SAIL AWAY: The Liveaboard Life
From a swanky apartment in DIFC, to a boat in Port Rashid. Poras Dhakan tells us why he made the remarkable move with his kitties in tow.
Where are you from and have you ever lived on a boat before?
I am from India and I haven’t lived on a boat before so it was a bit of a leap deciding to move out and do it without trying it first! I've spent a few days here and there on a boat before on scuba diving trips for example, but nothing long term.
What made you decide to move and live on a houseboat?
I watched this documentary called Minimalism on Netflix one evening and it really made me question whether I needed most of the things I owned. It turns out I didn’t, which made me question whether I needed to live in an apartment or whether I could do with something smaller, but more fun. One day I met a man at my sailing club who lives on his boat with his family of four, and suddenly the seed was planted! I sold the vast majority of my things that were gathering dust and moved out of my apartment igloo and into my floating igloo!
Tell us a bit about your cats and the meaning of their names. Is the name Maus from the graphic novel by Art Spiegelman?
I am so impressed with this one, I have yet to encounter anyone who has guessed the origin of Maus’ name! Yes, Maus is my favourite graphic novel and inspired her name. I adopted Theodore next and his name was a bit less fancy, a bit of Theoden and also because he looked a bit like a teddy bear.
Have you had cats all of your life?
No! Cats are a relatively new addition. I used to have a proper menagerie... birds flying around the house, a hamster and a dog, but never cats. I started fostering for Feline Friends when they were short of homes over the summer 6 years ago. Then I found little Maus roaming around on the streets one day. Well, she followed me after spotting me on the street and now I can’t possibly imagine life without the fluffy little monsters!
What were your cats’ reactions to living on the water when you first moved? How have they adjusted?
They were a bit terrified of everything! It took a lot of coaxing to get them out onto the deck and involved all the cat whispering friends I could muster. They eventually made it out though and they now love their little outdoors time when I get home.
Do you travel to work by boat?
I wish I could but not yet. I think I'll have to find a much cooler job by the sea! So far the best I can do is squeeze in a sail after work, which is quite nice as you can get away from the lights and sounds of the city.
How does living on a houseboat compare with living on land? Which do you prefer and why?
It is definitely a challenging way to live life. I have to constantly stay on top of everything given the small space and I encounter hilarious problems like having to clean barnacles that stop the various water outlets from the boat. It all falls away though as soon as I get out to the sea and put the city behind me.
I miss home comforts like having a washing machine and space is limited, but I don’t miss living in an apartment. I love coming home to the marina and sitting on the deck for a few minutes to watch the sun set, or sleep on the deck at the weekend and watch the sunrise.
Do your cats have any safety equipment such as life jackets or tiny life preservers?
The cats do in fact have their very own life jackets and tethers for when the boat is moving. They have not been subjected to a dip in the ocean yet but that is in the works for when the weather improves.
Are there any animals in the water that fascinate your cats? Describe some of their reactions.
The kitties absolutely love watching the various birds that pass by but the strange thing is that there aren’t any seagulls by the marina here. Therefore, the kitties are yet to see any proper wildlife, but I can't wait to see how they cope with their first dolphin encounter!
Do you recommend living on a house boat with cats?
It wasn’t really a choice for me, my cats go where I go, but it is taking a bit of time for them to adjust. They were a bit sea sick on their first journey but we are taking little trips around the marina to help them feel more comfortable. I have spoken to a few people who have had cats on their boats and follow a fair few blogs on Liveaboards with cats. They seem to be coping well and I think cats are naturally curious and adventurous little things therefore, I would recommend it.