Times… they are a changin’

There are many things I will miss about living aboard. Photo by Ali Wisch Fabre

August 2022

By Ali Wisch Fabre

“There is nothing permanent except change.”


As I write this, I’m sitting in my favorite giant palm tree towel. My hair, in a messy natural bun atop my head, smells like coconuts. In the distance, I hear a faint sound, like that of a waterfall, one you might hike to in Hawaii during a well-deserved getaway.

And… I am trying not to kill my husband.

Don’t get me wrong – I won’t. He is my favorite person; I love him deeply, and I can’t imagine my life without him. However, at this moment, the only thing I can think about is how I asked him to fill the water tanks.

I asked him to fill the water tanks because, being lucky enough to be able to shower on my boat, I’d like to enjoy it. Or, at least, finish it. This was not the first time I’ve had a shower interrupted because I’ve run out of hot water (and then shortly after that, all water), forcing me to make the dreaded walk of shame, past my neighbors, up to the shared bathrooms dripping in soap suds, getting the liveaboard “nod,” as I make my way to the actual water.

At least this time, it might be my last run-in with the water tank gods, and I didn’t have to abort the mission entirely. Instead, I can sit here and pretend I’m on vacation in Hawaii while he refills the tanks properly.

To be fair, this was not his fault. He came here to help me pack to make my move to France go smoother and ended up having to deal with the emotional rollercoaster of a crazy person who is having a difficult time selling her boat. Plus, my water tanks are like Red Riding Hood’s porridge. You don’t want too much in them or too little. You want juuuuust the right amount. But rather than get eaten by a wolf if you get it wrong, you ruin all the shoes I keep under the V-berth and soak the custom-fit carpet in the saloon.

There are many things I will miss about living aboard (showers withstanding) – and being a boat owner in general. As Jack Farrell wrote in his latest Island Dispatch column “Saying goodbye to Utopia” on page 36, “There is an old saying that the two happiest days of a sailor’s life are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. I’ll agree with the first part, but in most cases, for me, the sale of a boat was more like saying goodbye to an old friend for the last time.” He puts that so eloquently, doesn’t he? When I try to think of an example of how I’m feeling, my go-to has been that it’s as if I’m sawing off my right arm… and then swimming across the Atlantic to France.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that change is hard. After ten years of living on the water, I thought I’d adapted to it enough. From monitoring the tides to do laundry or go grocery shopping, to checking the weather report hourly rather than daily: change has been a constant in my life for a while. Apparently, that doesn’t make it any easier.

Anyway, I should get back to it before I drip any more water onto my keyboard. The tanks are full now.