Living on a Boat: The Ultimate Off-grid Living Adventure

Living on a boat

Living on a boat is a unique off the grid lifestyle that has intrigued adventuring souls for ages. For some, it’s an escape from the repetitiveness of everyday life; for others, it’s simply about the freedom and adventure that living on the water can bring. Regardless of the reason, living on a boat requires a certain level of dedication, preparation, and willingness to embrace a different lifestyle.

Considerations for Those Who want to Live on a Boat

First and foremost, before choosing to live on a boat, it is vital to consider the practical and financial implications of such a decision. The daily cost of living on a boat varies significantly depending on factors such as type, size, age, and vessel location. For example, the upfront expenses of purchasing a new or used boat can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to multi-million-dollar yachts. It is essential to factor in the cost of upkeep, including maintenance, fuel, insurance, and dockage fees. Moreover, living in a marina or dock adds to the overall cost, along with utilities such as electricity, water, and internet services.

The type of boat also plays a role in determining the level of comfort and amenities available. While some boats offer basic essentials, such as a bed, bathroom, and kitchenette, others offer lavish living spaces with high-end appliances, spacious bedrooms, and panoramic views of the water. However, with luxury comes added expenses and maintenance, which may not be feasible for everyone.

Give it a test run!

Before setting sail, it’s important to understand the lifestyle and figure out if you can actually handle living on the sea. The first thing you should do is choose a marina that you can live in for 3 – 6 months. This is an important 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.

If you’ve determined that this is the lifestyle you want to live, then there are some steps that you need to take.

Research Thoroughly: Before making any decisions, conduct extensive research on the type of boat, equipment, and amenities that you’ll need to live on a boat, along with the costs and regulations in your area. Talk to people who have experience living on a boat and seek their advice on the challenges and benefits of a boat lifestyle.

Be Mindful of Safety: Living on the water requires that safety be a top priority. Make sure you have a sufficient safety plan in place, including proper safety equipment, navigation equipment, and a thorough understanding of boating safety regulations.

Prepare for Living on a Small Space: Living on a boat requires adapting to living in a much smaller space. You’ll need to downsize and maximize storage capacity, creatively arranging furniture, and appliances to make the most out of the limited space. Selecting multi-functional furniture such as a sofa bed or a wall-mounted foldable table can be an excellent way to save space.

Learn Boating Skills: Before living on a boat, it is essential to learn the fundamentals of boating, including how to navigate, steer and dock the vessel. Take a boating safety course, read boating books or watch tutorials online, and consider hiring a professional

Choosing a Boat

Sailboat on the Ocean

Research, Research, Research. When choosing a boat, don’t jump right into the first cheap one that you find on craigslist. The upkeep on these things can be incredibly expensive, and if you don’t know what you’re doing you could be in for some unwelcome surprises.

When choosing a boat you should 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

Boats Docked in a Marina

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 is usually 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 at for 3 – 6 months. This is a crucial step to mentally and physically preparing to live at sea.

Local Laws: Another critical aspect to keep in mind is the boating regulations and laws in the area where you plan to dock or sail. Each state or country has its own set of rules and restrictions, including licensing requirements, zoning laws, and boating safety regulations. Furthermore, the weather and tide conditions can significantly affect your comfort and safety on a boat, and it’s essential to be mindful of such factors.

Safety Considerations

Living on a sailboat

This type of lifestyle is filled with hazards. While it is enjoyable and liberating, if unprepared it can quickly become a nightmare.

  • 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 the shore. I highly recommend taking lessons and becoming familiar with your boat before sailing off into the sunset.
  • Communications – Cell phones when near shore, satellite communications, a marine radio, and a Ham Radio should all be on the top of your list of considerations.
  • Boats require a lot of maintenance. Make sure you know the ins and outs of your boat, and how to troubleshoot anything that might go wrong when you’re out at sea.

The Benefits of Boat Living

Despite the challenges and considerations, living on a boat can offer many benefits, such as increased freedom, privacy, and the joy to explore different locations. Here are some of the advantages of living on a boat that may appeal to you:

Minimalist Lifestyle: Living on a boat requires downsizing and simplifying your possessions, making it an ideal choice for those who yearn to live with less. The limited space on a boat forces you to make do with what you have, and prioritize what’s essential. This approach encourages a minimalist lifestyle and helps to declutter your life.

