What ‘Living On a Boat’ Means to Me

Living on a boat

Life on the boat demands self discipline too, in order to maintain safety at anchor and while under way.

I frequently summarize my future plans by saying, “My boat is my solution to all the problems in the world.”, which I think is the most succinct summary I can manage. While that means a lot to me, it’s as clear as mud to most people. I’ve expounded on how this lifestyle solves the dilemmas I see in the future as well as issues of control in my life. But to me, living on a boat is also the anti-thesis to a lifestyle of paycheck addiction and all the small, unethical acts that lifestyle encourages.

Let me put the above sentence into context with an example….


Taking a Lesson from the Sopranos

My wife and I finally caved in and started watching the first season of Sopranos. There is an episode where the character Christopher, a young foot-solder, has to wack his first guy. He does it with no qualms, but later on, he has a hard time dealing with the psychological fallout of his actions. His self discipline in doing what needs to be done is ad odds with his humanity.


Self Discipline

I thought that was a pretty apt analogy for life in the corporate world. A corporate job requires a lot of self discipline, and I mean more than just waking up every day and showing up for work.

As an engineer, I have to deal with a lot of machines that don’t work. To deal with them effectively, I have to suppress my frustration, think logically, and be methodical in my troubleshooting. I’m good at exercising that level of self discipline. It’s what makes me good at my job.

Business meetings are another exercise in self discipline. The people who are prized by executives at my work are those who remember to be quiet, choose their words carefully, can suppress their emotions, and are generally good at planning around human frailty and incompetence.


The Humanity

Self discipline, cynicism, and logical planning are keys to success for any project manager. I am able to achieve success at this work. I can do what needs to be done, and do it well, but there are psychological repercussions.

Family Vacation on Orcas

Living on a boat isn’t all about vacationing. The self-sufficiency of the lifestyle provides the psychological relief of living a more natural life, without the arbitrary stress that modern society forces upon us.

An example from my childhood might put this in a bit more perspective. When I was 18, I spent almost two months in Poland with a girlfriend and her family. By the end of the trip I felt depressed and couldn’t wait to get back to the States. Why? Because no one in Poland says ‘please‘ or ‘thank you‘. It shocked me to discover how profound an effect this simple lack of courtesy in day-to-day life had on me.

Similar to that experience, a corporate job comes with subtle moral issues and psychological fallout. Planning life around people’s frailty forces you too see everyone as a liability. When life incentivizes you to possess as much self-discipline as possible, it makes one less empathetic to those who suffer from a lack of it. When one plans a project around human ‘resources’, they become tools and lose their humanity.


Living Aboard

Life on the boat demands self discipline too, in order to maintain safety at anchor and while under way. It’s more demanding, but less prevalent than my present lifestyle. It’s logical, not arbitrary like so many of the rules to manage people often are.

Once the important things on a boat are taken care of, the self discipline comes to an end. I can let my hair down – I sleep when I’m tired, eat when I’m hungry, etc. In business, I have to constantly be on my guard. I have to watch what I say, watch what I do, and everyone watches the clock.

That is why my boat is the solution to all my problems, including the psychological ones. I am not cut out for a corporate lifestyle (I don’t think many people are). Living on a boat means an alternative lifestyle. One free of the inhumanity of being ‘successful’ at a career.



We were learning that the simplest lives seemed often to be the happiest – and that the people living as such seemed always to be the friendliest and most willing to share their bounty.

-Joyce Green
Windy Thoughts


Share Your Thoughts!

Do you agree with my assessment of the ethical ‘slippery slope’ of corporate life? Do my examples resonate with you?

Assuming money was no issue, would you stay at your job? Why? What ethical dilemmas do you deal with at work?

Related posts:

Marine Refrigeration and Marine Wood Repairs
What is Voyaging?
Avoiding the Fog
Comments
2 Responses to “What ‘Living On a Boat’ Means to Me”
  1. Alan says:

    Great post, we are setting sail for Fish Bay in a week or so, come find us 🙂

    • Chris says:

      Fisherman’s Bay on Lopez? What days will you be there? We’re still trying to sell our house, so I’m not sure if we can make it. 🙁

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