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Marina Del Rey: How to Live Aboard a Sailboat

Updated on April 16, 2013

The Marina where the boat is

The marina
The marina

How to Live Aboard a Sailboat

When we sold our home in Oregon, the deal was that my husband would be allowed to buy a sailboat. We lived in two houses for the past six years traveling between Arizona and Oregon. Neither home was a vacation place, but two separate living dwellings. We had the same problems and issues that occur living in a house--except double. I finally got tired of this two home living arrangement and the three day shlep back and forth with the cats twice a year. We had to change mail delivery, internet hookup and settling in--not to mention the expense. So we sold our home in Newport, Oregon and took a major loss during a downturn market. However, the house was going to need some repairs and we avoided that.

The lucky person who bought the house got a bundle of lovely furniture, appliances plus much of what we accumulated during our time there. We even had purchased a brand new freezer from a garage sale and he got that also. We hooked our trailer up to the car and filled it with 1000 pounds of our most valued possessions, as that was all we could haul safely. We also shipped about twenty boxes. However that is another story--now back to the sailboat.

Buying the Boat and Finding a home

Jim wanted to buy a sailboat to be close to the water that he dearly loves which would make up our leaving Oregon. After searching high and low he found our new home--away from home. The boat we have is a 1968 Cal 34--a boat familiar to boat lovers. The gentleman who owned the boat spent many hours beautifying the boat and fixing it up as a tribute to his late wife. It was a therapy project to help him deal with his grief. Thanks to him this old boat has lots of beautiful wood work and upgrades. The motor is in good condition as well as the sails, and many other things that I do not have a clue about seem to work okay. Oops--the toilet didn't work, and my husband had a new one installed in my honor.

The boat is residing in Marina Del Rey in Southern California. We are located on the poor-man's dock so the slip fees are mananagable. The boat had a lot of junk that I could not live with.I threw away old bedding, pillows, blankets and old towels. We added new fresh linens and pillows which gave the boat a clean and fresh feeling. We also bought a coffee pot, toaster, dishes and glasses to create a home like feeling.

Marina Del Rey

It takes us about seven hours to get to the boat from our home in Arizona, a short trip when compared to our trek up to Oregon. We do leave the cats at home as it would be very difficult to navigate with them on the boat and take care of their needs.

Marina Del Rey is a great place to have our boat. We can walk to the beach in about twenty minutes and we have found many restaurants that we have tried and others that we want to try.. The boardwalk is filled with interesting people to watch. We love walking out on the pier and enjoy a sea breeze and watch the waves.

There is a small local coffee shop about 100 yards from our boat where people gather to have coffee in the morning. The weather is generally pretty perfect. We have found several bike paths on the beach and we can easily get in a 25 mile ride. There are several marinas in Marina Del Rey. Our boat resides where the older boats are and the docks are a need of some major repairs. So far we have very inexpensive slip fees and get to enjoy the area.

The Boat Interior

Living on the boat is one or two steps above camping out. There is no running water--cold or hot, no stove and no shower. Improvisation is the mainstay of existence. We boil water in the microwave to clean the dishes. We have bottled water for drinking and city water for all else. The boat is very narrow and we cannot pass each other. We have a large comfy bed but have to be careful and raise heads slowly or get hit.

The boat is not always easy to keep tidy, as we have to remember to put things away after using, and there is a lot of stuff around that we have no place to store. We try to keep some order but not always successful with this. But we love our floating cabin.

The Interior of the Boat

This is our floating cabin where we live.
This is our floating cabin where we live. | Source
Our Boat
Our Boat

Where we keep our bikes

Time to go for a bike ride
Time to go for a bike ride

Everything is Extra Work

We love to ride bicycles but we have to tie them up every night on the boat and take them down when we are ready to ride. When we leave to go back home, we move the bikes into the cabin (not easily). We bought a dinghy which we use to cruise around the marina. We tie the dinghy on top of the boat when we leave to go back home. Getting on and off the boat is often a challenge as the dock is not totally stable and a bit rickety. We always have to remember to take our keys when going to the locked bathrooms. Actually I wear it around my neck all the time.

