Living Aboard Your Boat

steveandbjby Steve Curran

A frequently asked question from our customers is about living aboard boats. As so many of us are getting near the retirement years but still remain healthy and vital, more and more people are thinking about cruising or spending more time on their boat, or getting a new or larger one, during this part of their lives. With the kids gone and less work, it seems time for a “tack”, a new change and way of life. Some talk of cruising, spending the winters in Mexico or farther. Others want to remain more local but want simplicity or to be closer to nature.

My wife BJ and I, and for a time with our two children, have lived aboard for 19 of the last 28 years. I thought it would be worthwhile to put my thoughts together for our customers.

Boating is very much a lifestyle. Some of us, me included, have lived a life doing it. For me living aboard was just an extension of that love. Since we ate and breathed boating, it just seemed like the right thing to do. In particular the timing worked for us. I was Commodore of the California Yacht Club in 1986 and I needed and wanted to be very involved with the club for the year that I was “at the helm” of CYC. We purchased a Formosa 51 ketch and lived at the club. We liked it so much we continued doing it for about 5 years, renting the house. Six years later we missed it to the point that we sold the house and did it again.

The camaraderie was wonderful. Our slip neighbor would deliver the paper every morning. There were dock parties, special evenings with friends, club events, Thanksgiving with loads of neighbors at Catalina Island and much more. And the novelty of it was fascinating to our friends when they visited. People were intrigued with what we thought was very normal living.

It’s a simpler life. It puts your life on a diet. You concentrate on more basic things and we were less possession oriented. The required downsizing pushes one in that direction. BJ would only buy a new pair of shoes when she threw away an old pair. It is a more intimate lifestyle. You knew what everyone else was doing, particularly the kids. There wasn’t room to hide. For example they would do their homework in the main saloon on the table. We knew their moods, demeanor and more of what was happening in their lives for sure.

Living well on a boat involves having adequate room. A wise person once said that a boat loses one foot a day in size, particularly at sea. While this is too severe a statement, boats do seem to get smaller with time. For this reason, I recommend one select a boat that one will not outgrow quickly, perhaps one size larger than the model that you think will work. It is not meant to be camping but living and living well and having adequate room is part of that!! In fact our neighbor at Cal Yacht Club Charles Hathaway was listed in the L.A. Times as one of the best 10 dressed men in Los Angeles while he was a liveaboard, a real accomplishment!! We never felt lacking!

A frequently asked question is the availability of liveaboard slips and what the costs are for them. There are about 15 difference anchorages within Marina del Rey and they all have their own policies and rules, including living aboard. Some don’t allow it at all and others require a certain size such as 35 feet. All have their own unique rules and are different, offering different amenities such as pools, community rooms and underground parking. The yacht clubs are often a place of choice for living aboard. In today’s environment, and with our company’s long-term relationships with the many dockmasters, we can arrange slips for our liveaboard customers. There is typically an additional charge of about 50% for the liveaboard privilege which offsets the increased electricity, water and other expenses that the marinas absorb.

I think of my life’s experience as “tacking through life”. BJ and I pride ourselves on the different things we have tried. Our most pleasant memories are of the times that we did something different. Living on our four different “FriendShips” is on the top of that list of wonderful experiences. It was right for us. It may be right for you. If you would like to talk about it give me a call.