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turfguy 05-11-2008 09:44 AM

LiveAboard Pitfalls?
Hi All, I am planning (hoping) to become a full time liveaboard in Fla in the next 6-8mths. I have read about everything I can find on living full time on a sailboat, but am interested in hearing from people who are doing it or have done it. What are the downsides to it, besides the obvious smaller area and weather issues etc?
Thanks in advance for all input,

dsmylie 05-11-2008 11:02 AM

Turf, Been living aboard for 1.5 years in So. Pasadena, Fl. There are no downsides just challenges. After all is said and done and your watching the sunset from your cockpit you will know that it was worth it. If you don't have a boat yet that will be your first challenge, than you will have to find a place to live. Live aboard marinas are not as plentiful as they once were but they are out there. Good luck on your quest. David:)

PBzeer 05-11-2008 11:27 AM

Finding a boat, and then a place to put it, are the two biggest problems. Once you solve those, everything else is easy (relatively speaking).

Smaller area? For what? Junk? Living on a boat, especially a sailboat is one quick way to simplify your life. You soon realize what you need, and what you just want.

If you haven't spent much time on a boat though, you should find some way to do so. It may not be to your liking. For me, I love it.

AlanBrown 05-11-2008 12:05 PM

You don't mention if you intend to tie up at a marina or live on the hook. Obviously, if you plan to live on the hook, or tied up to a mooring ball, you will have an entirely different set of challenges to deal with. I will assume that you plan to take the marina route.

Marina living on a boat is not all that much different than living on land, only MUCH smaller. You will be forced to decide what personal possessions you have room to keep and what you have to get rid of. Talk about downsizing your life! Think about it like you're going camping, but with a much nicer and bigger tent.

Most marinas offer water and electricity (and even cable tv) at each slip, so life aboard won't be overly difficult. What you will have to get used to, other than the close quarters, is having to use communal heads and showers, and trying to avoid filling your holding tank too frequently. I say this because in most places I've visited, you have to bring the boat to the pumping station. It won't come to you. It will become a real PITA to move your boat every time your 30 gallon holding tank gets full.

Refrigeration (or lack of same) will affect your food purchases. Without a decent freezer, you will find yourself food shopping much more frequently. You'll probably consume more alcohol than you're used to. After all, all those beautiful sunsets you'll be watching from your cockpit will look much more splendid with a rum & tonic in your hand.

Finally, you will become a lot more conscious of the weather. As hurricane season approaches you will have to take extra precautions to secure your boat and come up with a evacuation plan if it becomes necessary to head for high ground. Although this is not a very big concern in Atlanta, it is in Florida. With this in mind, keep your boat insured, not only for your sake, but for the sake of all the other boaters living around you.

Good luck!

djodenda 05-11-2008 12:25 PM

It's a subtle pitfall, but a pitfall nonetheless...

Make sure to keep your boat in at least a near-sailable condition all the time. It's easy to get overly relaxed about that, and let too much stuff pile up requiring a major effort to get the boat seaworthy.

Next thing, you know, is that it becomes too big a hassle to sail your boat. So you never sail it.

Consequently, you wind up with a too small apartment and not a live-aboard sailboat.

This is, I expect, not your goal.

Good luck!


turfguy 05-11-2008 12:41 PM

Thanks for all the replies so far. I definately see you guys are mentioning things I had considered. Especially the added trips to grocery store!
As a bit more background. In my past I have lived in a 31' travel trailer for a couple yrs when I was training the racehorses. I also did some traveling in a 35' Winnebago and never felt clostaphobic. Of course emptying the holding tanks in a Winne is alot easier then a boat I assume. I do have lots of boating experince and taught safe boating etc for CG Aux. But have never lived on a boat, but its my dream.
Thanks again and hope to get more ideas from all you great people!

eryka 05-11-2008 01:56 PM

I think the biggest possible "pitfall" is that you'll never ever want to go back. (We're closing in on 6 years aboard; had to be on land for a couple of months last winter and couldn't wait to be back on the boat, cold notwithstanding!)

