How we became liveaboards

About ten years ago, I came across Robert Doty’s website Sleeping With Oars (update: the website no longer exists). I excitedly told Tig about this crazy subculture that lives and sleeps on sailboats. He drank the Kool-aid and became even more enamored with the idea than me. Over the next couple of years we went to a boat show and took sailing lessons at the local sailing club.

Eventually, the dream petered out as we didn’t know any liveaboards or sailboat owners to help guide us through what seemed to be an insurmountable task.

“Bad Influences”
We moved to New England and bought a house. Our neighbors down the street, Tim and Lauren, shared with us their cruising dreams with us. In 2010, they sold their house and bought a Tayana 37, Windhorse. We visited them while it was still on the hard.

In November of 2010, we followed Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s advice to go to parties and attended a liveaboard brunch at the Constitution Marina. There we met liveaboards, including a family and a soon to be family, and our dream was re-ignited.

After talking it over, we decided to embark on a 2-5 year plan to become liveaboards. We talked to as many liveaboards as we could and visited them to see what life was like aboard.

The deadline moves up
You may have heard it said repeatedly that “a goal is a dream with a deadline.” As Tig started researching boats (aka looking for his new mistress), the deadline seemed to creep closer and closer. He became infatuated with a Cheoy Lee 38, but then moved on.

We interviewed and met with a yacht broker. I also interviewed a few marine surveyors. I was asking a lot of questions and getting lots of opinions and advice.

A whirlwind tour of boats
After making a rather naive initial statement of requirements, we went on a whirlwind tour of sailboats during the holiday season. We also checked out a Wauquiez Hood 38 before ruling it out. It was clear to us that 1) we weren’t very efficient at doing boat inspections, and 2) we wanted to go smaller.

As he did more research, Tig form his own ideas of what would work best for us. He particularly liked the European ladies, of the 80’s vintage.

One day, Tig mentioned, “Well, there is this 32 foot boat in Connecticut.”

“Absolutely not,” I replied. We had already gone down from our initial size requirement of 38-42′ to a cozy 34-36’…32′ was out of the question.

Meeting Wildest Dream
Tig convinced me to look at the floorplan of the Contest 32, “It has just as good of a layout as the Scanmar.” One cold winter day, we drove down and visited the boat. It was in the back of the boatyard, by the train tracks. Ice was in the bilge, and condensation dripped from the ceiling. But something clicked as I sat there and thought, “This could work.”

Since Contest 32’s were not common, we had to look into German and Dutch reviews, with the help of Google Translate. We put in an offer, negotiated back and forth a little, and went into P&S. Tig went down as often as he could to pester the boatyard workers, and learn about the new baby.

Closing in
The survey and sea trial were next, then a test sail. Then, one fine day, we climbed aboard and called it ours. The previous owners kindly gave us some sweet boat schwag and our to-do list expanded rapidly.

Tig wanted to get the boat up as soon as possible, so we put out a call for experienced sailors. Craig, Dick and Earle came to the rescue and they were off. Two days later, the boat safely docked at our summer marina, thanks to the crew. Dick wrote it up for the Pelagic Sailing Club’s newsletter.

Making it liveable
Tig started to tackle the project list, which included replacing the boat batteries, adding an automatic bilge pump, slowing down a leak in the stuffing box, and tearing apart the propane system. Meanwhile, I was making and upholstering the berth cushions.

We had a practice sleepover one weekend. Will we make our first week of June deadline? You’ll have to see.


5 Replies to “How we became liveaboards

  1. Hello! I found your website as I was researching families living aboard. My husband I just got married in March and plan to start a family in the next 6 months…We are refitting a 38′ Down Easter and plan to live aboard once complete. It is in FL right now in our hometown, but we live most of the year in the Bahamas due to my husband’s captain/caretaking job. I just wanted to say that if you ever get down this way, send me an email. We’d love to meet you and show you around the Abacos! Thanks for your inspiration!

    Alicia Dunable

    1. Hi Alicia, Thanks for stopping by. We’d love to meet up and will add Abacos to our “must visit” list! Feel free to ask questions, etc. We’ve benefitted from the generosity of many liveaboards and would like to pay it forward.

  2. Hi tig and family hope your trip going well saw that you still have some fuel issues i would like to hear about them and help any way i can. Also your banjo bolts came to admirals hill marina. Also abacos is on my to do list i hear its beutiful there good luck with Bill

  3. Tried summers with wife & 2 boys on a Pearson 28, as my parents before me. Bought a 424 ketch to sail longer and further. Found that getting the wifey to live on a sailboat is like laundering a cat. It may have something to do with the demographics you observed. By the way, I also killed the motor bucking the big sea-swell outside Newport and at the Buzzards Bay end of the Canal (the bumping about stirred up evil from the bottom of the tank and goobered up the racor). By no means was this aphrodisiac in any respect.

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