Student saves thousands boat-dwelling

How to live cheap in comfort
How to live cheap in comfort
When Joe Pearce broke up from his girlfriend he couldn’t afford rent and he was ready to broaden his horizons. So he saved himself £5,600 by buying a run-down old yacht and living aboard.

Now he has completed his degree in Physical geography from the University of Aberystwyth in Wales, but Joe has kept his home and moved the vessel from the boatyard where he completed his studies to a river on the Isle of Wight.

The 23-year-old bought the yacht online for £800, the equivalent of two months’ rent at the time.

He lived aboard the 24-foot Falmouth Gypsy class boat while studying for his masters although the yacht, Golden Cloud, had seen better days. He described it as a ‘wooden tent’ as it has a glass fibre hull with a plywood coach roof.

He said: ‘My friends were excited and I think they were expecting a glamorous yacht – but they were shocked when they saw it.

‘It had seen better days and I thought of it as luxury camping, or that I was living in a wooden tent!’

The boat had a 1970 engine and the tallest interior cabin is 5ft so Joe found it difficult to move around as he’s almost 6ft.


‘I kept it at the Ynyslas boatyard, eight miles outside of Aberystwyth and I would cycle to and from university to save money,’ he said.

‘Everyone at the boatyard was really helpful and helped me fix parts of the boat as I had no DIY experience. It only cost £1 a day to keep it there.

Best of all- Joe discovered the boat was a babe-magnet: ‘It was the talk of the town and I’d also host boat parties on it.’

He graduated last December and has just sailed the 500-miles from North Wales to his home in Totland, Isle of Wight.

Raising money for the blind

Mr Pearce said: ‘It was so much fun living on the boat – I saved a lot of money and I’ve still it got it and use it to go fishing around the island.

‘It was a fantastic experience and I wouldn’t change anything about it. The boat has got so much character and it’s officially my boat.’

He has secured a river mooring for Golden Cloud, which he is now restoring with the help of his father who is registered blind. Joe’s video diary can be found on his blog where people can also donate to to a charity for the blind.

3 Responses

  1. Life is a challenge and you have accepted that challenge 100%. I would be very proud if I had a kid do this. It must have been an amazing learning experience.

  2. Well thankyou for raising a smile! Babe magnet haha! I am said joe. Alot of inaccuracies here so find ur salt to pinch! So far ive not found a new girl since having the boat the mold, leaks, drips, rot, foraged food, and a 8mile trip in a bicycle trailer put them all off! And then dads not helping me restore although he used to be a carpenter, hes registered blind!! Also readers may be interested that i have a 80watt photovoltaic universe solar panel, which supplies my power for navigation lights and laptop/phone. If your interested in the story or want to donate to the rnli/isle of wight blind society who im trying to raise money for please visit the blog on

  3. He can certainly spot a bargain, £800 even for a tiny yacht needing TLC is cheap! And mooring fees £1 a day! Sadly few students will be able to follow his example.

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