Almost everyone has occasionally imagined what it would be like to be living on a sailboat: The allure of the easy-going lifestyle, the freedom and the adventure; what's not to desire?
It's smooth seas, mermaids, sunsets, sailing tours and booze cruises everyday, right? The boat is cheaper than rent, there is no traffic and the entire ocean is at your disposal. After living on a sailboat for the better part of a year, not all of the above are accurate.
All in all, it is pretty sweet, though...
I ended up in California after I broke up with a girl. She left me - figures. I'm not meant for relationships because when the wind is blowing or the surf is running, I have a hard time holding down a normal commitment.
Therefore, my dating pool is reduced to almost nothing. Fine by me! I had about $500 in my pocket at the time. I did have a part-time job that was raking in about $200 per week, which is poverty in southern California. I borrowed a bike from a friend and would put the bike on the front of the bus for the 21-mile commute to work.
After work on Sunday nights, the bus route was over and I had to bike the 21-miles home on a 1-speed bike. NBD - no big deal. It actually wasn't that bad, as the nights in SOCAL are great. I cruised along the Pacific Coast Highway the entire way. Once, I found $10 on the street - that was epic!
I started playing tennis a few nights per week and one night I met this dude, Noah. We started playing regularly and after a few weeks he invited me to check out his boat. It was a 27-foot Catalina monohull sailboat. He'd been living on it for something like 17 years, which I found to be fascinating.
The living quarters were not huge, but it was functional. I liked that everything had its purpose. Efficiency was maximized. In the back, there was a small, dedicated bedroom that was nothing more than a double bed separated from the sitting area by curtains.
In the sitting area there was a table with seating around it and some counters and a sink. There was also a tiny bathroom. At the other end, there was a crawl space that was meant for stashing gear. This ended up being my bed. I had to squeeze into it and when I was fully on my back lying down, there was about 15 inches of space between my nose and the roof. Not a great option for someone with claustrophobia, but it was free!
Warm nights in California meant sitting on the deck watching movies on the laptop, or enjoying a small fire. We had tiki torches that were another necessary fixture.
It was cheaper than living on land, but boats are notorious for being expensive to maintain. Boat owners joke that BOAT is an acronym for Bust Out Another Thousand.
The best part about the whole experience was falling asleep at night with a gentle sway and listening to the waves lapping at the boat's side. Hearing the halyard cleats clanging on the mast, in the wind, was another familiar and welcomed sound.
Living in a tiny space when sailing in the Caribbean or moored up in a harbour is certainly not for everyone. Expect to be crowded at times, and inconvenienced in more ways that I can explain.
The most important decision to make if you ever do this is choosing the right company: Your crew can make this experience or badly break it. Life is an adventure and you only have one shot at it.