One afternoon while sitting in my cockpit, rocking back and forth (at anchor) I decided to write 40 reasons why living on a sailboat full-time rocks. If you need to convince yourself, or perhaps your partner, of the benefits of sailing off into sunset, give these a read.
In all honesty, I’m not sure why anyone would choose a life on land over a life on the sea!
Here are 40 reasons why living on a sailboat full-time ROCKS!
1. Travel. Ability to travel to all seven continents in the world using mostly wind to get there.
2. Views. Wide variety of views on offer including the deep blue sea, quiet rocky bays, lush green countryside, buzzing city centers, majestic mountains, rolling plains, mystic rivers, historical ruins, and even erupting fiery volcanoes.
3. Changeability. If you don’t like your view today, you can easily change it tomorrow.
4. Warm weather. Having the option of following or staying in areas where there is always warm weather is fantastic.
5. Culture. Each new country/island offers a new culture full of interesting traditions, unique foods/flavors, and fascinating customs to experience. Just walking around an old town and absorbing the views, smells, and people provide an essence of what life is like in that community.
6. The universal language of non-verbal communication. Becoming a full-time cruiser helps to increase a travelers ability to communicate through body language and ultimately feel comfortable not knowing a host language. When we first started out I tried to learn the language basics of each country we visited. Despite my best efforts most of my communications usually consisted of smiles, pointing, charades, and more smiles. In the past, I was afraid to visit non-English speaking countries for fear of not being understood. Now I know I don’t need to speak any language to figure things out.
7. Food. Amazing varieties of food, food preparation, and traditional dishes! Every place we go I look for the traditional dishes, order them, and then try and recreate them back on the boat.
8. People. The people I meet when traveling are probably my number one reason why cruising around the world rocks. Whether we meet a person indigenous to the country, another cruiser, or a tourist we almost always enjoy a wonderful connection. Stories are shared, information is offered and joy is created. Some people we meet and they stay friends for years and others we share just a quick passing communication. Most often communications are authentic – we only chat with people because we want to, not because we have to.
9. History. Investigating ruins, absorbing the chronicles of each new country, and voyaging along the paths of our founding explorers can be extremely interesting and enlightening.
10. Feeling the rhythm of nature. When living on a boat your body learns to not only accept the motion of the waves but to even preempt the motion. Flowing with the sea is like dancing with nature – it’s a part of the concept of being one with the world and feels right.
Are you sold yet? Read on for 30 more reasons for living on a sailboat full-time…
11. Being surrounded by nature. Smelling the salty sea, feeling the caress of the warm breeze, and absorbing the golden power from the sun is true bliss. And most anchorages surround the boat with lush green trees, native animals, and a variety of geography showing the layers of time.
12. The sense of community in the sailing world. I’ve written about this at length! Sailors/boaters all help each other out. When at sea if someone is having difficulty, everyone works together to help out. When on land, boaters pass important information, share tips, and create strong bonds. There are no divides and no boundaries. All boaters speak the same language and are ready to help and be helped.
13. No news! There’s no TV, no radio, no newspaper at sea so that means there is no constant broadcast of negativity, doom, gloom, and non-beneficial information. Not having news provides room for your thoughts to breathe and be your own.
14. Sharing with others. It’s great to have friends, family, and even strangers on the boat to share the experience of the boating lifestyle. It’s wonderful to see children and adults alike experience the sensation of gliding through the sea powered by wind.
15. Freedom. Most of our view is open sea. The view provides a cruiser with an ongoing sense of freedom. At any time, we can sail into the horizon – go left or right or straight ahead. There are no restrictions…we’re free to choose life’s course.
16. Going with the flow. Living full-time on a sailboat teaches you to go with the flow. You sail when there’s wind and you rest when it’s calm. Perhaps you set off for destination A but have to change to B. You want to leave today but can’t for two weeks. You learn to go with the flow and life feels like it’s guided rather than forced.
17. Stars. Sailing at night, away from land, and looking up at the stars is truly awesome. When you see how magnificently vast the nighttime sky the feeling that embraces your whole body is all-encompassing. With nothing to obstruct or dim your view, the stars come alive and blanket you with awesomeness.
18. No utility bills. We use the sun to keep our batteries topped up and a generator to run our oven. For water, we use our water maker and food can be caught with a line. Our only definite running cost is a very small amount of Diesel.
