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living on a sailboat blog

The Boat Galley is the resource you need to learn what the cruising life is like and to get ready to live aboard, throw off the dock lines, and flatten out that first-year learning curve.   We have over 1,100 articles, more than 700 podcast episodes, as well as courses and products that will help you every step of the way.

How do you handle everyday items like mail, trash, internet, and pets? Where do you store your stuff? What's the cruising life like?   We’ve done it—we live on boats! And we share all the details with you.

When you spend your hard-earned money for a boat and then spend more for everything that goes on it, you want products that will do what you need, will last in a marine environment, and will make your boat life better.   Our buying guides and recommended products help you buy the right boat and everything for it, no matter your budget or cruising style.

Our revolutionary cruising guides are designed to let you find accurate information fast. No more leafing through pages of text to find fuel, water, laundry, a protected anchorage, or a haulout.   We live aboard. We know what it’s like to be underway. And we designed a solution.

How do you get from "let's buy a boat" to finally cutting the dock lines and getting underway with a minimum of fuss? We can help you transition to a whole new way of looking at boat life.

Provisioning for trips. Storing food on a boat. Cooking while underway. We have all the tips & tricks you will need for easier kitchen duty!

Learn the skills you’ll need to successfully transition to boat life. Choose from one of our four FREE mini courses or dive into one of our in-depth FULL LENGTH courses—all self-paced and written by cruisers!

From everyday maintenance tips to step-by-step instructions for major projects, we offer all the help you need. Get great tips for DIY projects or make sure you have that base knowledge before you hire pros. And we’ll share plenty of easy boat improvement ideas, too!

Get the tips, skills and information you need to make boat life easier and more fun —on your own boat or a charter.

Good record-keeping is vital for cruisers, and so are handy references and cheat sheets. Our organizing tools were created by cruisers for cruisers, and we've incorporated lots of features that will make your boat life easier and more organized.

Living on a boat isn’t all palm trees and tropical drinks. Learn what problems you might expect and how you can be better prepared for them.   We talk about hurricanes, fires, uninvited pests, dealing with hot and cold weather, the stresses of cruising, and much more.

Our podcast is loaded with quick bits of info and actionable tips to help you prepare to cruise. The five to 15-minute episodes are just right when you’re walking, driving or working out. We have over 700 episodes and publish a new one every week.   Find The Boat Galley in your favorite podcast player or on Spotify, Alexa, and YouTube.

living on a sailboat blog

Making Boat Life Better Since 2010

Are you thinking about living on a boat? You’re curious if it would be at all like what you dream.

Maybe you’ve secretly fantasized about selling everything, moving aboard your boat, and traveling near or far. You’re wondering how to actually do it.

Or perhaps you’ve recently begun cruising and are finding the learning curve a little steep. You need help.

Great! You’re in the right place!

Courses

The easiest way to learn about cruising. Four FREE mini-courses plus low-cost in-depth courses will help you successfully transition to life on the water.

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Real gear that meets the real needs of liveaboards and cruisers. Frustrated that certain products just didn't exist, we created them! Cruising guides, quick references and record organizers.

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Over 1,000 articles, from "what is living on a boat like?" to detailed how-to's on every aspect of living aboard and cruising, plus plenty of encouragement.

Podcast

Quick bits of info and actionable tips to help you prepare to cruise. Five to 15-minute episodes, perfect for walking, driving or working out. Over 700 episodes, and a new one each week!

living on a sailboat blog

Hi! I’m Carolyn Shearlock. My husband and I have been cruising over 17 years and 13,000 miles, first on a Tayana 37 monohull and then on a 34′ Gemini catamaran. Along the way, we sold pretty much everything we owned (twice!), gained a great boat dog, had a bunch of wonderful times and some adventures . . . and learned a ton about what does and doesn’t work! Learn more about me and The Boat Galley .

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living on a sailboat blog

The Insider Truth About Living on a Sailboat

living on a sailboat blog

This article may contain affiliate links, meaning I make a small commission on any purchases at no extra expense to you. Read our disclaimer & privacy policy here.

Yup, you're in the right place. This blog is about life aboard---that is, life aboard a sailboat. While A Way Abroad generally focuses on living, well, abroad, we're really all about the unique lifestyles and all the wonderful opportunities there are out there.

Including living on a sailboat.

Things I always get asked about living on a boat are:

  • Can you go to the bathroom?
  • Can you take a shower on the boat?
  • Is there WiFi?
  • Does the boat always rock?

And I answer, yes, yes, yes, and sometimes!

Let's dive more into those details and everything you'll want to know about living on a sailboat, even for people like me who had no sailing experience prior to hopping onboard!

Short on time? Here’s the cheat sheet:

💭Living on a sailboat isn’t for everyone but for the right person it’s everything.

⛵There’s a strong learning curve but if you throw yourself in head first, you’ll get the hang of it and have freedom at your sails.

🤑Just be sure to prepare yourself ahead of time for the added costs of fixes, materials, and docking it at marinas.

🛍️Your space will be small, from storage space to fridge space, shower space to a closet but…

☀️It’ll teach you to be intentional with your purchases, the things that make you happy, and your day-to-day choices.

We’re not a regular travel blog; we’re a collection of women living around the world, all with different backgrounds, jobs, desires, & nationalities. What do we have in common? A passion for life abroad. Each article is written from the 1st-hand perspective of a woman who has actually done or experienced what she writes about. Learn more about the author by clicking her bio pic at the start or end of each article.

Dream of moving abroad but need a helping hand? I got you. This e-book isn't a regular book, it's also a workbook geared to helping you make some big decisions regarding the life abroad you want to build. Everyone's way abroad is different. This book is all about helping you find yours.

living on a sailboat blog

My Life Aboard

a woman lying on a sailboat soaking in the sun, drinking a beer

Living on a boat is quite nomadic and different from land life, but really, adjustments can be made to make it feel quite familiar. Before we dive into what it is like to live aboard a sailboat, let’s take it back a few nautical miles to how I found myself in this sort of nomadic life to begin with.

In September 2018, it was my first time sailing and I went with complete strangers to a remote island in the Pacific. It was actually a first date of sorts with a guy I had a big crush on. Our trip would take us on a 10-day sail from Oahu to Molokai, Lanai, and Maui.

The journey we embarked on soon led to a huge change in my life. But before I skip ahead, back to the trip.

I had no expectations or idea of what I was in for. Barely an hour in and the seas were consistently getting more and more choppy. We quite literally survived 14ft seas crossing the channel to Molokai.

“ This is normal ,” I thought, “ This is what sailing is. ” We endured the waves for 6 hours straight, and I did not find myself seasick once. I wasn’t even fully impressed with how the boat was handling the sea because I thought, “ This is probably how it always is. ”

It most certainly is not always like that.

We sailed into the night and the following morning I woke to the most beautiful sight I had ever seen--- land, all the way out in the middle of the ocean, with the sun peeking out over it. We dropped anchor close to shore and prepared the dinghy. As we made our way to land via the motorized dinghy, dolphins began to sort of ‘escort’ us.

Another moment where I just could not believe this was real life.

We explored the island, did some spearfishing, and went back ‘home’ to the boat to prepare fresh fish tacos. Not only did this experience hook us fresh fish, but it hooked me on this lifestyle altogether. 

For the rest of the trip, we walked around pretty remote islands, we laid on the deck and gazed at the stars, and we slept in a hammock hanging from the boom over the ocean.

By the end of those 10 days, I fell in love—with the man, and with sailing.

Location Independence

The Realities of Sailboat Ownership

a woman peeking her head out of the galley on a sailboat

The following year, I purchased my first sailboat which would also become my home. Honestly, I went into boat ownership with such naivety. If I could talk to myself then with what I know now, I’d have a lot to say (which is why I am writing this article for you aspiring liveaboards), but the bottom line is this: I have no regrets. 

Even today, I am still a novice, but I am less scared, and way more patient. If boats teach you anything, it is to be patient. Well, that and be adaptable.

Living aboard a sailboat has a lot of ups and downs that come in waves (see what I did there?). After getting over the constant rocking of the boat, there comes an endless list of boat projects that spring up.

In just my couple of short years of boat ownership, I have had to:

  • Replace the head (toilet)
  • Redo the back deck because of core rot
  • Learn how to deal with fiberglass and epoxy
  • Troubleshoot a finicky fridge
  • And fuss with a temperamental a/c unit

Also, just to note, boat work is expensive-- like crazy expensive. A bolt that you could find for a house at Home Depot is probably 3x as much at West Marine because now it has to be stainless steel, aka rust-proof.

I also found out how hard it is to find help for boat work, which basically means that a lot of the work you have to do yourself. I never ever had any idea how to do electrical work, and while I may ‘understand’ how it sort of kind of works at this point, I still need YouTube (it’s my best boat life friend). I still am a novice when it comes to engine work…. I should get better at that one for sure but one step at a time. 

The Logistics of Buying a Boat

So, what should you know before jumping into the deep end of boat life? Let me tell you.

Financing a boat to live on can be a challenge

Really consider your budget and then tack on probably 30-40% of it for monthly maintenance and boat repairs. It’s not easy to find a bank that will give you a sort of ‘home mortgage’ for a boat so you often will either take out a boat loan OR a personal loan--- know the term differences before signing.

But, maybe you have the cash to buy outright and that’s a much better idea!

When you do go looking for a boat, consider its length.

What harbors can accommodate such boats? Do the harbors have availability?

Expect to pay a certain amount per foot of your boat, and this price is also contingent on whether you are a ‘transient’ (only there for a few months at a time) or a permanent slip holder.

Typically there is an extra charge for LIVING on the boat, so make sure and ask that as well.

Talk to an insurance company BEFORE buying a boat.

What rates can you get? Boat insurance is mandatory for getting a slip at a marina in order to protect not only you but also the harbor itself.

Ask yourself, will I be able to clean the bottom of the boat myself or will I need to pay someone to do it?

Check with local bottom cleaners for prices. Yep, even the bottom of the boat needs a solid scrub from time to time.

Get mentally prepared for the costs of boats and boat goods

And lastly, in preparation, go take a walk around West Marine or a local boat supply store and take a look at the prices. Price out projects you may think will come up.

Sticker shock? Yea, me too. 

A Sailboat vs. A Yacht

Before buying your own liveaboard sailboat, be aware of the differences between owning a sailboat and owning a yacht. For argument's sake, I'm speaking about a small yacht that doesn't require a crew to sail.

Because while you might crave a sea-worthy lifestyle, you might be better suited for a yacht or strictly motorized boat.

A few differences between living on a sailboat and a yacht are:

  • A yacht is typically larger. While that will mean a more spacious living area, it will also take up more space at marinas.
  • A yacht is typically more expensive. This is due to the material and technology on the boat. So if sailboat prices wow you, yacht prices will leave you stunned.
  • A yacht requires an engine to run. One of the coolest things about living on a sailboat is that so long as the wind is favorable, you can sail for free. Set the sails and enjoy cruising without spending a cent on gas. On a yacht, you'll always have to pay to play.
  • Driving a yacht has a smaller learning curve to it. To make a sailboat work for you, you're going to need to understand the intricacies of the sails. That's something you don't have to deal with, although, if you have engine trouble, the engine on a yacht is far more complex than that of a sailboat.

Land Life vs. Sea Life

a woman looking at the camera standing in sand with islands in the background

There also is a major difference between land life and sea life, as you most likely already guessed.

While living in a house and living on a sailboat, you'll most likely get faced with unexpected costs and home repair, the day-to-day quirks of living full-time on a sailboat greatly outweigh those of "normal" land life.

When I lived in a house, I didn’t think about refilling the water tank or propane. I didn’t chant in my head, “ No TP in the toilet, no TP in the toilet ,” while peeing in fear of a major thru hull blockage. I didn’t double-check to make sure my house wouldn’t sink when I went on vacation. I also didn’t pick things up in Target and say, “ Hm, but where would I put this? ”

All this to say, living on a boat makes you much more conscious of literally everything. Your water use, your propane levels, your battery charge, the functioning of your pumps, and the things (or clutter) you bring into your life.

And this is a great thing---- we should be more conscious of our resource use and space management. But it still can come at a high learning curve if you're not ready for such a small space and the intricacies that come along with it.

Things to Know About Living on a Sailboat

a sailboat sailing towards the sunset on a beautiful clear day

Okay, so we are past some of the questions you should ponder as you go through the process of actually buying a boat. If you’ve come this far, I’d say you are interested in it, or at least morbidly curious about boat life.

Here are some things you need to know about actually LIVING on the boat.

Wifi Can Be Spotty

We work online from the boat so our wifi is quite necessary. We have had luck with Sprint as a provider and a small hotspot device. We're based in Oahu though, so Sprint might not be the best option, unless you're planning to be based nearby, too.

The Closets Are Often Really Small

I have had to downsize A LOT due to closet space so my wardrobe is full of basic items that can be mixed and matched. Capsule wardrobes will become your best friend here.

I also have a subscription to Nuuly, a clothing rental company, where I plan out outfits I would need for events and content creation. This subscription helps liven my wardrobe without actually taking up space.

The Head (Toilet) Is Weird

Oh, the head-- probably the weirdest thing about boat life. It can be daunting to do your business on a boat.

No TP (or other non-biodegradable) materials in the head ever unless you have a super fancy boat and this is not an issue for your plumbing system. And if you're wondering where your waste goes, it goes into a tank and every month or so gets pumped out at a pump-out station.

You will either have to use a hand pump or an electric button, depending on your head type. Honestly, having a head that is both electric and manual is the best thing ever in the event the electric part fails...speaking from experience.

The Fridge Space Is Tiny

Fridge space is limited. If you are a cruiser, you will know that most of your food will be nonperishable, but if you are coastal and can make stops frequently, you will be able to have more fresh items as well.

Galley (kitchen) space is often small-ish, but you can pretty much make most things you would make in a land home in a boat home.

We cook everything. We have a two-burner gas stove and oven. You can catch us making anything from enchiladas to stir fry, oftentimes we eat lots of “bowls”-- think quinoa, goat cheese, arugula, and red onion. Sometimes you just need to get creative! 

While a lot of people worry over this, once you get the hang of it, you'll learn you really can do a lot with this amount of storage space.

And So Is the Shower

Although we even have hot water in our shower, it's tiny, so I fit fine but my 6ft partner has difficulty.

Since we spend most of our time docked at the marina, we do have a reciprocal yacht club membership so we can shower there, or at other yacht clubs we get to.

And of course, there are always dock/deck showers! 

What I Wish I Knew Before Moving onto a Sailboat

a woman standing inside the galley of her sailboat

Even with all of the information above, there are still a few things I wish I knew years ago before jumping aboard that should help you get a more realistic idea about what living on a sailboat full-time really entails.

If I could go back in time, I would give myself these tips and pieces of advice:

  • Don’t buy a boat thinking you can stick to a timeline-- finding people to work on boats, having time yourself, and just, sheesh the money component, all extend the timeline.
  • Know what you want to get out of it early on-- I remember saying, I want to sail around the world, and I still do, but it was unrealistic to think I would do that on my first boat. Remember there is so much to learn about sailing: electrical, provisioning, plumbing, engines, and the list goes on. I am grateful my project boat has been the best teacher.
  • The boat rocks depending on when you are docked or anchored and also on the weather. Sometimes it is really peaceful, and sometimes it feels like you are on a mechanical bull. 

