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Monday, October 18, 2010

How much stuff?

People have some funny ideas about how much stuff they need.

Lately I've been reading a lot about sailboat living. Still looking for the right boat at right price. In the mean time, I've been doing a huge amount of research.

A common issue is the lack of space on a sailboat. Over and over I read about how people have had to adjust to a much tinier space than they are used to. The average American home is pretty darn big, and many people attempt to recreate as much of that as possible on a boat. It can be done, but only by buying way too much boat. Go ahead -if you have the millions to burn and want to live that way.

The problem for many new sailors is the fact they've never never had to figure out how to live well with little.

I used to do a lot of backpacking. When you have to carry everything you'll need on your back, packing light is essential. I started out with good sized backpacks, and over time, scaled it down. I could head in the woods for four days with an 18 pound pack. There are people who hike with much smaller packs. My own got a bit larger as I added some items that I didn't need, but enjoyed: a couple books, cooking stove, and a good tent. Yes, a tent was extra. Slept just fine using a tarp or a poncho for cover.

Canoe camping proved to be a real luxury. I could add a lot more gear to my basic hiking pack: folding chairs and tables, a cooler, fresh food, grills, big tents, air mattress, fishing gear, beer -all kinds of stuff.

It was all good preparation for when we lived out of our car while traveling the country. In addition to the canoing gear, we could bring our laptop computers. We'd listen to music, watch movies, keep in touch by e-mail, and take care of business. A small inverter ran our few electronics off the car battery.

For me, the available space on a sailboat, even a less than 30 foot sailboat, looks pretty roomy. Of course, I'm not thinking about moving down from a house, but moving up from a tent.

Even if you aren't planning on living on a sailboat, it's good to know how little you need to survive and how only a bit more can be luxury.

You may discover that having a lot less stuff can be liberating. At some point, we don't own stuff, stuff owns us.



  1. How true. Your last statement tells it all.

  2. Sixbears,damn that is true!Some folks fill up every bit of space,mostly with junk.Down sizing myself.


  3. People are too addicted to being surrounded by crap. I've been tossing and selling stuff the past couple weeks myself. And good riddance I say...

  4. How true this is. Myself I have been thinning out my 'Stuff' for a year now including excess guns and have several more to go. It's amazing just how much what amonts to junk one can aquire.