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I often get funny looks when I tell folks I live on a boat. There are those that give me that somewhat sad look that makes me think they are thinking “oh I am sorry you are homeless” while others will go “oh how cool” in a tone that leaves me wondering if they are thinking I am some sort of hippy nut. Most seem a bit perplexed as to why anyone would want to live on a boat. Why live in a small cramped space where mold is your best friend and everything you own could fit in the average walk in closet? (With the overflow in your car of course)

                Truth be told there are many reasons we choose to live on a boat. I for one, dream of sailing off to tropical islands where I can drink rum and escape the daily worries of the real world. In the meantime living on the boat helps me feel closer to that dream. Many more are out cruising, living on the boat is part of that lifestyle.  Some just enjoy being close to the water and the lifestyle it brings. Others, truly are homeless and find a boat a cheap way to live away from regulations and rent.

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                The vast majority of live aboards do so while cruising. These are the folks that are usually on the move from one location to another. This could include sailing to far off lands, doing the “great Loop” or simply being “snow birds” traveling the waterway with the seasons. For these folks their home is also their method of traveling. Many of these travelers have homes to return to on land, others may not have land homes but plan to one day return to the dirt life. For most who plan on long voyages it makes sense to give up the land based homes and simplify their lives. It can be hard to maintain a land home and a water home at the same time. The further away you travel the harder it can become to maintain a land residence.  It really is nice to be able to travel with your home and always have those comforts with you. Beats schlepping luggage around airports for sure. Not to mention traveling with your home is an economical way to travel particularly if you anchor out most of the time as most cruisers do.

                Then there are the dreamers such as myself. Those of us who live aboard as an intermediate step to cruising. All journeys begin with the first step and for some that step is to move onto the boat. I think this is a good first step for many. It gives you a taste of the life aquatic without having to fully cut the shore lines. For Teresa and myself it is a good way to make sure we will get along in a small cramped space. It also gives us time to liquidate all the crap we have collected our wholes lives and now understand do not make us happy. We still work jobs while slowly assimilating into the cruising life. For some this may prove that the cruising life is really not what they wanted without having this epiphany hit them thousands of miles from home. Much easier to admit you made a mistake in your home marina than in some third world county far away from friends and family. Living aboard while preparing also gives you time to get to know your boat better before heading out to sea. This can be a real life saver, literally!

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                There are those that live on a boat simply because they like being near the water. These live aboards may not have fancy cruisers and in some cases their craft may never, or even be able to leave the slip. No matter, these folks are happy just being on the water. Let’s face it most waterfront property has gotten very expensive in most communities waterfront homes exceed 1 million in value. This is beyond most of us so a live aboard boat may be the only way to get close to the water. I often hear some boater’s comment they do not understand why some folks live on a boat and never leave the slip. These folks just do not understand that for some just being on the water is enough. This group of live aboards also includes those who live in floating homes, those craft that look much like a land home only it is floating. To me this seems a perfect compromise between land and water life.

                Many folks live on their boats as an interim step to something else or perhaps as a home away from home. I have known many of these temp live aboards who have stayed on their boats while selling and buying land homes. This takes the pressure off having to move quickly when their homes are sold and gives them time to find the perfect new home. I have known others who live in one location and work in another. Often these jobs are contract jobs and require them to live someplace for only a year or so. Living on their boat makes sense as they do not have to buy or rent a land dwelling for the term of their work contract. Many of these workers will go back to their land based homes and families during the weekends. A boat can make a great temporary home for those in transition and perhaps just may plant the seed for becoming a long term live aboard or cruiser.

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                I save the homeless category for last. Homeless live aboards sadly make life aboard harder for those of us who are “real” live aboards. Homeless live aboards are easy to spot as their boats are often derelict or near derelict. These folks do not have the money nor desire to fix their boats and often have junk piled all over the boats. I may catch some flak for this but I feel these folks have no place living on a boat. They are not there because they love the water they are there because they found a free or very cheap boat to live on. They often anchor out which causes problems with local municipalities. They are an eyesore to the folks who own those million dollar water front homes and they clog up the anchorages so that cruising folks no longer have a place to drop there hook when passing through. The homeless boats are a danger to the environment and other boaters. I am not against helping folks out but those who choose to live outside of society for whatever reason can be a problem. When these folks take to the water they cause problems for legitimate live aboards that result in resentment and new laws that make it hard for all boaters. Will get on this soapbox again in another post, suffice to say the homeless live aboard is a problem and makes all live aboards look bad.

                Of course this does not fully cover the subject as to why some live on their boats but I think for those that live on land this may help explain a few of the reasons one would choice this lifestyle. No it is not for everyone, there are some of us who just feel we want something a bit different. We hear a calling of the sea and want to be closer to that. For some odd reason the ocean and the wetlands call to us and we just want to be a bit closer to that voice.

                Please take the time to offer an opinion or tell me why you choose to live on a boat. I know each of us has their own unique reason for living on a boat. Your thoughts and comments good and bad (But please no spam) are always welcome.

Capt. Wayne

 

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