You only have to submerge yourself into a bunch of YouTube sailing videos, read the book, Dove, or experience a week-long sailing charter to gain a glimpse into the benefits of becoming a liveaboard sailing cruiser. Most people would agree that sun-filled days, tropical white sandy beaches, daily adventures, new friends and an amazing variety of free anchorages are truly a dream come true.
But are those the only benefits to becoming a liveaboard sailing cruiser?
If you’re on the path to break ties with ‘normal’ land-based life and sail off into the sunset what should you expect? Is it just sand, sea and adventure or is it more?
Secret Benefit #1: There’s no lack of variety
There’s nothing monotonous about the liveaboard sailing lifestyle. Every area of life will provide you with a bit of spice. The weather, something you don’t necessarily pay attention to when indoors, will offer light wind, excited wind, glistening sun, and massively picturesque cloud formations. And in a spectacular manner, the sun creates a final masterpiece for the day to end with reds, oranges, pinks, and purples.
Choices for food change region by region. Some areas providing tropical fruits whereas others specialize in dark chocolate. Local foods and recipes abound in each new destination you reach. The food, history, and culture of foreign lands are enlightening.
The people that you meet along your travels are full of character too!
Sharing similar mindsets and values there’s usually an instant bond between liveaboards followed with an enjoyable conversation.
And because you’re sailing into the unknown there’s so much room for new discoveries. You’ll be able to climb volcanoes, watch spotted Eagle Ray’s fly from the sea up into the air, hike through lush rainforests, visit ruins 1000’s of years old and listen to music that moves your soul. Every day is new. Every day is ready to provide you with LIFE.
If you’re life currently looks like a cold bowl of oatmeal change it for one with vibrant colors of potpourri – become a liveaboard cruiser!
Beware of monotony; it’s the mother of all the deadly sins. Edith Wharton
Secret Benefit #2: Making new friends is easy
In our modern world, it’s difficult to make new friends. Adults have their circle of friends and there’s usually little room or time to expand the circle. More than 50% of married couples are now meeting online. It’s just not common to go up to someone new and say, ‘Hey – can I be your friend.’
But that’s not the case in the sailing world!
Liveaboard sailors are worldly, open-minded, kind, resourceful, respectful and full of life. They’re less judgmental and more curious. They’re eager to share information or a loaf of banana bread rather than gossip or talk politics. And if there’s ever a problem or an emergency, liveaboards come together to help each other (and to help anyone for that matter).
There’s an amazing sense of community amongst sailors.
One day you may simply interact with people by waving to them as you sail by. The next day you could be enjoying sundowners, or drinks at dusk, on a new neighboring boat. Or, you might attend a cruisers potluck on the beach. There’s no lack of people around and meeting one another is easy and natural.
It’s actually perfectly normal to walk up to any sailor and introduce yourself!
When you’re in an anchorage with a couple boats it’s customary to dinghy over to your neighbor (in whatever style or kind of boat they have) to introduce yourself and impart or gain local knowledge. Where’s the closest grocery store or is there a chandlery nearby are common topics. So are good places to visit and great sights to see.
There’s no lack of people around and there’s no reason not to walk up to someone new and say ‘hi.’ Liveaboard cruisers are kind and welcoming – you’ll have new friends wherever you go.
Secret Benefit #3: It’s a utopia for kids
If you have children, grandchildren or are interested in having children while living the liveaboard life it’s an amazing world for them.
Let’s imagine being a kid on a boat. You wake up naturally around 7 am, take a long stretch and then bumble up into the cockpit to enjoy your Fruit Loops el fresco. Once you shake off your sleepiness you know that once your homeschooling is out of the way and your chores are done, you’ll have the rest of the day to play.
After spending a couple hours on Maths, English, Science, History, Reading & Writing while snacking on fresh mango and coconut (that you picked the day before), you get on the VHF to summon the local boat kids.
The first question is, ‘Are you done with homeschooling yet?’
Followed by ‘What should we do today?’ Before the boat kids all get together, they get their chores done including cleaning their berth, vacuuming the boat and making their area tidy.
The day then plays out with one or several activities including swimming, snorkeling, hiking, beach day, land excursion day (waterfalls, volcano climbing, adventure park, museum, etc.) dinghy sailing, fishing, baking, making forts and on the list goes.
Boat kids play with whoever is around meaning that there are no age restrictions between the ages of say, five and 15. The older kids look after the younger kids and form an amazingly responsible family type unit whether they just met or have known each other for months.
There’s rarely ever an incident with bully behavior.
It’s just not a done thing. It’s not accepted and it’s not a part of the culture. In the five years that we’ve been sailing, we’ve only ever come across bully behavior amongst boat kids once. In this particular situation, there were a group of English speaking kids and another group of French-speaking kids. Unfortunately, an issue kicked off and a fight ensued. Within minutes of it happening, the adults rallied around, stopped the children from things going further and the children were all told that bullies are not accepted and not tolerated.
After the initial altercation, it didn’t happen again.
