My husband and I decided to move our boat from Maryland to a marina in South Carolina for the holidays. I love boating when it involves a sunny day trip or overnight Eastern Shore port, but living aboard is totally different. The space issue is challenging. Our stuff is all in one big pile in a 400-square foot area, with a 75-pound dog in the middle.
When you live aboard, you learn to keep your possessions to a bare minimum. I’m less of a consumer now. Buying anything means using up space and probably getting rid of something else. We have a small fridge with a freezer the size of a Kleenex box. This forces us to eat less and fresh, which produces less waste.
The few clothes I have are worn several days in a row. People living aboard full-time can appear scruffy. The ability to do your own laundry anytime should never be taken for granted. Now I haul dirty clothes from the boat to a laundry room with only three washers and dryers, just to find it full of others waiting to do their laundry.
Living on a boat, especially here in the low country near grassland, you become part of nature whether you like it or not. Sea birds will get used to you and perch on the boat or dock lines. We have a pair of pelicans that sleep next to our boat every night. In the right spot, dolphins will cavort around you. Wading birds ignore you and go on foraging for food.
Living aboard isn’t for everyone, maybe not even me. It can be uncomfortable, claustrophobic, too hot or cold and strain a relationship. My husband loves the rocking of the boat at night when we’re tucked into our too-small bunk. I think he feels secure and it lulls him to sleep. For me, watching the boat next door bob up and down against the horizon and halyards leaves me woozy and insecure, longing for terra firma.
I’m divided between fantasies of lounging in a warm bath at home and enjoying this bohemian lifestyle. Right now we have the freedom to live anywhere. Although it takes some sacrifice, it can expand the way you look at the world.