BY CHRISTINA MARIE GIUFFRÉ
I spoke to married couple; Paul Shannon, a Naval Architect, and Nathalie Lallemand, who runs The Waves (a shop, café, and vital hub for boat services), on what it is like living on a boat.
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Nathalie reflects on the first night on her boat:
“Paul was away so it was just me and my 8-year-old. Then the unthinkable happened; a cable snapped, and we were in trouble! Within moments, people came to help, and I realised how special it is to belong here,” shared Nathalie
Their antique boat the ‘Tzarina’ (synonymous with the title of a ruler or wife of a Tsar) is 45 tonnes, 75 sqm and was built for sailing to Antarctica. Living on the 3-bedroom boat with the couple are their children, Julia and Erwann.
(Above: Nathalie Lallemand at The Waves, Marina Bay)
“Several of the boats here are also homes. We used to live in an apartment and hardly knew anyone but now we know around 30 people,” Paul explained.
Paul & Nathalie’s Pros & Cons of Boat Life:
+ The dream is finding the time to lie in a hammock on the hull after a long day, watching the sunset with wine.
+ Freedom and less restrictions.
+ A bigger terrace than most apartments.
+ People are always willing to lend a hand.
+ Increasing fitness and flexibility from dodging cables!
– It is a full-time job with the maintenance.
– You need to become ‘handy’.
– Uneven surfaces and cables mean trip hazards are everywhere.
– Storms can cause damage and changing tides can stop you getting home.
In addition, I spoke to Ken Williamson; a 72-year-old retired roofing contractor from Cumbria, who used to serve in the army.
“I’ve seen a few interesting things over the years, while in the army. I experienced first-hand the Gibraltar border closure in 1969, and I also met Colonel Gaddafi when I was stationed in Libya, loading ships!”
Passionate and proud of his boat; ‘Dream Weaver’ from Chichester, Ken spoke fondly of the peaceful boat lifestyle he has enjoyed for 6 years and showed off his pristine deck and cosy living quarters.
“I always loved Gibraltar, so decided to move and live on my boat. With a crew, I started the voyage from the UK in May 2014, and arrived 47 days later (due to bad weather) and settled into the community.”
The ‘Dream Weaver’ is 10.8 metres long, licensed to hold 10 people and has a main cabin, two berths, a toilet/shower and fully functional galley. Sometimes, there is a different flag flying, depending on the occasion, and maybe you will even see a pirate flag!
Ken’s Pros & Cons of Boat Life
+ The Freedom!
+ Stunning sunrises and sunsets.
+ Nature is everywhere… “While sailing, flying fish landed all over the deck, and another time off Wales I encountered a basking shark bigger than the boat!” ~Ken
+ There is always something to do.
+ Good people and friends nearby.
– “I fell in twice! One time was serious as I banged my head. The second time, the tide was low, and it was hard to get out. Luckily, a young lad heard my screams and helped me.” ~Ken
– In lighter boats it can be hard to sleep during storms.
– Wi-Fi and electricity issues are common.
– Bad seas can be tricky, especially Anglesey, Wales.
– There is squeaking, and a rope snapping sounds like a gunshot.
What has it been like during Covid-19?
There is a solidarity and heart-warming spirit amongst the boat community, and reassurance of knowing that there is always someone ready to help. However, there is an emptiness without visitors and risk of loneliness and isolation.
“One day a wealthy guy I knew came past during lockdown, and gave me a shopping trolley full of groceries, which was incredible and very kind! I’m getting looked after but I miss going to the pub for a pint with friends,” admits Ken.
Over a year ago, I moved to Gibraltar from Perth, Western Australia with my husband, Mark. We love living in vibrant Marina Bay, and it was a pleasure meeting the warm characters of our local community, who we can wave to from our apartment.