I’d advise focusing full time on the income problem for now, and then once that problem has been addressed (be patient, and optimistic! –even though that’s hard to do right now), beginning a more careful transition to the sailing / live-aboard lifestyle from a position of improved financial strength.
Transitioning to a live-aboard situation now may or may not help bridge you through this tough time, depending on all the new costs you’d incur (e.g., buying a boat, renting a slip, paying for any needed repairs and upgrades, paying for routine maintenance, etc.). This all should be carefully calculated up front so you know if you’ll actually be getting the relief you’re hoping for.
Regardless, your family will still need to attack the income problem head-on so you can meet your medium and longer term financial needs. The financial realities don’t disappear such as food, heating/cooling, room & board (in some form, e.g., slip rental), health care, college for your son(?), the need for retirement money of some kind, etc. etc..
Rather than “give up” in the face of a scary immediate circumstance, have faith that the job market will eventually recover. These things have ALWAYS been cyclical. If you commit yourselves now to living on or very near the water, you may miss out on (and may not even look for or be aware of) many job opportunities that may become available elsewhere as the economy begins to recover. Despite the scary news reports – this IS just beginning to happen, just as it has every time before. You may end up spending crucial job-search time instead dealing with all the new tasks associated with purchasing a boat and transitioning to a live-aboard lifestyle. Your family should not give up on the job search; long term persistence is very important.
If you think you’d like to try the sailing and the live-aboard lifestyle, you’ll find a lot of support here and I think you should do it, but it’s important to work on maximizing your chances for success all around. Best of luck, and welcome to SailNet!