Liveaboard Sailboats! 8 things YouTube did not tell you

May 14, 2024
Team Coboaters

Liveaboard Sailboats! 8 things YouTube do not tell you

Considering a liveaboard sailboat? While YouTube paints a picturesque picture, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Here are eight things you might not have considered, gleaned from the experiences of full time sailors Captain Mark and Sharon Noneman, who have lived aboard the 48-foot catamaran Calysto for several years. The couple manages a sailing organization called Calypso Sailing life. Their mission is to help people achieve their dreams to sail and even sail away!

This blog article is based on a webinar that Mark and Sharon did with Coboaters, the North America Co-boating club. The webinar recording is available on Coboaters YouTube channel. Its title is: Liveaboard Sailboats. It is not like YouTube!

What are the 8 things you need to know before you live aboard a sailboat?

  1. You will be sailing a lot less than you think
  2. Everything takes longer on a liveaboard sailboat
  3. Everything is harder and more expensive
  4. There is even more boat work
  5. Taking breaks
  6. Slower pace
  7. Build a network
  8. You will figure it out

1- We Sail a Lot Less

Contrary to the endless sailing scenes in videos, the reality is that you’ll likely sail less than expected when you your boat is your home. Maintenance, weather, and other factors can limit your time on the water.

    • Example: A live aboard couple may find themselves spending more time in marinas than initially planned due to bad weather or the need for repairs. Too much or too little wind, wrong wind direction prevent you to set sail and force you spend more time on land. It is not necessary a bad thing!
    • Fact: According to a survey by Sail Magazine, 78% of live a board people reported sailing less than they anticipated before moving a board.

2- Everything Takes Longer:

YouTube videos often forget this part of the daily life. From simple tasks like grocery shopping to boat maintenance, everything takes longer when you live on your boat. Be prepared for a slower pace of life.  Parts delivery takes much more time when you are in an island, a package may take 2 to 6 weeks to reach you, a mail will take one week minimum.

    • Example: Provisioning generally takes half a day. A quick trip to the store might involve a dinghy ride to shore, walking to the store, and then carrying groceries back to the dinghy and back to the liveaboard sailboat.
    • Fact: Full-time sailors often spend a significant amount of time on boat maintenance, with some estimating that 30-40% of their time is dedicated to upkeep.

3- Everything is Harder ($$$) on a liveboard sailboat:

From repairs to provisioning, living aboard can be more expensive than anticipated. You will need to budget for unexpected costs and be prepared for the financial challenges. You will find out that doctors/dentists, fresh food, marine insurance, storage and maintaining relationships cost more.

    • Example: A simple repair that might cost a few hundred dollars on land can easily cost over a thousand dollars when done on a boat due to the specialized nature of marine repairs.
    • Fact: According to a survey by Cruising World, 64% of liveaboard sailors reported spending more money than they expected before moving aboard.

4- There is Even More Boat Work:

YouTube might show the fun aspects of liveaboard sailboat work, but the reality is that there’s always something to fix or maintain. Be ready to embrace the work or pay someone else to do it. A famous sailing proverb is “Everything on your boat is broken, you don’t know it yet”.

    • Example: Regular maintenance tasks like cleaning the hull, checking the rigging, and servicing the engine can take up a significant amount of time.
    • Fact: Boat owners often spend 10-20% of the boat’s value on maintenance and repairs each year, according to BoatUS.

You can read this famous story to see how you could repair a sail in the middle of nowhere: Sail repair in the Bahamas

5- Taking Breaks:

While YouTube videos often show constant travel and adventure, the reality is that taking breaks and staying in one place for a while can be necessary for rest and for maintenance. When you watch videos, yout think that those people spend 100% of their time on their liveaboard sailboard. In reality you need to take breaks to visit your family and relatives, and to be sometimes alone or simply to go on vacation somewhere else.

    • Example: Spending a few weeks in a marina can provide a break from the constant motion of sailing and allow for more extensive repairs or upgrades to be completed.
    • Fact: When you live aboard, you will most certainly choose to spend hurricane season in a protected marina to avoid the risks of being at anchor during a storm.

6- Slower Pace: A lifestyle!

Living aboard a sailboat is a lifestyle that requires patience and a slower pace. Embrace the tranquility and enjoy the journey rather than rushing to the next destination. Take your time, enjoy the beautiful landscape, take time to meet other people and to discover other cultures and other way of life. , this is the point for most people who choose this kind of adventurous lifestyle!