Are You Ready to Live on a Sailboat Full-Time?

You see, boat life is similar to how “normal” people live but with weird words like bilge, boom, head, and helm. It’s also pretty cool to live life like a honu (Hawaiian word for turtle) and take your home with you to other places. 

It's a lot like vanlife , just ya know, changing the road for sea.

My move from land to water felt like jumping all in, and in a lot of ways, it was. My life is so different from what I thought it would be, so different from many of my friends and family, but really, it is exactly perfect for me. 

To me living on a sailboat full-time has been an absolute dream, but what about for you? Interested in learning more? Follow @sammiealoha for a peek into boat life!

Hero photo by Anna Om/shutterstock.com

A lot of effort went into making this amazing piece of journalistic genius. If it helped you out, send us a quick thanks by buying us a coffee. All the money donated through Ko-Fi goes towards keeping A Way Abroad awesome. Big thanks!

living on a sailboat blog

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How to Move Abroad

Dream of moving abroad but have some hurdles in your way? Whether it's the fear, logistics, or not knowing where to even start, I've got you. This isn't a regular book, it's also a workbook designed to help you make some big decisions to get yourself set up for a successful life abroad. Everyone's way abroad is different. Let's find yours.

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The True Cost of Living on a Sailboat: Our Monthly Expenses

pin of of man standing on front of catamaran holding onto jib rigging looking out at horizon

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We also earn from other affiliate websites. See our full disclaimer .

Catamaran at anchor on the water

How much does it cost to live on a boat? This was my biggest question when we were planning and saving to cruise. I was clueless when it came to creating a budget for our future life aboard. I was looking for someone to tell me exactly how much it would cost ME to live on a sailboat full-time.

I quickly learned some people cruise for less than $1,000 a month and some for upwards of $10,000 a month. Most are somewhere between.

Not so dissimilar from living on land, different people cruise on all sorts of budgets.

For us, our cost of living on a sailboat isn’t so far from our land-based spending.

Part of this journey was learning to live with less, but we still maintain some creature comforts on the water.

Here is a breakdown of our cost of living on a boat full-time while cruising the US east coast.

Cost to Live on a Sailboat

pie chart of cost of living on a sailboat

Average cost of $2,424 per month*

Sailboat Maintenance Expenses

Average cost $1,006.

Sunnyside captain working in bilge on the sump pump

Maintenance, Parts & Tools ($687)

It’s no surprise boat maintenance is top of the list.

You will continuously be fixing broken things or maintaining things on a sailboat. You will also need different tools, spare parts, cleaners, etc., as you cruise.

There will be months when you won’t need much in the way of tools and parts (especially if you already have a lot of tools and spare parts onboard). Then in one month, you might spend 40% of the annual budget.

We make a strong effort to do most boat projects ourselves.

Shortly after we began cruising, our wallets learned the hard truth of paying people to work on your boat.

Since then, we’ve been our own plumber, mechanic, seamstress, and electrician.

You’ll always be learning. But if you can maintain and fix your vessel, you’ll save boatloads of cash (pun intended, I couldn’t resist).

READ NEXT: Check out our 9 Helpful Things You Need in Your Sailboat Tool Kit .

Insurance ($233).

If you are a newbie cruiser, your boat insurance options will most likely be limited. Insurance was a considerable expense in our first year. In our second year, the cost dropped from 2.8% of the boat’s value to 1.3%. (We now have restricted cruising grounds for July – November.)

Do your research and consider using a broker. Get quotes based on where you’ll be cruising and staying in hurricane season.

Miscellaneous ($86)

The miscellaneous category is everything else boat-related. This includes any small purchases we make for the boat (ex. rug for the salon), our USCG documentation, Amazon Prime membership, etc.

We also have a Boat US membership , which more than pays for itself. We get dockage and fuel discounts often. And, of course, the towing service is priceless when you run aground with only one engine. (What, just me?)

For a modest fee, this membership is a no-brainer for boat owners.

Marinas vs. Anchoring

Average cost $339.

Sailboat at anchor with dinghy behind it at sunset

Marina Costs

If you’ve been researching the cost of living on a boat, you know it is more economical to anchor than to dock in a marina slip. We love anchoring out, but it does come with a set of variables that dictate comfort and safety while you’re on the hook. Not to mention, it requires a lot more planning.

Marinas can be expensive, especially in popular cruising areas. Dockage is usually charged per foot, so the bigger the boat, the higher the costs associated with docking fees. However, you can find liveaboard boat marinas with slip fees that are paid monthly.

Many cruisers prefer to dock at a liveaboard marina during hurricane season and save anchoring for cruising season. This allows you to keep your cost per night at marinas down, and your overall costs balance out throughout the year.

READ NEXT: Check out our post on Liveaboard Marinas: Finding the Best One for You .

Anchoring challenges.

Dreaming of our cruising days, I had the idea we would anchor out and rarely pay for marinas.

In reality, that’s not what worked for us out of the gate. Being beginner sailors and newbies to cruising and boats in general – there was an enormous learning curve.

Learning to live this lifestyle is not always easy. And yes, marinas make it easier. Especially when you REALLY need it to be easier.

Anchoring out requires the captain to always be “on”. You must be aware of the weather, wind direction, currents, and tides. You also have to be aware of the boats around you. None of this stops when you leave the boat or when you sleep.

The reality is you need to slowly become more comfortable living on the hook.

With experience, you can build more confidence.

You’ll become more comfortable with boat systems, weather, and making repairs while on the anchor. Conserving power and water becomes more natural, and you learn how to stay warm in the cold and cool off in hot weather. With some practice, you can spend less time (and money) at marinas.

For folks dreaming of this lifestyle, I’m not saying you won’t be able to start living on the anchor immediately. But the stress level accompanying living on the hook will lower with time and experience.

Average Cost $449

Provisions are consistently one of our most significant expenses on the boat.

Anticipating my new life on the water, I knew I wanted to learn more about cooking, baking, and making things from scratch. And since we planned to live on a smaller budget, I also wanted to be conscious of spending on food.

A game I often play with myself is to see how long we can go until the next big provisioning trip.

Buddha bowls with lettuce, carrots, peppers, chickpeas, tomatoes and hummus

You might be thinking – that sounds miserable. But we eat pretty darn well most of the time.

We ration veggies and fruits, ensuring we leave the hardiest for last. We start with fresh salads and other raw veggie meals, such as cilantro hummus bowls. As the freshest veggies thin out, we work our way to curries and stir-fries. Then, when the fridge grows empty, we move on to rice and bean dishes, pineapple and jalapeño pizza, and bean tacos with pickled onions and cabbage.

One skillset you develop living on a boat is the ability to eat more sustainably.

Learning to make bread, yogurt, and vegetable broth from scraps is super satisfying.

Spend time learning to make flexible meals. Use a balance of fresh, canned, and dried ingredients. Do this, and you can stretch your provisioning budget without sacrificing flavor.

You can also save money by minimizing disposables, such as paper towels, sandwich bags, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil.

READ NEXT: Check out our ideas for Flexible Meals on a Boat and our Best Zero Waste Swaps for Small Spaces .

Having sundowners is a bit of a staple in the boating community. It’s a common way to meet and greet other boaters in a marina or in an anchorage. Given that, we always like to have a few extra beers onboard or the ingredients for a simple cocktail.

We love good wine, but we managed to find some enjoyable boxed wines. (Bonus, lose the boxes at the dock, and there’s very little trash to contend with.)

Sunnyside crew on beach with beers

When we find a deal, we stock up on beer. Nothing hits the spot like a cold beer after the anchor drops. We even discovered a reasonably priced rum we enjoy. (No boat is complete without rum!)

Expenses here are based on personal taste. For us, it was possible to have more affordable beverages and still enjoy sundowner traditions!

Average Cost $233

Sunnyside crew member enjoying a seafood platter at a restaurant

As a couple who dined out regularly in our Colorado ski town, it was going to be tough to start cooking three meals a day living aboard.

I read a lot of advice that said, “if you like eating out, you probably won’t stop eating out because you move on a boat.”

There is truth to this. Whenever we are in a place where eating out is convenient, we tend to fall back into old habits.

However, when we dock in remote places or anchor away from shore access, there is less (or no) opportunity to eat out.

Instead, we experiment with different types of food to make meals onboard rewarding.

We still enjoy going out to experience the local cuisine, but it has become a treat instead of how we live.

A great way to cut costs is by dining out for a late lunch rather than dinner or skipping the alcohol. Opting for a refreshing drink on the trampoline while watching the sunset isn’t a bad way to close out a night.

Average Cost $103

Sunnyside boat captain driving the dinghy

Diesel, gas, and propane are three resources you will continuously be aware of while living on a boat.

Here are a few adjustments we make to maximize our fuel efficiency.

  • We use our sails. This isn’t easy as new sailors on a big boat. We have slowly become more confident, but it took us months of traveling on the water to start getting comfortable using the sails. We are still learning.
  • We don’t put ourselves in a position where we are in a hurry or have a schedule. This almost always leads to running the engines more.
  • We run on one engine. We can run one engine instead of two on our catamaran and only lose about 1 – 1.5 knots. On the ICW, we unfurl the jib to improve speed if the wind is right.
  • We always make sure to travel at an optimal time for the current. Some areas of the Intercoastal Waterway can have a current that’s pushing 2-3 knots. Choosing a departure time around the current makes a big difference in travel time and fuel efficiency. 
  • Heating water with the electric kettle if the engines are running or we are on shore power.
  • Using hot water from the engines (when we have it) to get water boiling.
  • When cooking pasta, we use a minimal amount of water. We’ll often turn the propane off and let the noodles finish cooking in the hot water.
  • Quality cookware makes a big difference. Once brought to a boil, some dishes can finish cooking with the lid on. This is helpful when coming into an anchorage. Often, I’ll kill the propane, and by the time we are anchored, dinner is ready.
  • If we plan to make a few trips to shore, we’ll anchor closer to the dinghy dock. This doesn’t always work out, but being conscious of it has helped us stretch our gas budget.
  • If it’s a short trip to the dock and we aren’t carrying supplies, we use the kayak. Paddling is free (and fun)!

Average Cost $140

Working on the computer on the boat

When we were saving for the cruising kitty, we found ways to cut our mobile bill by using data on our home and work WiFi. When we moved aboard, our phone plan became the primary internet source. We quickly realized we would need to rethink our data plan.

There are a lot of options for unlimited data in the US, as well as hotspot data. I recommend having at least unlimited mobile data for research and logistics involved when cruising. If you need to work from the boat, you may also want to invest in an additional mobile service as backup or satellite internet. Starlink is starting to become popular in the boating community.

Our Mobile Plan

While cruising the east coast, we use T-Mobile. With this carrier, we get unlimited data and 40GB of hotspot data each month (20GB per phone). This is on the pricier end, and we have been looking into other options, but we enjoy having the hotspot data. Even after the 40GB, we still have hotspot data at 2G. When we cruise the Bahamas, we are planning to use My Island WiFi service .

Entertainment

Average cost $23.

TV with streaming services loaded on the screen

This category is for consumable entertainment since most other entertainment on the water is free.

Music, movies, and books are popular forms of entertainment onboard. Even when we cut down on spending, we kept a few options that provided these services. Instead of ditching all the monthly streaming apps, we looked hard at our memberships and cut back or found free services to supplement.

  • Spotify membership for music (we can download or stream) $11
  • Movie library on an external hard drive created before we ditched our DVDs Free
  • Hulu (included with Spotify) Free
  • Disney Plus (prepaid for three years during a special offer) $4
  • Nexflix (included with T-Mobile plan) Free
  • Tubi (a free streaming app) Free

Spotify and Audible are great for downloading books and playlists for when you are out of service or on passage. You can also download movies and shows through many streaming apps for playback when you don’t have a signal or are running on a budgeted amount of mobile data. An external hard drive of your favorite movies is also a great source of video entertainment that will never let you down.

Personal Care & Clothing

Average cost $73.

Crew member applying tinted moisturizer

Hair & Skin Care

Go more natural with skin and hair care. Most boats won’t have spare power for hairdryers and straighteners. On top of that, the sun and humidity will destroy makeup.

Start now researching ways to simplify your personal care regimens. It will make the transition abroad much easier.

Tips for Hair & Skin Care

  • Get a tinted moisturizer with SPF for your face (I like Raw Elements ), a flexible eye shadow, and waterproof mascara. Opt for reusable makeup remover cloths to cut down on waste.
  • Work on a natural look for your hair, and see if you can find a style you can cut yourself. Shampoo and conditioner bars are a great way to save space and are typically made with clean ingredients that won’t harm sea life.
  • Opt for a simple personal care routine. The fewer products you use, the more space, time, and money you’ll save.
  • We love to use UPF clothing in combination with sunscreen. The more you can cover up, the less sunscreen you’ll need.

For us, this area is where expenses remain similar to land life. There are no unique expenses with health or dental care, although finding healthcare coverage for multiple states can be challenging.

For the lady sailors, I recommend researching ways to have a zero-waste period. A menstrual cup is something I wish I had transitioned to before cruising. It will make your life easier, plus save you money and storage space.

If you can minimize laundry and wash some stuff on board, you can limit the need to find a washing machine.

Tips for Laundry on a Boat

  • Wear clothes that are easy to wash and dry and can be worn several times between washes.
  • In the summer months, wear UPF synthetics and bathing suits that can be washed by hand. This will also extend their life.
  • In the winter months, wear merino wool and dress in layers to get the most wears out of your clothes before washing.
  • Save sheets, towels, and bulkier clothing for when you have access to a washing machine. We aim to do machine washing about once a month.

Having a solid system in place for handwashing clothes helps limit our laundry budget. We average $8 per month spent on machines.

We try to buy high-quality clothing that is durable for boat life. Once you’ve created a boat wardrobe that works, you’ll find there is little you will need.

In six months, the only clothing I have purchased is a UPF shawl, a sun hat (to replace one I lost overboard), and a tank top. I previously spent a lot of money on clothes. Now I enjoy dialing in a functional, minimalist wardrobe for living on a boat.

READ NEXT: For more on clothing for boat life, check out What to Wear Sailing and How to Downsize Your Wardrobe .

Average cost $58.

View from commercial airline

For us, our travel budget for many years has consisted of only credit card membership fees. These help us earn points that pay for our travel.

Booking a flight or rental car without worrying about how it affects the budget is a nice perk in this lifestyle. There are times you need a car to get a project done or to book a last-minute flight to visit family.

We also get an annual travel credit with the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. We use a lot of the credit toward Ubers and Lyfts – great for when grocery stores aren’t within walking distance or you need to make a larger provisioning run.

Getting Started With a Cruising Budget

Sunset on the Intracoastal Waterway

Here are some final thoughts when creating your future sailboat cruising budget.

