Reviews on Living Aboard a Boat

Check out our reviews on living aboard a boat! Read what authors and publications are saying about The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat!


One way folks plan to get cruising sooner is to cut costs by moving on board their boat early. Before you do, read this well balanced look at the subject. You’ll encounter fewer surprises.
– – – Lin Pardey, Author, Educator and World Cruiser (currently sailing with Lin & Larry Pardey)

Read this book if you’ve ever been gripped by the romantic idea of living on water. Mark Nicholas presents a rich mine of information for potential liveaboards, information he gleaned the hard way. As a self-confessed “expert at what can go wrong,” who better than Mark to pass on the solid advice you need?
– – – John Vigor, Best-Selling Author

If you dream of living aboard, read this book. It’s straight talk from a liveaboard sailor who made the mistakes so you won’t have to. And you won’t find a more comprehensive look at the liveaboard lifestyle.
– – – Linda Ridihalgh, Editor, Living Aboard Magazine

If you have been thinking about living aboard, there is help! Here is a book that will give you a lot of little insights into what you will be gaining, and what you will be losing. The book is a resource to help you learn about the liveaboard lifestyle. It tells you about costs and options and attempts to provide an honest and realistic picture of what it’s like to live aboard.
– – – Bob Bitchin, Editor, Latitudes and Attitudes (Dec. ’04)

This is a must book for anyone contemplating “living aboard”. Mark doesn’t pull any punches. We see the good, the bad, the ugly, and the “dream”. Armed with this book one could enjoy the liveaboard lifestyle without any worriesome surprises.
– – – Tom Cox, Marina Owner, Liveaboard and Board Member – Marina Owners of America

I’ve been living aboard my sailboat since 1997, and I’ve read many books about the liveaboard lifestyle. Mark Nicholas’ ‘The Essentials of Living Aboard’ is not only accurate and well-written, but it contains helpful cost projections that I haven’t seen elsewhere. This is the first book I’d recommend to anyone who is thinking about the liveaboard lifestyle!
– – – Robert Doty, Liveaboard Webmaster (

The Essentials of Living Aboard is a no-nonsense, highly practical guide to making a boat one’s home. Written by a liveaboard who has spent extensive time and effort gathering research and advice from other liveaboards, The Essentials of Living Aboard covers how to choose the right boat and marina, estimating costs, helping family, children and pets adjust, safety issues, amenities, climate and sanitation problems, legal issues including all too common limitations on liveaboards and much more. Essentials is a “must have” resource for anyone seriously contemplating or dedicatingly seeking to refine their life aboard a boat.
– – – Wisconsin Book Watch

Thinking about living aboard? Get a real look at what it’s like to buy, maintain and live on a boat before you take the plunge. Author and lawyer Mark Nicholas, who has lived aboard, gets down to the nitty-gritty, including how to choose a marina. He covers unexpected subjects such as freezing water, sewage and garbage disposal, international law and storing your possessions. He also discusses safety issues, perpetual dampness and boat motion. If you come to realize that living on a boat is not for you after reading this book, you can thank [Mark] Nicholas for saving you a hefty investment in time, money and emotion.
– – – The Ensign (the U.S. Power Squadron)

Don’t let living the dream become a nightmare. – – – Mark Nicholas’s The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat helps you learn from his mistakes as you transition to life on the water. Whether you plan to cruise or live aboard in a marina, you’ll get advice on such issues as picking the right boat and knowing what “luxuries” you just can’t live without. (Nicholas, who lives on his boat while holding down an office job, considers a stereo, TV, and Internet accessibility essential to his liveaboard comfort.) Nicholas uses an organized and realistic approach to identify the difficulties and joys of living aboard; the itemized cost comparisons for maintenance, marinas, seasonal expenses, and more, plus lists of essential equipment, make the book a useful reference. Personal accounts from other liveaboards provide invaluable perspective and a variety of opinions to help you decide what kind of liveaboard you want to be. As Nicholas explains, the more you know about the life you are adopting, the more likely you are to succeed.
– – – Sail Magazine, April 2006 (upcoming issue) (by Rebecca Waters)

It’s a safe bet that you know someone how has the dream of going off to sea to become their own virtual seeing-the-world, tax free island afloat. In The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat, Mark Nicholas takes the concept from a fantasy to reality (you’ll soon see why you can forget about being a tax-free man without a country) without pulling any punches along the way. While the book features a sailboat on the cover, the advice is just as applicable to those who cruise under power. All the necessary practical information is covered thoroughly from financial concerns to safety afloat. Where this book stands out is in its focus on explaining how you can turn your boat into a true 24/7 home.
– – – Southern Boating Magazine, Editors Choice

A seasoned and experienced sailor, Mark Nicholas has written an ideal introduction for anyone aspiring to enjoy life aboard any kind of boat … The reader will learn how to choose and buy a boat that is appropriate for one’s needs, including the finesse of the buying process, negotiations, insurance, and financing, amenities aboard a boat, navigation and safety matters, sanitation issues, legal issues, tips, tricks, and techniques, and more. Of special interest are the warnings about search, seizure, and forfeiture … An absolute “must-have” for anyone considering making a boat one’s permanent dwelling.
– – – Midwest Book Review

… Mark Nicholas has done extensive study in gaining a worldwide appreciation and understanding of what it takes, not only to buy a boat and maintain it, but what one can expect within that lifestyle…. the challenges, adjustments, financial expectations as well as the joys inherent in this experience. Mark has probably done the most complete investigation and reporting of any we know of. Maybe living aboard is not for everyone, but you are not signing your life away, even if you just want to enjoy it for a limited time. There is just no comparison to sitting within four walls when one considers either cruising in open waters, or just sitting idly by on the deck or cockpit, with open breezes and the sun warming your back, listening to the birds, slap of the water on the hull, or other activities around you. This even works when rain is gently falling beyond. There are also those challenges with weather…you against the elements. You are both above and within nature at its best. God surely meant it to be that way.
– – – Don Stonehill, Chairman, Liveaboard Assn of Puget Sound

