We were out to dinner last night in Palm Beach with two other liveaboard sailors, Jason and Gail, who had recently sailed their catamaran from South America to Florida. They had a few sailing friends join them at various points along the way, including one, named Salwa, whom we know also. Jason complimented Salwa for having a “small boat footprint.” Not being quite sure what Jason meant, I asked, and he explained about “boat footprints.”
Using Salwa as the example, Jason explained that she is a terrific person to have aboard for many reasons, one being because she has a small footprint. What this means is that she keeps her stuff contained and doesn’t spread it out all over the boat. She travels light and doesn’t bring more than will fit in a very small space. On top of that, Salwa knows how to be helpful and pitches in without asking, so she is constantly useful on the boat. These behaviors define someone with an enviably small footprint.
Having a large footprint on a boat, by contrast, would be someone who brings too much stuff on board, or lets his stuff spread out into common areas so that others are finding it is in their way.
Of course, having a small footprint makes the best guest on someone else’s boat.
Having a well-organized boat also contributes to having a small footprint, and everyone on board being able to have a small footprint. If everything on a boat has its place, and gets put back in that place after it’s used, that makes for a more enjoyable experience for everyone. You can find things when you are looking for them because they are where they’re supposed to be. And you do not trip over things that are where they are not supposed to be.
A well-organized boat, where everyone on board lives with a small footprint as much as possible, is safer and much more enjoyable to live aboard.