  • The above expenses are based on actively cruising on our 38-foot catamaran. For us, extended time at the dock is just a redistribution of funds. Maintenance and fuel go down, and marina expenses go up.
  • Our maintenance costs are at about 4% of the hull value. Aside from the trampoline, we have not replaced any big-ticket items, so we expect this percentage may increase over the next couple of years.
  • If you hope to stretch your cruising kitty, give yourself time to overcome the learning curve. Learning to maintain, operate, cook, and just be on a boat will take time. As you get more experience, your spending habits will improve. Be patient and keep moving forward.
  • I highly recommend you continue researching and reading as much as possible about the cost of living on a sailboat. Get perspectives from different cruisers. This will help you create a cruising budget that will be unique to you.

Other Resources

  • Gone with the Wynns created a very detailed article and video that breakdowns their cost of living on a boat.
  • Sailing Kittiwake also has a great video on the cost of living on a sailboat on a budget .

*Costs not included in this overview are health insurance, taxes, business expenses, and gifts or donations. These expenses are particular to each individual’s situation and so are excluded from this article.

Want more tips on how to get started cruising on a boat?

For more information on the reality of boat life and tips for living on the water, view our complete guide.

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5 Big Costs of Living on a Sailboat

Morgan, the founder of The Home That Roams, has been living nomadically for over five years. She began her journey traveling across the U.S. in a motorhome and cruising on a liveaboard sailing catamaran. Currently, she lives full-time in a travel trailer, sharing resources on RV living and boat life to help others downsize their lives and thrive in an alternative lifestyle.

Excellent article. Thank you!

I started getting the urge to return to the sea not long after I got out of the Navy in 1974…. Started out on a 15′ Phantom…. Up to 21′ Keels, up to a 26′ Bristol and finally a 28′ Newport…. You learn alot of tricks of the trade at a working marina… Barter system, I used to go up the mast or anything Aloft in return for favors with anything that I had a problem with …. Had to give up the sailboat when I couldn’t sail it by myself anymore … Looking for a 35′-38′ trawler to live in the Tampa Bay area for the rest of my day…. From the Sea I came, back to sea I will return … Anchor’s Aweigh….

Hi George, it sounds like you have lived and breathed boats for a while! One of my favorite things about a good liveaboard marina is how everyone trades boat maintenance favors and helps each other out. I sure hope you find a good trawler to liveaboard in Tampa – sounds lovely!

Do you use a specific budgeting software or anything to track your transactions? Please share if so

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living on a sailboat blog

Life on a Sailboat: Everything You Need to Know About Living on a Sailboat Full-Time

Living on a sailboat full-time is often romanticized as a life of endless sunsets, gentle waves, and freedom on the open sea. Many dream of casting off the lines and setting sail for a horizon of adventure and tranquility. However, the reality of life aboard a sailboat can be as challenging as it is rewarding, as frustrating as it is relaxing, and, more often than not, as mundane as it is exciting.

This blog post aims to peel back the curtain on the picturesque scenes to reveal what daily life is really like when you call a sailboat home. We will dive into the motivations, preparations, joys, and challenges of living on a sailboat full-time, providing a realistic glimpse into a lifestyle that is far from ordinary.

Our Live-Aboard Life

Our dream of living on a sailboat was a distant one for many years. But as we watched plans and dreams fall by the wayside in the wake of COVID, we made the decision to make our dream a reality. Once the borders opened up, we made a beeline for the Mediterranean and have since spent each summer living aboard our little 29-foot sailboat Whisper. Without any experience sailing or living on a sailboat, we have taught ourselves to sail and manage life on the boat along the way.

Before we took up sail life, we had been living “van life,” and we’ve come to realize there are lots of similarities but quite a few differences between the two . However, on the whole, learning to live van life first put us in good stead to take on life on a sailboat. Unlike most people, we up-sized when we moved onto a boat.

Despite the upgrade in living quarters, the learning curve and the adjustment to living on the sea were no less challenging. Nevertheless, the shift was not as scary as we thought it might be, and the reality of living on a sailboat full-time quickly became our new normal.

Initially, our plan was to buy a boat and spend one season aboard sailing the Mediterranean before selling the boat and settling down. Instead, it’s safe to say we have fallen in love with life on a sailboat. Now, as we enter our third season, we aren’t sure when we will be ready to furl the sails for good…

Get a Taste of Life on a SailBoat

We document some of the realities of living on a sailboat full-time on our YouTube Channel in our The Vanabond Sails series.

Deciding to Live on a Sailboat

The journey to becoming a full-time live aboard often starts with the desire for change.

Some people are transitioning from one stage of life to the next as careers wind up or children move out. Some yearn for adventure and excitement, while others seek a simpler way of life. Many are drawn to the promise of freedom, the allure of the sea, and the appeal of living more closely with nature. However, the decision to live on a sailboat full-time is not one to be taken lightly. It requires thoughtful consideration and planning.

For us, it was a long-held dream to sail and live aboard a sailboat. It was also a natural progression, having spent several years living and traveling by van . We were ready for a new challenge. 

It began with a conversation, then a plan, and then trawling classifieds for second-hand boat sales. Before long, the decision was set in stone, and we were on our way to Croatia to buy a boat , learn to sail it, and move aboard. 

Choosing the Right Sailboat

The type of sailboat you choose is critical and depends on your budget, sailing skills, and the kind of sailing you plan to do (coastal cruising, bluewater voyaging, etc.).

Will you prefer the size and stability of a catamaran, or will you prioritize the sailing experience of a monohull? Are you looking for something small that’s easily controlled and maneuvered by a limited (and potentially inexperienced) crew, or do you require the space of a larger vessel? Are you interested in the clean lines and comforts of modern boat designs, or do you prefer the style of older boats? There are a thousand decisions to be made when choosing a boat, and your own aspirations for boat life and, of course, your budget will be critical when it comes to making this decision. 

Spend as much time researching boats that are available in your price range, ask questions of sailors you know or on sailing forums, and, if possible, spend time aboard different types of sailboats to get a clearer picture of what life is really like on board before making a purchase.

Check out our full article on buying boat .

Emotional and Practical Considerations for Sail Life

Living on a sailboat means embracing minimalism and being comfortable with the idea of having less space and possessions.

You’ll need to consider the impact of such a lifestyle on relationships with family and friends, as it can mean spending long periods away from loved ones.

The decision also involves considering how to manage work or income while living at sea , which might include remote work, seasonal jobs, or living off savings.

There are plenty of options for those planning on working remotely while sailing. With the rise of remote work , there has never been more opportunity to work and sail.

All of these considerations represent potential challenges to adjusting to life at sea, but they are certainly not insurmountable. You just need to be honest with yourself and decide if your love of the open water and the freedom of living aboard a sailboat will be greater than the inconveniences.

Preparations and Adjustments

Transitioning to life on a sailboat involves a series of preparations and adjustments, both practical and psychological, to ensure a smooth and sustainable living experience.

Training and Skills

If you are thinking about taking up sailing, you should, of course, invest time in learning to sail, navigate, and understand weather patterns. While this may seem like a daunting task, it’s not an insurmountable one. Time on the water is the most important thing, so it’s time to sign up for sailing courses, start planning trips with sailing friends, join a local sailing club, or seek out opportunities to crew for other sailors.

Learning basic boat maintenance and repair is essential to manage the myriad challenges that come with life at sea.

Safety courses, such as first aid, sea survival, and radio operation, are also crucial for handling emergencies.

These skills are important for safe and comfortable sailing and are often legally required. Make sure you are aware of the licensing and registration requirements for sailors in the region you are preparing to sail.

In our case, I had experience sailing small dinghies as a child and thus some understanding of the fundamentals, while Kelli had zero experience. My existing marine license issued in Australia was recognized in Croatia, where we bought our boat. I only needed to acquire a VHF radio license to become adequately certified for inshore sailing in the Mediterranean. 

We paid some local sailors to come aboard and teach us both the fundamentals of our new boat (lots of docking and anchoring practice).

Downsizing and Adapting to Limited Space and Resources

As mentioned, moving onto a boat was actually upsizing for us. With a second cabin, a flushing toilet, and a large indoor table, our relatively small 29-foot monohull seemed luxurious compared to the vans we had been living in until this point. 

However, for most, moving onto a sailboat often means significant downsizing, and space becomes a premium commodity. The process of downsizing for sail life involves prioritizing essential items and learning to live without the comforts of a traditional home.

Space isn’t the only limitation on a boat. Reliance on water tanks (if you don’t have a watermaker) and solar, wind, or generator electricity often means a downshift in access to creature comforts we take for granted in a house on the grid.

Creativity in organizing and making the most of limited space and resources becomes a daily practice, requiring innovative storage solutions and multi-functional furniture. Most modern sailboats are well-designed with endless space-saving measures and designs. Nevertheless, an adjustment will likely be necessary.

Financial Planning

Financial considerations are paramount, as the cost of living on a sailboat can vary widely depending on factors like marina fees, maintenance costs, and lifestyle choices.

Setting a realistic budget that includes regular maintenance, unexpected repairs, and living expenses is essential for sustaining life at sea.

Depending on your personal aspirations for boat life, this lifestyle can be as affordable or as expensive as you want to be. For us, as a couple in our thirties still in the building and saving part of our lives and careers, we are able to live on a boat in the Mediterranean affordably and comfortably for far less than we (estimate) we would spend living a more stationary lifestyle.

Check out our full article on the Costs of Living on Sail Boat Full-Time

Overall, adjusting to the confines and challenges of sailboat living demands not only physical preparation but also mental resilience and adaptability. The transition from land to sea is a profound shift, requiring a willingness to embrace simplicity, flexibility, and a sense of adventure.

Daily Life Aboard

While there is no typical day aboard, and experiences will differ wildly from person to person and day to day, we can describe what many of our days do look like.

As we work from the boat, our weeks are generally divided into work days, Monday to Friday morning and weekends. The truth is that the novelty does wear off, and many days, especially during the working week, become just as mundane as any other lifestyle. However it never stays mundane for long, one exhilarating sail, a dolphin sighting, a picture perfect anchorage or even surviving an impromptu weather event and the thrill of living on a sailboat quickly returns.

A typical workday for us living on a sailboat often starts with the sunrise (or a little bit before if we have a lot on). Ideally, we are well rested after a still night without rolling swell or, worse, strong wind, but that isn’t always assured at sea. Mornings involve checking the weather first and foremost, all plans revolve around the direction and strength of the wind and waves. 

If the weather is calm, we usually try to work in the mornings when we are fresh and focused.

We travel slowly, often spending a few days in a quiet, well-protected anchorage, on a town quay, or in a marina before moving on a short distance along the coast. On sailing days, we often sail in the afternoon when the winds are a bit stronger in the Mediterranean. On days we are staying put, the afternoon might be spent exploring a new town, getting provisions, swimming, or finding a beach to lie on and read a book. In the evening, we will cook dinner onboard and get some more work done or watch some TV. 

Weekends look different, and we will take advantage of not needing to be close to reliable network services, completing longer passages along the coast, or visiting islands. 

Daily Differences in Sail Life

Living spaces on a sailboat are compact and multifunctional, necessitating an organized and tidy approach to prevent clutter and ensure safety. Cooking in a small galley kitchen presents its challenges, from securing pots and pans on a constantly moving boat to managing limited ingredients and storage.

Meals often need to be simple yet nutritious, requiring creativity and planning. Our approach is to cook simple, one-pot, vegetarian meals like dal or vegetable curry two or three times during the workweek and eat leftovers for lunch and dinner. On the weekend, we like to get more creative with our meals, seeking out local produce or fresh seafood and taking our time to prepare something special.

As mentioned, resource management is a critical aspect of daily sailboat life, especially when it comes to conserving water, fuel, and electricity. Efficient use of these resources is vital, whether it involves careful water usage, monitoring power consumption, or planning the next opportunity to resupply. For us, an electricity supply is mainly dependent on the sun when we are not under motor or plugged into shore power. Extended periods of cloud can alter our plans. Similarly, if we are not careful with water, more frequent visits to refill are required, which can be limiting. 

Personal hygiene and privacy take on a new meaning in the confined space of a sailboat. Showers may be quick and infrequent. In our case, we generally rinse off after a swim to bathe and take proper showers during marina stops. Personal space is limited on a sailboat and managing personal relationships can have extra challenges.

Sleeping on the boat can take some getting used to, especially when on anchor. Even on a calm day, the constant rocking of the water can be disruptive at first, and novice sailors may find they get seasick, although these symptoms usually go away after a few days. When it’s windy, or there is some swell, the noise, movement, and the ever-present worry that the boat may pull off its anchor with the movement can make it very difficult to get a good night’s sleep. 

Unforecast storms, gear failure, or some other emergency can occasionally create scary and challenging scenarios, especially if disaster strikes late at night. These situations are part of the adventure but can certainly be stressful.

Despite the challenges, daily life on a sailboat is interspersed with moments of profound beauty and peace. Whether watching dolphins play in the bow wave, enjoying a sunset over the ocean, or stargazing on a clear night, these experiences often make the hardships worthwhile, offering a sense of freedom and connection to nature that is hard to find elsewhere.

The Pros and Cons of Living on a Sailboat Full-Time

Pros: the joys of sailboat living.

Living on a sailboat brings a unique set of joys and rewards that can make the challenges seem insignificant.

+ One of the most significant benefits is the sense of freedom and adventure. Sailboat dwellers have the luxury of exploring new destinations, anchoring in secluded bays, and experiencing different cultures in a way that most people never will. The ability to call a variety of picturesque locations home, even if only temporarily, is a remarkable aspect of this lifestyle. Even compared to other forms of nomadic lifestyle, waking up in your own private bay or cove is hard to re-create. 

+ The connection with nature is unparalleled in sailboat living. Being surrounded by the vastness of the ocean, witnessing marine life up close, and experiencing the rhythms of the sea create a deep sense of harmony and peace. The simplicity of life on a boat can lead to a greater appreciation for the small things, like the beauty of a sunset, the changing colors of the sea, or the silence of a night watch under the stars.

+ Community and camaraderie are also central to the sailboat lifestyle. The sailing community is known for its close-knit, supportive nature, with fellow sailors often ready to lend a hand, share advice, or offer companionship. This sense of community extends across harbors and anchorages around the world, creating a global network of friends and contacts.

+ The personal growth and self-reliance developed through sailboat living are profound. Navigating the challenges and unpredictability of the sea fosters resilience, problem-solving skills, and a strong sense of self-confidence. The lifestyle encourages continuous learning, from mastering sailing and navigational skills to understanding weather patterns and marine ecosystems.

The Cons: The Challenges and Hardships of Liveaboard Life

While the joys of living on a sailboat are plentiful, the lifestyle also comes with its fair share of challenges and hardships. These difficulties test the resilience and adaptability of those who choose this way of life.

– One of the most significant challenges is dealing with bad weather. Storms, high winds, and rough seas can be terrifying and dangerous, requiring skill, experience (which you can only get by …experiencing it), and a calm demeanor to navigate safely (perhaps the trickiest thing to achieve). The stress from poor weather can be mentally draining, disrupt work, and put a strain on relationships.

