Wow. A whole year on land gone by. It seems like just yesterday we were living aboard our dear Kingsley the sailboat. No lawn to mow, no carpet to vacuum, no house problems (plenty of little boat ones though!).
After selling the boat we’ve begun quite a land adventure. First we road tripped across the ol’ US (with the cat unfortunately) and landed closer to family and the other Coast, settling here in Eastern North Carolina. We then took a step that surprised many of our friends and family...we bought a land house (or, just a ‘house’ as many people call it). Isn’t house living the opposite of what we just did? Why sell everything, move aboard a sailboat, then move back to land and fill a house full of stuff?
We may not be certain of the answer just yet but for future liveaboards (and future ex-liveaboards) we’ve compiled a list of things we love about land, things we miss about the boat, and the ways that sailboat living might change you forever, whether you move aboard, stay aboard, or eventually move back to land like we did. One thing is for certain though: living aboard a sailboat for 3 years in the Pacific Northwest changed us forever and was one of the best experiences of our lives. What are some things you love about land? About living aboard?
~Paul & Amber ETC
5 things we love about land:
1. The bathroom. A shower. A tub. After a year it still feels like we’re on vacation when we have unlimited access to a hot shower that doesn’t take quarters (like the marina ones).
2. Counter space in the kitchen. Chef wifey was content with boat cabinet space, the fridge, and the stove/oven aboard. But counter space is key.
3. Indoor condensation is not an issue:)
4. Having space to leave projects out is nice. An office, the garage, the backyard.
5. Laundry onsite is a huge plus.
5 things that were better on the boat:
1. Taking everything you own on vacation with you is pretty sweet. Need a cat sitter? Nope. Forget your hiking boots? Nope.
2. Cheaper utility bills. Boat utilities were cheap. With a small area to heat and low electricity and water usage, bills struggled to hit $20 a month.
3. Sailing. It was so easy to go sailing!
4. Living on the water in Seattle for well under $100K. Sunsets for days.
5. Neighbors. Marina folks are a tight knit community.
5 ways land living is better since we used to live aboard a sailboat:
1. We buy less stuff.
2. We’re not as attached to the stuff we do have. If it sinks it sinks.
3. We feel more comfortable tackling DIY projects.
4. We (husband & wife) work better together. What land problem is harder than docking your house for the first time?
5. We think about our footprint more. How much waste do we make? How much water do we use? Why don’t we have solar panels and a windmill on our house?
It was perfect timing. My wife Amber and I just sold our liveaboard sailboat/home. My wife assures me that there is no place more pleasant than North Carolina in August…so we're heading there. After a decade in the Pacific Northwest it's time for new adventures. I can't believe we sold the boat.
Let's back up. Three years ago, I finally caved. Amber had been wanting to leave the Pacific Northwest for warmer climates. It was probably our second gloomy winter that did it for her. My promises of this being a temperate land wasn't exactly what she had hoped for. Our original plan had us living here for only a few years (it's been 11). Fine - her turn.
She generously gave us three more years here - to enjoy, adventure, and then close down our careers and say farewell to all of our friends. We were renting a small land house, as we had been for 8 years in Seattle. The house was close to Lake Washington and I had managed to join a few other neighborhood sailors in a boat-share of a 27 foot sailboat. We learned so much on that boat. Amber and I both loved sailing and dreamed of buying a boat when we finally moved back East, or South, or wherever she wanted to go that was warm.
Then we had an interesting idea. Let's buy a sailboat, get rid of tons of stuff, and move aboard. We'll learn everything we can in three years, then sell the boat and be on our way. I let Amber make the final call - I knew that the quickest way to sailing in warmer climates might not be purchasing a sailboat in the Pacific Northwest…but hey, it sounded fun.
We looked on Craigslist and with brokers until we finally found a boat that suited us. We got a marine loan from Peoples Bank, stayed with friends while we had the boat surveyed, found a liveaboard slip quick (good timing for that due to the recession) and then, all of a sudden, we were living on a boat.
We learned a lot. Cleaned a lot. Sailed a lot. In the boat buying process, the bank had been steering us towards a boat we could sail easier. A turn-on-a-dime coastal cruiser instead of a heavy, stubborn-to-turn blue-water boat. They were right. S/V Kingsley, a 2000 Hunter 320, was perfect.
Fast-forward to last year. We knew selling a boat would take awhile and that we definitely wouldn't get what we had put into her - people don't generally flip boats like they do houses. We listed her at the end of the summer on Craigslist and in the local 48 Degrees printed boat classifieds. We had some interest that Fall, not much over Winter, and quite a bit in the Spring. We had a few low-ball offers but as the weather got warmer the offers got better. Then, with only 6 weeks before we were planning on heading out - she sold. Boom. Done.
We were surprised, sad, excited, relieved. We learned so much over 3 years of living aboard and sailing and we learned a lot while selling her.
Things we learned while selling our sailboat ourselves:
1. Some boat brokers are slimy. Super-slimy. Lies, insults, borderline email harassment, you name it - they tried it. They knew we had a great boat and they wanted a piece of it. It seems brokers can take up to 10 percent of a boat sale. With a boat as clean, new, and nice as Kingsley, it would be easy money. We were honest with all of the brokers that approached us - we were going it alone and dropping the price each month. When the time ran out and we were leaving, we would end up listing Kingsley with a broker. We didn't have to.
