One year ago we packed up the cats, said goodbye to our house, and moved aboard Goblin full time. A year on the water. A year with no yard but with a whole city to explore. A year of small, close living. A year of learning.

Big lesson #1 This life takes a little more work.

There are steps everywhere. Big steps up onto the boat itself, careful steps along the deck to enter the cockpit, ladder steps up and down from cockpit to cabin over and over throughout the day. One step down into the hallway, one step up,every time I head to the bathroom or follow Kinsley there. Five hundred steps along the dock to get to the boat, five hundred steps to leave, three thousand steps for each load of laundry (thank you Fitbit for keeping track). Add to that moving groceries and kids in dock carts and I have my upper body workout covered.

Cooking requires gymnastics to gather the ingredients, taking apart the couch multiple times a day, clearing counter tops to open the fridge or freezer, and getting on my hands and knees to pull out pots and pans. It took 11 months to have a working refrigerator and freezer. Monitoring propane is part of life, to avoid running out of fuel halfway through baking biscuits for guests (only happened once!) Dishes are washed by hand, heating water in the tea kettle or just washed cold, watching the volume of water I use along the way.

My to-do list is never ending. Once project leads to three more. I will always have woodwork that needs scraping or sanding or refinishing or epoxy work. I keep the tools and supplies close at hand and do a little work each day that the weather cooperates. Right now there are more than a dozen pending projects, everything from replacing portlight gaskets to making decisions about solar and wind power. Our completed maintenance list is more than ten pages long, I look back to that on the days I’m feeling discouraged.

Big lesson #2 This life is a little easier.

Our family doesn’t have to rush anymore. Days used to be filled with deadlines, my leaving for work, kids dressed and ready for school and daycare, Alex dropping them off, gymnastics in the afternoon, daycare pickup. Now, we wake up when we’re ready and slowly move through breakfast. If Kinsley wants to settle into play for hours while still wearing her pajamas, that’s fine. If Owen decides he wants to read or code all day while Kinsley and I head out, that’s fine too. Alex still works five days a week but can start when he’s ready, pause to lend a hand on a boat project, and return to work without a commute or daycare pickup hanging over him.

Our life is simpler. I have just enough clothing to go from washing day to washing day without fearing that I will run out. The kids are the same. Mornings don’t involve decision making, we each grab whatever’s on top. Both Owen and Kinsely have only a handful of toys and possessions. There are some favorite stuffed animals, some beloved books, a few open ended toys, and a heap of art supplies. Both willingly go through their possessions regularly and tell us what to send to storage, give away, or throw away. Clean up never takes long.

We’re together as a family. I’m with my kids all day, every day, and I know what they are doing. I don’t spend dinner asking questions to find out what they did all day, I was there. I don’t miss out on milestones. I don’t miss out on moments of revelation. I’m there when things are frustrating and I watch them overcome frustration. Alex works tucked into the nav station and overhears parts of our day. He knows when we head out, he sees everyone’s mood as we return home. Owen and Kinsley are friends, close friends. They play together, take care of each other, compromise automatically, and (mostly) give each other the space they need.

More than anything, we have dreams and plans. Liveaboard has been lovely, but our thoughts are moving towards cruising. Leaving the dock, waving goodbye to familiar trees and land, and seeing where the wind will take us. There’s much to do before we can leave but we’re crossing items off the list all the time. We’ll get there.

Big lesson #3 Still no regrets.