Being on a boat, like any home, requires some “household rules” to make things run smoothly. I am not talking about curfews or anything of the sorts. Although sometimes those are needed too! But I am referring more to the way things work and need to be handled.

Being in small quarters for extended amounts of time with others means that these rules need to be followed for the boat to stay in tip top shape and harmony to be had for all.


Things we have had to show guests when they come aboard our boat


Toilet Procedures

Although many would expect that the toilet does not need explanation, guess again. This is the one we usually have to show everyone multiple times.

First of all, the toilet itself is not like back home. We have two manual pump toilets, meaning you do your business then you flip the switch to the water flush side, pump for a while, and then flip the switch to the dry flush side and pump until the bowl is empty. If the hand pump seems resistant, a little vegetable oil in the bowl will solve that problem real quick. But it doesn’t end there.

To keep our toilets as long as possible before needing to be replaced we decided that on our boat we do not flush toilet paper down the toilet. Instead there is a lovely airtight tin next to the toilet for your paper, and there are also small brown bags that you can use to place your paper in before placing that in the tin if you don’t want others seeing your toilet paper.



It may seem harmless but after any shopping trip cardboard should always be removed prior to arriving at the boat. If that’s not possible, dispose of it as soon as the product can be repackaged.

The reason for this being cockroaches. Those pesky indestructible bugs that love to hide in your bilges and eat your food while you peacefully sleep. Those critters sometimes lay eggs in cardboard and you may unknowingly be bringing them home to hatch on your boat. So throw that cardboard out. Repackage everything that is in cardboard into something a little less harmful for your boat and a bug free sanity. Ziplocks and tupperware were our best friends.


Water Conservation

It’s usually not until you have to work for your water that you start realizing how important water conservation is. Being that our boat does not have a water maker, when we run out we must make trips into town with our 5 gallon water jugs to do the fill.

This means loading them all into the dinghy. Driving to town. Filling them up (which can sometimes take forever depending on the lineup and the water pressure). Driving back to the boat. Hoisting them on deck, and then carefully lifting and holding them at just the right spot while the water drains into the boat tanks.

This is an intense workout. It makes you think twice about how much water you are using when doing the dishes or washing your hair. Unless you are looking for some weight lifting to be added to your regular routine, a good way to make your guests slow down on wasteful water consumption is to take them on a water run or two.


Airtight food

The humidity on a boat is pretty ridiculous. Unless you’re like my infant daughter and prefer your food on the softer side, everything must be kept air tight. If something is left open for even one night that humidity will take its toll on it. It’ll change the texture of food from delightfully crisp to a soggy mess.

Once anything has been opened from its original airtight packaging it must either be clipped, zip locked, or placed in a proper container.

Our pack mules often laugh when we request ziplock bags to be brought down to us, but it is exactly because of this humidity issue.

If you do not want to lose your food make sure you have a good supply of baggies, clips, and containers.


Landlubbers may find some of these “rules” strange. The learning curve to adjust to them may be hard. But once you get used to them they become the most logical way to live on a boat.