What’s it like living on a yacht?

boat living, rv living, mobile living, satellite phoneInteresting discussion on the Solar investment chatroom about living on a 40 foot +/- yacht.

“I see them outside my office window all day and it seems like a relaxing life,” says Alloy Boy. “Are they really too small to live(single) comfortably and how fast do they depreciate? A quick seach revealed that a 40 footer cost more or less the same as a condo or small house, but what are the upsides of living on a boat(other than being mobile)?”

Best answer:

November 29th, 2013 @ 12:00 am
It is a very relaxing life, and you can live quite comfortably on a sailboat, depending on what your expectations and needs are. You should be able to buy a 40 footer for much less than a condo would cost in most places, by the way.

Here is an answer I gave yesterday to someone who asked a similar question. I hope it helps.

Living on a boat is not for everyone. It is a lifestyle that can be great fun and very relaxed, but you have to work a little harder to be comfortable. Can you try it for a little while without having to make a committment?

You have to make arrangements for water and to have your holding tank pumped out. Most people go ashore for water – sometimes to a marina dock. In a very few places there is water delivery to boats, but in my experience that is not the norm. I have never seen that happen. When we anchored for longer periods my husband and I often dinghied 5 gallon jugs of water back to our boat on a regular basis – every time we went ashore.

What about power? Do you want to have electricity? If so, you need to think about wind generators or solar panels, depending on where you live. How about refrigeration? That is the biggest consumer of energy on a boat. There are options that use less power, but they tend to be more expensive. Do you want to be able to have a hot water shower on the boat? Is it hot enough where you live to use a solar bag/sun shower to heat your shower water each day or will you need a water heater?

How about cooking? If you have a propane stove, especially a Force 10, two burner with oven, that will be great, and many people also have a BBQ in the cockpit. With propane you should have a propane detector in your cabin and bilge as propane sinks if it is leaking, and could collect in the bottom of your boat and cause an explosion.

If you anchor, you have to dinghy ashore everyday. You may need to lock your dinghy when you go ashore, depending on where you are anchored. Will you have a vehicle on shore? If so, that will make life easier, as you will not have to backpack laundry, groceries, etc. If you are depending on getting ashore by dinghy to get to a job, what about the days when it might be too rough to get the dinghy ashore?

Do you want to have TV and Internet on your boat? We used a cell phone to have Internet access when we were anchored. Sometimes we were fortunate enough to be able to receive an unsecured wireless signal. For TV, you might be able to receive the free channels from you boat if you put an antenna high enough. The reception will of course vary with the movement of the boat.

Depending on your location, you may need to protect all you clothing from humidity and mildew. We rolled all of ours and packaged everything in airtight ziploc bags to keep the moisture out.

Some people who live on boats choose to rent a slip at a marina and then they can have most of the conveniences of a land based home while living on a boat. Not all marinas allow live aboards.

I would live on a boat again in a flash if the opportunity presented itself with the right person. My husband and I enjoyed it immensely and had wonderful adventures. We were happy vagabonds. We were both retired though, so we did not have to worry about getting ashore for work, etc.

So I hope I have given you some food for thought. Most people I know who live on boats and work ashore actually live in a slip at a marina, but I also know a few who anchor and dinghy ashore everyday to a job. Best of luck with you plans. I would do it. Feel free to ask about anything else you think I could help with.

Best of luck.

November 29th, 2013 @ 12:47 am
Im presently considering this option myself.

having sailed for many years, Im nearing retirement and need a 2nd home as well.

If you are still working, you probably will want most of your life not to change too drastically.

if you can live in a small space, thats fine. If you are slipped in a marina, you will have the following.

long walks to your car, with groceries
long walks every morning (or evening) for your shower at the marina (you may have a holding tank, but you can’t empty it in the marina, paying for a pumpout every week is expensive) or you can go offshore every week to empty it in the ocean.
youll make special arrangements for phone, cable, internet,
electricity is limited to about 30A single phase
water is limited to a garden hose at the dock.

I highly recommend a light colored (or white) interior. wood paneling is pretty but dark in the winter months and can be depressing. Also in the winter, you may get claustrophobic.

thats why I recommend a much larger boat for those who plan to liveabord. more storage and more sanity.

Its a lot like RV living…..with a chance of drowning.

Answer by oklatom
Less space, so you can’t have clutter. You need to stay ‘ship shape’. More maintenance of course because of the constant contact with water. Usually a docking charge to stay in the slip, plus the costs of utilities you use while there. But a life style that can’t be beat.

November 28th, 2013 @ 11:06 pm
It’s like living in an RV.

Assuming your talking about a sailboat?

You have to pump all your waste water/sewage off the boat on a regular basis or go up to the shore based facilities. No washer/dryer. Water supply is limited. Storage and cooking facilities are limited. Beds are not comfortable. Everything is “damp” all the time. Smell of diesel fuel (assuming you have a diesel power plant). The boat will rock some even though it’s tied to a dock. Many boats don’t have heat, none that I know of have A/C. It’s cramped living at best. Difficult to entertain. Having a pet can be a challenge. Using the “head” is more complicated. Tiny tiny shower.

Trying to think of all the negatives.

That being said, I would love to live on a boat – but for the purpose of doing a long term voyage. Not to just tie one to a dock and commute to a job. Maybe live in the Caribbean during the winter then travel up to Maine for the summer? A total lifestyle change. Would love to sail from North America to Europe.

Think of it this way, having a boat for your sole living location would be akin to only having a motorcycle for a mode of transportation. It’s a romantic thought, but how practical is it?


william g
November 29th, 2013 @ 1:06 am
The upside is you dont have to stay anywhere you dont want to and no one questions you when you proclaim that you are literally and figuretively the “Captain of your own ship”.

2 Responses

  1. We live on a 30′ sailboat in a marina (west coast). Yes you have to learn to live with less stuff, occasionally damp bedding in the winter (dehumidifier helps), walking down the dock to the shared shower (our bathroom, or ‘head’, contains the toilet, sink, cabinet, counter and shower…and is smaller than most people’s refrigerator), and playing Jenga every time you want to get something out of a bucket in the back. However, we love it. You can take off and go sailing for the day, go anchor out and ‘camp’ away from others, watch the sunrise from your deck, etc.
    We are looking at moving to a larger 42′ that has diesel heaters so power outages will not be an issue, as well as a shower large enough to actually use :)
    It is a lifestyle that takes getting used to, but for the right mind set it works great.

    1. I was contemplating chucking land-life and living on a boat in another 5 years. I saw only the upside of mobility, solitude, privacy and freedom of such a move. However, the information on the waste disposal, encumbrance of small space, moisture issues, laundry issue, shopping issues, watering, etc. are pertinent issues for consideration. Thanking everyone for their honest feedback.

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