Pregnant on a Sailboat

I lived on a sailboat for 7 months of my pregnancy. And I fully agree with you, that I've probably got a couple of screws loose in my head!

The natural and immediate question most people ask goes something to the tune of, "Hey crazy lady, what terrible sequence of events brought you to the point of spending some of the most uncomfortable months in your life on a 32 foot sailboat that barley fits one person comfortably?" This of course is a fair and honest question and what  follows is an attempt to let you into the labyrinth that is my mind. :-) Long story short, I saw an opportunity for an adventure that I thought I'd be crazy NOT to take. 

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In broad strokes, I married a man in Southern California who at the time of our wedding was fulfilling one of his childhood dreams of living on a sail boat. After our wedding, I quit my job, moved across the country (I was living on the east coast while we dated) and settled right in as married couples do. However, our plan was to live on the boat for a couple of weeks until we found an apartment and then say goodbye to the salt life. I guess I could have seen it coming, but like most of my well intended plans, my thirst for the path less traveled got squarely in the way. Little did I know that I would fall in love with the boat life and the marina community.

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Our 32 foot, 3/4 hull, cutter, 1978 "Downeaster" sail boat, became the home I never knew I wanted for a little more than two years. Our tiny oasis became a place where I could unplug and relax, surrounded by some of the most beautiful culture, nature, and views that money just can't buy. For those unfamiliar with cruising sailboats, they come equipped with everything you could possibly need. A galley (also known as a kitchen), a head (also known as a bathroom), a living space, navigation table and a comfortable bed were efficiently placed to fit nicely into our cozy boat. To give you a sense of the optimized design, there was rack (bed) space for 5 adults to sleep comfortably. We were lucky enough to host a continuous stream of visiting family and friends.   

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I had been aboard the boat for a little over a year when I found out the wonderful news about my pregnancy. Immediately, I couldn't help but think of all of the challenges the boat would bring. "Am I going to be sick on the boat?...How will I be able to move around the boat with a huge belly?...Oh gosh, we need to move off the boat asap!"... Hindsight proved, there really wasn't anything to worry about. With some small exceptions, I loved living on the boat while pregnant. Morning sickness did come, but only on one occasion, and I can't really blame the boat for that. To be honest, I'm not sure that the boat didn't help ease some of my morning queasiness. When I wasn't feeling 100%, I would just put my feet up and be softly rocked to sleep to the rhythm of the gentle harbor waves. 

One of my favorite take-a-ways from my pregnant experience was discovering there is so much joy when living a simple life. The littlest things brought great joy – the marina birds, fish, and even a seal, or the beautiful water sunsets, or the nights we took the dingy for a spin to visit the neighbors. And of course, the many sailing adventures around San Diego bay. 

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But of course, it wasn't always sunshine and rainbows. When I was 28 weeks pregnant I suffered from sciatic nerve pain in my lower back. It was pretty uncomfortable to limp or rather waddle down the docks. It was about a 200 meter walk down the dock from our boat to the marina office. I won't forget one evening when my nerve was especially inflamed, I couldn't make it from our car to the dock gates much less the 200 meters to our boat. My resourceful hubby sprang into action and confidently declared, "Don't worry, I know exactly how to get you back to the boat" and off he went. A few minutes later, he reemerged with a salty dock cart. Leaving my pride at the gate, I crawled into the cart and he wheeled me back to the comfort of our boat. Even though I was in pain, we always made our atypical lifestyle work for us and we always had fun while doing it. 

As I hit the third trimester, we decided it was time for us to say goodbye to our little adventure. We had a baby on the way and we were ready to be land dwellers once again. We were fortunate enough to sell our boat to a fellow boat lover which codified the end of a wonderful chapter in our lives. Moving off the boat and into a house was bittersweet. There are things about living on a boat that are impossible to replicate on land. I'm so glad we started our marriage off with such an adventurous frame of mind.

So, am I crazy for doing my pregnancy in cramped, close, inconvenient quarters? I'll let you be the judge, but in a way I think the crazy ones are the people who chose comfort and convenience over taking a chance to live an adventure of a lifetime. 

With love + blessings,

Elise 

@WaterWanderer