We’ve been living aboard our boat full-time now for almost two years. While I’m by no means an expert, I definitely have some insight into the trials and tribulations of boat life that I didn’t have when we moved aboard.
* The novelty of new places.
We’re happiest when we’re moving and exploring. If we stay too long in one place, it starts to feel like we might as well be living in a house on land, with all the conveniences that entails. We also know that living on a boat is not our future indefinitely. While we don’t have a hard and fast end date, we know that we want to head back to land life for our kids to attend school probably in the next two to three years. We don’t want to feel like we’re marking time when we have such a short amount of it to do this.
* Weather and the great outdoors.
We’ve had some land breaks over the last two years, spent mostly in Colorado at my mom’s house where we skied for several weeks. Even though we were outdoors almost every day, it still wasn’t the same as living on a boat and I found I missed the expansiveness and being in touch with the elements. Every day on the boat, I’m hyperaware of the weather. I find that I like all the time outdoors—even when I’m just sitting in the (thankfully!) sunny cockpit, typing up this story.
* The boat breaks. Often.
It seems like just as we’re getting our feet under us, something else will pop up. And unlike when our boat was not our home, we can’t just ignore the broken fresh water pump and go back to our house till a spare part arrives and it’s fixed. When the pump breaks and we have no fresh water to drink, make dinner, shower or wash our hands, all work on anything else comes to a screeching halt until we’ve fixed it. This can make for disruptive days and a need to be flexible, as you ping-pong between tasks.
As I wrote in my story about seasickness remedies, this is something I struggle with but have managed. It’s definitely a downside to boat life, and it makes finding a calm, protected anchorage a priority. An uncomfortable anchorage makes it hard to go about our daily life, from working and doing boatschool to simply preparing a meal and cleaning up afterward.
Both Good and Bad (but mostly good!)
* Time together.
I see much more of my kids and husband than I would if we were all back home, scurrying off to work and school each morning. I get to high-five my kids when they ace their math work for the day. I’m watching (and helping) as my nine-year-old’s writing skills get better by the week. I’m teaching my six-year-old to read and I get to see his pride in himself as he progresses. We get to see their tight-knit relationship with each other strengthening. My husband and I, after 20 years together, are learning how to navigate new roles for ourselves—teachers, crew, working parent, bread baker (Brian’s crushing that one!)—in addition to being partners, friends and moral support for each other. But we also live full-time on a boat and everyone needs some space from each other—and that’s hard to get. This is when noise-cancelling, wireless headphones are a godsend!