The Realities of Living Aboard
Laura Stein–wife of electronics editor Ben Stein–answers questions about her family’s decision to live aboard and how they make it work.
My family and I completed the Great Loop in October 2017. We returned to our land-based home and our busy lives and found that we missed the water terribly as well as the lifestyle it afforded us. We had some serious life decisions to make, and jumped in with both feet: we moved back aboard our Carver Voyager 570 full-time in July 2018. We’ve been on the boat ever since with a couple of 4 to 6-week stints home scattered throughout the year. We live aboard with our two daughters, Molly, 12, and Madelyn, 9.
Naturally, we get asked a lot of questions about living aboard with kids. Ultimately, it’s impossible to answer them all but we do get asked a few of the same questions over and over. Here are three of our most frequently asked questions:
1. What do you do for work? Are you retired?
We get asked this a lot. Ben and I are in our early 40s and people always ask this somewhat sheepishly. While we’d love to be retired, alas, we have two young children and still have college and weddings and many other things to pay for. With Ben’s career change he has built a life for us that, for now, we can sustain while living aboard. He is the Editor and Publisher of Panbo as well as the Electronics Editor for Power & Motoryacht. I manage advertising for Panbo and homeschool our girls.
2. How do you all live in a small space together?
Yes, we live on a boat. With our two kids. Yes, it’s a tight space. And yes, we all still love each other and get along most of the time. We have the advantage of living in a three-stateroom boat with a pilothouse, flybridge and salon. There are plenty of times we all feel on top of each other, but we do have options for separate space if we need it. When we are stationary for a while the girls and I try to get off the boat for school and let Ben have the boat to work. When we are underway Ben can be found on the flybridge driving and I am usually in the salon with the girls doing schoolwork.
Our biggest issue is finding a place for everyTHING (not everyONE). The clutter gives me anxiety. I spend a tremendous amount of time trying to find new places and ways to organize. Just this week (after owning this boat for 5 years) Molly and I purchased more new storage bins for toys as well as many new hooks for their bunkroom to store various bags and purses and whatever else they stash in there. It’s a work in progress.
3. Do you homeschool?
Without trying to sound flippant, of course we homeschool! What would the other option be, not giving our kids an education? There are many ways to homeschool and I keep a pretty rigid schedule because that’s what works for us. We have school Monday through Friday. We follow a normal school year with a summer break. When traveling we adapt our schedule if we need to and take advantage of new places to explore. Living and schooling aboard has given our girls the opportunity to see and experience places that most kids only get to read about in books. That is reason enough to continue this lifestyle!
The list of questions I get is endless and I’m happy to answer any and all of them in the comments below if it means one more family may consider this amazing life.