BY Michelle Schroeder-Gardner
Hello and welcome!
My name is Michelle and I’m the author/owner of Making Sense of Cents. Learning how to save money and make more money changed my life. It allowed me to pay off $40,000 in student loans, start my own business, and I now travel full-time.
It’s official, we’re now living on a sailboat! To be specific, it’s a Lagoon 42 catamaran that we named Paradise.
Now, we are still very new to this lifestyle, but we are very excited! We’ve wanted to move onto a boat for a while. In fact, we wanted to live on a sailboat before we even started RVing.
Our switch from RV life to living on sailboat started earlier this year, when we made the journey from Tucson, Arizona (where we were wintering in our RV) to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We started looking at sailboats online, both on the west coast and east coast, but Florida just had so many more options.
We pulled up the RV jacks and made the long trek to Florida. Along the way, we stopped in multiple places, sort of a last RV trip hurrah to see our friends and family that live all over the U.S.
When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, we almost immediately found a catamaran that we liked, so we put an offer on it. Soon after that, the dealership where we bought our Tiffin Allegro Bus made us an offer on our RV for almost what we originally paid for it, which made it a no brainer to sell it back to them.
While we were waiting to close on our boat, we moved into an Airbnb for about two weeks.
Then, on May 16th, we were officially able to say, “we’re living on a sailboat!”
We bought our 2018 Lagoon 42 from The Catamaran Company in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We spent a few weeks making some changes and additions to the boat, as well as testing everything before we sailed away.
Our first adventure living on a sailboat was to sail from where we bought our sailboat, at The Catamaran Company in Fort Lauderdale, to the other side of Florida in St. Petersburg, where we’re currently docked.
We have a lot to learn, and that’s part of the reason for why we’re so excited to be living on a sailboat. We know that we’re newbies, but that just makes growing and learning so much fun!
Today, I want to answer some common questions I’ve received about living on a sailboat. If you are thinking about living on a sailboat someday, hopefully this will help. Also, if you’re just curious how we are making it work so far, here are answers to questions from you, my readers.
Do you miss RVing?
Yes, we miss RVing. We enjoyed RVing a TON, and I know that we will do it again one day. This may sound crazy, but RVing was very easy for us, living on a sailboat and learning to sail definitely is not, haha.
We miss how easy RVing was, that is for sure. We definitely fell into a routine with RVing, which made it even simpler. We know that, eventually, sailing will be the same.
We loved that RVing brought us to so many beautiful places, allowed us to park our home right next to amazing hiking and biking trails, gave us the ability to travel very comfortably, that we could bring our dogs everywhere with us, and more. People often asked me, “what’s the hardest part about RVing?” and “what do you hate about RVing?” Those were always hard questions to answer, because, honestly, there was nothing bad about it. RVing was a wonderful experience, and I know that we’ll do it again one day.
But, here’s to new adventures!
Are the dogs going to live on the boat?
For some reason, some of you think that we just gave our dogs away. Haha, that simply isn’t true! The dogs came with us in the RV, and if we’re living on a sailboat, then they are living on one too.
The dogs are doing well and adjusting to boat life. We are taking it slow with them, since they are older and didn’t grow up on a boat. The top tip we’ve heard from other people with boat dogs is to start slow. Numerous people have suggested starting them out at a marina, then doing day sails, and go from there. So, that’s exactly what we’re doing!
They’re also getting on and off the boat just fine. We just pick them up and have a nice harness for Sailor that works great for this type of thing.
Also, we chose a marina that has a ton of grass, which means they still get in plenty of walks. Eventually, we will leave this marina (we’re doing just short sails for now), but for now, we have a never ending list of boat things to do in order to prepare!
What do you have on your Lagoon 42 sailing catamaran?
Our Lagoon 42 sailing catamaran is just like a “normal” home. And, because I know I will get a ton of questions about it, yes, I can shower and use the bathroom on our sailboat, haha.
