Living on a boat

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Lately I have got a steady stream of emails from people looking for information related to off grid boat living.

Before setting sail, you must make sure you can actually handle the lifestyle. Choose a marina that you can live in for 3 – 6 months. This is a crucial step to mentally and physically preparing to live at sea. Your body needs time to adjust, and your mind needs time to become accustom to this new way of living.

Choosing a boat

Research, Research Research. When choosing a boat, don’t jump right into the first cheap one that you find on craigslist.

When choosing a boat consider the following things:

  • When considering how much to spend on a boat, take the amount that you are willing to pay and subtract about 30%. You will want that extra 30% for any maintenance issues that may pop up.
  • Check for Leaks – Before purchasing a boat, do a thorough inspection to check for leaks. Any leaks need to be taken care of  right away. Mold will become a huge problem, and can make your boat unlivable if left unchecked.
  • Mold – Mold can be a problem so make sure you check the boat for signs of mold.

Where to Dock:

Anchoring. Anchoring or ‘living on the hook’ is going to be your cheapest option, but it also means that you’ll have to be fully self-sufficient. To be able to pull this type of living off, you must.

  1. Have a way to generate your own electricity (solar wind etc…)
  2. Have a way to store enough water or be able to generate your own drinking water.
  3. Be mentally and physically prepared to live at sea.
  4. Buy a good dinghy  for coming to shore for work, supplies, etc.

Mooring. Another cheap option is called mooring. A mooring ball is a method of anchoring your boat without an anchor. It works by attaching your boat to a chain that’s attached to a heavy sunken cement block. There is usually an initial deposit or setup fee and a small monthly fee involved.

Marina Living – Depending on the location, this option can be pretty similar to an RV Park. A growing number of Marinas offer electrical hookups and supply stores within walking distance of your boat.

We highly recommend Marina living for those who are just starting out. Before setting sail, marina living can help make sure you’re able  to handle the lifestyle. Choose a marina that you can live in for 3 – 6 months. This is a crucial step to mentally and physically preparing to live at sea.

Safety Considerations

  • Pirates - Believe it or not, in certain parts of the world this is still a pretty big problem. Make sure you have the proper equipment to be able to defend yourself in case of attack. (SHOTGUN!)
  • Make sure you know what you’re doing! – If you are not familiar with boating, you should take at least 6 months of time to cruise around shore, take lessons and become familiar with your boat before sailing off into the sunset.
  • Communications - Cell phones when near shore, satellite communications, and a Ham Radio should be on the top of your list of considerations.
  • Boats require a lot of maintenance. Make sure you know the in’s and out’s of your boats and how to trouble shoot anything that might go wrong when out at sea.

Check out our Off the Grid section for more unconventional and alternative ways of living.

Comments

123 Responses to " Living on a boat " Please share your thoughts...

  1. Bikerman says:

    Hey, some big draw backs to think you’ll go live on a boat. As suggested above, you’ll be confined, make sure you can live that way. Maintenance can eat you up and sink you, so buy what you can afford to operate and maintain. Sail boats are not free to travel in, sails and rigging wear out and nee to be replaced.

    Having a gun of any kind on a boat outside the US can be a big problem and can land you in prison. You can be considered as importing a gun into Mexico for example and end up as a guest for years. Pirates? Yes, some gang is off Mexico in the gulf, but most are on the east coast of Africa, just don’t go there.

    If it becomes a matter of survival and you are sitting on a boat in some lake or large river, you could easily be a target with an indefensible position, you are literally, a sitting duck!

    If you do go the boat route, most liveaboards suggest buying the smallest boat that suits your purpose. A well constructed seaworthy boat can be built or purchased that is only 15 feet, 12 foot boats have traveled around the world! Some 25/26 footers can serve as a liveaboard for 2 people! Many do it.

    I’d rather go small and be able to gunkhole (anchor in some river or lake cove in a covered area) and be unknown than to ever be at a marina tied up during any emergency.

    • kingsailor says:

      seems like you want to shoot down peoples dreams..a bikers life is far more to dagerous than sailing..i suggest you stay on land…

      • kingsailor says:

        the last comment was ment for tim bisbee next one down

        • kingsailor says:

          sorry mr biker

      • livi says:

        we should stay on land but a bikers life is not more dangerous than on sea and besides we need to be out in the sea to catch fish and to discover new things

    • hobocos says:

      a small sailboat 25ft or less is quite inexpensive. if you are very anal it might be expensive but then you wouldn’t be the type to live on a boat. i spent 75 dollars in 10 years on a bayliner buccaneeer 21ft. but i didn’t have to paint the bottom as a oil company had a spill and painted it for me. the cramped space is nice, your stove is right there bathroom right there what else do you need. the big problem is don’t let things get cluttered up, you can’t sail your boat if you are a horder or close to it, no more than 10 min time between deciding to leave and sails up and on the way 5 for me. most marinas have an underground comunity of illeagle liveaboards so when they say you can stay 3 nites a week you get around it. finding a place you can anchor in safty and peace i’m not sure of. make sure you have a good anchor. halfmoon bay ca you can anchor in the bay for 2 weeks then you have to move on. don’t forget a dingy or rubber raft. raft is cheeper. harpoon is good and fishing pole don’t forget fishing lisence. use mussles for bait they are free. i can live at my marina for 500 a month all expensice high on the hog. stay low key. you will never be off the grid really if you are on a boat that can go out anytime due to regestration, but you can come close. a handheld vhf and computer are all you need for comunication as you can always find a free wifi somewhere or get a cellphone. get used to not taking a lot of showers or join a gym, i would just stink as girls don’t typically get impressed with small sailboats. if you want to attract girls get a wakeboard boat. learn to single hand sail as it’s harder than you would think to get people to go out. meet other underground sailers just don’t leave money hanging around most wont steel but some will. living on a boat on or off the grid is great if you learn to love it, sometimes it can take a while to reach this state of mind it is a little like being homeless.

      • Beantown Bob says:

        alot of what u say is true. One should keep in mind that on a hook is dangerous, you are living on or near an ocean where anything can or will happen. I lived on a boat in a marina for years in New England making sure bubblers are working, to keep ice out, i had a space heater catch my sleeping bag on fire almost died, my water hose broke to waterheater almost sunk boat.
        allthough it was probably the most peacfull sleeps i ever had, its a lonesome life style. Fare weather friends are in every port just stay close to boat because you have to gaurd it from dock theives and prancsters. its a different lifestyle that takes a fit person if you are sickly no place for anyone liven on the hook
        set your waypoints and fare wind
        3 beer bob

    • Seagurl says:

      I don’t think the guy was being negative. He was just telling you the truth. Having lived aboard for a few years, the reality is quite different than the romanticised version.I loved parts of it but found other parts to be quite difficult. And although my boat was a “yacht” it was indeed confining and a little like being homeless at times. There were other times at sunset with wine and Bocelli playing that I thought I could die happy, right then and there.

      One of the things I would like to comment on is the assumption that you have to be “out to sea” if you live onboard. Even in a doomsday scenario, creeping along the coastline would be fine and even a novice can learn their way. Going up and down the intercoastal is easy (though a shorter draft helps. There are many places to hide and be protected that are not in 60 mile an hour winds and 15 foot seas. I have owned boats for 15 years and never took any of them out of the harbor unless it was on the intercoastal and brief periods of blue water access. I am still a novice but was able tolive aboard with great success. Go for it, but realize it is a big change if you are used to living on land.

    • guy says:

      while I agree its not hassle free, you are allowed to carry a firearm on your yacht under international law, you must declare it at customs, some countries will remove it from your possession until you leave. It makes sense to have a gun safe on board as this usually waives the requirement for the customs to hold it for you, gunsafe is a good idea anyway if you own firearms.

      • glenn packer says:

        But you wont need the firearms while at sea…only near land where the people are.
        Use your head not a gun. Of all the people roaming the world on yatchs its Americans that have the biggest problems.

        • paul says:

          I would recommend a semi-automatic assault rifle. Piracy is a real problem and you need to be able to lay down some lead. Lots of ammo also. Safety through Strength

          • circusboy90210 says:

            defending yourself is not a problem. defenatly travel heavily armed as you can afford too. the problem is the pirates not the well armed law abiding person.

          • steve mac says:

            Typical paranoid american slant on pirates. I have been traveling the globe this last 20 years on yachts and have never seen a pirate yet. As for laying down some lead if you do come across a pirate chances are it will be off the coast of somalia and they going to be a lot more heavily armed and a hell of a lot more willing to use force than the average chump on a sailing boat. Chances are you are going to come out of it a lot worse than if you had stayed away from known pirate hotspots, keeping yourself and the poor buggers that are going to have to rescue you out of harms way.

