What is the reality of boat life? Is it mainly about sailing the blue seas or is there way more to it? Here I’ve listed the top ten areas that make up the reality of boat life. Make sure you understand each area so that your expectations are realistic.
Top 10 – The Reality Of Boat Life Video
T0p 10 – The Reality Of Boat Life List
In actual reality, you will only be sailing a very small amount of time. The great majority of time is spent in a marina, at anchor or on a mooring ball. When you are sailing, however, it’s important to know how to maneuver the boat under the engine, how to get the sails out and trim them and how to plan passages. Added to that the KEY skills to practice over and over are maneuvering in and out of marina’s/docks, setting your anchor and successfully grabbing a mooring ball.
Safety systems, procedures and equipment maintenance can take quite a bit of time. On Britican, our motto is safety first. That means keeping the boat in tip-top shape, organized and ensuring there’s a secure place for everything. It also means keeping routines and schedules to make sure that our safety systems are in place. And we also routinely practice MOB procedures, VHF MAYDAY broadcasts and discussing what we’d do if we had an engine failure or some other difficult scenario. A reality of boat life is if you don’t feel safe on your boat you won’t enjoy the journey.
Another huge time eater is food. To get food it can take a 1/2 day to a day. If you’re at anchor, you have to drop the dinghy, motor to a dinghy dock, get a bus, taxi or walk to a grocery store. You then have to get the food – usually getting what looks good rather than what’s on your list. And then you walk, take a taxi or bus back to the dinghy dock and load the groceries into the dinghy. Then it’s a slow commute to the boat.
The groceries have to be transferred from the dinghy to the boat and then ‘processed.’ What I mean by that is you have to get rid of any cardboard (cockroaches lay eggs in cardboard), remove unnecessary packaging, put rice, flour and pasta in airtight bags or containers (to minimize a weevil outbreak) and find places to store everything.
And then there’s the area of cooking – in tropical areas there’s a lack of anything processed so more often than not you’ll have to cook from scratch which takes quite a bit of time. Furthermore, galley stovetops and ovens are notoriously slow to cook. Then there’s time to eat and time to clean up. Cleaning up without a dishwasher, once again, adds more minutes to the overall time that food takes up.
4. Social Life
The social life of a cruiser can be as little or as much as you want. If you keep to yourself and fail to make an effort you can have a quiet boating life. If, however, you want to go out every night with a different boater that can easily be achieved. Neighboring boats often invite newcomers to what’s called ‘sundowners’ where you enjoy a beverage on another boat as the sun goes down. If you’re invited over, you bring your own beverages and a snack to share. Your host will usually have a snack to also offer. Aside from sundowners, there are loads of formal and informal social activities on offer.
If you’re in a big cruiser area there will be games like dominoes, cards, bingo and trivia on offer. And if you have a few boaters in your area you might all decide to get a bus together and go on an excursion. A big reality of boat life is now for boats to ‘buddy boat’ with other boats meaning that they choose to sail from one anchorage to another meeting back up.
The whole point of sailing is to travel and see a new area. When going from one place to the next most boaters research what’s good to see and do at the next place they visit. And once they arrive they arrange a variety of actives. In the Caribbean, there’s usually a volcano to climb, waterfalls to swim in, rivers to explore and activities like zip lines, golf, water sports, and hiking. Many people also find various ways to exercise – there’s almost always someone offering Yoga on the shore or noodling at the beach. The boating life is all about outdoor life. You really have to want to spend time outside, in the water and exploring new seas and lands.
6. Boat Maintenance & Upkeep
On an on-going basis, there are routine servicing requirements, repair jobs, and renovations. Usually, when you’re sailing you will do the minimum like engine checks, stern gland greasing, and rudder greasing, but when you’re at anchor you’ll service all the systems on a rotational basis. And there’s usually something that needs replacing whether it’s new sails, new rigging or an engine overhaul. Our motto is little and often and being as proactive as we can. It’s very helpful to have a variety of checklists and calendar reminders on when to service, clean and replace a variety of items on your boat. Make sure to get my bestselling guide, ‘Checklists For Sailors,’ as these checklists will help you hit the ground running.
Aside from vacuuming, washing surfaces, cleaning windows and day-to-day items like laundry, dishes and keeping the boat tidy there are a variety of tasks that need to be completed to keep the boat free from bugs, smelling good and devoid of mold. Again, grab a copy of my ‘Checklists For Sailors,’ to get a very comprehensive and customizable list of everything that needs to be cleaned routinely on a boat.