– The learning curve required to become a confident and comfortable sailor is not small and can take many seasons while mastering sailing can take a lifetime.

– The constant exposure to the elements also means that maintenance is a never-ending task, with saltwater and sun causing wear and tear that must be regularly addressed to keep the boat functional and safe. Especially on an older boat like ours, fixing and maintaining gear and rigging is an endless cycle. Most systems and hardware on the boat are essential, and when they fail, there is often no one around to help. Constantly sorting out jammed anchors, engine or electrical issues can quickly become tiresome and (if you are trying to work) quite disruptive. It can also be quite stressful when critical systems fail.

– Isolation is another aspect of sailboat living that can be challenging. Long periods at sea or anchored in remote locations can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection from land-based communities. The confined space of a sailboat can strain relationships, making it essential for the crew, be it a couple, a family, or friends, to communicate effectively and give each other personal space.

– The financial aspect of sailboat living can also be a hardship. Unexpected repairs and maintenance can quickly drain savings, and the cost of mooring, fuel, and supplies can add up. Sailors must be adept at budgeting and often need to be resourceful in finding ways to sustain their lifestyle, which might include picking up temporary jobs or remote work.

– The physical demands of managing a sailboat should not be underestimated. It requires strength, stamina, and a willingness to tackle everything from sail repairs to engine troubleshooting. The learning curve can be steep, and the responsibility of keeping the boat and its occupants safe is a constant pressure.

Despite these challenges, many sailboat dwellers find that the hardships are part of what makes the lifestyle rewarding. Overcoming difficulties and learning to live in harmony with the sea can provide a profound sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Final Thoughts About Life on a Sailboat

Living on a sailboat full-time is a journey that encompasses the full spectrum of human experience, blending moments of sheer joy and beauty with times of challenge and adversity. It’s a lifestyle that demands resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace the unknown. While the romantic allure of sailing the high seas is undeniable, the realities of daily life on a sailboat are grounded in practical challenges and the necessity of continual learning and personal growth.

The decision to live on a sailboat should not be made lightly, as it involves significant changes in lifestyle, mindset, and social dynamics. However, for those who choose to embark on this adventure, it offers unparalleled opportunities for freedom, exploration, and connection with nature. The hardships encountered along the way are not just obstacles but also catalysts for growth, leading to a deeper understanding of oneself and the world.

If you have a question about living on a sailboat full-time, let us know in the comments below or shoot us an email anytime!

Fair winds and following seas!

In 2016, I had been dumped by my girlfriend, fired from my job, and the lease on my house was running out. Facing moving back in with my parents, 26, jobless and alone I decided to listen to the message the universe was trying to send me. I took off on my first solo backpacking trip, with a one-way ticket to Bangkok and a well-thumbed Lonely Planet guide. From there I wandered Southeast and Central Asia, traveled the Great Steppe, and made my way across Russia and throughout Europe.

In Estonia I met Kelli, who, despite having a less frantic travel style, shared my my restless spirit and passion for exploration. Together, we embarked on a new journey, van life. Over four years we travelled across three different continents with three different vans.

In 2022, as the world began to re-open post COVID we took an opportunity to realise a long held dream, to live aboard a sailboat. Since then we have spent two summers in the Mediterranean, sailing and living aboard our little sail boat Whisper. When we aren't sailing we continue to live our nomadic lifestyle, guided by a philosophy of slow travel and self directed adventure be it by van or backpacking.

We find excitement through our journey into the unknown, stillness and content in the beauty of the places we discover and we find ourselves in the vastness of our world.

Hopefully, we can help you find what you're looking for too. Get lost with us and find your own path.

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Set Sail: How to Enjoy Living on a Sailboat to the Fullest

Set Sail: How to Enjoy Living on a Sailboat to the Fullest

Whether it's your dream for retirement or your wish for tomorrow, living on a sailboat can be a dream come true. And, believe it or not, this liveaboard life can work out well for families, couples or singles who are living on a variety of budgets.

All you need is the will to make the jump to a liveaboard life and the energy to get your sailboat setup to accommodate your needs .

And of course, you'll need a sailboat. There are other types of boats that people live on, like trawlers , but sailboats have plenty of advantages .

Why Live on a Sailboat?

There are many reasons you might want to spend your days living on a sailboat. First of all, every day can be an adventure when you live aboard a sailboat. All you need to do is raise the anchor  and lines and hoist the sails and you can set off to make memories .

If you're looking for more downtime, living on a sailboat can also be wonderfully relaxing . Sailing on calm days or lounging about as you rest at anchor or in the harbor is just about the right speed of life for many people.

Contrary to popular misconception, liveaboard life can actually be quite affordable . You just need to budget accordingly with an eye toward routine costs, unforeseen repairs and for covering the rare but catastrophic issues that can arise, such as a fire or even a sinking.

Before you commit to living on a sailboat, know that the lifestyle does come with more inherent danger (remember when we talked about sinking a few seconds ago?) and responsibility than life on land.

But your house or condo is never going to carry you out over the shimmering waters at sunset or let you haul in a prize-winning marlin or bass. When your sailboat is your home, you can live out these dreams and so many more.

The way to enjoy liveaboard life? Be prepared for it.

A Quick Look at the Cost of Living on a Sailboat

If you're still actively working and earning income, it'll be important that you balance the cost of liveaboard life with your earnings and other expenses.

Many people live on a sailboat in retirement, and this requires even more careful planning. This is true first because your net worth is likely fixed or at least largely static (stock dividends and bonds might keep making you money, for example) but also because you probably won't spend the rest of your life on a boat.

Dodging the jib might be fine in your sixties and even your seventies, but it's probably not ideal much after that. Unless it is, and that's great.

Insurance Costs

While boat insurance isn't mandated in all parts of the United States, when your sailboat is your home, you're going to want to have it insured.

Sailboat insurance is generally calculated as around 1.5% of the boat's value, so a sailboat that's worth $40,000 will cost you around $600 to insure each year, and that's a small price to pay in the scheme of things.

Marina Costs

The fee a marina charges you to use a slip varies widely around the country (and the world) so there's no good range of costs to use.

In San Diego, you'll pay around $1,000 per month in many marinas.

In Baytown, Texas you'll pay only around $250 per month for a boat between 35 and 40 feet in length.

Do the research based on your area, and watch out for additional liveaboard fees, which are common.

Scraping, Painting and Other Maintenance

Every few years, you need to get a sailboat entirely out of the water and have it thoroughly cleaned, scraped of barnacles, repainted and generally repaired and maintained. This can cost several thousand dollars, so assume $1,000 per year is a safe bet, even though it's not an annual expense.

Unless you're able to live a very stripped-down lifestyle indeed, chances are good that you'll want to own more worldly possessions than you can store on your boat.

If you don't have friends or family around who are willing to let you stash boxes and bins of sundry goods at their homes, then you'll need to rent some storage space on land. This usually costs only between $50 to $100 per month, but everything adds up.

Water, Electricity, Fuel, Etc.

You need water to drink, bathe and cook, electricity for lights and radios and various types of fuel for heaters, stoves and (for most sailboats, anyway) for the backup engine.

Some marinas include power and water in their fees, but many don't. Do the research ahead of time and, if need be, do the math, too.

Setting Up Your Sailboat as Your Home

A sailboat offers freedom and adventure and often an affordable lifestyle, but one thing it doesn't offer is a plethora of free space. You'll be confined to a few hundred square feet of living area, with about 300 square feet serving as a decent average.

Many sailboats come with cabins that are hard to move or reconfigure, but you can still choose how you use the space.

Bedding Down

Your bedroom on a sailboat is probably not going to serve only for sleeping. It will likely also be your office, your den and your closet.

Choose the smallest bed you can comfortably sleep in and consider a setup that allows the bed to fold out of the way or also be used as a seat.

Make sure to maximize storage space underneath the bed.

Bathroom (AKA Head)

A boat's bathroom is going to be small and cramped. Just accept that. The head is also a frequent location for the growth of mold and mildew , as it's often moist and usually closed off. 

One good way to combat these issues is to rig up the door to stay open when the bathroom isn't in use. Also consider adding a fan, a  dehumidifier  and dehumidifier refill bags .

Speaking of boat bathrooms, you'll want to be sure to use marine and RV toilet paper , which is specifically designed to break down so that it doesn't clog marine septic systems . 

Featured Boat Care Product

   

Check Price on Amazon - Better Boat's mildew stain remover is perfect for use on boat covers, seats and tops as well as tents, outdoor furniture and other items. It removes stubborn stains to make upholstery look new. Use on vinyl , fiberglass, plastic, tile, grout and canvas. 

Kitchen (AKA Galley)

Your boat's kitchen is probably not going to be suitable for preparing a five-course banquet for 15 people. Oh well. What you can do to maximize its useful space is get creative.

That sink need not be wasted counter space, for example. Buy or fashion a cutting board that neatly covers it for when you're prepping a large meal.

And use your fridge wisely. Any food that doesn't need cold storage can be kept in cabinets or even in another room entirely, say under the bed, for example.

Folding furniture is key when you live aboard a sailboat. It's good to have at least one or two comfortable chairs and/or a couch, but as much as possible, use furniture that folds down for storage and for easy movement.

You can use a folding chair as extra seating in the cabin, on deck or on the dock, which will become your new front yard.

Three Great Places to Live Aboard a Sailboat

Your sailboat is your home, but where you have that home tied up matters too. You already know to look for costs associate with the marinas of various areas, but here are three reasons to consider these three locations other than money.

When you live aboard a sailboat in Boston, you're right beside the downtown area. You can even walk from several marina locations to centers of business, commerce and culture.

So, if you want great professional opportunities or you want to enjoy an urban lifestyle while still living on a boat, Boston is a great place to consider.

If you prize consistently warm, mild weather and you don't want to deal with the hurricanes that often swirl their way across Florida, then Southern California, and specifically San Diego, is a great place to live aboard a sailboat. The days are hot in the summer but the nights are cool all year round.  

Great Lakes

Living aboard a sailboat in any of the Great Lakes of North America means getting to enjoy all four of the year's seasons. Yes, it gets cold in the winter, but the fall and spring are both mild and lovely. During the warm summers, you can always take a dip.

Is Living on a Sailboat a Good Idea?

In short, yes. Yes it is. It just takes extra planning ahead, being ready for a contingency place to spend some time if there's a bad storm or if your boat needs repairs, and other such long-term thinking.

In taking the very long view, just know that if you plan to retire onto your boat, you'll almost surely have to move at least once more in your life, but hopefully not for a good many years.

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My Cruiser Life Magazine

Living On a Boat Full Time — What to Consider Before Living Aboard

Let’s talk about real-life boat ownership and living on a boat full time. My wife and I have lived on our boat for nearly eight years, doing everything from full-time living on a boat in a marina to cruising The Islands of The Bahamas for months.

For starters, everything you’ve ever wondered about living on a boat probably doesn’t scratch the surface of everything you’ll learn. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone; for every wonderful day on the water, there’s a stressful situation or broken boat part.

So what does living on a boat full time look like? Here’s a glimpse into the world of the liveaboard. 

living on a boat full time

Table of Contents

Should i live on a boat absolutely yes, here’s why (pros of living on a boat), never, in a million years, should anyone ever live on a boat (cons of living on a boat), there’s more than one way to live on a boat, there’s a steep learning curve, it’s kind of like camping, constant maintenance and cleaning, weather drama, the legalities of the live aboard life, cost of living on a boat, paths to moving aboard, living on a boat full time faqs, what are the pros and cons of living on a boat.

It is often said that there’s a wide gap between the romantic vision that many people have of the liveaboard lifestyle and the nitty-gritty reality.

Here are the pros and cons of living on a boat full time, taken from our personal experiences.

Living on a boat is sometimes even better than your most romantic vision. Dolphins frolicking while the sunsets, tropical drinks in your hands, and nothing but crystal clear water between you and the most spectacular island beach you’ve ever seen. Yes, that all happens, sometimes.

  • Freedom to go where you want, when you want
  • Travel as much or as little as you want
  • Take your house with you as you move
  • Changing scenery, waterfront property where ever you go
  • Wildlife visits—seals, whales, dolphins, birds
  • A friendly community of other boaters
  • Learn to live more simply, with only the necessities

Everyone has good days and bad days. We’ve often described boat life as having high highs but very low lows. The peaks and valleys of boat life (crests and troughs?) are just much farther from baseline-normal.

For every dolphin, there is a broken toilet joker valve leaking sewage onto the bathroom floor. 

For every idyllic island beach, there is a fouled diesel filter that needs changing. 

For every smooth downwind passage, there is a sloshy, windless mess of flapping sails making everyone on board seasick.

The list could go on and on and on.

  • Constant maintenance and cleaning
  • Difficulty finding skilled, professional labor 
  • Small spaces, no storage, no privacy
  • No dishwashers, washing machines, dryers (usually)
  • Away from docks, you always have limited power and water
  • Constant exposure to the weather
  • Tax and insurance issues

Common Issues with Moving Onto a Boat

Here are some of the biggest issues we have noticed from our experiences and those around us. While everyone’s experience of living on a boat full time differs, everyone seems to have similar issues.

First, it has to be said that everyone’s experience is different. And that’s most obvious by looking at what sort of boat they choose and where they choose to live on it.

Many books have been written on the subject, and most like to divide boaters into three groups based on their budgets. There are the high-lifers who can afford to buy a new or newish boat that is large and comfortable. They can afford to live at a resort marina and likely hire professionals for most maintenance and cleaning tasks. They likely spend most of their time in marinas if they travel far. 

Then there are the Goldilocks boaters—not too big, not too small—making up the “middle class” of boating. There’s a healthy mix of DIY projecting with some professional help on the big projects. They might liveaboard at a marina or travel full-time. They might live at docks, anchor, or a mix. 

And then there are the budget boaters. Cheap boats are easy to come by if you’re willing to use DIY labor to fix them up. They are most likely to anchor out to minimize costs. 

All these people live very different lives on their boats, but does it matter? The costs are astronomically different, but they could be visiting the same ports, seeing the same sights, and even sharing the same experiences. 

What’s most amazing is how everyone perceives their liveaboard situation. I’ve been to dock parties where couples on 60′ catamarans complain that they have no personal space and must take a break from being on the boat together after a few months. Meanwhile, I know a family of five (plus two dogs) that live on a 40′ monohull with less than 1/3 the space of the catamaran. They have issues, but they’re pretty happy five years later. 

(Speaking of catamarans, check out my recommendations for liveaboard catamaran options.)

Living on a Boat

Year one of boating is the worst. There’s so much to learn; it’s all new and different than anything you’ve done before. There are all the sailing terms you must learn, but there are also boat maintenance tasks and understanding how all the systems on your boat work. Then there are the basics of seamanship and how to operate your vessel safely. It is a lot to take in.

And the basics of living on a boat are different from land life. Your kitchen (galley) is much smaller. The toilet doesn’t flush like a regular land toilet. You’re always thinking about minimizing water use when showering or doing dishes. If you turn too many electrical items on, circuit breakers pop. The list goes on and on, and when you’re new, it’s stressful.

