What's It Like to Live on a Boat?

I Live on a Boat, I Work on a Boat - Some Days my Feet Never Touch Land

I've lived on a boat since April 2014 - a 22 meter classic Turkish gulet - based out of Fethiye, Turkey. We offer private Blue Cruise vacations for families and small groups during the tourist season (May through September), sailing the Mediterranean coast of Greece and Turkey with guests from all over the world, so the boat is comfortably outfitted, much like a floating boutique hotel and restaurant.

compilation of images of luxury gulet sailing on the mediterranean

Except for a few days every winter, the climate in this area is very forgiving for boat life.

Things to know if you plan to live on a boat

Living on a boat isn't like living in a house, even if you never leave the harbour.  The boat is constantly in motion, so things break more than they do in a house.  Pipes (or more accurately, hoses) leak, tanks split, wiring corrodes, diesel lines (to power your engine and generator) clog, etc.  So you need skills to do repairs on your own, or the funds to pay someone to do them on your behalf.  (In my experience, boat repairs cost  at least double what I'd pay for the same service on land.)

Boats are subject to a lot of "rules" - maritime laws, national / federal laws,  local / municipal laws and harbour / marina policies -  which you need to know and understand.  The rules influence where you can keep the boat, how long you can remain in place, where and when you can do repairs, the requirements for safety inspections,  the qualifications of the person(s) responsible for the boat, etc.  While most of the rules are obviously safety-related, some seem arbitrary (and therefore, silly).  Ignore them at your peril!

distant view of hundreds of boat masts in gocek harbour

Insurance costs and coverage are different for boats than they are for regular homes.  You may need to do some shopping around to find a policy that covers your unique circumstances.

Being able to read and predict the weather is a must for boat living.  Expect the odd sleepless night keeping watch during storms. A loose line or shifting anchor needs to be tended to immediately to avoid damage to your own boat, or those around you. And you must monitor the boats around you.  Don't assume that other owners (or their crew) know what they're doing.

You'll need to make make arrangements for someone to care for your boat if you go away for an extended period.  Unlike a house-sitter who simply collects the newspaper and waters the plants during your absence, a competent boat-sitter needs to understand the boat's systems and be able to handle the boat in an emergency.

Turkish gulet Edith partially-sunk in Fethiye harbour

The boat and all of systems require routine maintenance to remain seaworthy and safe. A small leak can turn into a big problem in no time at all.  (Even boats in the harbour can sink!   RIP M/S Edith...) You'll need to budget appropriately, and also make arrangements for somewhere to live (and store your belongings) when your boat is in dry dock.

What's different when you live on a boat?

compilation of pictures showing gulet sailing on the mediterranean

I love boat life and see it as part of my lifestyle for the next few years. Cheers!




Have you got questions about living on a boat? Or have stories of your own to share? I'd love to hear your comments and feedback. Feel free to send me an e-mail to connect. And, if you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it on social media!

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