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Lost at Sea (harpers.org)
34 points by okket 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments





I lived in on a 50ft houseboat near Botany Bay in Sydney for many years. It was the cheapest lifestyle I have ever lived in this city.

https://www.google.com/maps/@-33.9926935,151.1272364,3090m/d...

I was on a swing mooring about 200 meters from shore, close to a public wharf, and my 'rent' was only several hundred dollars a year.

A membership at a local yacht club provided me with access to services and fast WiFi in the bay.

It was bliss in the summer months, but rowing to shore on a rainy winter morning was not so much fun.

It is not legal to live on a vessel in this manner but it only strictly enforced on major waterways like Sydney Harbour.

I was never hassled by water police, but I did get a letter from Ports Authorities from time to time. I ignored them, and there was never any repercussion.


I think the key to your plan was to live in your houseboat somewhere where it wasn't technically allowed. In Western US cities, slips in docks where living in your boat is explicitly allowed aren't cheap and often having multi-year waiting lists.

Yes. That is definitely key to living cheap on the water -- skirting the law.

It is a similar situation for walk-on moorings with shore power and water in Sydney. The marina in the bay I linked charges thousands per month for large vessels, but does allow live-aboard tenants.


I feel like it also ignores the effects of the ocean on one's residence. Maybe I am thinking this in ignorance, but I would imagine that the ocean is essentially eating away at the boat as time goes one. Yeah it might be cheap to live this way for a few years, but eventually your house will become uninhabitable, something that is much, much more rare with a land-based dwelling. At that point I wonder what the cost equation looks like because you basically need to purchase or find a whole "new" house.

On the plus side; storm water flooding isn't so much of a problem :)

But seriously, I was forever fixing things, pumping bilges and doing maintenance on generators and battery setups, etc.

I was lucky enough to be able to slip my vessel in the same bay for free each year in exchange for helping out other people and club members with their boats from time to time.


As with any seagoing vessel, it does require regular maintenance and upkeep. Houseboat owners should be well acquainted with this, you have to put it in a dry dock at some point.

It's a hassle, and moreso than a regular old house.

But there are plenty 50+ year old houseboats doing just fine, if you take care of them. I've played around with the idea, but spots for houseboats here in Copenhagen are super expensive and in high demand.


Redwood City used to have something like that, near what was "Pete's Harbor". Now it's condos and a private marina.[1]

[1] https://www.mercurynews.com/2012/12/19/redwood-city-waterfro...


A friend of mine lived on a boat there in the late 1980s. He said it wasn't as ideal or romantic as one would assume.

He lives in Wales now.


Sleeping in a ship rocked by the sea at least is surprisingly comfortable.



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