Close Connection with Nature: Living on a boat provides a unique opportunity to be surrounded by nature, including stunning sunsets, calm waters, and wildlife. The sound of water lapping against the hull of the boat can be a relaxing and therapeutic experience, helping you to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life.

Ability to Travel and Explore: One of the most significant advantages of living on a boat is the ability to travel and explore different locations. Whether you want to cruise down the coastline or navigate through canals and rivers, living on a boat offers unparalleled freedom and adventure.

Affordability: Living on a boat can be more affordable than traditional housing, depending on the type of boat and location. While the upfront cost may be higher, the ongoing expenses can be lower compared to a mortgage or rent.

Sense of Community: Living in a marina or dock offers the opportunity to become part of a community of like-minded individuals who share a passion for all things boating. The sense of camaraderie and socialization can be a significant factor for those who crave a close-knit neighborhood or environment.

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

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  1. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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

        • I have lived on both a sailboat and a power boat for over 30 years. Have sailed all the Caribbean, Galapagos, S. America and southern US.
          It is great. You have to be no more careful than living on the land and the rewards are awesome. You meet very friendly,helpful people from all
          walks of life. Many problems mentioned by people that live up north do not exist. I am now living in the FL Keys. It is the safest place in the US. Weather is great

          • hello Sylvia, my name is Robert I live on the outer banks of NC. i’me 66 and tired of the every day hustle and bustle, I have been around and on boats all my life the water is no stranger to me, but I have never lived on it.have a question are there a lot of marinas in the keys to dock and live at and are the docking fees high, I don’/t like sail boats my self I like a power boat not to say sail boats aren’t nice they are beautiful but I tried it once and it was a lot to learn and I have had a lot of power boats big and small. thanks for listening to my questions and if you can give me some advice about this way of life I would appreciate it so much. thanks again Robert

          • hi, I am searching for the best boat to live on, in the keys as well, what footage is the accommodating for most marinas?

            thank you

          • can you say without too many details if its smarter to go the powerboat or sailboat route? im 6’3 and will be working as a diver in Marathon

          • Made the decision 3yrs ago to liveaboarf.
            Keys are no.1 spot for me. Whats the best anchorage/marina? I lived in Marathon off and on really like the midkeys and lower.

          • Hello. I happened upon your thoughts on living aboard a boat. Wondering if you might have any more tips even though your comments are nearly 3 years ago. Any more advice?
            Looking to live on the water
            R Miller

          • I am looking into living on a boat and chasing the weather I can’t find any down side to this. Either a smaller one for two plus a hired hand or bigger and running charters for a couple what do you think

        • Hi , give me some recommendation to start to live in a sailboat in Miami marina , I appreciate your recomendation . Thanks

          • To me
            boat life is satisfying & unless u have unlimited fuelling $. Its a sailboat.

        • Gas and propane are dangerous, and one can live with out it. Two years now aboard my boat the SV Garfish, with few problems. Less is more.carry water, caned goods, fish, minimize electric for radio, sonar ect. Old sailors lived with out.

        • Sylvia I want to bein key west this time next year. Need help with the living there while I finish my captains lic from the coast guard.

      • How do you know if you want to live on a boat. I think i do but not alone. I get a small check each month. Am retited and all i really enjoy is going to the beach. Ive been on boats and hated comimg home but I have no ideal how to go about startimg this chapter of my life im 53. But how do you lesrn to navigate and maintain your bost.

        • Donna, take a course at US Coast Guard auxiliary, you can only learn by doing, start at a marina and take day trips till you get the hang of it, it might take you years to get good at it, be a coastal cruiser, watch the weather

        • DONNA,I would recommend finding an experianced single sailor with his own sailboat that just came out of a yearlong total refit and gets a retirement check as well.and your age range as well. Like me…

        • Donna, I too am thinking of living on a boat and am not not sure how to go about it and don’t want to do it alone and not a trained. I am retired and will be 53 in March and am divorced. Have you any suggestions for me? And does anybody want to teach me to sail? I’m in Redondo Beach CA.

          • Redondo Beach Yacht Club can you teach you how to sail for free. You will go out with a memeber of the club’s sailboat and they’ll teach you the ropes.