Once you’ve got the kinks worked out, learned your boat systems, and successfully traveled and lived on your boat for a while, things get much better. You know more, your boat is set up the way you need it, and you have the confidence to start enjoying yourself. Some people take a few months, some a year, and, unfortunately, some never get there. 

Boats are small spaces, but the truth is that living on a boat is more like camping than most boaters like to admit. You get by with only a few items in your wardrobe. You skip showers since you don’t always have hot water. You don’t have space for all the luxuries of home. No dishwasher. No washing machine. Everyone is occasionally uncomfortable onboard, whether from the weather or the cramped quarters.

Boats are also hard on relationships. While there’s something romantic about being cozy and alone together at sea, it isn’t so romantic on day five, or thirty, or sixty. Personal space is non-existent on most boats. It’s inevitable that your significant other—or anyone else—will drive you nuts after some time. Boats have ended more than one marriage that we know of. 

The cramped living space on a boat poses other problems, too. Downsizing is important because you simply can’t bring it all with you—there’s no storage space. What is important, what’s nice to have, and what will you use on a boat? Living on a boat forces you to live with the minimum and acknowledge what you need to survive. 

Living on a sailboat is, of course, drastically different than living on a luxury yacht. But all these problems seem relative, and no matter what size your boat is, everyone has the same complaints.

Boats are always trying to sink and fall apart. The ocean helps them with its corrosive saltwater and constant motion. The only thing keeping it afloat? You, the lowly and unprepared new boat owner. Yikes!

 Even if you have mechanics and boatyard workers do most of the big projects for you, there’s still a ton that you’ll wind up doing on your own. Just day-to-day cleaning on a boat is a big deal. Everything is more difficult and takes longer than it does on a house. 

Somehow, boats seem to get dirtier faster than houses do. From polishing the hull, shining the stainless, varnishing the teak, and scrubbing the scum line to everyday things like dishes, sweeping the floors, and cleaning the bathroom, boats are dirty, and it takes time to keep them clean.

boat maintenance

The weather plays a bigger part in your life than you’ll even imagine. Most of us pay remarkably little attention to the weather when we’re on land. If it’s hot, we might just minimize our time away from air conditioning. If it’s raining, it’s a minor inconvenience. We never think about the wind or tides.

But everything on a boat revolves around the weather. Every day we look at the weather for the upcoming week. Forecasts are often inaccurate, so we expect it to change. But what should we be ready for? When cruising, we often track weather systems over a week away and start planning. 

This week, it says we might get gusts to 52 knots (!!!) from the southwest with heavy rain and thunderstorms. We’re anchored and away from the dock. Will our anchorage be protected from winds like that? Is the holding good here, or is there a safer place we should move to? Should we think about moving there early in case it fills up with boats? 

We go through this exercise every week or two, no matter where we are. When approaching an anchorage, it’s all about the wind direction, tide level, and whatever else is happening. Are we okay with being stuck here for a few days if it’s foggy? A week? What if we need south winds to reach our next destination, but the forecast only has east winds? Do we wait or change our destination? 

The amount of attention it takes and the flexibility of your schedule is mind-boggling to most landlubbers. When friends want to visit us, we tell them we can meet them in a specific place or at a specific time, but not both. If you want us to meet you, you’ve got to be flexible too!

What do you legally need to do to live on a boat full time? Most people’s home or apartment is their legal residence and domicile. It’s listed on their driver’s license, and it’s where they vote and pay taxes. 

How will all these issues play out when you move onto a boat that moves around? There are mail forwarding services that allow you to set up residency. We use St. Brendan’s Isle in Florida since we were already Floridians, but there are also similar services in other states. This at least gives you the ability to have a driver’s license and vote. 

Taxes are a little more complicated. You can register the boat at your address in Florida, but each US state collects its own use tax. If you use your boat in their state for over a few months, they want to tax it. It’s not a problem if you move around, but what if you want to leave your boat in New York for the summer? Then you might have to register it there and pay taxes. 

Additionally, many counties in the US collect personal property tax on boats. We know of several places where if you are in the county on January 1 st , you’ll owe the county property tax. If you were one county away where the tax happens to be zero, you would owe nothing. Tricky!

Recreational boat insurance is another matter of concern. It used to be fairly easy to insure a boat, especially a cheap old boat. If you have a homeowner’s policy, you can easily add the boat. But if you’re a liveaboard with no real land address, getting insurance is becoming a problem. If the boat is too old, you’re traveling to distant ports, or the boat is very large, and you’re first time boat owners, it can be hard to find an underwriter. 

Do you even need insurance? Many marinas and boatyards now require it. Gone are the days when you could sail the world and “self-insure.” But, honestly, those days never really existed. If your uninsured $5,000 sailboat drags anchor and puts a gash in a $5 million yacht, a serious legal headache will follow. Many owners of older vessels keep “liability-only” insurance, but even this is getting less affordable and hard to come by.

Many folks who want to try boat life are understandably curious about the average cost of owning and buying a liveaboard sailboat . Is it cheaper to live on a boat than a house? That’s a tough question to answer. For one thing, people’s expectations and their needs for comfort and security vary widely.

Both houses and boats can be found for about the same amount. If you’re in the market for a $250,000 house, you could find a nice boat for that amount. It would, of course, be much smaller and—unlike the house—be a terrible investment. So while you might be able to get a loan for a house (which makes excellent collateral for the bank), getting a loan for a boat would require a bigger risk on the part of the bank and therefore cost you a lot more.

On the cheaper end, you could find a fixer-upper boat on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for far less than a neglected house. A house will always have some value based on the land, whereas a boat can become valueless. It’s not uncommon to hear of people getting free boats abandoned in boatyards, making ridiculously low offers on neglected vessels, and getting large boats for a few thousand dollars. People are always wondering how to get rid of an old boat .

These fixer-uppers have their own stories, of course. Many YouTube channels are dedicated to the cheap boat fix-up scheme. Project boats can be wallet-shrinking and soul-sucking. Taking on a project is a good way to lose a lot of money, along with years of your life and any interest you ever had in boating. Project boats are not for most people.

Both boats and houses have taxes and insurance, so those costs are probably very similar. Tax laws vary by state and county. In some places, you won’t have to pay any tax on your boat except for the initial sales tax at the time of purchase. You will have to pay an annual personal property tax in other locales.

You’ll also have to pay for boat parking . Marina, mooring ball, or in the boatyard—all will come with a monthly bill. The house or apartment will not have storage fees, so there’s no equivalent here. But, if you bought a cheap boat for cash and are only paying monthly liveaboard slip fees, this might be less than a mortgage payment would be.

If you’re traveling and anchoring, you can generally do that for free. However, most cruisers spend a few nights a month at marinas. That averages about the same amount they’d pay for monthly dockage since nightly transient rates are high.

Both boats and houses have maintenance and upkeep expenses, but boats generally have more. It’s generally estimated that you should budget ten percent of the boat’s purchase price for annual maintenance. If you bought a $50,000 boat, this would be $5,000 yearly. That holds for most boats, but year one will be higher as you fix neglected items and make your upgrades.

cost of living on a boat

From our experience, we’ve seen people take two paths towards the liveaboard life.

  • Some folks own their boat and use it for weekends or a week’s vacation here and there. They move aboard full-time as they transition to retirement, a work sabbatical, or remote work. Since it’s a gradual transition, these folks generally know what to expect. 
  • Then there are the folks who go all in—they know nothing about sailing or boats and sell it all and move aboard. For them, it’s a jump into icy cold water or learning a new language by moving abroad. 

Which group is more successful? Group One generally knows what to expect, has worked out the kinks in their boat, and has already tackled the learning curve. There’s still a lot to take in, but they’re generally less stressed by it. If you can spend some time on your boat enjoying boating before moving onboard, it’s generally a good thing.

But, either way, being a full-time liveaboard is not a long-term lifestyle for most people. People who start from both groups seem to last an average of about one and a half to three years. After that, they’re ready to either sell the boat and move on or buy an RV or vacation land home that allows them to divide their time between boating and something else. People who last more than three years with only a boat are a very small minority.

One parting thought: Living on a boat full time and traveling is like having three or four full-time jobs. Each requires 30-40 hours per week when you include labor, research, and thinking and planning. 

  • Boat ownership — basic maintenance and cleaning
  • Cruising full-time — destination and route planning, weather study
  • Living aboard — cooking, cleaning, shopping, and everything else takes so much longer on a boat than in a house
  • Your actual job — if you work aboard

How much does it cost to live full time on a yacht?

A lot depends on the size of the yacht. A small sailboat can be found fairly cheaply. For around $50,000US, you can get an older 35-foot sailboat in decent condition and move aboard with few problems. The biggest issue is finding a marina that allows live-aboard boaters. Slip fees will be your biggest expense and can be as high as $1,500 monthly in some areas. However, you can get monthly slips for as little as $300 in other places. 

How to stay organized on a sailboat?

Sailboats have small spaces and not much storage, so keeping organized is key. The first step is to downsize your possessions to the bare minimum—only take what you absolutely need. The less you have, the easier your life aboard will be. 

After that, it’s a matter of packing the boat so that everything has its place. Some boaters like to keep a spreadsheet of where they’ve packed everything away so they can find it quickly. 

Is it cheaper to live in an RV or a boat?

Both of these activities are very dependent on location. Purchasing either one is very similar in cost. RV parks and marinas charge similar prices, but the cost varies depending on the location and services. In the end, however, moving an RV somewhere cheaper is easier and quicker, so you can live somewhere cheaply more easily. 

living on a sailboat blog

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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living on a sailboat blog

Glory of the Snow

May 16, 2022

Living On A Sailboat Full Time: What It’s Really Like

Have you ever wondered what living on a sailboat full-time was really like? Check out an insider’s guide to the sailboat lifestyle!

“Being on a boat that’s moving through the water, it’s so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what’s important and what’s not.”

James Taylor

What Is Living On A Sailboat Really Like

Living On A Sailboat Full Time

Sailing is the ultimate adventure – the wind in your hair, the power in your sails, the salt spray on your lips. You can spend one night moored up in an ancient city and the next on an uninhabited island, spearfishing your next meal. You can dance with the dolphins or nap in a hammock in the shade of a sail.  

But what is it really like to live on a sailboat and spend every day in a tiny floating home surrounded by a landscape so changeable? What are the key aspects that make this lifestyle so unique?  

After three years of living on board our 38ft sailboat, we’ve discovered the highs and lows of sailing life and what it’s really like to live on a sailboat.  

The Ultimate Freedom  

Living On A Sailboat Full Time

Many people would sum up freedom as the ability to sail away into the sunset. When you live on a sailboat, you have a huge amount of freedom, and it’s an incredible perk.  

If you get bored of the view, you can simply move anchorages. If you’re fed up with the winter, you can sail somewhere warmer. Don’t like your neighbors? Just sail away from them!  

Having a home that moves is the ultimate freedom, and it’s an incredible feeling knowing you go where the wind takes you.  

On the flip side, you’re tied to the boat. The day you move on board is when you inherit a huge responsibility, which can sometimes feel like the opposite of freedom!   

If it’s windy, then you can forget about going to the shore as you need to be on board, making sure the anchor doesn’t drag. If something breaks (something always breaks), then you’ll need to get it fixed before you can move on. If there’s a bad weather forecast, you can be pinned to one spot for days, or if there’s no wind, the same can be true.  

A Tiny Home  

cat living at sea on a sailboat

Picture a room in your house. Now imagine this room has to accommodate your belongings, kitchen, bathroom, and office. Imagine spending 24/7 in this space with your significant other or your family. And imagine a moat surrounds this room, and one of the biggest things people notice when they visit is just how small the space is. Compared to a house on the land, a sailboat home can feel a little pokey!   

Beds tend to be small and are often strange shapes. Having a double bed that you can climb out of on both sides is a true luxury that only the most expensive sailboats can accommodate.   

The headroom on sailboats isn’t great either. It’s common to crouch down to reach certain parts of the boat, and by the end of your first week on board, you’ll wish you’d bought a helmet for the number of times you walk into things.  

Another big thing to get used to when living in a sailboat instead of a house is the amount of storage available. Downsizing is key, and after a few weeks on board, you’ll find yourself prioritizing tools and food provisions over clothes and other luxuries.  

Safety First  

cat living at sea on a sailboat

When you live on a sailboat, the biggest consideration is always safety. It’s on the back of your mind no matter what you’re doing. All sorts of things can go wrong when you live in such a changing environment, from storms to fires.  

Sailboats are made to be safe, not homely! It’s important to stow things away when you’re finished with them. If you leave out that mug after finishing your cup of tea and a swell comes into the anchorage, you could end up with shattered ceramic all over your moving floor.  

Before every sail, you must perform a safety check of your engine and equipment. Carrying spares on board is a must, and chances are you’ll be performing surgery on your engine in the middle of a rocky sea more than once!   

If you have friends to stay it isn’t as simple as directing them to the toilet – you’ll need to show them how to pump out the toilet, for starters! But you’ll also need to give them a safety brief, showing them all the potential things that could go wrong and what you’ve got to prevent it!  

The Weather Rules  

boat life

One of the best and worst things about living on a sailboat is that you’re completely reliant on the weather.    

It’s incredible to feel so in tune with your environment after years of sitting in an office and not knowing if it’s sunny or rainy outside. You live outside, waking up with the sunrise and watching every sunset.   

You don’t realize how reliant you’ll be on the forecast until you live on board. If the wind is blowing a certain way, you might have to move anchorages to find shelter, or if there’s no wind, your plans to move on might be delayed. You can’t get off the boat if the wind is too high, so you might be stuck on board for days.  

A Simple Way Of Life  

living at sea on a sailboat

The sailing lifestyle is about slowing down and simplifying life, which can have an incredible impact on mental health. The fast-paced land life melts away once you’re sailing offshore with the wind powering you and nothing but dolphins to distract you from the sound of the waves.  

Everything takes longer, and you learn to appreciate that. It feels more like surviving, but somehow that’s a good thing!  

Water isn’t freely available. You learn to make it last a long time by washing in the sea or the rain and washing up in salt water.  To get food, you often have to trek an hour to a local supermarket, where there are limited food options, and then lug it all back in your rucksack, into the dinghy, and back on board.   

You learn tips and tricks to make your sailboat provisions last longer and get back to cooking from scratch every night without takeaways and ready meals at hand.  

Power is limited to what you can make from the sun or wind, which often means no freezer and limited time on devices.    

Suddenly, long, hot showers feel like a luxury. Having easy access to a washing machine is something you crave! And as bad as that might sound if you’re reading this from the comfort of your own home, it does make you truly appreciate the little things you used to take for granted.  

Immersed In Nature  

living at sea on a sailboat

One of the first days we had onboard looked a little like this…

We got up with the sunrise and drank our morning coffees in the cockpit, watching the kingfishers and gulls diving for jumping fish. Then we headed out for a sail and squealed in delight as a huge pod of dolphins danced in our bow waves. We arrived at a new anchorage and dived into Greece’s crystal clear waters to spearfish some dinner, which we later cooked on a campfire under the Milky Way. To end this perfect day, we took a midnight dip surrounded by bioluminescent algae.  