19. Clothes are not important. There’s a reduced pressure to dress a particular way or even get dressed! When in warm climates you live in a bathing suit and wear the same pair of shorts 4 days in a row. After a year of living on a boat, all your clothes become sun-bleached, holey, and marked with rust stains (from drying them on the safety rails). Many boaters, much to our amusement, sail around naked.
20. Comfort zone expander. Sailing around the world constantly provides new opportunities to learn things and grow. On a weekly, if not daily, basis we’re doing things we never knew we’d be doing – and often the things we do really stretch us. We have to learn how to fix problems, acquire parts not easily found, and react in potential emergency situations. Being outside our comfort zones doesn’t always feel good but we certainly feel alive. And once our comfort zone expands we feel richer for it.
21. Life-long learning. During our first year of sailing, we met a sailor named Jim. He set off around the world for three years and fifteen years later, now in his late 70’s, says he’ll probably never return to land. The thing that draws him to full-time cruising most, is his ability to learn something new every day. Jim explained to me that with sailing you’re always learning something new whether it’s through a new friend, having to fix something, or simply touring new lands. Life never gets dull when you’re pushing forward to new horizons.
22. Reduced need for stuff. There’s only so much room on a boat! And the room that is available is needed for must-haves rather than senseless purchases. On a boat, everything has a purpose and the few luxury things we have are true luxuries. Without having many rooms, cupboards, and a basement and/or attic there’s no desire to buy stuff. The whole concept of working to make money to buy stuff doesn’t exist when you live on a boat.
23. Spontaneity. Often we plan on going to X but meet other boaters going to Y. At the last minute, we change plans. On many occasions, we’ve spent weeks and even months longer in one area just because we wanted to spend more time with friends. We’ve also had times where we were sailing to X but someone told us of a very special spot called Z…we then, at the last minute, changed course to Z. Life flows.
24. Reality check. Living on a boat full-time provides many difficulties. There is a very limited supply of water (for drinking, cooking, etc.), lack of warm water (for showers), stability is not common, and you can’t just hop in the car and go buy anything you want. In fact, you can’t hop anywhere and do anything fast! In most cases, there’s no dishwasher or handy gadgets to make life easier.
Living on a boat makes the day-to-day tasks harder! That being said, the act of doing things by hand, being respectful of water, cooking what you can find at the local shops, and not being able to get particular things makes having those things (when you do get them) much more amazing. I’m so grateful for things like celery, broccoli, warm showers, stable ground, and supermarkets that are open 24 hours a day. Being on a boat is a great reality check – it opens your eyes to how good we have it back on land.
25. The world is good. Living on a boat and sailing around the world puts you in contact with different people from all walks of life. For 99.9% of the time, we’ve discovered people to be kind, generous, loving, and eager to connect. Sitting in your house watching the TV does not paint this kind of reality. Going out and seeing what is true will allow you to realized just how amazingly beautiful humans really are.
26. Animal visitors are in abundance. Can anything be more precious than sailing along with a pod of dolphins by your side? Or how about hanging with a bird that needs a well-deserved break when 100’s of miles away from land? How about seeing a turtle poke his head up to examine your face or having the blowhole of a whale grace the side of your deck? Watching a spotting eagle ray fly out of the sky to wave hello or say ‘hi’ to the barracuda that is always under your boat is fun too.
27. Your pool (the sea) doesn’t need any maintenance. Furthermore, it can be accessed from 360 around your floating home. That’s one big moat 🙂
28. Fresh fish is out of this world. If you like eating fish, you’ll freak out when you have fresh fish. And I mean, one-hour-old fish. It’s the most fulfilling, rewarding, and tastiest meal a boater can enjoy. (Unfortunately, however, you’ll never be able to eat old supermarket fish again after experiencing what fresh fish tastes like).
29. Anchoring is free. Not only can you see the world, mainly using wind as the energy to move you around, but you can also enjoy the most amazing sights for free! In some parks, and in certain countries, fees can be imposed for anchoring but mostly it’s free to lay a hook.
Still need more reasons? Read on for 10 more…
But before you read on, if you’re at the point where you’re getting more serious about living on a sailboat full time, consider purchasing my Sailboat Buying Guide For Cruisers. Every week I get at least one email from a reader asking, ‘but how much does it cost to buy and live on a boat’ and that guide will help you to answer that question.
The answer is always, ‘how long is a piece of string’ That is…until now!
I spent weeks creating a guide that lists every cost involved in buying a boat, getting the boat where you want it, finding a home for the boat, owning/maintaining the boat, and sailing on the boat. With this guide, the reader can do his or her research to find out if a cost will apply to their particular situation and then research the exact cost. You don’t know what you don’t know. With this guide, you’ll be armed with the right questions so to finally find the specific answer to the question of, ‘but how much does it cost?’