2. A clean boat matters. Great, current pictures of your boat matter. If you want a laugh, just go on Yachtworld or Craigslist and look at the pictures that people post in their listings. Pictures with date stamps from 10 years ago. Pictures with captions that say, "this is an old picture, everything you see in this picture has been totally remodeled". You'll see sideways pictures, pictures with empty pizza boxes in the background, you name it. We spent time taking great pictures and made a free Kingsley for sale website to show them off.
3. List your boat at a price expecting a good deal of negotiation. In our situation we started high knowing that we'd tick the price down each month. Also, we knew if we left we'd need to list with a broker so we priced accordingly.
4. Where's your slip? Knowing about how your slip (boat parking space) works can add to the sale. Although some people in the Northwest own their slip, most rent. Some slips are transferable, others require the buyer to be on the wait list while the seller sub-leases the slip (basically, the new buyer buys the boat, then pays the old owners slip rent until the buyer comes up on the list and takes it over).
5. Once a offer is made, the survey comes back clean, and all is said and done, you've got to move the money and transfer all of the title stuff. It is possible to do this yourself, with cooperation from the buyer and banks (if you have a loan). However, most use a third party title company. The benefit of this is getting it done quick without the worry of missing paperwork. It's best to communicate about title company fees with your buyer before they get to work - you don't want any surprises.
With that, we farewell to S/V Kingsley and boat living for now. We had a blast and our only regret is that we lived in Seattle for so long before buying and moving aboard a sailboat!
Don't worry! Everyone's Travel Club lives! We will keep blogging here as we begin our migration to warmer climates, first with a road trip and later with kayaking and sailing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and beyond (I'm already Hobie Cat shopping). You may have noticed we've reorganized our blog a little - moving our mostly NW kayaking posts to a PNW section. Be sure to check out the maps section if you are looking for some great paddling spots in Western Washington.
All new posts will be here in this blog and we hope you continue to stop by and say hi! We'd also like to say thank you to ThreeSheetsNW for continued support over the years and for bringing our stories to more and more readers!
~Paul, Amber, Kali
Dearest land people,
We have been observing you. We too have lived on land, for most of our lives actually, but after just three short years living full-time aboard our 32 ft sailboat, land living seems different...land people seem a little different too. We notice and think about these little (and big) differences because we're also, like many liveaboards, the go-to house-sitters among our land living friends. Living in someone's house a week or two every couple of months is refreshing - a moment to spread out, cook intricate stuff, shower, & do endless laundry - but it also highlights a few land/boat differences.
1. The weather.
Do land people notice the weather? When we're on land we quickly forget about what's going on outside. Wind storm? What wind storm? It's sprinkling? Who knew? On the boat we feel it. Our entire house moves with the wind and water like a giant hammock. We hear every rain drop, every sprinkle...especially on the long walk down the dock to our car.
Land people have a lot of forks...and way too many pens/writing utensils of all types. To be honest, they have way too many duplicates of a lot of things.
3. Ice cream.
Ahhhh, ice cream. It's tricky to keep ice cream frozen in our small boat fridge, it even has a freezer! It's cold enough to make ice, but ice cream turns to ooze. Enjoy your ice cream land people!
We've never felt so welcome and gotten so many friendly "hellos" then when we moved aboard. Over the last few years we've given sailors we barely know rides back to the marina from town, attended our next door neighbor's wedding, and we always make eye contact and say hello when passing fellow sailors on the docks - that's what you do. We've lived in multiple land neighborhoods across Seattle that weren't like this. Do they exist? We hope so!
I kinda forgot about the giant brown spiders that scurry across the basement floors of Northwest land houses. While house-sitting last month, I was working on a project in the basement...in my bare feet...and then I was reminded of these little (giant) guys as one ran across the floor. We don't seem to have spiders on the (inside) of the boat. The family is pretty happy about this.
6. Quiet…or, rather, not quiet.
We have grown accustomed to the ambient noises of the marina and our boat. The creak of the lines that tie us to the dock, the birds (sometimes even swimming under our boat!), the water hitting the stern. Land dwellings have their own sounds but a lot of them are super quiet...too quiet.
7. Where do the drains go?
When you live aboard you quickly realize where the kitchen sink drains. It drains into the Puget Sound. The storm drains in the parking lot? The Puget Sound. Wash your car? Wash your boat? Puget Sound. It makes you think...and watch what you let roll of the boat or run down the drain. I wonder who else is dumping things into the Puget Sound...
No contest. Land power rocks. Make toast while leaving the heater on - no problem. Charge every electronic device all at once - easy. Long, hot showers - easy. Problems with land power? Oh yeah, when it goes out. When Kingsley's shore power goes out we can still run quite a bit off of the batteries. Like the lights…lights are good.
Observations complete…for now. It's maybe not so much that there's land people and boat people, it's more about how we tend to live on land vs. living on the sailboat. Even with the back and forth between land and sea, I know one thing: ice cream never tasted so good:)
~Paul, Amber, Kali (the cat…who prefers boat living for sure)
P.S. Surely we missed something? Let us know in the comment section!