Living on a sailboat can be just like living in a traditional home, and we have:
- 2 refrigerators
- 1 freezer
- 3 beds
- 1 TV
- And much, much more.
Wes, my husband, crewed a delivery of a new Lagoon 450 from France to Croatia, which is about 2,700 nautical miles. At first, we thought we were interested in the Lagoon 450, but we decided that was just a tad too big for us, so we decided to go for the Lagoon 42.
Here are some specs on our Lagoon 42 catamaran:
- Owner’s version with 3 cabins and 3 heads (bathrooms)
- Fuel capacity of 158 gallons
- Two 57 HP Yanmar engines
- 42 feet long
- Draft of 4’1”
- Mast clearance of 67’9”
- Self-tacking jib
- Fresh water capacity of 79 gallons (we have a watermaker too)
- Air conditioning
What have you added to your sailing catamaran?
We added a few things before we left Fort Lauderdale for St. Petersburg, FL. Our plan is to add more items once we have been living on a sailboat for a few months and really know what we want.
Some of the items we’ve added so far include:
- 540 watts of solar power
- Highfield dinghy with a 20 HP Yamaha
- And, a lot more.
Also, I should note that we had all of our additions completed by MultiTech Marine Services. Henry Saludes of MultiTech Marine Services was amazing to us, and we are so grateful. He helped us a ton as new cruisers. He helped us create a maintenance checklist, went over anything and everything we needed to know about living on a sailboat (we had so many questions, haha!), and we feel that a great friendship was formed. Every employee that we came across was great! We knew them all by name, they kept our boat clean even though it was a working yard, they showed us how to use the systems they installed, etc. I highly recommend Multitech Marine Services, and I know that we will be back in the future. We really felt that they went above and beyond and treated us well. Thank you Multitech for making the transition to living on a sailboat easy for us!
Some of the other things we will be adding include:
- A better anchor
- More solar, a better inverter, and a larger battery bank
- Another sail
- Aft enclosure
- Rub rails
- Sun shades for windows
- And more. The list is neverending!
What are your sailing plans?
As full-time travelers, we don’t live by a specific schedule, and that’s because things can change fast. One thing we learned from RVing is that it’s hard to plan even a month out, let alone years.
Our plan right now, which will probably change, includes spending the next few months learning our boat, getting our dogs used to it, outfitting it more, and doing short sails out from our marina in St. Petersburg, Florida. Then, we hope to hop over to the Bahamas in the winter, and to the northeast U.S. next summer.
After that, we have dreams of further exploring the Caribbean, Europe, and the Pacific.
Note: We are taking things slow for now. We spent most of June and part of July taking sailing, docking, and safety lessons. If you’re looking for a great instructor and/or someone to help move your boat, I highly recommend Captain Jeff Lewis. He helped us move our boat from Fort Lauderdale to St. Pete, and he also taught us how to dock (as well as much more!). He is an amazing teacher, and, no, he did not pay me to write this glowing review. He is a great teacher!
How much does living on a sailboat cost?
I haven’t sailed much yet, but I can already tell that boats are expensive. I’ve heard quite a few acronyms for what BOAT means, mainly that it means “Bust Out Another Thousand.”
And, boy, has that been true so far.
But, we are super excited!
I’ll be revisiting this section once we have spent more time living on a sailboat, but, for now, our costs are our Lagoon 42 sailing catamaran, the marina, any additions we add, fuel, sailing instructors, and so on.
You can read a little more about sailing costs in an interview I recently did – From Backpacker Working For $3 An Hour To Sailor With An Online Business.
Why haven’t you sailed to ______ yet?
So many of you have asked why we aren’t halfway around the world yet in the Pacific Islands or somewhere in the Mediterranean.
That makes me chuckle because there are lots of boat things to do and starting slow is normal. When you first get a boat, the average person spends a decent amount of time preparing it and themselves for the cruising lifestyle.
