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Old 21-04-2014, 20:53   #1
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What is Living Aboard Full Time Like?

Hi all! I'm CJ! I'm currently 16 and a sophomore in high school! I love traveling and I love being on boats. I've done cruises, excursions on small sailboats and we own a pontoon boat that I've operated at our lake house in Eufala, Alabama. I've been keen on life on boats for a while now and I have a few questions that hopefully someone will answer!

What is life like on a sailboat? I wouldn't have a problem with things like food and water and I am a self-described minimalist meaning I don't develop a deep hold on items which would be prohibitive to life aboard so I'm prepared for that aspect, but what are the other aspects like?

In general, how much does a sailboat cost? I'm thinking anywhere from $5k to $30k for a standard boat.

Can you make long journeys? My favorite thing in the world is travel and I especially love Europe. I've always flown there though but I've seen European ports in pictures and most seem lovely! Is it feasible to do a trans-Atlantic or even island hopping trip to Europe?

How could one prepare for life on a sailboat or even a small yacht? I'm projecting that I could potentially move onto a boat within four years. I know it's not something I would probably be able to do directly out of high school so 20 seems like a good base age.

Is operating a basic boat difficult? Would I need a partner to assist me?

Thank you for all of you answers! I hope I filed this post into the correct category as I am new to this! Hope everyone has a good day!
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Old 21-04-2014, 21:05   #2
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Re: What is living aboard full time like?

I should have mentioned this but another main reason I set a minimum age of 20 for myself was because of finances. My parents said they'd match any money I've saved (so far about $700) for a 6 week trip to Europe that I was previously planning and I'm sure they wouldn't mind doing the same for this little adventure. Still, I've got a long way to go.
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Old 21-04-2014, 21:25   #3
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Re: What is living aboard full time like?

Start saving son... get a job.. make some money. You'll need a regular income to be able to afford to live whilst travelling and not working, if that's your plan.
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Old 21-04-2014, 22:52   #4
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Re: What is living aboard full time like?

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Start saving son... .
Son? Is OP a son or daughter? I thought daughter.
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Old 21-04-2014, 22:53   #5
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Re: What is living aboard full time like?

No comment ! I only have an avatar to go by...
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Old 21-04-2014, 23:59   #6
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Re: What is living aboard full time like?

Profile says male.

Coops.
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Old 22-04-2014, 00:01   #7
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Re: What is living aboard full time like?

A small, simple cruising boat can be had within that budget and can be cheap to live aboard. Maintenance to keep her safe and afloat can be a substantial added cost, especially the first few years depending on the shape she is in when you buy and how "actively" you want to cruise. If you don't have much money, you will need to keep the boat as small and simple as possible if you want to move in a sustainable way. Having a job that lets you work remotely, like various IT or other independent/freelance gigs, will let you hop around and still make money. Or a job that affords you long periods of time off. Younger generations have more opportunities to pursue "creative" living and working arrangements than ever before. If all else fails, there's always the tried and true "work and save" method.

There is a ton to learn, but it needn't be overwhelming and you can learn the basics and then everything else as you go. Being handy and resourceful will make things a lot less expensive and will make you a safer, more self-reliant sailor. Single-handing can be done, tho it's easier and more comfortable to sail with (competent) crew. However you slice it there will times when you are uncomfortable, wet, cold, and generally miserable

Extended voyaging across oceans is a different game. It can certainly be done on small simple boats. However, prudence suggests much training and prep for both you/crew and the boat.

Hope that helps! I'm 30yo and have been cruising/working/living aboard off and on since my early 20s. Personally, I've found cruising and holding down a full time job tough to pull off , but I just haven't found the right balance yet
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Old 22-04-2014, 08:44   #8
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Re: What is Living Aboard Full Time Like?

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Originally Posted by CJMac02 View Post
.......................
What is life like on a sailboat?
In general, how much does a sailboat cost?
Can you make long journeys?
....... trip to Europe?
How could one prepare for life on a sailboat or even a small yacht?
Is operating a basic boat difficult?
Would I need a partner to assist me?
.......................
I lined up your questions just so I could keep track of some short and simple answers.

Life on a sailboat varies with your location an your purpose. It can be very difficult in cold weather, anchored out, getting to and from a job or exposed to waves and weather. It can be very easy in a protected marina or cruising with good anchorages.

Costs for sailboats can be low. Something under 10K can be found under 30' with a good, but simple basic needs. ...there's no upper limit to what you can spend.

Long journeys, including Europe, can be made. Tankage, supplies, safety, knowledge & a sound boat are essential.

Preparing to live in the small space on the boat can be accomlished by restricting yourself to that same small space on land beforehand. My wife and I lived in a portion of a small rented trailer for ten months before first moving to a 30' boat. We found it very easy.

Operating a basic sailboat can be best learned by first sailing an 8' to 10' dinghy. A small sailboat teaches quickly due to the instant feedback for your actions. The only thing that is increasing difficult on a larger boat is docking. Once you learn sailing on a small boat, you'll have transferable skills.

No, a partner is not necessary, but many of us find it favorable for most aspects of life.

Planning young can be an advantage. I first planned to live aboard when I was twelve an my wife and I have been living aboard for 43 years.
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Old 22-04-2014, 08:47   #9
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Re: What is Living Aboard Full Time Like?

Thank you for actually giving me a valuable and informative answer! This information is greatly appreciated and you have a good point about adjusting to living in such a small space! It is a fantastic idea to confine yourself to that kind of space beforehand just to get a feel for it!
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Old 22-04-2014, 12:41   #10
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Re: What is living aboard full time like?

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Profile says male.

Coops.
Dumb me. I didn't think to look there. No dessert for me now.
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Old 22-04-2014, 15:07   #11
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Re: What is Living Aboard Full Time Like?

