Stateless: the downsides.
As we renovate and prepare the new
boat, Gail and I were discussing the pros and cons of our livaboard
lifestyle. So much of what I've put on these pages has been in
glowing reference to the joys of the way we live, the place and the
people. I thought, perhaps, it might be good to temper that with a
bit of reality. . . not TOO much reality, mind you. Reality and I
have always been barely on speaking terms, but here are some
considerations you might take into account before taking to the
|Sigh...here we go again.|
First and foremost, as a livaboard, you
are relatively stateless. Living on a (potentially) moving platform,
your mailing address, your utilities, your “home” anything is
largely a fiction. Slip four lines and shove off and you're
somewhere else. By and large, this isn't a problem, but you will
find, occasionally, that “we can't verify that address” will come
up as the marina, a commercial address, can't be verified as a
Of course, the bug out potential is
there as well.
Living on a vessel, you are living
effectively in a floating tinyhome. Boats, particularly sailboats,
can have a surprising amount of storage, but it's mostly “dead”
storage. Want the tupperware? It's right there, under the cushion,
under the hatch, underneath the extra life vests, the bagged catfood, the
box of DVD's, my dad's photos, a box of tools that we had no place else
to store, a bin of art supplies,
and the peat moss for the composting toilet. No problem. But having
to move six things to get to anything you want can be a hassle, and
takes a bit of forethought when you arrange your storage.
It's also a compressed space. I'm fond
of telling people that I don't take up any more room in a phone booth
than I do in a stadium, and it's true, but this is, after all, a
tinyhome. In a boat, Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones could reach
each and every top shelf. From where I'm sitting right now, I can
open the fridge, reach the wine glasses, type of course, reach the
battery bank, the towel storage bin. . . .all without getting up.
It's a convenience. If you're claustrophobic, it's the third ring of
hell. Your new "kitchen range" is likely a single burner stove, your
refrigerator, if you have one, is likely the same one your kid has in
her dorm room at college. Hot and cold running water? You must be
On a boat, you just can't “let things
wait”. Like houses and apartments, of course, they can burn, gas
leaks can make them explode, shorts can cause fire. Unlike houses and
apartments, boats can sink. They can ram the docks in high winds.
They can leak around the hatches. They can break free of their
moorings and go drifting off uncontrolled, with you sound asleep
belowdecks. You have to be a bit more proactive, and no one is going
to do it for you.
Boat repairs can be expensive. I once
asked a distributor what was the difference between a $.40 stainless
steel bolt and a $2.30 Stainless Steel Marine Bolt. He said,
candidly, the word “marine”. Tack “marine” onto anything and
you're likely to pay at least 40% more for the same stuff.
Not that “marine” is a vain piece
of marketing, not entirely. Marine environments are damp, corrosive,
full of stresses that no landlocked construction would ever
experience, and you don't DARE let that slide. One good wake from a drunken powerboater,
one grounding, one lightning strike, and you are, figuratively and
occasionally literally, toast. You have to pay attention. You have
to keep yourself safe, because no one else will.
Having said all that, here we sit.
We're up to our butts at the moment in new wiring and making
decisions about motors and solar panels and where what goes and what
we keep, but here we are.
We're free. I can slip the bonds of
this dock at will. The cat loves the place. We wake in beauty every
morning, and no amount of wind and rain and dryrot can ever change
We live aboard. Neither of us would
have it any other way.
Don and Gail and Magellan aboard