        • I have a 26 pearson, i am on it from sat through tues morning, i know nothing about sailing, but use it for my weekend getaway. A/c,heat,tv,etc…its a great life for 160 a month, if i become permanent live aboard i will have to have my electricity metered, maybe another 40 per month

        • I would love to live on a boat I’m thirty and don’t have the money to own a boat so if u have one and want some help im your man

        • Hi Donna, I live on the canal, but I’m going to sea next march. I have been reading and sailing dingys at a club to learn . There is a lot to learn, but my main concern is lonliness. None of my friends want to live at sea, so there will be me and whoever I meet, perhaps crew for long trips. I hope you make the leap, I think a lot of people learn as they go, I hope to as I have had very little time at sea so far. Happy days Donna and my the wind bless your sails when you go

      • I have to say, your opinion on being a sea dog was quite honest and well received, being an advendurest sort, and living in somewhat adverse conditions the past 5 years, I am truly considering living aboard a 27ft hunter. I’m not new at sailing, born and raised on the long island sound, and many bareboat charters internationally and some abroad, doesn’t qualify me to make this decision. I’m a 56 year young man, separated from wife of 30 years and relocating to west Palm beach Florida for a career move, I don’t want to buy or lock into a lease in case the job doesn’t pan out.
        However mariners that I’ve talked with say it’s illegal to live in a slip, also what do you do in hurricane season and even a honey dipper. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • I would say if you have to think about living on a small boat, you do not belong, you see I think its in your blood (DNA) to live on the sea or make port calls. If you live on a boat you know exactly what I mean (smile) Happy Sailing

        • Well if you ever see one you are screwed. If I ever see one they are screwed. Keep sailing and one day it might happen and then you will feel very stupid for insulting us for preparing when you didn’t. Riots, pirates, gangs, home-invaders, rapists, pedos, and sex-traffickers are not make believe and to scoff at those who realize this, train, and take precautions shows what a fool you are. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

          I suppose if you have never seen a rape that you believe it will never happen to you or anyone you know and think women who take self defense are idiots since it only happens in the movies.

          You don’t want a gun fine but don’t insult people who had the intelligence to prepare for danger.

          • Amen brother…Got a Barrett M107 and I’ll reach out and touch em before they can ever reach me. The ill prepared are victims.

      • There are no pirates in the USA until a man has a starving child. Then they are everywhere. If you don’t think that desperate people will do stupid things to get what you have then I hope you’d consider reading some history books about societal collapse. The sail boat isn’t a survival bunker it is a BOB (bug out boat). If things hit the fan sail/motor to a cleaner fan.

        • 223 rounds would do nothing to sink a boat that a good bilge pump couldn’t overcome it’s also to small a round to do damage to an in board hence my preference for shotgun. I keep 4 oo buck first then slugs so I can spray pellets in direction of operator or gunmen then shoot out engine. Have you shot from a boat on the water before? Its a lot like having sex while jogging…just my opinion but a 22 is better then pleading with possible murderers who will throw you overboard and take your boat or if your lucky they will only kidnap you.

          • Get the Henry .22 survival rifle. You have an oz of protection, survival, and sport. Problem solved: no more bickering.

    • 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.

      • Philippians?…. ulok maliit na unggoy….I think you meant it’s spelling to be Filipinos… Filipinos come from the Philippines… This tells me you are not as traveled as you’re making out to be…

        • I have aunt on sailboat w/ hubby and dog & I find all this good information. I think correcting spelling as a means to defend ignorance of yourself is obnoxious and unexcusable AND I’m professional proofreader!

          The sex traffic industry is REAL and I lived in Thailand for 4 years as child where when I was getting a haircut at age 12, the other “children” were being dolled up to look 20 (before AIDS made sickos request children because they thought they were “safer”- like you were that little girl’s first time being rented to a creep for an hour!)
          I do not know the laws of guns, but agree w/ shutgun and sex/jogging comment. That said, if you’re going to have a gun, practice on LAND a lot! It’s not just the gun, but the kickback. My mom’s shutgun for SASS (cowboy shooting club) was padded to help absorb the kick. Get the wrong shutgun and forget about pirates, your shoulder will feel like it was kicked by mule and you’ll be pleading for someone to put you out of your misery.

