winter and Summer 'on the hard'
I have lived on board for the past 2 years, and i can tell you times have been both testing and enjoyable. My first boat was a kingfisher k20 (yes, 20 feet!), and i first moved onto her within the first week of purchacing her in october 2008. She was in a very poor state when i first moved on, with mold and mildew in places i couldn't believe it could live! It was fairly warm when i first moved on, so the smell was terrible, however a good 'spring clean' solved that problem! As the winter took hold, some damage started to reveal itself. I decided that the repairs could wait until spring, as i needed to dry out the entire boat. The weather was fantastic during the spring and summer of 2009, and I managed to repair quite bad osmosis, as well as putting right a lot of poorly 'bodged' jobs (the bow fell off as i started to remove the layers of water-based paint the previous owner had put on!). During this repair period, which included a complete overhaul of the boat - painting, replacement skin fittings, new heads, insulating the cabin etc. i held private bbq's for the guys helping me. Life on-board was interesting,and i always found myself painting, filling, sanding, or polishing the boat - even at night! The only frustrating part was the yard's hosepipe didn't quite reach my boat!
I have since then bought a new boat (a Macwester 26) that i had transported to milford haven, UK, which i have lived and worked on throughout the harshest winter i have known so far in the UK (-16C). I had a wood burner on board, which had its flue poking out a port hole, that kept the boat warm and dry. The only issue was the condensation in the morning, as i NEVER leave a fire burning whilst i sleep.
I have since sailed back to Cardiff, where i am now building up a cruising kitty and getting my certificates and training ready to commit to a full-time world cruising period - no plans yet for when i stop cruising.
I always maintain my boats, regardless of where i am (floating or on the hard), and this really keeps me going (and keeps me sane!) Life on-board is a commitment and a lifestyle choice. I have had people come and go who thought they could live on a cruising yacht, but couldn't cope with the small space.