Liveaboards – Living On a Sailboat

The word seems to scare many landlubbers. Many would like to see them banished—out of sight, out of mind.

To me liveaboards are mainly a great group of independently-minded people who love the sea, sailing, and the independence that comes along with life on the water. Having been one myself at various times, I’ve gotten to know a few. For the many who live aboard at dock, I remember the times I would observe them tending another’s boat when they saw it was in trouble and the owner wasn’t around, which is the case with most boats. They would adjust the lines or a fender so the boat was safer in its slip because maybe the wind had picked up, or the lines broke or stretched. They were careful not to go onto a boat as they knew it was private territory—but would if a desperate fix was needed.

For those anchored out (or moored), they too acted similarly—respectful of others’ property, helping others when needed, or helping the boat if the owners weren’t around. Most liveaboards would help a boat even if they didn’t like the owner, as if the boat needed help and it wasn’t the boat’s fault, as is often the case. The general belief is that boats have a soul, and perhaps that is why there is such respect for the beauty of them—especially the old beauties like the schooners and square-riggers. Any group of people who believes these boats have souls can’t be all bad.

I swear some boats have more soul than some people.

Why there is such a belief among many landlubbers that they are a problem group is beyond me, but it is understandable as they don’t know them. Are there derelict people out there living on derelict boats? Absolutely—as in the rest of world, but I guarantee they are in smaller numbers, percentage-wise, than those who live on land.

In many places in Florida, liveaboards are slowly being pushed out and away. It appears many local governments would like them out of their hair, as if they were a nuisance. They are people and they have rights and they are to be treated with respect as fellow human beings, but many liveaboards are slowly being pushed away, given fewer and fewer places to anchor, or moor, or dock, as though they are a blight on the landscape of life, as if some want to say to them, “Go get a real job, a real life, a real home—make some real money.”

In other words, we will push you away if you don’t live and look the way we think you should. We are the majority, and if need be, we will just raise prices on everything so high you will have to leave.

If that’s what happens, I would rather leave with them.


This article originally appeared as an editorial in the February 2005 issue of SOUTHWINDS. 

Also read:

Full-Time Cruisers or Liveaboards? – What should you call yourself if you are living aboard full time and cruising –  in the eyes of the law?

The Long Distance Sailor – Prepared to go on a voyage