Life Aboard: Time Machine

Where has the time gone? It’s been 12 years since we pulled away from the commissioning yard, at the helm of a dream manifested into 90,000 pounds of resin, fiber, steel and plastic. The emotion that day was indescribable. It was the culmination of years of saying—someday! Throughout the long process leading up to that day, I thought we were building a boat, but what I couldn’t have known then, is that we were also building a time machine. Not the type that transports us to another decade, but one that bends time, one that distorts our very perception of it.

We live our lives with two clocks. The first divides the months into days and days into hours. From our earliest memories, we’ve lived by this clock, from Mom saying, “get up or you’ll be late for school,” or a boss asking if you’re going to have the sales report to her on time. Then there is your internal clock, the one that asks, “What do you feel like doing today?” That answer isn’t determined by external demands. This is the clock we try to live by aboard the boat.

In our lives before the boat, we always seemed to be living based on what was going to happen next. We had to get up by 5:00 a.m. to be on the road by 6:00 a.m. to get to the office by 7:00 a.m., and on and on the rest of the day would go. In our life aboard, we try our best to wake up when we’re rested, to eat when we’re hungry and to go or move when the feeling strikes us, not because we have to.

It also doesn’t hurt that we travel in a displacement-hull boat, with a speed capped at 9 or 10 knots. When we built Liberdade, we selected a slow boat for fuel efficiency and range, never considering how traveling slower would also affect our perspective of time. At our speed, we not only have to be more thoughtful in planning our day, but the slower speed allows us to be more aware of the passing of the day and allows us the time to more fully appreciate the areas we’re cruising through.

It is paradoxical though, that the less we allow ourselves to be governed by time, the more we seem to be aware of it. When we’re aboard, we try hard to focus more on the present and less on what’s next. In doing so, the present moments seem to slow down, sights and sounds pass by more slowly, allowing us to savor each one.

When solely focused on a current activity, with little thought of what needs to come next, those moments last longer. It could be something as simple as taking a walk on the beach, or a dinghy ride exploring a nearby creek. These experiences are somehow recorded in a slower motion, leaving the memories more indelibly fixed in our minds.

After spending our entire lives always having to be somewhere, we do not take for granted that our life aboard gives us the luxury of waking up anchored in a picturesque cove and saying, let’s just stay another day. It helps us appreciate that day even more. It’s a gift we give ourselves.

Time is also becoming more of a value proposition for us; how do we make the best use of a finite resource? One way is by not putting anything off until later that can be done now. All we have is the present; Hillel the Elder said: “If not now, when? If not here, where?” I don’t know when we’ll come back to Martha’s Vineyard, so let’s make sure we make the most of this visit.

I used to live with two boxes, one labeled “Now” and another labeled “Later.” When Now was full, I would start putting things in the box of Later, but I’ve learned that doesn’t work very well, because every time I would go to look for the box of Later, all I could find was another box of Now. Life aboard has taught us many lessons, none greater than knowing that Later may exist, though it is of little use to us … because all we really have is Now.

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This article originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.


Boat Lyfe