If you had told me this day wasn’t going to be a one-off, I wouldn’t have believed you. But living on a sailboat brings opportunities like this all the time, and you never get bored of it.  

Of course, the downside to this is the terrifying storms when you fear the boat may get struck by lightning or the days when it constantly rains and the hatches leak, and you can’t even turn the lights on.  

The summer brings a constant battle against mosquitoes and flies, and the winter greets you with freezing cold days under blankets. Somehow, though, as soon as you spot those dolphins, all the bad moments fade away.  

A Cheaper Way Of Life  

cost of living on a sailboat

You may be wondering whether sailboat living is cheap.

Sailboat life can be a lot cheaper than living on land. People assume that owning a yacht makes you well off when you can pick up older, smaller sailboats for next to nothing if you’re prepared to do a lot of boat maintenance to get it up to scratch.  

We spend most of the year at anchor, and marina fees in Europe for a 38ft monohull tend to be around £400 a month over winter. So we can get away with our ‘rent’ costing an average of less than £200 a month over the course of the year.  

If you’re determined, you can sail to new destinations, which costs nothing. You can row to shore in your dinghy to save on petrol costs. You make your own power from the sun and wind.  

The expensive side to owning a boat is the sailing gear you need to invest in to make life on the water more comfortable. There are many ways to keep these costs down if you’re determined, like buying second-hand and making do without modern luxuries.  

Testing Relationships  

boat life

If you want to put your relationship to the test, buy a sailboat! You’ll be sharing a small space with your significant other, often unable to escape for days. Having some space will consist of moving 10ft away from them and putting on a pair of headphones!  

You will be entirely reliant on each other, sometimes for your lives. That might sound overdramatic, but when you live on a sailboat, that can, at times, be the truth. When problems occur at sea, you will only have each other to depend on, and you’ll need to work as a great team to keep yourselves, your boat, and your relationship safe!  

The wonderful thing about experiencing this life with the ones you love is that it can bring you so much closer. You learn to work together quickly. You learn to communicate well and resolve arguments swiftly, and the memories you make together will last a lifetime.  

So What Is Living On A Sailboat Really Like?

It is, for us, a life enhanced. It’s the extremes. The pure joy you feel when you complete a difficult passage and drop the anchor in a calm bay, the connection to your food when you catch a fish that you know will sustain you for several days, the exhaustion you feel after a rolly, windy night.   

Living on a sailboat is thrilling and boring; it’s peaceful and challenging; it’s freedom and responsibility.  

If you’ve finished reading this and you still aren’t sure what it’s really like to live on a sailboat, then I guess you’ll have to find out for yourself!  

About The Author Of “Living On A Sailboat: What It’s Really Like”

living on a sailboat blog

Emily Nancolas is an adventure-seeking travel fanatic who ran away to sea with her boyfriend three years ago. Since then, they have sailed Sicily and Greece, been locked down in a boatyard, nearly sank the boat (twice), and adopted a Greek kitten called Tiny Cat. Emily loves to write about her sailing lifestyle for new sailors and has released a complete guide on ‘ How to Run Away to Sea ’, which has helped numerous others start a life of adventure on the ocean.  

I hope you have enjoyed this post and now you know exactly what to expect from living at sea on a sailboat.

Just before you go, you may also want to check out this article about van life: 7 THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN BEFORE LIVING IN AN RV .

Thanks for stopping by!

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The Ultimate Guide To Living On A Sailboat

living on a sailboat blog

Are you ready to live the life you’ve always dreamed of?

Get your copy of the ultimate liveaboard e-guidebook here

living on a sailboat blog

If you’re desperate to become a full-time liveaboard sailor, but you’re not sure where to start, then this is the guide for you.

200+ pages of actionable tasks and information to get you up and running, or should we say out and sailing! From buying a boat, to learning to sail, to making this dream life last. This e-book is in digital form to make it easy to bring aboard and have with you whenever you need.

What’s Included?

living on a sailboat blog

Dreaming and scheming

  • Why should you live on a sailboat?
  • Will you enjoy life on the water?
  • Top tips to prepare for living on a sailboat
  • Taking the stress out of the planning process
  • How to downsize to live on a boat
  • Making a fallback plan

Learning the ropes

  • How and where to learn to sail
  • Radio training
  • Taking sailing advice
  • Boat maintenance

Making the leap

  • Choosing the right sailboat
  • Setting a reasonable budget
  • Where to buy a sailboat
  • Is a project boat right for you?
  • Where to find a sailboat
  • Comparing sailboats
  • How to buy a sailboat

living on a sailboat blog

Safety at sea

  • What safety equipment do you really need?
  • Rules of the road
  • How to make a float plan
  • Reading the weather
  • Preparing for storms

Preparing for life afloat

  • What should your cruising budget be?
  • How to work from a sailboat
  • Getting internet access
  • The best websites and apps for sailing
  • How to provision
  • How to make water last onboard

Making the dream last

  • Making your boat a home
  • Living and working together
  • Well-being aboard
  • Sailing with kids
  • Sailing with pets
  • Friends on board
  • The sailing community

Cruising problems solved

  • How to get mail while living aboard
  • How to get prescriptions
  • Purchasing and receiving supplies
  • Seasickness
  • How to stay cool
  • Doing your laundry
  • Things to remember when cruising outside your home country

Who Is This Guidebook For?

Wanting a new adventure but not sure where to start?

Tired of the 9-5 and desperate to see the world?

Hoping to reduce your carbon footprint and live in a simpler way?

Already living aboard but scared to untie the docklines?

Buy the ultimate guide to living on a sailboat here

When we first decided to embark on this epic adventure we had literally no idea where to start.

Every time we thought we had a decision made, we would realise we hadn’t considered some other important factor that took us all the way back to square one.

We were clueless about the boat buying process, the paperwork, and the legal side and didn’t know where to start when it came to choosing the right boat.

After tackling that we needed to actually learn to sail!

And then there were all the other things we hadn’t thought of, like radio courses and fitting the boat out with the correct safety equipment and so much more.

It has taken us years (literally) of research and asking other cruisers to be confident in our setup. We wanted to produce a guide that would be full of all the advice we wished we’d had access to at the beginning of our journey.

So here it is – the ultimate guide to running away to sea !

living on a sailboat blog

Testimonials

living on a sailboat blog

Sailing Print Outs

We’ve been using checklists on our boat since day 1, whether to organise our grab bag and medical kit or every day before we head off sailing.

These printable sheets can be laminated or kept in a plastic folder on board to help you stay on top of all the many things to remember when you live on a boat!

living on a sailboat blog

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10 Best Sailboats To Live In

Best Sailboats To Live On | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Living aboard a sailboat is an exciting lifestyle choice, but there are lots of considerations you’ll need to make.

‍ First and foremost, you have to pick a boat to live in. Unless you plan on sleeping under a canvas tarp, it’s essential to find a sailboat with a proper cabin.

Cabin sailboats became common in the United States during the early 20th century, but size and amenities vary widely between boats.  

For example, early wooden sailboats generally featured very sparse accommodations below, typically consisting of a pipe berth, oil lamps, a coal-fired stove and a bucket privy—typically without standing headroom.

Fortunately, the majority of cabin sailboats came with a lot more than a bucket to wash with.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the most important considerations to make when choosing a sailboat to live on . After, we’ll give a top-ten list of the best used liveaboard sailboats you can buy today.

Table of contents

Why Live Aboard a Sailboat?

Thousands of people choose to live aboard their sailboats.  It’s an alternative lifestyle with a host of benefits for those willing to deal with the added challenges.  

Liveaboards can move their entire house on the water, and it’s typically cheaper to live on a boat than in a traditional house.

This is especially true in major waterfront cities, where rent in the same area as the marina can be several times more expensive.  

Some people love the marina lifestyle, and others travel the world.  All-in-all, living aboard a sailboat can be a rewarding, enriching, and financially-freeing lifestyle choice.

What to Consider when Buying a Liveaboard Sailboat

The most important thing to consider when buying a liveaboard sailboat is what level of accommodation you need.

Some people aren’t bothered by limited amenities; in fact, many traditional sailors prefer a stripped-down and basic sailboat interior. However, many others appreciate useful features such as electric toilets and a full galley.

You can find virtually every creature comfort on board a modern sailboat, so it’s up to you to decide what level of convenience you expect. ‍

For most people, a standard cruising sailboat interior from after 1970 will suffice, as these typically include a usable galley, shower, head, and ventilation.

Offshore VS Coastal Cruising Accommodations

Sailboat interior design is dependent on certain criteria, such as the sailboat’s intended use. Long-distance cruising sailboats have cabins arranged to suit such a journey.

Long-distance sailboats usually remove any unnecessary furniture or extras down below to increase storage, and sleeping options are altered to ensure easy access, which allows the crew to regain control of the boat in a pinch.

Coastal cruisers tend to feature a more luxurious layout, with larger sofas and more complex interior features. Additionally, storage space is generally reduced to allow for the inclusion of other amenities.

Whichever style you choose should reflect both how you plan to use your boat and what level of comfort you need.

What Makes A Great Liveaboard Sailboat?

For this article, we’ve outlined a few requirements which we believe identify an excellent liveaboard sailboat :

  • Standing headroom (at least 5’10”)

While many people live aboard boats without standing headroom, it’s still a nice feature to have.  Months or years spent crawling or crouching can wreak havoc on your back and body, so standing headroom is a necessity in this list.

  • 120V AC availability

Electricity is a definite requirement for our liveaboard list.  Boats without 120V AC outlets present major challenges to liveaboards, as there’s no way to charge most computers or cell phones.  Some boats feature a 12V outlet, but full-time liveaboard boats should have standard house connections for electricity.

  • Galley facilities

Unless you plan on eating out every day, a galley is a must for our list.  We define an adequate galley as a facility with a sink, ice box or refrigerator, and a stove.  An oven is an added bonus, but one can usually be added along with a new stove.

  • Electric lighting

Electric lighting is a matter of both safety and convenience aboard boats.  There’s nothing wrong with kerosene lamps; many sailors adorn their boats with them.  However, a long-term liveaboard boat should feature safe and reliable electric lighting.

  • Toilet with plumbing

Sanitation facilities are vital on board a sailboat, especially if you live on it.  Improper human waste storage and disposal will spread awful diseases.  Plus, nobody wants to live on a stinky boat or use a porta-potty all year long.  We required each of our ten boats to have built-in and properly outfitted toilets, plus safe storage tanks for pumping out later.

Bathing facilities are also a must on most liveaboard sailboats.  However, many liveaboards opt not to use their on-board showers in favor of marina or gym facilities.  That being said, it is very convenient to have a shower on your boat.  Keep in mind, some boat showers drain directly into the bilge.  If you use your onboard shower, be sure to keep the bilge pump in working order and remember that anything you put in the drain ends up below your floor.

  • Separate seating spaces

We think a liveaboard sailboat should have extra sitting spaces on board, apart from the main bed.  A place for sitting, eating, working, and navigating is essential when living aboard long-term, and the added convenience of a separate space will make day-to-day activities much more enjoyable.

  • Ventilation

Last but not least, we believe ventilation is essential for any liveaboard sailboat.  This is the simplest of requirements, as a passive solar roof vent or opening porthole should be sufficient.  In short, there should be a way to let fresh air in without opening a main hatch.

Top 10 Liveaboard Sailboats

Here’s a list of the top ten liveaboard sailboats that you can purchase used today.

These are in no particular order, but each boat meets or exceeds the requirements of a great liveaboard sailboat.

Remember, the features listed for each of these boats could vary based on age or trim, so be sure to check back to this list when inspecting a boat.

Without further ado, here’s ten of the greatest liveaboard sailboats ever produced.

1. Catalina 30

{{boat-info="/boats/catalina-30"}}

The Catalina 30 is one of the most common production cruising sailboats ever.

Thousands of these reliable and robust fiberglass boats still sail, despite the fact that they first entered the market in 1972.

This 30-foot boat features a modern and spacious interior, with all the accommodations you’d expect on a boat its size.

Most models feature a large and useful galley, along with running water supplied by electric pumps.

The Catalina 30 also featured a ‘suite’ layout, with a master bedroom V-Berth closed off to the rest of the cabin by a door.

An enclosed shower and head make it a pleasant boat to live on.

The layout of the Catalina 30 also featured a dinette, which serves as an excellent chart table or workspace as well.

2. Islander 36

{{boat-info="/boats/islander-36"}}

The Islander 36 is a well-rounded liveaboard sailboat which also has impressive cruising capabilities.

While manufacturing ceased in the 1980s, the I-36 was the company’s best-selling model with nearly a thousand built.

Islander boats are known for some well-adorned cabins, and many featured elegant wooden interior trim.

Like the Catalina 30, the Islander 36 includes an enclosed head with a shower and flush toilet.

The interior layout of the I-36 is spacious and well-designed, featuring a long port and starboard settee which folds out into a double-berth for sleeping.

An enclosed shower and spacious master berth make it a very well-rounded option for cruising and living aboard.

3. Contessa 32

{{boat-info="/boats/contessa-32"}}

Contessa Yachts produced their venerable 32-foot cruising and racing sailboat from 1970 until 1990, but custom boatbuilders still manufacture the yacht today.

It’s well-known for cruising capabilities, but it has a lot to offer as a liveaboard as well.

The traditional cabin is thoughtfully designed, featuring a fold-up table in the center of the cabin floor.

The spatially conscious design of the Contessa 32 makes it an excellent option for the no-frills and organized sailor.

This vessel features a separate master bedroom, along with a head and shower in the hallway between the compartments.

4. Pearson 34

{{boat-info="/boats/pearson-34"}}

Pearson produced their excellent 34-foot sailboat during the 1980s. This medium-sized cruising yacht features an extremely spacious interior with plenty of floor space to move around.

The layout is complex, but not overwhelming. The galley nook is functional and features convenient overhead storage for utensils giving it a ‘home-y’ feeling.

The head is enclosed and spacious, including a bathroom sink and mirror.

The separate master bedroom is also enclosed with ample clothing storage throughout.

Out of all the boats listed so far, the Pearson 34 should feel most like a traditional living space to most people.

If the Pearson 34 seems a little too compact, be sure to read on and check out the next two boats on the list.

5. Nordic 40

{{boat-info="/boats/nordic-40"}}

So far the largest boat on our list, the Nordic 40 is a super-capable offshore cruiser with excellent liveaboard facilities.

This relatively rare boat features an extremely spacious interior, which is more than ample for a couple to live comfortably.

Standing headroom throughout, a spacious master bedroom, along with a nearly full galley allows for superbly comfortable living in any climate or region.

The extra storage aboard makes remote living possible, so owners can anchor out for weeks or months at a time with enough provisions to last.

While this boat isn’t very common, it’s still worth keeping an eye out for it while searching for a liveaboard sailboat .