          • smokeslinger says:

            I’m thinking of buying a cheap boat and sailing into the world’s troubled spots for fun. I’ve got myself the firepower I might need to protect myself and the floating love machine a 50 calibre M2 Browning machine gun strapped 2 the back,two Daewoo USAS-automatic shotguns and two 9mm with built in lazer sights strapped 2each leg for close up combat.I’ll also need a 21year old busty blond who can fish, clean cook and suck (any leaks out of the hull obviously that’s what I meant) and who begs for the pork sword 4times a week. Any takers??? My thoughts were Somalia first then on to Lagos (Nigeria) and then onto the gulf of Aden/red sea then onto the Singapore straits to finish of. Any out there fancy it.?? Or can anyone advise me on what boat to get. l can’t swim very well so it’ll need to be a good one. Will I need oars cos I’ve ordered a pair on eBay

      • nitro joe says:

        a flare gun is a legal weapon on your ship no declareing anything and shoots real good try fireing it just for effect see what i mean

        • Bobby Fingers says:

          Nitro Joe,

          I many countries a “Flare Gun” is actually considered a weapon and could get you in just as much trouble as a handgun..

          No BS, Canada for instance does not allow them, some of the islands can be tricky especially if you are the type to draw attention to yourself.

          Just check with local regulations on firearms and / or flare guns for the destination(s) AND along the route you are planning just in case you need to go to shore in some place other than where you were heading.

          As to what type of weapon to bring (if you decide to bring one at all).

          I recommend a decent nickel or stainless steel pump action 12 gauge (3.5″ Mag) with 00 Buckshot. Buy yourself a roll of rosin (peach) paper, completely disassemble the firearm, clean and oil EVERYTHING, use gun grease anywhere you can, then make sure it is UNLOADED! wrap it entirely in rosin paper and put into a waterproof case. I personally use a FoodSaver vacuum bagger as you can make any size bag you need, and it also is great for keeping the shells, batteries, and oh yea, food!

          Store the firearm in an upper bunk or cabinet where it is away from moisture, even in the bag it could sweat.

          As to declaring the weapon, again, I would be VERY careful when bringing it, and use the utmost discretion… TELL NO ONE that you have it on-board.

          One last thing; I have seen people use modification kits to make a flare-gun fire shot shells…

          ****DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT THIS!!!
          It WILL come apart in a most disastrous and harmful way!!!

    • Liam says:

      You are out of your mind to suggest living on a 15 foot boat. The fools that sail around on small boats are fools–like you. You can probably live on a 28 foot boat in a marina. If you are single. I know people who have. If you want to sail on the ocean, 45′ is a better size that can cover some ground. If you want to go fast enough to get anywhere you will need an extra big fuel tank, and an efficient prop. There is little to worry about regarding piracy in the US and most of the Caribbean. Avoid So. America and Mexico. I do agree it is nice to be able to gunk hole in small harbors. Still there are plenty of nice spots for vessels with drafts of 6-8 feet. And you can buy a few flare pistols to defend yourself.

      • TAT-ONC says:

        Lots and lots of misinformation on this site. As you may now, one of the more famous liveaboards and a true sailor, Eric Hiscock, traveled the world in a 30-foot boat. Size isn’t the deciding factor in the seaworthiness of a vessel, though I would say that storage of the essentials, food and other provisions, sails, anchors and what have you, would be a factor to consider. I’m on a 31 foot, full-keel sailboat with a broadish beam (11.6′) and have considerable storage space. As for pirates, never seen them except make-believe ones at re-enactments in Beaufort, NC and Ocracoke Island, NC. Living on a boat certainly isn’t for everyone nor should it be, especially those of a “survivalist” mentality. Mostly, sailors are a caring loving community far removed from this nonsense about automatic weapons and firepower. If I were a religious soul, I would pray for you those of that persuasion to stay land-bound. Peace and long life.

    • T says:

      We have a large sailboat….First of all you can not CARRY A SHOTGUN out of the USA. I have done extensive research and if you do be prepared as to what the foreign countries can do to you. Be smart get a PROTECTION DOG!
      People so do not understand what it is like living on a boat. It is a lot of work and money do not fool yourself. Bikerman you were correct in your writing. Not slamming a dream. When you sail run with other yachters, this helps with pirates. Mexico is safe, be careful in Africa and the Philippians….Serious stuff goes on there.

    • ChrisFromMonroe says:

      For anyone serious about living off the grid on a sailboat you should not worry about fending off pirates with flare guns. Weather, the Coast Guard, electricity generation, boat rigging, and proper gear are the things you should be worried about. I read many of these posts and nobody is talking about gps, charts, vhf/weather radio, EPIRB, tow insurance, tides, mooring lights, beacons, shiping lanes, coastguard regulations or anything else useful that will be considered musts for your adventure. Living in a marina on a boat is just like living in an RV park but costs more. Buy a 28 foot or better boat and go for it. It will be the best thing you have ever done and will really change the way you look the world.

  2. Tim Bisbee says:

    This is not for the novice. unless you are independently wealthy and can withstand to lose ALL that you invest. And if you are novice, you must learn a lifetime of knowledge first.
    When bad things happen they happen faster than you can respond and you are alone, even if you radio the Coast Gaurd you are still 99% alone. They will save you,if they can find you in time, but thats it, if your vessel needs saved thats not their job, except for a very few conditions you will probally not fall under.
    I lived in this fashion for many years and finnaly ceased to do so due to a trifecto of causes, these being getting worn down by hurricanes Jeanne, Francis and Wilma while I was suffering three herniated discs in the lower back and trying to further my carrer as a marine industry professional.
    Most, and I think eventually all, marinas and moorings do not allow “live aboards”.And if they do it will be at greater cost than to live on land. Being of the grid and living anchored out is way more harder than you think. Most waterways are “owned” by someone, yes you can ‘own” submerged land. whether it be state,govt,private it is owned and you are a tresspasser.
    Federally you can “anchor out” as long as you wish,as long as you are in a federal ancorage which is inside most inlet areas prior to passing under the first bridge inland of the demarcation line of the inlet, you most keep out of the assigned waterways managed by the USCG for thru vessel navigation.You can not pump out “waste” legally anyway.so your holding tanks will fill while your water tanks deplete. both must be serviced at dock and at cosiderable cost. Think five times your normal water and sewage rates on land.
    Now that thats overcome, groceries and supplies are seldom bought at dock. The expense is to great even for these multi-million dollar yachtsmen. You can’t just row to shore anywhere, your probally trespassing,some marinas “will for a charge’ allow you to dock a dinghy for shore leaves,if you do this.dockspace is at a premium. Public areas like parks? theres beaches, but most don’t allow a tender to be pulled up onto them, someone might get hurt tresspassing on it, no-one ever really builds a dock for unrestricted public use, and if so you can’t expect your dingy to be there when you get back. OH,, Pirates. pirates pirates, avast ye; and drop all yer deluded childhood visions about pirates, I actually known a few, only two had gold earings, there’ye everywhere. don’t romantisize what a pirate is, they are as common as street gang members in a county lock-up. They live next door somtimes and even have day-jobs They will row up and swipe yer outboard,deck hardware, break in and take your valuables and leave with hardly a sound. Your shotgun is only of use if your’re on board to use it, and trust me if you do, when you go to court without an established street address ( P.O. boxes don’t cut it) because your a ‘liveaboard’ you will not make bail Mr flight risk. hunker down and wait, Most lawyers would’nt touch you because of this also so having a very meaty cash savings is vital, now in the judges eye your no better than the damn pirate as a matter of fact what you did was worse than what the pirate did since a vessel is not veiwed as a home,residence etc,. You will notice that you are in a caste system. no one likes a liveaboard, employers, insurance agents,marinas,police, other weekend boaters,commercial boaters,local citizens, you are a hobo, a homeless person, you can’t be pinned down,made to be responsible, your a loose cannon, not to be trusted, and the closer you are to the water the greater the dislike for you grows. This isnt at all helped by the fact that most “liveaboards’ reek like B.O., have very weathered look to them, worn sun faded and frayed clothing like a castaway, grease stained hands from maintenance, at least real liveaboards do, in the areas freqeunted by liveaboards like where I lived in south florida.
    It is nearly impossible to stay clean onboard, resources are at a premium, a degree in air conditioning technology is extremley useful, this is a hard way of life, I found my experiences very rewarding and but eventually non-sustainable,few memories are as favorable to me as those “on the hook” if you do this, my advice is to have at least one certain escape route. Man was not meant to live at sea, The sea was meant to test mans endurance, fortitude and resourcfulness.The sea is unforgiving, and your boat has no brain of its own, it must use YOURS for everything.
    I can be contacted by those whom belay my warnings and cast off anyway at boatmasterbiz@live.com I am willing to share my experience and knowledge with ya.

    • kingsailor says:

      seems like you want to shoot down peoples dreams….i suggest you stay on land…

      • Crushing dreams says:

        If your navigation skills don’t get any better than what I’ve seen here on the blog, you should also consider that option. Stay Safe!!!

    • KMB says:

      I agree…you should stay on land. I’ve never lived on a boat before, but my wife and I are planning it and getting ready. We are both retired Marines. I’ve been researching this decision for the past year, and I have yet to read as many negative comments in one past as this one. I could go point-by-point debating just about everything you’ve said, but I won’t waste my time. Most people who’ve done their research will see that you are pretty much only presenting the negative side of being a liveaboard. Yes, it’s difficult, expensive, and can tax the best from what I’ve read, but the rewards seem to outweigh all that for many who do it.

