Woman Enough

Finding Home; harbor versus house

Posted in Uncategorized by womanenough on August 31, 2011

I’ve been thinking this week about why living aboard works for me. It’s on my mind because I’m not living aboard; I’ve been staying at my family’s house while tearing apart Mama Tried  for repairs inside and out.

Despite the cable and internet, elaborate meals spread about the kitchen and showers on demand, I’ve felt a huge hole while sleeping on land, and it’s not just that I’m not traveling. Finally, yesterday, sitting on Mama Tried waiting for paint to dry, I gave a wave as a local lobsterman came in from hauling. Instantly, I knew what I’d been missing.

The sense of community that has all but disappeared from our country’s lubber neighborhoods is alive and strong in its harbors.  While land activity is largely focused inside, or on a piece of privately owned property, harbor activity is almost exclusively outdoors.

The water itself is public property, and with dozens of us focusing on our boats, our floating claim to squatting rights on the sea, it makes for a lot of people living and working very closely to each other.

Belfast is not a town with a lot of live aboards, but it’s a thriving waterfront. I’ve been living in the harbor for a year now, and the faces are no longer just familiar, many of them are my friends. There is a lot of visiting, a lot of genuine concern for and delight with each other.

It’s part of the overall value I find in living on my boat; there are no distractions from the things that allow me to live more fully. The simplicity of it all is well and good, and beautiful in its own sort of lifestyle experiment. But I could have lived simply on a plot of land or out of a van.

Living aboard provides me with the things I value most; hard work, quiet space, exploration. By default, it surrounds me with others who value these things in their own ways. Some of them live aboard. Some of them are fishermen. Some of them run businesses from boats or shore side buildings. All of them make up a vibrant community. Being part of this kind of community feels right to me.

And I suppose it doesn’t hurt that it all takes place on the water, either. I haven’t been at this long, but already I am as rich in perfect sunsets, curious seals, and gently rocking seas as I am in kind souls.


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