13 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Retiring On A Boat – TravelAwaits

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Have you ever stared longingly at a boat on the water and thought, “man, that seems pretty wonderful”? Or have you ever looked around at all your stuff and fantasized about sailing away — for good?

Joanna Tunnicliffe can relate.

After she and her husband Paul retired a few years ago, they packed up their things, got on a boat, and haven’t looked back since. They spend their lives living on the water and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Joanna and Paul Tunnicliffe.

When Joanna plus Paul Tunnicliffe retired, they decided to do it all on a boat. Now they spend their own lives on the water.

Photo credit: Joanna Tunnicliffe

To be clear, these people weren’t boating novices when they decided to do this. They both grew up in England, sailing and racing small boats. In fact, they actually met through sailing. “After we got married, we had a dream to ‘sail off into the wide blue yonder, ’” she said.

So they did. They bought a 40-foot wooden boat built in 1947 and spent the particular next several years refinishing this to its original glory. They sailed up and down the coast of England and Scotland, before eventually moving to the United States.

Many years later, they’re retired and back to where they started: within a boat! But this time, they’ve learned some tips that they hope will encourage you in order to think about trying it, too. Tunnicliffe is a member of our Retirement Awaits Facebook group , which is how we first learned of her story. Now, she’s sharing this with all of us. Here are her tips.

1. You Don’t Have To Give Up Creature Comforts

Being avid lifetime sailors, we both swore off owning the powerboat. Then, when Paul was planning his retirement, we decided that although sailing is fun, a lot of the cruising we were planning would be motoring. So, all of us bought a powerboat. She is called Ursa Major — the big bear. And that’s what she is. She is heavy, solid, and lumbers along in 8 miles per hour. But she has almost all the comforts of home. We have heating, air conditioning, hot and cold running water, a washer, and the dryer. We are not camping! She also has sails, which helps to give us our sailing fix.

2 . Be Prepared For Anything — Especially Repairs 

Just like in an RV or house, when something goes wrong, you have to fix it. Plus as with older RVs and houses, more things tend to go wrong in older boats because of age-related obsolescence. So long as you keep up with regular maintenance, things will keep ticking over.

3. Become Comfortable Sharing Tight Quarters

If you are living with someone full-time or even part-time on a boat, make sure you are able to live with them in a small space. One associated with my main stipulations whenever buying our boat was that there had to be a separate cabin — my space.

4. Be Prepared To Walk

Assuming you will cruise away from your house port, you won’t possess a car with you. So when you need in order to go grocery, hardware, or pet store, somehow a person have to get there and back with your purchases. We have used Uber, or very occasionally, public transportation (it tends to be limited). We do shop online, but sometimes you just have to walk.

Sailing on the Ursa Major

Sailing around the Ursa Major

Photo credit: Joanna Tunnicliffe

5. It Helps To Be Handy

It really helps if you can DIY. Whether it’s plumbing, engines, or just fixing and repairing things within general, it’s most convenient if you can do it yourself.

6. Learn To Chill

The best-laid plans will come unglued as soon because a swing bridge doesn’t swing or a storm suddenly appears. Or as in our case this year, one of our dogs, 2 days before we were supposed to leave our winter port, blew out her knee and needed surgery. Oh well.

7. Be Flexible

It helps to be flexible in everything — on a vessel or on solid ground. And isn’t that true of life generally?

8. You Really Don’t Need That Much Stuff

You can live quite comfortably without a lot of stuff. If you can’t face completely downsizing, get a storage unit, then live on the boat and find out what works and what does not. Do you really need a crockpot and an Instapot? Then trade points back and forth between the boat and storage unit.

9. Go Green, If You Can

If you are good with electrical items, it is possible to be almost completely “green” utilizing solar plus wind-generated power. Most vessels usually have to run the particular generator at some point, but it is kept to a minimum. But you can have got a microwave, electric kettle, fridge, freezer, and so on.

The Tunnicliffe dogs, who retired on the boat with their parents.

The Tunnicliffe dogs

Photo credit score: Joanna Tunnicliffe

10. Boating With Pets Is Doable, But There Are Some Challenges

We acquired our first pets, two 70-pound dogs, as we all transitioned onto the vessel, so the dogs have adapted really well in order to sea life. They love the water, so we have not encouraged them to jump in from the boat when we are usually at anchor, or even away the dock when we are in a marina.

They will each do their business upon board, but obviously prefer to use grass and dry land whenever possible. Our biggest headache with them will be when they need veterinarian care. We don’t own a car, so all of us need to rely on courtesy cars from marinas or even friends’ cars. All of us have visited probably six or seven different vet clinics up and down the East Coast.

11. It’s Actually Pretty Easy To Stay Connected

We possess internet and cell phones, therefore we can communicate as much as our family wants. We all tell the family our own cruising plans and let them know when we all arrive at our destinations. It’s not lonely. There are plenty of other cruisers, but quiet time is usually also wonderful.

12. Dip Your Toes In Before Jumping Head-First

If you haven’t boated before but are usually rather tempted by the idea, charter a boat associated with a similar size 1st. Join a boat club and cruise with other people to get a feel for whether or not it might be something you want to commit to. Like anything, buying a boat is definitely easy. Maintaining and selling is not as easy. Do lots of research; ask lots of questions. Would I have done it any differently? Absolutely not really. I love this life.

Paul Tunnicliffe on the Ursa Major, the boat he retired on with his wife, Joanna.

The Tunnicliffes love their particular boat life, and couldn’t imagine doing things differently. “We worked a lifetime to be able to retire and stand on the foredeck while touring along with the wind on our backs, ” Tunnicliffe said.

Photo credit: Joanna Tunnicliffe

13. It is All Worth It

Dolphins. The stars at night. Fresh air. Being able to change the scenery. The people and characters we meet. Visiting places from the water always gives a different perspective of a harbor town. I love this life.

We have got been on this motorboat now for 5 years. She was and still is a project. My husband, Paul, is constantly thinking of ways to improve efficiency. All things being equal, he won’t sell the girl until he is finished tinkering, so we’ll have her for at least several more years. Whether we buy another ship or a dirt home, who knows? I suppose it depends on our health. And as to where? No idea — we’re still doing the research.

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