Living on a boat has been gaining quick popularity, especially after Covid. Many young couples are quitting their jobs to permanently sail the world, or to simply liveaboard boating. This is true for Nick and Lee, a gay couple that packed up their lives on land and live full time on a fixer-upper boat. They’re completely happy with their decision and have 5 tips to liveaboard and live in a boat.
How to live on a boat
How Nick and Lee met
Nick (28 years old) is in the Navy serving as a navigator, and Lee (30) just finished serving in the United States Marines in May 2021 as an amphibious assault vehicle executive officer. Nick was deployed to the South China Sea and Arabian Gulf and Lee was deployed in Okinawa, and when they returned from their deployments, the couple met online and decided to meet in-person in San Diego where they both lived.
Lee was still in the Marine Corps stationed about 2.5 hours northeast of San Diego in 29 Palms, where he was renting a house with a friend while Nick was renting an apartment in San Diego with a friend.
After a successful meetup, Nick would go up on cooler weekends to visit Lee in 29 Palms (Joshua Tree National Park area) since that was where he was stationed at the time as an Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) Executive Officer in the Marine Corps. Most weekends, he would drive the 3 hours down to San Diego to spend time with Nick, since there was more to do in the downtown area. After Lee completed his 5 years in the Marines, he officially moved in with Nick.
The couple dated for about 2 years when after many hiking, rock climbing and camping trips later, they went to Iceland and Nick completed the famed ring road trip with a proposal. They got married in the mountains of Julian California in March of 2020, right before the world went in to lockdown.
Afterward, the pair started boat hunting to explore liveaboard life. This is what led them to their dream life in order to offer the best tips to liveaboard or live on a boat.
Lee now works as a Government Contractor for the Navy’s Unmanned Surface Vehicles (think “robot ships”). Nick is currently on his Second Division Officer Tour in the Navy as a Navigator and Training Officer onboard a littoral combat ship (LCS). They love their jobs, and they love living on a boat. Here are their 5 tips if you’re looking to liveaboard.
5 must know tips for people looking to live on a boat or liveaboard
1. If you’re looking into buying a boat, have an extremely open mind and don’t have your heart set on something specific. If the boat you’re buying isn’t already in a marina, and it doesn’t have a liveaboard slip, you might have to live on a mooring ball. A pro-tip: we use the app Dockwa to secure docking at marinas across the country as we travel. It saves us time and money while we plan our trips. When you’re purchasing a boat, they say to prepare to spend about 10% of the boats’ overall cost every year on maintenance.
2. Boating insurance is no joke, know what they offer ahead of time. Because we’re first-time owners and liveaboards of a catamaran, which insurance companies view as a party boat, we must stay in United States territorial waters for the first three years. When you’re a first-time boat owner, you must be flexible and willing to jump through all the hoops.
3. If you want to bring a pet, put into consideration how much space you’ll need on board. Part of the reason we bought a catamaran was because they have a dual hull, which means it’s more stable. It was more conducive to having Cooper, our dog, on board. We didn’t want Cooper to have to walk around at an angle while we’re underway for extended periods, so catamarans are better for the dog, and it provides more topside space.
4. Make the most out of your boat, even with tight spaces. Liveaboard is not a lifestyle for everyone; you need to be comfortable in a finite amount of space, open to downsizing, and tossing out all your furniture. If the boat comes with a bed, you won’t need yours anymore. You won’t need a couch, any of your dressers, or a gigantic TV. The simplicity of this lifestyle is what makes it appealing, and it’s one of our best tips to live on a boat or liveaboard.
5. Get to know your boating community. As the saying goes, “it’s nice to know someone with a boat, not nice to be the one that owns it.” Our friends come over and help us with projects all the time, and afterward, we’ll take them out sailing for drinks. We get to tick the must-dos off the list, and it’s worth it because then everyone gets to enjoy the boat.
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