The boat life isn’t always filled with rainbows and dancing dolphins. For every cool experience we’ve had this year, there’s a tough one, too.
In general, living on a boat with kids has been easier than we anticipated. We’d imagined horrid smells, insane toddlers, and life-ending expenses.
None of that has happened, mostly.
Living with Kids on a Boat
Of course, kids will always bring good and hard times. That’s true wherever you live, but kids on a boat can be tough-er. One things that’s unique to boat life so far is that keeping the boat cool/warm evenly throughout the night is a challenge. The kids’ room is the hardest to keep climate controlled consistently.
That means they’ll wake up in the middle of the night if they’re too cold or hot. Last night was one of those nights thanks to an unseasonably warm weekend.
The things I thought would be hard with kids are actually not an issue. I thought they’d go stir-crazy in the small space, but they’re just fine. I thought I’d be constantly worried about them drowning, but they’re easy to keep corralled or always in sight when we’re outside (or they’re wearing a life vest).
We do find ourselves having to help them more with simple tasks. They are less independent now simply because things like flushing a toilet are more difficult on a boat. They are not strong enough to operate the hand pump toilet in their bathroom. Our cooler-like refrigerator renders them helpless and they need assistance getting items out of the bottom. All of our closets and cabinets have latches to keep them from flying open in high seas and their small fingers cannot open by themselves.
There’s no doubt, though, that the few unique difficulties of living on a boat with two little boys are 100% worth it.
Expensive Boat Repairs
You’ve heard the old adage that a boat is a hole in the water you throw money into. For us, that’s not been the case. We’ve spent very little money on the boat since we bought it.
Part of that is because we’re okay with cosmetic blemishes. They don’t bother us too much and many of the dings and dents give the boat a lived-in feel, which we like. We see pristine boats all the time, but we always love seeing an older boat with some scratches because you know it’s seen some stuff in its life.
Mechanical issues are different, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to fix them myself or invite my generous and handy Father-in-law to help. I’ve learned how to fix boat plumbing, troubleshoot and fix almost every electrical problem, and replace decking where soft spots have come up.
In January we’re planning to haul out the Wanderer for a bottom repaint, an engine and generator fluid flush, and overall health checkup by a professional. Until then, there are only small projects to undergo. My next one is fixing the autopilot, which is super important if I actually want to enjoy driving her.
Running a Web Business from a Boat
Working on a boat has been tough. In my house, I had an office with a closing door. That meant I had privacy and quiet to do meetings via video (which I do daily).
I haven’t found a reasonable, affordable, travel-proof replacement for an in-home office. I can work in the salon when Erica’s gone with the kids or from the top deck when the weather is nice. But when the weather is bad, like today, hosting video meetings is hard.
I usually end up in a coffee shop, but the background noise and scene is unprofessional. That’s not good when almost all of my video meetings are sales meetings with potential customers.
I’ve been brainstorming how to solve this issue, but so far I haven’t come up with a good solution. A full time co-working space is overkill. One we get the bimini top replaced, I should be able to work from the top deck in the rain. Until then, I’ve got to figure out something else.
Happily Married in a Small, Floating Home
Finally, many people worry about married life on a boat. Mostly, they worry that the small space will put a stress on their marriage. We were mindful of that possible dynamic, too.
In reality, it hasn’t happened. If anything, we are closer than ever before. We are partners on this journey and the close proximity has only served to make us more self-sacrificial and other-minded. We’re forced to be more thoughtful and helpful with each other. We usually do our Daily Temperature Reading right before bed and our smaller mattress means more snuggles.
Granted, some fun things like showering together or making a big nice meal together aren’t as easy, but there are ways to experience those things without the luxuries of a big house on land.
All in all, the good far outweighs the bad when it comes to living on a boat (so far). We’re optimistic that the future will hold more of the same.