      • Christian koehler says:

        I have lived aboard my Catalina 38 for almost two years now. I can trufully can say that I have never regreted this wonderful living arrangement. In some of the replys on this topic someone mentioned that live aboards are like hobos, LOL.Yes there are those that live like pigs, also if you were to look at their boat it also suited for a pig. It’s now you carry yourself and how mom raised you I guess(-: Go with your dreams and never look back. It’s a good life!

        • Tim Bisbee says:

          An optimal response about how one carrys oneself.

          • Thank you, all for providing such incredible insight.

            One observation; many of the most intelligent responses were riddled with miss-spelling and other simple grammatical errors.

      • Marylou says:

        Live your dreams and don’t let anyone talk you out of it. I have been cruising for 5 years and love this lifestyle. When on land I am like a fish out of water. If you need crew check out Find A Crew. Net. You can get on someone else boat and get some experience and see if you really like it before you buy. Mary Lou

        • Dave says:

          Hello Mary Lou. I know this is a older posting but hopefully you find this. I have pondered the idea of living on a boat for many years but up until recently, finances have been a deterrence. I have been seeing some very nice cruisers in the 40ft range that I can, with financing, actually afford. I do still work in Seattle where nearby livaboard moorings are available and will continue to do so for the next ten years. Soooo, my question is, at 55, and in good health, am I too old to considering this?

          • Art says:

            Dave,
            I am 53, on my second (and larger) boat. I just pruchased a Hardin 44 and it is an apartment on the water. She is a slow but steady boat. I have heard from folks in their 70′s still living the life.

    • barb says:

      Wow, can you tell us anything. Positive?

      • Tim Bisbee says:

        Sure, email me with a specific subject.

    • Tim Bisbee says:

      sur•vive (s r-v v )
      v. sur•vived, sur•viv•ing, sur•vives
      v.intr.
      1. To remain alive or in existence.
      2. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere: (families that were surviving in tents after the flood.)
      3. To remain functional or usable:( I dropped the radio, but it survived.)
      v.tr.
      1. To live longer than; outlive: (She survived her husband by five years.)
      2. To live, persist, or remain usable through: (plants that can survive frosts; a clock that survived a fall).
      3. To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after: (survived child abuse).

      Please read the above description and meaning of the word “SURVIVE”.
      There is a lot of, what one could call, “negative connotations” attached to its description up there above.
      What I wrote on Oct, 10, 2010 was for a “SURVIVALIST” blog,… You know? For the type of person that buys gas masks, survival knives, and iodine tablets. If I was writing an article on tournament fishing, boating vacation getaways, waterskiing or any of the other wonderful things you can do on the water, well, I would have chosen another venue. But this is a SURVIVALIST BLOG.
      So for your sunny adventures on sparkling beaches please go read “Cruising World Magazine” And get out of my hair about what a negative guy I am. My little ramble back then was long enough without mentioning all the things that you don’t need to survive.
      The boating community and lifestyle are great. So are our national parks and wildlife reserves, but if I read an article about snakebites, bear attacks and dysentery from drinking in streams I would not flame all over the author for his perceived negativity of our forest community.
      YES,YES…. I only touched on THE NEGATIVE SIDE, …WHY? Because one does not get much credit for SURVIVING THE POSITIVE SIDE of things now does he? And this “is” a SURVIVALIST BLOG.
      And for those of you that are under the impression that “I think” of anyone, as being a smelly hobo, That was not my intent to imply, I just wished to share with the audience how I have personally seen (some)others view live aboards, this to include law enforcement and other civil entities, other “weekend boaters” ,entrepreneurs and merchants and employers.
      I thought it would be a bonus for employment being a live aboard as I was, and still am a marine industry worker, but I have actually been turned away(by boatyards) at least twice due to that status, and no, I did not ask for free, reduced or any other dockage for that matter either. This was due to their previous bad experiences with live aboard employees.
      In general boating is very safe especially for those who are cautious and prudent, every year I see dozens of unfortunate accidents due to alcohol, tom foolery, testosterone, inexperience and other causative mechanisms. Just hang out at a busy boat ramp on a holiday weekend and you can get a sense of what I am saying just from doing that.
      I am recognized by the American Boat and Yacht Council as a MASTER TECHNICIAN.
      I have a current Operator of Un-inspected Passenger Vessels license with the U.S. Merchant Marine.
      I have nearly ten years of service with The U.S.C.G. Auxiliary, to include numerous Search and Rescue, Patrol, Aids to Navigation as well as other various missions with Active Coast Guard and Law enforcement entities.
      That is all a matter of public record, Also…I write by my true name, unlike most….I have to live by what I say.
      My intention is not to scare you away from boating. It is possibly one of the greatest experiences you’ll have in life, I wish you to be cautious and wise is all.

      • HAT says:

        http://oaklandnorth.net/2012/03/14/as-the-economy-sinks-homeless-people-move-onto-abandoned-boats/

        Please don’t call me “crusher of dreams” or any more of that non-sense. As I have elsewhere stated in this blog. there is essentially no need to “survive” the high end side of living aboard. If your a Former British Marine living aboard as security guard, as one of my haters is,chances are you are on quite the cushy ride if the owner can afford a security contingent. The link above is a view of the “real world” those yachtsmen with onboard security personnel just steam straight past. However if you bought your 30′ chris craft off its third owner well this is what the neighborhood can look like in more metropolitan areas.The article comes from California,But I see a mirror image in alot of places.

      • oz says:

        Thanks for the useful insight Tim. Unlike others I think your comments are positive and not negative.

        • Jodysworld says:

          Tim
          As previously said by others, you give the boater and the survivalist, reality checks! You are right, I have sat at boat ramps and watched the craziness that “pops up”. I am a novice boater, but common sense tells me that I need to be sober and watch out for my safety at all times. I too bought a boat to live aboard, and yes, I have already had my 911′s, at a good expense, but, I am committed, and it is a commitment for a long term dream. And that’s what will keep me afloat, and living the dream. Pirates? Yes, like Tim said they are everywhere…have had stuff taken right off the back of the boat from late night raiders. Ask yourself, is that dinghy, outboard secure enough? Well make it secure…you’ll sleep better and pirates won’t waste there time, they will move on to the next one! So what is on this blog is all factual and should be used as a word of caution, cause stuff happens no matter where you are!

          • Jim says:

            As we said in the Navy:
            Live by the “Six P’s”
            Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!

      • Paula says:

        Tim your responses are so long, convoluted, and full of negativity. We can all find our own negativity, what is of much more help is tell us about your good experiences or for gods sake tell us nothing at all. In other words, in my opinion you have so much to say and have said NOTHING of value.

    • Liam says:

      I suggest you all listen to Tom. He knows what he is talking about. I’ll add that if you chose this lifestyle, it is best done with someone else–a wife or friend, or son. It is even better on a much larger vessel with more people. Safety in numbers, and someone can stay with the boat, drop people off on shore, pick up etc. All this is hard to do, most people want their own boat and the freedom that goes with it. I will also reinforce some other things said here. You must keep up appearances. It is easy to slack off. Shave, dress neatly. Act with decorum. This applies to RV’s also. If you are pegged as a bum, you will be treated like one. On the plus side, if someone hassles you, it is so satisfying to move on and leave the crappy people behind you.

      • 1moken says:

        I am 66 this year was in the navy have been on or near the water my whole life.what people are saying is mostly true,some of them are writing from bad experiences,these I listen too andasses what to do different !!! Others are enjoying good times and havhe plenty of good experiences AND times .I will get me a fixer upper and start my journey on the water,it may take me awhile ,as I am not trying to impress anyone anywhere.I DO THE BEST I am able but am not out to outshine or1 up anyone!!!! If you see me wave and be cordial I will return the salute!!!! I always try the nice side FIRST ,then on to the ugly things . I wish all of you a fine journey and fair winds where ever you sail !!!!! 1 moken

    • Clark says:

      have you had any expierances with the Coast Guard? Were they good or bad and how? Are you saying you can only spend 3 days on the hook at any inlet or federal waters? Any reservations about Mexican waters? Any other advice, I Absolutely loved your article!!! Thanks, Clark

    • steve says:

      Having lived aboard for five years. I agree completely.My wife and I Moved ashore and are now enjoying our seventeenth yr of full time living aboard a forty foot motorcoach. homeless. yes..the IRS actually classifies you as :a moderately affluent homeless person: not a wholle lot different, new set of problems maintenance wise. and you wont drown. but everything else pretty much applies.my best advice. try it before you buy it. Z

    • yo ho ho says:

      I have friends that sail and refer to people like you as a ‘walters’. Theres no reason to discourage,just be honest. I have a lucrative job I can do anywhere and Ive spent a lot of time talking to people that live like this and it seems youre talking of the people at the bottom of the barrel. what a negative person you are. let people live their dreams for lifes sake cause on the other hand my friends that do it love it and dont stink.and they are stand up people. I think youre just one of those people that thinks they know everything and is arrogant and basically unhappy cap’n.

