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Is living aboard in your future? Or present?

Phil Herring

Dethroned Admin
Mar 25, 1997
Hunter 450 Bainbridge Island
Do you have dreams of living aboard someday, or have you already made that dream a reality?

What attracts you to the lifestyle? And if it's not for you, which aspect is the least appealing?

  • Like
Likes: Will Gilmore
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
sitting on the boat with nothing to do,
Oh my. That sounds like an oxymoron. Can it really happen?
Perhaps it is the Holy Grail of boat owners.

Permanent residence on my boat is not in my cards. At least I can not see it in the foreseeable future. Too many strings attached with my home, family, other interests. I do leave the possibility open. For now I am focusing on a couple of months aboard this summer on a 750nm trip. I’ll be more informed about the subject after the trip. For now I enjoy the fantasy. In small bites.
Feb 20, 2011
Island Packet 35 Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
I've been working on houses for most of my life so far, and figure I'll work on boats for the remainder.
We've been selling off the rentals, reducing the workload to where we can spend much more time at the boat.
The work I do on the boat is so much more relevant to my existence than the work which I might do on a rental, or even my own house.
Yes, living aboard is in my near future. At least until hurricane season arrives, then maybe rent a small place near to where the boat's parked.
Dec 23, 2016
Catalina 27 Clinton CT
Interesting thread. We live aboard 9-10 months out of the year here in the north east. Doing it for the last 10 years, so I don't know anything else. Love every minute of it.
  • Like
Likes: jon hansen


Mar 23, 2017
Hunter 30 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
Plan is to move onto a sailboat when I retire. In the meantime, I try to sail as much as work permits.

Previously I've spent fair amounts of time on my sailboat. I love the sense of being part of Earth. The freedom to travel where oceans can allow is very attractive. I think that living almost as a nomad must be deeply embedded within me. I love the sounds, sights and all aspects of being part of the ocean.

Some of my favorite memories are listening to the sounds of the boat sailing. The sounds of the wind, the sails, the creaking of the boats structure and the water passing by. Hearing the life around the ocean/water is special.

Mar 1, 2012
1961 Rhodes Meridian 25 Texas coast
I've done it twice now. Once for three years aboard my Cross 35, which included a year of the boat never touching a dock. Key West to Annapolis Maryland, then to Texas.

Second time on my Meridian 25 for another 3 years. Texas to Annapolis and 3 months in Bahamas- Ended with single handing from Chesapeake Bay to Texas.

Probably not gonna happen again at my age :(
Oct 19, 2017
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
I've always planned to live aboard. But... life and love happens, and work and school and children and more life.

I loved my 3 years aboard, as a kid. There, as in my adult life, the family plan to sail around the World was put off by unrelated family matters and more life.

I loved the feeling of total dominion over some tiny, floating, mobile portion of the World. Just like dLj said, the nomadic life feels natural and less encumbered, to me. The added benefit/enticement of seeing more of this incredible globe continues to pull at my wife and me.

-Will (Dragonfly)


Jan 6, 2006
Beneteau 423 Mt. Sinai, NY
Bought the boat, wife retired in January, house almost paid, doing basic updating/upgrades, new work in same industry where I can make good money remotely. Give me a few years and we will be living on the boat 8-10 months out of the year..... will never sell the house. Need the dirt!
Dec 25, 2000
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Live aboard two to three months out of the year. Rest spent in our paid for home. Still a working stiff driving a school bus. Some call it work, but the easiest job I've ever had. Worked all my life and will continue until the body says no more and then they put me in the ground. As one said, "life is like a box of chocolates". Every delectable bite.
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
You know Terry there could be more sailing days if you were not driving the Buss taking those little ones to school. Besides when I was ther age I remember walking to school in the snow.
Oct 19, 2017
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Even when on the hard for bottom work, we lived aboard. The marine ways crew called our boat the floating school bus.
Maybe Terry, you can do both at the same time. Maine has a lot of island bound school kids.

-Will (Dragonfly)
  • Like
Likes: TomY and dLj
Nov 18, 2010
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
We have been living aboard more or less since 2012. For the first couple of years it was mainly from May to October. We still owned a house and would go home one or two nights a week to do laundry and take care of chores at the house, like mowing the lawn. As we enjoyed our time on the boat more than anywhere else we decided to take the path less traveled and become pre-retirement sea gypsies.

Those first couple of years helped us determine what we needed and wanted to keep and what we could part with. So many things that at first seemed like necessities were sold away with little regret.

Once the house was empty and sold we began full-time living aboard in 2014. Winter was challenging but fun. We met a lot of other crazy folks who shared this feeling of belonging more in a boat then on land.

In 2015 we began the more vagabond life style. We quit our jobs. Sold our car. And vacated our cozy slip to move for more warmer climates. Sailing the east coast, the Bahamas and following the thorny path to the blue waters of the Caribbean.

