than 6. Ryan is editing one of our videos.
4.30pm I convince Ryan we need more food, and to ditch the rubbish, so we get ready to go to shore. We put away our laptops, and pack two backpacks with money, keys, and a shopping list I quickly scrabbled.
I grab Marica’s oars from the bows while Ryan locks up the cabins and gets in the dinghy. I pass everything down to him and then hop on board.
5pm Ryan rows us into the marina at Villasimius. After half an hour of rowing, surviving six wakes from motorboats going at 10 knots where the speed limit is 3, and seeing a few amused faces staring at us, we’re where we think the dinghy dock might be. Except, it’s a rental boat dock.
A guy with a thick London accent tells us we can’t dock here and suggests we go to a different spot. We row over and lock the dinghy up, then we realise we forgot the rubbish on the boat.
5.30pm We walk up to the mini market and we take a sigh of relief: they are fairly well stocked. Unfortunately, half the products are double or three times the price than in a normal supermarket. The nearest supermarket is a 45 minute walk away. We pick each item carefully, making sure we don’t get too ripped off.
6.30pm We walk back down to the harbour with our heavy backpacks, looking like wild campers, and get an ice-cream. It’s a Cucciolone – one of my childhood favourites. I give little bits of the Cucciolone biscuit to the stray dog that has followed us around with pleading eyes, and I smile at him.
6.40pm We go back to the dinghy and realise a nice couple is trying to leave their dinghy by ours, but they’re struggling. We rush over to help them and tell them we’re going. We exchange some brief jokes and Ryan starts rowing again.
7.10pm After three more wakes, we managed to get the food safe and dry back to the boat. I step on board and start unpacking everything and storing it away. A tomato and a nectarine got bashed up on the trip back, so we eat them quickly.
7.30pm A familiar boat pulls into the anchorage and anchors next to us. I realise it’s a couple we wanted to meet; we follow each other on Instagram. I row over to say hi and invite them on board for a beer.
8.48pm I row back to a hungry Ryan. I did try to stick to the plan – invite them over and go back – but it just didn’t work; we chatted for over an hour. I cook up a feast and ask for forgiveness.
9.20pm We eat in the cockpit in the last evening light while fighting with the local mosquitoes.
9.40pm I wash up the dishes, which, being the third time today, grants me a 15-minute foot massage. I grab the moisturizer and offer my feet to Ryan. While I get my massage, I update our spending spreadsheet with the shopping and ice-cream expenses.
10pm We get in our comfy berth and read a book. There is a banging noise, so Ryan gets up to check what it is. He tightens up the spinnaker halyard and the noise is gone. He’s almost back in the bedroom when I remember the swim ladder, which usually makes a lot of noise, is still down. So he climbs back out and fixes that too.
10.20pm I give up reading and fall asleep. Ryan stays up another half an hour, then goes to sleep.
Adventurous, right? I kept it as objective as possible. Of course, not every day is like this.
Here’s a rough estimate of how we spend our cruising days:
- There’s too much wind, so we hunker down and work (20% of the time)
- A new work task has come up, so we work (20% of the time)
- We sail on to a new destination and enjoy the ride (20% of the time)
- We do boat chores all day: maintenance, food shopping, laundry, etc. (10% of the time) We like days like these.
- We go explore on shore or we have fun swimming and snorkeling from the boat – our favourite activities (10% of the time)
- We work in the morning, then go to shore for a lovely walk (10% of the time)
- We work or do chores in the morning, then go socialise with sailing friends (5% of the time)
- We go for a swim first thing in the morning, then move to a different anchorage, then work (5% of the time)
Sure, this doesn’t cover every day of the year, but this is our life, most days, when cruising. I’d like to point out I’m not complaining; I just wanted to give an honest account of the cruising-while-working lifestyle to those who might be thinking of taking the plunge.
I hope this article will help you picture a life on the water if, like me, you still need to work. Feel free to ask any questions or to share your own typical day in the comments below. Oh and if you fancy reading more about the reality of living on a sailboat, head over here.