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People sometimes equate living on a small boat to camping. While if the boat is truly tiny, a la a trailer sailor, perhaps that’s true. In most cases though, cruising boats are much more akin to a small cabin on a lake than they are to a tent.

The primary benefit of living on a boat as opposed the aforementioned cabin is that it is mobile. Yes, you can move it! If you don’t like where you’re located, you can simply raise anchor and relocate. Everyone knows this. When people fail to take advantage of that feature though, staying in one place for an extended period of time, they inadvertently shift from the cruiser category into that of the liveaboard. They may do that for a variety of reasons. Several of our friends did so because they got jobs. Others, I don’t know why. Regardless of the reason, it’s OK. I’m going to go out on a limb here though and share an observation of mine even though it is undoubtedly broad, and quite likely controversial. Here it is: Liveaboards are not as happy as Cruisers! There you go, I said it.

Much like the organic growth that accumulates on the bottom of a stationary boat, people who liveaboard a boat but fail to move it seem to accumulate more than their fair share of drama. We’ve seen it a lot in our travels. All too often these people get overly territorial of their little circle of water, and are quick to let anyone who should venture into their space know that they are “trespassing,” often with expletives thrown in for good measure! While we don’t frequent marinas all that often, I would bet that there are some dock-bound boaters who would fit into this category as well.

Fortunately, there is a solution, and if the boat has been maintained so that it is still seaworthy (sadly, some have not), it’s pretty simple. Here’s the prescription: Go Sailing! Cast off the lines from the mooring ball or dock, or raise anchor. Set sail, or just go for a motor around the bay. Feel the wind in your face and let some water splash on the decks. My belief is that if you do this from time to time, even if you head back to that same little circle of water, you’ll retain (or regain) the all-important empathy that most boaters have for one another. So, when are you going sailing?


  1. Mike: Three weeks from today we’ll be SAILING the BVI!
    Three couples on a Footloose 46′ Leopard.

    Can’t wait! did I say we can’t wait?

    We have three sail-plan options, knowing flexibility is important depending on conditions. Monday 02Jun likely North Sound to Anegada.

    I know us chartees aren’t considered true sailors, but we enjoy our short time on the waters, and enjoy reading about the full-time cruisers like you guys. Got the provisioning list ready – with a couple extra colds one for Mike & Rebecca if we cross paths. ;:<)


  2. Well said, Mike. The inverse is probably often true too: Cruisers are not happy as mere liveaboards. Water wanderlust is at the heart of a cruiser’s ailment.

  3. Sailing is so much trouble! 😉 It is actually amazing too, how much sailboats are used as motorboats during a perfectly sailable weather!

    The shipyard that have put new paint on our boat is having some delays, but soon, soon she’ll be carried to water – hubby did run our new halyards to the mast (so happy of them).

    Boats like to be sailed!

  4. Looking at your lovely picture above, I can assure you that many more people would sail in such conditions.

    Blue sky, blue sea, warm, light wind and FLAT seas.

    None of those apply where I sail. Often, as a single-hander, going out and round to the next bay, via a tide rip off the headland in between, can become daunting if you only have three days available on that visit to the boat. Getting back may be even harder. And that is typical in our summer.

    But in principle I quite agree with you.



    • And from your comment it’s obvious that you don’t live on the boat so this doesn’t rally apply to you. Your visit to the boat is more like a visit to a cottage in the country. Nothing wrong with that.

  5. ANOTHER profound blog, Mike! Thanks for putting it out there.

  6. At my first meeting with the liveaboard group at the last marina where I had a contract, over 90% said they only moved their boats once each year – sigh!

  7. So many definitions of cruising. Some would consider a weekend trip of 35 miles cruising and others wouldn’t consider you were cruising unless you were crossing oceans. We have met many people who went cruising, then while they were cruising found their paradise, at which time they became liveaboards.

    • And again, I’m speaking broadly but the latter people, if they continue to live on a boat that doesn’t move, are exactly who I’m speaking about.

  8. Oh Yeah! Well said. We’re having a bit of a struggle to get started….but we know the way. And eventually we’ll stop repairing tanks and bouncing off bridges to get from A to B or C and DEF. It’s true we are moving much less often than we wish and the scenery isn’t as we dreamed at this point!!! But we are cruising. We tell each other that every day and we still are smiling. We know what will come with patience.

  9. I agree Mike! Moving on is what boats are made to do. We have been moving on for nearly 25 years and still loving it!

    Paul Shard
    SV Distant Shores II – Long Island Bahamas

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