Cruising & Living A-board
"Is it really a dream lifestyle?"
CAPT. JOHN
OK. . .  So what is it really like living on a boat ?
I get this question from strangers a lot!  Anyone that knows
me however, knows my answer. . . Yes! Living on a boat is
really a dream life, and a dream lifestyle.
   In one word, it's all about freedom. When it comes to "cruising & living a-board" it is absolute
freedom.
For most, it is not an issue of money.  In fact, it is more a leap of faith - than finance. Most
cruising &
live aboard couples can (or could) indeed purchase that wonderful house on the hill; but
they have seen through the charade of keeping up with the Jones' to the realization that true
wealth and happiness is not about having more, but needing less.

   It really is all about spending your precious time with only those things, people, and places that
energize
and excite your life.

   While
not for everyone, it is a dream many share and many more are achieving. Part of the
reason for
recent cruising & living a-board boom is a result of technology, combined with the fact
that
we are investing more time for our personal and family life.
   With t
oday's technology, it is now possible to take and receive phone calls, emails, and even
conduct an I
nternet teleconference with business associates and clients, while cruising around
America's Great Loop, or making a passage across
the South Pacific. With cell-phone, satellite
and wireless Internet capabilities, boaters can now enjoy 24/7 communications with family and
friends while cruising anywhere on the planet.
   We come from all walks of life and live on all kinds of boats. We live a slow-lane lifestyle which
transcends all economic and social boundaries.
On our voyages, we have met doctors, nurses,
lawyers, engineers, school teachers, mechanics, architects, entrepreneurs and salespeople. There
are families with young children, working and retired couples,
as well as single men and women
cruising solo and living a-board.  
We meet them wherever there is water.  From Bums to
Billionaires we all are; but what we all share in common is absolute freedom, fierce independence,
love for the water, and great respect for Mother Nature and each other.
  
   
So why do we cruise and live a-board our boats? Because we can!
    First of all, if you are one of those that still believe cruising & living on a boat is somewhat akin to
"roughing it". . . Then
think again.
   
If my vessel doesn't change your mind, for sure some of my seafaring friends' live a-board size
boats bring out the envy in all the best of us.
 Today's live a-boards have complete comfort.

   
My vessel has stand-up head room, heat and air conditioning, a head and shower, a galley
complete with stove top, oven, microwave,
refrigerator, and even a BBQ grill on deck. Two of us  
can
easily cruise and live out "on the hook" in complete comfort for 45 days or more. Needing only
to return to shore to replenish
our provisions.

   You learn a lot living on a boat. You learn first and foremost what really good relationships look
like. You will see them in fellow live a-boards and cruising couples; and you will feel a change for
the better in yourself. You will gain a deep hearted appreciation for nature and what true solid on
the ground love really is. You will also learn this lifestyle isn't at all about the money
. You will soon
feel wonderful over giving up building your “financial" portfolio
, for the building of an “emotional"
portfolio.
 You will learn that true wealth really does have much more to do with needing less, than
it does with having more…
 You will learn to live very frugal, yet very-very well.  If you're on a
sailboat
, the Great Loop and the World beyond it, can be yours for the cruising, even on most
frugal of a
shoestring budget.

   
Of course, it is certainly NOT for everyone. It takes a change in your thinking to do this. There is
a mind set here… it comes with stripping down to your favorite pair of jeans, and T-shirt,
selling
your home and
giving all your heirlooms and family treasures to your kids and having the mother of
all garage sales
.

   After it is all done - you will soon realize that what you have really done - is wrapped up and kept
what is really important and what energizes
and excites your life; given away only those things that
otherwise consumed your hard earned money, occupied your precious time, took away your
attention from
the ones you love most, and filled your life with stress.

   Dreams. . . By definition, are all the hopes and aspirations we have for our lives. In order to live
our dreams we must close the gap between where we are, and where we want to be. For sure,
question here is whether or not you're more committed to remaining where you are in life, or getting
to where you want to go.   
Why Are We Living on our Boats?
    Ironic isn't it. . .  How the grass always looks greener? The guys on the hill over looking all the
boats on the water, are
smothered in debt; mortgage payments, car payments, lawn care, utilities,
and taxes.  Undoubtedly, they paid a few extra mega-bucks for the view. They dream of a
carefree life on a boat
, while all of us living on our boats look up the hill and dream of having all
that "space"
.
   S
pace is the one thing we live a-boards never have enough of.

   If you are an "accumulator" of stuff, then it is very unlikely you will ever be able to live on a
boat.
 It doesn't matter how big your boat is, there simply is never enough room for "stuff".  When I
go shopping, the foremost thought in my mind is not what an item cost
, but do I have the space
and a
place for it on my boat.  If the answer is no (and it usually is) then I simply can't buy it. Lack
of space is truly
the down side to living on a boat. The up side of having no space however, is
you are forced to
stop spending your money on "stuff" you don't really need anyway.

