Why You Should Only Live on Your Boat for Half the Year

half the year at anchor. La Cruz, MX
In the anchorage at La Cruz, MX

Are you considering the liveaboard lifestyle but aren’t quite ready to dive into living on a boat full time? You are not alone! Many boat enthusiasts find that living on their boat half of the year strikes the perfect balance between the freedom of life on the water and the comfort of a traditional home on land.

In this article, I will explore why you should only live on your boat for half the year. Part-time cruising can be the ideal alternative lifestyle and can help you make the most out of your boating experience.

Bad Weather and High Winds

A big question for those considering a full-time liveaboard lifestyle is how to deal with bad weather, especially during hurricane season. Living on your boat for only half of the year allows you to avoid the potentially dangerous conditions that high winds and storms can bring. You can retreat to your home during these periods, ensuring your safety and peace of mind.

In our experience, boaters fall into two categories: those who cruise for 5 or 6 months and then store the boat somewhere to avoid the hurricane season. Or those who keep moving and cruise to new locations every season. The pace varies tremendously, and we have found that covering more cruising ground at a slower pace is the best way to be a bit more relaxed in our exploration.

At anchor for half the year in the Sea of Cortez
Working remotely in Agua Verde in the Sea of Cortez

Half the Year Ensures Quality Cruising Time

Cruising in an ideal location, like the Sea of Cortez, means you can soak up the best weather and the most ideal water temperatures, too. Most cruisers will enjoy this region from March through early June with mild outdoor temperatures. And then again in September through November for the warmest (between 80-85 degrees), clearest water.

But the wicked heat in the summer and the blustery winter months send most cruisers packing for home. If you live on your boat full-time—and can’t escape inclement weather—the challenges of boat life become more pronounced.

Sweaty sleep, rolly anchorages, relentless bees: all can send one or both crew packing. Or worse, renouncing boat life for good.

We know of several cruising couples who live on their boat full time. And when the weather is miserably hot, they end up paying extra money for a slip in a marina just to run the AC fulltime. Not only does this prevent cruisers from enjoying the outdoors (hello—the reason we’re living this life!), cabin fever will settle in like a land-locked city dweller.

Small Space and Maintenance Costs

Speaking of which, one of the major issues that full-time liveaboards face is the challenge of living in tight quarters. Boats come in various sizes and price ranges. But even the most spacious liveaboard boat will still offer less square feet than a typical home.

Another reason you should live on your boat half of the year? You can enjoy the novelty of a smaller living space without feeling cramped and claustrophobic. Additionally, you’ll reduce the wear and tear on your boat, ultimately lowering overall boat maintenance costs.

As you can imagine, boat maintenance never ends. If all of your precious time is eaten up with boat chores or repairs, the dream loses its luster. If you can manage to leave both the fantastic rewards and constant upkeep, you are guaranteed to enjoy boat ownership even more–whether it’s your first boat, a small boat, or a bigger boat.

Besides, have you seen the salty vessels taking up residence in a marina somewhere? By salty, of course, I’m referring to those boats that never get hauled out and accumulate corrision and general neglect. Those that get hauled out once a season may have fewer maintenance problems. After all, this is when an owner has the opportunity to assess (and address) major issues.

half the year boatyard work
Boatyards offer a time each year to do maintenance.

Type of Boat and Insurance Rates

Additionally, living on your boat for half the year may mean you have an easier time securing boat insurance. As many of you know, the type of boat you choose, how much cruising experience you have, and other factors like the age of your boat can have a significant impact on your insurance rates.

However, insurance companies will sometimes offer a discount if you are on the boat part time. According to Discover Boating in the article “Boating Insurance Guide,” “if your boating is restricted by seasons and your boat is in storage during the winter, you can get deductions for winter layup.”

 All cruisers with insurance face location-specific worries, like needing to have their boat out of a hurricane belt per the insurance company’s policy. But livaboard cruisors can pay even more. Especially if they want full-coverage insurance (meaning, more than just liability insurance). When your floating home is all you have, this becomes much more of a worry than new cruisers really know.

Even on Flying Free, our sailboat, we only have Mexican liability insurance, which costs us about $600 for the season for up to a million dollars in liability. After the terrible hurricanes in the last few years, it simply got too expensive to have full coverage insurance, approximately $4500 for the year. If we planned to be full-time cruisers and did not have a homebase somewhere, it would be difficult to forego full coverage insurance. 

half the year in Barre de Navidad

Liveaboard Marinas and Slip Fees

Finding a slip in a liveaboard marina can be challenging due to the high demand. Not to mention, liveaboard slip fees can be extreme. As an example, the monthly slip fee for our boat, a 53 foot sailboat, in La Cruz, Mexico would have been about $1500 in the month of February.

If you live fulltime on the boat, most people recognize that this is far cheaper than rent in certain places. But when you consider wear and tear on the boat, very close quarters next to your boat neighbors, and the difficulty in securing a slip, then part-time cruising makes more sense.

And, obviously, depending on the location and a variety of factors, the price for a slip can vary. For some cruisers, living in a marina and doing day trips, like so many people we met in San Diego, allows them to access washing machines or laundry facilities. Or yacht club amenities like restaurants and bars, a gym, and more.

But by living on your boat part-time, you can enjoy easy access to liveaboard slips during the off-season when demand is lower. This not only simplifies your time schedule but can also save you a ton of money on slip fees.