Storage may become an issue; most of the liveaboards we know have some kind of land-based arrangement, either a rented u-stor-it, an understanding friend, or a rarely-driven van or pickup. (Work clothing and the paper the IRS demands you store for 3-7 years seems to be the biggest offenders. You'll learn to transfer all your music to an ipod and scan all your photos instead of keeping albums and scrapbooks, for example.) This will aid the dreaded "flat surface syndrome" (junk piling up and the boat getting too cluttered) others have mentioned that keeps you from being able to go sailing on a moments notice.

Here in the land of winter, condensation is an issue for liveaboards during the winter, you may not have to worry about it in FL.

Decide what makes you feel like you're "camping out" and make arrangements to avoid that. For me, walking back to the boat from the marina showers in January with wet hair was a non-starter (for example) so we chose a boat where we could shower aboard.

Trade out your glass dishes for unbreakables and choose your hobbies with an eye to space (model trains is probably unrealistic; digital photography is very reasonable).

MedSailor 05-11-2008 02:44 PM

I've lived aboard for 7 years now. Spent a few months in an apartment in the middle of that and nearly went nuts. Living on the water is great!

In that 7 years I have been in and (nearly) out of love with living on a boat. What made me fall out of love was the accumulation of stuff. If you allow yourself to bring too much stuff aboard then pretty soon you can't find anything you need and you can't clean up your boat because you run out of homes for things before you're finished. I can't tell you how many times I did without something because I couldn't find it in all the overstuffed cupboards even though I knew it was in there somewhere...

This same problem, of having more stuff than places for said stuff, was also what made my boat un-sailable. I did go sailing a few times in year 5 but it took 3 hours to prepare the boat! I can't tell you how many days of sailing I missed because it was just too much effort.

The way around the problem is twofold I found. One, think about where you are going to put something and how to secure it for sailing BEFORE you buy it. I would also make a habit of seeing something shiny that I really wanted and waiting a few days to buy it. Very often I would forget about it, which really meant that I didn't need it at all.

The other thing I did was every spring or summer, I would empty all my possessions out onto the dock and hose out the boat. I did this on a large 31ft boat and it was a great way to keep accumulation of crud from happening and also to throw out the stuff in the bottom of the locker under the bunk that you didn't know you had.

I would also recommend getting a storage unit (or used U-haul) and putting extra stuff in it as you make the transition. I have things that would just take up way too much space on the boat such as camping/backpacking gear, archery gear, scuba gear etc.

I still get a kick out of telling people that I live on a boat and seeing their reactions. Everything from "wow that must be great" to "how are you going to avoid getting scurvy" (I'm not kidding). I also like how people as how long I've been doing it and are surprised when I say 7 years. I suppose the novelty "still" hasn't worn off.


MedSailor 05-11-2008 02:49 PM

I would also like to add that safety is a major factor. Boats are built by and retrofitted by any old joe. Wiring, bilge pump stuff plumbing, stove installation etc can all be suspect. It's a little easier in a house to relax about safety because everything should be built to code and is pretty safe.

I've almost sunk my boat by leaving the water hose in the fill tank and forgetting about it and going to the store. People die every winter by carbon monoxide poisoning from improper heater usage. Boats sink at their slip from toilet plumbing issues every year. A friend of mine slipped while climbing his wet boarding steps, hit his head and fell into the water and drowned.

It's not hard to stay safe but you do have to think about it a little more than if you lived in a regular house.



mj603 05-12-2008 06:14 AM

I lived aboard for about five years. The single most useful thing I did was join a local gym. Every morning I went to the gym to do my showering. It also kept me in great shape because I would do a quick workout when I was there. I also had all my shirts laundered and folded. I kept these in the trunk of my car. I also had a gym close to my office where I could keep a couple suits.

It was a great time and kept me from gathering too much stuff.

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