Derelict Liveaboard Boats: Reflections

Alan Miles - Photo
Photo by Alan Miles via Flickr Creative Commons

Living aboard a boat can be more complicated than a mere lifestyle choice.  Access to marinas and water is very much a public, environmental and safety concern.  More so, the public (this includes all – including landlubbers, sightseers, tourists, commercial vessels and politicians) does have a legitimate say in the way the neighborhoods should look, smell and represent the community as a whole. This is not unique to waterways, but is the very essence of zoning rules and public ordinances.

Regulatory and municipal initiatives can still have quite a harsh impact on lifestyle and options for the liveaboard. Simple regulation, which is otherwise logical – whether or not it is something you are or are not in favor of, can have rather sweeping implications. Take, for instance, the situation highlighted in Broward County (click for article here) in which anchorages are being cleared of “derelict” boats – defined as a boat that cannon move under its own power (including a sail). Some regions require boats to move just to prove their capabilities, and others are simply cited.

Are the Regulatory Goals Being Met?

I am an advocate for the liveaboard, and I believe that I’ve proven that beyond a doubt over the course of the past decade. It is often my concern that liveaboards are unfairly targeted when a politician wants to earn free points for causes such as “municipal beautification” or “environmental interests” without really doing anything of true substance. It is easy to bully groups such as these and free political points are earned at the expense of a terribly disorganized bunch (by design), particularly easy since there is no true adversary. Legislation can often pass rather unencumbered.

Nevertheless, we cannot be so fast to fault a system when there is a true and important public purpose. Safety on the waterways is truly important. Commercial vessels require a means of doing business and protection of their interests. Crime on the water can be a tremendous problem.  Also, as a person with true environmental concerns, it is my view that we really need a way to protect the environment and when we can’t stop boaters from dumping their holding tanks into our shared space, I am perfectly comfortable with an ordinance banning this practice. As a matter of fact, it is too bad that there aren’t more prosecutions for this.  It is so gross.

Ironically, liveaboards don’t really have an impact on the environment, or many of those other enumerated issues illustrated above.  So while the politicians score points targeting liveaboards as an environmental victory (e.g., restricting liveaboards to small percentages of eligible marina spaces), the amount of pollution caused by liveaboards is actually a tiny minute fraction of the amount of pollution caused by the runoff from even just one light rain. To the contrary, liveaboards in well-maintained marinas actually reduce environmental concerns by helping to police the boating community. Targeting liveaboards completely misses the point and does less than nothing to solve the problem.

The Broward County Initiative

I haven’t been to Broward County in many years and really don’t have any idea what is happening in that community. I want to be clear that when it comes to the problems in that region (or lack thereof), I really have no first hand knowledge. I don’t know the safety, environmental or aesthetic issues regarding these boats in this region. There really is no one-size-fits-all solution to the way in which communities govern themselves and I won’t presume to guess without making a trip east to check out the scene.

Still, I am concerned when it comes to the application of disproportionate power. Liveaboards and many of these boat owners are simply not able to sufficiently represent themselves. This dynamic of power vs. the disorganized few is not the way healthy legislation is completed. The give and take lacks take and the give side takes quite a bit of credit for whatever legislation is passed. It doesn’t always end as it should.

So if you are in this region, pay attention. If you think that there is overreaching going on, take issue. We are talking about real people’s homes and lives and this is not something to be taken lightly. I know that there is a collective discussion going on in the region.  If you have something to discuss, speak up and let your voice be heard.



Where Does the Time Go? Welcome Spring

68764551-LI am amazed to think that time passes by so quickly. The real indicator of that is not gray hair, my daughter entering a different grade in school or really anything else of tangible meaning. The indicator for time passing is really the date of my last posting on the blog. Facebook sees more updates these days, but I worry that the site is becoming stale.

So what is going on?

What is going on in the world?  Interest in living aboard continues to be strong.  I can tell from the book sales, daily emails and trips around the marinas. Interestingly, interest in life aboard increases in times of desperation, uncertainty or change and while this remains a volatile political environment, it seems as if daily uncertainty and desperation are down a bit these days. The economy has been rather stable, with modest fuel prices, and as a result job loss and marriage dissolution are down. That bodes well for stability but while interest in life aboard is strong overall, it means that this is less strong than in other times, and actual movement aboard is more postponed.

One nice thing is that I do often receive the success stories – with photos of the boats and lifestyles that my readers achieve when they do move aboard.  Sometimes I know that I had some meaningful involvement in their choice and preparation and that makes me feel very good.  Thank you and keep sending that stuff over.

Springtime Coming

Time passing does mean that winter turns to summer. It’s time to do this all over again (except for folks in warmer climates that keep their vessels wet all year round). Prep well so that you’ll be safe.  This is like a re-birth and we get to experience this in our own way – almost as if we’re a part of nature.

I understand that this is a casual and not all-that-informative post. Mostly it is meant as a thank you – for visiting, reading and sharing. I’ll try to post more but in the meantime do try to answer emails very quickly.

Fair winds,


Living Aboard Podcast – The Costs of Living Aboard (Episode 5)

Living Aboard Podcast – The Costs of Living Aboard (Episode 5)

This is the final podcast of the original 5 part series. I’d like to take some time to chat about liveaboard and boating costs. When I first started along my journey aboard, I had thought of only the primary 4 or 5 costs – boat payment, interest, insurance and the marina rental. Wow was that naive.

Episode 5 is a review of the ‘free!’ liveaboard spreadsheet (free on, explaining different costs among a few different scenarios. It is just for discussion purposes, but at least the categories of life aboard are covered.

SO… hope this doesn’t scare you away from the lifestyle. Just hoping everyone goes in with their eyes open. It is the key to success.


Review: Don Casey – Dragged Aboard: A Cruising Guide for the Reluctant Mate

Don Casey’s Dragged Aboard offers some good advice – but most importantly addresses the context of the reluctant partner dynamic in tight quarters. Personally, I don’t think that there is a fix to the stubborn, but there can be compromise (particularly on the happy partner’s part), things that can be done to alleviate the problems, and most importantly, the permission to pay attention to this stuff. In short, this is a worthwhile read.

The reluctant partner is a huge topic not only on the books and forums, but the docks (your neighbors have to live with your reluctant partner too) – the story of two people aboard where one person doesn’t share in the enjoyment. The problem is exacerbated with shared space and limited storage. It can transform a dream in to quite the nightmare lifestyle.

Dragged Aboard offers some good advice as it relates to the reluctant partner dynamic in tight quarters. Personally, I don’t think that there is a fix to the unhappy crew, but there can be compromise (particularly on the happy partner’s part), and things that can be done to alleviate the problems. Most importantly, Don gives us the permission to address this stuff head on. In short, this is a worthwhile read.