How to manage life on board
Almost 2 month ago I permanently moved aboard my sailing vessel Serenity and since then, there is rarely a day where people do not ask me how I can manage to live on a boat. “Isn’t it way too small? Where is all your stuff?”, “What if it gets cold, it is getting cold now.”, “Are there other people living there? Don’t you feel lonely?”, “Where do you shower?”, are the most common questions. I can’t blame friends and colleagues for asking these questions as it is quite an unusual place to live. But it is much more than just living in a trailer on a flooded parking lot. It is a lifestyle where I trade a little bit of comfort for independence and still be able to maintain a 9 to 5 job.
But before I go into details on how it works out with my job, let’s get rid of some misconceptions about the liveaboard life cause unlike some people might think, I am not constantly fighting to survive and live through the night in a 30 year old floating death trap. It’s much nicer and easier as you people might expect who are not used to it or remember that one terrible camping experience too well and compare it subcounsciously to what I am going through.
Starting with the basics, yes, it is extremely cozy on board. Serenity is equipped with a Diesel heater fed from the main tank and this is not much different to any heating in houses or apartments. I dial-in the temperature and all cabins of my choice will be filled with warmth to an extend that I usually sleep without a duvet. It is low maintenance and if I remember to top up the diesel tank once in a while, I’ll never freeze.
Managing the space was more challenging at first, but once I got used to it, I started to have a lot of fun with that tiny space. It triggerd my creativity, designing and creating storage possibilities where there were none. And coming up with smart ideas to make the best out of what’s only limited available is extremely satisfying. The joy of living “tiny” is a trend increasing in popularity these days as living in urban areas becomes extraordinarily expensive as also in my case so I chose to go “tiny” and just worry less.
Not suited for tall people but once you sit down, it feels quite spacious.
Once you manage the limited space, there’s even room for pictures and decorative elements on a self made hanging shelf.
Is it just like living in a small house?
Not exactly. There are a few things which require a little bit of planning ahead, like the water supply. My fresh water tank only holds up to 50 liters/13,5 gallons and although I have fresh water access at the pier for 8 month, in winter time I have to carry canisters of water like I do with the diesel. Good thing I do not have a bath tub on board so my fresh water consumption is rather low, mainly used for cooking, cleaning and handwash.
For showers, my morning routine and the laundry I just have to use the facilities in the marina which is not as bad as it sounds. Of course not all marinas have the same standard but I am lucky to be in a marina where the facilities are fairly decent right now and are just undergoing renovation so soon it will even be a pleasure.
The facilities in the marina are great. While waiting for the loundry to be finished…
… I can enjoy a good read, watch TV or treat myself with a nice hot coffee.
How it affects my work
So you see, even if you do not own a fancy Binford 2000 laundromat or a hot tub and have to monitor your water and gasoline consumption on a regular basis, everything is easily accessible at any given time. And that’s why living aboard a boat does not really affect the job more than just moving from one place to another. I lived closer to work before and instead of 8km I am commuting 45km/28miles one way now, might fill up some canisters after work and usually keep my utensils for the morning routine in my car as I am first leaving my home and then take care of myself instead of the other way around.
Another important plus of being a liveaboard with a full time job is the financial part. While I previously paid around 1.300 €/ 1500 USD rent including heat, water and electricity per month, it looks very different now as I am only paying approx. 80€/ 100 USD rent per month including water and electricity plus 50 € diesel for the heater. Not the worst trade in exchange of that little luxury I am giving up.
How inviting she looks on a cold autumn evening.
Not a soul to be seen, the water dead calm and the mist is getting thicker. Just one out of many magical nights.
But what about the loneliness? Especially off season in winter time the marina is pretty much empty and when I come home from work, it is already dark. Unlike other marinas there is no liveaboard community in Bogense but looking at the pictures above, I do not feel lonely, I feel free. I feel detached from the busy world. This is the place where I can find moments of serenity, where my mind can drift free and where I sense no limitations. I am an introvert for sure and I think everyone should live in a way which suits their personality. Some thrive for a nice neighborhood community, but I do not care, I’d rather have no neighbors so I can play the violin, listen to music and do not get disturbed 🙂
In conclusion, after two month of living aboard and having a 5 day work week, I have to say, this was still the best choice for me. But would it also be a good choice for you? If you are considering to become a liveaboard, free yourself from all materialistic thinking, don’t think about the commute to work, the money you can save or the costs of maintaining a boat unless you really know who you are and what kind of lifestyle would fit best.
Don’t follow the norm, follow yourself!