Living Aboard a Boat Reflections on Cruising

X is for (e)Xceptional: Things We Love About Living-Aboard and Cruising

Thursday, April 28, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA

During the month of April, we're participating in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge where every day (excluding Sundays) we'll be posting to the blog . . . alphabetically. The overall theme we've chosen to tie all the entries together is living aboard a boat and cruising – things we've learned along the way: our thoughts, reflections, and tips for those just starting out or who are interested in this lifestyle.

We’re down to the final days of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and I wanted to use the last letters of the alphabet to reflect more on our 15 years of living-aboard and cruising rather than pass along tips from things we’ve learned. I’ve already written about how we became regional cruisers, some of the difficulties I faced when transitioning to living-aboard, some of the side effects of cruising, and what cruising means to us. And now I want to get down to the specifics. Like everything else, living-aboard a boat and cruising has its pros and cons. I’ll address both, but in this post I look at some of the things we love about this lifestyle that’s captivated us for so many years.

We love to sail. We love to travel. We love new experiences. But spending time at anchor is where all of our hard work pays off. For us, it doesn’t get much better than swinging free with million dollar views all around. And the best part is, if we get tired of the neighbourhood (or the neighbours), we can up anchor and move.

Exploring New Places
We love to travel and cruising has allowed us to visit so many new places over the last 15 years, many of which can’t be reached by land and look like they’ve never seen the touch of man. It’s been extraordinary. 

We have no phones that need to be answered, no lesson plans to be made, no clients to please, no alarm clocks to set. We are our own bosses now and that’s been a liberating experience.

Kayaking is one of those things I hadn’t realized I loved until we based ourselves in the Pacific Northwest, and the Inside Passage is the ideal location for it. Honestly, it’s hard to beat the feeling you get from the seat of a kayak when you’re surrounded by 6,000-foot cliffs or following bears as they forage along the shore.

Living off the Grid
Cambria is a mobile power plant and has everything aboard we need to survive for months at a time without tapping into outside resources: Our large battery bank supplies energy for all of our creature comforts – refrigeration, lights, computers, stereo, TV – and our solar panel array replenishes the batteries. When there’s not enough wind to fill our sails (which happens often during the summer months), we have enough diesel aboard to motor 1,200 miles. When the water tanks start to empty, we can make more. If the trash becomes unwieldy, we can go to shore and burn it. And our portable freezer holds enough meat to last four months or longer. Once we got a taste of unplugging and living independently, we were hooked!

Living Simply
Living on a boat requires a simpler way of life, there’s no way around it. Limited space means we had to downsize and get rid of most of the things that weighed us down on land – TVs, cars, houses, furniture, appliances. Now that we carry everything we own with us, we cook and eat more simply. We walk and take public transportation (except during the winter months when we have access to our truck). We rarely have phone coverage or access to the internet. Basically, if we don’t have it aboard, it’s likely that we don’t need it.

No Lawn to Mow
This is a favourite of David’s, but I’m not sure why. When we lived on land, I mowed the lawn (he says he did, but he’s wrong).

The People We Meet
You hear this a lot from just about everyone who lives on the water, and it’s true. The people that we’ve met over the years are from all walks of life, but have one thing in common: openness. Friendships form fast and are built to last. 

The Perspective from the Water
The world looks different from the water and we can’t get enough of this unique perspective, especially sailing up narrow fjords where the mountains rise straight out of the sea and tower overhead.

Quality Time Together
When travelling at the neck-breaking speed of seven knots, there’s one thing you have a lot of and that’s time to spend together . . .and that’s a good thing.

Travelling in our Own Home
Both David and I are homebodies and cruising allows us the opportunity to travel in the comfort of our own home with everything we own and need within arm’s reach. There’s no longer a need to pack a suitcase or hop a plane . . . we are where we’re going.

One of the best things about living on a sailboat is that you can go sailing any time the wind’s blowing.

