Year 1 Day 108 Comparing Sailing To RVing: Part 1

Now that we have lived in our RV for over 100 days, we have been asked to compare our views of living on our sailboat to living in our RV. That is great suggestion because the experiences, while sharing some basic similarities, are for the most part, very different. Thus, the next couple of blogs are dedicated to addressing this comparison.

Regarding the similarities, there really are not many. The really big similarity is that they are both radically alternative lifestyles based on a nomadic vision. No longer tied to living in one place, they allow us to travel and explore new places, experience different cultures and meet new people. This excites us and has been very rewarding because it has enhanced our understanding how people live and what makes up this world.

Quite frankly, through all of our travels our faith in mankind has been restarted. Prior to starting up this lifestyle, we had a very jaded view of the world, with this view heavily influenced by what we saw on the nightly news. While we recognize that there are bad people in this world, we discovered that most people share many of our core values. Most are just trying to live their lives, feed and protect their families and make the future a better place for their children. Most people we met, and this is especially true outside of the US, are very tolerant of one’s political and religious views. People in the US seem to us to be more rigid on these two issues and we believe this is due to the divisive polarization that has gripped the US.

We also have discovered the poorer the people, the more generous they are. As people have more personal belongings and wealth, the more they hoard and less generous they are. This is not always true, as we know a number of wealthy people who are very generous; but in general, this is what we have found.

The dissimilarities between living in a RV and living on a sailboat are many. We found the sailing lifestyle to be much more relaxing and slow moving. You just can not move fast when you are limited to 10 knots of speed or less. When you are passage making, you are not confined to “staying between the lines” as you are when you are driving down the road in a RV. Thus, sailing is mostly stress-free and easy. Manning the helm, whether during the day or at night, was our most enjoyable time while passage making. One occasionally glanced at the sea and the area around you to make sure there was no land, shallow water or other vessels near you and then spent the rest of the time, reading, listening to music, resting or thinking/daydreaming. We would also spend some time playing with the various lines that trimmed the sails and in that process, we learned how to achieve the best sail trim in various wind and sea conditions. It was a never ending learning experience that I really enjoyed.

While filled with many complex systems, I discovered that most of the systems on a sailboat I could work on to fix or improve on. This has not been the case with the RV. The systems on the RV are so much more complex and governed by electronics that most people cannot work on them to any great extent. Minor adjustments are possible but if one of these components breaks or malfunctions, you need to call in an expert to fix it. Case in point: we have two toilets in our RV. The one in the powder room is currently malfunctioning because a sensor that governs when to open or close a ball cover is misaligned. The ball cover is what allows the waste to leave the toilet bowl and flush down into the waste tank. Thus, when you flush this toilet, the ball cover opens and allows the waste to flush out, it then closes but immediately reopens again because the sensor is misaligned. Thus, the toilet never stops flushing and if allowed to continue, would quickly empty our fresh water tank and overflow the black water waste tank. Not good! The operational manual says that if this happens, you need to call a certified technician to fix it! When I do try to make arraignments to have it fixed, I am told that the first opening is 10 weeks from now! Grrrr! As it turns out, the RV market is rapidly expanding and there are too many people operating RVs than the service industry can service, resulting in long delays.

Another difference is driving instead of sailing. When one is driving a 40-foot-long, 40,000-pound vehicle 60 to 65 mph down a road with other vehicles zooming by, one needs to be very focused. It is not carefree and easy. You only have a couple of feet on each side of you before you leave your lane, potentially crashing into a vehicle next to you. Plus, you are driving amongst other vehicles with many of them that should not be on the highway. Every time we drive our RV, we comment on how crazy the drivers are as they zip in front of you, cutting you off and forcing you to brake to avoid an accident. This is just not the case in sailing a sailboat, unless you are in a race and we never raced! Thus, while we love looking at the scenery as we drive down the road, it can be very anxiety providing and certainly much more stressful than sailing.

Outside of getting service done on our vehicle, we find that getting groceries or other supplies is much, much easier while living in our RV. We have a small car that we can use to drive to a supermarket or store to get whatever we desire. This is not possible in a sailboat simply because many of the places we sailed to did not have a supermarket or store. Even if a supermarket or store was nearby, getting to it on a sailboat is much more difficult. One has to use your dinghy to get to the beach, land the dinghy usually through surf, pull the dinghy up the beach and then secure it to a tree or rock so the high tide does not carry it away. Then you need to figure out how to get to the supermarket or store since most of the time they are not located on the beach. Furthermore, many times when we arrived at the supermarket or store, they did not stock what we wanted and had to settle for some type of alternative. Then the chore of returning to the dinghy, loaded down with provisions, fighting your way through the surf and then returning to the boat needs to be done. All of that is before you get the provisions up to and on the boat and finally put away. We were always exhausted by the time shopping was over!

More to follow tomorrow…

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