Lessons learned from the first three months living aboard a small boat – with some practical liveaboard boat life advice
After three months of living aboard my 26 foot sailboat, I’ve learned a great deal about the lifestyle and what works and what doesn’t. I thought that I would be able to move aboard sooner, but an inability to break my lease precluded that. None-the-less, I love it!
I like the solitude and simplicity that come with living in a space that’s somewhat less than 150 square feet. I like the enforced routine that a small space makes necessary.
Liveaboard boat life
Minimalism and cleanliness are the watch words for this lifestyle. When describing it to friends, I usually say that I have a healthy disdain for comfort.
Land living allows a certain degree of disorder and delay in home chores. But on the water, there’s not enough space to leave clothes lying around. Additionally, if I don’t clean the dishes, I can’t use them for the next meal.
In general, I only have things on the boat that are absolutely necessary.
I keep my work clothes at work and only have a limited amount of clothing on the boat. My table service consists of a bowl, coffee mug and two spoons. The vast majority of my storage space is filled with tools, boat parts, or food.
I would add that I also have some decorations and pictures to alleviate what can be a somewhat Spartan existence. I’m also lucky that the boat has a v-berth separate from the living space. I think having the two spaces is important. With the decorations it makes for a certain “normality” that makes me feel less like a hermit.
Though everything definitely has its place, I will admit to trying to make sure it’s the right place. I’m constantly changing how I stow items, trying to help the trim of the boat. The water tank under the port-side settee, necessitates putting all other heavy items (tools, books …etc.) on the starboard side. Once I find a stowage plan that works, I’ll put it down on an interior diagram of the boat.
I’ve found that maintaining a work list and being dedicated to completing one project every month has been good for the boat and for me. I am kind of trapped there so I’ve decided to try and be productive. I just finished moving the head aft from the v-berth and am now tackling a better way to place the batteries for my engine.
I have additional ideas to add storage space, painting projects …etc. If I get even half of the list done before April, I’ll be pretty pleased.
For entertainment, there are a multitude of options. I’ve never been someone addicted to television, so being without it now isn’t really troubling. What I would suggest to someone is an Amazon Prime account. With Amazon Prime, I can download kindle books, movies …etc.
The only issue is the Wi-Fi signal, the perpetual bane of existence for those exiled to the “live-aboard docks”. As long as there is a signal, even a spotty one, a Wi-Fi booster can make it usable. There are any number of Wi-Fi boosters on the market. I went with the Alfa WiFi Camp Pro 2 Booster and it allows me to use multiple devices at the same time.
I’ve found that a gym membership is useful and the showers are better there than the marina, plus I have a good excuse to workout. It also gets me off the boat on winter weekends when I can’t sail. The ability for a sailor to become an anti-social loner should never be minimized nor encouraged.
In order to get mail, I chose to go with a virtual mailbox, rather than a PO Box. The concept is that I have a physical address that people can mail items to. I get an email notification when something comes in, with a picture of the outside of the envelope or package.
I can then either have it forwarded to a post office, work …etc. or I can have it opened, scanned and shredded. There are multiple virtual mailbox companies that offer this service for a fee. I use Traveling Mailbox.
So is this lifestyle for me? Yes and no. In the short term, the commute to work is too long. However, on a slightly larger boat when I’m retired, this is absolutely what I’m going to do. I love my life on the water!
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