    • camilo veiga says:

      Bisbee ,Man was not meant to live at sea ? you must be a spoiled brat , if was not for the adventures of man and sea your country would not be the greatest country that is today what is . stop runing other peoples dreams and stick to your leaving shell ass———–hole

    • Trusty Shellback says:

      Wow, What he said is true he just said it in the most negative way. I have lived onboard over 750 days on a aircraft carrier and would love to go back! There were bad days believe me but the good days are what I remember.

  3. You won’t catch me on a boat WTSHTF! It is going to be tough enough on land but out on the Ocean things will be even harder if you ask me. The pirates will be everywhere and every boat on the water might as well have a huge target painted on it. If that isn’t enough reason not to do it then the other reasons that Tim talked about should stop you. I would rather fight on my feet on dry land any day. At least I won’t be shark food.

    • KMB says:

      You guys kill me! You make living aboard a boat sound like a battle zone! Most areas of the world are safe for boaters. There are only a few places where it’s not safe (off the coast of Somalia, some places in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Venezuela), but those are the exception. And if you live amongst other liveaboards, you’ll find that they are a VERY protective crowd…out of necessity! If you do your research, you’ll find some web sites that list all reported crime-related incidents on the high seas, and there are exceptionally few! And believe it or not, IMHO, it’s much easier to defend a boat than a house! In a house, someone can break in when you are home, and you very likely won’t even hear them because of the size of the house, but on a boat…unless you live on a mega-yacht, it would be very difficult for someone to break in without you knowing it. And there are ways to defend a boat without having a firearm…which would land you in jail. Many ways, actually, from noises, electric wires, pepper sprays, etc. The key is to be low-profile and not make yourself a target.

      I’m glad guys like Mr. Bisbee and Survival Gear are on land. Leaves more for those of us who want the adventure and excitement of being on our own to enjoy!

      • Jim says:

        If your a recreational boater you already have an idea of problems you can run into. Everyone on this blog keeps talking about shotguns and firearms for looters. I have lived aboard for several years now, have a full time job and don’t have a firearm. I own a spear gun. Take an extremely legal(and doesn’t need to be registered) spear gun and shoot it the length of your house into 2 or 3 sheets of plywood. The spear will go right through. If you don’t know boats, stay on land!

    • SailorDave says:

      Been living on and off the hook for years. I am certain driving down the highway is a lot more dangerous then being anywhere on the water. You can talk all you want about how unsafe living on the water is, i assure you, land is a lot more dangerous.

    • Liam says:

      It is far easier to pick up and move away from the shit than to stay and deal with it. In any event it is good to have options. An RV and a live aboard cruiser.

  4. FlaPrep says:

    We have lived-aboard boats in marinas, and also cruised long-distance aboard boats (“cruisers.”)

    Boating does NOT require deep pocketbooks, nor life-long boating experience. Sure, these both HELP AL LOT!!! But, we have come across MANY successful rookie and penniless boaters and liveaboards. We have also seen our fair share of “professional skippers” run aground or sink their boats, too!

    The main recipe for success is COMMON SENSE.

    As far as all the comments about “gun laws for boaters going to foreign countries” and such — IT’S THE SAME FOR LAND-LUBBERS,TOO! You can’t carry your AK47, 12ga pump, or 9mm pistol aboard the plane, or through customs, either! Heck, I’d even argue that port security is much more relaxed than airport and road-based border crossings. If you were bent on having weapons with you as you cruise, you simply toss them into a weighted waterproof bag, and toss them overboad (in shallow water) as you approach your new port-o-call (and mark them via your GPS.) After checking through customs in your new host country, you then return to your GPS waypoint to retrieve your illegal booty.

    I’m NOT supporting nor encouraging guns aboard, nor smuggling weapons in/out of a foreign country. I’m simply stating that there is MORE freedom aboard boats (and among the boating community) than there is among the “usual” land-based population. Boaters RELY on fellow boaters (more than typical land-lubbers rely upon their neighbors.)

    As far as TEOTWAWKI situations, a well-equipped boat will have HUGE advantages over any land-based approach. When we cruised our boat last year for just over 1,000 miles, we passed maybe 3-4 dozen boats enroute? Try to make that same trip via car/roads, and you will encounter that many vehicles per MINUTE!

    A well-equipped sailboat has a nearly endless range, and can truly reposition globally. Here’s an exercise for ya’: Try MapQuesting a road-based route from any city in the USA to Rio, Brazil. (You can’t get there from here.) A sailboat is the ULTIMATE bug-out vehicle. It has its own watermaking gear (saltwater into freshwater.) This also serves as a source of income (selling bottled freshwater, which is worth more than diesel fuel per gallon in much of the world.) You can fish and catch crabs/lobster/shellfish right over the rail. Food + water + endless range.

    Pirates: There are 1,000-times MORE land-based pirates than water-based pirates. (Just tune into the news any day of the week?) From bums on the street corner, to the pin-striped-suits playing ponzie games, to government officials and their votes-for-kickbacks in DC. Whereas, if you get yourself 20+ miles offshore, you will be hard-pressed to find ANY boats (let alone pirates.) We made a recent Gulf of Mexico partial-crossing, and in 36+ hours, we only saw about six other boats (and you had to be LOOKING HARD to find them — they weren’t “near-misses.”) Heck, they were barely within VHF radio range.

    Wanna read about a couple who sold-up and set-sail with ZERO boating experience (and they are now halfway around the globe, and LOVING it?) Visit: http://www.theslapdash.com

    Peace,

    FP

    • Tim Bisbee says:

      Yes, money and experience help ALOT as you say. And you can live on the cheap. You can set off with zero experience, you can also drive without a licence on land, it’s just playing your chances and not standing out or getting into an unfortunate situation even by no fault of your own.

      • glenn packer says:

        If you admit to all bad stuff happening to you being your fault then you free yourself from fear.No drivers lic. but need to drive? Stay away from cops and drive defensively and stay out of rush hour. Victims could always have prevented the problem (adults). Pay attention to your surroundings…your spouse..your neighbor and employer..or anyone else that can hurt you. I see it coming and so can you.

  5. Jayrod says:

    The talk about pirates is frankly silly. There are literally tons of “cruisers” (mostly retired) who bum around the Carribean. I’ve never once heard of any fellow cruisers have any issues whatsoever with pirates. The Gulf is far too well policed and traveled for pirates to be able to really do anything. Pirates rely on places where they know authorities won’t come after them and where passers-by are scarce – namely the Ivory Coast and East Africa. Your chances of getting attacked by pirates in the Gulf are far, far, far less than getting mugged on the street.

    As far as cost, living on a boat can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. It can be absolutely way cheaper than land living. The initial investment in your boat is not much more than an apartment (depending how big), maintenance can be relatively inexpensive (learn to do all you can yourself, and try to get work done in cheaper places like Trinidad rather than Texas), and it’s also terribly relaxing! Yes, you do spend mornings doing chores and boat maintenance, but the afternoon and evenings hold a strict no-work policy! :) There’s a lot of cruisers out there living on their social security check and nothing more – the islands are cheap! As far as guns getting you in trouble, that’s nonsense. Simply be honest and make sure you claim it and let customs and other authorities know you carry it.

    With the advent of solar panels and watermakers, boat living is perfect for people who want to live independently and off the grid. Happy sailing!

    (cruisersforum.com and ebaymotors are great resources for info and potential boats!)

  6. Richard says:

    For a while I have been planning my escape from the day to day life of work and home. I have decided that my escape will come in the way of a houseboat. I have purchased a 1959, all aluminum boat that I am gutting completely. Come spring, I will set it in the water and see if it floats. If it leaks, I will fix and continue on. I found a 1958 penta volvo I/O that had the outdrive rebuilt and will use that connected to a WarP 9 electric motor. The boat is only 28 feet and the motor puts out about 35 hp. I hope that can move me around. I will also put in wind turbines to charge the batteries along with a generator. I would like to use total alternative energy, but I don’t think it is possible. If all goes well on a few practice voyages, I will be cruising the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. At least that is the plan. I would like my gal friend to come along, but I don’t think that this is her thing. Just saw your site and would like to share what you all are doing and how you are surviving. Thanks

    • RJGrones says:

      Life is a fleeting short adventure here.. Do it..

  7. Lou says:

    Here’s my experience living on a boat in the waters of British Columbia (damn close to Alaska). True,a liveaboard does face some unique challenges, however as with most challenges, attitude and planning goes a long way. In my case I looked for for the right project. I finally found a 50ft aluminum sailboat which I bought for it’s scrap value. I then spent 2 years fitting it out so that I can maintain every system I installed with my own 2 hands. Food? we keep 6 month supplies on board, otherwise the tide goes out and the table is set, we eat a lot of seafood, I fish regularly, and not for sport. Water?, how about a waterfall so close at anchor that I use a large funnel and hose to fill up the tanks, 600 gal at a time, and yes it’s free, and I trust it way more than the the stuff out of municipal pipes. Ya I’ve got the solar panels, watermaker, genset, heating, woodstove etc. we’re self sufficient. Do I worry about pirates, you gotta be kidding, I look out for Grizzlies.