          I am NOT a boater though sounds cool for retirement, but I would Also say practise loading and unloading your gun. It’s not as easy as you think, on land! I’d say join a gun club like sass as people will give you lots of help/info and most will let you try their gun. I’d warn you of common prank, but it would’t fair: too much fun for audience & good lesson for you.
          SASS only allows old style guns, 6-shooters, etc, but members know all guns and can help you pick best one for you.
          Another example is Hand Grip– makes a huge difference and everyone prefers a different kind. Last, having an unloaded gun is like having a rubber with a hole in it– you’ll feel protected until 9 months later ;)
          As a woman whose lived/traveled in the worst neighborhoods, there is nO such thing as a safe one. Look at all the rapes that happen in $100k/yr colleges. Your safest protection is YOU. If you’re traveling w/ a woman, and you use showers at marinas/docking stations (sorry don’t know proper vocab, I do RVing) then stand outside shower/bathroom and wait for her. Lots of rapes happen at Very nice RV sites cause man is already in bathroom waiting in stall for it to be empty except for 1 woman. Even have her check every stall, come back out to says it’s empty/safe and still wait for her. A rapist won’t go inside if you’re by door. Obviously, don’t hover closer than 5′ from door, but if asked, tell the truth, “my wife” (no matter what relationship status) is taking shower & I’m making sure no man goes in there to hurt her” you’ll be the bell of the ball and also educate Other women to get their friend/hubby to watch the door.
          For those people either naive or sexists, do this even if your “wife” is old, fat, ugly– rape is about violence, not trying to lay the prom queen who turned you down.
          Last tip as someone who stealth vans and has little room, try to have medical kid do double duty. I like tea tree oil as it’s good for anything: bug bites, rashes, burns/cuts, and can be used on humans & dogs (not cats)! Get real one from spa web stores, as they’re true oils. If place sells different oils at same price– avoid!
          Also, this is medicine! Too much can cause problems. Try on land during day, when er is empty, first to make sure u don’t react to ANY oils! Google medications your on/type of medication (blood pressure, etc) and make sure it doesn’t contradict.
          Lavender is also great for cuts/burns and both lavender/teatree oil in olive oil works great on doggy hotspots!
          Cloves/clove oil great for tooth aches BUT mom had reaction to 4-yr old clove and her blood pressure medicine. Remember OILs are more concentrated so if old clove caused heart papultations, what would OIL have done? Caffinated soda fixed problem.
          Remember, oils can double as bug/rodent deterant and also makes stinky van nice so I imagine would help w/ fishy smells.
          2-4 good oils can work as 5-8 things and a little goes a long way.
          Remember, its medication!!! If you’re the type who thinks if 2 advils work, 6 would be better, don’t use!
          Last, for doggies, a lot of over-the-counter human medication works for them too. Benedril great for allergies in dogs, helps if hot spot was allergy-related and also makes dog a little sleepy. So if dogs in pain, can at least help them relax a bit. Some anti-diareea meds work too. Do research, talk to vet, and go by weight of dog!
          For men: midol is one of best back pain relievers (all dad’s army buddies bought out the store before overseas trips!)

          *If sick like me, have medical records on hand. Cop pulling me over and I have 3-month supply of percocet can make me look like dealer.

          Hope that helps from fellow travel who just does it on land ;)

      • Your “extensive research” lead you to believe you cant bring a gun outside the US?. You can carry guns on your boat in international waters and you just have to check the laws of the country you are sailing to and declare them from what I have heard.

        Also Mexico is safe my butt. The gangs control that country. I would never go there.

        • Mexico is safe. The roads closest to texas and arizona are not safe. Baja california, south of san diego there is nothing to worry about. And guns are never allowed to be brought into mexico.

          • I was driving thru Mexico and got robbed by three Mexican police, I lived on my boat in Rio Dulce Guatemala, do you think the bad guys don’t have guns? Most sailers have guns in Guatemala, I had one, I just didn’t let it be known. The marinas at night have guards walking the docks at night with shot guns. I’ll never go back, Florida Keys are a great place to live on your boat.

