Whether you’ve decided to live on a mooring full-time, or you’re only out there for a bit, there’s definitely some lifestyle adjustments you’ll want to make and others you’ll be forced to make. To add context, my husband and I moved aboard our sailboat in Southern California full-time just a few months ago. We’re moored out about 200-300 yards from a public dock where we’re able to park our dinghy and walk ashore. Since making the move, there’s several changes we’ve made to make living on a mooring a little easier and make our boat feel like home.

Have a plan for your basic utilities:

Establish a regular pump out schedule

Because our boat is still undergoing reconstruction, we are not able to sail her regularly. If you are also not sailing regularly and getting offshore far enough to pump overboard, you’ll want to establish a regular pump-out schedule with a local service. We have a 20 gallon holding tank and get pumped out the first and third Wednesday of every month. Before we decided to get on a regular schedule, we did this “as needed” by calling the service. Sometimes it was a day or two before they would be able to pump us out and that was well, inconvenient to say the least. You don’t want to think twice before using the restroom in your own home so getting on a regular schedule that fits your usage habits is highly recommended.

Be disciplined about refilling your water

Some cities have services that will come and pump fresh drinking water into your water tanks with a vessel, and if that’s an option financially and practically for you, great – go get on their schedule! We’ve opted to forgo this service and just make sure we’re always topping off our water tanks every other day or so. Between our coming and going from the boat and daily usage of water, we tend to use anywhere between 5-10 gallons of water each day and currently have two five gallon jugs we take back and forth on our regular day-to-day trips to land.

Know what you need to power your boat

Living on a mooring is nothing like being plugged into a dock, and even more different if your boat is not properly equipped with the proper battery life and recharging methods required. We have solar panels, a wind vane, and a gas powered generator for when the first two can’t hold their own. With that, we’re able to have both a refrigerator and a freezer running and have to turn on our generator about every other day. This is what has worked for us. Power consumption is so unique to each boat and those who are living on it, so it’s best to think through what you value having and any trade-off you’ll be willing to make to live on a mooring before you’re out there.

Get bags with good handles + straps

More than you realize you’ll need to carry odds and ends with you and passing them from the boat to the dinghy to the dock to the car can get quite tiresome. That’s four steps just to get groceries from your car to your fridge! Get bags that will fit over your shoulders, because having your hands free will be extra handy when trying to tie up your dinghy. If the bags are waterproof, all the better. We use canvas bags or our waterproof sailing backpacks as our bags of choice whenever possible.

Lock your boat

Just because you’re living on a mooring does not mean your boat is immune to theft. In fact, after just a few weeks it’s likely that everyone around you has already learned your habits – when you go, how long you’re gone, and when you return. The best thing you can do for yourself is secure your companion way as well as much as possible so that it’d look pretty obvious if anyone tried to break in. Which brings me to the next point…  

Know your neighbors

Living in a house or living on a mooring, this is always a good thing to do but even more important when you’re on the water. With our community, others often lend a hand to keep an eye on your boat when you go out of town or even just away for the workday. Your neighbors are your best security and will look out for you if you do the same for them. This also applies to safety as well out on the water.

Do it legally

Our city has liveaboard permits and while not everyone living on the moorings likely has them, we wanted to make sure we did this properly. The last thing we wanted was to lose the permit to our mooring and have to leave the area because of a violation. The amount of risk you’re willing to tolerate here is a personal decision, but as good stewards of the ocean and boating in general, I will always advise that the laws be followed. They’re usually there for everyone’s safety, though occasionally there as a revenue source for our government…

Are you up for the fun that is living on a mooring?! Nothing quite beats waking up to the sounds of the sea and sunshine peeking through your portholes. Welcome to the club, friend!