That’s a lie, a typical day in boating life is non-existent! But I can give you a summary of days that happen more frequently than not.
One reason why I love this particular job is because whether or not the owner is on board, I can wake up and do yoga every morning. On previous boats, when the owner was on board, I went to bed so late and had to wake up so early that I valued those five hours of sleep too much to take one for yoga. I do yoga for about an hour if he’s here and 1.5-2 hours of yoga and meditation if he’s not. I do 20 minutes of coconut oil pulling (to rid myself of toxins and whiten my teeth. The teeth whitening really works!) first thing when I get up and use this time to read Vasistha’s Yoga.
After this, if the owner is on board, I change into my uniform and grab my chamois so that I can get the boat looking perfect before he wakes up. I chamois the stainless if there’s dew on it, wipe off any bird droppings and clean the hundreds of cobwebs. I’m so glad I’m over my fear of spiders because the river is a spider’s paradise and an arachnophobe’s nightmare! Clearing the cobwebs is my least favourite part of the job because they spin such beautiful homes and I feel bad destroying them. If there’s dew on the windows, I take a squeegee and make the windows sparkle. Then the boss gets up, sometimes gives me tasks to do or I go in and help Ms Argentina serve breakfast. I finish walking along the boat making sure there are no water stains or bird droppings as I prefer to take care of them before they are brought to my attention by the owner. Throughout the day, I polish off fingerprints, do the required tasks, or help Ms Argentina with the interior. Around 8.30 or 9 pm, the owner tells me to stop working and sometimes gives me money to go enjoy myself. The owner doesn’t like to stay in the same place for very long so quite often we cruise along the river and then I spend the day doing the lines in the locks. I love it! He’s normally at the bow with me so sometimes he gives me tips and he always says how well I’ve done. By the end of summer I’m expecting to be able to throw a lasso like a cowgirl.
When the owner is not on board, it varies. Except my yoga routine. There’s always cleaning to do. This boat is 30 meters (98 feet) long and I’m the only deckhand so by the time I finish the bow, the stern needs cleaning again. The owner chooses spots far away from where we left him to meet him again so we can sometimes cruise down the river every day for four to five days before we have a break. I don’t mind, it’s chilled. There’s so many sites to see or sometimes I read or study outside in the cockpit. I usually steer for a couple of hours, do the lines through the locks and generally just enjoy the scenery. I can’t complain! It’s more relaxed when the boss isn’t here because the Captain doesn’t expect me to clean as we’re cruising along. Sometimes I do anyway because I don’t like a dirty boat!
On the odd day off, I take one of the boat bicycles and explore whatever area we’re in, try some of the local food and/or drinks or write. I work hard and don’t really have my own life because the owner can say he’s coming with only hours of notice. However, there are so many advantages to this life that I don’t mind giving up my freedom. I know that in a couple of years, my salary is going to give me ultimate freedom!
Yesterday, I spent the whole day de-calcifying and washing down the side of the boat that isn’t on the dock. As I was balancing with a few toes in the groove of the side of the boat, the tip of my other big toe grazing the dinghy, and my go go gadget arm extending as high as it would reach to tie the dinghy line on the boat, I couldn’t help but smile. I am basically a boat cleaner. My eight year old niece could do my job, yet there’s no other way I would chose to ‘make a living’ right now. Visions of my office life came flooding back to me and I was so grateful that even though I’m far off from the typical University age, I found a new area to work in that gives me pleasure. There are many captains in their mid 40’s and older who are so tired of this job, yet it is all they’ve done and it’s difficult to retrain, especially for the salary they’ve been accustomed to! I really wanted a different life to the one I was leading and I was willing and did, give everything up to find what suited me better.
So there you have it! Possibly not the glamour you thought this kind of job would have, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had!