Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Northern base camp

What is my favorite skipper doing ? Training for the Spring Marathon to prepare Röde Orm for her departure ? Or may be this Viking is making sure he will have some big juicy apples to distill his secret brew.  The problem is we won't be around to pick them up. This small cute rustic house 500 kms north of here will be deserted most of the time expect for a yearly family visit. It is a temporary land base that Magnus has chosen to keep things that could not fit on the boat and could not be given away. It is situated in one of the nicest place in Sweden, in Gamleby, where the Stockholm Archipelago starts. As all nomads we need a base camp to come back once in a while to rest, or to gather our souvenirs. It could be a temporary one and the camp can change places as we go along, until we found the perfect compromise.  

Thursday, March 5, 2009

our life style...

Our faithful diesel heater..

Living aboard full time on  a small boat, at anchor or moored to a d0ck in a sunny warm place or in a blistery cold country has a romantic appeal. It is simplifying our lives by keeping only what is needed. It is minimalizing our needs down to the absolute necesities. In our boat, no fridge, no freezer (well... it is for now the least of our problems..), no washing machine, no TV, micro-wave oven, no hot water on the tap, no shower. Just the bare minimum.
Yes it is a simplier life, but not an easier one and certainely not during winter in Sweden. Almost every move we make on the boat has to be calculated not to bump to something or bump into someone... Cabin fever is at the corner ! Cooking is always more challenging than in a house even when the boat is still. And I complicate the task by only using the top of the diesel heater to cook. The heat source is there, so I use it instead of the kerosene stove which sometimes requires a good dose of patience to light  properly ! But of course, the "one pot at a time" operation can be a  demanding sport sometimes. Not only do I need to be organized but also imaginative in my cooking and that is personal challenge where my French pride is at stake.... Because if we live a simplistic life too minimalist for some people, we eat well in Röde Orm. At sea or not, on a boat, cooking takes more time, in fact everything takes more time. Going to the toilets or for an evening shower is not only opening a door and stepping in or out. It is dressing up warmly, coat, gloves, boots, hat, getting out of the warm salon without letting too much heat out (that means climbing over the companion way boards without removing them.. nice work out !) then carefully stepping on the deck watching for ice and make the big step off the bow on to the pier. That is relatively easy when the sea is calm in the harbor but it can be challenging when the boat jumps up and down and pulls on his lines. The water is freezing cold and a mishap can be deadly.
That makes anyone realizes how much we take things for granted. Every movements, actions is plently lived and thought. Going to the marina restrooms can be at time a polar expedition !
So ? simple yes, as life used to be, but not without hardship and work. On the other hand there is some wonderful rewards : as to enjoy and witness a frozen harbor displaying big tiles of ice in a still crispy morning, to listen to the sound of crushing ice against the hull, admiring the daily commute of flocks of geese, or to smile at the clumsy swans trying to ice skate on the frozen sea. Every time we stick our nose out of our little cozy sea igloo, we are rewarded even when the wind blows gale force. We are sitting at the first row !!