The best and worst parts about living on a boat

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Calm turquoise seas, white sandy beaches, glorious sunsets and endless adventures all sound idyllic. 

What could possibly go wrong when living on a boat?

Go World Travel Magazine chats with three yacht owners to discover the good, the bad and the ugly of living on a boat.

Enjoying the scenery. Photo by Ryan and Sophie Sailing

What is your Absolute Favorite Thing About Living on a Boat? 

For the last three years, Ryan and Sophie of the YouTube channel Ryan and Sophie Sailing have been onboard their beloved boat, Polar Seal, and have traversed the oceans from Europe to the Caribbean. 

They both love the sherbet-colored sunsets and the incredible views, but their favorite thing about living on a boat is the sailing community. They talk about meeting people in the afternoon and then inviting them for dinner that night, later bumping into them in a completely different country and reuniting like old friends. 

One of the highlights is that other sailors are always willing to lend a helping hand. Fabiola and Nim from Sail LUNA agree; they liken waking up in a hidden bay to intense meditation, something that you can only experience when living on a boat. 

Eugenie Alder, the Head of Product at Deckee, a safe boating platform and free boating app, explains that everything revolves around staying safe and being at the mercy of the weather and the constantly changing conditions.

What are Some Pros of Living on a Boat?

Living on a boat force you to live a simpler life and have less ‘stuff’ around you. The space on a boat is restrictive, and it focuses your mind. Not only do you have fewer belongings, but you use fewer resources, which is better for the environment. 

Eugenie also talks about knowledge of boat systems and being self-sufficient. Sophie loves the unique viewpoint that they have of the world. Sailing offers them an appreciation of ever-changing landscapes, diverse cultures and the new people they meet along the way. 

One of the highlights for Fabiola and Nim, particularly during the pandemic, is being physically distant from others. They are grateful that they didn’t have to experience a ‘new normal’; their quarantine was on Sail LUNA.

They all agreed that living on a sailboat allows you to pick up your home and move it anywhere on the planet – how else can you travel the world while sleeping in your own bed every night?

Fresh poke bowl on yacht
Fresh poke bowl on yacht. Photo by Sail LUNA

What are Some Cons of Living on a Boat? 

Ryan and Sophie liken their boat to a child, “It has to be taken care of like a child. It needs a lot of attention, is always moving, and sometimes will wake us up in the middle of the night.

We have had days when we just want to get eight hours of sleep, but Polar Seal has other plans for us… sometimes, we are awake at 3 am, and the boat is throwing whatever she can at us – rolling in the swell, a water pump decides to go wild, or having a neighbor approaching a little too close for comfort. We never know what our boat will need. It can be a genuine source of anxiety, not to mention the costs of repairs and maintenance”. 

Other cons include always having to say goodbye. Nothing is constant in the boat life, so even if you make amazing friends, chances are, sooner or later, you will need to wave goodbye as either one of you sail off into the distance. 

Daily life can also be more challenging on a boat. Imagine never knowing where the supermarket, doctor, hairdresser or phone provider was – everywhere you go is new and exciting but that also means that you never really feel at home. 

Speaking of home, you also don’t have your family and friends around you, which means no quick catch ups for coffee or family gatherings on your birthday. 

It also means you might miss a lot of milestones back home, like weddings and birthdays. All of these things can sometimes make you feel homesick.

Passage on. Photo by Eugenie Alder

What is the Absolute Worst Thing for You About Living on a Boat? 

“The need to keep the wardrobe, handbag and shoe collection under control!” says Eugenie. 

“A major cleanout was necessary when we first moved on board (which was actually liberating). In the tropics, I don’t get to wear any of it anyway!” 

On a more serious note, there are many challenges that living aboard presents. You really need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

From cramped conditions, high temperatures, lack of hot water (or water in general), limited power and internet, to seasickness, and isolation. If you think living on a boat is like an endless holiday, think again. Maintaining the boat is almost a full-time job in itself!

Deo Juvante
Deo Juvante. Photo by Thierry Verstraete North Sea Challenge

What Would You Say is the Ugly Side of Boat Life? 

Fabiola and Nim agree. “When you live on a boat, especially if you also sail to remote places, you need to be able to maintain and fix any system you have onboard. You need to be the mechanic, electrician, and plumber and let me tell you, you never know where it’s going to break, maybe in the middle of the ocean. S**T happens, and it’s up to you to fix it. Literally! If your toilet is blocked, there’s no one to call! We would say it’s the ugly part for us”.

For Ryan and Sophie, it’s the anxiety that comes with being the captain of your own ship. You are solely responsible for your crews lives, if you make one mistake – you could end up in a watery grave.

Overall, living on a boat has extraordinary highlights from the feeling of freedom, meeting like-minded people, making landfall in foreign ports under the power of your own sails, watching endless skies change color as the sun sinks over the horizon, and making lots of memories.

The positives soon outweigh any negatives, but at times it won’t always feel that way.

Go World Travel Magazine

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