We get a lot of questions about the following things on how to be a live aboard. I thought that I would make a post about this to answer all questions in one place for you curious minds!
How do you have Power on the boat?
This is a great question! We have two solar panels that we use to get all of our power. We are completely not plugged in to anything. We have a controller where we can use an app on our phone to see how charged up our batteries are. Even on rainy days, we make enough power to get by with our refrigerator and our lights. Most days, we are making more power than we need and our batteries float. The only problem I have had is my straightener draws too much power and will not turn on in the boat. I take it to work and do my hair in my office. If anyone knows of a great wireless or 12v straightener, please let me know! I have only seen low quality ones that will probably destroy my hair! Throughout the day, we may rotate the panels a little if needed on a cloudy day to face a sunnier part. Right now, in the winter, the sun stays long and low, meaning we pay more attention to this. During the summer, we were making power without paying any attention to it at all.
Where do you get your water from? How do you get drinking water?
Each week, when we go to the public dock to drain the black, we also fill our tanks with 50 gallons of water. Usually, we do not run out of the 50 gallons, but we make our way through at least 40 gallons. In our tank, we have it run through a filter. For our drinking water, we place the water in a Brita in order to get another filter process out of it. When you are washing dishes, you do the initial rinse with a sea water pump to save the fresh water. After you have rinsed the dishes, you use clean water to finish the scrubbing and rinsing process. This really helps to cut down our water needs. Since the sink water goes down the drain and into the ocean, we have ocean friendly bio degradable soap that we use for our dishes to not have any pollution that we are adding to the ocean.
How do you get Wifi out there? How do you watch Netflix?
We have a wifi hotspot box. This is completely separate then our phones and does not take our data. We pay $40 a month for 100 GB of wifi. To watch a 2 hour movie takes 1.5 GB. We went over one time because we did not know that we were streaming Amazon on their HD that takes 7GB an hour! After watching the whole season of Americans on Amazon, we were almost out for the month! We paid $25 extra that month only and have not made that mistake again. When we are wanting WIFi we turn on the box. Then we turn it back off when we are done. ( Think a little more like the early 2000’s with dial up internet, but with high speed) We charge the box on the boat as well.
Where do you get your groceries and how do you store them? Is it hard carrying the groceries to the boat each time?
We get our groceries on Tuesdays instead of the weekend because it is way less crowded at the stores. We go to Sprouts for almost everything and then Trader Joe’s is our place for a few items that are a lot cheaper there. We have reusable bags to make it easy to carry on the dingy as well as use less plastic of course. When we get to the boat, we unload the refrigerator items. Then we have a produce drawer that is in the dark and has holes in it. This helps our produce stay longer. We have learned that onions, apples, and potatoes need to stay away from other produce as this causes them to ripen quicker. We don’t eat meat, so we do not have a lot in the fridge besides rice milk, spinach, greek yogurt, and some fruit that does better in the fridge. We are looking for ways to reuse our food scraps. We do have a garden plot now, so we are looking into ways to store the food scraps to take weekly to our compost unit. We need something that does not stink, as we are in small quarters. If you have any compost ideas, let me know.
How do you shower? Is it cold? Do you run out of water?
Our boat has a full shower inside of the bathroom. We choose to not use this and instead, we use the gym at the shower as well as our our solar shower outside. We hang the solar shower on the mast and shower below. The water drains through the drains into the ocean, so once again we use ocean friendly shampoo, conditioner, and body soap. It is all plant based and easy to break down. I have shaved my legs on the deck many times!
Do you have a bathroom? Is it easy to use? What do you do with the waste?
We do have a bathroom. This did not work very well at first, but then we replaced it within the first month on the boat. The pump was not working well and made the flushing experience not very fun. With the brand new toilet, it works well just like a normal toilet except you pump it three times to flush and add water. Think like an RV. I don’t really notice anything different! Jeremy says it is a little small in there for his broad shoulders, but we adjust! Each week, we hook up to the public dock for water and to dump waste. There is a hose you hook up and it sucks everything out, similar to RVs as well. It does not stink and it is very easy to do!
Where do you park your cars?
Outside of the public dock that we have our dingy at, there is a lot with free 24 hour and 72 hour spots. We park in those overnight, but we are always moving our vehicles. We have never had an issue with this. The first night, we parked in a different lot that resulted in $400 to get our car out of a tow lot. We learned out lesson and we make sure to show our guests the correct place to park now! We keep skateboards in our car just in case the lot ever gets full, but we haven’t had to use it.
What do you do with your trash and recycling?
There are dumpsters on shore right where we park our dingy. We are really trying to reduce our trash and waste, so we buy bulk, use reusable food wrap and bags, and we carry our water bottle everywhere with us. We try to eat in at places as well to reduce all of the take out supplies that come with it. We have reusable shampoo and conditioner bottles that we take to the local store to refill (Thanks to my cousins salon, Hair Drezzers). We are working on creating food waste compost, as I mentioned before. I feel like this and gas use is my last two ways of being more mindful about my waste.
Where do you do your laundry?
On our walk with Kai we have a place that is near by called the Point Loma Fluff and Fold. We walk over and place our items in, then take Kai to the beach nearby. When it is done, we walk back a half hour later and take the clothes to the boat. We hang them on the line with stainless steel pins to air dry. This is to reduce our electricity use and the cost of the dryers. Sometimes, if we want to dry some clothes or the weather is not good for an air dry, then we stay longer and will add in a few quarters to dry quicker.
Does Kai like living on there? Where do you take her to the bathroom?
Kai loves living on the boat. She wakes up and stares at the birds. Her favorite is riding the dingy each day. She chases seals and even has a duck friend that visits her each morning. She goes to the bathroom on shore and it is never a problem. We tried getting her a grass pad on the boat, but she chose to use it as a bed instead!
What do you do in storms? Does the boat rock a lot?
The storms came through and there was a window that leaked some, but otherwise it was like being in a house. The wind pushes the bow and the stern and makes it turn verses rock. We had touring rain jackets for the dingy ride, but otherwise, it was a lot of fun and a beautiful show. I am sure if we were in colder places in the US it would be a lot harder.
How do you hook up to a mooring ball?
When you come in, there is a stick floating that you grab that is attached to the rope that will anchor you to the ball. You hook the front end and then the back end and it keeps you in place. You have to wear gloves, because there are a lot of barnacles on the line.
How do you get from the dock to your boat?
The dingy hooks to the public dock with a padlock that has a code. We take the boat out across the water on a 2 minute ride and we are to our boat. WE tie it to the side of our boat. Notice in the photo up top that we forgot to tie it up that day and I am actually paddling to get our dingy.
Is there actually trash in the ocean?
Yes! A lot. Each morning we wake up and something new is floating by. We have seen lots of bottles (plastic and glass), so many cigarette butts, trash bags, fishing line, fishing net, food waste, diapers, backpacks, and so much more. I watch birds and sea lions try to eat plastic they see floating. Pick up your trash or even a piece you see on the ground when you are out and about.
Another change I am in the process of making is less waste in menstrual products. I realized that I use so many tampons, so it would be better to try to find something reusable. I have the menstrual cup now, and we will see how this goes. Ladies: If you have tips, I will take them.
There is a brief overview of our common questions. IF you want to know anything else, feel free to comment or ask away 😉