Get the guide here: Sailboat Buying Guide For Cruisers
30. Learning about trust. If you’re an ex-control freak like me, trusting God or the Universe might not come easy. When living on a boat there are all sorts of circumstances that force you into trusting life. Sailing in the dark (and not being able to see ahead of you), getting caught in a storm, and even anchoring can be scary. Worrying won’t do anything about the situation, so becoming a full-time cruiser teaches boaters to trust. It’s been an invaluable lesson for me.
31. Noise is limited. There’s the sound of the wind, the waves hitting the hull, sails flapping, sporadic winches grinding, and the motor when in use. Otherwise, there’s the occasional chin-wag over the VHF radio, the tug-tug-tug murmur of a distant cargo ship and that’s it. THAT’S IT.
32. Showering every day or even every week is not necessary. There’s something warming about being a salty sea dog even if you’re a woman. I never thought a day would come when I’d say I was happy with living in my own smell, but I am. I actually don’t mind being salt, sweaty, and carrying a head of greasy hair. No one sees me anyway. I think that I used to shower every day because I never wanted to be seen as dirty. Now, I don’t feel dirty. I simply feel at ease with myself. And considering we’re in and out of the sea so much, showering just doesn’t seem as important as it used to be.
33. Exploration. Nothing is more exciting than finding a new bay, anchoring, dropping the dingy, and then going to the beach for a nose around. Whether we’re in a town or a secluded bay it’s great to climb to the top and see the surrounding area. Through our exploration, we’ve discovered loads of things – a totally abandoned town, spiders the size of Coke bottle bottoms, caves, farms, nature walks, local tavernas/restaurants, breathtaking views, white stone beaches, black sand beaches, trees with fruit and on and on!
34. Waves are abundant. I’m talking about hand waves rather than sea waves. No matter where we are we wave to anyone that comes close enough to pass us. The only time someone doesn’t wave back is if they don’t see us wave in the first place. Back on land, it’s not normal to say ‘hi’ to people when walking around anymore. On the sea, however, most people are eager to initiate or reciprocate a heartfelt wave.
35. The person you have to become is awesome. It’s interesting to discover who you have to become to be a full-time cruiser. There’s a definitely You now and a different You after you’ve been cruising for a while. Fears are overcome, skills are developed, and life, as you once knew it, changes. I still have many years to go but looking back over the eight years of full-time cruising I can certainly say that I’ve changed massively. I have more patience, less of a need to control things, a higher trust or faith in life, an ability to live in the now rather than the past or future, a more authentic approach to life, a deeper and stronger love for my husband and daughter and overall my fulfillment with my life has increased dramatically. Not bad – eh?
36. Spectacular sunsets EVERY NIGHT. My eyes will never tire of a sunset or a sunrise. Living on a boat provides many opportunities to experience one of nature’s most beautiful gifts.
37. Sense of self-actualization or euphoria. Once the engine goes off, the sails are filled with wind, and the boat is traveling easily through the sea I often look out over the sea and am overwhelmed with a feeling of peace. It’s as if a blanket of bliss covers my body and in that fleeting moment, I feel grounded, balanced, alive, and connected to everyone and everything. Sadly, the feeling doesn’t last for very long…if only I could bottle it!
38. Confidence builder. When we started sailing full time we had experience with the art of sailing but lacked the technical ability to maintain, service, and fix engines, pumps, motors, rigging, refrigeration, hydraulics, and on and on. At first, we had to rely on ‘experts’ to help us out but as time went on we picked up a new skill here or there. Now we fix most of our problems ourselves and our confidence is always growing. Surely we’ll be a jack of all trades master of none but that’s exactly what’s needed to live on a boat!
39. Bonding with family. On our boat, it’s me, my husband, and my eleven-year-old daughter. We have friends, family, and guests join us often but we are the foundation. Almost every day we make new friends and have a social life far superior to the one we had on land. But…at the end of the day, it’s us three that are making our way around the world. We are a team and we work together. There’s loads of love on our boat and nonstop hugs. Our experiences – both successes and failures – have helped to bring us all closer together in a way that surely wouldn’t have occurred if we kept our previous lifestyle.
