Living in the van hit a pretty dank stage in July this year. Winter arrived before my sensibility to make seasonal adjustments to my interior arrangements. It took me a single moment to realise but a long time to accept. I left it probably three weeks after I really should have admitted that the challenge was beginning to ask for a price I could afford less and less.
It began during that magical storm at the beginning of June that precipitated a prolonged period of havoc upon Sydney, and more specifically rained hell upon the northern beaches. Manly boardwalk was in tatters, someone’s pool was on the beach at southie. Never personally needing the SES for anything other than a fridge magnet, I hadn't seen local destruction on this level before. What was more important to me, therefore, was that the waves absolutely pumped.
Sam’s first night in his van was with me at North Curly on the first night of the storm. It was a fucking hectic debut. Our vans rocked back and forth buffeted by winds I hadn’t felt before, the gale reaching us even tucked behind the dunes. The next three days were a rollercoaster of the craziest surf experiences of my life, off the back of a sustained NE storm parked in place by another storm beyond it. From paddling up and over the endless faces of 12 foot bower and literally falling down the back of them, to coming the closest I’ve ever come to passing out underwater at southie. I wore a thick 8 foot set on the head that might have finished me had it delivered one more wave than it did. Then to two consecutive days of the biggest and dreamiest lefts of my whole life at mona. And all on a 5’10, fuck me what a time that was to be alive!
Anyway. I’m losing my focus daydreaming about that week. The one catch of that magical storm was the rainfall. There was heaps of it. Night after night. It sortof set the tone for the rest of the month, during which overcast skies prevailed and the temperature continued to drop.
At one point I went to work - to make coffee - in a nice buttoned shirt and dress shoes, because they were the only things I had in the van that were dry enough to wear. It got silly.
But I got over all of this and continued living in the van as it was, refusing to acknowledge it as a growing challenge that was becoming more difficult as time wore on. By mid-July it had to end.
The new interior is very well insulated, glasswool fibre and reflectix. Before anything else I patched up all the holes in the sides, as I had discovered a large amount that explained a lot of things. Ahh young over-zealous Roland, tripping over in eagerness upon such recent and fortuitous ownership of a van, act now, think later. Come the cold rains of June, however, and my constantly wet wetsuits were not helping my living situation one bit. So aside from insulation, I needed a solution.
And so I present, “Wetsuit Drip Tray and Utility Sink, a-la Roland”.
I basically drilled a hole through the floor, and fashioned a sink out of a plastic kitchen tray and pop-up drain. I hang my wetsuit over an occy strap hanging above the sink, and all the water drains down the arms and legs and drips into the tray. The sound of that dripping ,while I’m lying in my bed after a dusk surf, knowing it’ll be dry for the dawnie the next day… that sound gives me a satisfaction I can’t really justify with words. It’s one of the key ergonomic upgrades I made that mean living in the van is easier now than ever before.