Life on wheels…we have been on the road, more or less, for almost a week and I am beginning to tune into the differences, minor and major, between land yachting and sea yachting.
I think one of the biggest ones is the ability to take a break from the road when you feel the need. On a boat, in the middle of nowhere, in the pitch black, with the seas growling around you and thundering past you – you can’t just say “y’know, I need a little time out here. Let’s just pull over to the side and take a breather.. maybe wait until the wind subsides and the seas stop abusing us”. In a camper – headwinds pounding us and the traffic cutting us off and scaring the bejesus out of me.. if we felt so inclined, we could wend our way to the side of the road and sit there until our heart rates returned to normal, maybe make a little tea, have a bathroom break. Unlike Canada, the US has rest stops approximately every hour, so when you see that sign you can make the decision and pull over if you so desire. Except in LA of course. No rest for the wicked, you are in the middle of nine lanes of tormented and demented souls, so it is actually a little more like bashing 30 miles off shore there with fishboats bearing down on you every mile. Although unlike the fish boat scenario, on land you know there is an end in sight two or three hours later.
And when you find a place to park your rig, unlike anchoring in unknown waters with the wind and waves turning you around and knocking you about… once you have stopped the engine, the world stops moving ( mostly) and you are free to step out, walk around, make your meal, have a drink – no worries about spilling the wine or tipping the hot pot of spaghetti sauce all over yourself or having a tray of hot lamb chops slide out on top of you. (yes, that really happens when you are boating)
OK, that’s the big difference.
Other differences are a bit more subtle. The equipment is somewhat different, although they all set out to accomplish the same tasks.
I never knew a slinky would be part of our necessities. But there it is, holding up the sewer hose that keeps thinks moving in the right direction ( out of the holding tank and into the sewer)… pretty neat contraption!
The other thing that made me smile was the power cord. Having dealt with boat power cords for years, when we pulled out the camper cord I was a bit taken aback at its small size – but then, this is a camper. We are pretty basic in our needs and not trying to run numerous fancy greedy bit and pieces of machinery and electronics. The fridge is propane ( whaaaat?) unless we are plugged in, the hot water heater is propane unless we plug in… we have two solar panels on top that happily dribble electricity into our batteries as long as it is sunny and hey, we are in Southern California…. until that sun drops down in a blaze of glory there is almost always sun.
(except today… it rained today. Yes, California needs the rain, but does it have to rain on the poor Vancouverites who exist in a rain cloud 90% of the time???)
Sometimes a boat or a camper needs to get away from civilization. In nautical terms, it’s called dropping the hook in a quiet bay somewhere ( hopefully). In a camper, it’s called boon docking or dry camping ( I think). There are no convenient sewer inlets or fresh water taps , so like boating, you have to figure out a way to deal with all those nasty necessities if you are going to park/anchor for more than a few days.
In a boat, as in the camper, you have holding tanks and water tanks… water goes out, water goes in… but it stays in the boat until you are somewhere you can safely and in an environmentally friendly manner, pump it overboard. After all, the ocean is full of sea life and honestly, to coin a phrase from a popular toilet paper brand, we all go. Single cel organism or giant blue whale… all the same. Just more.
On land… well, now, up till now we haven’t had to deal with that. We have holding tanks… and no matter how far away from the city you get you aren’t going to be pumping directly overboard. Just saying.
So hopefully there are pump out stations situated in places that allow us to keep things …. not overflowing. Having had that problem in the boat once or twice, I would not want to have it happen in the camper. Also the aforementioned rest stops every hour in America? Practically perfectly timed for even the smallest bladder!!!
