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Date: 12 February 2014. Dreamer to Boater: Books.


Often I have been asked to help pick a boat for a couple, one they can live aboard inexpensively. It should be cheap to cruise long distances.  Of course eventually folks want to go "blue water" so they might as well get that Last Boat first. The vessel should be 40-50 feet, which in my mind moves from boat into Yacht category. The questions speak eloquently of a level of learning yet to be.  And here's where I can help! Professor Janice, at your service:

You will note I'm barefoot.  Your attire is entirely optional -- but please, don't send pictures.

There is nothing wrong with being naive about a subject, and goodness knows that boating is a topic with ramifications for each choice.  Heck, I'm still learning, and I know of no true boater who knows it all. We all are capable of learning more about the boating world.

For me, it was a natural. Conceived, born and raised aboard a 40'er, it's pretty much a given that this life would be mine again.  Why on earth I married that dirt dweller is beyond me. But I was young, knew "everything" and he was good looking.  What was I thinking!?!

I've recovered, thank you very much.

Some boat guys (and girls) head off fishing to catch the big one, while others find fun racing around the buoys at yacht club events.  And both of those are a way to test the waters.  But for a full time live-aboard life on a boat, some book learning can be helpful.

Books will save you a ton of money
by helping you avoid costly mistakes.

The thing is, as a dirt dweller you know intuitively something about the life of those who live in a log cabin built in the woods, in crowded tenements, luxury condominiums, a trailer or even in one of the mansions of Palm Beach. You know if you walk into each what to expect on a visceral level. 

So too is the variety you will find afloat. That's what we are going to learn about the boating world. Your "job" is to learn the basics. That way, when the time comes for that first boat you won't be taken to the cleaners. 

You will be smart enough to protect yourself from expensive errors.
You will know what will and more importantly, what will not work for you.

If you lived aboard, this could be your back yard.  Dinner swims beneath the boat, so catch, clean and cook it!

Picture taken by Cap'n Glenn on S/V Gypsy off Mallory Square in Key West, Florida.

Although it's perfect for me, and lots of other folks too, it is not for some.  Your job is to learn a bit so you can determine if this will be your life as it is mine, Glenn and Joanne's aboard S/V Gypsy, Cap'n Daniel and his wife Angela plus many more.


Of course boat life is not all beautiful sunsets. It's fixing stuff too. Every day aboard I try to make some improvement. That might be to remove everything from a locker and wipe it down, or, like yesterday, find a short in the connection for two of my cigarette lighters. 


I managed to break the elbow that holds my controller to the post that holds the motor. Argh! And here Daniel of S/V Teasa is fixing it:


Meanwhile, Angela and I are relaxing aboard Seaweed. I know -- it's a tough life, but somehow we manage.


Before you put big bucks into a boat, it's a good idea to have some basis of what the life is like from a live-aboard perspective.  You're going to be a boater, so you might as well start with some practiced frugality. The library will help you with that.

Also, at this point the "how to sail" books are out too.  Most of life afloat is spent in one place, so let's see if that life suits you as it does me.

DO NOT read any "Survival" or "Shipwreck" books!

I've linked the books to Amazon however if you're planning on being a budget cruiser your first stop will be the library.  Read for free, and when you find some that have particular resonance, then purchase them.  Oh, and please use my links for the buying. (Thanks!)

Some of these books are for higher dollar cruising, but most are for those of us on a more modest budget:

  1. The Intricate Art of Living Afloat by Clare Allcard.

  2. All in the Same Boat by Tom Neale.

  3. Living Off the Sea by Bonnie O'Boyle.

  4. Living Aboard by Janet Groene.

  5. The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat by Mark Nicholas.

  6. The Cruising Life by Jim Trefethen.

Your goal is to discover if you're the type of person who will enjoy this life -- either for a couple of years or even longer.  The above books are a way to imagine yourself here.  If this is where you want to be, you'll have a better and more realistic view of boating after reading about others who live the life.

So many picture pulling into an anchorage, dropping the hook, then kicking back with a cold one. Or they imagine pulling into a marina, smartly docking with inches to spare on each end of the vessel, then walking across the street to a fabulous restaurant.

That sounds great to me too, but the reality is a bit different. Sometimes there's a simple glass of wine on the back deck of S/V Oremae and those are the best of times. Wish you were here!

I'd love to hear what you think of the books I chose.
Are there others you recommend?


2014, 2018

Categories: Boats, Books, Characters, Recommendations

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The Archive holds a running list with synopsis of published articles, and links to same.

A favorite aphorism:  Luxury, real luxury, is spending an entire day reading a good book, or enjoying the companionship of someone you love, or marveling underwater at the colors of tropical fish. And knowing you can do the same tomorrow if you want to, and the day after.

Contributions to my Cruising Kitty
are always appreciated.

Every gift helps.

The Cruising Kitty is what boaters refer to as spending money. There's never enough aboard Seaweed!

I am also an Amazon Affiliate.


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