Some people spend years and even decades preparing and outfitting their boat. Getting a boat ready to cruise is no easy feat.
Plus, we’re not in a rush!
Will you ever touch land again?
A lot of you have asked if I’ll just be floating out in the ocean and if I’ll ever touch land again.
Sailing is sort of like living in an RV. You don’t just spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week driving. And, the same goes for sailing and cruising.
We will sail and/or motor from destination to destination, but we will, of course, be staying at marinas and anchorages too. We plan on exploring the water around us, as well as the new cities and countries that we sail to!
What are you going to do for internet?
We currently have AT&T for our phones and internet. We used to have both Verizon and AT&T, but we recently switched to just AT&T and have been really happy with it.
Even with that being said, sometimes our internet connection is not that great. This means I always try to work ahead as much as I can so that internet does not create any stress.
When we leave the U.S., we will have to figure something else out for internet, but I’m not worried about it because there are always options.
What are you doing for health insurance since you’ll be living on a sailboat?
When we started taking RV life seriously, we found out that we had no realistic health insurance options. I didn’t want to pay the penalty for not having health insurance, and I also didn’t want to go uninsured.
For full-time travelers, it is difficult to find health insurance companies that will cover you.
Some health insurance companies won’t cover you once you travel out of your state. If they do offer out-of-state coverage, they usually require that you at least live full time in your home state. While we do have a home state and address, it isn’t technically where we live full time. So, it was important to find a health insurance provider that wouldn’t possibly void a medical expense if they found out that we were trying to get around this loophole.
Plus, the only policy that we qualified for (in our state) had an astonishing deductible of $39,000 for out-of-state medical expenses. And, as full-time travelers, we are excluded from the majority of policies anyways, due to the loophole described above, so that just didn’t work for us.
Paying a high monthly health insurance premium that comes with a $39,000 annual deductible, and the fact that many of our claims would probably be voided, made our decision to go with a health sharing company an easy decision.
So, in January of 2016, we started a membership with Liberty HealthShare. For the both of us, we pay just $249 each month.
With this monthly fee, 100% of our eligible medical bills, up to $1,000,000 per incident, are covered after the $1,000 per couple annual unshared amount (think of this as your annual deductible).
Now, belonging to a health sharing ministry is not perfect. Liberty HealthShare is not traditional health insurance, which means:
- They are under no requirement to cover your medical expenses.
- You cannot deduct Liberty’s monthly costs from your business taxes.
- You cannot contribute to a Health Savings Account.
- Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered until years later.
Health care sharing ministries all have some sort of ethical rules that you must abide by, such as no smoking, no drinking, and so on. If you incur a medical expense due to something that is against their policies, there is a chance that they will not cover it.
You can read more about Liberty HealthShare at We No Longer Have Traditional Health Insurance – Liberty HealthShare Review.
What are you doing with the Jeep?
We sold the RV, but we are keeping our Jeep. We’ve spent a lot of time and money turning our Jeep into an overland vehicle, and we are just way too attached to it to get rid of it.
Plus, it’s a great vehicle to use when we want to explore via car, as it has a camper top and everything else we would want in order to camp somewhere.
For now, we are keeping it at Wes’ parents’ house and having them drive it.
How do you receive mail?
We belong to a mail forwarding company called My Dakota Address. All of our mail gets sent there, and they then forward our mail to wherever we are. We are in the middle of the process of switching to a different mail forwarding company, St. Brendan’s Isle.
Who are your favorite sailing blogs?
Funny enough, I never really watched any RVing videos, but I am completely addicted to sailing Youtube channels and blogs.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Gone With The Wynns
- Out Chasing Stars
- SV Delos
- Sailing La Vagabonde
- Sailing Totem
- Windtraveler (this is the first one I read, way before we even started RVing!)
- The Boat Galley
- Two Monkeys Travel
- Where The Coconuts Grow
- Sailing Uma
There are so many others to list too!