As for fresh water, we take on city water to fill our tanks wherever we can, and in both cases use filters to ensure potability. On the ocean, though, we have an extra trick up our sleeves – the watermaker. Magically, it converts salt water into drinking water and as long as you keep it happy, clean, and loved, it will fill your tanks as long as you need it. On land – not so. Pity, that! I would assume that if we were camping where it could consistently rain on us, a rainwater collection system would be appropriate. Not that I have heard of it, but it seems to make sense. Except who would want to spend half their time camping in a rain forest when they already live there and bought the camper to get out of it??? However as today has proven, it does rain down here so maybe it’s not so far fetched. So therefore on land, without a watermaker, conservation is key. Having spent years on boats without watermakers, I am thinking I can fall back on old habits, shower in a cup of water every 5 days, wash my face and brush my teeth with the same thimbleful of water, wipe dishes down with a lick and a promise and call them clean… that’s the other difference with boating vs camping..on a boat you can bring in some salt water to wash in. We will have to try to camp near rivers and lakes, methinks.
Boat swings when at anchor.. your favourite radio station or wifi cuts in and out as you swing in the wind and the current.. and if you anchored facing the sun because you wanted to be warm all day mother nature may have other ideas and swing you into the shade all day. On land, you tune in the dial and it stays put. Lovely!
On a boat you have a radio that you keep on for emergencies and so you monitor channel 16… which is often full of loud chattering people yelling at each other or children playing with the mike and being obnoxious.. but you can’t turn it off because you really need to listen for the occasional call from a friend or some such thing. Camper? nada. we haven’t equipped the rig with a CB or a ham radio … yet…. if we start doing long distance land cruising I may get my way and install one or the other or both.
Both our boat and our camper have what I call a swim grid… a platform on the stern of the vessel/vehicle from which you can jump off into the – water… or onto the concrete if you are a camper. In a boat, if you are working with something and accidentally drop it off the swim grid, it is gone forever, unless you know someone with dive equipment. On land… you know. captain obvious here…
Oh, another big one.
We filled up the fuel tank on Northern Ranger before we left San Diego last year for the trip down the coast. Haven’t had to fill up since. 3000 mile range, give or take.
I lost count of how many times we filled up the truck on the way from Vancouver to San Diego. And we are only halfway there, approximately. So yeah…. on the other hand, Northern Ranger maxes out at 6 maybe 7 knots in a following sea, and the truck happily hums along towing the Grady and carrying the camper at 60 mph. But then it’s not always about the destination, getting there is indeed most of the fun!
And besides, I am not even going to tell you how much a fill up for the boat is. So maybe it all evens out. I’ll have to do the math later. If I get inspired. Do I even want to know?
We were liveaboards for almost ten years, “sneakaboards” for the majority of that time. One of the things we always said about making a marina your home was that boaters seem to invariably have a deep respect for each other’s privacy. Aside from the occasional cat who decided to make you his second home, or ducks who decided your dock box was perfect for raising a family in, neighbours were generally polite and seldom seen. We always thought that RV parks would be the opposite, full of noisy and probably nosy individuals making your life miserable.. well, I apologize now to all those I have inadvertently offended with my unfounded prejudices.
Although we have had little experience as yet, so far the RV parks have been quiet, gentile places where guests smile and nod , perhaps stop for a short chat, but overall keep to themselves… even the ones with small ( gasp) children and even smaller dogs.
There is as much space between us and the neighbour as there is at a dock… maybe a little more, but not much. I do have to make sure blinds are closed before I decide to change into different clothes, as we are living in a bit of a fishbowl. But other than that… perfectly civilized living indeed!
And now – time to pillage the larder and make dinner, as I attempt to use up all the meat and vegetables I have on board between now and the time we hit the Mexican border, as Lawrence has just checked on line and discovered that no, they do not allow meat or veggies into their country. We were aware of that last year when we crossed in the boat, but they seemed to have relaxed their rules then. Never one to take a chance, I will endeavour to create dishes with everything I have in the fridge and freezer that may be forbidden… which means we will go from two meals a day to perhaps four or five. Ah well… wonder if any of those quiet neighbours around us are interested in a little dinner tonight? and breakfast tomorrow? and lunch? and dinner.. hmmmm….