6. Peterson 44

{{boat-info="/boats/kelly-peterson-44"}}

The Peterson 44 is what’s known as a ‘center-cockpit cruiser,’ featuring a split-cabin both fore and aft.

This spacious interior layout maximizes living space without decreasing sailing capabilities.

The boat features a master bedroom and bathroom, along with another cabin, berth, and head behind the cockpit.

In addition to two bathrooms, it features a full galley, booth dinette, and settee.

All these extras combined with excellent storage make it an excellent liveaboard option.

Pearson is well-renowned for building excellent boats, and their interior quality is above average.

7. Nor’Sea 27

{{boat-info="/boats/norsea-27"}}

The Nor’Sea 27 is a classic compact sailboat, which is ideal for minimalist or single people living aboard.

The interior is surprisingly spacious for its size, featuring all the amenities you’d expect on a larger boat.

This beautiful little boat likely mimics the comfort of a Catalina 30, and should cost less in slip fees.

The interior features a toilet, shower, and galley.

The forward berth converts into a dinette but features two other bunks underneath the cockpit.

Production of the Nor’Sea 27 began in 1976, and it’s still produced today.

And the best part—you can legally tow it on a trailer. It’s arguably the ultimate compact cruiser/liveaboard available today.

{{boat-info="/boats/cal-34"}}

The Cal 34 is very typical of mid-range sailboats of the 1970s. Produced between 1968 and 1975, this basic but comfortable yacht has a lot of potential as a liveaboard.

The interior is simple and spacious, without much luxury or adorning. However, less features make for less maintnence, and everything you’d need is available in the Cal 34.

A master bedroom, shower, and toilet are all standard, along with a well-arranged galley and comfortable sitting area.

The boat features ample storage for clothes, food, and gear.

All mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems aboard are easy to maintain, plus the cabin is well-designed.

9. Catalina 38

{{boat-info="/boats/catalina-38"}}

Another classic Catalina sailboat makes the list, with a well-thought-out interior that’s spacious enough for a couple to live comfortably.

Catalina produced their 38-foot sloop between 1977 and 1990, and it came standard with many excellent liveaboard features such as electrical outlets throughout the cabin.

Also, the head is spacious and includes a sink, which is always very convenient.

With plenty of places to sleep, there’s no need to fold away the galley table to get some rest.

The Catalina 38 is another fantastic mid-sized sailboat for living aboard, especially if you aren’t quite comfortable inside a Catalina 30.

10. Hunter 33

{{boat-info="/boats/hunter-33"}}

The last boat on our list is also one of the longest-lived in its category. Hunter produced their 33-foot sailboat starting in 1977, and it’s still in production today.

This handy mid-sized boat features excellent interior accommodations, with plenty of sitting and sleeping areas to choose from.

In addition to a full dinette, it features a toilet and shower aft away from the master bedroom.  Such an arrangement is a great option for sailors, as it allows the use of the head without moving too far away from the controls.

Standing headroom throughout the long cabin makes for a very comfortable long-term living arrangement.

The galley has plenty of storage space and the L-shaped layout allows for easy and efficient use.

At the end of the day, you’ll get to choose the liveaboard sailboat that works best for you. Check out some of the boats we mentioned and get an idea of what they offer.

Use this list to help identify features that you need, and perhaps avoid features that you don’t want.

When it comes to living aboard, there’s a lot more to consider than just your boat. As long as the boat you choose is in good condition, you’ll likely end up falling in love with it.

Either way, consider these top-ten liveaboard sailboats when you’re on the hunt for your boat.

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'Top Chef: Wisconsin' Episode 13 recap: The chefs set sail in Curaçao in first finale episode

living on a sailboat blog

Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Top Chef" Season 21, Episode 13, which aired June 12, 2024.       

Ahoy, “Top Chef” fans! It’s come down to this: Tonight, we learned who will be the top three contestants vying for the title of Top Chef. 

It was the first of two finale episodes filmed aboard the Holland America Eurodam cruise ship, which set sail from beautiful Curaçao.  

While I missed seeing Wisconsin shine on the small screen, it’s been a brutal season for the chefs, and they’ve more than earned a Caribbean getaway. But it’s not all fruity cocktails and beach excursions. The top four chefs had one final, frazzled Elimination Challenge before the last episode. 

It wasn’t pretty. We know how talented Dan, Danny, Laura and Savannah are, and the first cruise-line cook showed some cracks. But there were a couple standout dishes, and three of the chefs will have time to rebound in the final episode of “Top Chef: Wisconsin,” which airs next week. 

Need a break? Play the USA TODAY Daily Crossword Puzzle.

What in MKE did we see?: Nothing! “Top Chef” wrapped its time in Wisconsin with Episode 12 . The finals are set aboard Holland America’s Eurodam cruise ship . 

Celebrity sightings: Chef/author Helmi Smeulders , Holland America Line President Gus Antorcha, Holland America Line Captain Mark Trembling, superstar Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto , Holland America Line Fleet Executive Chef Sinu Pillai, “Top Chef: Texas” contestant Ed Lee , Holland America Line Director of Dining and Beverage Operations Marisa Christenson. 

Where was the challenge set? Holland America’s Eurodam cruise ship 

How did Dan do? Major spoiler! It was a bit of an up-down-up episode, but ... he did good enough to make it to the “Top Chef” finale! After a middling first course, he redeemed himself with a beautiful blackened snapper that impressed the judges and punched his ticket to the finale. He also won the Quickfire Challenge this week — his first Quickfire win of the season. 

Best Milwaukee-related quote: “I’m on the cusp of being the next Top Chef. I’m happy to represent my city of Milwaukee, I’m happy to represent the state of Wisconsin. Let’s go.” —Dan Jacobs 

Sure, Milwaukee has some pretty spectacular water views of its own, but when the episode opened to punchy-colored buildings nestled by glimmering cerulean waters, it was clear “Top Chef” had bid adieu to the Midwest for the season. 

“We’re not in Milwaukee anymore,” Dan said as he arrived at the marina in Curaçao. 

Weeks after the final episode filmed in Milwaukee, the top four chefs (Dan, Danny, Laura and Savannah) reconvened with host Kristen Kish and judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons in sunny Curaçao, an island just north of Venezuela. 

We learned that Danny had just run the New York City Marathon (We saw him running around Milwaukee a lot this season, but how did he manage to train during the competition?!) And Savannah had big news of her own: she got engaged during her time at home (like, right when she got home. “I got off the plane and it happened,” she said.) 

But even from 2,000 miles away, chef Dan hadn’t forgotten about his hometown. 

“Winning ‘Top Chef’ changes everybody’s life. Beyond what it’s gonna do for my business, I think about what it could do for the state of Wisconsin or the city of Milwaukee,” he said. 

He’s not there yet, but the first of his cooks to determine whether he’ll claim the title was just ahead. 

The Quickfire Challenge: Lionfish and cheese are a gouda pairing 

Kish, Colicchio and Simmons were waiting for the chefs by the marina and welcomed them to Curaçao with an azure-hued cocktail featuring, of course, blue Curaçao liqueur. 

“OK, chefs, are you ready to take a stab at your final Quickfire Challenge?” Kish asked. 

She pointed toward the display of spiney lionfish just to her left, an easy tip-off to the main ingredient of this week’s challenge, which none of the chefs had cooked with before. 

But local chef, cookbook author and lionfish hunter Helmi Smeulders was there to help. She explained that lionfish are an invasive species, and chefs in the area are encouraged to hunt and cook the fish to cut down on the population. 

With 18 venomous spines, lionfish are intimidating little suckers, but although the chefs would be cooking them, they wouldn’t have to break them down themselves. Phew!  

“Well, I mean, that’d be a great way to eliminate one of us, too,” Dan said, joking (but at this point in the competition, there could have been a kernel of truth there). 

The chefs wouldn’t only be cooking with lionfish. A second ingredient, gouda, is prevalent in Curaçao, brought to the island by the Dutch in the 17th century. 

“Just because we left Wisconsin doesn’t mean we’re gonna leave all the cheese behind,” Kish said. (Smart woman!) 

The chefs would have the "sacrilegious” task of incorporating the lionfish and gouda in one dish, attempting to balance the mildness of the fish with the gouda’s strong flavor. 

They’d have just 30 minutes to figure out how. 

It was like the reverse of the infamous cheese festival challenge : Three of the chefs made some sort of light tartare or crudo while Danny opted for a fried croquette. 

Dan’s tartare was tossed in a little Kewpie mayo and served with orange and fresno aguachile and gouda frico. Laura’s crudo came with guava sauce and gouda crunch. Savannah’s crudo had chili oil and a sauce inspired by Curaçao’s national dish (keshi yena). Danny’s croquette had gouda sauce and red cabbage slaw. 

After the quick cook, Dan’s lionfish tartare was the winning dish. Simmons said the Kewpie mayo he used in the dish was a smart bridge between the light fish and gouda. 

It was the first-ever Quickfire win for Dan, a last-minute victory for a known hater of the speedy mini challenges. He took home $10,000, his first cash prize since winning Restaurant Wars . 

The Elimination Challenge reveal: There’s plenty of fish in the sea 

We saw a lot of heartland-favorite ingredients pop up in the Wisconsin challenges this season, but when you’re surrounded by the sea, one ingredient comes to mind: fresh fish. 

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs would work together to present an eight-course meal featuring eight different fish with eight different preparations: raw, steamed, mousse, poached, fried, roasted, smoked and blackened. 

Each chef would present two dishes to the judges’ table aboard the Holland America Eurodam line. 

The ship would provide a pantry of ingredients, but the chefs could supplement it at the floating market nearby, where they’d have 10 minutes and $100 to shop for fresh produce.  

Without knowing what type of fish they’d be working with yet, the chefs navigated the market selecting ingredients that could be used broadly or those that showed off the region’s local flavor. 

On cook day, they’d have two-and-a-half hours to prep and cook their dishes to serve to a table of eight judges aboard the ship. 

The chefs unwind with a special dinner and stingray excursion 

But the chefs would have a little time to unwind before one of the most stressful cooks of the season. 

Once aboard the Eurodam, they met at restaurant Tamarind, where an iconic celebrity chef was working behind the sushi bar. 

It was Masaharo Morimoto, star of long-running cooking competition show “Iron Chef,” and a restaurateur who owns more than 20 restaurants around the world, including one aboard one of Holland America’s fleet. He also happens to be the fresh fish ambassador to Holland America. 

He prepared a multi-course menu for the contestants, who sat slack-jawed in awe of the superstar chef the whole time. 

“Chef Morimoto’s just going to cook for me and these three goons? This is crazy,” said a wide-eyed Dan. 

“I feel so honored to be here in this moment,” Savannah said.

Before leaving, Morimoto presented a list of the fish the chefs could choose from for the next day’s cook. But before he went, he left a poignant autograph for each chef, inscribing the words ichigo ichie on their menus, which means “the one-time chance” in Japanese. 

Because Savannah won last week’s Elimination Challenge, she had first pick of the fish and preparation (raw Atlantic salmon and fried striped bass). The divvying up went pretty smoothly for the rest of the chefs, too, aside from a brief moment where Dan and Laura both aimed to claim snapper. 

It seemed like the long-squashed beef between them had returned, but Laura offered the snapper to Dan and settled for grouper.  

She also chose steamed black bass. Danny chose sea bream mousse and smoked rainbow trout. 

Dan ended up with poached dorade and blackened snapper. 

The next day, the chefs unwound with a beach-day getaway to Half Moon Cay, where they relaxed on a beachfront deck, sipped drinks and swam with stingrays (much to nature-averse Danny’s chagrin). 

“The stingrays, they come and give you warm hugs, but also they can also sting,” Laura said. “Like the chefs in the competition almost.” 

And making it this far, whoever got the chop this week would feel the sting extra hard. 

The Elimination Challenge: Rough waters in the kitchen at sea 

The chill beach-day vibes screeched to a halt when the chefs entered the Tamarind kitchen the following day. 

They’d cooly selected their fish and courses, but their confidence was shaken as their dishes took shape. 

Dan’s yucca fritters came out from the frier mushy — another dunk in the oil helped crisp them up, but added an extra layer of grease. Danny’s steamed mousse didn’t souffle as he intended. And Savannah scrambled throughout her time in the kitchen, her vision for both dishes getting completely lost in the shuffle. 

It seemed like nerves were getting to the chefs, and with good reason. This was one of the most important cooks of their lives to that point, with just one service between them and the finale. 

They would serve a table of eight: Kish, Collichio, Simmons, Antorcha and Trembling, Pillai, Lee and Christenson.

Savannah was up first. She presented a sake-cured salmon roll with salmon tartare, twice-fried plantain and ginger dressing. A fine dish, but a very simple way to show off salmon, the judges said. 

Next was Laura, who made a black bass recado negro with squash and fried plantain wrapped in a banana leaf. A fun idea, given the tropical locale, but Kish didn’t think the banana leaves were properly cleaned, creating a dirty musk that overwhelmed the dish. 

Danny was never able to revive his sea bream mousse, which he served with a fines herbes salad and scotch bonnet and green garlic spheres. 

In true Danny fashion, it was technical and stunning on the plate, but the mousse was so off it detracted from creativity of the spheres. 

“Something went wrong,” Collichio said. 

Something was wrong with Dan’s poached dorade, too. He told the judges he hadn’t cooked dorade in almost 20 years. He walked away feeling pretty confident that the judges loved his dish, but Tom swooped in with a real zinger after he’d left the room. 

“Dan said he hasn’t cooked dorade since 2005. He still hasn’t cooked it,” he said. OUCH. His fish was raw. 

Manny went home last week for serving raw fish, saving Dan from being eliminated just before the finals. 

Although Dan’s fish wasn’t poached correctly, the judges did like the flavor of the coconut-turmeric sauce along with the grilled pumpkin and chili-garlic crisp. But Simmons mentioned those twice-fried fritters felt heavy and clunky alongside the rest of the dish’s bright Caribbean flavors. 

Savannah's second dish was a bit of a flop, too. Her fried striped bass with pepper kosho and aji amarillo aioli was executed beautifully, but her choice to serve it on a too-large baguette made the dish feel dry. She should’ve cut the fish larger to fit, the judges said. 

It was a big whiff for Laura’s grouper. It, too, was undercooked, and when she explained how she prepared it, she described baking the fish, not roasting, which was the preparation she was assigned.  

And the guajillo pepper glaze, guajillo-xo emulsion and pineapple broth seemed to curdle in the bowl, an off-putting sight for any dish. 

By that point, the judges were feeling a little awkward about their final four chefs. 

“They’ve all cooked so much better,” Kish assured the guest judges. It was clear to everyone that the lackluster showing across the board meant the intensity of the competition was getting to them. 

“They feel like they’re afraid,” Colicchio said. 

Those fears were assuaged when Danny presented his second dish, a smoked rainbow trout with plantain pumpkin puree and a hazelnut lemon relish.  

Smoked fish will always be dry, Lee said, but Danny’s smart decision to top his with a smoked rainbow trout foam infused it with moisture.  

