For the last three months of our New Zealand adventure, we had the opportunity to live on Wellington waterfront, aboard ‘Shikari’. With Wellington being known as the windy city, living on a boat might not be the first place that you think of staying… but I can honestly say that we loved it, gale force winds and all! Living on a boat with a three and a half year old was an unexpected and totally random experience, but another adventure that we are so grateful to have had.
The boat we were staying on is designed to be a 2-berth racing boat, a day boat, rather than the home for three that we were using it as. Owners of similar boats seemed to be weekend sailing enthusiasts who would arrive at the marina on Saturday mornings to take their boats out for a rake around the harbour. We loved our cosy little boat and the reduced living costs to save up for our next big trip. It was a great way to spend the summer months!
Dining and Entertaining Aboard
The deck of the boat doubled up as our dining area and outdoor seating area in dry weather. With our little camping table, cushions and blankets for the cooler evenings, we were all set for al fresco dining and sundowners 🙂 We benefited from the extra outdoor space, particularly when Sophia had play-dates aboard. She loved showing her little friends the boat and scooting along the pier with them.
Living in the heart of the city
Speaking of dates, we were so fortunate to find a babysitter who also lives with her family on an incredible yacht at the same marina. She has been amazing with Sophia and was our ticket to date nights out in the city. Living in the city centre was a brand new experience for us and we really enjoyed being walking and cycling distance from comedy clubs, restaurants, bars, yoga studios, gyms and live music. There have been a few music festivals which we have enjoyed free from the deck of the boat too! Surprisingly there are about 75 live-aboards on this marina of 165 boats. We have met so many lovely people who live here, retired couples, tourists sailing through and a few other families with little kids. We did find it quite funny seeing business men leaving their boats all suited and booted in the mornings ready for their 5-minute walk to the CBD!
No running water or Wi-Fi
You may have noticed from the photos that there is no bathroom on board…in fact there was no running water at all…and no toilet…. There was a tap and an electricity point just outside the boat, like that at a campsite. So each time we needed to do the dishes or boil the kettle, we hopped off and filled up a 5-litre container. It really opened my eyes to how much water I can get through in a day…
There were lovely bathroom facilities at the marina offices on the pier, just a few metres from the boat, as well as great laundry facilities, an ironing area, hairdryer, a TV lounge, desk space and even a book exchange. Sophia wasn’t too keen on showers at this age so we brought a flexi-bucket and she bathed camping-style!
Getting our sea legs
For the first few weeks after moving aboard, Jeremy and I did feel a bit dizzy and as if the ground was moving all the time. I remember asking one of my colleagues if I was swaying, or if there had just been an earthquake. Interestingly it was neither, just me getting my sea legs apparently! The gentle rocking motion of the boat can be extremely relaxing at night, so much so that it lulled us all to sleep, particularly Sophia. However when the wind whipped up to 35 knots and beyond and the northerlies were raging, we were lying wide awake with Sleeping Beauty snoring sweetly through it all.
How do you entertain a 3-year old on a boat!?
It was very close living quarters and we were very intentional about getting out and about to explore the city. Living aboard during the summer months made it so enjoyable but it still was cosy. We got out and about as much as possible, usually to the beach after school, came home for dinner and then straight to bed. We used the local parks as our back gardens, and went to swimming pools and museums on rainy days. Te Papa museum was right on our doorstep and was a fantastic after school spot. We brought a range of toys aboard: games, puzzles, cuddlies, books, colouring and activity books. Sophia seemed to have enough to keep her entertained and was pretty tired after our busy days. On sunny evenings we would meet Jeremy at Oriental bay for a swim and a ‘fush and chups’ tea. It was absolutely idyllic.
Working and boating
Our alarm clock would go off at 6.45am and the three of us would be off the boat within 25 minutes. Jeremy would make 3 smoothies and I would get Sophia ready. We would eat breakfast smoothies in the car. We both kept our ‘work clothes’ in cupboards at work and on the evenings that I had to work late, I would bring a Tupperware of dinner for Sophia to eat on the way home in the car. The routine was planned and executed with military precision, lest chaos ensued each morning and we were late everyday for 12 weeks! Sometimes, Jeremy worked from ‘home’!
The layout of the boat is basically one room with a kitchenette and storage at the stern, sleeping compartment at the bow and everything else in the middle around the mast. Sophia had her own little mattress which we stored in the bow, then brought out into the living room area each evening. There are two long red sofa cushions in the living area, storage shelves behind them and a wooden table which attaches to the mast. It was pretty cosy! I could stand up in the main area but Jeremy couldn’t quite. We had a shelf each for belongings, toys and clothes. Everything else we moved into a storage facility, ready to ship onwards where we knew where we would be going next.
Jeremy has always enjoyed sailing and dreamt of living on or owning a boat so when we found ourselves making the decision to leave NZ and not want to lock into another annual rental agreement it was the opportunity of a lifetime for us. We didn’t take our boat out sailing, mainly because we have no idea how to, but some neighbours took us out on theirs. Jeremy helped to crew a boat in races around the bays.
Similar to the campervan facilities we had our South Island trip, there was a two-ring gas hob on board, a small fridge, a toastie machine, crockery and cutlery. We also brought a steamer and smoothie maker. Every inch of space in the kitchen area, which is big enough for one person to stand still, was utilised to the max. Cupboards were positioned in every nook and cranny and there was a surprising amount of storage space in the kitchenette. Definitely tiny home living at its best! It really made us consider how much stuff we need. It probably helps that we are vegetarian and didn’t need to store lots of things in the fridge.
No regrets; it was the most amazing experience. Now onto the next chapter, with the wind in our sails!