Frequently asked questions
Finally! Answers to the most commonly asked questions we get about living aboard.
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Frequently asked questions
Do you own the boat, or do you rent it?
We own the boat (read all about how we bought it and our monthly expenses here) but we rent the slip where we keep the boat docked.
How did you finance the boat?
We got a loan through a boat broker (you can read about all of our expenses here) which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Our yacht broker described it as “harder than getting a car loan, but easier than getting a home loan.” I’d say it’s just about as hard as getting a home loan. Since a boat is considered a “luxury purchase,” most brokers want you to have lots and lots of cash in the bank. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, because if we had a lot of cash in the bank, we wouldn’t need a loan!
How did you get a liveaboard slip?
We got very, very lucky! Our boat came with the liveaboard slip. If we didn’t find an arrangement like this, we would have to wait up to 10 YEARS for a liveaboard slip to open up!
Is it hard to find a liveaboard slip?
Unfortunately, yes. Most waiting lists are a few years long. But, it’s all about who you know. If you can build a good relationship with a harbor master or do some networking in the boating community, you can probably find one more quickly.
Where do you keep the boat?
We’re docked in a lovely little marina in the north Bay Area, about 20 minutes outside of San Francisco. We pay rent on our space every month and are free to come and go as we please!
What kind of boat do you have?
It’s a 46’ 2001 Carver 444 motor yacht.
Is it a sailboat?
Nope, just a motor yacht. So we don’t sail – we cruise 😊 Although we might live on a sailboat one day!
Where have you cruised to?
So far, we’ve cruised all around the bay. We’ve been under the eastern span of the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate (our favorite) and usually cruise around Angel Island, Alcatraz, Tiburon, and Sausalito. We’ve also made trips to harbors in Oakland and Richmond!
Where do you plan to go?
Our first overnight trip will be to Angel Island, where we can rent and tie off on a buoy for the night. After that, we’re planning to head to Half Moon Bay, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Catalina!
Where can you cruise to?
Our boat is ideal for coastal cruising, so we’ll probably stick to the California coast. The farthest north we’d go is Bodega Bay, since the conditions aren’t quite as favorable farther up the coast.
Do you travel full time?
We wish! Someday. For now, Brian and I both work remotely, but our jobs require us to be in the Bay Area most of the time. Most of our friends and family are here too. So, we save most of our adventures for the evenings and weekends. But, that’s not to say that we don’t squeeze in some paddles and cruises during the day when our schedules allow it!
What do you do for work?
Brian is an enterprise software sales account executive and I’m a freelancer. I write for a couple of career/job search websites, manage marketing and copywriting for a real estate agent, and assist an animal rights activist with ad hoc research projects. I’m also working on writing a novel!
What’s the deal with your toilets?
Such an important question. We have an awesome system (called Lectrosan) that chops up and sanitizes our waste so that it can go safely overboard. That means we don’t have to use stinky holding tanks. The only real drawback is that the toilets are a little sensitive, so they usually clog up every few weeks. It’s usually nothing a little plunging can’t fix. And thankfully, we have two onboard so if one is out of commission, we have a backup!
What do you do about laundry?
At first, I would take everything to my parents’ house or a local laundromat. But after a while, carrying everything up and down the dock got a little tedious. So, we found an awesome laundry service that picks up and delivers our laundry every week!
Is it like a house boat?
Not exactly. In the sense that our house is a boat, yes! But, we live on a fully functional motor yacht. Most houseboats don’t even have motors, and the ones that do aren’t built for coastal cruising.
What’s the layout of your boat?
It’s a little hard to explain, and I’ve been meaning to make a video tour. But, in the meantime, this photo does a pretty good job of illustrating the layout of the main level. The middeck sits above the aft bedroom and the flybridge is on top of the salon (living room).
What did you change or renovate when you moved aboard?
We installed new carpet throughout and removed some of the old bulky furniture. Most of the changes we’ve made so far are pretty superficial (new pillows, bedding, and furniture makes a HUGE difference!).
What else do you plan to change or renovate?
Eventually we’d love to update the kitchen and bathrooms. Our big “someday” project is to convert the forward cabin into a more usable space with washer/dryer, dishwasher and convertible bed for guests.
Do you get too hot or cold?
The boat isn’t terribly well-insulated, so if it the temperature falls below 40 degrees or climbs above 80 degrees (Fahrenheit), it can get uncomfortable. Luckily, we have heat and air conditioning!
Do you go swimming off the back of your boat?
Nah. We’re pretty deep in a channel off the bay so the water isn’t ideal for swimming (although some of our neighbors don’t seem to mind!). Brian and his brothers have been known to jump off the back of the boat when we’re out cruising around, though!
Where did you get your furniture and decorations?
I’d say 75% of or furniture and décor came from good old Target. The rest is a mix of Wayfair, Overstock, and West Elm. We also got our couch from Amazon!
Is it hard living in such a small space?
Overwhelmingly, no! There are definitely some annoying aspects of tiny living, like bumping into EVERYTHING, but overall, it’s pretty darn great.
Were you nervous about moving aboard?
Yes! We didn’t know what to expect. And we didn’t know anyone else who’d done anything like this. So, there was definitely some anxiety about making such a huge life change. But now, we love it!
Do you miss living in a regular house?
Nope! We love our boat so this is where we want to spend most of our time. It’s not any more of a “treat” for us to go stay in a normal house than it would be for anyone else. Our boat is our home!
I think it helps that the boat has high ceilings, tons of windows, and an enclosed flybridge. It’s hard to feel claustrophobic when you have tons of natural light and beautiful views!
What’s the best part about living on a boat?