There is always something that needs either some work or just tending to on a boat. Jim is always washing, polishing or talking about what needs to be done. We have the toilet on the boat tended to by a company called Royal Flush. I like the name of the company as it has to do with poker. The bottom of the boat requires monthly cleaning to keep it in shape. Jim is always purchasing some gadget that he claims is a major necessity for the boat. He was going to hire someone to wash the boat one day, but I nixed the idea reminding him that the boat is his project.

Taking a Shower

There are both men and women's bathhouses. However there is one shower stall in each one, and if you are lucky enough to get it before someone else does, you get to take a shower. I have waiting for over an hour while someone soaks away. The bathroom is very rundown but seeminly clean enough. I get in and out very quickly. We have organized our shower taking routine with the least amount of work and fuss. We park our car about 50 feet from the bathroom. We get a towel, soap, and clothes from the trunk of the car, and put the dirty clothes back into a laundry bag we keep in the trunk after the shower. Of course, I have forgotten the soap a few times and had to make an extra trip to the car. This method of dealing with showers spares us carrying our bath stuff to and from the boat. We leave the towels over the seats of the car to dry. I go back to the boat after the shower to put on makeup and do my hair.

It is meal time

Where we eat our meals
Where we eat our meals

You really get tired at night

Time to Go to Sleep
Time to Go to Sleep

Jim is resting after a tough day

The Best Time of Day
The Best Time of Day | Source

Cooking and Meals

We usually eat breakfast on the boat. Jim does all the work (not like at home). He makes the coffee, and toast with peanut butter. We sometimes eat lunch out and have just snack for dinner. We did get a special barbecue for the boat and tried it one night. Amazingly it worked just great. To simplify the meal I got some premade salad and a bottle of salad dressing (the first one I have purchased in about 25 years). And of course, Jim does the dishes--an unwritten law. There is a Chart House restaurant close by and they have happy hour with cheaper drinks and an inexpensive snack menu. We usually go there once or twice during each trip to the boat.

Sleeping on the Boat

As you can tell by the photo the bed is very inviting. We have a very comfy mattress. I sleep better on the boat than at home. The boat rocks very gently and puts me to sleep immediately. It is a little work getting out of the bed as I have to slide to the end.

The Best Time of Day

Late afternoon is the best time of day. We sit out on the deck and watch boats go by and enjoy the very cool ocean breeze. You can see Jim here relaxing after a hard day of work. It is a tough job but someone has to do it. So now you know how to live aboard a sailboat.


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    • bac2basics profile image


      2 years ago from Spain

      Hi Carol.

      Long time no see as I have been away from Hubpages but now dipping a toe back in the water.. I hope you don´t misstep off your boat and do the same LOL. I live in a caravan year round so my villa is free if I should get a rental, but also for other reasons too. Just like your boat I am limited for space but to get over that I had a shed built and sectioned off into a small kitchen, a shower room and the last third of the building is a store room. It´s amazing how little space we actually need when it comes down to it don´t you think?

      Hope you are keeping well xx

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 years ago from sunny Florida

      Quite an adventure, Carol You described everything so well that I felt as though I were along with you. I have never lived on a boat but have spent many days on them many different times. Growing up on the water there were many opportunities to do so. This took me back. Thanks for sharing this with us. Angels are on the way to you and yours. ps:) ps

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      thanks Rajan: I always appreciate a visit from you and your kind remarks. I will have some tea ready next time. Thanks also for the votes

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      I've always wondered what living on a boat would be like and so was glad to read this while I saw the thing move in front of my eyes. Very interesting. I'd love to stay in a boat for a few days if I get a chance. Your pictures are beautiful.

      Votes up, interesting.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It is a lot of fun.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      carol7777, this sound like it was so much fun. Lots of people spend time on their sailboats here in Charleston!

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      doodlebug: thanks for stopping by and I am glad to help you relive your memories.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      I do love the boat, but it took a while getting used to living on it...even for short periods of time. The sunsets are lovely and so relaxing on the water. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      thoughtsandwiches: Lovely comments and I do love my shipmate. thanks for dropping in and commenting.

    • doodlebugs profile image


      6 years ago from Southwest

      Great Hub. I lived aboard for several years in the Caribbean. Those were days I'll always treasure.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image


      6 years ago from Florida


      What a great adventure you had and I know you will remember it for a long time. I always wanted to live on a houseboat. To always be out on the deck to watch to sun rise and set, what a life that would be.

      Thanks for sharing this great hub with us.

      Your Hub Friend,

      Bobbi Purvis

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image


      6 years ago from Reno, Nevada


      Congrats to you and Jim for doing the boating life! A Cat-34 is a nice ride and Jim knew what he was doing when he picked it! As you have could be a bit beamier perhaps but if you are in love with your shipmate it certainly is doable! I hope you always have favorable seas and following winds when you are on her!

      Envious in Reno,


    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      That is the best part of the day...and the rest is pretty wonderful. Thanks for stopping by.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      That's really cool. I bet the afternoon lounges on the deck is really special.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks for coming by, and yes it is a wonderful experience. And I enjoy being away from the house with cooking, cleaning etc.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      6 years ago

      Sounds like you guys had a wonderful time despite some inconveniences. I can imagine how peaceful it is to sit on a deck and enjoy ocean breezes on a late afternoon. Thanks so much for sharing your lovely experience with us.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      bankscottage: You are right owning a boat is a huge commitment. Take advantage of your friends and enjoy the boat, helping with mooring, dinner is a good way to say thank you. And thank you for dropping by.

      teaches 12345: It is a beautiful but very old marina with need of repairs. We love it though and it is inviting...If you are ever in the area let me know.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      You made it sound so inviting. I think I could do this! What a beautiful Marina. Thanks for the share on this.

    • bankscottage profile image

      Mark Shulkosky 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great Hub, Carol. I have taken large boat sailing classes, but can't find the courage to purchase a big boat. If young people like friends with benefits, I like friends with boats. We have friends from Pgh that have a sailboat on Lake Erie (a second home like yours) and we have friends in Maine with a 38 ft motorboat. In Maine, we'll go on little trips occasionally but we have to find rooms on shore (our wives won't sleep on the boat). Me, I am happy I don't have to do all of the work that your husband and my friend does. I help with mooring, buy a little diesel fuel and pay for dinner. Not much of a commitment.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      christywrites: thanks for dropping by. It is an adventure and gets easier. At first I was very resistant but love it now.

      Mhatter99: Thanks for your cute comments. No whales in sight.

      rcrumple: There is nothing to bang on but a flimsy curtain, and it only happened once. I try to take a shower at odd times.

      shara63: I love it for short periods of time, however I think it would be difficult for long stays, but than who knows.

    • shara63 profile image


      6 years ago from Delhi

      Great hub & an amazing housing idea, i can imagine the fun of this adventure living ..Kudos to both of you !

    • rcrumple profile image


      6 years ago from Kentucky

      The next time you find yourself waiting an hour for a shower, bang on the side and holler "Fire!" If they come running out, the fools deserve to spend the rest of the day with soap in their eyes!

      Great Job.... and I'm very jealous!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      " A whale of a tale has Carol to tell. A whale of a tale has she..." :))

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      As I read about no running water, I thought 'well how do you take a shower' and then saw the section about taking a shower! LOL. A neat look into the lifestyle, I have wondered about it before.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      It is and thanks for stopping by.

    • nanderson500 profile image


      6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Sounds like an adventure! Good luck!

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Mary625: Actually you may be surprised. It is really fun and fun to be on the water.

      hockey8mn: Thanks for stopping by and it does always seem like an adventure.

    • hockey8mn profile image


      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Sounds like fun and gives me some ideas for future adventures.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      I have to admire you for doing this! I really don't think I could live on a boat, even short termed.

      Informative and entertaining Hub.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Actually I do get seasick, but staying on the boat is great. Thanks for stopping by. Hope the apprenticeship program is going well. Iam sure it is a lot of work, however you are pretty amazing doing all you do with a bunch of kids...

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      6 years ago from Clinton CT

      So cool. Although I might have a seasick problem, so I'm not sure I could do it. Thanks for sharing all the ins and outs of boat living!

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Yes we live a good life....However we have issues and problems just like everyone else. We also have to be careful how we spend. A friend once told me that no matter how good life is it is never easy.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lovely! I have always wanted to live on a houseboat, but I'd settle for a sailboat! :) Marina del Rey is beautiful; you are living the good life indeed.

    • carol7777 profile imageAUTHOR

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      We go often and really enjoy it. My husband occasionally goes alone and we some apart time. Thanks for dropping by!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      It must be wonderful to spend time like this on a boat every year. I've always wanted to rent a houseboat for a summer but have not done it yet.

      Enjoyed reading your hub.


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