Choosing to make a sailboat your home is a big decision, and getting your sailboat to feel like home is a challenge. Going from a house to a boat is a big change, with limited space and a definite potential drop in comfort!
But living on a sailboat doesn’t have to mean leaving behind all your favourite parts of life on land. In fact, there are so many things you can do to make living on a boat comfortable – perhaps even more comfortable in some ways that living on a house!
Obviously every person has very different things in mind when they think of home comforts. A lot of people choose to live on a sailboat to escape the clutter of every day life and while this is admirable, there are certain things we’ve found are just nicer to have on board and make sailboat life even more enjoyable. If you’re planning on cruising longer term then consider making life easier, not harder – you’ll find the weather will do a good enough job of making things tough without you adding to it!
Since moving on board our sailboat two years ago I’ve started to find there are simple things I can do that make a sailboat really feel like a home. I wish I’d thought of doing them sooner, which would have made my first few seasons on board a lot more comfortable! But as I can’t go back in time I figured I’d share some of my top tips for making a sailboat feel like home so that you don’t have to struggle like I did, and I’ve added tips from other cruisers we’ve met to inspire you further!
Home Touches On A Sailboat
The easiest thing you can do towards making your sailboat feel like home is to add some homely touches. It’s amazing what a difference it makes if you just add a few nice photos or a little hanging ornament or two. You’ll need to choose things that either hang from the walls or hang freely so they don’t go flying across the boat in a heavy sea. We love these macrame plant hangers for our herbs and bunting is a simple way to add some colour to a plain looking sailboat!
Get Your Sailboat Lighting Right
When we first moved aboard the boat had some lovely low lighting in the cabins, and some awful strip lighting for the galley. There was absolutely no lighting in the cockpit. One of the easiest ways of making a sailboat feel like home is to add some mood lighting. We bought some simple led fairy lights to hang around the inside of the boat and a popular waterproof Luci light for our cockpit.
Get A Good Nights Sleep With A Gel Infused Mattress
It’s not always easy to sleep on a floating home, so do everything you possibly can to make sure you’re comfortable when you go to bed. We’ve struggled with being too hot, and with the mattress being too hard. This has resulted in us sleeping in some very strange places in an attempt to get a better nights sleep, usually pretty unsuccessfully!
A lot of our cruising friends have recommended getting a gel infused memory foam mattress topper, which we have our eye on for next season. The gel infusion helps to control the temperature while you sleep, and this one is designed to ventilate – perfect for hotter climates! It doesn’t matter how uncomfortable your actual mattress is, this memory foam topper is designed to support you in all the right places. It’s a cheapish solution to an uncomfortable bed!
If you’re looking to upgrade your comfort even more cheaply then consider just buying some nice bedding. Sailing can feel a little too much like camping, so by upgrading your bedding and treating yourself to something that looks and feels really nice you’ll instantly get that homely feeling!
Say Goodbye To Hand-Washing
While you’re sailing the last thing you want to be worrying about is finding a launderette. We found one within easy reach once last season in over six months of sailing. That leaves hand-washing, which really isn’t all that fun. I actually didn’t mind doing it, but the clothes never felt (or smelt!) as clean as putting it through a full cycle in a proper washing machine. Our friends have one of these and although I was sceptical at first they’re actually pretty amazing! Treat yourself and you won’t have to worry about hand-washing again!
Ditch The Plastic Crockery
Eating off of plastic plates and drinking from plastic cups gets old pretty quickly. It’s one of those strange things that I didn’t think would bother me but really did. I felt like I was camping all the time, and I wanted to feel a bit more civilised in my sailboat home! We found Corelle plates to be a perfect compromise. They’re basically impossible to break (though if you somehow manage to make sure you’re careful with the broken shards!). Adam and I are pretty clumsy and they’ve flown across the boat a good few times and never got so much as a dent.
On the same note, these glasses are great. They’re a lot stronger than glass, but feel almost exactly the same. Perfect for a chilled glass of wine or a cold beer.
Get A Proper Cuppa In The Morning
I’m not actually a fan of coffee so this has never been a priority for me, but Adam absolutely loves the stuff. Having a coffee maker on board is a real home comfort, especially waking in the morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee (even I love that). Try a travel sized one for small spaces, or go for a stovetop coffee maker that can live on your oven top.
Don’t Feel Under Pressure In The Galley
Some cruisers would go so far as to say a pressure cooker is an essential piece of galley equipment. It doesn’t use as much electricity as you’d assume, and once it’s on you can leave it to do its thing and come back to a perfectly cooked meal, without sweating over the gas lit stove. Very handy for entertaining too!
Our treat for this season was to buy ourselves a BBQ. After experiencing the heat of the galley and cooking in ridiculous temperatures (or giving up and eating cold baked beans out of the tin), we bought a Cobb BBQ and have absolutely loved it! Not only has it saved us from galley cooking but it’s also really added to our outdoor lifestyle. We have enjoyed a lot of BBQs on the beach as well as on the boat and we actually enjoy cooking as there are so many variations to try. We especially love trying out different herbs in the moat to flavour our fish and veg!
If you want to really embrace the eco-friendly way of life then why not try a solar cooker. We don’t have one yet, but have friends that swear by it. You’ll need to be in sunny climates for this to work, and be prepared to do a little forward planning as you’ll want to start cooking your meal during peak hours to get the maximum cooking time, but overall this is an excellent solution to a very hot, sweaty galley!
Make Sure You Have Music On Board
Get a waterproof speaker so that you can enjoy listening to music and audio books (get a free trial of audible here – we pay for a subscription now when we never pay for anything because we’re so addicted!) while sailing, relaxing in the cockpit or chilling on the beach. We treated ourselves to one this season and have used it nearly every day. It’s absolutely worth the money for that little bit of home. There are lots of cheaper alternatives but we love our JBL Charge. You can find out why here.
Hopefully that’s given you lots of inspiration for making your sailboat feel like home. We certainly feel that our sailboat is full of a lot more home comforts than when we first started out, and I’m sure we’ll keep adding as we continue our journey! If you’ve got any more handy ways to turn a sailboat from a vessel into a house then please do let us know in the comments section below!