Living on a sailboat full-time sure sounds romantic, with sunsets, wine, and platters full of grapes and cheese on the gently rolling stern. In reality, it’s often windy and cold, with spray from waves settling in a light mist over clothes and hair. Sailboats also take a lot of work, and it sure is good to have someone handy on board.
I thank my lucky stars that Tom knows how to fix everything and anything, and I’m in charge of the meals. I call myself the “support staff” for this boat, and that’s just fine with me. There are some amazing reasons to live on a sailboat, and here are a few.
1. We can change our backyard…very easily.
Even on a Wednesday night, we can take our sailboat out of the slip and go somewhere beautiful. I love sailing our way up to China Camp, an anchorage in the north part of the San Francisco Bay, as the sun sets in bright oranges and yellows over the horizon.
It’s a great time of day to sail, and I love sitting on the stern sharing Tom’s beer as we head up to where we’ll sleep. I love going below-decks and frying up some turkey burgers, watching the blue of the bay and the sky go past.
When we get to our anchorage, it’s so peaceful, with just a few boats bobbing fifty yards away.
Even though we live in a big city, it’s a place to find a little quiet, and we feel like we could be a world away.
2. I love living in a small space
It may seem strange, but I really like the intimacy of a small space. I can be whipping up one of my meals while Tom is working on the self-steering system on the sailboat, or researching rigging on the couch, or figuring out how to put in a new roller furling.
Anywhere on the boat, we can chat with each other, and it’s always nice to have the other person close by.
I also love working in the kitchen and smelling the fresh breeze through the companionway. I always feel so connected to nature when living on a sailboat full-time.
3. Sailing is exciting
I love living on a sailboat full-time because it means I can go sailing, a lot. Sailing is something I love so much. The boat moves slow, at tops ten miles per hour, but it feels like a speeding racehorse as it heels over under the power of the wind, cutting through the waves.
When I’m steering the boat, I feel like I’m at the helm of a powerful beast. I love being out in nature and really experiencing what the wind can do to the boat.
4. The potential for travel is endless when living on a sailboat full-time
I like having options when it comes to life, and with sailboat living, I know that we could just pick up and decide to go anywhere. Mexico this winter? What about Hawaii?
Or maybe this summer, we could tool around the Channel Islands in Southern California for a few days. Maybe southeast Alaska next summer.
It’s fun thinking about the places we could go. The only thing that stops us is hurricane season, which we watch like a hawk.
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5. Living on a sailboat means no more hotels and Airbnbs
One big drag about traveling is the constant need to stop and search on your phone or computer for your next hotel or Airbnb. And who knows if the place will even be safe and clean?
With boat living, we can take our tiny apartment anywhere, and always have our stuff, our books, our cookware, our stove.
While living on a sailboat full-time is often great, it also doesn’t come without struggles. A lot of things break on a boat, so somebody on board better be handy. Repairs can be costly, and you always have to keep a very close eye on the weather! Sailing can be cold and miserable, so if you don’t like wind and spray in your face, dress warmly!
But those things seem small compared with the beauty and joy of being on a boat.
What are your favorite things about living aboard a sailboat?
5 essential sailing books I love
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Kristin Hanes is a journalist and writer who lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van in San Francisco. She worked in radio news for 15 years before a massive layoff in 2016. Kristin has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire, SF Gate and The Bold Italic, among others.