People leave their homes to live on boats for a wide range of reasons, and whatever yours is, just know that you are totally justified. Living aboard has been romanticized and everyone hopes to be able to sleep every night being rocked to sleep by water and getting to watch the sun sink into the sea. If you choose the right marina, you may get to experience dolphins and other marine life every day right next to your home. The best part is that you can sail and sleep wherever you wish if the laws in your region allow it. Living on a boat means that you have to turn the boat into your home though, so you have to bring everything from somewhere including your electricity, water, plumbing and all other amenities. You also have to adapt to living in a smaller and more delicate space where every tiny problem has to be fixed before it sinks your home.
Get Some Experience Before Going All In
Don’t just wake up, go buy a boat and move to the marina or start looking for your spot on the river without evaluating what your life will look like. You can start by renting a boat or volunteering on a yacht if you have the opportunity. Some yacht owners allow people to volunteer on their vessels for free for a period of time. You can also borrow a boat from a friend if you have one. It is important that you get some experience of what your life on a boat will look like.
Create a checklist of the number and type of amenities you need onboard and go window shopping for your solar panels, internet, water tanks, toilets and furniture; Yes, boats don’t come with those. All boats are not the same and if you have not decided on your boat, it may be wise to check out the sizes and maintenance requirements of each boat because those details really matter. You can also buy your boat and start living on it partly as you stock it up with the basics and only moving aboard full time when you are done with your preparations.
Choose Your Marina Right
When it comes to living aboard, choosing a marina is just as important as choosing the neighbourhood to buy a house. When you go marina hunting, you will realize that some marinas are like the troubled neighbourhoods you hear of with crime and lack of amenities. The quality of a marina can be determined by the type of boats you find there, the security and the cost of your slip.
You have to choose a marina that is close to essential facilities such as a gas station, toilets and hospitals because you never know when you will need them when living on a boat. Your neighbours also matter a lot when living abroad. People in marinas help each other every day because boats always have something that needs fixing and it is not easy if your neighbour won’t help.
You Need Sailing Lessons
When you see people living in sailing boats, you may assume that it is all about walking in and out but that is not the case. You need to understand the basics of sailing and windsurfing and these are not natural to everyone. It takes time and passion to learn and enjoy sailing and some lessons may help. You can enrol with a professional trainer or do it while on your reconnaissance for aboard living as discussed earlier. Knowledge of surfing will help you understand your boat and enjoy it more rather than always having it stuck to the anchor at one spot which takes away the main advantage of living on a boat in the first place.
It Can Get Expensive
Many people move from their expensive apartments to live cheaper and easier on boats only to be disappointed and go back because they didn’t plan right. You have to prepare to pay more money for your liveaboard sleep which costs more than regular slips at the marina. You will also have to pay a lot of money for maintenance and repairs because boats tend to need lots of it. You also have to pay more insurance money when living on your boat as well as a waste management service and a pump-out station for your sewage.
Your gas price will also go up because you need fuel for your engine and a gas cylinder if you don’t want to cook with a charcoal stove or a blow torch. The real expenses come if you have to eat and do your laundry off the boat. You may have to invest in a good washing machine and other electrical appliances and solar panels to power your electricals which will be costly as well. Your list of expenses will not go away, but once you have the basic fixtures set up, you will spend a lot less than you do in an apartment.
Plumbing, Sewage And Maintenance Can Be A Real Headache
One thing you learn once you live on a boat is how delicate your wiring and piping can be. You have to ensure that everything is in perfect shape because the slightest leakage from anywhere may lead to rotting wood and a smelly boat. You have to be on top of your game when it comes to plumbing to ensure that all your pipes are in perfect shape and the toilet, showers and sinks aren’t releasing water to the wrong side of your boat. You need to invest in a proper toiled and holding tank as well because the slightest mistake there will leave you with a smelly boat. You don’t have to be a trained plumber and electrician to live on a boat though, just handy enough to make fixtures quickly and effectively before small problems get out of hand.
Prepare To Go Shopping More Frequently
Boats don’t have the acres of space you need to store equipment, clothing and memorabilia like your house. You only have enough room for what you really need, which means you won’t bring your large refrigerator and pantry to stock up for the whole month as you would in the house. Your grocery shopping trips will have to be frequent as you only buy what you can use in the short run.
You’ve Gotta Learn To Be Your Own Handyman
One thing you learn once you move onto the boat is that it is a very delicate system that has to be given good care. You need to understand the electricals on the boat to keep lights, heaters and showers running all the time. The slightest scratch can cause a blackout and any short-circuit can burn the whole thing. You also have to be a smart plumber following every pipe to ensure that nothing is leaking. Your toilet and kitchen sinks just aren’t allowed to clog because the consequences can be unbearable. Calling someone to fix every tiny problem for you may also send your maintenance costs through the roof. So you have to get your handyman hat on and keep your home in good condition.
You Need To Invest In Quality Amenities
If you hope to enjoy your life on the boat, then you better invest in comfort to make your home livable. You need to get a large water tank to store your freshwater because washing your kitchenware with seawater will have them rusted in no time. You also need a good toilet and a large-high-quality holding tank to prevent clogging and leakage and also reduce the number of times you have to go to the pump outstation. You also need a heater because it can get really cold on a boat in the winter and your winter blanked may not be sufficient.
It Gets Easier With Time
Just like moving to a new town, moving onto a boat need time and patience. It is easier to adapt if you know your boat because that way, you know what to do if anything isn’t working. You should also take time and familiarize yourself with the area around your marina to get a spot for your shopping, parking your car and storage for the items you can’t bring onboard. As you spend every extra day on your boat, you will get to understand it better and enjoy your life more.
You Have To Become A Clean Freak
As we said earlier, things can easily get stuffy and smelly on a boat if you are not careful. You have to wash your dishes and dry them immediately after use because the slightest mess can turn into a disaster. The boat doesn’t have sufficient ventilation either so cooking in the cabin means that you have to deep clean frequently to prevent having a greasy and smelly boat. You also need to deep clean your sinks, toilet, kitchen and the entire cabin frequently to keep things dry and comfortable.