“You live on a boat?! How is that? Does it move all the time? How does the weather affect you? Where do you keep your stuff? Do you have electricity and water? How about cable and WiFi? How do you shower? What’s your kitchen like? Does your dog like living on a boat? What happens when you go sailing?”
Heidi and Aaron get those questions virtually every time someone finds out they live on a sailboat. We don’t think about it very often … It’s the lifestyle Heidi and Aaron chose almost nine years ago and for me, well, I am the boat. 🙂
Our first few blogs will focus on living aboard in general and the way of life that we take for granted but is often considered strange by landlubbers. Over the summer, we’ll share the transition as we prepare to shift from life at Marina Village Yacht Harbor in Alameda, California, to a vagabond lifestyle at sea and anchor when we begin our circumnavigation next year.
So, to answer your questions … Here’s Heidi:
You live on a boat?! Yep. We gave up land life in 2009 when we decided to live together. The transition wasn’t hard as Aaron and I are life-long sailors and we spent tons of time on our families’ boats over long weekends and weeks up the delta when we were kids. We have no desire to move back to land anytime in the future, figuring we’ll eventually transition to a power boat (trawler) when sailing becomes too physical. In the majority of live-aboard relationships, one has a dream to live aboard and sail the world and the other goes along with it to please their spouse … and eventually either the boat or the spouse goes. We realize how fortunate and rare (and a bit crazy) it is to have found mates that equally love this way of life.
It is definitely not a lifestyle for everyone, and for that we are grateful. If everyone lived aboard it would be the same as living in Suburbia, USA, with people on either side and across the street and no privacy except within their walls. Like living in a house. Because California law only allows for 10 percent of boats in a marina to be used as residences, it’s a quiet weekday way of life with only two boats out of 15 on our dock being live-aboards, and a total of 70 out of the 700 in our entire marina. There is a waiting list of over a year now for a live-aboard slip in the Bay Area.
How is that? Living on a boat is “tiny living” at it’s finest … And folks have been doing it on boats around the world long before it became the hot new trend on land.
It’s a very simple life. The focus is not on what material possessions we have inside, but on the enjoyment of each other and being close to nature. During good weather, our hatches (think skylights that open over our bunk and the salon/living room) and companionway doors (front door) are rarely closed. The sounds and scents of waterlife are infused in day-to-day living and we spend much of our leisure time outside in bean bag chairs and hammocks, having our meals at a small wooden collapsible table in our cockpit. Cold weather does have us spending more time below with hatches and doors closed against the elements; hence, we will be primarily cruising to warm destinations.
Space is limited. If something new comes onboard, something else has to go. There is not only no room for multiples of things, such as the same size pan, but you find there really is no need. We learn to make do with what we have. Which means we wash dishes by hand and go to the laundromat (or my daughter’s house), as dishwashers and washers and dryers, and most appliances in general, don’t live on cruising boats. Space is one issue, but electricity when we are away from the dock is another. (Yes, there are exceptions, and many power boats and mega-yachts do have these luxuries; but very rarely do you see these on a boat of our size or on a cruising boat in general.) In future blogs I’ll dig into the intricacies of conserving and making water and electricity and the secrets to stowage.
We don’t do glass. Glass breaks on boats. So there are no crystal goblets for wine and my fine china collection now belongs to my daughter. Instead we have stainless steel stemless wine glasses and plates handmade from wood.
Perhaps the hardest transition is getting used to co-existing with a complete lack of privacy. Everything (and I mean everything!) is shared. We do have doors on our stateroom (bedroom) and head (bathroom), but they don’t do much to muffle sound. And when one is sick, the close quarters pretty much mean the other will also be sick before long. It’s pretty important to really, really like the person you live on a boat with! We are rarely out of hearing or sight range and constantly need to be aware of respecting the other’s need for quiet or personal space … Which we have gotten better at doing over the years.
We say it all the time … it’s not a life for everyone. But not only does it work for us, we have absolutely adored living on Sonho in the marina and the friends that we have made. Most of all, we love that our floating home will be taking us around the world in 357 days!
Part 2 next week: Does it move all the time?