When we first started homeschooling I assumed that I’d be able to put some workbooks in front of my daughter and she’d just do them. I’m not sure why I felt that homeschooling would be easy. It’s not. I often spend just as much time preparing as I do the teaching. Sure, our daughter does do some things independently but for the most part, I, or my husband, need to be on hand to answer questions, rectify misunderstandings and ensure that our daughter is actually absorbing the material. We spend Monday through Friday doing homeschooling from 8 am to 11 am but at times it can take way longer. Furthermore, sailing can disturb the normal routine. The time needed for homeschooling should not be underestimated!
If you’re working remotely from your boat or earning an income from your lifestyle it can take anywhere from a few hours a week to much more. It depends on what your arrangements are or how much income you need to make. We spend around 20 to 30 hours a week writing articles and making videos for our website/YouTube channel in addition to arranging for guests to join us on our Britican Experience’s – our bluewater cruising lifestyle sailing experiences. And when we have guests onboard we’re ‘working’ 24 hours/7 days a week. In our reality of boat life, not only are we working but we’re fitting in the other nine areas of boat life in which might seem a bit crazy but for some reason, it works 😉
10. Random Events
Just like everyone else, we have random things happen. A loved one might get ill back home and we need to drop everything and return to land to sort things out. We’ve had health issues ourselves. Sometimes storms or hurricanes are heading our way and we need to drop all plans and figure out what to do. Every year a variety of random events take place and we deal with them the best we can.
In Conclusion – Reality Of Boat Life
So…the sailing bit of the sailing lifestyle is probably one of the smaller areas, however, it is integral to the overall success of boat life. If you haven’t yet transitioned over to the bluewater cruising lifestyle make sure to take time thinking about each of these areas. Consider how much time you think each area will take in your cruising life and how you’d like to spend it.
If you’re accustomed to making ready meals perhaps it might make sense to start learning some quick and easy recipes. If you’re unfamiliar with boat systems, especially Diesel engines, it could be worth your while to take an engine maintenance course. Perhaps homeschooling might be new for you – consider starting it before you move onto the boat so that you can get a solid routine and curriculum planned out in advance. And once again, make sure you have an idea as to what you need to clean, service and replace laid out on checklists and calendar reminders. Check out my ‘Checklists For Sailors,’ guide today.
Finally, if you want to see these 10 realities of boat life aspects for yourself, why don’t you consider coming out to sail with us for a week or two. We offer fully immersive liveaboard cruiser experiences. We’ll teach you what you need to know about sailing – the core things you’ll do day in and day out. Additionally, we’ll show you all our safety systems, how we manage food aboard the boat, give you a taste for the social life, enjoy some water sports and land-based activities, and demonstrate what we clean and when we clean it and allow you to partake in our routine checks and servicing. Click here to find out the full scoop on our Britican Experience offering.
Other Articles or Videos Of Interest?
- Top 10 Must-Haves: The Best Cruising Boat For the Caribbean
- How To Leave A Dock (The Easy Way) – Video & Checklist
- How To Fit In As A New Cruiser
- Boat Life On The Hard And In The Water
Any Comments About The Reality Of Boat Life?
Please Leave them below.
Hal Palmer says
This is a clear concise understanding of the boating life. Although the lure of sailing into the sunset is the dream, :), the reality is living day to day doesn’t change! Thanks for the clarity!
Kim Brown says
Thank you for the comments Hal 🙂 Kim
Terry Caulfield says
Hi Kim, very informative article on the realities of sailing life. All too true that the routine can be exhausting! You and Simon do a great job at making it look effortlessly smooth. Be safe,
Kim Brown says
Thank you Terry! As always I appreciate your comments. Smiles, Kim
I just found your website and YouTube channel! Generally I stay away from most of them because they are short of ‘real’ content and hook people in with the usual click bait nonsense.
You guys are different because you teach what cruising is really about. Many people dream of the lifestyle you lead, but the reality is actually hard work and it’s not for everyone.
Thank you for all the hard work you guys put in to your website and YouTube channel.
Kim Brown says
Thank you, Chris. We really appreciate your comments 🙂 Kim
Ernie Martin says
Nice to hear the anchorage is still alive and operating . We left Hog anchorage in early March just before the flights back to Canada were called off because of the Virus. We Still maintain email contact with friends still in Hog anchorage. Nice to hear your doing a grocery run for those not able to get off their boat .
Kathy & Ernie
Kim Brown says
Hey Kathy & Ernie, We have several friends over in Hog now. It seems like things are easing a bit here. We’re all hopeful that life will return to normal sooner rather than later. I hope you can get back out here soon 🙂 Smiles, Kim
I’ve been a liveaboard for five years now, in a marina. You’ve summed it up absolutely perfectly! 😁