   When I start a project or work on something on my boat, I always have to clear space to work
on
. When I finish, I always have to pick up and put it away. Otherwise, I wouldn't have room to
move about freely on my boat. I miss having
large walk-in closets and a 3 car garage with a full
basement
for all my "stuff", with unfinished projects laying around - waiting for me to finish.



  Obviously, you will need a boat, and I have always found that up to a point - the bigger the
better. My smallest limit in size
should be the very smallest safe, seaworthy vessel you can
comfortably live on.
Your upper limit in size is one that you can handle all by yourself. For me,  
this translates into
something under 40 feet.

   Now, if you are heading out to "the market" to buy a boat - be aware everyone is going to try to
get you into one like theirs...
and most likely, they have never been long-term or long-distance
cruising or lived on their boat for more than a long weekend at most.
   
Bottom line here, is you need to think and re-think about your own and your mates complete
comfort
.  The big words of caution here are that what works for a fun weekend of boating - isn't
going to cut it long term. Also, remember that even though you may be planning for two - your
vessel needs to be able to be handled by one - in cases of illness, injury, man over-board, or
other emergency.
   Seriously consider your ability to live in a relatively very small space. It's very clear that this is
the main thing that separates the land-lovers from the live a-boards. Not only is there very little
space in which to live; there's even less space in which to store "stuff".


   
There's no question that most land-lovers just can't give up their "stuff". If you are addicted to
"stuff" you are going to need a really-really big boat. Too much "stuff" is a greater problem than
the lack of actual living space on a boat.
 One of the rules of living aboard is that there's never
enough space for "stuff".


   
Life in this slow lane also requires somewhat of a "bum" mentality. That's right... The "slow-
lane” lifestyle of the live-a board really starts to become appealing shortly after you have moved
aboard. Once you become aware that it just isn’t important anymore, that you dress in the height
of fashion - you've joined the club! In warmer places such as Florida and the Caribbean, it's
probably possible to live the rest of your life with two pair of shoes, a dozen T-shirts, two pair of
shorts, two pair of jeans, a couple of sweaters, a windbreaker, a light jacket, and a drawer full of
underwear. (Disregard the latter, if your living as Brittney or Lindsey.)


   When you're a bum on a boat, it doesn't matter too much when many things get done (unless
of course, your boat is sinking). My typical day consists in getting up just minutes before sunrise.
Not because of an alarm clock mind you
, that's just my favorite part of the day.  When I wake up, I
turn on the VHF weather station, and listen to the days weather while I get coffee, sign on to the
Internet, and check my email. Then, I turn the radio to my favorite NPR station
and take my coffee
on deck while I gaze out across
water to watch the sunrise.
   
I usually finish my coffee about 7:00 am. Since I have no yard to mow, leaves to rake, weeds to
kill, or gutters to clean
. . . the rest of my day is “free”.

   If I am cruising the Great Loop, I can start my engine or raise my sails and continue my
adventure. Or,
If I need to go to the store for anything, I can hop in my dinghy, go to shore, eat
breakfast out
, and go to the store. When I get to the store, it doesn't matter if I don't remember
what I needed, because there's tomorrow, and who knows – I may want to go out for breakfast
again.


   Cruising & living a-board
is not a "party life". . .  If you are one of those who thinks that living on
your boat full-time is the same atmosphere and environment 7 days a week as it is on your
weekend boating excursions - you are in for a serious discovery. The
waterways during the week
are peaceful, quiet and serene, and Marinas are much like most quiet suburban upper middle
class neighborhood
s. Some people go to work, take care of business, come home to their boats,
and enjoy a quiet evening
. They are just happier and friendlier than your neighbors living on the
land.


  I can't answer the question of whether or not the cruising & live a-board lifestyle is for you, only  
you can do that. Here's how:

   Think back in time for a moment. Recall the passion of your real first true love. Remember how
that person was your first thought in the mornings, your last thought at night, and how it excited
and energized your life? Nothing between heaven and hell could keep you from the one you
loved.  The key ingredient here is passion. Passion is our access to power. Passion is what
compels us into action. Passion energizes and excites our life and with it, our success is  
guaranteed.

  So ask yourself, is cruising the Great Loop a fantasy or a dream.  The difference being you can
fantasise about winning the Lottery. Winning the Lottery however, is little more than a wishful
passing thought when you purchase your ticket, and regardless of how much you would like to
win it. . . you have absolutely no control over doing so.

   Dreams on the other hand, are real hopeful aspirations of how we want our lives to be and
where we want to be in life. To this end, we have total control. If your dream is a passionate one,
your success is guaranteed. All you have to do is determine where you are now, and compare it
to where you want to be.  The gap between your dream and reality can be closed by simply
removing the obstacles, and if you are passionate over your dream, your success is guaranteed.

   The critical question now becomes whether or not you're more committed to remaining where
you are in life, or getting to where you want to go. The difference between the two of course, is
passion. Passion is what will propel your actions.  

   
What Do you Need To Do To Start Living A-Board?
Capt John's America's Great Loop