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How to Live on a Sailboat Full Time? – Suggestions From Experts

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

how to live on a sailboat full time

It’s undeniable that every boater’s childhood dream is living an adventurous life in a vessel or treasure hunting. Although it might sound impossible, many boat experts have experienced this lifestyle and proved that life on a sailboat is not a bad idea! If you can find the right vessel, maintain resources, and stay organized, living on a boat will be totally achievable!

Still, there are so many elements to consider before you can practice living on the ocean entirely. This leads us to the question “How to live on a sailboat full time?”

In this article, we will cover the most important information related to living on a sailboat full time, and we divided them into these categories so boaters can keep track of necessary factors.

Also, other strategies on life quality maintenance while living on a boat will be highlighted so make sure you stay with us until the end! Let’s begin!

What to Prepare for Living on a Vessel Full Time


The idea of having a moving castle on the ocean may sound unrealistic, but for those who aim for a full-time life on a boat, this is the first factor they need to consider. In this part, we will provide essential knowledge about choosing a boat and crucial tools:

  • Live aboard boats
  • Essential gears and living amenities
  • Budget and living plan

Live on a Sailboat Full Time – A Step-by-step Tutorial


Step 1: Choose a live-abroad boat

Organizing the living space on your sailboat requires many steps, including purchasing the appropriate watercraft. You must first decide on the type of sailboat you need, your budget, as well as the amount of space and amenities you want to have on the vessel.

  • The shortest liveaboard sailboat is around 20 ft long, while the normal size varies from 26 to 40 ft. This is only applicable for multihull sailboats, such as catamarans with multiple sizes and space choices.
  • A suitable houseboat for two people is around 30 feet long. On the secondhand market, a sailboat like that is inexpensive and comes with all the necessary gadgets for a regular and healthy life.
  • A bathroom, a full-size kitchen (with an icebox), a proper bedroom, and even a separate area for eating and working are nearly always included on a standard 30-foot sailboat.
  • There will most likely be extra seating space and a map display for navigation, which are placed in a standing headroom.

Step 2: Deciding on essential gear and living amenities


The amount of facilities boaters should bring on board is based on the number of people living on the sailboat.

There are three basic amenities a person will need when living on a sailboat: sleeping arrangement, gallery basics, and head layout. Here are some descriptions about each type:

  • Sleeping arrangement: Depending on the type of sailboats and the space, boaters can select the suitable berth to install. For instance, if your boat is a power vessel, using V-Berth or Settee Berth will save up most of your space.
  • On the other hand, for sailboats longer than 30 feet, installing Playpen Berth or Stateroom Berth is more comfortable, especially for those who have children.
  • Galley basics: Galley products range from simple items, such as a carry-on freezer or an alcohol burner, to elaborate ones as those seen in high-end mansions. The list below includes all the basic galley gears you need to obtain:
  • Icebox
  • Thermoelectric units
  • Mechanical refrigerator
  • Electric and alcohol stoves
  • Microwave ovens
  • Head layout: Head facilities, like other utilities, vary depending on the sailboat’s size. Thus, we suggest you search for the following options:
  • Head: Select between a dedicated head and a portable head
  • Shower
  • Vacuum systems
  • Portable toilets

Step 3: Finding a suitable dock and sea to travel

We suggest boaters look for a sea with stable weather conditions. You should pay special attention to the wind’s direction, as well as the tidal waves.

It is better for boat operators to select seas with quiet water, calm waves, and surrounded by boating activities like Florida or San Francisco.

Still, keeping track of the weather forecast and storm predictions is important as it will help you avoid dangers caused by the weather.

If you plan to live on a sailboat full time, ensure that you find a marina to dock your boat or a place on land where you can stay when encountering extreme weather.

A tidy dock with just a few liveaboards is enough since it encourages responsible living and rapidly expels those who do not respect the place. Piles of rubbish on dilapidated boats are unhygienic and shouldn’t be seen at marinas.

Step 4: Move in your boat and stay organized

This can be considered as the most crucial step when you start your life on a sailing craft.

You should spend as much time as possible purchasing necessary amenities based on the list above, as well as calculate the living budget and supplies.

Staying organized while living on a sailboat full-time is also extremely vital. Since there will be many nameless tasks needed to be done to begin a life on the ocean, knowing the initial works is the best solution.

We have come up with some of these tasks, which boaters can take in as preference:

  • Downsizing your gadgets: To maintain a strong and hygienic life, everyone requires a specific set of equipment.
  • Cleaning supplies, dishes, pots and pans, and other items fall into this category. Your key limits aboard a sailboat are living space, electricity, and water. Hence you’ll need to formulate a plan that maximizes each.
  • Designing storage area: Designate distinct storage areas aboard for certain things. Select a cupboard holding cleaning materials, for instance, then find ways to fit every stuff within.
  • Keep all protective gear in one place and place dirty and clean objects separately.
  • Reducing trash: We generate a lot of garbage. Rubbish is the most inefficient use of storage capacity on a sailboat, as well as one of the leading causes of foul odors or unhygienic conditions.

 The most straightforward strategy is to eliminate as much disposable material as possible.

Step 5: Create a proper living plan

When you have settled down with your sailboat, most experts will recommend creating a proper plan for your living experience with your boat, from where you should travel to what you will do to pay for foods, fuels, or maintenance during your time staying on the vessel.

Unless you are still working as a freelancer or remotely, calculating the expenses will be the top priority.

Also, you should search for places that can provide quality food supplies and vessel maintenance.

Lastly, when it comes to emergency scenarios, remembering The Coast Guard’s radio channel is very crucial.

For more details, please check out this video:


Follow our suggestions in the article and you will find living on a sailboat rewarding. For those who are questioning “How to live on a sailboat full time?”, the best answers are creating a proper plan and staying organized.

We hope the above information is useful during your boating experience. Did you enjoy the article? Do you want to add anything else? Please let us know and leave a comment below.

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