Saturday, September 27, 2014

If people knew about boats...

The joy of living on a boat! 
I have lived aboard our boat with my wife, and two kids for a fifth of my life. I have built myself homes 3 times, once because a hurricane blew the old one away. Which left me homeless, with new-found sympathy for the 3 little pigs, and eating army hot dogs for 2 weeks. I have also designed several homes for others and even for developers. On more than one occasion someone has taken credit for my design, one could say "the ultimate compliment". My point? I think that I understand the concept of human shelter better than the average person. I find it quite curious that people do not give living on a boat a second thought. It's a lot like trying to sell a Cuban a wooden house, ain't gonna happen. It is simply unacceptable, that's it, end of story. But if only for the sake of argument, you were to put all your prejudice aside and really give a fair look into the pros and cons of calling a boat "Home," let's take a look at the data.
At 41 feet our sailboat is amazingly comfortable. The scale of the living spaces offer comfort and accessibility to the whole crew, tall or small. I have drifted about in a king size bed for many years, it was okay, but it cannot compare to the feeling of my v-berth. It's as if I had been wearing somebody else's clothes, and I didn't even suspect it until I put on clothes that fit. It is the difference between really liking your space, or loving it. It is a space that you feel total authority over, and not need to flee to the comfort of a "panic room" (a room with a scale that you gives you the illusion of safe shelter). I believe that we as humans have to learn to live in over-sized spaces, but it's not natural. Consumerism is there is there to help us every step of the way, and even to barrel through a moment of clarity should one arise. You can't fall in love with a big house.
This is Mirador underway.

Arriving at Atlantis, we had a great location in the marina, and free access to the park.

The Captain.

Mirador at anchor in George Town.

The kids made friendships that will last a lifetime.
While living on a boat I would entertain parties of 8 to 12 people almost every night for years. I believe that I may even have something of a reputation for doing this. To enlighten, I would do this on the dock so there would be no tracking in and out of the boat, that would surely have led to my being poisoned in my sleep by a person who otherwise is quite fond of me. I practiced this, vice or virtue, while I lived in a house, and was, many years later, told by my guests that my x-otherhalf would tell everyone they had to leave each time that I went to the bathroom. Talk about a bad fit.
Storage space on a boat is adequate, but not excessive. You can have a decent wardrobe, tools, and toys. What you cannot do is accumulate junk that you do not use, you have to keep it real. Useless appliances that fill all the excess storage area in a house have no place in a boat. This vice is so prevalent that the majority of people that I know no longer have room in their garages for the car, it's all full of junk. I even know people with 3 car garages that are packed several feet high with stuff. If you were to find yourself in the middle of the garage, and someone were to turn the lights out, you wouldn't make it out alive. We are victims of the mass marketing machine. This machine keeps us in debt, and at work every morning at 9 am sharp every day of our lives until the day that our head can no longer leave the pillow. Now, while a boat can't cure the buying disorder it can make it very difficult to come home with that hot dog cooker that you thought you had to have. The day that I got rid of my "stuff", and moved to the boat was one of the best days of my life, it was as if a great weight was lifted from my shoulders.
A majority of people spend a couple of hours each day in traffic because the house that they can afford is far from where they work. Consider this, most cities have emerged from the banks of a navigable body of water, New York, Boston, Miami, and so on and so on. With a boat you can live in the most advantageous locations that cities have to offer, their waterfronts. This usually means short commutes to work, shopping, restaurants and public amenities. If something should occur that makes an area lose its appeal, with a house you are stuck, with a boat you simply move to another area that better suites your fancy.
About ten percent of Miamians take advantage of the city's greatest natural asset, Biscayne Bay, and its barrier islands. The reason?, you need a boat to get you out there. If you take the recreational opportunities that a boat provides, and compare it with that of a backyard, and well, need I say more?
If you ever analyze the costs of maintaining a house with a yard, including mortgage interest and taxes over, say 20 years, you will be shocked, if not angry at the sum. In fact, when compared to the costs of maintaining a house, a boat is actually affordable. It's only when people try to maintain both a boat and a house that the boat bares the brunt of the blame for the stressed state of the finances, but only because it is seen as a luxury and the house is seen as a necessity.
How about return on investment? A $100,000 house will cost you about $500,000 over the course of 30 years. The truth is that unless your property ends up in the path of a grander scheme, you will be lucky to break even. As a general rule it takes about 10% of a boats value to maintain it per year. Our sailboat cost $25,000 new in 1973. Today the appraised, and insured valve is $125,000. A boat does have an initial depreciation curve that lasts for about 5 to 10 years if you were to buy it new, but who would do such a thing? While a boat is more susceptible to a soft economy, the return on investment is not very different from that of a house.
Just to be completely honest, and objective, you do need to develop a better sense of awareness to your environment, and some common sense to live on a boat. The good news is that since we only use about 15% of our brains, and even then some of us have some catching up to do, there is room in the old noggin for these skills. A little bit of reading, and a couple of boat show seminars, and you'll be well on your way to improving your quality of life, and your finances with the advantage of living on a boat. Many a times I have sat on my boat, at the marina, and thought, "Man am I glad that most people don't know about boats, this place would be really crowded".
Then again, I could just be wrong about the whole thing???
For some people this would only be a screensaver.

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