I work (at the moment) for an organization that provides information and support for people who cruise around the world and live on their boats. When I meet people, I’m often asked about what I do and my explanation is always met with questions.
“What size boats?” Generally 30 – 45 feet.
“Where do they go?” Everywhere.
“Do they go home between trips?” They are home. They live on their boats. And someday Mike and I are going to live on ours, too.
“Why would you want to do that?”
That’s the biggest question. Why would anyone want to live on a boat, especially a small boat? I also suspect that when they think about someone living on their boats, one of two images come to mind. Either Detective Crockett with his reptile watchdog from the old Miami Vice TV show, or some of the derelicts that mar the view in Biscayne Bay. Neither of which is realistic.
So why live aboard? Here are some of my reasons (realistic and otherwise).
Boats don’t require the same kind of maintenance a house does:
- Boats don’t get termites
- There’s no grass to mow
- No roofing shingles to replace after high winds
- Far fewer light bulbs to change
- No septic tank to have serviced
- No driveway to repave
- The likelihood of a tree falling on your boat during a storm is slim
- Far less power required to heat, cool and light your boat
Boats have less space than a house, which certainly has its benefits:
- Far less square footage to cover during your Saturday morning housecleaning
- When the kids come home to visit they don’t feel compelled to move back in
- The family member you get along with so much better from a distance is more likely to stay at a distance
- You can simply refuse that ugly duck lamp your great Aunt gave you for Christmas citing that it won’t fit on the boat
Houses aren’t mobile:
- You can’t sail your house out of the area during hurricane season
- You can’t troll for dolphin or tuna from the front porch of your house
- You can’t invite a few friends over for the weekend and sail down to the keys in your house
- If you don’t like your neighbors, you can’t haul anchor and move your house around the block
- You can’t rendezvous with friends from far away places by gathering your houses together on the leeward side of some exotic island
Far fewer worries when you travel with your home rather than leave it behind:
- You never forget to pack the shoes that go with your favorite dress
- You won’t wake up in some strange hotel room and worry that you left the iron on at home
- You can miss a flight, but your boat isn’t going to leave port without you
- No additional fees or special carrier required to bring your dog (and he doesn’t travel in the cargo hold)
Boats have benefits most houses don’t:
- Your house doesn’t rock you to sleep at night with the movement of the tides
- A waterfront view is far less expensive from a boat and you can change the view at will
- Sea turtles, porpoises and sea rays don’t frolic and beg for food in the front yard of your house
- When you live and work on your boat, you can go snorkeling over your lunch break
For every benefit I could name to living on a boat, there are an equal number of challenges, so it isn’t for everyone. But some of us thrive on those challenges and find them worth the freedom we get in return. There’s a big world out there and when we finally get our boat finished (current estimate is sometime in 2017, ha!) we’re going out there to explore it.