I’m sure many people like me have had the romantic dream of living aboard a boat: being rocked to sleep by gentle waves and waking up to new neighbors in the marina, chatting with friends over drinks in your cockpit while cooking a freshly caught fish on a tiny stove. Having your home on the water can be both extremely rewarding and more work than you ever thought.
People who live on boats are probably the top experts on how to live in a small space and how to conserve limited water and power.
Living on a boat does take some adjustments to the way that you would live in a house. Space is a major factor when living on a boat and every inch needs to be used effectively. While most boats are built with an eye on efficient storage, you will have to downsize your possessions quite a bit to get things to pack neatly into the boat.
Living on a boat is also different from living in a small house. Water and weather is a constant threat to the integrity of your home and your comfort. While many newer boats have everything you need for comfort, some older, less expensive boats may need constant upkeep and maintenance. The ability to know your boat inside and out, and be able to make repairs yourself can save you big headaches and bills.
Once you do have a boat, if you are not cruising, you will need to find a marina or dock you can rent or buy. Prices for docks vary for different areas. They are usually priced by the foot or the yard. However, not all marinas are liveaboard friendly. Many marinas consider someone who lives on their boat as a transient. On the other hand, you can find a few marinas that offer showers, storage, laundry facilities, electricity and cable TV to liveaboards.
If you are able to create your own power (many boats come with solar panels), haul your own water and wastewater and be as self-sufficient as possible, you may be able to live very cheaply on anchor or on a mooring ball.
Mark Nicholas, who lives on a sailboat, has written the book, The Essentials of Living Aboard A Boat, and also has some interviews with liveaboards that are available as video podcasts. His blog also has loads of information and links about how to be a successful liveaboard.
I found some additional excellent blogs, videos and websites about living aboard a boat and each covers the issues of space, boat problems and maintenance, cruising, cooking and docking.
On the Boat Where She Lives
Hillary Johnson is a writer who lives on her 35 foot sloop, Surprise in Ventura County, Calif.
Although they no longer live on their boat, Bumfuzzle, Patrick and Ali Schulte have an excellent blog about their travels aboard the 35 foot catamaran.
They now live and travel happily in their VW panel van. But that’s another story.
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