The children may compete in a friendly game of Marco Polo or all work together to create a land crab castle. It’s playing at it’s very best and until you see it you won’t believe an environment so amazing actually exists.
As the afternoon winds down the children all start to pester the parents for a sleepover. Sometimes they win and sometimes they don’t. When they do win a few kids might build a fort in the saloon to sleep in or make make-shift beds in the cockpit so they can star gaze as they drift off to sleep.
In many cases, when children sleep over they often sail to the next destination with the boat they slept on.
And while the kids are all sailing they hook up on their iPads and play Minecraft together or spill out the legos to build an empire. When a humpback whale is in the area or a pod of dolphins comes by, the children pop up on deck to admire the show.
And at least once a week, a bunch of kid boats get together – parents included! They do a land excursion, help a local charity, test out some local cuisine, learn the history of the island or area, have a pot-luck meal and check out any and every attraction.
And almost every day there’s at least one opportunity for ice cream.
Does that sound too good to be true? It’s not – it’s priceless! And speaking about money…
Secret Benefit #4: Everyone is a Jones
There’s no denying it- the boat costs a bundle and it’s not inexpensive to keep a boat running. There are some substantial costs – maintenance, servicing, insurance, replacements, and fixes. It’s been said that the cost of running a boat is around 15% – 20% the value of the boat. So, the higher the value the higher the running costs.
The liveaboard sailing lifestyle is not free. It’s not necessarily cheap either HOWEVER, in relation to what it costs to live on land it’s a fraction of the cost.
Anchoring is free. There’s no need to buy anything other than boat stuff, food and a few bits of clothing every year (usually some new bathing suits).
Boats are not big so you can’t fill them up with useless crap.
There’s no need for vacation money because the life of a liveaboard is, essentially, a vacation. There are no taxes, very little fees (if any) and no need for a multitude of direct debits for gym memberships, mobile phones, magazine subscriptions, TV, and on and on. And other than on food and boat stuff there are very few opportunities to even spend money.
Once you move into the boating world there’s no need for designer clothes, nice shoes or a flashy car. Wealth, for some reason, is not a massive topic amongst cruisers. Rich boat owners hang out with poor boat owners (and neither party defines each other in those terms anyway). In most cases, no one is wearing any shoes and the t-shirt on your back has rust stains and holes in it – no matter what level of income you have.
Sure…there’s still a bit of boat envy that goes around but it’s healthy. It’s more like admiration rather than jealousy.
There’s no such thing as keeping up with the Jones because you can’t. You have the boat you have and your neighbor for the night has the boat he/she has. On some occasions, yours will be bigger or better and on other occasions, it won’t be. No one cares.
Kind of cool – isn’t it?
At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much. Robin Lee Graham
Secret Benefit #5: The rhythm of life is fulfilling
Yes – there is a routine or a rhythm that liveaboard cruisers experience. When first starting out as a liveaboard cruiser, life will be exciting, hectic, and even boring. You’ll get a wide range of experiences. Planning passages, speculating about new lands and setting off on the big blue sea can be outrageously exciting.
Doing a week-long non-stop passage can be the most boring thing you’ve ever done.
The liveaboard cruising life presents such a variety and often, both extremes can be endured and, eventually, enjoyed.
After the initial bedding down period, however, life becomes ‘normal’. Eventually, you’ll come up with a routine or rhythm that works for you and your partner/family. Variety still exists but it fits in with a pattern that allows for planning and essentially getting the day-to-day stuff done.
Cleaning, cooking, boat jobs and repairs all need to take place. Provisioning can take 1/2 a day – get the dinghy down, head to shore, walk to the grocery store, buy food, and then head back. Almost everything has to be cooked from scratch so food preparation becomes a big deal.
Interestingly, however, the adventures, new sights, and new people never get old.
And unbelievably the long passages actually get easier. They act as downtime for rest, relaxation and recuperation. Provisioning and cooking start to flow. The highs stay high and the lows get higher.
How awesome is that?
So – becoming a liveaboard sailing cruiser is amazing!
It is worth the effort to make it happen. It’s not easy and there are many obstacles that will present themselves but there’s way (and I mean WAY) more than meets the eye.
Many cruising friends often tell me to stop writing about the incredible life of a liveaboard. Their argument is that if everyone truly knew how fabulous liveaboard life is the whole world would move onto a boat.
But don’t just read what I have to say. Find out for yourself 🙂
When I woke up this morning and looked over at the spectacular beach on Petite St Vincent, with the golden sun illuminating the green palm trees, white-brown sand and deep blue waters, I heard my inner voice say, ‘I love my life.’ Kim Brown
All photos in this post were taken by my wonderful friend Eneka Stewart. If you’re looking for a photographer, she’s amazing. Check her out here: EnekaStewartPhotography.comGreat article about liveaboard life: The Secret Benefits To Becoming A Liveaboard Sailing CruiserClick To Tweet
You might also be intersted in…
- Questions Answered About Liveaboard Life
- Boat Life With Boat Buddies
- The 11 Secretes to Lon Term Cruising
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