Living on a sailing boat offers incredible freedom, simplicity, and a deep connection with nature but…
Living on a sailing boat also presents unique challenges – both practical and psychological – that require preparation and adaptation. Here are 20 things you must know to thrive as a full-time liveaboard sailor:
1. You’ll need to become self-sufficient. Collect your own water, dispose of waste, and procure all food/supplies yourself. That requires planning and discipline.
2. Maintenance will take time. Systems breakdowns are common and regular upkeep is vital to avoid small issues becoming larger issues. Become a problem detective when walking around your sailing boat.
3. Budget carefully for living costs and unexpected boat repairs. Try to save extra because boats typically lose value over time.
4. Prepare for motion sickness and balance issues. The constant movement takes some getting used to, especially in rougher conditions.
5. Monitor humidity and air quality. Mold growth is common in warmer locations so proper cleaning and good flow through ventilation are needed to combat the excess moisture.
6. Fresh produce will be limited. Plan your diet around non-perishables, frozen and canned goods. When fresh vegetables are available stock up but be aware of their lifespan for retaining freshness.
7. Social interaction may decrease. Many full-time liveaboards miss the easy access to family, friends, and amenities ashore. However, there can be many opportunities to make new friends.
8. Weather dictates your schedule. You’ll need to alter plans based on conditions outside of your control. The only weather you control is whether you stay or whether you go… and a deadline or schedule is your enemy.
9. Stay in shape for the physical demands. Living aboard requires regular heavy lifting, climbing, bending, and crouching.
10. Carefully review possible marina choices. Some are restrictive to long-term sailors living on a sailing boat and marina costs can add up quickly.
11. Prepare for storms and hurricanes. Proper strategies are critical in some regions to safely ride out severe weather. Seek advice from other experienced cruisers.
12. Invest in proper safety gear and extra equipment even if it becomes redundant. Backups for navigation, bilge pumps, and essentials can save your boat in a crisis.
13. Make an emergency fund. You’ll want coverage for medical needs, boat repairs and possibly replacing your belongings.
14. Noise and motion disrupt sleep. Noise-canceling headphones, earplugs, and medications may help you adjust but being aware of strange noises is also very important.
15. Clean frequently to combat dirt buildup. Living in an enclosed space requires regular thorough cleaning to keep your environment fresh and free of unwanted pests.
16. Customize storage for efficiency. Well-organized, smaller spaces require maximizing every inch of storage creatively to get the best result.
17. Select the right boat for ‘living on a sailing boat’ and consider your needs. Contemplate a spacious layout, power /comfort needs, and upgrade potential. If you plan to do bluewater sailing your boat must be seaworthy and fit for the conditions.
18. Maintain electronic devices and schedule time offline. Electronics tend to drain your batteries quickly and require extra care in marine environments.
19. Mental health needs to be monitored. Isolation, lack of structure and loss of identity can pose risks for some liveaboards.
20. Embrace the adventure and the simplicity. Focus on the benefits of living on a sailing boat like freedom, the joy found at sea, and the deep connections made with fellow sailors.
The Allure Of Living On A Sailing Boat
While living on a sailing boat presents unique challenges, the rewards prove powerfully alluring for many people. Beyond satisfying wanderlust and potentially relieving the financial burdens of big city life, something deeper draws these sailors into a life that trades routines for rewards found only offshore.
Some speak of a spiritual connection forged in the intimacy of the vast blue water, where one’s existence feels gently suspended between sky and sea. Others describe surrendering fully to nature’s rhythms, awakening each day bathed in the restorative balm of salty breezes, lulling swells, and endless vistas free of the hustle and bustle of our modern world.
More still speak of newfound clarity arising from life’s simplification where duties become pleasures. Thoughts are focused on the essentials of life: food, water, shelter… and chores become secondary to their importance.
Comfort might diminish at times but a sense of presence deepens as each chore becomes meditation, each sunset a ritual. Peace and harmony spread through living by natural law… often relinquished ashore.
And many voyagers talk about how solitude does not spark anxiety but inspires reflections so rare on land… thoughts flow undistracted just like the waves. Adventurers rediscover who they most long to become… free of expectations, schedules and roles no longer aligned in the quiet of isolation. Purpose arises from within each person… as steady as the trade winds that carry them onward to each new dawning.
This might all sound very philosophical and perhaps a tad unreal but you have to experience it to truly appreciate it. Being out of sight of land and other vessels for many days brings a new perspective to your life… guaranteed.
So while challenges come with offshore living, rewards permeate one’s being over time. Simplicity becomes soulfulness, drudgery an invitation to presence. Illusions dissolve yet wonder increases… with each nautical mile becoming a milepost marking an unravelling of complexity and an awakening of utter clarity.
The call to endless cruising runs deep for bluewater souls who’ve glimpsed the boundless life while sailing free. All else becomes peripheral as only the bare essentials are all one requires to find oneself, and stay forever found, under open skies born anew each as each day breaks.
Fair winds and following seas indeed await all who dare cast off lines and take the wheel of their destiny, setting course for the life uniquely theirs alone offshore, where enchantment awaits in each new dawning’s light.
In case I’ve given you too many ‘new wakening perspectives, let me wrap up more pragmatically now with…
Overall, living on a sailing boat comes with challenges that necessitate preparation, adaptation, and a willingness to trade comforts for freedom.
But for those seeking less conventional lifestyles, the rewards – in terms of simplicity, nature, and sheer adventure – can absolutely outweigh the trade-offs of living on a sailing boat. Preparation and good planning can make living on a sailing boat a dream of a life.
Fair Winds and Following Seas,