40. No regrets. For me, failing to become a full-time cruiser would have been a big regret if I didn’t do it. Often, I think, ‘when I’m 80 years old will I look back and regret that I didn’t do XYZ?’ I definitely won’t regret that I didn’t work harder at my job, or make many millions, or regret that I didn’t buy an Aston Martin. I would have, however, regretted not being able to experience these 40 things that make being a full-time cruising live aboard the most amazing thing ever!
So…I’m sure there are 40 more things that can be added to this list. This was all I could come up with while sitting here swinging and swelling on our anchor. What can you add? Leave a comment below.
What made me want to write this list?!
The other day, while surviving through a swell (the boat dramatically rocks back and forth while anchored), I felt a bit down and despondent. It’s funny how things become normal after a certain amount of time and, as humans, we tend to look on the negative side of things after a while.
Living the dream can wear off if you don’t realize how far you’ve come.
Last year I would have noticed the swell, told myself that it’s only temporary, and just laid down while it took its toll (made me seasick), or I would have taken the dinghy to shore to seek stable land.
Nowadays I find swells as an inconvenience that slow me down. Instead of writing, cleaning, or carrying on, as usual, I have to change plans and just chill out. I suppose that over time, even if you are living your dream, there are things that simply become normal and annoying.
And good things turning sour aren’t limited to the full-time cruising liveaboard scene.
For example, a new job seems great for a few months but after time things start to get irritating. A new partner seems awesome at first but later down the road, we find faults, frustrations, and annoyances.
Needless to say, I was working myself up into a tizzy about the swell and decided to change tack.
In the midst of my light anguish, I asked myself, what do I love about living full time on a boat? What do I love about being a full-time cruiser or full-time liveaboard?
With my head resting on a pillow in the cockpit, I grabbed a pen and paper to create a list. Interestingly, the swell failed to be noticeable, and an increasing smile grew upon my face as the list expanded.
Just as quickly as we find frustration in life, we can just as easily find solace.
And before you move on to something else, if you’re getting close to actually looking at prospective boats to buy, please check out my Sailboat Buying Guide For Cruisers guide. I offer a list of things to look at on deck, below deck, and in between so that when you’re first viewing boats you know what to look for and why!
What are the reasons you love the sailing life?
Please leave them in the comments below.
Rebecca Childress says
Rebecca on SV Brick House here. I don’t know you personally but I feel like I do!
The other day I was asking myself…why do I put myself through the misery of cruising full time, living on this little boat…feeling salty, with leaks spilling on to my bed during a rough passage, etc? So I searched for some sympathy online and found your post. The whole time I was reading it, in my sour, poor me mood, I was saying yeah…who is she trying to convince…maybe she is trying to convince herself? Then I got to the ending and yes…you were having a sour day too, and that’s why you wrote it. I have this page on a permanent bookmark now so I can be reminded in my down times, why I am so lucky to be living this lifestyle…for more than 11 years now! THANK YOU! It really IS the only way to live despite its occasional down sides!
SV Brick House
Kim Brown says
You’re awesome Rebecca. I can’t wait to meet you in person 🙂
This is so nice to read of both of you,, knowing it happens to others too, I will do the same and make a bookmark too!
Douglas Bell says
Ahoy SV Britican,
As I read your 40 reasons to live aboard, I ticked off so many that I’ve experienced, or would love to experience.
I have/had a dream to buy a yacht and sail away for many of your 40 reasons, but I find myself in a position where I could afford a yacht, but not the means to sustain the life I want.
Which sucks, and is quite depressing.
Your videos provide an escape for me. Thank you, and keep sharing everything you do.
That was really great Kim! Thank you for taking the time to put so much into words. I want to forward this to my wife (who presently is less enthusiastic than me) so that she can understand all the non sailing joys to cruising! I really hope we get to meet you guys!
Dennis Sexton says
Kim, as I read through the 40 reasons feeling each one as though I was the one living them.
As I look around the house at all of the stuff that I have collected over the years, I wonder just what in the world am I doing with all of it, and why it all means so much to me.
Perhaps we’ll cross paths some day, but until good sailing.
Kim Brown says
I look forward to meeting you on the water soon Dennis. Thank you for leaving a comment 🙂 Kim
lee copel says
The other day I was asking myself…why do I put myself through the misery of cruising full time, living on this little boat…feeling salty, with leaks spilling on to my bed during a rough passage, etc? I got your email online and found your post. The whole time I was reading it, in my sour, poor me mood, I was saying yeah…who is she trying to convince…maybe she is trying to convince herself? Then I got to the ending and yes…you were having a sour day too, and that’s why you wrote it. I have this page on a permanent bookmark now so I can be reminded in my downtimes, why I am so lucky to be living this lifestyle…for more than 50 years now! THANK YOU! It really IS the only way to live despite its occasional downsides on my 35ft to me it my life that all I know an it a love hant thig
Kim Brown says
I love your comment Lee. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it! Yes – we are very fortunate to live this life 🙂 Kim
remo girlato says
hi, would love to leave land for extended periods but my wife and i have 4yr old. how is your child being educated, not formally of course – home/boat schooling? effective?
