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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > Living Aboard
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  #11  
Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Downside of living aboard

It's ironic that I might have less experience with this question due to having lived aboard for well over forty years. Having all that I own on board my boat and never having had a house leaves me with little to compare with living aboard; however, living aboard since '72 has allowed my to see many people move aboard and then move off. It's been my experience that most that don't do well aboard are those that are moving aboard to escape. They wan't to escape the "rat race", high costs, a failing relationship, career disappointments, etc. Those that succeed are more often those that are drawn by an excitment with self-reliance, independence and adventure that comes with hard work.
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  #12  
Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Downside of living aboard

I will add my small contribution to this thread. I lived aboard our 31 foot production boat for a little over a year and then intermittently for another year. My situation was a little different from many live-aboards and cruisers, since my wife and I were geographically separated due to our jobs.

Even though my perspective is one from limited cruising with a definite "move back to land" date and frequent flights to live with my wife and kids onshore for a few days at a time, I did notice several common themes among my fellow live-aboards at the few marinas I stayed at for any length of time. 1) I was always ready to drop the lines and go sailing. Many of my less than happy live aboard neighbors had turned their boats into dock ornaments with potted plants, deck furniture, storage boxes, etc. I think I looked forward to getting "home" to the boat because heading out for a night or two was easy because I kept the boat in sailing mode and did not succumb to the temptation to hang tv antennas and the like from it. Several of my more permanent dock neighbors seemed to be stopped by the effort needed to pack up and get the boat ready to go even on a night or two out in the bay. I tried to get off the dock and go somewhere at least 3 nights a week.
2) get a comfortable, ready to sail, simple to maintain, small enough to manage, boat. We bought a 31 foot boat not because it was the top of our budget but rather because I came from a motor boating background and was comfortable single handing a boat of that size. Not being overwhelmed by my boat coming and going from a dock meant that I sailed more often than some of my neighbors. I did not have to rely on anyone other than myself to get in and out of the marina which left me with no excuses for not leaving the dock. Simple systems mean simple repairs with lower cost parts. I wouldn't let a broken fresh water pump under the sink be an excuse for staying at the dock. If I could buy bottled water and go, I went. Even if it was just into the bay to sail and stay on the hook for a night or two.

Nothing that I said is different from those before me in this post. It seems to be that one of the keys to happy living aboard is to actually get out there AND SAIL YOUR BOAT. I look at several of the full timers on this board (CruisingDad, PBZeer, CaptainForce, just to name a few)as examples of the successful ones and they all seem to be the ones DOING rather than sitting at the dock listing excuses why they can't leave and live the adventure. These folks, among others here, are who I credit with making my time living aboard as a truly rewarding, challenging adventure instead of a lonely, sad time living in a wet closet tied to a dock. Getting off the dock I think is the answer. Whatever it takes to make that happen or not happen is likely one of the primary reasons for success or failure as a live aboard. Those that get out and move seem to me to be happier and more content living on their boats. Those that can see even the smallest broken part as a reason to stay put rarely seem to be enjoying their place in life.
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  #13  
Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Downside of living aboard

There are failures in every aspect of life. If you fail at living in a house, where do you go? If you are a failure at making a boat work, you can bail out and move ashore to another, more traditional place, to fail.
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Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Downside of living aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by xort View Post
There are failures in every aspect of life. If you fail at living in a house, where do you go? If you are a failure at making a boat work, you can bail out and move ashore to another, more traditional place, to fail.
I would not be so quick to engage in this sort of sweeping generalization. Sure, there are those who think moving aboard will solve their problems. And agreed, such prospects is unlikely. After all, no matter where you go, there you are. Otoh, imho, there are those who are attracted to the life, for whatever reason, and get aboard, and realize it's not what they expected, so they move back to land. I do not see the latter as failures.
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Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Downside of living aboard

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Originally Posted by Tim R. View Post
I would change this statement slightly. There is such a thing as a vessel that is too big. I have seen live-aboards and regular boat owners alike bail out because they were overwhelmed by the size and complexity of the systems on larger boats. And when it comes to affording a boat consider all the costs; initial purchase, upgrades, ongoing maintenance, slip fees, haul-out fees, insurance, heating/cooling costs, etc.

Buy as big a vessel as you can afford and are willing/able to maintain.

I do agree that some boats are simply too small for some folks to LA comfortably.
I fully agree to this modification!

So, there is a lower limit, and an upper limit. Each has to choose within those for themselves.

Though I still maintain to live "properly" the lower limit is that it can NOT be a day cruiser that you try to liveaboard. She should at least be a serious enough vessel that you are not "camping out" as though you are living in the back seat of your car. That might well be possible, but is not advisable.
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Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Downside of living aboard

I have no illusion that we will permanantly live aboard. I prefer to think about living aboard for 6+ months and having a low maintenance condo or apartment ashore to return to annually. This shore time could be good to reconnect, refit and recharge. Cruising can also be exhausting.