    • Debbie says:

      Hi Lou -
      Thank you for your post. Love your common sense and creativity in sustaining what sounds like a very fulfilling way of life. Would you be willing to share your 6 month supply list?
      Thank you

  8. Timothy says:

    I worked for Sea Ray boats in engineering for 6 years and put my work experience to work living the life. On the hook just outside of Cocoa. Literally walked into shore but I lived very differently than most. I purchased a big flat steel barge, welded a superstructure on top, and had everything I needed locked AND hidden in special part of the boat. When I took off for 2-3 days on a trip and left the boat there was nothing insdie they could find or take of value. Now I Vanabode which is seriously way more fun, way safer, and provides WAY more variety than boat living.

  9. lone wolf says:

    pirates are only a problem in a few places and you could spend a lifetime as a liveaboard in places that last saw pirates when they were called Bluebeard etc. The Med is a great place to be a liveaboard…cheap (in places), varied and on the most, easy sailing.

  10. cliff says:

    I am trying to do all of the above; Grow my own food, catch rainwater and recycle the “black water”. My biggest problem is how to have airconditioning on a small, 16 ft. boat. I was told that one can grow enough food for one person on only 144 sp feet. If so living aboard is possible. Also, if you observe the us navy type water hours, a show becomes possible. You just need a still to deal with the “black water” produced.

    • Liam says:

      Consider an Incinolet. It requires power to run one. A small Honda 3000 generator will handle one cycle. One hour running.

  11. Amy in Tampa says:

    I am leaving my house and trying out boat living for a few months. We are common sense type folks who will be working down the street from the marina we will be staying at. I have a car and plan on driving to get my basics. I am a woman who loves to have stuff, but I would love the experience of what it is like living with the minimal.

    I believe the experience will last a lifetime and heck maybe in the future I would buy a sailboat and travel the world. Dock fees are going to save me an astronomical amount of money in this dingy econnomy we’re in. I will actually have a surplus! So I am looking forward to saving my money, living with the basics, learning something new, and experiencing something i’ve always dreamed of. And I can’t wait to rock the boat with my man. Haven’t done that one yet lol.

    • Jason says:

      If you don’t get what you want from the boat experience try the Vanabode lifestyle instead.

    • Sherry says:

      So did you go and do what you wanted Amy? I am considering the same and would love a woman’s perspective.

      • robknob says:

        hey sherry. go to amazon and buy “cruising on a small income” by Annie Hill for a good woman’s perspective.

  12. Misti in Oklahoma says:

    We are planning on buying a boat and setting sail in two years. Two of my biggest concerns is…will I be bored? and what do I do with all my sentamental stuff that i’ve collected my whole life?

    • Off Grid Survival says:

      Boredom could be a huge issue. You might want to think about doing a practice run for a couple of months to see if it’s something that you want to do long term.

    • Tim Bisbee says:

      Wow, depends what you got that’s sentimental, chances are good most of it should be packed nice and safe and stored with friends or in a storage facility. you’ll be collecting new sentimental’s as you go along, one of my favorites to this day is a conch shell my wife carved out to use as a horn, believe it or not it is a legal marine signaling device, we used it all the time to signal for bridge opening requests here in Florida.My own favorite hobby for boredom was species identification of marine life, opportunity to practice was prolific and source material to study was also. And it comes in very useful too, A lot of marinas have book exchanges which are fun anyway, but allot of books about the marine environment was there for the picking. Cooking too if you like that, cooking on the hook and sitting down to eat with my soulmate, in the beautiful natural setting as the sun set is one of the fondest memories of my life. Learn to scuba or snorkel, learn kite fishing,navigation was a chore for me at first but I knew a few people that charted just because it was fun to them, like Sudoku or something.Even if your just an intra-coastal sailor it’s a big blue world full of life, settling down at night and listening to the fish and what not talk and sheephead pounding the hull to eat off barnacles, laughing about how hard they hit their heads, is another very found memory. I think if you fight the environment you’ll get bored, if you reach out to it, two years won’t be enough.

      • Patrick says:

        Thank you for the comments. I was wondering the same thing about boredom and what I should do with my stuff when my lease is over. I really appreciate the insight.

    • SailorDave says:

      Bring a laptop and a bunch of good games. Also start recording all the movies you can from tv to dvd’s. Look on ebay for a used 12 volt 19″ zenith hd tv. you’ll find one sooner or later under 70 bucks,(I bought 2 for 50 each, still on the first on after 3 years). between computer games, movies, fishing and diving, I usually don’t get bored. Although soloing, I do get lonely and go to shore to just talk to people a lot. I’ve met some of the greatest people living on the water.
      So to answer you question…It’s up to how you prepeare and what you find you like to do to pass the time. Prepare for days on end sitting in the rain. As far as all your junk, if you haven’t used it in the last 2 or 3 months, you probably don’t need it.
      Let me add, prepare before you go. I spent 5 years preparing my boat, 4 100 watt solar panels and wind generator for power, lecro-san for waste (takes care pumping out, but can’t go to key west and a few places that don’t allow them), water maker, best investment I ever made, good navigation system with new maps, 12 golf cart batteries all on a 31 ft. sailboat i bought for 12 grand and refitted, including ripping out the interior and making it for one person with a lot of toys. Spend the money while while your working and dreaming, not after you start out. I’m living on abour 120 a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, but it was because i spent and prepared before i left. Don’t give up the dream and don’t wait forever to do it.

    • Liam says:

      Your biggest issue is to avoid alcoholism.

    • avera says:

      Hey Misti…I was looking at the site for the marina in Claremore OK and couldn’t figure out if they allow any living aboard…do you happen to know this place and their liveaboard policy?

  13. I am a an ex-advertising executive in New York and am considering life on a sailboat. I grew up sailing small boats in Fla and preliminary investigations have me considering a Bavaria. There appears to be enough room for my wife and I and moving away from the land is something I very much look forward to. I want to go into this with open eyes so the experience of others, pros and cons are greatly appreciated. I welcome all points of view regarding “living on the hook” and am trying to get a handle on maintenance, high technologies, etc.

  14. frank sherman says:

    i lived on a thirty two ft. house boat for two years and it was just great. all of the problems i faced (rough weather,mechanical problems,food supplies,water,docking fees,marine patrols,idiots in power boats etc. were all easy to handel,but i was thirty years old ,now at sixtyfive i dont think i could do it again.juust a thought, be sure you are up to the stress at what ever age you are at. like a lot of things it,s great when you are young and tough but things change as you age. i,m still eighteen at heart but my body and nerves are not what they used to be. and believe it or not you will age.

  15. Ronin1965 says:

    Tim Bisbee……….you clearly have no experience of the environment in which you claim to have lived!

    I am a former British Royal Marine, who has lived on boats -in numerous locations for the last 15 years. I make my living in the maritime security industry, and choose the liveaboard life purely because I love the sea. I have berthed in marinas in the US, Mexico, various South American Countries, the UK, the Netherlands, East Africa – to name but a few. On the whole, it is FAR CHEAPER to live in marinas thn it is to rent an apartment or other accomodation. Shopping for groceries is the same the world over, you find the best and cheapest location by experience. I very rarely buy anything other than fuel in marinas!…(although the odd beer is welcome sometimes..) There are numerous websites which one can use to monitor the international piracy situation – all free of charge to the boating community, so there is no reason to be unprepared. All that is required for a successful liveaboard life, is a little research- and buckets of streetrwise common sense.

    - As to carrying weapons onboard…… stay out of areas where piracy is rife, and stick to spearfishing, and a rod and line. You’ll stay alive a lot longer that way.

  16. Steve says:

    I am planning on retiring (again) early next year like in February 2013. I am very much hoping to and planning on retiring on a boat this time. I am looking for the right boat to live on now and hopefully will find the one I want before then. I’m planning on mooring it in Morro Bay Ca. for a couple of reasons, one the weather is perfect year round for living on a boat, in the winter it only gets down to 55f-60f and in the summer it only gets up to 70f, perfect weather and the second reason being that my daughter and her family live in Morro Bay. I’m in very good heath and am mechanically and electrically inclined so doing my own maintenance will not be a problem. I’m by myself so I’m in the market for a 36 to 45 ft motor boat or houseboat that is used. I’m not sure yet as to witch one I like better. I don’t plan on going anywhere with the boat so I will be sitting on the deck at night and watching the stars from Morro Bay. Maybe short trips now and then. As I said I am living alone and don’t plan on getting involved with anyone so living in close quarters is no problem for me. Just though I’d write this after reading everyone’s comments both the good and bad. But it looks like there are more good ones as for living on a boat.

  17. Capt. Joe says:

    I started to read but no time right now. Still, i want to say this: I lived on a boat for thirty years (30) some twenty of that (20) I also had a Harley Davidson as my second “lifestyle”. They both work. I am not wealthy but can hammer a nail in the wall if I have to. Living on a boat is as close to getting independent as it is possible these days. Nevertheless, you have to be able to be self dependent and that is what makes it worth while for most of us that do it.

