What it’s Like to Move Onto a Sailing Boat

We have lived at our new floating address for over a month now, so what is it like? Does the reality of living on a sailing boat, chime with our original expectations? What have the biggest adjustments been? And will we survive?!

Back to basics

Well… other than swapping terra firma for life at sea, one of the obvious differences is the reduction in space. Moving from a two-bed flat in Manchester, to the considerably smaller 34ft-long Caladh was always going to involve a generous cutback in ‘stuff’. Fortunately, we were somewhat prepared thanks to the sailors who have gone before us, and documented such cautions. This coupled with the exorbitant cost of hold luggage, certainly forced the issue. Despite all of this, we have actually found it much easier and more comfortable than we expected. So, I guess for anyone planning a similar downsize, overestimate, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Incidentally, you will also be amazed at what you don’t miss.

What is brought into perspective, however, is an intense awareness of what we do use, need, waste and the impact we have on the environment. This is even more striking when we reflect and compare with our previous landlubbing lifestyle. Carbon footprint, plastics, food waste, biodegradables, chemicals, renewables and landfill… the list goes on. These are brought into stark reality, when you carry your rubbish along with you, your sink is connected directly to the ocean, and plastics fraternising with sea-life are observed on a daily basis.

Mother has arrived

We are much closer to the elements now. They are a huge presence in our day-to-day lives, almost like having an extra person on board to think about. Most days, T gives us an update on the temperature highs and lows, whilst I check the wind speed, direction and chance of thunderstorms. Is our home secure?… is a daily and nightly concern. I think we will be forever learning how to work with the elements, whilst maintaining a heavy dose of respect for them too. Wind in the sails is an obvious one, but working with our solar panels, wind generator ‘Bertie’, currents, waves, stars, rain and tide. I don’t think there will ever be enough time for us mere mortals to fully comprehend them all. Going to sleep with the stars through the bedroom hatch though, and waking up to a fresh blue sky is utterly beautiful… and we are beginning to read the cloud patterns, attune to the boats’ movements and work around the heat of the sun. In Manchester it rained (rains) a lot, so thick skin and sometimes an umbrella are a staple piece to any Mancunian’s armoury. Now when it rains for us, we not only immediately batten the hatches to prevent sinking(!), but also scrub the decks with the freely gifted freshwater and open the tanks for collection too.

Living the dream? Or a living nightmare?

Whilst living on a boat is romantic in numerous ways, it can be extremely tough too. Mundane household tasks, like putting out the bins(!), have a habit of making somewhat of an event of themselves. Individually, you can manage it, but if more than one task mounts up, the net of them can be overwhelming. Caladh has two 150L water tanks, which is fab, but once they run out… they run out! Ditto too, with diesel (99L), battery power (220Ah), internet (15GB), cooking gas (8L) and holding tank space (20L) … I’ll let you decide which is more critical! Each of the aforementioned, requires a beautifully timed, trip to land and a top-up or pump-out on the way (yes that’s what happens to the holding tank!) … that is, assuming the weather is on your side, there is space on the quay and you don’t mess up your parking! I sound like I’m moaning. I’m not. I’m actually thoroughly enjoying living more deliberately, responsibly and semi-submersed in nature. I explain, only to offer-up what it is really like… hugely caveated (of course) with the fact we have been living on board (afloat) for yes… 47 days.

Less is more

That said, you do need and use a lot less. There isn’t as much pollution or dirt at sea. You wear less, shower less, waste less. Things are smaller. We do bump into things a lot. Stub toes and lose things. Yes, in 34ft-Caladh we lose things all of the time. Mainly because there is so much wonderfully hidden storage within the boat. We are also constantly stowing things before sailing, so belongings move relentlessly… and so do we! Actually, one of the biggest shocks we had, was something that happens when you periodically step off the boat… namely, land-sickness! A phenomenon widely experienced throughout maritime history, but still at large today. After our first few nights afloat, being gently rocked to sleep, we certainly hadn’t prepared for the ‘morning after’. Sitting in a café we were both noticeably swaying, with slightly green faces to match! Thankfully, this has started to ease now and we are on our way to mastering our land and sea legs.

So cheers to the next 47 days, we will, of course, keep you updated.

If you like this post, why not check out some of our sailing videos, or read more in our log about buying a boat, life afloat, and what we’ve learnt so far. Thank you again for your support and as always, much love.


  • Log 124nm
  • Date – 27th July 2018
  • Wind – 163° NNE, 4kts, gusting 7kts
  • Position – 38°45’07″N 20°15’52″E
  • Miles – 4.5

two girls in sailing jackets in a storm with uncomfortable facial expressions
sailor holding ships wheel of victoria 34 while sailing
sailing boat at anchor with mountains in background and girl swimming in the water
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