Awhile ago, David mentioned “nesting” when he was discussing Refits in Exotic Places. I thought I'd add some to that topic. Though the highlights of my life aboard are travel-oriented, after we've been traveling for a few months, I have an intrinsic need to settle down for awhile. I need to be in a place where I can catch up on my life, settle in, get to know a place and its people. Sometimes just a few days is fine; other times it's longer. We've come to call it “nesting”.
I think it's essential to realize that in order to maintain harmony in a household or on a boat, it's important that individual needs are understood and dealt with. David and I have often discussed my need to nest over the years. It's as real as needing food or sleep and it's a longing that I can't explain; perhaps it's instinctive. But it's there and I recognize it. This need to nest actually works out well because just about the time I feel the urge to take a break from travel, David has the urge to start a big boat project.
So how does this nesting thing work? Well, it's not as if we have to stop what we're doing immediately so I can start collecting twigs and grass. Having lived aboard for 13 years and lived together for ~30 years, we've kind gotten used to certain things about each other. I'm not subtle about it. I say “We need to stop for awhile”. He says “Sure, where did you have in mind?” and we go from there.
Once we've decided where and when we'll stop, things seem to brighten up for me. I make lists of what I'll do, where we'll go and how I'll spend my time. David does the same, but it's usually boat-related projects he has in mind. We arrive and it's a whole new world to explore.
I try to get involved with the community depending on our length of stay. I've tutored students in Trinidad, taught English to Ecuadorian hotel and dock workers, set up potlucks, cruiser get- togethers and organized Christmas parties in countless places. I've written port guides and travel guides to share with other yachties. I want to meet locals. I want to meet other yachties. I want to know where the best supermarkets are and what crafts are available. It's incredibly exciting.
I start my own boat projects as well. Sometimes it's sewing-intensive...a new bimini, dodger, sail cover. Other times it's varnishing or stainless polishing. I'm pretty handy as a helper when it's called for, but usually David prefers working alone. It's his “cave time”.
Yup, “cave time”. This is David's opportunity to mull things over, spend some time in his own private Idaho and not worry necessarily about entertaining me or my whims. He can get lost in a project and I certainly don't feel the least bit ignored. On the boat at sea, we're together 24x7. Being on land and stationary allows each of us to expand our space a bit and pursue individual interests. We get together in the evenings and share the woes and joys of the day … kind of like normal couples.
We think this is healthy. We enjoy the change and feel renewed and relaxed as we head back out to sea again.