It seems that just about anyone that went all in on any bet, will come up craps with some regularity.
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  #17  
Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Downside of living aboard

My boat is only 30', and I am quite comfortable. My previous boat was only 25', so when I was shopping for my current boat, it had to meet with certain requirements that would make it liveaboard friendly. It needed to have good stowage, be large enough for me to live comfortably (I'm only 4' 11", so I can deal with a smaller space) but still be small enough for me to easily sail single or shorthanded. I also wanted something that met all my needs, but didn't sail like a pig. In the end I purchased a 1978 P-30. She is very solid and was well maintained, there were very few things that needed to be addressed upfront. I have pressurized and hot water. A nice sized galley and head and the interior was in great condition. It has a force10 bulkhead mounted heater and I have a cruise air for summer. There is also plenty of stowage so it is easy to keep her neat and orderly. It is all about having reasonable expectations and knowing your realistic needs.
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  #18  
Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Downside of living aboard

As a footnote to those considering living aboard.

Unless you won the lottery, (meaning money DOES grow on trees for you), you almost certainly need to know how to do:

Plumbing - ability to install and maintain faucets, toilets, etc., up to and including full systems.
Electrical work - 12v & 110 install and maintain PUMPS, batteries, generators, solar panels, lights, engine starters / alternators, circuit breakers, volt meters / guages, and complete wiring systems. Did I mention PUMPS!? Know how to break down and rebuild.
Wood work - maintenance and modifications.
Engine maintenance - should understand your engine, specifically the entire fuel delivery system, the starting and stopping wiring and devices, and how to change the oil and bleed the fuel lines, at least. Ideally, you would also be the complete rebuild mechanic too.
Navigations systems - from GPS units to B&G or Furuno to onboard computer systems and radar systems, and satellite units too. You should know how the one(s) you have work, where their respective sensors are located, how to maintain those sensors, (thru hull speed / depth transducers, wind anemometer(s), etc), where any fuses are for these.

Not to mention all the "under way knowledge" you need, i.e., navigation, reading a chart, reading the wind the weather and the waves, how to set your sails, how much canvas to have up per the quantity of wind, etc.

Fiberglassing & gel coating would also be very very helpful, though you could live without those skills.

and generally be that "handy man" which so many say they are not.

You have to have very good diagnositic logic to be able to figure out why or what made such and such break....

So, livingaboard is not for everyone. Sure, some can live like a bum onboard a 20 something footer without any means of propulsion, but if you are actually going to be a "sailor" and liveaboard, you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty and dig in.

Sailing is approximately 80% maintenance of the boat, and if you are lucky, and, or, still have the energy, 20% actually sailing. :-)
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  #19  
Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Downside of living aboard

I completely agree - to me the only reason to liveaboard is to go sailing!

But, in the Northeast, as opposed to my 10 years in Fort Lauderdale, it sure is a lot less likely that you would be sailing anytime during the November - March period. Maybe once or twice given a uniquely warm day, with the luxury of time off from work.

So, that is a very real conflict with my primary reason for living aboard, the weather North of Florida is not so conducive to sailing anytime during the year.
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  #20  
Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Downside of living aboard

I wrote something really long about all the down falls of living aboard but it was mean and probably more personal.

Here's the breakdown:

Don't do it if it's a means of cheap shelter - you ruin it for everyone and you will hate it and it will maybe even kill you. It's not cheaper than renting an apartment, under any circumstances, for a long time. Sell your boat and buy a camper van, live in that because it will not sink or smell as bad.

Only do it if you are mechanically inclined, willing to forfeit your weekends to projects and resent the boat ownership sometimes. There are rewards, but the juice isn't always worth the squeeze. Do it if you ask yourself, "If money wasn't an object, would I live in a house, apartment, or boat" - If the answer is still, honestly, "Boat" then I guess go for it.

Be aware that while living in rented places you don't ever really own the problems.. you pay rent and a person or company is there fix things and keep them up. When you own a boat and live on it, every single thing you are conscious of using until it breaks will become something that haunts you, and the only thing limiting your ability to rid yourself of those worries is money and time - the two things everyone struggles most with.

I'm happy living aboard, 8 months now. I've been through the boat sinking itself and through sleepless, uncomfortable nights during storms, and being afraid of pulling something apart to fix it because, "If I don't finish this all in a day, I have nowhere to sleep tonight" - Well, get used to it. Fortunately there's only so much to do on a 30' sailboat to keep it comfortable and functional and something to be proud of. I couldn't imagine you guys with like 55' ketch sailboats living on a mooring. Crazy.

I guess if someone only read the first and last sentence because it's not what they are looking to hear:

Save yourself, and don't do it. If that's enough to convince you then you aren't cut out for it anyways.
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