Since then we have alternated between times of traveling and times of working. All the while living aboard. We have lived in foreign countries. Learned to speak different languages. Sometimes flush with cash and others counting coins to buy some canned food and a fresh bagget. Times we have been frustrated, life on a boat isn't always easy. But we have never questioned our decision to live aboard. In the balance, the joy and freedom has always out weighed any frustrations.

We have found some places we would maybe eventually settle down. Bequia in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is currently top of that list. However that's years off and until then we happily plan to continue living on our little sailboat.

Fair winds,



Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to live on the water. Even in my smallest boats as a little boy, prams, a fishing skiff-rowboat. No surprise I found myself in the design/build world building houses for myself and then clients.

When my partner (newly married) and I bought a 28' Cape Dory sloop, we had some cruising in mind. In our mid 30's, the wanderlust was strong (and still is). Like everything I touched I quickly went about making the boat more home like.

Off we went for nearly a year for what I think was sort of a shake down to more extensive cruising. We didn't sell our home life in Vermont instead renting out, putting cars away, etc.

That 28' sailboat went through a re-design before, and during a year sailing down the east coast to the Exumas. After returning, having a baby (followed by another a year later) going back to work (fully refreshed and renewed beyond what I expected), we decided to do it again on a more limited basis.

By then the 28'er had the port settee removed and a small dinette built in it's place. Built mostly for two, and for that it worked perfectly, the permanent dinette adapted to our small charges for several years. The fixed table served as a nav station to spread out charts, storage(much needed in 28') was built in forward and below. Here, our son then about 2 in a clip on high chair:

TT Reliant.jpg

More drastic re-design was needed for four berths. But two of those didn't have to be very big, yet. I removed the stock pilot berth over the settee on the starboard side. I built a new half pilot berth that served as a berth for one pint sized sailor above with a full settee berth below. Both with curb and lee cloth served well for several years. That half sized pilot berth could slide out for a full sized (track in the photo below). Or with the half pilot only, the settee could pull out and with back cushions we had made, the lower berth was a "couch" of sorts that along with the dinette seats, was a comfortable cabin for the four of us.

This is our daughter asleep in the lower with the upper pilot in 1/2 mode. That 1/2 pilot served as a storage bin as well as a full pilot berth (lower settee slide inboard) for our son as they kids began to grow.
MJ sleeping on Reliant.jpg

That first cruise (and in part the second) was life changing in many ways. We wouldn't trade those days for anything.

For me it was a fulfillment of a life long itch: I had no desire to sail off over the horizon. It may have been the miles and days of plugging along, mostly under power, to get up and down the coast. The cruising itch scratched, I found myself starved for sailing.

Our 28'er served us well but in turning it more into a home than a sailboat, it naturally became less of a sailboat. The boat got better as we removed stuff (weight mostly I suspect). Using the boat more as an outpost on the coast of Maine we enjoyed short stints on the small boat. As a family, we were well adapted now to switching from land to sea for memorable sails to new harbors. I started to sail more, again. I was bit, again, by the sailing bug as the idea of long term cruising faded away.

Now with a bigger boat, I resist my ideas (I've had many-I never stop designing) to turn Xmas into more of a home.

I've come to appreciate the boat for it's ability to take us away in an instant. There's a cost to this lightness of a sailboat when I made it more home like. Snug berths, tiny galley, no flat screen or big comfortable chairs, it lacks these things.

We do live on the water these days, in an old house, a short walk and row to our boat. The sailboat takes us away.


Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
When I think of living aboard, now, 'boats' like this come to mind:
Houseboat far gable.jpg

These make a lot of sense to me. The one above needs to be towed so it goes to a location for the season and is then removed. It can be dragged up on shore for winter if you have a suitable place. Plenty of space for solar panels. Rain water can be piped from eaves to a reservoir easily. A composting toilet, and on demand propane water heater (and stove, heater) and an outdoor shower. My idea of 'living aboard'.

This is an improvement on mobility. A bit smaller platform to work with. I'd give up indoor space on this design to gain more outdoor area. This can be hauled for winter storage. Ample platform for easy design, off the grid living. JEANNIE TEAL is owned by an ex-sailor. I would worry about somebody without experience thinking this was a simple motorboat. It's not but it's a step up from a motorized barge.

Jeannie Teal bow.jpg

Jeannie Teal close.jpg



Feb 14, 2017
Catalina 310 211 Lake Guntersville, AL
Who knows, the idea had always been there, just like that dream of being an astronaut. Ideas and dreams change, I'm not an astronaut but find the career I have has had impact and given our family a lot. @JK_Boston_Catalina310 is amazing to me and his journey has even shown what is possible in our 310. I doubt we will ever make the commitment, but plan to try something like others with a beautiful home base to return to after extended adventures pass the horizon. We are working hard and the goal is what we march toward. In 10 years, will be in a position to consider a change in the routine and that should include more sailing and less working!