A Part of


After almost five years of living afloat at dock and anchor, in calm and storm, under sunny skies and drizzling rain, my perception of this life changes almost with the tide.

Shifting perceptions happen on land too, but I canít emphasize enough that everything is amplified on a boat: the lows are lower, the highs are higher. Throughout it all however, there has been one resounding constant: the sense of freedom you own. Itís yours.

Different people have different reasons for choosing this life. For Mike Tanguay, who lives aboard a 30-foot Catalina on the Fraser River (near Vancouverís airport) itís the immediate freedom that makes it worthwhile. ďThe best is those sunny mornings when I open my hatch. . .

Life Afloat

by Beverley Wood

". . .my boat is my RV on the water, my fast get-away for the weekend."
And he too feels the contstant motion and change that a lot of boaters treasure. "Every week on the water is a new story, something different.," says Mike. "Sometimes good, sometimes bad but itís the freedom over all that has me hooked."

Steve and Sara Park's craft

For Steve and Sara Park, who live aboard a 45-foot strip planked schooner in Vancouverís False Creek, this is their opportunity to make their dream come true. Says Steve, ďYou canít not plan on heading out when you live on a sail boat!Ē But, he cautions, ďLiving aboard is not for everyone. For us, it has been great. It has taken the focus off buying things like a big screen TV and kept us focused on things that will help us when we are away from the dock. There is also a certain nobility in investing time and money into a vehicle that can travel the planet. Ikea furniture is nice but a sail boat is a global adventure.Ē
Like Steve and Sara, our plan five years ago was to learn the ropes and pay the mortgage until that fateful day when we could sail off into the proverbial sunset. But in the immortal words of Jimmy Buffett, Living in the Briar Patch is not what it appears... Circumstance and happenstance have combined to change our course (for the time being, at least).

Last week, we listed our boat for sale.

The next stage will be a land-based residence with minimal upkeep requirements (and cable from hell, I might add).

Itís heartbreaking to be leaving her (a boat is not an inanimate object) but itís time. . .

The sunset we'll sail into. Photo by Bayne Stanley.
. . .primarily because we donít have time: Time to enjoy her and really be part of the experience. Not like Iíll entirely miss varnishing all the bright work but it is part of the life, it is part of belonging with the boat and she with you.

Last year we had little time to mess about and work on her and even less time to leave the dock. And this year is shaping up to be even more demanding.

She has carried me to some magical places, of both parnoramic views and pinpoint insights. And Iím not sure I can find that on land (I donít think itís standard issue in a Yaletown loft). I will wish for a short sentence. I will listen to Jimmy Buffett everyday. And next time, I will hold out for pelicans and palm trees.

The Good Life

Troubled Waters. . .

How we became "liveaboards"

About the Author

Beverley Wood is a writer and marketing consultant who worked for 12 years with Maclean's magazine (as Operations Manager). She has published articles with Maclean's, The Globe and Mail (Destinations), Tribute, Kid's Tribute, Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim News Syndication Service (Far East dailies). She also writes screenplays, and provides clients in Vancouver with writing, editing and public relations services. She is currently working on the screenplay for
. . . a new fiction novel written with her husband, Chris Wood (Canadian pub date: Nov/97; USA pub date: March/98). In 1993, Chris convinced her to leave a sprawling Texas ranch and move onto a 48-foot boat in Vancouver's Burrard Inlet. She has never been the same since.

Beverley at the helm
Click here to e-mail Beverley.
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Originally posted Feb. 22, 1998. Text copyright Beverley Wood, 1998. Part of the original Sideroad.
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