  18. tim bird says:

    i have lived on my sail boat since 1981 its 25 ft holds 28gal of fuel solar and wind power,i pay 172.00 per month for slip fees i get free wi-fi free tv my onboard heater runs on bio.diesel i have 9gal water tank last for about 2 months,the only pirates i see are on tv the marina has showers clubhouse,i work on boats for a living im never board,yes there can be some problems but they have problems on land to i have lots of good friends around the marina including 2 ducks that stay by my boat,there are grocery stores,marine supply,mall,target,all in walking distance,

    • livi says:

      we should stay on land but we need to go out to sea sometimes for food and discovery with an animal and other sea living creatures

    • livi says:

      we could stay on land but we need to go out to sea sometimes for food and discovery with an animal and other sea living creatures

    • andrew hamilton says:

      Hey Tim,
      it sounds great .. where are you doing all this?
      cheers

  19. Al says:

    I think Tim Brisbee’s words are food for thought. I’ve read many books on sailing, sailboat construction, living aboard, cruising, etc., with the intention of eventually doing it all.

    I’ve sailed on inland lakes (I love sailing,) gone out deep sea fishing, and spent a lot of time talking to people on the docks.

    I do think that this whole idea of living the “free” life on a sailboat can be romanicised, as “seagurl” points out, and in reading books by the most well-known seafarers, like Lynn and Larry Pardee, I have an appreciation for how spartan, lonely, boring,trying,and somewhat dangerous,this lifestyle can be.

    Like ANY lifestyle, it involves commitment and dedication, whether you are slaving at a desk to fund your lifestyle and trying to avoid a heart attack, or putting up with the trials and tribulations of living/cruising on a sailboat, and trying to avoid drowning.

    Drinking water, waste water and stores are all huge considerations on a boat, not to mention safety and comfort.

    Many sailors who have written online and in the traditional book market led a boating lifestyle and returned to land. That should tell us something.

    I’m still very seriously considering buying a sailboat and cruising. However, I expect it to be an adventure, not a long-term lifestyle.

    Read, read, read about the cost of boat living and the many discomforts (noise,for example) that boaters have to endure. What I’ve always assumed I could easily handle, I now question. Not because I’ve become chicken, but because I’ve read enough about real sailors write down-to-earth books and articles, to realize it might not be for me.

    Rot, mold, continuous humidity, heat, cold, storms, isolation, dingy thieves laundry,fire(the worst of all on-board disasters other than man-overboard situations,)port authorities, Coast Guard authorities…blah, blah, blah.

    My plan is to actually pay for fairly long-distance trip aboarda sailboat to determine if I think I can handle this sort of adventure.

    I suspect I can, but before I sink a bunch of money into something, I’m going to do the best I can to be sure. Ease into it with the least upfront cost as possible and with an “escape plan” if it doesn’t work out that doesn’t drain my bank account.

    • Tim Bisbee says:

      Now see, this is the response that I had hoped to generate. Now I was feeling a little on the gloomy side when I wrote down my previous input above,and I did want to scare off those that need scaring off, but this very well thought out,planned and staged approach,by someone with true commitment, is exactly what I wished to generate. I myself did very well living on board and traveling and I did have some really great experiences that made it all very much worth it.But I knew what I was doing (most times)and approached everything with forethought and respect.

      • hank tatham says:

        thanks for the advice tim.i was in the navy for four years.i think that started this.worked construction for about 20 years.now im a truck driver for 12 years everything is common sense see it on the road everyday.but for the last couple years my gut has been looking at boats and places i have never seen.i believe every country has truck drivers.i think i will buy a boat put it marina learn from other people.meeting ppl is key here then sail afew miles off coast afew times.then go,lol.common sense is good but mother nature is a whole new thing,i look at it this way if its your time to go you will go,dont matter where land,water air.but thanks for the advise maybe we will meet on the water on day and swap tales

  20. Michele says:

    My soul mate and I are thinking of buying a sailboat and taking off for a year. We raised our kids and yes, we do not have enough money to retire but, so many of the people around us waited to long and they never got to retirement. My feeling is why wait till you are too old to do anything anyways. I am 48 and Jim is 56. We are new to sailing having been given a 25 foot sailboat and a cheap mooring on a lake that opens to the intracoastal waterway. So tempted to upgrade to say a 35footer and just do it. We need a little more sailing experience and the guts to jump. We are both avid outdoor people mostly mountain sports like hiking, white water kayaking, road biking… this is just something else we want to try for awhile. How did someone else finally get the guts to jump their good, corporate job for this life? I am hoping when I get back I can find a job… NOT. Probably will not want a conventional job after a trip like this… who knows. I guess the unknown is a bit scary. But, it seems it is our next adventure. Any advise from similar folks is greatly appreciated.

    • SailorDave says:

      Best advice, do it, stop thinking about it. I thought about it for years and years, finally at 60 I’m doing it and wonedring why I waited so long. I could have done this years ago, just make sure your boat is prepared. Making sure everything is the way you want before cruising will be easier then trying do do it out there. Of course you’ll run into maintenance and problems, but never as many as you do with a house and you’ll have more time to do things.

  21. Vlad Z says:

    I live in NYC and will retire soon. I had an idea to buy a big enough boat to live aboard for a few winter months in Florida. Sometimes to sail out, but mostly stay at the marina. Tell me what you, experienced people think about it as an alternative to buying an apartment in Florida ??? Thank you.

  22. Avanti3258 says:

    I have cruised on both sail and power boats for 45 years. I have lived aboard my current boat, 35′ fly bridge on a number of occasions. It has a generator, large head, AC/heat. Very comfortable for the two of us. Living on the dock is $450/mo. including water and electric. More social activity than I want but you can be selective. You eat the same food you would at home. Maintenance on the boat is about $2K per year (motors, detail, bottom every 2-4th year. If you are difficult to entertain, don’t try to live aboard or cruise for more than a weekend. On the other hand if you like to read, watch nature, perform standard maintenance and just relax you might love it. Main benefit to me? When you get tired of a location/people just move to a new one!

  23. J. Puma says:

    I am disabled (Fibromyalgia/chronic pain) and living on SSI/SSDI is near impossible. I have wondered if boat living might be a solution to too-high rent? I don’t have a problem living in a confined space, as its not much different then renting a room. the motion I suppose I can get used to, for all I know it might even be soothing to my condition? However, I am in CA and finding a place might be hard. Plus I would have to learn how to handle a boat (One a lot bigger then some little outboard motor job on a lake, I mean). Really long as I have internet access, I could prob live anywhere thats cheap and I do like boats, even if I have limited experience with them.

    • tim says:

      attn j puma try living on a small [shantyboat] and use a small skiff to move it around and access land. extremely cheap to build and live on and for those who are handicapped it allows them a decent retirement.the main benefit is you live under the radar of most officials.

  24. amy says:

    when your living out on the sea and you want to go from country to country like say back and forth from the U.S. to the U.K. What immigration laws are there pertaining to that???

  25. cliff says:

    has anyone investigated how to grow basic food at sea? I was thinking potatos, peanuts, garlic, kudzoo tomatos and rice. I have been told that only 144 sq ft. are required to grow enough food to feed a single person. If grow indoors using ‘druggy’ type tech with pressurized CO2, this might be reduced. Of course, this would require a larger boat, but it would also allow you to sell FRESH VEGETABLES to passing boats at sea. If anyone has looked into this would you email me. Cliff
    Oh by the way, my brother is so impressed with my seafaring prowess, he told me to never go out where the water is deeper than 2 feet; so I can walk ashore, WHEN–not if, my boat sinks.

  26. Rob says:

    I have been pondering the idea of buying a sailboat to live aboard at a marina in Florida. It is the cheapest way to live in Sunny Florida! Dock fee’s I have found range anywhere from $175 month to $500 month. I do not plan on sailing around the world, I am looking at it as simply a unique way to enjoy nice winters as cheap as possible. The problems you talk about with owning a boat are the same problems you experience owning a house! Replace roof, yardwork, plumbing problems etc…..I have renovated a 1883 cottage I bought and let me tell you a home can suck you dry…..I have done a lot of work investigating living in a marina on a sailboat….you know I have wanted to do this for some time…finally…you know what made me realize its time? I found out I have a terminal illness!!! In remission right now but life is short, take a chance! I lived 22 years in Florida and now have lived lived in Midwest for 12 years… and God I miss the warm weather, the beach, the lifestyle! It has its bad points but to me nothing as bad as shoveling snow off the drive way in 5 below temps!!!! So there is good and bad in everything….I am not worried about pirates unless there living around the inter coastal areas…I am not thinking of sailing my boat to distant lands looking for trouble….I want to spend time at the beach, on the water, fishing…somewhat kind of the simple life! Take it from me!!!! Life is short, and its a great life if you don’t weaken! Thanks

  27. Ronnie says:

    Hooray for you!!! I have a travel trailer and some of the rv parks charge as much as $1,000 a month to park in!!!! A lot of them take advantage of people wanting to escape the winter months up north! Then when I park my travel trailer usually you are about 6 feet next to another Rv…..maybe I should sell the travel trailer and buy a boat!!! Anyway, good luck on your seaworthy travels and life is soooo short so enjoy! Good Luck and thanks

  28. Troy says:

    For the production of fresh vegetables, may I suggest sprouting seeds and pulses? Seeds store very well are cheap and once sprouted, escalate dramatically in food value. A little research will be well rewarded.
    I am a marine engineer and love living at sea. I do it for a living but I got into it to get the skills required to live at sea permanently.

