A Life Afloat can take many shapes

Boats in a marinaJohn and I having lived, worked and traveled aboard boats for most of our lives. So we can speak from experience as to the many ways to embrace a life afloat as a new adventure.  Many people have the dream to Live Aboard, or Sail off into the Sunset. It is also helpful to understand that there is not just one way to Live Aboard or One way to Sail off  into the Sunset (better known as cruising).

Here are some variations on the theme.

Live aboard at a marina fulltime, live on an offshore Mooring, live on a boat at Anchor, buy a boat and use it like a dockside Condo and never leave the dock, live aboard a cruise ship by buying your own cabin, live on a houseboat, get a job on a yacht or a cruise ship. Do any of these in another country or an exotic island. Raise your kids on a boat, have your pets on a boat.

Cruising can be done in a Sailboat or a Powerboat.  There is Blue Water Cruising where you cross oceans, there is Coastal Cruising where you hop port-to-port.  There is chartering, crewing and racing where you don’t have to own a boat. Do you want to do it with someone else or be a single-hander?

All of these variations are someone’s fulfillment of their Life Afloat dream.  There is no Right Way.  Only you can determine which best fit you.   Living aboard and cruising have yielded us amazing experiences and opportunities.


Here are a few fun resources to explore:




Books and a Movies

The Complete Live Aboard Book It’s an old book but a great book. Our cruising sailboat model, a Fantasia 35 is on the cover and featured throughout the book.  The Complete Live-Aboard Book

The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat by Mark Nicholas- a well-organized book that lives up to its name.  The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat

Captain Ron – just for fun Kurt Russell and Martin Short are hilarious in this movie about a family that goes to the Caribbean to live on a boat. Captain Ron



Discover Boating  A great website for exploring the possibilities of boat ownership.

Sailing Blogs is where many sailors post their free blogs. Tap into sailing now.

S.S.C.A.- Seven Seas Cruising Association – a not-for-profit community of Cruisers. This is a wonderful pool of knowledge from real live aboards and cruisers that generously share their knowledge. They host rendezvous’ around the world every year.  We are post-Commanders of SSCA.

Orange Coast College or O.C.C. – A dedicated Seamanship facility preparing you for all types of boating.  We’ve taken Safety-at-Sea, Medicine at Sea, Celestial Navigation, Marine Weather and a host of other courses.  They have a semester at Sea program on the Alaskan Eagle that you can enroll in and do a leg around the Pacific.

Offshore Sailing School – Started by and still run by Steve and Doris Colgate, the Offshore Sailing School has earned a fine reputation. Their courses provide a wonderful way to immerse yourself and learn from the best. 

National Women’s Sailing Association – This is an amazing cohesive and committed organization that I’ve been proud to belong to.

U.S.Coast Guard Auxiliary hosts free classes on boating safety.



8 thoughts on “A Life Afloat can take many shapes

  1. There are many exciting possibilities!

    • It is wonderful to have you along on the journey Mary. We appreciate your Comments on the postings you find interesting. Always eager to hear about other things you would like postings about. Happy New Year!

  2. I agree that “life afloat” is by far the best life style I have ever done! However, that being said, it is not for everyone. It can be very risky and terrifying if you do not know what you are doing! I am a licensed captain and lived aboard my sailing boat/yacht, taught sailing lessons and was a captain on a commercial dive boat. You must make the effort to take lessons, read and train yourself to be on the water so you can deal intelligently with emergencies and keep both yourself and your guest safe at sea. It is not something to enter into lightly without knowledge. Once you are comfortable with your knowledge of the vessel, weather and the sea it can be the most exciting, back to nature way of life a person can live!!! I highly recommend investing the time to do it.

    • Thank you Dorla. Your advice as a Professional Captain carries some real weight. Sounds like you have a broad breath of experience across both Professional and Personal boating lifestyles. We love that you are encouraging readers to use common sense and pace themselves as they explore the possibilities. These types of reality checks are important for all would be boaters to heed.

      Would love to encourage you and others to contribute suggestions of Boating Education options and good ways to get experience.

  3. I would highly recommend Coast Guard classes which span all types of boating from recreational to professional. There are also local sailing and boating schools that will train you prior to renting a boat to you. I started by joining the “Long Beach Single Sailors” (now called “Long Beach Singles Yacht Club”). It is a good way to meet people with boats and go out on private boats as a guest. It is an easy way to get on the water and see if it appeals to you. Remember as a guest to always pitch in with the pre-trip preparation and the cleaning of the vessel after the trip. Boat owners also appreciate guest who wear appropriate shoes onboard and some owners do not want red wine onboard as it may cause staining on the vessel. That helps insure you will be asked back! For those who wish to get more involved and earn sea time I suggest approaching the local commercial fishing and dive boats. They have large turnover for deckhands and galley “wenches” to prepare simple food for the paying guest. Honestly, I felt like I was getting paid to play every time I went to work…it was so much fun!!! Once you get involved in the boating world doors tend to open up to you with endless possibilities.

    • Excellent insight and suggestions Dorla. You do all of us a favor by explaining some of the basic rules of Boating Etiquette and common courtesies which may be unknown to a novice. Helping to wash the boat down after you’ve enjoyed time out on the water needs to be factored in when you accept the invitation. It is a big faux-pas not to offer to stay and help wash the boat. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers a series of free Boating Classes nationwide. Other countries Coast Guards may offer similar options. Here is a link to the free Boating Safety Classes http://cgaux.org/boatinged/.

      We appreciate your generosity Dorla is sharing your expertise and insights.

      Itchy Nomads we encourage your input as well.

  4. I would love to live on my own boat and sail off to the south seas exploring lovely islands that not many people visit. My problem is I get sea sick so easy and it takes almost two days for me to get over it even when back on land. Is there a remedy for it now days? Back in the early 60’s I was a US Marine on board a troop transport when we hit typhoon Karin. It practically leveled Guam it was so fierce and even the sailors were sick. Naturally I wanted to die but I had no ammo for my M1 rifle :). I eventually got my sea legs after almost a month of sailing back to the states but that was on a big ship. I fear I wouldn’t last long on say a 35 foot sailboat. But I have been toying with the idea of a Catamaran. I hear they sail pretty much straight and true without much listing and up and down bow movement?

    • A Catamaran would be wonderful. Fast, comfortable and roomy. Many of our happiest sailing friends enjoy multihull life. Sounds like you’ve got a direction for your passion to pursue. Thanks for sharing the trial of the Troop Transport voyage in the Typhoon. Sounds miserable. At least if you go sailing on your own terms you get to pick when and where, mindfully avoiding hurricane season. Great story, thanks for sharing.

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