Purge 1Winter, when it’s too cold to work on the boat, is a good time to prepare for the move from land to ship aboard living.  Although it’s nine months away, we recognize that if we don’t start culling our stuff now, we will be overwhelmed and exhaust ourselves if we wait to the “just in time” moment.  We must purge because we have filled our lives with stuff we don’t use or even remember we have; stuff we can’t put on the boat; and stuff that is not important to us, but maybe is to our kids.   From the practical aspect, John and I are spending most of our “big bucks” on outfitting Dolce Vento so there is no spare cash for stuff storage extravagance.

I am my mother’s child in that I like my world neat and tidy.  Combined with a history of moving every five years or so, I have become an experienced and expert “culler”, who not only can organize and de-clutter a clothes closet with the artistry of a modern minimalist, but can also dig deep into drawers, cabinets, bookshelves and breakfronts to extract unknown junk and abandoned treasures.  For example, late August when, two weeks after my retirement, I took to my clothes closets, drawers and storage containers.  I eliminated most my work clothes,  3/4 of my shoes and 1/2 my jewelry and accessories, a huge success that now has me living out of 1/2 of our walk-in closet.

This first formal “house” purge focused on “things we have not used since we last moved”, resulting in what would have been six to eight properly packed storage boxes.  A toaster, four wine glasses for big red, a crafted serving dish with lid, a kitchen torch for creme brulee browning, and other small usable things were claimed by our close friend; several books, games and travel sets were identified for John’s kids; and several items will live on the boat later.  The rest is going to Good Will today, including 8 15-year-old heavy dish chargers from our disappeared everyday dishes, old champagne glasses, an assortment of kitchen gadgets, teapots and two coffee makers.  Ca-ching!  John and I went through every drawer and cabinet in the living room, dining room and kitchen, deciding to keep or leave each item we found.  It took three hours to peruse and another two to package up to prepare for transport.  What amazed us is that you would never know we got rid of a thing; there is no visible difference.

In a future purge we’ll be assessing the more valuable and sentimental stuff. Prior to that event, we’ll survey our children to see what they may be interested in.  (Do they want your grandmother’s sterling silverware engraved with the letter A, the small wooden giraffe statue my daughter gave me years ago, martini, liquor and wine glasses we no longer use, or our collection of Santa Clauses?)  What they don’t want, we may actually put on the internet for sale.

Another purge will focus on John’s office and our joint paper files.  What to scan, what to keep, what to shred will be up for discussion.  My husband is an information and electronic equipment hoarder so this is no small task.  He started months ago, but I still don’t see  much of a dent in the piles, nor has his old computer been removed from its place next to his new one he set up almost two years ago.

The last purge, just before the mover arrives will be a solemn event where we will lend artwork to a few close friends and family who want to keep it safe for use and enjoy it until our eventual return to land.  This will be a carefully curated and inventoried event so no one can later claim, “Gee, I didn’t know you had lent us that piece. I thought we picked it up a flea market a couple of years ago.” What is left will be placed in storage with furniture, linens and the like, awaiting our return.

This purging is teaching us that a sailing adventure is not just about the trip; it’s also about the process to get there.  Through the planning and preparation we are taking the time to learn what we must know, recover many memories, and give ourselves a chance to examine past lives and imagine future ones.  Why should we leave all this to our children to do after we die.  We deserve to enjoy it all again ourselves.