CJ,

You are at a great young age to take your passion and run with it. Anything is possible if you truly want it to be. I would suggest get yourself on a boat and do some sailing now, whether it be at a local sailing squadron or some basic classes. When I was your age I was sailing prams and dinghys and lasers, and I had a blast. You learn alot about the true basics of sail that will become a strong foundation for you later on in your adventure.

Read all you can. There are a ton of books on the subject, by people like Slocum, who have sailed the world alone early on in the 1900s, to modern almanacs and handbooks with loads of info about voyaging.

Like others have said, save all you can. It's always nice to have a budget that allows you to play around a bit. Take into consideration there might be some drawbacks (i.e, save the money from the euro trip instead of going). There are tons of people who liveaboard a boat and also work a full time job. It is completely possible and in most cases cheaper than living on land.

You seem to have a great optimistic mindset regarding getting a boat, and as long as you hold on to that, you will find most problems easy to overcome on your path to living aboard.

David
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Old 22-04-2014, 15:34   #12
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Re: What is Living Aboard Full Time Like?

I'm with ausaviator, if you have a one to one match on funds from your parents, work your ass off.
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Old 24-04-2014, 00:28   #13
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Re: What is Living Aboard Full Time Like?

I don't have much to add about living aboard but I will say; at 16 years old your grasp of the English language is impeccable.
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Old 24-04-2014, 08:42   #14
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Re: What is Living Aboard Full Time Like?

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I don't have much to add about living aboard but I will say; at 16 years old your grasp of the English language is impeccable.

Thank you! English has always been my best subject and I read allot of news articles and such which I think really helps me to expand my vocabulary to vast proportions! ^.^
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Old 24-04-2014, 13:09   #15
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Re: What is Living Aboard Full Time Like?

I live aboard my boat, cost me $2k. $10k is a realistic budget for buyng a very small liveaboard. Twice that would be better. Half that, and you need to be in the right place at the right time with cash in hand. To do that, you got to start networking now. Get involved with local boaters, preferably sailboaters. Offer to crew for them or help out with maintenance just for the experience. If a local marina or club has races on Wednesday and Sunday, you can probably find a spot with somebody as "rail meat", sitting on the windward rail as human ballast. Then you learn to grind a winch and actually handle sails. When the skipper finally lets you take the wheel or tiller for a bit, you have arrived.

See if there is a Power Squadron near you... there are all kinds of courses you can take that will teach you a lot about rules and regulations and safety, in particular. Even powerboating classes have a lot of transferrable knowledge. A leak is a leak. A fire is a fire. etc.

A dinghy or day sailer could be an excellent introduction to sailing. You can always resell it later when you are ready to upgrade. No marina slip bill! Just park it in your driveway.

WHEN BUYING YOUR FIRST LIVEABOARD, consider every aspect of living. You gotta go potty eventually. Are there pumpout facilities near where you will keep your boat? Does the boat have a proper head (sailorspeak for "toilet" and associated equipment) or are you stuck with using a portapotty? Is shore power available, and does the boat have a proper smart-charger for the batteries? Is the boat wired for shore power? Got GFCI breakers? (VERY IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!) Water tank? Working water pump? Shower? Showers ashore? Heat? Okay, you got to sleep. Eat. Wash. Cook. "Go". Illuminate, for reading etc at night. Pump bilges. That's just for a "dock queen" that doesn't go anywhere. Sails, rigging, engine, fuel, those are other considerations above adn beyond simply living aboard. Make sure you have all the answers. Walk through the processes and make sure that a boat you want to buy meets your requirements.

One thing you will never have enough of is room. You will have to step outside just to change your mind, on any boat 30 feet or less. Can you get used to it? Not having stuff that you dont have room for? If there is any doubt, you need a trial run on someone else's boat.

Yes, a small boat can cross oceans. But your first liveaboard will probably not be the boat for it. Very likely if you get the cruising bug you will upgrade to something considerably longer than a basic 26 to 32 foot pocket cruiser. The smaller boat will teach you more than anything else, what you NEED in a boat to do what you want to do with it. Watermaker? Engine? Not every boat has an engine. Joshua Slocum sailed around the world by himself with no engine. Not that I recommend it. Plenty of others have done the same, since he did. Electronics? Generator? Self steering gear? How big? The first small cruiser/liveaboard will teach you these things as well as teach you to fix stuff, maintain stuff, sail safely and plan a voyage properly. Your first liveaboard will NOT be your ocean crosser, most likely. For serious transoceanic cruising, there is probably an upgrade in your future.

My advice is don't worry about crossing oceans yet. Learn from others, either by crewing or taking classes. Get a boat. Move aboard. Take short sails, then longer ones. Your perspective changes and you get a more realistic attitude. The difference between a dream and a plan.

The actual practice of sailing is not necessarily difficult. A basic sloop rig with a roller furling jib, with all lines led to the cockpit, and sufficient winches, is pretty easy to sail single handed. I sail alone more than I sail with a crew. I enjoy the solitude. For longer trips of course I advise against sailing alone, though it can be done. One of the most basic Rules Of The Road is that a proper lookout must be maintained at all times. TBH, you are not keeping a proper lookout if you take a catnap in the cockpit or go below for something. So if you have someone to split the watches with, you are much more in compliance and much safer. Just sayin.

Google "Rules Of The Road" and download a copy. This is something that needs to be memorized in its entirety. Serious. Seriously serious. And learn about all the stuff that you need on your boat to comply with the law and basic safety. Registration, fire extinguishers, propane and gasoline safety, (safest to simply have neither one) electrical, navigation lights, waste disposal, fire extinguishers, (there... said it twice. That means have twice as many as required.) keeping everything up to date, all that stuff. Google is your friend. A class is an even better friend.
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