Living Aboard

Living in a hostile environment makes you very aware of that environment. Now, My boat keeps Me out of the water, but I am on the water, and I don't have gills like a fish, which is what makes living on a boat living in a hostile environment. Man was meant to live on the land, where his two feet will get him around. Man does not have fins, and his arms and legs aren't well suited to moving in the water. However there are advantages to living aboard.

When you are on the water, you pay a great deal of attention to your environment. Failure to do so may put you in the water. On the hard (land) a storm might make you close your windows. You may be aware of the increased wind, but normally, as long as your power stays on and your trees don't come down, it's just wind that can be ignored. On a boat, when the wind comes up or changes, your home moves differently. It makes different sounds. It is very noticeable. And, one pays attention to it. I can wake up in the middle of the night, and just by listening: what ropes are creaking? are the fenders hitting the hull? how are the waves hitting the hull? I get a pretty good idea of the weather and water conditions. One becomes very aware of their environment when you are living on a boat, more so than if you are living on land.

This awareness quickly becomes connection. A liveaboard becomes very connected to his environment, recognizes that he is part of the environment, effected by it and effecting it. One realizes the truth in "All life flows through all life".

It's only a short step to realizing that "oh, my neighbors are also connected to nature", and then, "I'm connected to my neighbors" in ways I never felt when living on land.

Liveaboards and cruisers are a very close community. And it is a sharing, cooperative community. When going to the grocery store it is very normal to knock on your neighbor's hull (equal to knocking on their door) to tell them you are going to the store, and ask if you can pick up anything for them. This is before the pandemic. it's how the community works. Walking to the car to go shopping, and you see a neighbor, same question, I'm heading to the store, can I get anything for you?. If I'm sitting in my salon (living room) and I hear an engine close by or a bow thruster, I check to see if it might be somebody trying to get into a slip. If it is, I drop what I'm doing and go out to help them in, taking lines they throw, and getting them safely docked, and the rest of my neighbors are out helping too. It's what we do. We help each other in any way that we can because we realize that we are all connected. It is unfortunately very rare that this happens on the hard.

Another plus about living on a boat is the space limitations, and they are a plus, not a minus. I've always been lucky enough to have everything I need (as long as I defined need carefully-I need a car to get to work. I never needed a Mercedes Benz) The big difference now is, I need everything I have. I don't consume anything that I don't need to. I don't have a lot of extras. I'm not doing without, but I don't need to store extra things in a storage facility, or in the attic. And, in the event I find that I don't have something I need, perhaps a particular tool, there's a good chance one of my neighbors has one and I know they will share it, as they know I will share what I have. This helps the environment, by limiting consumption of resources. Perhaps I have a special wrench, meant to do one particular job. There is no reason all of my neighbors need one. I may use this wrench once a year. The rest of the time, my neighbors are free to use it. When I think I want to buy something new, one thing I have to think about is "what will I have to give away to make room for this new thing? We are very mindful of what we consume, and in what condition we are leaving our environment. We also share knowledge and trust each other with life and death matters. "Hey, neighbor, you went through Wrightsville channel last week--did you notice anything I should be watching out for when I go through it today?" or "I want to rewire my stove, is this the safest way to do it?

This community, it's strength and depth, is why I liveaboard. I've never experienced anything like it on the hard. It's not unusual for someone to live in a house for years, and never learn their neighbor's name. Here, on the water, someone comes in, I catch their mooring line, and I know their name 5 minutes later, where they are from, where they are going. (Now, my memory is such that I may forget their name in the next ten minutes, but it was shared, and I'll recognize them on the dock or in the yard or on the dockhouse porch) They are cruisers or liveaboards, they are part of the community.