        • in 2013 i solo rode my big red Harley from Colorado to Honduras all throughout Mexico in big cites and small villages. same in Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. is there potential for danger yes! i was stopped several times by armed people. most were polite and just protecting their village, some made adhoc tolls of 2-3 dollars. that said Mexico is not that bad, better than Detroit places in Chicago. most people were extremely friendly and incredibly generous. BTW Honduras makes mexico look like disneyland

      • T.Sorry to bust your bubble but their are many countries that do allow shotguns.I have lived all over Europe and in Russia.My favorite is a 410 as no kick(I’m a female) in Russia they have a no recoil automatic shotgun.The west side of the Gulf of Mexico does have pirates plus drug trafficking. Central America is iffy.Something to remember which no one seems to have mentioned is the Coast Guard,Marine police, etc.can board your boat anytime without your permission.This is also true in other countries and beyond the mile limits. Living on a boat is something like living in an older RV with increased maintenance and on the water with movement while sleeping.

      • Reading forums is not real good investigating… You can Google just don’t stop at opinion sites. You mention Philippines, You declare meds and guns and amount of ammo they will tell you leave weapon on board and will want you to turn in you meds to customs unless you have certified letter from US Dr and pharmacy and they will count ammo when you leave…btw theirs a large population of Muslims on southernmost island on Philippines and they have attacked many boats even at a marin a on one occasion. All were considered criminal attacks. NOT piracy…

    • 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.

      • Perfect post… But living in these (Hawaii) Marina’s isn’t even close to living in an RV!! Haven’t been in one yet that comfortable.

        • Tell us more about liveaboards in Hawaii. Thought it was expensive and hard to find. Shed some lihht for us

      • Excellent advice @ Chris.. Thats the type of info I am looking to better understand. Can you go into a bit more detail on key regulations pertaining to shipping lanes?

      • I found RV parks more expensive avg.$35.00 a day where as boat slips charge by the foot and I found $10.00 a foot was the average for me.ALSO newbies should really take a class on reading and using the equipment on board plus maritime law.

        • Ok,let’s try this again,,, Hello Donna you have piqued my intrest, I have been living aboard since I retired way back in 1998, so a few questions for you. Do you have a great sense of humor (your,gonna need it,ouy,here) do you have any sailing experience, how are you in a crisis situations, do you have wanderlust, are you willing to try,new things, where do you live now. Anyway if,your,interested in a no B.S. guy let’s talk

    • Bikerman personally I would prefer a AK, M1A, or AR-15 to a shotgun myself. I don’t think you would be to much of a sitting duck armed with one of those. Of course a Saiga or VEPR 12 loaded with slugs might be nice for sinking Pirates I would think. Muhuhahahaha<—-(Maniacal Laugh)

      If I was rich I'd say Barrett M107A1.

      P.S. I hate gangbangers and Pirates.

    • What about a spear gun with Co2 canisters as a weapon…might be better than a gun in a pinch.

    • Hi all.. I hope there are people still here. I just got a 26′ Cruisers Bar Harbor for FREE. It needs some remodeling inside but I can do that.. the engine is still in good condition. As my name implies, I am currently living on Long Island but would like to start living the boat life as soon as I get the boat completed and ready. It is a 1980s model and the owner told me that I don’t need a title to get it registered, only a Bill of Sale. Is this true, and what else will I need legally to run it? Also, what is the best way to come ashore without having to pay huge cash for a marina boat slip? I’m very comfortable being alone, I am 50 in a couple months and in decent health.. and want to work my way down to the Keys.. Does anyone have any experience with that model and any other advice will be appreciated.. and I have a lot more questions…THANKS and it is Christmas night so Merry Christmas!

    • Hello everyone I am marine preper live here in Florida me and my wife live on a 32 foot sailboat outfitted for Bluewater cruising I am a survivorlist and proper I also used to work for the government for me it is the best way to bug out we have a crossbow longbow food for year wind generator solar power engine power we carry 160 gallons of diesel fuel 100 gallons of water plus a water maker AM so much other things if anyone has any questions please contact me

      • 260 gals of fluid and a year supply of food and room left for two ppl to live? I gotta call be on that beside with you generating power your lucky to be able to even use a radio… Yeah b.s….

      • you know what that comic says “basically, you’re just gathering food and supplies for the biggest guy on the block.” it’s a joke, not meant to mess with your survivalist sensibilities.. i’m sure we’ll be seeing you down the line, you’ll be the one with all the things needed to survive.

  2. 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 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 I am willing to share my experience and knowledge with ya.

      • 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!!!

      • I agree. Land is the best place for this guy. Guys we got to keep in mind that when the shtf gold and silver will be worth 10x the amount now. So have some live off the coast of FL. And have a 40 yacht not a sail boat. Nothing against them either. And I financed it 1990 for $300 a month. And $100.00 for insurance. Docked at my back yard! Oh yea I’m ready. Plenty of islands in the gulf of mexico maybe 4000. Food, fuel,water,and commodities will be the new dollar. The whole world won’t collapse at the same time, not even the same regions. There will always be some where to dock and dingy to land. Keep a little scotter on board as well.Helps you get around on land. We’re ready. With the world technology today the SHTF will be on a scale that we’re not keeping in mine.So have plenty technology. We travel the Coast once month and jump from resort to resort and marinas to marinas. So we’re getting our money worth out of it until we need her.After a few lesson and boater ed anyone could do it . So keep this one at the top of your list. Easily find an island with acres of land and carry about 2 acre worth of seed. Weapons and tools to build on land and you could easily last 10 years.

        • Besides having seeds and stuff ready to go you could also try getting into freediving and scuba as well as crab traping, fishing, shark fishing, lobster diving, hunting and stuff. There is so much meat in the ocean avalible if you know how and where to get it. Lots of stuff to hunt on the mainland. This is the main reason living aboard a Sailboat is great for shtf.

          Heck your idea of planting a big garden on a island is good but I would add that sailing back and forth and planting on multipul islands could be a good idea incase you have to bug out of an area.

          Another idea for shtf is getting two female dairy goats as kids and training them to use a litterbox. This way you could have dairy products and take your goats with you when you bug out in your boat. (Just in case shtf and you cant find males to breed them with you could keep some male goat stuff frozen in the freezer. You need to breed them every once and awhile so they keep producing milk)

          • When SHTF gold and silver will be worth nothing. First, price of silver has barely gone up in last 40yrs. It’s a myth. Most people are coin collectors and it gives the Illusion of silver being worth anything in an emergency– but you can’t eat it!

            The best way to survive SHTF is have actual tradable stuff– like goat milk you suggested. Food, seeds, ammo are top bartering. No one where care about gold/silver when there’s no food/water/etc.
            2nd best type of bartering is skills!
            Mechanical, medical, farming knowledge, teaching (reading/writing/math), and then
            Entertainers– ever hear the phrase “sing for your dinner?!!”
            Singers, musician, story-tellers, — if u can’t learn to play music and can’t sing, buy joke books and a bunch of old stand-up comic dvds– anything from unkle miltie to modern day & learn 1-3 jokes a day you can repeat w/o stuttering!
            Buy Grimm’s fairy tales– they were adult stories before Disney got to them, and be a storyteller.
            I went to comiccon and won $300 art piece because it was artists teaching children to draw and penalty for being late– tell a Clean joke. I was the Only one who had a funny, clean joke for kids & adults.
            Artists will also be important for both beauty and technical drawing if truely no electric devices/cameras!
            Writers will be important as entertainers and Because most people w/ knowledge cannot write it in a way other can follow.
            But no society lacking food, warmth, and technological skills will care about gold/silver!
            I have 4 acres w/ small orchard– remember 1 apple tree produces 2-400 lbs of fruit and you need 2 trees to polinate!
            I have a few RV/campers for guests and plenty of room for tents. All my neighbors cut down most of natural trees for better views of mountains/more play space/show off their houses/etc. I kept all the trees for wood, animal shelters, and they’re pretty, give privacy, and clean the air!
            I have hundreds of bunnies, birds on my property because I kept the forest and also get visiting javalinas (which I could always hunt/capture and breed.
            At some point I’ll get chickens, etc, but right now my hunting dog catches birds and wukd be happy to share if I ever wanted!
            I also have about 10 families of quail that can become food if I ever needed to not be a Bird Watcher.
            Because I have trees, the owls keep my house rodent free.
            Last, I have good sized manufactured house that is best insulated home I’ve ever owned and since everything was built in factory, no windows leak because the window Guy’s cousin did most of the work.

        • You cant eat gold and you cant shoot it. Also with your plan you could last alot longer then 10 years. You could last indefinatly.

    • 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.

      • 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!

      • 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

        • 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?

          • 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.

    • sur•vive (s r-v v )
      v. sur•vived, sur•viv•ing, sur•vives
      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.)
      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.


        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.

        • 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!

          • Or you could make it secure but make it seem insecure and then feed the pirates to the sharks when you catch them. Those Thieving scumbags!

      • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 1moken…I am replying to your post well over a year later. I am 65 and a former Marine. I was wondering if you have made it to the life on the water yet. i don’t have a lot of money but I do have a house I hate! The house will eventually go and be replaced by a live aboard status. If you get to read this send me a mail. Will be waiting.

    • 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

    • 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 best advice. try it before you buy it. Z

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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.

    • everything tim says is spot on. Ive lived aboard for 6 months and I can tell you there’s a lot of people who get all prepared for a life at sea are back within a number of weeks filing for divorce. definitely should take it slow as the original poster mentioned and live at a marina for a number of months to see if the lifestyle is for you.

      Tim is telling it like it is.

    • I am a female that has lived aboard a 31 ft sailboat for 10 years and another 10 on a 46ft. All if what you say is true. Most of my time was spent in Texas in nice marinas or private yacht clubs which I enjoyed.
      Recently retired and we are moving the boat to the east coast of Florida. This is a different experience with different challenges with fog, crab pots and depth and current issues. It has been very stressful for me so I guess you might assume this is not a life I want fir very long.
      When crossing from Panama City to Clearwater, it was an overnight crossing and about 2am a boat in the distance which was well lit had a 40 ft boat launch from its stern. All you think about are drug peddlers and if that’s who they were we were sitting ducks. Changed our course away from them.
      All you say us true!

      • LOL! A 40 footer from the stern? I doubt that was a drug smuggler…probably a Navy or USCG power barge dropping off a surveillance vehicle.

        FYI-The day you run into a drug smuggling operation…2 A.M.? In a sailboat? It will be your last.

    • The solution to your sewage tank is to sail out farther than 3 miles from shore and open the valve to release it into the sea. That’s the legal distance.

    • Kicks castle headwaters soap leathers in salt water and it only take a quart or two of fresh water to rinse and your squeaky clean. I have no idea why ppl go without bathing it’s not hard. Here in fl we have been able to shoot to kill to protect property even before the stand your ground law which means you can kill if you feel threatened. I fing most of the Grubbs we’re ppl trying to live on no income and those are also the most likely to be pirates. I retired early and have an income although barely a middle classier I can live a wonder waterfront lifestyle but I first lived aboard at 18 and grew up on the waterfront on west coast of fl.

  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.

    • 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!

      • 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!

        • My AR-15 is legal, doesn’t have to be registered either, and unlike your spear gun it is not single shot. I’d prefer 20, 30, or 100 rounds on tap rather then just one bolt…in case of multiple attackers and what-not. Plus it is easier to reload and has a safety.(I’m not sure if spear-guns have a safety)

          Plus I am sure that if I empty enough rounds in the right place it would probably sink an attackers boat.

          • Violence is the last resort of the incompetent.

            Guns are needed where people have guns and have access to them. Killing someone is not the answer to every societal problem.

            I arrived at a marina where they were having problems with scum. I told them to organize. They all looked at me like deers in the headlights.

            Simple: organized, surveillance, evidence, penalty phase- and this phase can be legal or illegal.

            You don’t have to involve the police. Trust me, catch the guy, blindfold him, breaks his arms, tie a rope under his armpits and take him out into blue water. Throw him overboard and bob him for an hour. Take him to a secluded spot at night, drop him off and leave and call the authorities, leave no evidence. He will never come back, because he will not know who to come back to while he will know that if he does next time he might not come back alive.

            So they did. Within 6 months there were no more scumbags in the area. Fear is better than a gun and with less legal consequences.

            Also, Harbor Freight sells driveway sensors and they are wireless. Buy a few and place them in your boat. They reach 400ft.

            My friend caught a guy breaking into his sailboat, when the sensor went off and he was on shore. Jumped in his Dinghy and chased the guy down…

    • 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.

    • 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. 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:



    • 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.

      • 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. 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!

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

    • I have never once heard of anyone I knew being sold into sex-slavery. Therefor sex-traffickers don’t exist.

      No one I know has ever gotten HIV therefor it is silly to be concerned about it and no one promiscuous or otherwise really needs a condom.

      I could go on. You were never attacked by a pirate that means they don’t exist and anyone who prepares for that unlikely event is silly.

