When we first heard from Ryan’s sister Carina that she and her two boys, Henry and Xander, wanted to visit as guests on board the boat, my first thought was, “Yay, visitors!” My second thought was, “Crap, where will we put everyone?!”
Having guests on board can be a lot of fun if the location is right, the weather is good, and everyone’s expectations are very low. After all, it’s really fun to brag to your friends, “We’re going to spend a week on a yacht in the Dominican Republic…,” but, as we cruisers know, it’s not always as awesome as it sounds. It can be. But it might require some clarification of your visitors’ definition of “awesome.”
When it comes to having fellow boaters visiting, we don’t worry much about managing expectations. Other sailors know what to expect from a 34-foot monohull. But non-boating guests can pose quite a challenge. For one, there is very little space on board, so if your visitors aren’t coming from, say, a studio apartment in Manhattan and/or aren’t used to bumping elbows with someone every time they pick up their drink, they may have difficulties adjusting to such close quarters.
So before Ryan, his sister and our two nephews got too excited about their dream vacation on our “yacht,” only to have their dreams corroded by too much salt water, lack of air conditioning and moldy sheets, I started devising a mental list of things to warn our visitors about before they arrived to the boat:
1) You might not be able to shower. Like, ever. Well, okay, maybe you can have one shower. But it has to be short. And you can’t let the water run while you soap up your hair.
2) You can’t put paper in the toilet (head). Remember the rule, Nothing goes in the head unless you have eaten it first. This is very important if you don’t want to get your hands dirty helping me fix a clogged head.
3) Doing dishes is tricky business. Water is precious and hard to come by, so we use a finely-tuned method of filling the largest dirty vessel with water and soap, using that to soap down the other dishes, then using a slight trickle of water to rinse down the entire load using little more than a drinking cup’s worth. Better yet, just leave the dishes for us to do.
4) We only have one family car (the dinghy). So shore trips for five people in a dinghy that only fits three require some coordination. You may not be able to go to shore anytime you want to, so bring a good book.
5) Our plans to go somewhere may change at any time due to wind, waves, engine troubles or some other factor I am completely unable to predict at this time. Again, bring a good book. In fact, bring a few books.
I guess you could say we got lucky this time, though. I never actually had to send my sister-in-law the weird email I would’ve entitled “Tasha’s Tips for Happy Boat Cohabitation.” At the last minute, she booked her and the kids into an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Plata, circumventing any need for me to worry about whether or not a family of five could comfortably cram themselves into our little boat for a week. And not kill each other.
Now all we needed to worry about was making sure we dragged Carina, Henry and Xander out of their resort to show them a little of the rough-around-the-edges Dominican Republic we’d grown to know and love so much in the short time we’d been here. After all, we couldn’t let our little nephews go back to England thinking the Dominican Republic looked like a massive cruise ship tied to land now, could we?
“But…wait…did you say they have a gym?! And unlimited hot showers?! Never mind. You’ll have to drag me out of the resort!!!