Kim Brown says
Hey Remo. Have you read my latest homeschooling article. Check it out here: https://sailingbritican.com/homeschooling-on-a-boat-the-truth/ Smiles, Kim
Isaac Feuerberg says
There are so many reasons but the one that came to my head first is the feeling of satisfaction that I get when I sail on a broad reach and the wind is blowing 20 knots and I get the extra push surfing the waves.
The second one is the memory of the dark blue color of the aegean sea that I still remember when I chartered a boat 40 years ago.
Kim Brown says
Isaac – that feeling of getting that extra push surfing the waves IS really amazing. Thank you for sharing. Kim
Mary Elkins says
Mary here, the other half of the Sailing Euphoria Too crew (the human crew, that is). Thank you so much for writing this! You reflect perfectly all the reasons I love this lifestyle so much.
Our first year aboard was pretty tough, but even in the most miserable moments, I had a list like this in my head and never for a minute did I want to be anywhere else than exactly here, living on our boat, in the tropics, close to nature, close to each other, seeing the world together. I wanted to write something like this, but you beat me to it, and you did so beautifully. Thank you.
#25 hits home. Thanks to a childhood as a bullied kid, I spent most of my life terrified of other people. Only in the last year of cruising have I been able to relax, and I have other cruisers to thank for that – some of the nicest people on the planet. And for the most part, the residents of places we have visited have been either friendly or neutral. I thank my lucky stars for this lifestyle because it has been so healing for me.
Still working on #32… I can’t stand my own stink and still shower or swim every day. But this week I managed to go 5 days without washing my hair – a record! LOL
Cheers and Happy Sailing!
Kim Brown says
Hey Mary – thank you for your comments! Yes – the lifestyle has been healing for me too. I can’t imagine how different my life would have been had we not taken the risk and started sailing. I’m grateful we did what we did. And five days without washing your hair – oh my! I can do three and perhaps four at a push but at five my hair is a total itching grease slick. Hehehehe. Thank you for sharing 🙂 Kim
Gerald W. Morris says
Friday, February 4, 2022
The building I live in had fire this morning in the apartment next to mine. Now I sitting in a motel displaced without any money and no where to go.
Have been thinking about sailing since the 1990’s.
Pray Gd show me the way to leave this situation into living my dreams aboard!
The February Blues in Chicago.
Kim Brown says
I wish you the best Gerald! If we lived closer I’d offer you a place to stay. Please keep positive. Kim
Toni hodgkins says
Well the best way I can think of for being on a boat in the ocean, is your not a subject, your not a citizen, your free to be whatever you desire, and do whatever you desire, free if the shackles of society and all its rules,
Kim Brown says
That is certainly the case when Covid isn’t around 🙂 Let’s hope it returns to that soon. Thank you for writing Toni. Smiles, Kim
Ronald Booster says
WE use our yacht more as a house boat doing coastal trips for 5 to 6 months a year in New Zealand. the rest of the year we live on land in our house and work to afford our 6 months of freedom on our boat. This lifestyle lets us appreciate both worlds , luxury and toil versus depreviation and freedom. ying and yang
Kim Brown says
Ronald – what a great way to live. The best of both worlds 😉 Thank you for sharing. Kim
Toni Topaz says
Thank you so much, Kim.
Life on a sailboat is really different, and while not everyone lives like that, I strongly encourage that people go sailing. Those who live in busy cities and have little time for themselves should at least take a sailing vacation and enjoy a once in a lifetime experience.
Kim Brown says
Totally agree Toni 🙂
Kenneth Keene says
I read this beautiful article while sitting in my RV because it’s pouring rain outside. We are camping in one of the most beau places in Idaho, Payette Lake. And as beautiful as it is, I long for the ocean and the life you describe. My better half isn’t ready to give it all up and she wouldn’t do it for a life at sea. Your words were my thoughts on how it would be. My dream. I grew up in SoCal as a beach kids. All my adventures have to have a water element. It seems so natural to envision your 40. Thank you for sharing them. Live the life for those of us who dream it.