10 tips when becoming a live aboard on a boat

  1. Get rid of stuff

    The first thing that we began doing 6 months before we were even planning on buying the boat was downsizing. We went through our cloths, books, memories and our entire house and got rid of anything that didn’t bring us joy. Maybe you have been holding on to an expensive jacket because you feel like you should, but really you hate wearing it, it is itchy, and it reminds you to hit the gym a little more often. Git rid of it. But if you find your jacket with the rip on the sleeve, but when you see it, you think of that sunset you were climbing fences with your cousins and ripped the jacket. You can’t help but smile at that memory. This brought you joy and feel free to keep it. (If you’d like to know more about this, check out this book: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.) After getting rid of items that no longer had joy for us, we moved on to thinking of what we actually would use and need on the boat. It is currently summer, so we knew our winter gear was not going to be needed any time soon. We still want it, but we do not need it on the boat. You can get bins and use some of your on boat storage to be able to quickly change gear when on sail trips, or if you are going to be in one location for a while, you can get a storage unit for your items like this. It is crazy the things that you will find hidden away in your closet that you realized would be better suited maybe bringing joy to someone else. We are somewhere between 10-20 bags to Goodwill, but it just feels so good to have less stuff!

  2. Think of a section at a time

    As we are thinking of moving on the boat, it seemed like a huge daunting task to me. I needed a way to break it down to everything that we needed to do. We went to the boat one day and worked our way from bow to stern going over every little thing that we needed to do, move in, or replace on the boat. Our list ranged from clean the boat, get the boat on hull cleaning cycle, register dinghy, hang market lights in bedroom, hang picture frames, install water filter and there are over 100 items that were on the list (still some to go). Working from one end of the boat to another was so helpful. Then, as I moved in stuff I did the same thing. I slowly got the list done as I went so that it began to feel like home bit by bit and the projects remained in one area. We kept the list in our Google drive so that we could each add to it easily if needed and see what the other had accomplished. For my task oriented brain, this was something we just had to do!

  3. When buying the boat, leave room in your budget for surprise

    We knew our budget, but ended up buying the 1975 Catalina 30 for $9,000, which was lower then our budget. When we saw that it had a dinghy, we took this out of our planning, but the first time we placed the dinghy in the water, it began to leak. What was nice was we had extra money in our budget to replace this for $600. We also found that our inverter on our refrigerator was beginning to go out- $500. Taxes were another $800 as well as a $700 survey of the boat prior to purchase. Immediately, we were spending a couple thousand more dollars. If we had pushed our budget to the max, this would have been a bit more taxing for us. My advice is to leave this cushion because most likely, there will be surprises.

  4. Find a storage unit

    Whether you are staying in one place most of the time or you are cruising, having a storage unit is helpful for keeping your car, your out of season gear, memories that still bring you joy, but don’t need to be on the boat, or your high school lettermen jacket you want to show your kids one day. I wasn’t ready to get rid of some sentimental items, but with our garage we have a place for things like this. When we go back to it in a few months, we may be ready to get rid of more or realize we need something on the boat, but having a place to safely keep your items is so helpful. With not a lot of space on board and with attempting to keep the boat light, we wanted to bring only what is necessary.

  5. Give yourself a set time to do it to see if you like it

    We don’t want to give up too quick on living on a boat, so we established one year as our time. After a year, we can talk and decide if we want to keep going or if we are both ready to be back on land. I think we are going to love it, but we want to be sure that we give it enough time. We love this idea because you aren’t committed to forever, but you are giving it a chance!

  6. Think of creative ways that can save you money

    There are a lot of projects that needed to get done on the boat, so we looked for ways that we could be friendly on our budget. One thing we did was instead of buying a v berth mattress that was more comfortable, we made our own mattress for our V berth. We love finding ways that we can do things creatively. Another project we did was hand make a rack for our SUP and surfboards to go on. Find ways to save yourself a little bit of cash!

  7. Take photos of your boat

    So this was something that I am glad we did. We took really good photos of our boat inside and outside. At registration of the boat as well as insurance, they ask for photos of the boat. Instead of having to re take it out of the water or worry about this, we were able to give them the photos that we had and this met their criteria. We also gave them a copy of the surveyor report and they found this very helpful for insurance and registration.

  8. Scan important docs

    We have a lot of healthcare, student loans and other documents. Instead of having to take care of a folder of these items and make sure that they do not get wet, I have scanned almost all into a file on our computers that is backed up to a drive, a hard drive, and the cloud. This allows us to easily access these files. Some documents like passports and marriage licenses need to be kept in hard copy version, but many of the unnecessary hard copies are now stowed away safely.

  9. Take a test sleeper night

    We took a night to sleep on our boat.  While we slept there, we realized we needed to find a comfortable place for Kai to easily get to, as our bed is too high for her. We also realized that the mattress that came with the boat was not comfortable. This is what lead us to the making our own boat mattress. We recommend this so that you can work out any kinks you may see before actually living on it.

  10. Get a log to keep track of every sail

    This is so fun for me! When we bought this boat, we found their log of every sail, who had come, and every repair they had done. This was such interesting and helpful information for knowing the condition of the boat. We love adding new guests on to the log or even keeping track of where we went that day. I highly recommend this to look back on!


Overall, this is what we have found helpful so far. I am sure after this week of actually moving on, we are going to find more tips to add to this list. We are also beginning our youtube channel and will begin releasing episodes. Feel free to head over to our channel to subscribe so you won’t miss out.

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