Everything! I don’t think either of us could pick just one thing. I did my best to list our favorites here!
How long do you plan to live on the boat?
Indefinitely! We were both surprised by how much we love this lifestyle. So for now, we don’t see ourselves moving back onto land anytime soon.
Why a boat?
Because it’s so fun! You can read all about what led us to living aboard here, but the short answer is that this was simply the best option for us (and we got really lucky). We looked into building a tiny house, buying an airstream, and even buying a regular old condo. Then we found the boat! And that was it. We’d also lived on a houseboat a couple of years ago, and were always open to returning to the floating lifestyle 😊
How did you find the boat?
Through Oceanic Yachts. Brian called about another boat that ended up being in escrow, but our broker recommended that we take a look at this one!
Does the boat move around a lot?
Not really. It’s a 46’ motor yacht so the boat is pretty stable. We’re also docked in pretty narrow slip, so there isn’t a ton of space for it to move around. When I first pictured living aboard, I imagined us being gently rocked to sleep every night, but it pretty much feels like we’re on land.
When we’re out cruising around, it’ll certainly move more. But the depends on how calm or choppy the water is.
Do you get seasick?
Not yet! We’ve both a had a few moments of dizziness on really windy days. We can see smaller boats moving around in their slips and it can throw your equilibrium off a little! When that happens, we just close the blinds or move to a different spot.
Can you have people over for dinner?
Yes! And we’d love to have you 😊 We typically use the middeck as Brian’s office, but his desk transitions into a dining room table. We could probably host six people comfortably, but more if our guests are OK with a tighter squeeze! And, if we’re having a more casual get together, our guests can eat just about anywhere – on the flybridge, in our living room, on the stairs, etc. We’re not very formal!
What kind of food do you cook?
Neither of us love to cook, so we keep it pretty simple. Lots of salads, stir-fry, and BBQs. We also use a meal delivery service during the week (it’s called Thistle, it’s plant-based and we love it!) to save time and cut down on the amount of food we store on the boat (because cabinet and refrigerator space is very limited!). You can check out our food and drinks page for some of our favorite recipes.
What kind of products do you use to clean the boat?
We try to use all-natural products, because all of the water we use goes directly overboard. I love Pureacy hand soap and dish soap (we use their shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, too!). We also use a lot of tea tree oil (Kanberra makes an awesome spray).
What did you do with all your stuff?
Sold it, donated it, recycled it, or gave it away! We probably got rid of about 75% of our belongings (you can read all about that here). It was a huge project but incredibly liberating. And we don’t miss any of it!
Do you have a storage unit?
Yep! We wanted a place to store the things we don’t use on a daily basis, like photo albums, camping equipment, lawn games, bikes, etc. It’s a little 10’ x 10’ space, and honestly, we should probably sort through it again – I bet we could downsize even more!
We also use the forward bedroom as a storage space for our linens, laundry, non-perishables, Indy’s food, shoes, and seasonal clothing.
Where do you keep your cars?
Our harbor has a parking lot for tenants and their guests, so our cars are about 40 yards from the boat – and we can see them from the flybridge!
How did you learn to steer the boat?
We took lessons from a real-life captain. It was well worth it!
Where do you get your power?
Every slip in our marina comes with its own power box. We run a line from the outlet to our boat when we’re docked and switch to batteries or a diesel generator when we’re underway.
Managing our power can be a little tricky, since we can only use about 30 amps at a time. That means that if I want to use my blow-dryer, I have to be sure to switch off the water heater first!
Where do you get your water?
Our slip comes with a hose hookup that we can either attach directly to the boat when we’re docked or use to fill the tanks if we’re planning to cruise around. We also use a water filter for our sink!
Do you have Wi-Fi?
We do! AT&T came out to our boat to run a cable from the dock to our boat. We also have pretty good cellphone reception, too!
Do you have cable?
We have basic cable, but we never really use it. We’re a Roku and Netflix household 😊
Where do you spent most of your time?
I spent most of my time at my desk in the main cabin, and Brian is usually at his desk on the middeck. When we’re hanging out together, we’re either on the couch in the main salon or up on the flybridge.
Where does Indy go potty?
We walk him in the morning and evening, so he can go #2, but he also has the option of going #1 in his litterbox (yes, a litterbox for a dog!) on the back deck. He took right to it and can use his makeshift potty whenever he needs to.
Where does Indy go when you aren’t home?
When we aren’t home, Indy hangs out in the main salon. We can close off the rest of the boat so he doesn’t get himself into any trouble, and he feels right at home (since this is his home)! We also have a camera installed on the back deck and safety monitors in the hull of the boat, so if anything were to go awry, we’d be notified.
Where does Indy sleep?
In our bed with us! It’s a tight squeeze, but we make it work.
Do you get any bugs?
We’ve had flies, bees, and a few mosquitos and a couple of spiders, but nothing like when we used to live in a more wooded area. It’s definitely a nice perk of boat life!
What kind of wildlife do you see?
Seals, otters, and all kinds of birds! There are egrets walking around on the dock all the time, and every once in a while, we’ll spot a hawk on a sailboat mast. And of course, we see seagulls all the time. I love them!
When can I come over?
Our friends and family are always welcome! We love having our favorite people over for a cruise, paddle or glass of wine.
Can I rent your boat on AirBnB?
Maybe someday! For now, this is our full-time home. But I highly recommend AirBnBing a boat for a weekend to get a little taste of the lifestyle!
Should I live on a boat?
We say YES! If you’re thinking about it, give it a try. We regret the things we didn’t do more than the things we did, right? Go for it!
What if I have more questions?
I'm happy to answer them! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get back to you as soon as possible!