20 things I learned living aboard a yacht

Following our very successful canal boat experience in Gloucester, we decided to spend some time living aboard a boat in La Paz, Baja California.

On our trip to Mexico in January 2018, we signed on the dotted line to spend three weeks living on this yacht thing.

I guess you could call it a yacht even though the sail was broken, right?!  I am not particularly ‘au fait’ with sailing or its terminology but this boat had definitely seen better days lol.

Here’s what we learned during our time aboard!


1. When you moor on an anchor the boat will sway around A LOT

I’m not sure what I was expecting but our first night was pretty horrific. There was no space for us in the marina we were supposed to dock in so we moored in the bay, on one anchor. I probably averaged about two hours sleep that night as we twisted and turned and swayed with the waves and every time another boat went past.

Maybe this is something you get used to? Maybe I just hadn’t found my sea legs lol.


Zach enjoying the morning sunshine

2. Even when you’re moored the rocking never fully stops.

I was expecting that once we were moved into the marina, the constant rocking would stop? It didn’t. Silly me!


The boat we stayed on

3. If you’re sensitive to noises, the rubbing and creaking may drive you insane.

In fact, not only did the rocking not stop but the creaking increased. The ropes now rubbed against the jetty, against the back of the boat and against the buoys.

4. The space is tiny. Really tiny.

The space for five of us was a challenge. Rich and I slept at the bow of the boat, the two little kids slept at the stern of the boat and our eldest daughter had to sleep on the seats in the main living area.

From the first night on, we knew it wasn’t going to work for us as the main living area our eldest slept in, was really small & cramped, freezing cold and was nearly constantly light. The hatch to the boat didn’t close properly, leaving huge gaps and making it a security problem too.

Everything on a boat is small; the sink, the steps, the seats, the table, the toilet..


The kids on our bed, trying to play battleships.

5. Organisation and minimalism are key.

If you want to thrive on a boat, in a very small area, organisation and minimalism are key. Lcukily boats have lots of nooks and crannies to hide things away in but will you remember which nook you put it in?

6. Exercising on a boat can prove challenging.

Exercising on the boat proved a challenge. I love walking lunges but they proved near impossible in such a small space. Of course you can exercise on the dock side but expect a crowd of people to come by to stare at you in amazement.


Rich trying to work

7. I can live without wifi, I just choose not to.

It’s not like I’m addicted but internet does make life so much easier. Thank goodness for free wifi in McDonalds lol.


The yacht we stayed on

8. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be a sailor or go to sea in one.

With a whopping speed of 5 knots per hour, it would take us four days to visit a island that took us 90 minutes on a speed boat to reach.

I just don’t have the patience for that.


The boat

9. The toilet flushes straight into the ocean!? WHAT!?

Yes, I was very shocked by this. Unless the boat has a septic tank, the sinks and toilet are pumped straight into the ocean.

Horrific, right?! You can see the fish congregate around the drain holes after you’ve flushed. In fact, you can even see what you’ve flushed down rising up and floating on the surface.

10. Poo stories from kids seem endless.

Apparently being able to see your poo sit in a toilet and then watch it, whilst pumping it out, are a source of constant amusement and discussion.

It just made me feel sick.


Yachts at sunset

11. People who live on boats are morning people and very loud too.

SSHHHHhhhhhh. I don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn. I want to sleep!

Sound proofing a boat is essential, in my opinion.

12. Getting a through draft is everything.

The boat was smelly; whether it was engine oil, rubber, wood or whatever we’d cooked. It just always had this smell.


Sunrise from the marina

13. The beds are incredibly high up

The bed started at nearly my shoulder height lol.  There were drawers underneath which was essential for storage but it did mean you could never sit up in bed without having the skylight window open. It also meant that i had to jump into bed!


Zach up on our yacht bed

14. The buoys banging drove me insane

I expect like many, I have got used to working in silence. Most of my life is driven by the noise of my kids, so my quiet time is made all the more essential.

The buoys tied up to the outside of the boat actually banged together when we moved. What with the moving, constant creaking and banging of buoys, sleep became an issue!

I know ear plugs can be used however once I use them I can hear nothing and that includes footsteps on the deck above or other suspicious noises.


Sunset over the marina

15. Sea sickness can happen whenever – even when you think you’re over it.

I love being on the ocean. I find an immense calm being out on the water so I was definitely not expecting to get sea sick.

The rocking of the yacht all through the night however played havoc with my ears for the first 2-3 days.

16. We cannot live without a washing machine

First world, spoiled brat syndrome but lugging 10-20kg of washing 2km through the town to the launderette was an expense we could have done without.


The view from a neighbouring marina as we took a boat out of view seals

17. The marina definitely matters

Our marina was on the cheaper scale. I’d probably describe it as more of a ship yard than an actual marina and because of that the facilities were, not the nicest.

By facilities I mean one shared toilet and shower… *shudder*.

18. Keeping a yacht clean is a challenge

It seemed constantly messy, constantly dirty and there was an ever growing stack of washing up.


The cleaning brush we were left to clean the yacht with.

19. Sunrises over the water are exceptionally beautiful

Oh the sunrises were exceptional. Immensely beautiful…



20. I am not a morning person

But I am definitely not a morning person and we are not a morning family lol. We like our sleep and we like to sleep late!



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What's it like to live aboard a yacht with three kids? We did it in Mexico and here we detail 20 things we learned from the experience.

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As a small child my favourite book was 'People of the World' which featured Inuits from Alaska, children from China and farmers from Peru. It was a glimpse into another world that would inspire me to wander the globe in search of something special.


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