Assumptions About Living Aboard vs. the Realities of Living Aboard

reading at the salon table of a sailboat

Over the years I’ve read a lot of books, articles and blog posts about living aboard. Most have focused on the living aboard while cruising side of things.

But when we finally came east to live aboard, it was to do the other live aboard style, using the boat as our house and working on land. Spending extended times in certain places. Just like when we lived in a land house, we would have a car parked ashore for getting to work and for road trips, bicycles for local errands, marina internet connection etc.

I did not anticipate living in the boat, on land.

The Moving Aboard Process – In My Fantasies

From the books I’ve read and the live aboard people I’ve met I got the impression that the process of moving aboard should go something like this:

  • Decide to move aboard
  • If you don’t have a boat, buy a boat
  • Sell or rent your house.
  • Store all the stuff you don’t want to take aboard the boat
  • Secure a slip
  • Move all your needed stuff aboard the boat
  • Plug in the shore power cord, or cast off the dock lines
  • Start living aboard

The Moving Aboard Process – In Fact

Our process went incrementally instead:

  • Decide to move aboard
  • Buy a boat
  • Sell and store stuff
  • Rent house
  • Travel to boat
  • Boat is uninhabitable, rip it apart and make it even less habitable
  • Work on boat while sleeping in van
  • Move ½ of tools aboard boat
  • When weather changes, make one stateroom habitable
  • Start sleeping aboard boat and store stuff in van
  • Make the stove work
  • Start cooking aboard boat
  • Make the icebox work
  • Start storing food aboard
  • Start eating aboard boat
  • Move tools and other things back and forth between boat, van and storage unit
  • Make other stateroom habitable
  • Turn aft stateroom into workshop and parts storage
  • Make main salon habitable
  • Move books and papers aboard boat
  • Start working aboard boat
  • Move printer and monitor aboard boat
  • Shuffle everything around at least once a day

And so it goes … no end in sight, but here we are, living aboard our boat. This life is eccentric, interesting, and yes, a little frustrating at times. We would much rather be in the water. But we’re making it work until we get there. And in the process we meet great people who, primarily, seem to find us entertaining.

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  1. ear Nancy and Tom, This is the first time I have been on this website. I started reading your story, and thought Wow!

    I live on Whidbey in Freeland, and so I was quite interested in what you both are doing with your lives now.

    I would love to follow you guys around in reading all about your lives on the boat, if its ok with you.

    I will thinking about what you must be going through, in the days ahead.

    Thanks for sharing with us here at home on Whidbey. Jackie Christensen

  2. Hi Nancy and Tom, If it makes you feel any better about the chill factor, it is cold and rainy here on Whidbey. We’ll be leaving this forlorn weather soon and heading for Charleston to see Jeff’s family. We enjoy your blog and wish you and Tom much love and a merry xmas. Alixe and Jeff

  3. Well my Dears that is life as I may have told you on numerous occasions and in anticdotes ad infinitum. But there is nothing like experience to train one for the tasks that they might face for the days of their lives.
    But this is a definite life changing experience that will make up a good part of your complete life story. I thank you for sharing with me and all others the ‘joy’ of your story. Keep the spousal projects happening as I am sure you have a good reason for each one. Oh! Remember to smile as well.

    Hugs and Kisses


  4. Ah the joys of living on board. So you want to do a project?
    1. Make sure everything for the last project is completely put away.
    2. Remove the necessary seat cushions, seat boards, floor boards to get at the necessary stuff for the new project.
    3. Get the necessary stuff.
    4. Return all the seat cushions, seat boards, floor boards so you’ll have room the work.
    5. Catch your breath and start to work.
    6. Oops! Now your spouse wants to do a project.
    7. See step 1
    Glad you’re enjoying the process.

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