Living on a Sailboat In a Marina

Have you ever wondered what it is like living on a sailboat or in a marina? Maybe you’re thinking about buying a sailboat and becoming a liveaboard, Maybe you want to save on living expenses or practice   minimalism and lesson your carbon foot print, Or maybe you crave a lifestyle of traveling with the wind! All of these are good reasons to want to buy a sailboat and live in a marina, but there are many things you will want to consider before taking that leap.

Choose an upkept marina.

Keep in mind everything has to get pumped out of the boat; water and sewage.  Whatever gets pumped down the toilet, goes into the holding tank. From there you have to take the boat to a pump out station or pay for a pump out service. Depending on your where abouts, marinas will have a pump out service of they have facilities around you , If you are like us and do not wish to smell the lingering stench of the tank being used, We tend to use the marina bathrooms over our own head.   I did learn however, that by splashing mouth wash in the head it does help tremendously.   This is important to find a good marina because The over populated and not kept up marinas can get real nasty and taking a shower will give you nightmares. Invest in proper   We live at Watergate Marina in Kemah Texas, The females restrooms are nice and clean but the mens is disgusting and my son refuses to spend time in the males room because of the level of nasty that seems to be growing in there. 

The head

Alright, let’s talk about size. Ask any girl, size matters, especially when it comes to bathrooms. I’m going to warn you, this is not a bathroom, it’s a head. Being a head means it is all things a bathroom is, but in the size of a shower stall. Yes, I said it correctly, a head is generally no larger than a shower stall, if you’re lucky, it will be the size of a full size shower.

There are two types of heads, a wet head and a dry head. I have 2 wet heads on my boat. The deference is a wet head has the shower in it, a dry head has the shower area separate. We are converting one head into just a shower with a nozzle that will be mounted out to the deck so we can take showers above and below. And so we don’t have to shit and shower all in one place. If you do plan to take a shower down under remember to take everything that can get wet out, even if it isn’t going to get wet, it will with the amount of humidity trapped in such a small area.  It will get wet !

 Say Good bye to BATHS!

Lets talk about showering for a moment. Living in a boat definitively changes how you shower. Have you ever taken a 2 gallon shower? Welcome to boat life folks! you get wet, lather up, rinse off, wash hair, and rinse again. TADAA your clean … Even at this marina it is rare if you have hot water for longer than 20 minutes. I think the hardest thing for me to overcome is giving up my weekly bath. I love baths 🙁 Also keep in mind, the more hot water you use, the more moisture is in the boat. The more moisture that is in the boat means there is more chance of mold and mildew starting to pop up. So you learn quick, short showers, with as little steam as possible.

The Galley (kitchen)

The galley is another big difference when living on a sailboat. It’s not so different from a normal kitchen, it is just condensed. Everything about a galley is smaller. Depending on the boat, you may also lose some things.

We’ll start with the stove. I have a good three burner stove with oven. Some boats don’t have an oven and some only have two burners. I rarely need more than two burners, but it is nice to have the option. Also the oven is very small comparatively. I definitively can’t host my infamous Sunday funday potlucks anymore. Another difference you will find is in the refrigerator. The fridge in a galley is going to come in one of three configurations. You will have an icebox, a fridge, or a fridge/freezer combo. The majority of boats do not have front load fridges, this prevents accidental door opening during sailing and as some items shift in the swell, your food won’t end up on the sole of the boat.

Most fridge set-ups are going to be top load, which isn’t usually an issue, except, you will find that whatever you are after has sifted it’s way to the bottom. Maybe it’s just me, but it even happens when I’m tied to a dock.


A good follow on for the galley is talking about overall storage. In the galley, and everywhere else on the boat, you are going to find you have limited storage. Overall each boat is designed differently and some have more storage then others. My sailboat is 39 feet long and has a moderate amount of storage for a boat its size. Ive seen big boats with horrible stomach ability and then smaller ones with genius hacks!

The reality of living on a sailboat in a marina is you will have to downsize. Downsizing isn’t really a bad thing. Check out my article on minimalism. The whole idea of living the life of a liveaboard is to live a simpler life.  That said you will have to do without some of your worldly goods.

In general the cabins (a.k.a. bedrooms) will have some storage for clothing and hanging cloths. The boat will have a hinging locker, much like a hall closet, but smaller. Most manufactures are good about utilizing the majority of free space to increase storage, but it also comes at a issues.

One of the issue is you will need to store things in sometimes not so easy places to get to. You will find with a little planning it isn’t a big deal. You put the stuff you use the least in the least accessible areas and the most used items in the most accessible area. The hardest part, for a lot of sailors, is remembering where you put what. I had made an itemized list and taped it on the inside of each storage door around the boat .

The next issue is what I call “Boat Tetris”. When you need to get to something, you have to unpack a whole compartment to get there and repack it when you get to what you needed. The fun part, just like when you take something out of the package it came in, it never seems to go back right.


The last big change is the amenities. When you’re living on a sailboat in a marina, you will not have some of the amenities you are used to. Initially when we first moved into Watergate we could not get access to wifi, but when we moved half way up the dock we were able to get internet on our boat.. a luxury that Is not so common in marinas. They often stow the wifi into mini offices or don’t provide it at all. 

It is possible to put a dish on your boat and hotspots for mobile are less expensive than before. Additionally you can get satellite data now, but the price is still rather high.

It seems like such a small thing, but these days people are so attached to the web, it can be a major hurdle to overcome. The thought that you can’t watch the Super Bowl at home is enough for some to say “Hell no, I can’t adventure.” For others it would be the inability to endlessly stream YouTube or Netflix. It seems like a small thing, but it really changes your way of life, though I think in a good way.

Is moving into a sailboat for you

As you can see, there are a lot of changes when it comes to going from life on land to living on the water in  a marina or on the hook. Some of those changes are minor and just take some getting used to. Others are major and will have you reorganizing your whole way of life.

In my opinion, it’s a good change though. You have less, but you also learn you don’t need so much. As I stated, you spend 90% of your time in 30% of your house.

So if you don’t use 70% of your house, why pay for it? I have also noticed with myself and every person I know, the bigger the house, the more stuff people store in it to fill the 70% they don’t use. Of all the things stored in those big houses, you guessed it, 70% or more of it is never used, touched, and in some cases, isn’t even known to exist.

When we moved aboard, we sold about 75% of my stuff. I am living for less and feel I have so much more. I admit it was hard to paint over my sons first bedroom, or to throw away the extra not so pretty ultrasounds, and baby shoesssss! My art was hard to let go off too! 

The thing about living in the marina is that everyone has their unique story, and so do their boats. The stories that follows a sailor will be entertaining to say the least. We all have one thing in common tho… The love for sailing.

If you think i missed anything,  you have any questions about living on a sailboat in a marina, or living on a boat in general; go ahead and post it in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow me on social media so you don’t miss future posts!

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