Moment of truth, I have tried to sit down and write this article a few dozen times, but keep on giving up because, quite frankly, I find modern society to be quite depressing. So here we go, I will not stop writing this until I have finished it. This will not be Shakespearian literature. It may be fairly rant-like at times, but this is my view on boat-steading and the world.
We have been living on the boat now for one full year (applause! streamers! confetti!) and it has far exceeded my expectations. I have learned to free dive, seen more isolated tropical Islands than the Pirates of the Caribbean, met all kinds of interesting and adventurous people, engrossed myself in local culture, eaten lobster and fish acquired for free simply fishing by or near my house, and happened across more once-in-a-lifetime picture perfect moments than I have a right to. All of this, and we still haven’t even made it past the Bahamas yet. All of this, and we live quite comfortably on the equivalent of a minimum wage American job.
Sound too good to be true? Think it probably is? So did I. I spent a good portion of my first year on the boat looking for the big “but…”. I haven’t found it yet. The next question is obviously why haven’t more people done this? Why haven’t you? Why hasn’t Chad, that annoying guy in human resources? In truth the only thing stopping you, is you. This isn’t a new message, you can find it in practically any and every inspirational poster collection in the world right between the “hang in there” kitten and the picture that for some reason features a fighter jet, yet nothing has changed. The world is still full of people working cubicle jobs that they hate, looking at people who live like this and thinking “I wish I could do that”, when in fact they can.
Modern society is designed to be expensive. Want a place to live? Either pay rent, or spend the next 30 years paying off a house while it accumulates interest. People didn’t always worry about things like rent, utilities, or payments on houses, cars, and insurance. You don’t have to either. We currently live on private beachfront property in the Bahamas, if we so desire, moving that property is a simple matter of weighing anchor and, literally, sailing off into the sunset. Living on a boat is practically the last way to do this. The days of homesteading are over, you can no longer go claim a tract of land, build a house on it, and make a living farming said land for food. A minimum wage job can no longer support even a single person in what is thought of as the normal lifestyle, much less allow for saving or paying for things like a house or college.
Our solution? Sell almost everything, rent out the house, then go and buy a boat to escape the shackles of society. Unbelievably, it worked! Now, I don’t want to sugarcoat it, it has been rather rough at times. There have been points at which we have been eating a lot of seafood and ramen to survive, times when we had to kayak to shore because we couldn’t afford gas for the dinghy, and a time where we were huddled in a bar with 8 or so other cruisers and a hurricane raging outside. All of this, and we were still happier and less stressed than we ever were on land, all of this, and we still lived like kings. We could spend our days snorkeling and diving in the crystal clear water and coral reefs of the Bahamas, wandering exotic rainforests, and immersing ourselves in local culture. Want to go to Jamaica? Weigh anchor and raise sails.
You don’t need to be a millionaire either. There are plenty of boats out there being practically given away due to neglect or hurricane damage. They might not be labeled as mega yachts, but when you are spending your free time and days outside in the ocean, who cares! I have met several people who live on small boats and spend a third of their year in America working on land, and the other two thirds in the Carribean surfing and drinking pina coladas on the beach. When your main necessary financial concern is food, and the bounty of the ocean is just off of your stern, you would be amazed how cheaply you can live. You can use solar and wind power for electricity (although you can get along just fine without it), fresh water can be collected from rain, distilled from the sea, or taken from any of many free sources on shore, and internet can be had for free practically anywhere if you know where to look and don’t mind a hike.
A lot of modern conveniences are not wholly necessary for survival or happiness. Cable, internet, unlimited tap water, fast food, motorized transportation, air conditioning, and even electricity can easily be removed from your life, after all, people lived without them for millennia. Along with the cost savings, the environment will thank you for your self-removal from the wasteful and polluting modern lifestyle that has become known as normal life. Fossil fuels are used for everything, whether you know it or not. They are used to generate your electricity, transport and preserve your food, every day on the average commute, to heat your home, and to cook your food. On a boat, everything you need can be done using renewable energy for less than it would cost to pay your electric bill. The sun doesn’t charge for its shine. Fresh water is another thing that is taken for granted in the more “civilized” portions of the world. Things like bathing and showering in clean drinking water are ideas of unimaginable decadence in many parts of the world, where wars are fought over access to clean drinking water. On the boat, where all of the fresh water you use needs to be either purified from the ocean or carried to the boat by hand in jugs, almost all of the fresh water we use is used for drinking or for making food.
So, in conclusion, living on a boat is not necessarily the overly decadent millionaire lifestyle that you might think from watching movies, but it can be just as satisfying as one might imagine. Selling all of your things and moving on a boat might not be an option for you at this particular moment. Hell, it might not be what you WANT out of life, but at least now you know that it is more of a valid option than you may have previously thought. If you do decide to stay on land, and continue to live what is viewed as a normal life despite wanting to live off of the grid or on the great blue, I urge you to think about what your real reasons are for staying, and what it is costing you and the environment to do so.
Jaedin celebrated his 20th birthday in the Bahamas this year. You can read Jaedin’s other blog posts here:
- 10 Things I’ll Miss About Land Life *from before we left for the boat
- 10 Things I love about Boat Living
- Weathering Hurricane Matthew
You can read our posts from one year ago and see the transition we had here:
The Road Trip:
The First Day Aboard: