The Liveaboard​ Question

I hear it, and I read it often. “How big of a boat do I need to liveaboard?” This question is best answered by oneself. Oh, don’t get me wrong, many people love to offer their opinions, often as facts. Even people who have never lived aboard.

Here are questions you may want to ask yourself when contemplating living aboard. Each one will bring up more, cascading on and on. I intend to keep this a working list, so feel free to check in later for updates. Or send me a comment with additional questions to add.

  • Why do you want to live aboard?
  • How much boat can you afford?
    • The bigger the boat, the higher the costs. Period.
    • If money is not an issue, buy a big boat, fit it out as if you live on land and the marine industry will love you. Please don’t hurt the little guy.
  • How much does it cost to live ashore?
  • Are you actually into boating or do you just want to live on one for the romance?
    • If it’s just for the romance, please reconsider.
  • How much boat will you be happy with?
    • People around the world live in accommodations of varying sizes and circumstances. Humans are highly adaptive. People who are accustomed to having lots of space may have a more difficult time with the constrictions of living aboard and may decide it is not worth the sacrifice. They may find they cannot afford to liveaboard to the standard they wish to live. See below.
  • How committed are you?
    • You have to love it or you may be miserable. When the weather is beautiful and warm, it’s super romantic. When it’s cold and wet, much less so.
  • Do you know about condensation and how it works?
    • Do you know how to contend with it and adjust to your particular boat?
  • Does your boat leak?
    • From the top, bottom or both?
  • Do you have a boat already?
    • If yes, can you envision living on it? If so, the boat you have is the answer.
  • Do you want a powerboat or a sailboat?
    • Their vastly different structures offer vastly different accommodations.
  • Are you nimble enough to live on a boat of the size you can afford?
    • Seriously.
  • Will you be living at anchor, on a buoy, on a constant voyage, or at a marina?
    • Since you’re novice enough to be asking these questions, I’m going to move forward with “marina” as the answer.
  • Will the marina have room for the boat you choose and buy?
  • Does the marina allow liveaboards?
    • Do they have a minimum liveaboard length?
    • Have you looked into the associated fees?
    • What kind of insurance do they require?
    • Have you read their policy and guidelines?
  • Will you be living alone or with others?
    • Are the others reading these questions too?
  • Will the boat have a shower and head facilities?
    • By no means a deal breaker, however, size, maintenance, and costs should be factored in.
  • Will the marina have shower, head and laundry facilities?
    • Are they convenient?
    • Are their other services nearby?
  • Will the marina require you have a pump out service if you have a head?
  • Will you need a storage unit for the belongings you cannot fit on your boat?
    • The more you have on board, the longer it will take when you want to leave the dock. Sell the drum kit. If you like to have a lot of stuff, live on land.
  • Does the marina have shore-power?
    • What are the associated costs?
  • Will you heat the boat and if so, how?
    • Revisit the condensation question above.

When I tell people I live on a Flicka 20, most people are floored. I let it settle in for a moment before I follow up with how I have been doing it for 6 years. If I see them still reeling, I mention that I used to live on a Columbia 26. This really bewilders them because it means I downsized, which is contrary to the majority of people’s “two foot-itis.” By then they just think I’m insane. Perfect.

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