Our 5 Biggest Fears About Moving Onto a Boat


The night before we moved aboard, Brian and I were laying in bed, wide awake. We’d spent most of the past few weeks packing, selling, donating, and storing virtually all of our belongings, and we should have been exhausted. But neither of us could sleep. I was worried. Brian was excited.


“Are we making the right decision?” I asked.

“Of course! This is going to be great.”

We’re both pretty optimistic people, but we tend to take turns being the positive, upbeat, “everything’s going to work out” one. That night it was Brian’s turn.

I told him that I was worried we wouldn’t like the boat. That Indy wouldn’t be happy there. Or that we were just making the wrong choice. Everything happened so fast. And I was feeling anxious.

“Aren’t you worried about anything?” I asked.

“I’m worried that we won’t have good water pressure.”

OK, so our fears about moving aboard weren’t exactly in sync, but we did both have some concerns about boat life. We would’ve been crazy not to! Read on to see what our biggest fears about living aboard were, and whether or not they actually came true.


1) Weak Water Pressure

I know this sounds silly, but Brian is a water pressure connoisseur. Every time we move to a new place, he upgrades the shower head. He basically likes to feel like he’s standing under a waterfall every time he showers. And I can’t say I blame him!

Turns out, we actually have pretty decent water pressure on the boat. Our shower head is designed to save water (which I’m all for) and our tanks only hold about 90 gallons at a time, so we aren’t taking very long, luxurious showers these days. But, it gets the job done. You can all rest assured that Brian has enough water pressure. I know you were worried.

Thankfully, this little rocket ship shower packs plenty of water pressure!

Thankfully, this little rocket ship shower packs plenty of water pressure!


2) Never Feeling Comfortable with All Those Systems

There is a massive control panel with almost 100 different switches hiding behind some cabinets in our living room. And it’s overwhelming. We also have two huge engines (hiding just under our feet), and a complicated sanitation system. So, I was really worried about figuring out how all of that stuff worked.

Thankfully, we decided to take lessons from a real-life captain, who showed us the ropes. Brian is also an incredibly detailed researcher and taught himself all about the nitty gritty details of our boat’s systems. And, he was kind enough to pass his knowledge on to me! It took a few months, but I’m now feeling pretty confident about my abilities to operate those switchboards.


3) Not Being Able to Drive this Gigantic Boat

Our boat is 46 feet long and about 14 feet wide. So, way bigger than our Jeep. Brian was excited about learning to captain this behemoth, but I was way more nervous. Enlisting a captain to (patiently) teach us how to properly operate this thing was a lifesaver.

Within four (hours long) lessons, I went from not knowing how to check our oil to practicing man overboard drills out on the bay. Kind of crazy! I can now confidently take us in and out of our slip, navigate the channel that leads to the bay, and even take us out into the open ocean. The best part? I actually like doing it!

That's my seat!

That's my seat!


4) Indy Not Adjusting to Boat Life

Our sweet little Indiana Jones has proven to be a very adaptable dog. He went from living in an animal shelter to our tiny apartment in SoMa, to our townhouse in Emeryville, to a houseboat rental on the bay, and most recently, a condo up on a very steep hill in Sausalito. He’s also pretty good in the car and a seasoned vacationer.


Indy is also stubborn, anxious, and vocal. If he doesn’t like something, he’ll let you know. If he hears something, he’ll let you know. If he sees a dog, he’ll let you know. You get the idea. So, we were a little uneasy about moving him onto a boat and particularly nervous about his barking driving everyone on the dock crazy.

Once again, our little pup surprised us. He’s never been happier! One of our friends even said that he appears to be aging backward (which is my dream for him – and myself, now that I think about it). He still barks sometimes (he’s an exceptional guard dog), but mostly he seems content to nap on the flybridge or snuggle up next to me while I work. He also gets to go for kayaks, dinghy rides, and plenty of walks, so life is good.

Indy lives his best life every day. 

Indy lives his best life every day. 


5) Getting Sick of Living in a Small Space

We’re only five months into this adventure, but so far, I’ve never once felt cramped or confined. I was so worried that I’d feel claustrophobic, that we wouldn’t have enough space to make a proper meal in our teeny kitchen, and that we’d start to get on each other’s nerves. But, none of that has happened. (Well, we’ve been together for almost 10 years, so we do get on each other’s nerves sometimes! But I don’t think that has anything to do with boat life).

The thing that surprised me most about moving onto the boat is how normal it all felt. The night of our big move, I remember sitting on our couch, snuggled up with Brian and Indy and drinking a (well deserved) glass of wine. I felt like I was home. And that feeling hasn’t gone away.


Moving aboard a boat was definitely a daunting experience and we both had some anxiety about how all of this would work out. But, the good news is, none of the things we were most worried about ever came to fruition. Living on the boat has felt surprisingly normal. And it’s been really fun, too! I think it was meant to be.

Jaclyn Westlake