All across our nation and throughout the world there is an amazing group of people who would not have it any other way except to live aboard their boats. Trying to explain the lure of this lifestyle is strangely difficult. On land, your biggest threat is a leaky roof from wind damage; on-board, you have water under you that is determined to come in, and wind and rain on top…. go figure. On board, you have various through-hull fittings that allow water to come in and cool your air conditioning systems and cool your engines and generators. All those hoses have filters and strainers to keep out unwanted debris and require constant maintenance. On the other hand, living on land you occasionally cut the grass and clean the pool and a few windows, all while standing, and not that often.
On-board is a daily grind, often creating new yoga positions just to change out a water filter or to clean a sea strainer. Live-aboard folks consider Band-Aid’s a fashion accessory!
I was first introduced to the live-aboard community as a youngster in the Virgin Islands. The vast number of individuals, couples and families was staggering.
Some folks would rather weigh anchor in and around the main harbor and various other protected areas around the island and come and go by small dinghies. Some of these tiny little transporters are often muscled in by paddles or small engines; either way, you are bound to hit a wave or two and get soaked. Over the years all over the world, I have seen parents coming ashore, tying up to dingy docks to drop off their children for school, and then heading out for work somewhere ashore.
There are other groups of live-aboard boaters, just as hearty as the ones who prefer to anchor out but choose the marina lifestyle and the comfort of dockside service. This group is really broken down to into three sub-groups. The first group is the yachters who seem to have the wherewithal and can travel at the slightest whim up and down the coast and can take long voyages to the Bahamas and even further into the Caribbean. I guess I am slightly jealous but happy in the notion as a Marina Manager I can double-down, renting their slip while they are away.
The second in the marina live-aboard group are also just as amazing and hearty. In every coastal town throughout the world there are people that either have a house boat, sailboat or motor yacht, and go to work every day to fund their unique lifestyle. They go to work all day and come home and do a little waxing on the hull, check their systems, wash and clean the decks, and do some painting or varnishing most every weekend just to keep their floating castle looking sweet.
The third group is the weekend live-aboard warriors. This group not only maintains a home but a boat also…. double work, double resolve! Either way, you’re on the docks in the water and a welcome part of the boating brother/sisterhood that has maintained an amazing level of camaraderie that has ever existed.
Boating camaraderie has been very strong throughout history, dating back to biblical times within small fishing villages all over the planet, and has continued to grow with the rise of early exploration and trade throughout Europe and into the Orient and the Americas. Along with so many storied military struggles too. All that history is still alive now combined with recreation boating as we know it today. The boaters I know embrace each other, go out of their way to help each other, and still sit back with a beverage or two and share their individual tales and adventures. Boat ownership is not a simple proposition;it requires dedication, loads of maintenance time, gobs of money, and dedication. Our modern day live-aboard communities are a force to reckon with.
I guess the best explanation of the live-aboard community is that they are a hearty group of like-minded souls who enjoy the toils of boat ownership and living in a unique environment, have an incredible work ethic and, best of all, are still a mystery to many land-lovers.