Whether it’s your dream or your reality, Nicholas’ advice will bridge the gap between disappointment and success.
– – – The Nautical Mind

Mark Nicholas’s book Living Aboard is a great resource.
– – – Seattle Women’s Sailing Association

Mark Nicholas is an expert. He’s lived the life and learned many lessons the hard way. His goal in writing The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat is to share with readers all it takes to live aboard wisely and enjoy it. How? By being prepared. He believes there are essentials to living on a boat, so why not know what those basics are before embarking on the life? You’ll find guidelines for choosing the right boat, purchasing it, and moving onboard. Whether or not you are a seasoned boater, you may find the pages covering general boating terminology a helpful way to make sure you know your boat. Next, examine the section on choosing a marina. I found “Estimating Costs,” to be one of the most useful chapters in the book. Why make any kind of move without knowing what the financial outcome will be? Numerous easy-to-read comparison charts are accompanied by text explaining itemized costs. For example: The monthly cost comparison table is a real eye-opener. Want-to-be liveaboards are presented with the possible costs (for varying types and sizes of boats) that come along with the lifestyle — everything from your boat payment, insurance, slip fees, utilities, storage, parking, and more. Read on to find out how to prepare to live aboard, and things to look at when families, children, and pets live aboard. This really makes one think. For instance, how do you keep cat litter contained? In his chapter titled “Government Oversight,” Mark reminds us that government regulations require our homes (boats, in this case), be open for inspection. While many may consider the liveaboard lifestyle a way to get away from society, the effects of terrorism, and the state of the world in general, does impact life, whether we are land or sea dwellers. This section is a must-read for all. … Whether you are planning to move aboard, spend extended long vacations aboard, or already are a liveaboard, The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat is a great addition to any boat book library. Nicholas does a great job preparing us to enjoy living aboard — wisely.
– – – Good Old Boat

… few ever make the [liveaboard] leap. And for those who do, the realities of the liveaboard lifestyle often come as a shock. It ain’t all stunning sunsets, potluck suppers on the beach or spreading sails to a balmy wind abaft the beam. Just ask Mark Nicholas. He tells it like it is in his book. The Essentials of Living Aboard A Boat: The Definitive Guide for Liveaboards. In the introduction, Nicholas writes: “Though I’d studied books on sailing and seamanship, none provided me with any true insight into the practical subtleties of boating or living aboard. For me, this lifestyle was a true trial by fire – and in the beginning I was burned more often than I wasn’t. It was easy for me to think I was alone, the only one learning the harsh lessons this way, but in talking to other liveaboards it became clear to me that we all learn this way, and it is a true shame that the most prominent issues were not encapsulated in a meaningful, educational, and commonsensical way.” Thinking others might benefit from a practical look at what it’s really like to live on a boat. Nicholas decided to write a how-to guide for the would-be wannabes out there nursing a dream that might well, without the right perspective and preparation, turn into an emotional, physical and financial nightmare. Nicholas takes a fairly exhaustive approach, covering subjects ranging from choosing and buying a boat to safety and sanitation. [and] he does address the issue of costs associated with living aboard head-on, and does a good job itemizing expenses to give readers an idea of just what it takes to pursue life afloat.

It’s important to note that Nicholas isn’t directing his book at the world cruising segment of liveaboards, but rather the more common dock rat type who use their boats primarily as floating homes at a slip. That’s practical. Cruising the Intracoastal Waterway to Florida, thrashing off to the eastern Caribbean, then going back to a home on land isn’t the same as living year-round, year after year, aboard a boat. A temporary flirtation with the lifestyle is one thing, fully committing to it is another, and that’s the main point Nicholas makes in his book. Anyone considering the lifestyle should go into it with his or her eyes wide open. To paraphrase Nicholas: boats are small, they move, they’re noisy, they smell, and they’re damp much of the time. “It would be easy to conclude that I am trying to scare you away from this lifestyle,” Nicholas writes. “That couldn’t be more wrong. This book is about preparation: trying to educate and prepare the future liveaboard for the challenges that this lifestyle will present.” In this, Nicholas succeeds, and quite well indeed.
– – – Sailing Magazine

Living Aboard: A Lifestyle Worth Considering:
The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat by Mark Nicholas combines the author’s personal experiences with those of others and offers a wealth of suggestions for choosing the right boat and making it work for you.
– – – The Boating News, by Capt. Ann Kinner

I’m always curious what other people are saying about living aboard, especially as it becomes rarer and more difficult to do in the U.S. Mark Nicholas’s book, The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat, is all about the details of what it takes to live on a boat. One thing that I really like about this book is that it’s geared towards people who aren’t yet at retirement age and who plan to live aboard while they’re still working. One of the first things that he discusses in the section about choosing marinas is the issue of how long your commute is going to be.

While the book starts off with basic information (like a list of common boating terms) that may see redundant to the seasoned sailor, the approach makes sense. The author’s target audience consists of people who haven’t yet made the move to life aboard, and while Nicholas acknowledges the romance of the lifestyle, he is also quick to point out potential problems like seasickness, smelly holding tanks, lack of storage, and broken engines. He doesn’t try to discourage the potential live-aboard-he simply tells it like it is … In short, this book could help a lot of people decide whether living aboard is the right choice. I think it is, but that’s just one opinion.
– – – Commodores’ Bulletin, Seven Seas Cruising Association

The review from Sail Magazine
The review from Sailing Magazine