The truth about living on a Sailboat
Including our sail to Canada in 2005, LeeAnn and I have lived aboard a boat together for over two years. Not so long really. But long enough to answer some simple questions about our lifestyle that we are commonly asked:
1. It's an awfully small space... Don't the two of you get sick of each other?
LeeAnn: will answer later....
Chad: Yes. I have a can of either that I regularly use to knock LeeAnn unconscious with when I need a break. She never gets sick of me though. How could she? I'm so cute and lovable!
Serious: No, I don't get sick of LeeAnn. Sometimes we get mad at each other. But living and traveling on the boat puts us in a constant state of challenge. It's very hard to get things done when we are mad at each other, so we are normally forced to make up quickly.
We get mad at each other and go to bed. A storm comes up in the night and the anchor starts dragging. It's very scary, loud, and annoying to have to get out of bed and go stand in a thunderstorm, wet and cold, in the middle of the night. But it has to be done, and we do it as a team. Our anger becomes secondary to our goal.
It's easy to say living under such conditions has improved our relationship greatly. It's a great pre-marriage test that I would recommend to anyone.
2. How do you take Showers?
With soap and water Duh!
Actually it is a bit of a challenge. Two thing coastal cruisers will always be searching for: Grocery stores and Showers.
Three ways to get showers at a marina:
1. Fill up your gas tank and they let you take a shower.
2. Pay to take a shower.
3. somehow you acquire the combination and you sneak a shower.
options 1 and 3 are the preferred and most common.
Other ways to shower:
1. If the water is clean (like in Canada) you can take showers in the lake.
2. If you are somewhere private you can take a shower on deck with a solar shower.
3. Simply clean up inside the boat. towel off. wash hair in the sink.
3. How do you cook?
We have a single burner propane stove we can set up out side if we want to heat up a can of soup or something. But normally we just eat crackers and sardines. Sometimes we are lucky enough to catch a fish. but normally we just eat those raw like corn on the cob.
We have a convection oven that runs on electricity, and we have a two burner stove top that burns Denatured Alcohol. We love to eat, and cook very good meals.
Most people have a propane oven. These are very expensive, and you have to find a place to put the propane. Not to mention you have to eventually find a place to fill the propane.
We chose the electric oven because we charge our batteries with a generator. So our evening routine is to run the generator for about 2 -3 hours during which time we cook dinner, charge the batteries, and watch a movie.
This setup works great. although if we could have afforded it we would have probably gone with solar panels, wind generator, and a propane oven.
4. Do you get seasick?
Chad: Offshore I pop Dramamine like candy.
The Cat: I'm ok as long as I'm with someone.
5. Are you rich?
As in money? Unfortunatly no.
6. How can you afford to do this?
We steal from old blind people.
Budget, budget, budget is our mantra.
We bought a cheap boat and fixed it up, opposed to buying a new one.
We NEVER take docks. There is ALWAYS somewhere you can anchor for free.
When traveling we never eat out. And generally we don't drink either.
Also keep in mind, we have no car or house payments, or any of the standard bills, such as: cable, internet, or anything like that.
7. So how much does "it" cost?
In 2005 we didn't think about "budgeting" at all and we spent $3,000 in three months...
We spent the most in the first few weeks on nice docks and going out to eat.. Then scrapped by for the rest of the summer on hardly anything. we sailed from Canada to home on 500 dollars...
In 2007/08 our budget was $120 a week. $60 on food, $60 on Gas.
Some weeks we went way over, and some were way under. Generally it evens out.
For 2009 we plan on spending $140 a week. $70 on food. $100 on gas. Damn inflation.
None of these figures reflect repairs to the boat.
When all is said and done, we will spend $1,000 a month total. Something always breaks on the boat. Or we spend a few extra days in an expensive area (like New York) where we splurge.
8. What do you do on the boat?
It would be easier to answer "what don't you do?"
to which I would say: "watch TV or go to church."
We have a flatscreen and a DVD player to watch movies. We both like to read, and we have three shelves and a drawer full of books. We enjoy cooking very much. Lunch and dinner are highlights of the day. we sightsee. Watch sunsets and sunrises. Fix the boat, and worry about the engine. Relax, pay guitar, listen to music. Sleep.
9. How do you do laundry / get groceries?
We use cruising guides ("Skipper Bob" is a great (cheap) resource) to find out which anchorages have grocery stores or laundromats within walking distance. Generally we keep our walks under 1 mile.
10. How far from land do you normally go?
Generally not very far.
We are "coastal cruisers." However I have sailed across the Atlantic Ocean
Our goal for 07/08 was to see the east coast. We would never see it if we were sailing off out of site of land.
We made many multi-day passages in 2009
This last one isn't a question, it is actually a statement, and it drives me crazy:
11. It's good to get this out of your system / do it while you are young.
Neither LeeAnn or I see this as a temporary lifestyle. We love our lives. / Most of our cruising friends are over 50.
Additional / Answers:
12. Why doesn't LeeAnn ever give write in the blog?
She has tried it a few times. But doesn't enjoy it. I'll try to get her to elaborate herself later!
13. Where does Sushi poo?
I poo in a litter box that is tucked away in a cubby hole. Chad and LeeAnn clean it out for me every day.
14. How does Sushi deal with the boat and all the water?
Sushi: I was brought to the boat from the SPCA when I was only a few months old... so I really don't know anything different. I'm a curious cat, and I'm very interest in the water. Although I prefer to observe and play in it more than I like to be submerged in it. I enjoy playing in the rain very much.
I have free rein over the boat except for the counter tops.
I'm not allowed onto the docks.
I leave the boat on dinghy rides, and I'm very comfortable jumping into any dinghy that comes alongside the boat. But I don't really like to be on other sailboats. I'd rather spend my time hanging out in the dinghies.
15. What does the Sushi Eat?
Sushi: I've been exposed to fish, shrimp, crab, and chicken. But I've never eaten anything but my Science Diet kitten food that Chad and LeeAnn buy in bulk.
Other Posts about living on a sailboat that you might be interested in:
Sailing Books - A ciriculum to sail away
What is the food like?
How To Go Cruising Now (a step by step guide)
How To Make Money While Cruising