24 April 2014

Less is More?

April 10

If I had one goal for this trip on Fiona, it was to bring less stuff. Last time, we had absolutely no idea what we were in for, so we brought everything we could think of: clothes for heat, clothes for cold, clothes to protect against sun, safety equipment, all sorts of electronics, piles of books, foul weather gear, including two sets of sea boots, not to mention insanely bulky stuff like pillows and sleeping bags... Eric must have been astounded when he saw the size of our enormous duffle bags. Lucky for us, he still practices admirable British restraint.

No, this time, I was determined to cut packing to the bone. I still needed to bring a laptop, to care for my customers in case of emergency, but no sleeping bags (too hot for them in the Caribbean), no pillows (Eric had plenty), no foul weather gear (I hesitated about this, but figured a bit of warm rain wouldn't kill us), and the minimum of clothes.

Last time, I had taken onboard Eric's system for managing clothing. In a nutshell, you choose a pair of shorts and shirt and wear them day after day until they are so dirty that they are ready to be thrown overboard. On Fiona, that is about 3 days, depending on how much motor oil is involved in the day's chores.

Unfortunately, Helena seems to have other ideas. I've no doubt she will see sense in the end, but at the moment, she's being a tad difficult about squeezing her mountain of stuff into a small bag. We'll discuss it later. I have to get back to banging my head against a computer. Still have lots of prep work to do...

If you have tips or thoughts about packing for a small boat voyage, please share them below in the comments section.

We leave tomorrow.


At precisely 3:30 am, the alarm went off. John and I jumped out of bed and the frantic 45 minutes before our departure for the airport started.

I ran to the kitchen and started the coffee. Garbage out, travel clothes on, suitcases zipped up, tooth brushes stored, sink cleaned and a final prayer for travel blessing sent us on our way to the airport. That was easy.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was super busy: final goodbyes to the kids, parents, students. And about 10,000 chores: buying cat food, cleaning refrigerator, watering plants, etc., etc.… John had the most difficult chore: making sure our website customers don’t have any problems while we’re away: backing things up, checking servers for something or other, syncing the phones and laptop… oh, the cussing that went on in John’s office! In the mean time, I devoted myself to setting up cat care, finishing laundry, last minute piano lessons… Easy peasy.

And then there was the packing…

Staging Area
Looking at the bed we used as our staging area, I remembered that small towels worked better than a large towels. They take less space, and you get to use a nice clean one every day or so, and when we’re done, the boat ends up with a new collection of rags. I also brought a couple of dish towels, assuming Eric would be ready for some new ones.

John, already upset by computer hassles, was not happy and a bit frustrated when we couldn’t fit all our necessities into a duffle bag and small carry-on suitcase. For some reason, he is determined to bring about half the stuff we brought last time (really?). I was trying hard not to shake my head and roll my eyes, although I think I did, slightly. We ended up leaving the room and going back separately to our designated chores with a sigh.

Later we tried again, and decided that the pillows and sleeping bags will have to be left behind. I guess that was a compromise. We will see if that works.

For a last minute drama, the motion sickness medication we brought for emergencies last time — Bonine — was not available anywhere.  We checked CSV, Rite Aid, supermarkets. Nothing. I panicked and bought a homeopathic remedy and Dramamine, which has the same active ingredient as the wonderful Bonine. It will have to do.

In the end, we arrived at the airport waaaaay to early. After waiting for an hour in an empty waiting room, the other passengers with extra hours of sleep have started to arrive.

We are almost in Saint Martin. Can’t wait.

Next Episode: Aboard Fiona in St. Martin


  1. Pack early. Pack completely. Then remove 50 percent. It actually works. Yes, you might have to figure out washing a little more often, but it is extraordinary what you can give air miles to, and never use.
    I feel your pain. As we speak I am packing for 3 months in the US, mostly on dry land. Alaska, California and New Yotk in the same month? Hmm?
    Just don't leave the wet weather gear behind. a. Not having it can kill you. b. Spouse not having it WILL kill you. QED.

    1. I wonder if we'll regret leaving the foul weather gear behind. Time will tell...

  2. What seems to work, though I didn't try myself yet, is to wash clothes - essentially flush them - lined behind the boat for some hour or two. Then drying in the wind blows the salt out.

    Might bring you clean clothes as often as you like.

    1. I'm not sure Eric would allow that kind of drag on the boat, but it's a creative idea!

  3. Looking forward to reading about the trip. Sometimes it is like eating garlic, make sure all persons eat it so you don't smell it...

    1. You do have to lower your standards a bit. That's one of *my* hang ups.


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