    • Example: Instead of rushing from one destination to the next, take the time to explore each place fully and immerse yourself in the local culture. Enjoy local food, beaches and local people.
    • Fact: According to a study published in the Journal of Transport Geography, live a board couples have a significantly lower carbon footprint than the average American due to their slower pace of life and reduced consumption.

7- Build a Network:

Building a network of fellow boaters and sailors can provide support, advice, and companionship. It’s essential for safety and a sense of community. You need connections in the industry, in the sailing world, in your destination and at home to help others and also to be helped when you need. The sailors network is very large and you will see that you can count on a lot of friends as soon as you make the effort to connect with then and stay connected!

    • Example: Joining a local sailing club or online forum can help you connect with other sailors in your area and provide a support network when needed. For example, you can join communities like Coboaters   to find crew for your longer passages.
    • Fact: According to a study by the University of Queensland, social connections are a key factor in the happiness and well-being.

8- Life on board: You Will Figure It Out!

Despite the challenges, living aboard a sailboat is an extremely rewarding experience. You’ll learn as you go and figure out what works best for you, creating a unique and fulfilling lifestyle. The key is to be able to adapt to multiple situations and to be resourceful at all time.

    • Example: Over time, you’ll develop your own routines, techniques, and strategies for managing life aboard, making the experience more enjoyable and sustainable.
    • Fact: Many liveaboards sailors report a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from overcoming the challenges of living away and mastering the skills required to maintain and operate a boat.

In conclusion, while YouTube offers a glimpse into the long voyage lifestyle, there’s much more to discover once you’re living it. Be prepared for the realities of less sailing, more work, and a slower pace of life, but also embrace the adventure, community, and self-discovery that comes with living aboard your new home.


Calypso Sailing Life logo. the host of the webinar: Liveaboard YouTube channels: 8 things they did not tell you

Best Destinations for American Sailors to Live Aboard

To add to Calypso Sailing Life input, we listed here below some of the best destinations for Americans who want to spend their life on their boat.

While the allure of sailing into the sunset knows no bounds, some destinations stand out as particularly attractive for American sailors looking to live aboard their boats. Here are some top picks:

  1. Florida Keys, USA: Known for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life, the Florida Keys offer a tropical paradise right in the United States. With numerous marinas and anchorages, as well as easy access to provisions and services, the Keys are a popular choice among liveaboard sailboats.
  2. San Juan Islands, Washington, USA: Located in the Pacific Northwest, the San Juan Islands provides stunning natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and excellent sailing conditions. The islands are also home to charming coastal towns and offer a unique blend of wilderness and civilization.
  3. Bahamas: Just a short sail from Florida, the Bahamas have  some of the best cruising grounds in the world. With its warm, turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and countless cays and islands to explore, the Bahamas are a dream destination for full-time sailors in North America.
  4. British Virgin Islands: Known as the “Sailing Capital of the Caribbean,” the British Virgin Islands (BVI) brings easy sailing, stunning scenery, and a relaxed island vibe. With numerous anchorages and mooring balls, as well as excellent snorkeling and diving spots, the BVIs are a favorite among sailors from all over the world.
  5. Puerto Rico: Rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning beaches, Puerto Rico offers a unique blend of Caribbean and American influences. The island has several marinas and anchorages, as well as easy access to the rest of the Caribbean.
  6. Gulf Coast, USA: Stretching from Texas to Florida, the Gulf Coast brings a diverse range of sailing experiences. From the bustling ports of New Orleans and Houston to the quiet anchorages of the Florida Panhandle, the Gulf Coast has something for every people living on their boat.
  7. Pacific Northwest, USA : Rugged coastline, pristine waters, and abundant wildlife, the Pacific Northwest is one of the most scenic sailing destination in the country. From the fjords of Washington State to the wilderness of British Columbia, the PNW is a paradise for nature lovers.
  8. Great Loop, USA: For those looking for an epic adventure, the Great Loop can provide a unique opportunity to circumnavigate the eastern United States. The route takes sailors through the Great Lakes, down the inland rivers, along the Gulf Coast, and up the East Coast, offering a diverse range of landscapes and experiences along the way.

When choosing a destination to live on your boat, consider factors such as climate, sailing conditions, cost of living, access to services, and local culture. Each destination offers its own unique charm and challenges, so take the time to research and find the perfect spot for you to live aboard.

