Sailboat – Less is More

by Cheryl

My life was wearing me out, so four years ago I left a high-rise condo in Seattle’s Capitol Hill and moved aboard my Valiant 40 sailboat, Koyah. My condo was 750 square feet, which is small enough… but Koyah has less than 250 square feet of living space (though it’s hard to be precise about living space on a sailboat.)

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I’ve moored my home in various neighborhoods around Seattle and the Sound, from Fremont to Shilshole/Ballard to Anacortes up north, but I’m currently living in La Conner, Washington.

I’ve made the living space on Koyah comfortable with small but pretty decorative touches. Many people who come aboard are surprised by how homey it feels. The bunks are cozy, the narrow salon makes a great conversation pit, and the galley is always well stocked. We’ve got everything we need to be happy in this small space.

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Compared to life in a condo in the big city, life on a boat is simpler and more meaningful. The living space is small, so my boyfriend and I spend plenty of time out in our environment. We’ve built a small hydroponic garden on Koyah’s aft deck and use what we grow to supplement foraged meals. Fresh-caught Dungeness crab is a favorite, and we love gathering mushrooms in the woods near us around La Conner. We’ve both taken up the hobby of carving wooden spoons from driftwood and other found wood, too.

One of the best parts of living on a boat is the view. It beats looking at city streets and traffic any day, and if you get sick of looking at the same waterway, you can head for the islands and anchor somewhere else for a change of scenery.

Since downsizing and simplifying, I’m working fewer hours, but I actually keep more of my paycheck than I did when I was paying for a condo and living in the city, working 40+ hours a week. Changing my lifestyle and going small has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I feel like I’m finally living my own life instead of allowing my lifestyle to control me.

By the way, for those who are wondering, it takes more moxie than money to make a change like this. You can follow us at for tips on how to live well by living with less.

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Dual Purpose Pillows

by Connie McBride

From a three-bedroom Cape Cod in a quiet neighborhood, we moved our family, including three small boys, into a home of less than 300 square feet. With our new home came a new lifestyle: we were now “cruisers,” living and traveling on a small sailboat. We had planned and schemed for years and were confident that we could both live in small spaces, and comfortably raise our family while traveling through the Caribbean. When the five of us tried to move what we considered “essentials” onboard, though, the space quickly shrank.

While I was chastising the boys for bringing too many toys and my husband, Dave, for his multiple lockers full of tools, I discovered that I too had overestimated our boat’s capacity. I was left with 10 sarongs and skirts that would not fit in my clothes locker. After questioning why I even own 10 sarongs and skirts, Dave jokingly gave me the same solution we had been telling the boys, “Guess you’re going to have to sleep with them.”

cat and pillow

I glanced at the throw pillows we had inherited with the boat but planned to throw away. The stuffing was mildewed and not worth trying to save, but the shells were salvageable. I smiled, thanked Dave for the suggestion, then got to work.

I cut along one seam of each pillow, removed the stuffing, washed the shell and sewed Velcro on the inside of each cut edge. Next, I folded the clothes to the width of the pillow and rolled them, placing them on top of each other, filling the shell. I Velcroed the edge shut to complete the “pillow.”

After a few years we replaced these aged pillow shells with covers designed to go over throw pillows. They have a flap on the back, eliminating the need for Velcro. I have learned not to store anything with zippers or buttons in the pillows because we do still lean and lay on them. These clothes storage pillows are uncharacteristically heavy, but they are comfortable and look good. Best of all, I don’t have to sleep with sarongs and skirts.

Connie McBride

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Liveaboard Life: A Tiny Home at Sea

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to go out with a friend on the bay in a small boat they plan to live in part time. It gave me a chance to see what it would be like to live on a boat. Teresa Carey shares her experience here.

When Teresa Carey lost most of her possessions in a house fire years ago, she felt liberated.  “I didn’t miss a thing. It was almost like a burden lifted off my shoulders.”

This was the first step toward a more minimalist lifestyle. The second motivating catalyst was her decision to life aboard her sailboat. Before making the move she began to downsize her stuff keeping only what would fit in her car. When she finally made her move to her 27 foot sloop she had given away or sold the majority of her belongings.

Today, Teresa lives on her sailboat Daphne with no flush toilet or shower, an icebox for a refrigerator, no television and few electronics. She doesn’t see it as a sacrifice, but as an opportunity to live a bigger life unfettered by her possessions.

In this video, Teresa gives us a tour of her boat and shows us a few days in the life of a liveaboard.

Video via