Something New Every Day
As long as we’re open to the experience, there’s something new to discover every single day. Sometimes it’s on a personal level, like a previously unknown talent or learning something new about ourselves and each other. Sometimes it’s being faced with a problem and finding a way to solve it. And other times it’s an encounter with wildlife or a walk on the beach. Whatever it is, big or small, our days are filled with new experiences and opportunities to learn. And for me, that’s one of the best things about this lifestyle. 

Sunrises and Sunsets
It’s hard to beat a good show put on by Mother Nature and sunsets rank up at the top. Not only does cruising give us a front row seat, the lifestyle allows us the time to slow down and enjoy them.

My love of animals is nothing new. When I was young, my dream was to be a veterinarian (until I heard I had to dissect a cat in physiology class). Whales, bears, wolves, sea otters, eagles, dolphins – are all wildlife experiences this lifestyle has opened up to us.

What do you like best about living-aboard and cruising? Or if you don’t live-aboard, what do you think you would like about it? Join the conversation below in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

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  1. Sounds like heaven to me.

    Meet My Imaginary Friends

  2. We are staring at the end of a year-long sabbatical aboard in the PNW and I have to agree 100% with all of the above (except the kayaking—we don't have one but I am sure I would love it up in the Broughtons). Hopefully we will be able to come back eventually and make it a permanent thing...


    1. I hope so too. As you already know, there's so much to see and do here.

      Great blog, by the way, I've bookmarked your link and am looking forward to reading about your time in the PNW and hope to find a place or two to discover that we've missed.

  3. I love the slower pace and quiet nights at anchor. The PNW tourism board should be paying you royalties! - Lucy

    1. Lol. It really is an amazing place.

  4. We love anchoring out and exploring new places. Also love pretty much everything you wrote about. We are really looking forward to being able to cut loose from here for awhile, or forever, who knows? I have a hard kayak that I love. Mike does not, but we would like to have two kayaks when we leave. Have you liked your inflatables? What have you not liked about them? We still want to meet you guys before you leave for the season. And see Cambria.

    1. We do like our inflatables because they're more stable than fibreglass and easier to get into from the boat. BUT I have a leak in mine that we can't seem to fix. I wouldn't mind so much but I get wet every time I go kayaking now. With that said, I've had it since 2002.

      We'd love to meet you guys too. We'll be around until Monday and don't have much going on this weekend. There's plenty of beer in the frig! :)

    2. You guys really should meet up and have a West Coast A to Z meet-up! Lucy and Matt from Larks of Independence just stopped by today and Jaye and Dan from Life Afloat stopped by this weekend. I already met Keith and Nikki a couple of months ago when they checked out Indiantown Marina. Now I just have to meet Liesbet from Roaming About and I'll have the whole East Coast gang covered :-)

  5. It is great that you are living your dream. How do you post? I guess you have access some when you come ashore. Thanks for sharing the great photos. It sounds like you are living a wonderful life.

    1. We use T-Mobile for our cellular provider which gives us unlimited data in Canada so we tether the phone to the computer to post online. The only problem is that we aren't in coverage very often so it's difficult to keep up during the cruising season.

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  6. Another great post! all resonate with us too. When I'm out on the water I forget about all the drama on land. Particularly my busy job. The wind blows away the cobwebs. I can't wait to move on board full time!

    1. Thanks, Viki! "The wind blows away the cobwebs" -- I love that!

  7. For the first time since leaving our boat and moving on land (temporarily), you make me miss the cruising lifestyle with your list. It is so well-phrased that I cannot think of anything to add. So, my answer to your question would be "all of the above" (except not having to mow the lawn, since I never had one).

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

  8. The quiet. I even used that for my "Q" post. The chance to hang at anchor and hear NO human sounds... Priceless!

    1. The only problem is that once you get a taste for it, you crave it. I'm not sure how we'll survive when the day comes that we move back to land.

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  10. I love the sound of all of that, although I would miss making with glass as that wouldn't be something that would translate to life on board!

    So glad I found you from the list!

    Mars xx
    @TrollbeadBlog from
    Curling Stones for Lego People

    1. Same here, Mars. I'm so intrigued by your chosen art form.