Living on a boat in Ireland

After almost 10 months living aboard a boat in Ireland, my time here is getting to its end. No, I’m not selling Neverland. It has all been part of a bigger plan that started way before buying the boat. All the research, savings, training, then buying the boat, then living aboard, getting to know her, fixing, upgrading and sailing the hell out of her so I could build the skills to set sail into the sunset.

An experience so far that has made me a less lazy person (a little less). The boat needs constant attention and I have to do everything mostly by myself. Friends are giving a hand as well.

Basics first

If you can’t change a light bulb, then a boat is not for you…

Living on a boat is very different from living on a house (Captain Obvious reporting for duty!). Now seriously, moving to a small space makes you consider everything you own. You just don’t have where to put all the junk! To start I had to either sell or donate or throw away a lot of my stuff from TV and video game to clothes and stuff I was hoarding thinking l’d need one day. Guess what, I probably wouldn’t. Nobody does. Humans just have a thing for hoarding stuff. Get rid of it!

Living Space

I’m 6’1 (1,87m) and there is only one place inside my boat that I can stand up straight. My head has found all the upper limits of the boat several times and I still hit my head now and then when moving around. You have to crouch and bend and move over things all the time. When there is more people on the boat then everyone has to move so you can move. I guess everybody dreams with a bigger boat until they realize they can’t either afford or maintain. Compromise is key.

Storage Space

Storage space is very limited on a boat in general and despite every part of it being designed to store stuff, there is never enough space. Things need to be foldable or retractable or simply tiny to fit in small places. And forget a nice and tidy wardrobe, shoe cabinet or a service area. At least the bilge is cold and you can store beer!

Comfort

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Toilet

Despite the boat having a toilet we should always use the marina facilities, which are great by the way! The shower is better than all houses I lived in Ireland. Adjustable water temperature and pressure to perfection. I’m sure I’ll miss the marina facilities very much while at sea.

Sewage at sea is a controversial subject and countries have different regulations regarding that. The only common agreement that I know is no sewage disposal inside harbours. I suggest googling about it if you are really interested, you will find that is considered to be acceptable to dump a lot of stuff in the ocean except plastic.

Wind

Its very windy in Ireland (no shit, Sherlock), specially from Autumn to Spring (3/4 of the Year). So the boat rocks all day and night sometimes. The lines tied at the pontoon stretch and vibrate on the boat, the fenders do the same. The halyards need to be secured away from the mast so they stop banging. Not everybody does that which makes the marina an orchestra playing the symphony of hell (wind whistling loudly included).

The symphony of hell…

I would get only 3 hours of sleep on conditions like this and feel miserable all day.

Cold

During the winter I needed a heater for sure. The most efficient and economic (also the safest for a boat) I found was a 650W Oil Filled Radiator. It does the job for a single cabin with the door shut. Never use those cheap fan heaters even at home, they are power sucking devices! Electricity in the marina is more expensive than in a house and during winter I was spending about 35 euros a month mostly to keep the heating overnight. Other electrical sources like a kettle for coffee and cooking, fridge always on, Mini Dehumidifier (essential), notebook, phone charger, internal lights and water pump were used eventually. During the summer I was spending around 7 euros a month only.

Wet and moldy

Still during the winter humidity goes through the roof. Ceiling and windows fully condensed and dripping wet. Leaving the hatch partially opened improves it but it gets colder. The board under the mattress condensates as well and makes it all wet. I had to lift the mattress to dry daily! The mini dehumidifier helps considerably but doesn’t do miracles. You would need a big one for the whole boat.

I also found several spots on the boat accumulating black mold that I had to clean. Not healthy.

Cooking

There is not much space on the galley and cooking for more than 3 people is a nightmare. Just for me is fine 🙂

There is a two burner cooker and a grill oven (fire from the top and no lid). I never bothered using the grill really. I was spending about 27 euros every 2 to 3 months on gas for a refill of a Campingaz 907 bottle.

There is also a small fridge with no freezer that is the closest thing to luxury on my boat. That and cold Guinness.

Fixing stuff

Buy a boat and you’ll have work to do every day for the rest of your life…

You need handy man skills. Things break, toilet clogs, battery needs replacement, plumbing needs attention, electronics stop working… This list is infinite, for real. Of course we all have our limitation regarding maintenance but the basics on a boat goes beyond hammering a nail on the wall or even replacing a door lock. These are fairly easy jobs compared to handling sealants and gaskets, fiberglass, epoxy, through deck/hull holes, a diesel engine, an outboard engine, NMEA devices, equipment on top of the mast, geez.. I was studying maintenance several months before buying a boat an even enrolled on a marine engine maintenance course. Here is the sailing maintenance book I bought by the way. Very detailed with pictures and also teaches you how to inspect a boat before buying. Its a must have aboard.

Internet

The marina WIFI signal is awful and my best connection is the 4G hotspot on the phone. Works great to browse the internet and even watch videos and series but doesn’t compare to a cabled broadband connection. RIP online games and low ping =/.

Free and peaceful time

Specially during weekends, if not doing work on the boat or chilling in Dalkey Island with the seals, I usually have a lot of free time and I use that to read and learn as much as possible stuff like preserving food, line fishing, spearfishing, holding my breath longer for free diving, more maintenance and sailing in general.

Nothing beats a nice mug of coffee, a book and a lazy day afloat.

Is it worthy?

To summarize, living in a marina in Ireland is doable and you get used to the bad part over time. Summer is good, you can enjoy the coast and even cross the Irish Sea to Wales or the Isle of Man. Winter is definitely the worse, very cold and you don’t feel like going out sailing at all though you can use the time to do work on the boat. Well is it worthy? If the plan is sailing away after a season or you are OK with bothering discomfort then yes… Sunny days makes it worthy.

So, what’s next?

Next? Adventure time! Big time dream adventure time! A six-month sailing trip from Ireland to the Mediterranean, passing by Wales, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca), Sardinia, Corsica and finally Italy. Almost 3000 nautical miles of sailing, which is equivalent to crossing the Atlantic.

Island hoping and sunset chasing, connecting with people and nature, experiencing new cultures and places only reachable by a boat, getting drunk with the locals and collecting memories for a lifetime… I’m not a cliche quotes person at all, but this one deserves a place here:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– H. Jackson Brown’s mother

Feel invited to follow or even join this trip! Check the interactive map below and follow us on Instagram @neverlandexpedition.

3 Replies to “Living on a boat in Ireland”

  1. All the best on your trip man, you are one crazy bastard. But an admirable one at that and it takes guts to do what you are doing. I look forward to following your posts and keeping in touch when you can get signal. (is it possible to rub two sticks together really fast to make wifi?).

    Lots of photos mate and enjoy the experience!

    Ger

  2. Just discovered your blog when I was researching sailing from Dublin to Port Erin.
    Your adventure is inspiring!
    Happy sailing on the new trip. 🙂

    1. Oh thanks! Having loads of fun here 🙂
      Follow the trip on Instagram: @neverlandexpedition
      Fair winds
      Cheers

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