The decision to live aboard our boat came about two years before we actually made Dolce Vento our home. Some people write that you should live aboard and keep your home for at least a year, but we took a more extreme approach, giving up our land based home. What we did do was to test living aboard for a week at a time for two months until we felt we had everything we needed to be comfortable. This included the right pillows, clothes, household tools, cooking gear, decorative items and the like. Everything else went to long term storage or family and friends on “long term loan”.
We chose the give up our land home for several reasons — the expense to maintain a land residence and live aboard at the same time; not being tied down to a specific job location; we are free to move the boat anywhere; and the urge to live simple and live small, which, on a board is the only way to live. You can’t have six saute pans because there is just no room for them on a sail boat. A full assortment of tools to maintain the boat is what you need. They take priority.
We moved aboard full-time on September 1, 2016. Two suitcases of winter clothes were stored with our friends who we visit in the winter, and one box of paperwork was stored with our friend who handles our mail. All the rest of our worldly goods not on the boat were tucked away in eight large crates and stored in warehouse. We were committed. We are properly insured.
Lesson Learned: Know what you are committing to. Our commitment is to live aboard for two years. We have enough sailing experience to know living on the water is not always romantic or easy given weather, close quarters and the always constant physical work of sailing. Sometimes, when motoring, it’s down right boring. Work your way up to live-aboard. Take a week, then two week, then a month. You’ll learn what you can tolerate. Plumbing and laundry are deal breakers for some people.
Lesson Learned: You have more stuff than you thought you ever had. Plan ahead. You can’t take it all with you. Whittle down your material possessions in purge cycles over a 4-6 month period. If you attempt to do it all at once, you’ll be overwhelmed and give-up. Find homes for your family heirlooms. Give them to your children now instead of waiting until you die. If they don’t want them, then they aren’t so precious are they? Sell or donate them along with all the stuff you have in duplicate and triplicate.
My rule of thumb is — if you haven’t worn it or used it in a year then get rid of it. For your collections whether it be artwork, coffee mugs, bowls and sculpture, the rule is — if its not on display for you to view because it brings you joy and satisfaction, then give it away, sell or donate it. Also, bring a bit of “home” onto your boat. We took five of our small paintings to decorate the boat and put the rest in storage. I don’t like breakable glassware, decorative pieces or china on a boat.
Lessons Learned: Digitize your paper. In today’s digital world, all your important papers can be stored locally on a computer or in a hosted cloud. Your historical records for utilities, credit cards and banking are available through the organizations’ websites. Those few original papers like a listing of all your financial accounts, website and social media usernames and passwords, wills, powers of attorney and the like should be in a safety deposit box that you and your designated executor(s) have a key to. Only keep a copy of documents on the boat that you might need in an emergency (e.g., health power of attorney, living will).
Lessons Learned: Protect your valuables. Especially if you don’t carry property insurance, put your valuables in a safe place. Don’t tempt theft. We put the “good” jewelry in that safety deposit box. Don’t put anything on your boat you are afraid of loosing. Store your digital life in a cloud and download files as you need them. Your computer should be covered through your boat insurance or some type of property insurance. Check with your insurance company or agent.