Transitioning to a Liveaboard


Our wood stove is installed next to the settee, which can be converted into a bed.

I love crisis!

My wife and I have ‘officially’ moved aboard. No more staying at the house. We sleep on the boat every night. I have dreamt of this day for so long, that even after a week, it still hasn’t fully sunk in.

But transition to life aboard is never painless. I have read widely in the boating forums and all the liveaboard transition stories I’ve read have had unpleasant surprises as a common thread. We were no different.

We spent the entire weekend moving stuff into storage for the final push and were both exhausted come Monday. After a typically exhilarating day at the office (sarcasm), I was ready to kick back and unpack. Lately, I’ve been augmenting the electric heater with our wood stove and trying to use up the 30 bags of driftwood that I stashed in our storage shed last fall. Unfortunately, a buildup of soot was causing sever smoking from the top piece of chimney pipe. No problem, that’s why we have three sources of heat on board.

The electrical cord had felt pretty hot the night before, so I decided to check on it. I hopped out onto the dock and lifted the rain shield to see that a portion of the power cord was charred and partially melted! The last thing I wanted to deal with was an electrical fire, so I unplugged the cord and switched the boat into off-grid mode – using the battery banks to run the lights and refrigerator, propane for the heat. The only thing I don’t like about running on propane heat is that it creates very high humidity in the boat. Everything feels slightly moist and it encourages the growth of mold.


Our electric wall heater has its own thermostat, but only works when we can connect to shore power.

That means two of our three heating sources were disabled. It also meant that we wouldn’t have hot water for showers in the morning. Not a huge deal. It’s just like as if we were anchored up. We can live comfortably for two to three days like this when out at anchor. ….but the shenanigans weren’t over yet.

I had already bought a ticket for Crowdsourcing 101 by Ian Mackenzie on Tuesday evening. That meant my wife would be all alone on the boat that night. I checked the propane tank, and even though it was about one-quarter full, I swapped it out with a new one. I didn’t want to take the chance of her running out of heat while I was gone. I also left work early enough on Tuesday to replace the electrical connector on the power cord. The receptacle had also been damaged by the heat, so trying to get the electricity to stay on was kind of like trying to listen to broken head phones. I had to have the cord cocked at just the right angle to make it flow.

Minutes before the seminar was about to begin, I got a call from her: she couldn’t get the electricity to stay on. I stumbled back to boat at 11:30 PM to find her sleeping on the settee. She hadn’t been able to get the heat to turn on in the bedroom and there was still no shore power. I was able to get power connected so that we’d have hot water in the morning. We were both too tired to do anything else, so we just converted the settee to a bed and slept there.


The boat is equipped with two catalytic propane heaters. They are great for heat! But they exhaust steam into the cabin.

The next morning, I hopped in the shower to make sure everything was working properly. My wife went in after me as I took the dog for a walk. As soon as I came back, I noticed the water pump was sounding odd. She shouted she was having water flow problems….. we were out of water. With all the activity over the last few days, neither of us had thought about filling the water tank. She wiped off the soap with as much dignity as possible and we both went to work on Wednesday morning, tired, slightly smelly, and moist. 😉

Life on a boat is not as ‘automatic’ as it is in a house, but I love it just the same. To put this little adventure in perspective, a couple weeks ago there was a power outage in the neighborhood. There we were with all our lights on, propane heat turned up, and drinking wine while we were surrounded by dark, cold McMansions. These little challenges of living on a boat can be discouraging at times, but they are surmountable.

Related posts:

Chris' Story - Part 1 - How It Started, The Sea Muse
Backyard Blackberries, Bounty or Bain?
Wild Rose Hips
2 Responses to “Transitioning to a Liveaboard”
  1. Moving aboard certainly has it’s challenges especially until you learn all your boats little quirks! But the rewards soon put the challenges and comprimises into perspective. Hope the next couple of weeks go smoother for you than the first!

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