    • Troy, I would love to talk to you privately about your goal to live permanently at sea. I am a writer doing research.

      Cheers,

      Priscilla

      My twitter handle at gmail is my address.

  29. Wondering says:

    Judging from the posts here it seems that knowledge is the difference between an insurmountable problem and something easy to fix. So the earlier you start with sailing/boating living the better. I see many older people contemplating the lifestyle when they’ve never spent any time in a small boat. There may be a few surprises waiting for them.

    What about living in a large bus or cube/box van like this:
    http://chattanooga-tennessee.olx.com/box-cube-van-iid-2110055
    (Just do an image search on Google to see lots of examples – it should have a sliding door joining the driving area to the storage/living area).

    Then, when you get bored at sea you live ashore or go somewhere. Move all your valuables to the vehicle. This allows you far more flexibility albeit with more responsibility of course. The key is to leave nothing of much value in an unlived in place.

    • Tim Bisbee says:

      My wife and I had a van (good storage) and a car, coastal cruising we would take both vehicles to the new spot, drive back with just the one, then sail on down, then both of us would drive back again to get the other. this is called the intra coastal shuffle.
      four trips by land and one by water. about the same for living on land and moving, Its a bonus if your new marina has security, get to know the guards,bring them goodies when they’re on duty get to know them. Thieves like vans to target in marinas and construction areas,they know they are prone to have goodies inside, the marina residents often do a superlative job watching out for each others boats, but the parking lot is often hard to see especially at low tide.

  30. SailorDave says:

    The shotgun thing is a load of crap. If you get attacked by the kind of pirates he’s talking about (and you won’t), they would have machine guns, rifles, and a bunch of guys. Pull out that shotgun and your dead. I would rather be floating away watching them take my boat on my dingy then dead. I’ve can’t even think of one time i needed a shotgun while cruising. Stay safe and stay away from places where there are ungoverned waters, you’ll never have any pirate problems.

  31. Steve says:

    Does any one know any decent marinas in the Mediterranean I have a 25ft cobra bilge keel sailing boat spent getting her up to scratch, band I’m determined to get away from the misery of Britain I’m 34 n just wanna get up and go been sailing 3 years in north Wales but this year has been the worst rain rain rain I want abroad for at least two years

    Any one know any decent n cheap locations round the med

  32. My wife and I have been livin full time in an rv for awhile.It took some getting used too but its was very manageable.I’m curious to the boat livin lifestyle. We may try to go to florida this winter ,maybe rent a dock side boat for a few weeks or maybe a month to get an idea.I’m very mechanically inclinded , welding and fabrication skills. If I were to buy a small Barge or something like that and just back the rv trailer onto it.
    Would it be too big for most docks? Would it be too big to navigate close to shore to change scenery and locations occasionally. I would not attempt to take it around the world.
    Where are some good docks,moorgaes in Florida to rent for a month and try this out? thanks for the help.

  33. John says:

    WELL BOO…HOO to the bad guys…I have live 2/3rds of the way around this world. I loved sailing when I learned(self taught and info from fellow sailors) to sail.
    I find most people more than willing to help, giving info and assistance when needed. I am single and love not having the strings and binding land lover’s problems.
    I think the best info is in the movie “Captain Ron” and even then he only had trouble when he created it.
    I love the independence of travel, and being able to take my own time getting anywhere. I love listening and telling sailing experiences and stories…got a few myself.
    SURE, be careful, but NEVER give up your dreams…just learn how to make them work.
    I am also in talking to other sea sailing lovers.
    John

  34. Christina says:

    My husband and I are traveling to Florida keys to buy a livaboard. If you can steer us the right way on these questions…
    1. Is there a best time to purchase a boat (time of year)?
    2. Where are great places to dock our boat for few months stays?
    3. What is the best solar and wind power options? We want to use alternative methods of fuel when possible.
    4. Interested in installing a de- salination system for our water supply…any suggestions?
    Thank you for your experienced help, happy sailing. :)

    Christina

    • Eric says:

      First off, I want to point out I am not a survivalist per se, although I could be if SHTF, I suppose. I appreciate the candidness and vividness of Tim’s comments and information, as well as others both positive and negative. As a new sailor with a wee 16′ Compac, which I anticipate replacing with a larger vessel within just a few months, I would be most interested in hearing about the ups and downs of living aboard for maybe a couple weeks at a time. Can it be done at anchor on the “nature coast” of Florida? I own a house and won’t give it up, but would like to experience some “camping” and roughing it a little with the realization I can come back home to civilization. I am not rugged enough to truly live on board full time and have to work my business on land. Is it possible to cruise the coast, anchor, sleep on board (supposing a bigger cruiser) and come ashore daily while getting a feel for the sea and sampling the “life”? I was thinking on the lines of a month long sabattical away from everyday comforts.

      Thanks for any relevant responses. You guys that live aboard and do it right get credit from me…maybe someday.

  35. Chuck says:

    I suppose I am a frugal sailor but you wouldn’t know it by looking at my boat, it’s 41 feet long and fully equipped for long term cruising, what I mean by that is…I repowered it myself with a new engine,it has two bathrooms with two composting heads, pressurized hot water,plenty of solar power and wind generator and battery banks,I have a large enough fridge and freezer.The list seems endless…auto pilot,very good ground tackle(anchors and chain with heavy duty windless,Garmin GPS’s,Radar,water maker,LED lighting to conserve power,genset,food stores to last for about six months and many more things to make my boat comfortable.

    For anyone thinking they can just go out and buy a boat and be on my level with a limited budget,it’s not going to happen easily. I have been preparing my boat for years,lots of money spent over time, blood sweat and tears. It is a major commitment and my boat is a piece of me and I trust it with my life.

    As far as experience I have a lot and have been a licensed captain for 15 years and work on the water. I also have another business that caters to the marine industry. Having the dream is great, I also had the dream many years ago, I have had my boat for 11 years and I know it inside and out. Before that I started with smaller boats and learned all I could. Believe me,it’s a wonderful existence but never forget that your boat is floating on Mother Nature,all hell can break loose at any time, to me that is a thrill in itself but for others it may not be.

    I say if your not experienced try it out first, if you have never even experienced it then you might not even last a week or you could love it like I did. I see many folks out there doing it in much smaller boats than mine that are not nearly as well equipped,on the other hand I see people doing it in much larger vessels too,it’s all relative I guess. I would encourage anyone thinking about it to give it a try, but it’s not that easy to buy a boat that you don’t know and start cruising the planet. You have a lot to learn believe me if your just a beginner. If your just wanting to live in a marina, anyone can do that but most who cruise and go places have much experience and well equipped boats. Good Luck.

  36. James says:

    Boaters take showers lol. Most marinas have nice showers and laundry rooms. Being a single guy I’ve lived on my 24.5 cabin cruiser for 4 years and it’s fine. Depending on where you live though. I spent a year on the river and wind and boat wakes forsure make it uncomfortable. But the new marina has a cove no problems. I have a microwave, LCD tv screen and DVD player, heater and ac and fridge.

    Mold and moisture can be problems an investment in a dehumidifier can be priceless. Most marinas have grocery stores and attractions close by. Back up everything is always recommended though, water, canned foods, batteries etc.

    How you decorate your boat, and keep it clean is a direct appearance of yourself. Boats have everything homes have at least newer ones. Keep it clean, and full of luxuries and you won’t feel like your roughing it.

  37. Capt. Natural-Lee Young says:

    I am a Vietnam Vet who has decided that livin’ on a boat is the way to be free and enjoy the freedom I once fought for. My vessels are not your ordinary types of vessels. The first vessel I built and still have was a 16′ canoe with two outriggers. It was modified many times as the years past, and has been since turned into my floating shop and store that I sell my art from to folks along the rivers in Central Florida (St. Johns mainly). I was fortunate enough to purchase a 27′ Bayliner Buccaneer sailboat for %500 bucks and have turned it into a full time residence. Living on the water is so very calming and peaceful. I wouldn’t live any other way and won’t until the day I die….probably eaten by a gator. You can see the vessels on my web site http://captnat.me. There you’ll see that it don’t take a lot to make a home on the water! Happy and safe waters to all!

  38. mike says:

    I stumbled on this site, and have read some of the comments. Mmm I’ve live up a lovely peaceful river in the southwest of gun free England. Absolutely love it.
    Finally settled on 36 foot aft cabin twin engined cruiser. Perfect for old git like me. Had my fill of Man’s noise and concrete and relentless rush to wherever and back again. Bye

  39. tbowne says:

    I’m looking to move to Florida this winter & have been considering a 35′ +/- size cruiser to stay on while there. Im an RN & so would be working while I’m there & not overly fussy about exactly what city or town. Not new to boats/boating, engines, etc. Also looking to stay on the Gulf-side & wondering where the best rates for extended-stay are, & at which marinas. Not looking to “live off the grid” but have always wanted to try this, at least for the winter prior to moving full time (condo, house, etc) Any details or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  40. Maurice says:

    Wow! What a range of opinions, You know it’s funny that some people are dreamers. Always looking at “What If” They are the ones that gave us Travel to the moon, Cures for Polio, measles, small pox, etc. Then there are others that say “Hell No” they gave us what? Keep dreaming people. If you try it and it doesn’t work Oh well, move on to the next dream. I would rather try a thousand things and fail, than try nothing and succeed. Keep dreaming, when you stop you’re dead.

