Developing Leaders Through the Lessons Life Gives Us

Ten things about living on a boat

Posted by on Jul 26, 2017 in Stray Voltage | 3 comments

Boats are awesome. Living on one is downright groovy and I say that with confidence because I have a whole two months experience in doing so. Even so, there are a few things I wish I’d known before we moved onto the boat. We have lived in a lot of different houses, but houses are different. They are neutral; a house doesn’t care if you’re there or not. It simply is, and you live there with little interaction. A boat is almost a living thing. It’s like a cat, alternating from ambivalent to your presence to demanding attention to plotting to kill you, and the shift between each one can happen without warning. Stupid cats. Anyway, here are the things I wish I’d known before we moved onto a boat.

  1. Forget navigation, engines, all that sexy stuff. You want to understand how the heads work. Not just basic function, but the whole thing, plumbing, electrical and all. Trust me on this one.
  2. A 35 gallon holding tank (onboard sewer) isn’t very big for a live aboard.  When you realize your holding tank is full at 2am on a Saturday morning and you won’t be able to get it emptied till Tuesday it becomes supremely important.
  3. Marine air conditioner systems work great! They do, however, need maintenance on a regular, routine basis. Fail to do that, and the gods of the sea will ensure that your AC fails at ten am on the hottest day of the year. Give your AC system love and attention they way you do your wife or your mistress; check on it frequently, do the little things that keep it happy, and remember that it grudgingly suffers your presence, always looking for an opportunity to ruin your day. Fail to tend to it at your own peril.
  4. Marine plumbing is illogical. In a house gravity is key for plumbing. In marine plumbing gravity is a nice concept but generally not important. Unlike your AC systems, plumbing on a boat requires brute force and aggression.
  5. You can never fit as many people as you think on a boat. Make your best guess and reduce it by at least 25%.
  6. Take care of your power inlet cables. Getting water in the cable can cause a short that cuts out all power at midnight after a night of partying. At least that’s what I hear.
  7. Being close to a bath house is a good thing. Some things simply shouldn’t occur in a small, enclose space, especially the morning after really good Mexican food. Be respectful of whoever is on the boat with you and of your own nasal passages, find a slip with a nearby bath house.
  8. Water is important. Not what the boat floats on, but what you drink. Boat water systems can comfortably handle 30-40 lbs of pressure. Some docks have 60+ lbs of pressure. I found out the hard way. Find a regulator to control pressure and find a filter that can accommodate drinking water needs.
  9. You never knew how many friends you have till you buy a boat. Its weird how everybody wants to take the boat out for a spin but nobody wants to help pay for fuel at 5 gallons an hour.
  10. Seamanship is not appropriate for on the job training. We’ve owned two watercraft before; a rubber ducky and a 2 person kayak. Now we live on a 44 foot trawler. My maritime experience is limited. “Figure it out” might work for maintenance but not for moving the boat. I haven’t hit anything yet.  Yet.

This has been a great experience so far, and I’m confident it will continue to be so. It works because I like tinkering with things and my wife likes telling me what I should tinker with. Get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about the boat. When we moved on the boat I had a list of about 20 things I wanted to get done. I’ve checked off about 30 and only have 40 more to go. Right now, I need to go figure out whats wrong with the generator. Have a great day, and find an excuse to get out on the water!


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  1. Anonymous

    Love it, I must come visit.

  2. Anonymous


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