He was new to the Puget Sound and real estate hunting had left him cold. Places in the city were too expensive and in the suburbs, only the cost felt right. On his first visit to our boat, he was fascinated by our life on board a 42’ powerboat on Lake Union in Seattle.
“It’s unusual and appealing,” he observed.
“We can no longer imagine life any other way.” we replied.
“I would have never thought about living on a boat, but why not?” he said more to himself than us.” How did it start for you?”
“We needed a change; a challenge and took up boating. Through three boats over 20-years, including five years of practicing the liveaboard lifestyle 3 days a week, we knew boat living was the lifestyle we wanted,” we said. “For us it’s not just a place to live, it’s a way of life.”
That hit an emotional chord within him. Though many who’ve been on board find our life style intriguing, this man called the next day and asked if we might go boat looking with him, sharing what we knew.
Several days later, we followed him into a 45′, 1963 Chris Craft and watched as he studied the well kept salon. Stepping into the galley he stood for a moment.
“This is nice”, he said with an emphasis that showed more than passive appreciation.
You could see it in his eyes surveying the cabin’s brass fittings and rich wood. You could feel his emotion. In this moment, he was first seeing, first imagining, living onboard a boat. Throughout that day of “kicking fenders” with him, we were honest about the problems and what to expect, common resale values, leaks, varnishing as the “lawn care of boaters”, possible dry rot and low amp living, diesel vs. gas and fiberglass vs. wood, but he wasn’t daunted. He saw them as challenges, and fell more in love with the idea of living onboard a boat.
In every boaters life there’s been a special moment when they knew they were committed to life on a boat. Some of us had more knowledge, some had less, but just like falling in love with a person, it’s emotion that commits a person to the liveaboard lifestyle. For us that passion began when we started spending every weekend onboard our 26’ sailboat in Seattle “practicing” living aboard. It continued when we traded that boat and some cash for an older “custom” 45’ sailboat, moored it 90 minutes away at the edge of Washington’s San Juan Islands and arranged our life to “live aboard it” three days a week. When, after five years, driving those 90 minutes to the boat felt more like going home than coming back to our suburban dwelling we sold our house, sold that boat and bought a power boat becoming full-time liveaboards. .
Posing the following question to some other liveaboards I received some interesting, humorous and poignant answers.
I knew I was committed to a life on a boat when…
- • I was six years old sailing around on an El Toro in a small bay near my home. I fell asleep and bumped aground on a nearby beach. Smiling sheepishly at the people there I pushed off and happily sailed home.
- Shopping at the marine store was more fun than shopping at Nordstrom.
- I realized my working wardrobe was much more limited than my colleagues and often had a wrinkle or two because of the small hanging locker I lived with but I didn’t care because boat living was so wonderful.
- And finally, problems seem to play a role in our defining moments….
- I decided that cultivating several strains of mold could be considered gardening!
- I affectionately named my various recurring leaks.
Our friend did buy that Chris Craft and moved aboard. And, over our twenty six years as liveaboards, two other folks made the leap to the liveaboard lifestyle after stepping onboard our boat. We love our simpler life and smaller space and can’t help but prosthelitize a bit. We realize, though, there always will be only a unique breed of folks who hear that distant drummer’s beat.
by Marilyn Michael
For 26 years, the author and her husband have lived in 42 by 15 feet. Their trade for smaller space: a simpler life, a continual panapoly of planes, kayaks, sail and power boats, and paddle boarders outside their window, Seattle’s Space Needle out their back door and an interactive neighborhood composed of an interesting mix of humanity.