  41. capnmoe says:

    Ft Myers Has one on the River across from downtown
    I don’t know the name. I found it by googling. Tampa & Sarasota also. I Know theres a mooring field in Sarasota. Bon Chance

  42. Wayne says:

    I am an over the road trucker for 20 years and I have heard it all! From prostitutes to thieves to faulty workshops botching up a repair job, and I have learned a lot traveling the US every single day for the 20 years. Most of what I see in this thread is directly related to my lifestyle. I live in a cramped environment and I am leery of ANYONE who hangs around my truck. I stay where I know it to be safe and I don’t mess around with places that I don’t know about. ITS ALL ABOUT COMMON SENSE. If you don’t have mechanical ability and you have low funds in the bank, then stay off the boat. There have been numerous people who have travelled the globe on a boat (The Pardey’s come to mind first) without an engine, and living in a 25 +/- foot sailboat made of wood. It’s a different lifestyle, but its definitely doable. If you don’t have street smarts and you have no money in the bank, then stay out of this lifestyle. Money will save you in most situations, but knowing who to pal with and who to stay away from is KEY to traveling and I don’t care how you are traveling, be it by motorcycle, boat, car, plane, or blimp. You must be street savvy to get around. A moron will screw up anything, so the more learned you are and the more able-bodied you are, the more likely it will be for you to succeed.

    Just like my truck, the nicer the boat, the more attention it will draw, so the shabbier the boat, the less likely the chance for vandals to come aboard. I don’t like to live like a pig, but its safer when you are low on funds.

    My current truck costs 300K and I wont leave it for a second somewhere that I don’t trust it to be watched while I am gone.

    Meanwhile my old 20K truck, I would park in East LA for the week and not worry one second about it. No one would touch it or come near it, and even if they burnt it to the ground while I was gone, it was only 20K! I could replace it tomorrow.

    You could get a 3K boat and fit it out to get you around and replace the whole thing every year if you wanted to. OR, you could get a 300K yacht and be financially strapped, and constantly worried about anyone breaking in while you are ashore. It’s all relative.

    If you want to travel, don’t expect everyone to be onboard with your dreams. In fact don’t expect ANYONE to be onboard with you. Just go out and do it after you have done research. Rent a boat and take it out first. Unless you can just throw the thing away when you are tired of it, you need to do your homework. Renting is the best way to get your feet wet.

    There is a cool website where you can rent other people’s boats (Like bareboat charter) Boat Rental Peer to Peer is like Air BNB.

    Find something that is reliable and will do what you want it to do. I was just reading about this guy who sank his 30 foot sailboat off the coast of South Carolina on his maiden voyage to the Caribbean. My first thought was that he did no homework and didn’t belong at the helm of that boat. Just because you can , doesn’t mean you should.

    If you want to live on a boat in a marina, then you will have less stress than someone who is actively using the boat to travel the world. Like I said, its all common sense and I have seen Truck drivers who operate 80K lbs. vehicles who didn’t know how to change a headlight. They eventually crash the truck or quit because they have no business being out in the world. That is what sets the people apart from the ones who successfully travel on their own and the ones who end up in jail, or sunk at sea, or dead. Every time there is a story of some capsized boat, or pirates taking someone hostage, or some other horrific tale, other than just dealing with the ocean, it is usually because the person or people didn’t take every precaution available and didn’t do their due diligence.

    Check out Lin and Larry Pardey if you want a prime example of someone who has travelled the world with only their wits, common sense, and personal ability.

  43. steve says:

    Would like to know do I need to give up my pets to live on a boat have one dog and 4 parrots. Some of you talk about cheep boats have not had any luck finding one of these were do I look. Also am a air conditioner tech could I pick up some extra work at docking areas

  44. Naufragio says:

    We don’t need no more greenhorn hazard-to-navigations clogging our channels and anchorages. Its a hard life, buy a backpack and a bike and stay on land with the other lubbers.

  45. L.D.Sewell says:

    Living on a boat can be one of the best ways to live independently – if you know what you are getting into – and IF you can handle it. Personally my wife and I have lived aboard a 39′ boat for a year and in a 35′ travel trailer for another year. I greatly prefer living on a boat. There are many consideration to make including your family if you have one and what they are willing and able to handle. You may love living on a boat – they may hate it. To me an ideal boat to live aboard if 40 to 65 feet in length, though others will work too. I currently own a 31 foot Chris Craft that I am rebuilding and I could actually live on it quite comfortably, if need be, because it is very effieciently designed. Its also fiberglass.

    If you are new to boats here is your first lesson – buy a fiberglass boat. Wooden boats are wonderful – but they are problematic especially if you are a novice and they can be expensive. Im talking about old wooden hulled (planked) boats built in the 60′s and earlier. Fiberglass boats are a much better choice for a live aboard. Above all else make sure the hull and all through hull fitting are in good condition as well as all hoses connected to such fittings. Above the water line make sure there are no leaks around hatches, windows, vents or anywhere else.

    If you plan to cruise a lot then diesel engines are safer. Gas can be safe but requires extra attention to detail unless you want to blow your boat up along with yourself in the process. Many do. Power boats have more living space than sail boats in general. They also have shallower drafts allowing them in to areas to anchor that sail boats can never go – an important consideration if you plan to live on the hook.

    People talk about anchoring out to live and using a small boat to go ashore and work shop etc. This is possible and people do it all the time. Unfortunaely they sometimes return to find their boat has slipped her anchor and is now run aground or into another vesel, bridge etc. or worse – or is now on the bottom. I think someone capable of handling the boat should always be aboard if it is anchored – otherwise tie it up to a dock. Just my opinion… do as you wish but consider the risk in making your own decision.

    I have often dreamed of living aboard a very large house boat built on a barge hull. Somthing about 70 feet long by about 24 feet wide, with three levels above the main deck – the first on the main deck taking up most of the deck space and housing the main living areas, then the deck above that being smaller yet still good sized and housing the owners quarters, and finally a small deck house or bridge on top of that. It would look somewhat like old river boats of long ago.

    The hull – in this case, would be steel. Then she would have mooring stations aft and port and starboard for smaller boats.

    Just a thought.

    Personally I love all kinds of human habitats large and small, floating or fixed or even on wheels. The big trick is choosing the right one for you and yours at a given point in your life.

    Good luck in your journey.

  46. Ken Horst says:

    I have heard it said, “You will spend what you have to spend”. If you have $4,000 a month to spend you will spend it, if you have $500 a month to spend you will spend it.

  47. Sailor Jerry says:

    I have spent my original purchase price again on maintenance and improvements since starting this way of life and it is still way cheaper than living ashore. My personal choice was a 1974 35′ winterised catamaran, it has enough space for me, it is heavily built fibreglass, it is warm, sure footed, and tough like me, with a 150watt solar panel, wind Genny, fuel Genny and good heating. As for weapons…Air rifle, Speargun, big stick, machete, a variety of knifes and a winning smile…
    Maintenance is the key to keeping your dream afloat, you must be or learn to be self reliant, if you need to employ ‘experts’ to carry out jobs it will cost you a fortune. Learn how to do everything. Regarding moorings, if you buy a shallow drafted boat with legs, a cat or a bilge keeler you can reach hidden creeks and mud berths or find struggling land owners or marinas that are very cheap . This life gets easier with time, when you know your boat inside and out, when you know yourself in this life inside and out, it becomes just normal. I am very happy, and know many others who feel the same, even the bi-polar crazy ones are happy, they hide away for days and then pop up again smiling. Living on a boat gives people a good purpose in life, more so than any building.

  48. Yes! Finally something about compare business electricity rates.

  49. Johnny says:

    Is there a boat that would be good to use to go from Southern California to Brazil to escape for my life? Im not attempting to live on the boat, I just want to transport myself to a safe place in a quick manner and get back on land. Let’s say in a doomsday scenario, where I need to leave Southern California, what would be a the most secure yet discreet and safe boat for a novice to use, in order to flee to another country for survival? Thanx to you guys who all know more than I for your help!

  50. Rod says:

    Hello, I am looking at a 23 ft hunter sailboat. Just me and my dog. Wanting to spend winters in florida but want to dock boat year round. No problem with living in tight space. Couldyou advise me on what you think? I liked ur post! Any info helpful! Thanks

  51. PA says:

    I don’t need a boat to live off of, I need one to get away from the congested city I live in (Chicago) to somewhere a bit quieter and safer if the city needed to be evacuated. Getting out of the city via car would be reckless and stupid. The only things I need to consider are the time of year (the lake was almost completely frozen this winter), how many on the boat, and where to. But within those considerations are so many variables!

  52. SMG says:

    Are their communities of people living on the water together in lakes or rivers in America?
    How can I find people like that?

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