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How to live the dream

2020 May 1

We asked liveaboard cruisers how they left life on land behind and headed to sea for adventure and a change of pace

The crew aboard Serendipity has created a sustainable income for themselves thanks to Kevin’s former career. 

“Kevin is a retired United States Coast Guard officer and has a full pension, which includes healthcare if needed. His pension is about $40,000 a year. We also rent out our home back in Maine and net about $30,000 from that as well. We have four kids, and we live a fairly simple life out here,” Steph said. 

They, too, drew on inspiration from their liveaboard lifestyle, creating a business called FearKnot Fishing, taking the fear out of learning to fish through education and consultation. 

The author and her husband David soak up the good life.

Adam and Khiara saved a lump sum for their adventure, however, their savings also ran out around the 18-month mark (hint, cruising often costs more than you expect it will.) 

“We saved up a lot of money to begin with, not just for the boat but for two years of cruising. Our estimates were based on Beth Leonard’s guides in “The Voyagers Handbook” and were around $1,350 per month, $32,000 in total. We lasted about a year and a half on our savings as we didn’t expect to replace as many parts on the boat as we did. We have since been able to top off our cruising kitty from receiving YouTube and Patreon revenue for our channel called “Millennial Falcon,” which makes around $1,500 a month and keeps the production going,” Adam said. 

But what if you can’t afford your own boat but still want to live on the water? Kasia Kaminska knew that she didn’t want to settle down after graduating from college. Using her teaching degree, Kasia applied for a teaching position on a trimaran in the Caribbean, and her new role saw her responsible for homeschooling two young boys. She has since sailed throughout the Caribbean and across the Atlantic Ocean, all while getting paid. 

“For me, it’s a full-time job and a unique lifestyle,” she said.  “I travel back home once a year and stay in contact with family over Facebook and Messenger. I crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 2019 and I’m going to cross the Pacific Ocean this year, so it’s been an amazing experience for me and a wonderful opportunity to see the world while getting paid for it.”

Of course, there are many challenges when it comes to living aboard. So how do cruisers cope with breakages and ongoing maintenance woes, the lack of family support and the difficulty balancing work and sailing life? 

“Managing our day to day lives like jobs and family is sometimes hard,” Khiara said. “Even after two years, we still struggle to have a routine to stick to (other than a compulsory coffee in the morning). When we’re at anchor, we will try to work for a few hours in the morning but because ‘work’ can be editing videos, boat maintenance or general day-to-day chores, every day and every task is different and requires different timeframes to get it done. When we’re sailing, all routine just goes out the window; it’s just too hard to work while leaning 45 degrees. It’s also sometimes challenging to live in the same place as your work, as you never feel totally like you’ve clocked off, there is always something to remind you that you have more work to do,”
she added.

My husband and I were both lucky enough to be granted two years leave without pay from our jobs back in Australia. Having that safety net was a huge comfort and made reintegrating into the real world much easier when we returned to land life at the end of our adventure in late 2019. But living on a boat with three children while juggling home school, maintenance and running a business, was not easy.

So what is it about life on the water that draws such an allure? Most agreed that living a simple life free from the pressures and expectations of society was a huge draw. And while living on a boat is often far from simple, it was these very challenges that made me feel alive. Humans, as a species, don’t feel accomplished or fulfilled when life is simple. While we think that’s what we want, what we actually thrive on is a challenge and to feel accomplished when we achieve something. 

Kyla said she wouldn’t trade her lifestyle for anything. 

“While boat life can be quite hard work, we believe that the hard work pays off in the form of having the freedom to go anywhere and to see and experience things that other people may never get the chance to,” she said. “We also enjoy a fairly minimalist, eco-friendly lifestyle and the freedom that comes with it.” 

Adam couldn’t agree more. “Land life has a tendency to become a bit of a vacuum that you fill with ‘things’ so while we don’t plan to live out on the water forever, we don’t want to return to everyday life just yet.” 

About the author

Erin Carey is living and cruising aboard her Moody 47 Roam with her young family, and loving every minute of it. She’s currently enjoying the waters of the Eastern Caribbean.


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