And the judges were wild about his hazelnut lemon relish, the lemon adding brightness and the hazelnut acting as a natural through line for the smokiness of the fish. 

You could sense the relief in the room as the judges discussed his dish. 

That relief lingered as Dan “brought up the caboose,” as he said, with the final course: blackened snapper, a preparation he’d never done but a dish his dad always enjoyed. He served it with butter-poached potatoes, a mandarin butter sauce and dill oil. 

“This is my favorite dish of the whole meal,” Lee said. “Just comforting, it just made me feel good.” 

With a big smile, Kish said Dan’s snapper was the juiciest piece of fish served all day. 

After dinner, as the chefs debriefed, Dan was quiet as the rest of the chefs shared where they thought they had failed. He thought he nailed both dishes, but ending on that bright note gave him an extra boost of confidence going in to the judges’ critiques. 

Who won ‘Top Chef: Wisconsin’ Episode 13? 

Dan was half right. When Colicchio revealed that his poached fish, among others’, was served raw, Dan’s face fell. 

“It flaked!” he said, uncredulous. He was shocked he’d misjudged the doneness of his dish. 

But his smile returned when the judges praised his moist and flavorful blackened snapper. 

“If everyone made blackened fish the way you did, that fish would not have died in the ‘90s,” Lee said. 

Everyone got pretty high-low critiques for the day, for the most part. The judges said they could tell Savannah’s creativity just wasn’t there, and Laura had some major mishaps, including the dirty banana leaves and undercooked grouper. 

They were totally turned off by Danny’s failed mousse, but he managed to save himself with his final dish, his unexpected smoked rainbow trout brightened beautifully by the lemon hazelnut relish. 

“That dish, for me, was nearly perfect,” Kish said. 

And that dish is what ultimately secured the win — and the first spot in the finale — for Danny. 

Aside from advancing to the finale, Danny won $10,000 and a 10-day cruise for two anywhere in the world Holland America sails. 

“I’m going to the finale, I got $53,000 and I’m going on a cruise?” he said. “This feels really good.” 

I bet so, Danny! 

Who was sent home on ‘Top Chef: Wisconsin’ Episode 13? 

Who would be the next chef to join Danny in the finale? 

Thank goodness for that “caboose” dish, which saved Dan and secured his spot in the finale, too. 

“I’ve wanted to be in this position forever,” he said to the judges. “And I’m just happy you guys have given me this opportunity.” 

That brought it down to Savannah and Laura, two talented chefs who’ve been on a hot streak the past few episodes, but lost their footing at the end. 

This week, Savannah’s dishes were uninspired and Laura’s just had too many flaws. 

For Laura, who’d won her way back into the competition from Last Chance Kitchen, her journey on “Top Chef” would end. 

“I feel good to be part of this,” she said after Kish asked her to pack her knives and go. “To have an opportunity to work with amazing chefs, to learn from other people, to get feedback from Kristen and from Tom and from Gail. To see the evolution of me as a chef.” 

Savannah would join Danny and Dan in the finale. 

But the energy had been sucked from the room. The chefs had reached a major milestone, but their subpar dishes had shaken their confidence and stripped away any sense of celebration they’d earned. 

“You should feel good about this,” Colicchio said. “And I know why you don’t: You didn’t do your best work today. I get it, but you have an opportunity to make it up.” 

Kish, who'd stood in their chef's coats on “Top Chef” before, urged the chefs to relish the position they were in. 

“It’s a fantastic moment that you are going to remember forever,” she said through tears. “So have fun with it, truly. It’s really amazing.” 

The whole room got emotional as the weight of the moment sank in. 

Next week, Dan, Danny and Savannah will compete in the “Top Chef: Wisconsin” finale, one of them taking home the title for the season. 

They’ll be joined by six eliminated contestants: Amanda, Michelle, Soo, Manny, Laura and Kaleena, who will partner with the top three as sous chefs, helping them cook a multi-course meal that will determine who will win the competition. 

This is the point where I need to chime in and say I am a giant fan of all three contestants. Danny’s talent and artistry have been awe-inspiring from the start. And I’ve loved cheering on “underdog” Savannah as she’s risen and proven herself as an exceptional chef. 

But, c’mon. I live in Milwaukee. Of course I’m going to be a homer. 

Dan all the way, baby! He’s been such a fantastic representative for our city and state and it’s been so exciting to watch our hometown chef realize his yearslong dream. 

“I’m on the cusp of being the next Top Chef,” he said as the credits rolled. “I’m happy to represent my city of Milwaukee, I’m happy to represent the state of Wisconsin. Let’s go.” 

How to watch 'Top Chef: Wisconsin': TV channel, streaming    

Viewers can watch live on Bravo on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. or stream the next day on Peacock , BravoTV.com or the Bravo app.  

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Demi Moore on Full Frontal Nudity With Margaret Qualley in ‘The Substance’: ‘A Very Vulnerable Experience’ but I Had a ‘Great Partner Who I Felt Very Safe With’

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Demi Moore and her dog Pilaf attend a photocall at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Carlton Cannes Hotel on May 19, 2024 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Demi Moore ‘s new film, the feminist body horror “ The Substance ,” sees her bare it all, with several scenes featuring full nudity. At the Cannes Film Festival press conference for the film on Monday, the 61-year-old actor discussed the “vulnerable experience.”

“Going into it, it was really spelled out — the level of vulnerability and rawness that was really required to tell the story,” Moore said. “And it was a very vulnerable experience and just required a lot of sensitivity and a lot of conversation about what we were trying to accomplish.”

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“I had someone who was a great partner who I felt very safe with. We obviously were quite close  — naked — and we also got a lot of levity in those moments at how absurd those certain situations were,” she said. “But ultimately. it’s just about really directing your communication and mutual trust.”

As the film progresses, Moore becomes horribly disfigured thanks to the abuse her other half Qualley is inflicting on her. By the film’s last act, she quite resembles Anjelica Huston from the 1990 film “The Witches,” after she transforms into a humpback abomination.

Dennis Quaid also stars in the film as an “asshole,” as he described his character during the presser. The late Ray Liotta was meant to have the role before his passing in May 2022, and Quaid dedicated his performance to him.

“In my heart, I dedicated this role to Ray Liotta, who was set to play it,” Quaid said. “It was this week, two years ago that he passed, so I’d like to remember him. He was such an incredible actor.”

Cannes went wild for “The Substance” at its premiere on Sunday night, giving the film an 11-minute standing ovation , the longest of the fest so far.

In an interview with Variety , the French director discussed the film’s feminist themes, saying that body horror is “the perfect vehicle to express the violence all these women’s issues are about.”

With an undercurrent of #MeToo at this year’s festival as the movement grows in France, Fargeat hopes the film will shine even more light on the issue. “It’s a little stone in the huge wall we still have to build regarding this issue, and to be honest, I hope my film will also be one of the stones of that wall. That’s really what I intended to do with it.”

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Election latest: Liz Truss aspirations 'absolutely right', minister says

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride praises former prime minister Liz Truss's aspirations for the UK economy during his appearance on Sky News. Listen to the latest Politics at Jack and Sam's podcast as you scroll, with inflation figures taking centre stage again.

Wednesday 19 June 2024 10:01, UK

  • General Election 2024

Election news

  • SNP launching manifesto later this morning
  • Truss aspirations 'absolutely right', minister says
  • YouGov and Sky to reveal major poll at 5pm
  • One of Tories' biggest 2019 donors endorses Labour
  • Sky News Daily: 'We need an adult conversation about migration'

Expert analysis

  • Jon Craig: Poll and defection are double trouble for Tories
  • Tom Cheshire : The data behind the public's view of immigration
  • Darren McCaffrey: PM's trip to luxury village shows no seat is safe

Election essentials

  • Check parties' manifesto pledges:  Conservatives | Greens | Labour | Lib Dems | Plaid Cymru | Reform
  • Trackers:  Who's leading polls? | Is PM keeping promises?
  • Campaign Heritage:  Memorable moments from elections gone by
  • Follow Sky's politics podcasts:  Electoral Dysfunction | Politics At Jack And Sam's
  • Read more:  Who is standing down? | Key seats to watch | What counts as voter ID? | Check if your constituency is changing | Guide to election lingo | Sky's election night plans

By Faye Brown, political reporter

Watch the full interview - the first in a series with all political leaders - on the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge at 7pm today.

Sir Ed Davey has said legal migration is "too high" but refuses to accept his own policies would exacerbate the issue.

In an interview with Sky's Sophy Ridge, the Liberal Democrat leader said rising immigration is "a massive broken promise" by the Conservatives and "one of the reasons why we're seeing such disillusionment in politics".

However he rejected the claim that some of his own policies, such as closer ties with Europe and a new EU Youth mobility scheme, would increase immigration further.

Asked if he thinks legal migration is too high, Sir Ed said: "Yes, I do. And you're right to say that since we left the EU, immigration has more than doubled, completely against what the Conservatives and the Brexiteers promised."

Pressed on what he would do to fix the issue, he said his policy to raise the minimum wage of care workers would attract "people who are currently working in an Amazon warehouse or a supermarket" to the sector, reducing the reliance on foreign staff.

"They (the Conservatives) refuse to pay people properly and so they've issued hundreds of thousands of health care visas, so they've increased legal immigration," he said.

Read the full story here:

This is the largest number of people to cross in a single day since 29 November 2022.

Having 15 boats cross in a single day has only happened twice in the past year - the last occurrence being in September last year.

A total of 12,313 people have crossed to the UK across the Channel since the start of the year.

This is up almost a fifth on the same period last year, when the total was 10,472.

It is 5% higher than this stage in 2022, when the number was 11,690.

Our live poll tracker collates the results of opinion surveys carried out by all the main polling organisations - and allows you to see how the political parties are performing in the run-up to the general election.

The SNP are shown to be polling around 3% - although due to the concentration of their vote in specific areas (Scotland), this could lead to dozens of seats still.

Read more about the tracker here .

Stewart Hosie, the SNP's campaign director, has been speaking to Sky News this morning.

One policy the SNP is advocating is to introduce a "social tariff" on energy prices - this is a rate that is more affordable for people who need it.

Asked if this policy was able to be implemented by Scotland, Mr Hosie confirms it is not.

He said: "Oh no, the SNP, the SNP can't do that. This is a reserved matter. 

"Energy is reserved, this has got to be a UK policy. 

"This is a UK election and this is exactly the kind of measure SNP MPs will be pushing for when we return to Westminster."

Another policy the SNP wants to implement is an increase in NHS funding.

Because the money for the Scottish NHS is calculated off the back of the UK's funding for the service, the party is advocating for a UK-wide boost.

The SNP is calling for the UK-wide funding to go up by £10bn, so Scotland can get another £1.6bn.

On polling, Mr Hosie says that the "only poll that matters is 4 July".

The party is forecasted to lose between 10 and 20 seats in various polls - it had 43 when parliament was dissolved for the election.

He adds that the party is running a "first class" ground campaign.

Yesterday was the last day that people could apply to register to vote before the general election.

Some 632,863 submitted applications - slightly below the 659,666 applications on the equivalent deadline day in 2019.

The deadline was at 11.59pm on Tuesday.

It means more than 2.7 million applications to vote were submitted from 23 May, the first full day after Rishi Sunak called the general election, to 18 June.

More than half of those who applied were aged 34 and under, with 30% from 25 to 34-year-olds and 26% from those under 25.

Meanwhile, 17% of applications were from 35 to 44-year-olds, 11% from 45 to 54-year-olds, 9% from 55 to 64-year-olds, 4% from 65 to 74-year-olds and 2% from people aged 75 and over.

It is likely some of those who applied to register to vote were already registered, so the 632,863 figure is likely higher than the number of people were added to the list of registered voters.

The prime minister is currently answering questions from the public on LBC.

One caller asks if Rishi Sunak will serve as an MP for the full parliament - up to five years - even if the Conservatives are in opposition. 

Mr Sunak says "yes" - but that he is focused on winning the election.

The PM is also asked about high-profile donors to the Conservative Party - like Phones4U founder John Caudwell - choosing to back Labour instead ( read more here ).

He says these are some of the UK's "richest men and can probably afford Starmer's tax rises".

Sky News' deputy political editor Sam Coates and Politico's Jack Blanchard with their guide to the election day ahead.

👉  Tap here to follow Politics at Jack and Sam's wherever you get your podcasts  👈

This is day 28 of the campaign. Jack and Sam discuss inflation, the SNP manifesto launch, and how Labour's transition planning is going.

Email Jack and Sam:  [email protected]

Speaking to Sky News this morning, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride praised former prime minister Liz Truss's aspirations for the UK economy.

He was asked about comments from the chancellor, who praised Ms Truss's goals as "good things to aim for", according to The Guardian. 

He said: "I think in terms of the aspirations that Liz had, which were to get taxes down, and recognising that low tax generally means growth, and I think that's absolutely right.

"I mean, I was very clearly on the record at the time as chair of the Treasury select committee having considerable doubts about the way in which that particular policy or aspiration was pursued.

"So, I think [Chancellor Jeremy Hunt] is absolutely right though that what we've got to do now is continue to bear down on taxes."

During the interview, Mr Stride admitted the election is "undoubtedly tough" - but there are still two weeks to go and the Tory party will "fight for every single vote".

As political correspondent Mhari Aurora points out, it's unusual for Conservatives to endorse Ms Truss due to her unpopularity with the public.

"Perhaps this is partly because if they feel the election's already been lost, they need to start appealing to the voter base, to members," she says - as Ms Truss was popular with grassroots Tories.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves is speaking to Sky News on behalf of Labour this morning.

She is asked about Labour's stance of not raising taxes on "working people".

Sir Keir defined them yesterday as "people who earn their living, rely on our [public] services and don't really have the ability to write a cheque when they get into trouble".

Asked if this was correct, Ms Reeves repeated several times that "working people are people who go out to work".

She adds that the idea is to change who the government thinks about when making policy.

Ms Reeves says: "Whether you've got a small level of savings, whether you've been able to save a little bit more or whether you're savings have now totally disappeared because of the Conservative cost of living crisis, you're paying the price for the chaos and decline that we've seen these last two years."

Pressed on whether a fiscal event will take place after the election if Labour wins, Ms Reeves says the party would wait to hold a budget until the autumn.

She rules out an event in July.

The shadow chancellor does not rule out MPs being forced to sit for longer during the summer if Labour wins to get its administration off the ground.

Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, is speaking to Sky News this morning.

He welcomes inflation returning to the 2% target as a "significant moment".

Mr Stride claims it shows the Conservative Party can be trusted with the economy.

Controlling inflation is the responsibility of the Bank of England, although the government sets the target of 2%.

Challenged that inflation is nothing to do with the government, Mr Stride says Downing Street has to take decisions like whether to raise public sector pay that can have inflationary impacts.

Sky's Kay Burley points out that when inflation was high, the government was saying it was not their responsibility.

Mr Stride says that while there was a big inflation shock that impacted economies across the world, how individual countries responded shows the competency of different governments.

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  1. Living In A Sailboat: An Insider's Guide To Sailboat Life

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