As the rapidly depleted Stark family likes to say, winter is coming. The leaves are mostly gone by now, autumn chills have given way to the first hints of bitter cold, and I’m starting to question whether Seafox even has a heating system anymore. Regardless of temperature changes, life at COA continues to recover from the bleak stretch of desperation that was the intense Week Nine. Some of us collapsed in our rooms, sobbing with relief that the time of craziness was over at last. Some of us are letting off steam in a variety of ways, and at least one of us went streaking past Seafox just as I was leaving my room on Friday night*, leaving me in a state of amused puzzlement as to why any sane person would want to do that in this kind of climate. Then again, I’m from Wisconsin, so I should be the last person talking about crazy things done in low temperatures.
Looking back on what we’ve all done for work study over the past nine weeks, I’m still not sure what I’ve been trying to accomplish with these half-blog half-journal half-write-whatever-I-want articles, but I’ve been having fun with them. The Outing Club is basically finished for the year (apart from a few hiking trips with the Mystery Van), so that’s not an option anymore. A lot has been happening on and off campus, some things memorable, others not so much, so I’d like to conclude my first term as a member of the College of the Atlantic News Team by addressing a rather personal topic, one that I’ve been reluctant to write about for a very long time now.
I want to buy a sailboat and turn it into a home for the rest of my time at college, possibly even beyond that.
Forget about dorms. Forget about splitting an apartment. Forget about the comfortable and sheltered college life that you used to know. This is COA, and we tend to do things that most people would find to be significantly less than sane. It’s time that I stepped up to the plate and did my fair share. But this isn’t something you just dive right into and start throwing money around. Acquiring a boat of any sort is a task akin to buying a car or a house. You want to get the most for your money, you want it to run smoothly with minimal maintenance, and you don’t want the actual process of owning it to drain your bank account in a record amount of time. I knew that if I was going to make such a huge adjustment to my living arrangements, I would need to get advice from someone who had actually done it before.
Enter Alex Borowicz.
Alex is nearing his final college term, and up until two weeks ago, he spent over a full year as the proud owner of a 24 foot sailboat. During this time, this boat was his personal dorm - a place free of pricey rent and exorbitant housing payments, a place where he could sleep, study, and live according to his own terms and responsibilities. Alex chose an option that not too many people would even consider when it comes to college living, and so far, he’s managed to become quite the person of interest due to this achievement. Though he would eventually sell the boat to two other COA students, Alex proved that even if you aren’t exactly an expert in terms of sailing experience, you can still overcome the challenge of living on a sailboat with some basic skills and a whole lot of resourcefulness.
The boat itself was purchased near Blue Hill, for a remarkably low price of $3,600. Alex states that he was drawn to the idea of owning a sailboat as a way to cut down on rent, and compared to the average student’s cost of living per term, it’s easy to see why. Amenities were sparse, but Alex installed a solar panel as a way to keep its battery charged. Water, food, and other supplies were brought from shore via a dinghy. The one thing that could always be counted on was maintenance. According to Alex, there was always something to do, whether it was fixing or cleaning something, making adjustments to the equipment, or an improvement project like the solar panel. In our interview, he admitted that he didn’t know too much about actual sailing, but was able to make do with what he had while keeping the boat moored off of the COA dock. Luckily, he only had to deal with a storm once, and even then, it was only a matter of making sure that the sails and other fragile items were properly secured. The overall experience on the water, while challenging, was certainly the highlight of Alex’s time as a sailboat owner.
Once the weather took a turn toward freezing, the sailboat was brought back to land and stored a mere fifteen minute walk away from campus. Though it was no longer in the water, Alex continued to live on board during the winter, relying on a small propane heater and a heap of blankets for warmth. For the most part, it was just like living in a regular dorm, except a lot more compact in terms of space. But still, it was a place Alex called home, and to him, it certainly served its purpose well.
“The best part of living on a boat,” he told me through email, “is simply the amazing satisfaction of sitting aboard in the evenings, doing homework with the sunset and the breeze. For anyone wanting to live aboard, I suggest doing a lot of research and finding out what will work for you. Everyone can learn how to maintain a boat, but not all of that stuff can be learned immediately, so it’s important to buy a boat that’s already in decent shape.”
It’s safe to say that Alex has been a major source of inspiration to me, even more so after hearing these accounts from him firsthand. If anyone is interested in learning more about his experience, or you just want some information about spending college life aboard a sailboat, I would definitely recommend getting in contact with him. And if my plan to attempt this new marine lifestyle ends up working out as well as Alex’s plan did, I think the next three years at COA are going to be very interesting indeed.
For now, though, I’ll just settle for some decent heating in Seafox, and an end to the massive fruit fly infestation that we’re still desperately trying to fight off. Seriously, if anyone knows a trap method that works better than vinegar and plastic wrap, please, please let us know ASAP.
*Whoever you are, Ms. Anonymous Streaker…you go, girl.