Once you choose your destination, you need to find the right boat that matches your project and your budget. Here below is a selection of sailboats that are suitable for this kind of life:

The 13 Best liveaboard Sailboats for a couple:

Selecting the right sailboat for living aboard is a crucial decision, as it will be your home and mode of transportation. To compile a list of recommended sailboats for liveaboard couples, we considered factors such as size, comfort, seaworthiness, and affordability. We also looked for sailboats that offer a good balance of space, performance, and amenities for comfortable living. The insights from Captain Mark and Sharon Noneman of Calysto Sailing Adventure, who have extensive experience living aboard their 48-foot catamaran, were instrumental in shaping our recommendations.

  1. Catalina 42: Known for its pleasant living quarters, the Catalina 42 is a popular choice for couples looking to live aboard. It offers a good balance of performance and comfort, making it suitable for long-term cruising.
  2. Island Packet 38: The Island Packet 38 is renowned for its solid construction, excellent seakeeping abilities, and enjoyable accommodations. It’s a great choice for couples looking for a sturdy and reliable boat.
  3. Beneteau Oceanis 45: Modern design, spacious interior, and good performance under sail. It’s well-suited for people looking for a stylish  sailboat.
  4. Pacific Seacraft 40: High-quality, bluewater cruising sailboat known for its seaworthiness and classic design. It offers a agreeable living space and is a popular choice.
  5. Tartan 37: The Tartan 37 is a classic sailboat known for its solid construction, good performance, and great accommodations. It’s a perfect choice for couples looking for a reliable and well-built liveaboard sailboat.
  6. Hunter 376: This sailboat offers a nice and cozy interior with a large galley and warm living area. The aft cabin provides privacy, while the forward V-berth is perfect for guests or storage.
  7. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42DS: The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42DS features a deck saloon design, providing panoramic views from the salon. The two-cabin layout offers plenty of space for a couple, with the option for occasional guests. Great choice for full-time sailors.
  8. Bavaria 38 Cruiser: The Bavaria 38 Cruiser offers a nice cockpit, with two cabins and a large head. The very modern design and layout make it a popular choice for couple who loves monohulls.
  9. Pearson 424: The Pearson 424 is a classic bluewater cruiser known for its solid construction and quality accommodations. The center cockpit layout provides a big aft cabin and a comfortable salon.
  10. Tayana 37: The Tayana 37 is a traditional bluewater vessel with a proven track record for offshore sailing. The inside features a large galley, home-like salon, and a private aft cabin.
  11. Island Packet 35: The Island Packet 35 is known for its quality construction. The full keel design provides stability and sea kindliness, making it a great choice for long-term cruising.
  12. Pacific Seacraft 37: The Pacific Seacraft 37 is a rugged bluewater cruiser with a traditional design. The cozy interior features a pleasant salon, galley, and a private aft cabin.
  13. Allied Princess 36: The Allied Princess 36 is a sturdy bluewater boat known for its seaworthiness and accommodations. There is a substantial salon, galley, and a private aft cabin.

7 Examples of Liveaboard Sailboats for Family with Two Kids:

  1. Beneteau Oceanis 51.1: Great interior with multiple cabins and ample living space. The large cockpit and deck provide plenty of room for the family to relax and enjoy the journey.
  2. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45DS: The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45DS features a deck saloon design, providing panoramic views from the salon. The three-cabin layout offers enough space for a family of four, with additional berths for guests if needed.
  3. Bavaria Cruiser 51: The Bavaria Cruiser 51 has a big cockpit, three cabins and two heads. The modern design and layout make it a popular choice for families looking for a comfortable sailboat.
  4. Lagoon 42 Catamaran: For families looking for more space and stability, a catamaran like the Lagoon 42 is a great option with multiple cabins, and a stable platform for living aboard with kids.
  5. Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 Catamaran: The Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 is a popular choice for families due to its spacious living areas and modern cabins. The catamaran design offers stability and plenty of room for kids to play.
  6. Catalina 445: The Catalina 445 has a nice cockpit and interior, with three cabins and two heads. The boat’s performance under sail makes it a great choice for family cruising.
  7. Hallberg-Rassy 40: The Hallberg-Rassy 40 is a high-quality, bluewater cruising sailboat known for its comfortable accommodations and excellent seakeeping abilities. It’s a great choice for families looking for a safe and reliable liveaboard boat.

These sailboats offer a range of options for families with two kids, from spacious catamarans to more classic monohulls. Each boat has its own unique features and characteristics, so it’s important to consider your priorities and preferences when selecting the right sailboat for your family’s adventure.

May 14, 2024
Team Coboaters

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