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Boston Globe Article About Living Aboard Focuses on Cheap

Did you see this Boston Globe article about living aboard?  

I wasn't thrilled with it, particularly the often erroneous impression of how cheap it is to live aboard. In the current economy cheap living on the water seems to be the focus of most non-boating publications when they talk about our lifestyle.

I spent a long time reading the many comments generated by this article and found that quite a few regular old live-aboards like us had also been less than pleased with it's tone. Instead of leaving yet another comment there I endorsed some of those comments and decided to write my rebuttal here.  

First of all, I have a great deal of respect for the young college professor who has chosen to give up his apartment in order to be able to help his family during these tough economic times. It also looked like he had some skills in boat repair -- or at least in lifting up a hatch and checking wires. Other than that they didn't discuss his boating skills or knowledge. 

Can he tie a line? Use the radio? Check the batteries? Find a broken hose? Does he truly understand and can he fix the stove and the heating and refrigeration systems? What does he know about general safety on board and on the docks?

Who in heaven's name would rent their "baby" out to a live-aboard for the winter? I can't even imagine it! 

Yes, living aboard can be cost effective (cheap) and we have had young neighbors over the years and currently who have chosen to purchase a boat after college and live aboard year round. Each of them knows how to sail and/or motor their vessel and each understands her systems and can make some repairs. They can dock the boat, are fanatic about keeping the lines tied properly and chafe free and stand by their vessel and their neighbors during storms. These people are part of the community, not just because they live here, but because they want to be part of this community of people who love being on the water. 

None of these issues were addressed with the gentleman who has chosen this lifestyle because he didn't want roommates. He may actually be an excellent live-aboard neighbor. He may be willing to learn and have a support system in place of willing experienced helpers. By not addressing these issues, the author made living aboard seem too easy and too cheap and that is dangerous.

I have said repeatedly that this is not a lifestyle for most and it is a lifestyle -- not a flop. I would never attempt to talk anyone into living aboard. Instead, I do my best to talk some folks out of it. 


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Tim Robison

Hello and greetings from Boston! I emailed the reporter doing the story, and warned my compatriots here that liveaboards are often portrayed in a negative light - and I was , unfortunately quite right. I responded to the article at the Boston Globe online, and that response follows.

All the best and it is great to run into your blog!! We, too, are planning our escape.

Tim Robison

Poorly done Mr. Abel - Cute, anomalous and inaccurate - and not even a good read.

As I said in my previous email to you, and I guessed you would do --- live aboards are often portrayed negatively. The examples you cited not a portrayal of the lifestyle and why people choose it. That being said - at least you could have balanced the article.

The 25 foot rented powerboat is an anomaly, so that is the example you chose. We own, and live on a 41 foot cruising yacht, and there are 45 and 56 foot cruising yachts where people live aboard. What I said in my previous email should have provided some insight:

Liveaboards are often portrayed negatively because there is an assumption their it is a cheap way to live and that is why those who do live aboard to it. In some cases that may well be true and it as valid a housing choice as any.

For us, at least, living aboard our 40 foot cutter is, first, a life style choice and we actively use the boat - sailing up to Maine during the summer for example, and enjoying the summers in Boston with Boston Harbor, quite literally , our backyard, with the North End just across a strip of water. . We may liveaboards, but we are liveaboard sailors. I am a photographer, and the photographs made taken while sailing, and made of the places we sail to - is an artistic endeavor, allowed and enhance by our lifestyle.

We are also preparing PEREGRINA, and ourselves, for extended cruising and living aboard makes that easier. I am often busy on projects great and small for that purpose. I am looking at a relatively early retirement and when I go there will be no mortgage on the boat and we can go where the winds take us.

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