The Realities of Being a Full-Time Liveaboard

When I tell people that I live on my boat, their initial reaction is usually one of shock. “So like, how do you take a shower?”…..

I bathe myself in the ocean, Debra. No, but in all seriousness. I’m one of the lucky ones who has a shower on board. That being said, life on a boat definitely comes with its challenges and takes some getting used to.

When I started looking around at varying marina communities in my area, I noticed they were all extremely different. Some docks had 4 liveaboards, whereas my current marina has upwards of 40. Whether you have a small community, or a much larger one, there are some basic things that everyone should expect to come along with living docked full-time.

Laundry Day Can Be a Much Needed Break

Gone are the days of throwing your wrinkled shirt in the dryer quickly before you rush out the door to work. (Wait am I the only one who does that?) Living on a boat takes a fair bit more planning. Unless you are jetting around on some mega yacht, in which case nothing on my blog applies to you and I’ll assume you are here for my good looks and witty comments, you’ll have to make use of the laundry facilities at your marina. That means gathering your clothes, carrying them off the boat, and using the shared washer and dryer facilities. I typically spend an hour or two on the weekend in the laundry room catching up on emails while I wait for my clothes to dry. And by emails, I mean the latest episode of Law and Order SVU. So plan ahead, bring something to keep your attention, relax, and you’ll have salt-free clothes in no time.

You’ll Find a Sense of Community.

The best thing about living at a marina: community, community, community. When I moved onto the boat I had no less than five different people introduce themselves, ask if I was new to the docks, and offer to help me move on. For a young girl, living alone on a boat, it’s important that I feel safe and comfortable with those living around me. Because of the proximity of the boats and the need to walk along quite a lengthy dock to get out of the marina, I chat with my neighbors several times per day.

This whole transition has been a massive learning curve, and I’ve had help from my new floating neighbors at every turn. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, or simply grab a drink with someone new. Remember, it’s more than likely that you will find you have a lot in common with other individuals who are choosing to live a similar lifestyle to you. The social setting is fantastic. Every evening brings a new opportunity to enjoy a chat and drink along the dock or aboard someone’s boat. Get to know your neighbors and have fun! (Side note, if you haven’t seen the show Community, ten out of ten would recommend. Not an ad, I’m not popular enough for that.)

Random Birds and Animals Will Make Themselves Your Roommates.

Just the other day, I was on FaceTime with my mom to show her the final renovations of my boat. All was good, until I turned around and had a crow fly directly into my boat. I nearly s**t myself. And if you’ve seen everything on my boat, it’s all white. No bueno. Anyways, after it laughed at me and hopped around for a second it was gone. Leaving me to bask in my embarrassment. When living at a marina, not only will you have dogs in the ‘neighborhood,’ but every day you’ll be graced with dolphins, seagulls, and a variety of other beautiful wildlife that you would never find in your apartment. (I hope) Needless to say, close hatches and windows if you don’t want a little company here and there! (Then there’s Kevin, the massive bird that keeps me hostage on my boat at least once a week. But Kevin deserves his own blog post.)

You Will Drop Things in the Water

There’s a reason that boat keys are attached to that floating thing. (What’s it called?) That reason is me. Kat Kelly. I once dropped an entire unopened gallon of paint off the side of my boat during renovations and, like the environmental freak I am, I dove in and swam quite far to get the can out. It was a great way to meet my neighbors at the dock across from me…

When climbing on and off a boat multiple times a day, inevitably things will take the plunge. My advice: invest in a quality waterproof phone case, attach floaters to everything that is important, and say a little Hail Mary. Anti-slip shoes will be your best mate. I have yet to fall into the water myself, but with short legs and a tendency to err on the side of clumsiness, it’ll happen sooner or later.

You’ll Get Used to Not Needing Much (And Like It)

One of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of downsizing onto a boat, at least for me, was parting with all of the possessions I had accumulated over the years. Now I absolutely love living a more minimalistic lifestyle! Having fewer options quickly equates to having fewer worries. I don’t have to stress about cleaning a huge space and it’s not humanly possible for dishes to pile up in my sink. A cluttered wardrobe gave way to a smaller selection of items I actually love to wear on a regular basis. I’m living based off of what I need, and no longer what is just convenient. Smaller living spaces just mean more time is spent outdoors, but with 360 degree views of the water, you could say I’m not missing the walls of my old apartment.

Making the transition to moving onto a boat full-time takes a lot of courage and adjustment. Small steps are better than no steps. Don’t be afraid to make that first move…you’ll be surprised how owning a far less will make you feel far more. 

-Kat