There's no doubt that living on a sailboat is more of an art than a science. It requires a certain approach to life that would be a step too far for many people, but for those prepared to accept change and make a few compromises, the resultant liveaboard lifestyle can be richly rewarding. And compared to living ashore it can be relatively cheap.
So living aboard a sailboat can be cheap and rewarding. Got your attention?
Of course that nine to five pensionable office job will have to go, but there are other ways to earn a crust which we'll get to later.
And many of the more fashionable contents of your shoreside wardrobe will become redundant, and the car too, you won't need that. A fold-away bicycle might come in handy though.
Other things you'll definitely be pleased to see the back of when you become a sailboat liveaboard include TV license fees, telephone charges, utility bills and community taxes.
But before making the break from the comfortable status quo, living on a sailboat needs some careful thought...
Unless you've managed to stash away a substantial sum and are happy to live off it, you'll need to find a way of financing your new life aboard a sailboat.
There are several ways to go about it...
If you own a house, then leaving it empty while you're living on a sailboat for long periods can be a lost opportunity as well as something of a risk. Much better to have a paying tenant installed than having a bunch of squatters move in, or find that the roof has collapsed when you eventually return.
If you do decide to leave it unoccupied there are several things you should do:~
If you rent your property to a tenant, my advice would be to always do so through a professional Letting Agency with a proven record.
If you have a trade background you may well be on a winner, either by helping out other sailors or through casual work ashore. Prime trades include:~
If you have one of these or a similarly sought-after skill, you really must check out this online resource.
Can you play a musical instrument really well, and ideally sing too? Then the upper-end bars and restaurants may well be willing to shell out a few dollars to have you entertain their guests.
Professional people (as opposed to skilled manual workers) are usually less fortunate; their skills are not usually locally transferable. One approach for professionals is to alternate between living on a sailboat during the most clement part of the year and working on a self employed contract basis ashore during the other.
You must have a great story to tell that would help others thinking about doing the same thing. Tell them about it here...
The Caribbean lends itself very nicely to this approach, as life aboard a sailboat is pretty idyllic between November and May, but not without its worries during the June to October hurricane season.
There are several good haul-out facilities that are set-up as far as possible to withstand a hurricane's onslaught. The two we've used are Jolly Harbour Marina in Antigua and Spice Island Marine in Grenada.
I have a love/hate relationship with my computer. Love it because, together with an internet connection, it's such a valuable asset.
Hate it because of the hours I spend banging away at it, which is exactly what living on a sailboat is not really about. Oh well...
If you have a story to tell (and you will have if you're enjoying life aboard a sailboat) and can string a few words together, then you may be able to persuade a magazine to buy it from you. Don't be dissuaded if your article is rejected, just keep trying.
Tip: Go to the magazine's website and find their 'Submission Guidelines'. This will tell you the type of article they'd most likely publish, together with some advice on how to write it.
One way of being sure that your article will be published online is have a website of your own and upload it to that.
But how can you make any income out of that I hear you ask?
In all sorts of ways - after all I'm doing it right now.
Writing a hard cover book is fairly straightforward, but getting it published is another thing entirely. Believe me, I know! At best it's a long and painful process and at worst - after all that time and effort - you may not get get it published at all.
But eBooks are different. Providing you know your subject, you can sell them much more cheaply than a comparable hard-cover book - and make more out out of it too.
For example my eBook 'Secrets of Sailboat Fishing' sells for $4.99 whilst my hardcover book on the subject cost around five times that. And it's the publisher that sets the price, not me.
If you like what you read on these pages, you're sure to enjoy my book 'Offshore Sailing'.
Published by the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) and with a foreword by Mike Golding of Vendée Globe fame, it contains much of the information on this website and more besides.
So if you wish to get your hands on a copy, and have been unable to beg, borrow or steal it elsewhere, you might just have to...
There's not much point in living on a sailboat if, through necessity, you spend most of the time hooked-up to water and electricity supply in a marina. To give yourself the freedom that sailboat homes can provide you need to be as self-sufficient as possible.
For example, all live aboard sailboats should be capable of:~
You may have to use your engine driven alternator on cloudy, windless days but if you're like me you'll want to avoid using expensive fuel unless it's unavoidable.
Who said you can't drink seawater? Well you can if it's been through a reverse osmosis plant. Of course it's no longer seawater then, but pure drinking quality freshwater.
These marine watermakers are great to have on a live aboard sailboat, but why not catch rainwater also?
Lightweight awnings and windscoops can be made up by hand, but it's a whole lot easy if you have a sewing machine aboard and know how to drive it. The main requirements for a marine sewing machine are:~
We managed to obtain a second-hand Reeds Sailmaker at a very reasonable price which has all of these features, and has served us admirably for a number of years.
We've used it to make our sprayhood, dodgers, winch covers, deck awning, series drogue, hatch screen, windscoop, cockpit cushions, mainsail cover and other canvas covers around the boat - so it's certainly paid for itself a few times over.
But do we have any regrets about living aboard a sailboat?
Just click on the images below to see the full details of these cruising boats that are advertised for sale privately by their owners.
The best advice for living on a sailboat?
Do it somewhere warm!
How do you make it work? How do you spend your time, and do you regret moving aboard? Share your experience!
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and a little bit of nonsense:~
Sailing Jargon Buster
This week's word is...
Careen ~ A old boating term meaning to intentionally lay a vessel over on its side so that marine growth can be cleaned off her bottom. A place traditionally used for careening is known as a careenage.