It is now five months and more than a week since we started working ´fulltime´ on LIV. We thought we could sail already in December, but it turned out that LIV needed a full renovation and a bit more time. One month more, became two, and three and since we didn´t had a place to stay, we moved every couple of weeks to a new place. At the beginning of April, we saw that we needed probably even more time and since our budget was planned on half year sailing, we also needed to work again to get some money in. This would also reduce the time we could work on our boat. Luckily a friend helped us out with a place to stay for the next three months (April, May and June), so we wouldn´t lose any more time with moving.
With this new home, for the first time this year we have stability and we can work and think better about what we do and how we want to live our lives when we need even more time to renovate the boat. And how I want to live my life has changed so much in the past year. My life has definitely changed for the better and I am very happy with my choice to really do what I like. Next to working on the boat, practice yoga and paint, I want to make this website as a way to keep friends and family posted of our adventures. It took a long time to have the stability and calmness in my mind to sit down and work on it. I know Peter likes the website and keeping friends and family updated too, but he doesn´t really like to write so it will probably be writing the most with adding fun videos of Peter.
So this is the beginning! This post is about the first months of our journey, from the end of October 2022 until 18th of January 2023.
Quitting my job
Quitting my job wasn´t something I took lightly. I used to love my job. I am very fascinated by life in general, but that you can change molecular functions of the body with a molecule in a pill and help people getting better is something I find endlessly interesting. Next to the theoretical part, I have always found it very fulfilling to contribute to better pharmaceutical care for people in general. I started working as a pharmacist at the hospital at the start of the Covid epidemic and it was a lot preparing, but it never really came to a big break out on Bonaire. We were very lucky here. I emigrated from the Netherlands to Bonaire for at least a year, possible for longer, so I was prepared to be flexible and positive. Although all the ingredients of a nice working environment were there, the right use of them was impossible for me with my direct colleagues. Pharmacies had to be closed, people with burnouts, conflicts and stress, so much unnecessary stress… Now I see how unhealthy I was living then and how much the stress had influenced my way of life. I didn´t want to quit because it felt I gave up, but I was very unhappy with how things were going and I couldn´t change anything about it, so after two-and-a-half-years I decided to ´go sailing´ and get a break from the chaotic-stress-environment at work. I resigned in the last weeks of October.
Let the moving begin – Sugarthief
Around that time the owners of the house I was renting decided to renovate it and put it on the short-term-renting market. We had until the 22nd of October to find a new place. Because we thought we could live on our boat by then, we took it easy. But oh my… could we have been more wrong?!
The date was coming closer quick and luckily we could move to the house of friends who were on holiday for three weeks. We thought that we could move our stuff from our house into the container of Peter, but it didn´t really fit, so most of it was still standing outside of the container behind a parking place at his former work. Emile helped us out so much these days! The moving took actually three days instead of one, and without him and his truck it wouldn´t have been possible at all. The rest of the stuff we could move to a hotel room at Tropical Divers at that point, because we had to stay one night there before we could go to our friends house, brewery and bar (called ´Sugarthief´). This was a very fun place to stay although we had so much stuff we needed to organize. It was a complete mess! We thought we could remove the stuff in front of the container and get some work done on the boat, but a three-week-marathon of rain broke loose. Totally uncommon for Bonaire! The container got flooded, the stuff outside was all wet and muddy, we couldn´t really work on the boat with all the rain and we still had a lot of stuff to organize from the moving.
Living at Sugarthief November 2022
During this time I was still working (my last day was 24th of November) and Peter was also starting to spend more time on the boat than on his company. We thought we could be sailing in December, spending Christmas at the Dominican Republic (haha! What a beautiful dream that was), but we needed to make progress and that was almost impossible with the rain. I tried to make a new layer of epoxy on the interior wood we brought to Sugarthief, but lack of space and a lot of rain made it not very nice. On the wood I prepared inside, there were moths stuck and bubbles, on the wood I put outside to dry, the rain made the epoxy unequal on the surface. I learned from this that enough space and a dry, dust-free environment is very important to make a flat, shiny and ´tight´ surface. I wanted to finish it, but in the end, it is more important to take time for it and do it with attention and care, better than fast and less careful. In the end I had to sand and epoxy the pieces all over again.
For one and a half week (14th of November – 6th December) we could stay at Eddies Boat in the Marina Harbor. Eddie has a 45ft catamaran with three bedrooms (with a hot shower), three bedrooms, a kitchen, internet and a lot of space. We could stay there for a couple of days when Peter installed new lithium batteries, install the automatic start of the generator when the batteries were going under a certain level and make a box for the compressor. Peter has been working on Eddies boat for a couple of years and we had the nice arrangement that we could take it out for a sail regularly when Eddie and Nina were back in the US. So many nice memories!
