The truth about living on a boat

By Mike Jastrzebski

To set the record straight, we’ve been living aboard Rough Draft for nine years now and most of the time I love living on a boat. At this stage in my life I can’t envision living in an apartment or even a house. I like the people I meet and the places we’ve traveled to, but if you’re thinking of taking the plunge here are some of the realities we’ve had to face during our time living aboard.

Besides the boat projects that never seem to end, I think my biggest complaint about living aboard is space. However, it’s not the space confines of living within ten steps of my wife Mary 24/7 that troubles me, it’s having to dig through the cupboards and storage boxes everytime I need something.

Whether it’s digging through a tool cabinet that holds twice the tools it’s made to hold, or reaching for a sheet of paper, something’s got to be moved first. When you live on a boat space is a precious commodity.

As a writer I depend on the internet for research, promoting my books, and the news. It’s sometimes hard to get good internet service. We spent six years in Ft. Lauderdale and while there we had a phone line run to the boat for DSL service and had fast dependable service, but let’s face it, the idea of living on a boat is to travel, and that’s when the service gets a little iffy.

In Mobile, Alabama we depended on phone service in the office. We had to share the phone with all of the other boaters and as can be expected the service was slow. When we left Mobile we bought an internet card and picked up some speed over a phone line, but reception depended a lot on location.

Our current location, Harbortown Marina outside of Cape Canaveral, offers free internet with docking, but weekends I get faster connections by using my iPad and the 3G connection. At anchor we use the Linx wifi booster. Wifi in the Bahamas is about $100 a month, and again when there are a lot of boats in an anchorage service is slow.

If you like to watch TV it can be a problem. A lot of marinas are out of the way and when you’re at anchor, especially in Key West and the Bahamas, you might as well forget it.

Finally, whatever you think it’s going to cost you to live on a boat, double it. The truth is you’re going to be living in a harsh environment and things will go wrong. That pump you replaced last year, it may go down again. Fuel goes bad, stainless rusts, props get clogged. It’s all a fact of life with living on a boat.

Now I’m not trying to discourage anyone from moving onto a boat. If we didn’t find more positives than negatives to the lifestyle we wouldn’t have lived this way for nearly ten years, but you need to be aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Just be prepared for the reality of the life.

So now that I’ve finished writing this post I think I’ll grab a cup of coffee and go sit in the cockpit and enjoy the good. I’ll leave the bad and the ugly until later.




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About Mike Jastrzebski

In September of 2003 my wife, Mary, and I moved aboard our 36-foot Sailboat, Roughdraft. It was our intention to take the boat south from Minnesota to warmer climates where I would write a novel. Six years later I have completed 3 mystery novels. I have published the first two books, The Storm Killer and Key Lime Blues as e-books and trade paperbacks. The third book, Dog River Blues will be released in early 2011. It is my intention to use this blog to share what I’ve learned while trying to get published. I will also blog about the trials and tribulations of living on a sailboat. We sailed the boat from Minnesota to Mobile, Alabama where we lived for two years. We also spent three months living in Key West. Currently, the boat is docked in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In 2011 we plan to take the boat to the Caribbean where we plan to drift until it is no longer fun.
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