      • Jason you are Paranoid. Fear is your daily food. Violence is your comfort food. Nobody is saying what you are implying that they are saying.

        They are just not paranoid like you…

        So, in line with your reasoning…a medic becomes a medic in combat, because he was stupid?

        It is a fact that there is more good than bad. There are more good people than bad people.

        I have never met a real cruiser who was a bad soul.

  6. 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

    • Please please please read opinions from ppl out there living the life say about energy production, a wind gen or two can be a minor help during storms when uv is down and wind is up but the opinion from vast majority will tell you comparisons on batteries also and don’t go cheap.u need engine battery separate from house battery and a separate bilge pump battery wouldn’t hurt. I know ppl who generate enough to seldom ever need a genset.remember a gender big enough to run everything (because wind gens will only keep bilge pump battery charged) will use close to a gal an hour vs a very small unit that would use a gal in the 4-5hours to top off battery when you use ac at nite…

  7. 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.

    • 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. 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. 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. 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.

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

      • Those are bad ass and leave a cup of ash instead of all that other shit. Pun intended.. We had them on a pacemaker I ran for a Dr and I loved them. We ran miss out a thru hull so no holding tank. Also ran shower into bridge and that helped keep grime from building up.

  11. 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.

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

    • There is a marin a on manatee river no bridges to tampa bay that allows liveaboard rent is 950 a ft that includes ice everyday free WiFi showers laundry room and a kick ass restaurant with happy hour bargain munchies.I for the life of me can’t recall the name but Google live a board marinas in tampa and it’s only one on the river. Its kinda shallow so if you draw more then 6 ft its not for you.I plan to move my powerboat there in a couple months…

  12. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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,

    • 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

    • 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

    • Can anyone advise me to a nice live aboard dock with a cove that is reasonable on monthly rate. My wife and I are gonna give it a go I think. Probably around a 30-40 ft. Boat Preferably South Florida. And any tips on what to look for on a live aboard boat. Thanks

  19. 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.

    • 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.

      • thanks for the advice tim.i was in the navy for four years.i think that started this.worked construction for about 20 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

      • Tim,
        First I want to thank you for your service both to OUR country and to all in international waters that you have helped!

        Some people referred to Tim as living “high”– I don’t know his salary, but it sound like he’s mostly government worker. I don’t care, because IF he’s got dough, he spoke to those of us who don’t! But to clear up an lies the movies tell, my dad was true CIA spook & if he didn’t reitre “open” I couldn’t even write this under fake name– but my name is dee!
        Anyway, dad did not get James Bond money or even post worker money, he did it to stop terrorism, stop drugs from coming into country, and to help countries getting taken over by dictators. He got to see over 70 countries and also got to get shot at in half of them.

        Someone said Tim “had nothing to contribute!” I find that distasteful as I do vandwelling/rving & have thought about trying boating as my aunt and unkle live that way. They have stayed in US and are trying for their first overseas adventures which neither of them could have adforded before doing planes/hotels.
        Tim face the truth, the ugly side no one wants to hear. Jason who keeps saying, “I’ve never seen a rape, so rape doesn’t happen..” has practically been diagonized with “chronic negative nellism!”
        My van broke down 4x from a bad fuel tank that took 4 mechanics to diagonise. Sitting on the side of the road waiting 4 hours for a tow as the sun starts to go down & having no gun is not a good feeling. Having the NJ cops interrogate my hubby cause I look 12 and he’s a big man & we had a bed in van was comforting until they left us, answering my request for water, “not what we do.” So we were left stranded w/ the final advice we might have to “leave our van.”
        1) it had most of our stuff for a move across country that would’ve been ripped off
        2) in NJ, the whole van would’ve been stripped 5 mins after we left it.

        Tim is actual the guy who will Save you if something happens! So for all you who think he has “nothing to contribute” please tell him you got it covered when you boat hits something and starts to sink and you’re in your dingy surrounded by all those cute sharks.

        He’ll still save you, just like my dad who stopped all the 911s you’ll never hear about because they didn’t happen! Neither did 911 on his watch, but he warned about it. Nervous Nelly that he was.

        So since it hasn’t been said– info or no info, thank you for the job you do ;)

    • Hi there,

      How did you go about finding someone for a long-distance trip aboard a sail boat? If you have any info you’d care to share, thanks in advance.


  20. 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.

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