Sailing on the catamaran (August 2022)
Unfortunately, it was not possible to go sailing in November. At this time I was still working in the hospital, I went to yoga every morning and tried to work on the boat or stuff from the boat in some spare time. I have kept a journal and during this time, I realized it was very difficult for me. I wrote: ´… it is a difficult period right now. Not much space, not a nice place to work on the wood, a lot of mosquitos, hassle at work, I get overstimulated and restless.´ I talked about this with Peter and he was very positive and helped me get through this. He told me it was a emergency situation, we should be thankful for the the place to sleep and that we would have LIV water tight in three weeks. I see now I was still very stressed from work and the frustrations I had were not necessary. Eddies boat was an amazing place to stay, compared to places we would stay after this, and my hurry to get the wood done and LIV ready would also appear to be totally irrational.
After my last day at work on Thursday 24th of November, Peter and Emile picked me up from work and we had a small party with prosecco and a BBQ! Although it was finally my last day and I really enjoyed the freedom immediately, it would take a long time before my brain would be out of the work-stress-modus. After my last day at work, I continued working in the same manner but then on LIV. In my journal I have descriptions of the work I did and how many hours I spend on the boat and what my plan was for the next week. The notes read as if I was in a hurry and didn´t understand what I was doing ´What went good? It was fun! We make it better. With every step! Although now it´s VERY MESSY!´ followed by some notes about stuff to bring and what I wanted to do (I think).
Notes from journal (28th of November 2022)
On the 6th of December we moved to a hotel room at Tropical Divers. We could take a swim in the pool and we had a warm shower. Coffee we made on the BBQ outside and we could do our laundry at Emile’s place. During these days I was mainly busy on the deck. Getting the black stuff from between the teak wood, removing all the stuff from the deck and check what parts we have to remove from the teak. The weather was a bit better, there were still some rainy days but at least I could work.
Combination of pictures of the deck (December 2022)
On Sunday 18th of December I was working on the boat, and at once, I felt feverish, muscle pain over my entire body and some weird tiredness. I sat in the car for a while, but it wouldn´t pass and I needed to lay in bed. Fever, a lot of joint pain and feeling terrible, it took almost two weeks before I felt normal again. Peter got sick on Christmas Eve and we spend Christmas in bed, drinking loads of tea with honey. Peter said he hadn´t been this sick in years! Apparently some extreme variant of the flue was going around and it didn´t skip us.
At New Years Eve we went to the beach with Emile and pizza to see the sunset and we had a party at a house from friends. We thought we could move from a hotel room to an apartment at Tropical Divers, but it was double booked so we needed to find another place to sleep. On the same day. We moved all our stuff in our car and moved to another boat in the Marina.
I wish I could be more positive at that time, but this boat sort of broke me. I was very grateful we could stay there and that we had a place to sleep, but it was in survival mode. At least, for me at that time. Some of the stuff that frustrated me: a very tiny (cold) shower with very low pressure, really weird layout with mirrors everywhere (even on the ceiling), no air-conditioning (fortunately, Peter fixed it after a few days), the bed was very hard and high (we had to climb into it), to use the toilet we had to switch on/off a pump in the living room, we needed to fill the water tank every 2-3 days and a lot of mosquito’s. It was so weird! I couldn´t sleep these days and that made me grumpy. But there was more space on the motorboat so we could also prepare some more wood.
Repairing the bench of the cockpit on the motorboat (January 2023)
On LIV we renewed the cockpit with teak-deck-filler and epoxy. All the wooden panels from the cockpit were also redone and looked quite amazing. I got used to getting up at 8 or 9, going to the boat yard, work there until lunch, make grilled cheese sandwiches (and mayonnaise) with Peter and work from lunch until 18:00 hours (6 pm) before we got to the boat. Take a short and cold shower and try to sleep. Because I couldn´t sleep in the bed I slept a couple of nights on the couch in the living room. A couple of nights I couldn´t sleep because of terrible ear pain. Probably because of the dust from sanding, having ear plugs in and not cleaning my ears very well day after day. The pain was really distracting and it made everything not easier. I still felt stressed, very tired, I was worried we would run out of money soon (although we had more than enough), and I was frustrated because the planning I made appeared to be not realistic. Yep, my brain was still in work-modus. A lot of notes in my journal start with ´I had a terrible night´, ´I didn´t sleep well´ or ´I am worried about how my life is going to be, how I am going to earn money, and what I would like to do´. I did feel better than I did when I was working, and I was every day very happy I could go to the boat yard and not to the pharmacy. Now I see these doubts, worries and frustration as a withdrawal symptom of my working life. These feelings and thoughts I used to have about my work, so it was automatic behavior that I projected it on something else now I didn´t have to worry about work anymore. I knew somehow these feelings weren’t necessary and although I felt weird, I also felt really relieved and I felt sure I made the right decision. But it wasn´t easy and the deficiencies on the motorboat didn´t really help. Luckily we could move to a friends house on the 18th of January. I was counting the days.