Half the Year: More Mooring Fields and Anchorages

If the liveaboard lifestyle isn’t for you, even with a nice marine environment and easy access from a dock, this means anchoring out or staying in a mooring field.

We preferred the mooring ball in Puerto Escondido in Loreto. However, the marina has continued to raise the monthly rates (the current rate is up to $13 per square foot, per month). Not to mention, during hurricane season, it’s a good idea to enlist someone to look after the boat when there is bad weather.

During last year’s hurricane in the Sea of Cortez, 70 knots of wind lifted our dinghy off the foredeck and positioned it on our lifeline. Luckily, a fellow sailor friend alerted us to what happened and was able to board our boat to put the dinghy back in the cradle.

Half the year on the mooring ball. Puerto Escondido, MX
Mooring field in Puerto Escondido where we were based half the year.

Best Places and Cost of Living

Living on your boat for only half of the year allows you to explore a variety of environments without being tied down to a single location. For instance, we know certain cruisers who stay home in the winter months because they love winter activities, such as skiing and snowboarding.

They then head to their boat in Spring, when the prevailing winds help them actually sail to all sorts of great places. They tell us the time away from the boat allows them to regroup, bring boat parts back to the boat, visit family, and dream of new locations to visit.

We also know quite a few sailing couples who choose to rent their house out while they are on the boat, which helps cover property taxes. And it saves them fixed costs at their home, like water, which often cannot be turned on and off.

Rent Out Your Home for Half the Year?

Of all the scenarios for living this lifestyle, the cruisers who balance a home base and living on the boat part-time seem the most content overall. The rent provides additional income for the cruising kitty; there is peace of mind knowing that someone is watching over the home while they are on the boat; and the home base provides a place to retreat if someone needs a break (or requires it due to medical reasons).

The ones who are committed to living on the boat fulltime have a long-term plan of cruising around the world. If you plan to take your time and enjoy the journey, this may take anywhere from 6 to 10 years. Shedding the responsibilities of home ownership would make sense. As long as the plan sticks. How many of us can say with certainty what we will be doing 10 years from now?

Half the year in Morro Bay, CA
Before we left for Mexico, our boat resided in Morro Bay, CA.

Cruising Half Time: Best for Family Left Behind

We met one couple who revealed that scheduling a set time each year to visit with family reassures their kids and grandkids that they will have quality time together; otherwise, the visits are at the whim of weather, location of the boat, and the family’s busy schedule.

In our first season, when we did not have a homebase, we managed after months of planning to have all 7 of our kids visit us in La Paz.

Coordinating their schedules was a firm reminder that get-togethers with them would always be scattered and fleeting, which crushed my heart. It was simply too big of a sacrifice. This first year of cruising sealed our decision to have a home to retreat to for at least half the year.

Call it the Goldilocks effect. But we can’t tell you how many people we know of who sold everything to move onto their boat, only to give up the sailing lifestyle after one or two seasons. As glamorous as the boating world full time might sound (believe me, we contemplated it, too!), the reality of boat life became too much. 

half the year because of these 7 great kids
With all 7 of our kids. Season 1 aboard SV Flying Free

High Speed Internet Access

In today’s digital age, access to high-speed internet is essential for many people. Living on your boat for half the year gives you the flexibility to choose marinas or anchorages with good internet connectivity. This allows you stay connected to work and family.

If you are a digital nomad like me, being on your boat for half the year may allow you to continue working to make enough money for cruising. We have met traveling nurses who alternate between a homebase and their boat. And their desire to return to the boat fuels their excitement to continue cruising. Other cruisers have managed to continue working from cruisers’ lounges in marinas.

We also met two online Geology professors who have worked out their schedule to return every Spring to the Sea of Cortez. They have been cruising in the Sea for over 15 years. They told us, “We still have so much to see and do here!” With the unspoiled beaches, crystal clear water, warm and friendly people, it is no wonder why they continue to sail part-time.

Remotely working at Honeymoon Cove in the Sea of Cortez
Drone shot of Honeymoon Cove in the Sea of Cortez

The Good News: Half the Year Offers an Alternative Lifestyle

The good news is that you don’t have to commit to full-time boat living to enjoy the liveaboard lifestyle. Choosing to live on your boat for half of the year offers the best of both worlds: the freedom and adventure of life on the open water and the comfort and stability of a traditional home on land.

You can avoid the major issues of full-time living, reduce maintenance costs, and enjoy the benefits of an alternative lifestyle without sacrificing the comforts of home. So, why not explore the possibilities of a part-time liveaboard life and discover the joy of balancing both worlds?

About The Author

Sharing is caring!

2 thoughts on “Why You Should Only Live on Your Boat for Half the Year”

  1. After living full time on our 44′ Sailboat for 2 1/2 years, I would agree dont sell the farm, rent it out. Maybe half a year the first year to test the waters. I advise to get rid of all the unimportant furnishings, store or give some special items to parents or in kids garages, and live full time on the boat. Embrace the life in its fullest!!

    1. Yes, Kathy! Thank you for your comment. It is a great idea to live on the boat fulltime for at least half the year before doing anything drastic. And I think a full season gives cruisers a taste of each season in the year–to see what the conditions are like, to meet other cruisers to get ideas about the lifestyle, etc. You and Scott are doing it right–and I thought of you both as I wrote the section about living on the boat full-time if you plan to circumnavigate. 😉 Cheers!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *