I’ve touched on this subject in the past a few times about how I would like to set up a boat to live on. Now I have a chance to actually make that happen here with the Fritter. Whether or not it really does happen remains to be seen. The things I want to do on this boat are not cheap to set up but will be cheap in the long haul. Money, or lack there of will be a deciding factor. My ability to remain in this marina also will factor in. You never know, we may get notice that they are going to tear down the marina and put up a wally mart. But for now, everything is good.
A few years back when I was wallowing away in misery standing behind a parts counter, a customer came in and we got to talking about simple, off the grid, boat living. I had been working solely for the opportunity to tell the mainland good by and head back to the Keys. One of the big hold ups was an affordable place to live. So, I started looking at alternatives like living on a boat. But I didn’t simply want a boat, I wanted a sailboat, something that could be lived on and run without dependence on fossil fuels, the electric grid, or other conventional ties. The customer I wound up talking to was pretty much doing that. He lived on a small sailboat tied up at a marina, worked part time and collected some sort of pension or disability, and other than owning a harley, he pretty much stayed off the grid. No bank account, little to do with all the trappings of a consumerist lifestyle, and he looked quite happy and content. It got me thinking, always a dangerous thing, so I started researching.
As it turns out, the means to set up a boat, or even an rv or tiny house someplace that is pretty much free of the grid is quite doable if you are willing to put up with some minor inconveniences and you have the ability to do things yourself when a system breaks down. But why would anyone want to get off the grid in the first place? After all, our electricity is pretty much provided for us at a reasonable price. We have cable or satellite, roads, shopping centers, sewer systems, all the modern conveniences at our finger tips. All we have to do is sign a contract, flip a switch, and stroke a check every month. Somebody else does all the work. And that is part of the problem. Those who provide all those conveniences also can demand pretty much what ever the market will bear to allow you the privilege of taking advantage of said conveniences. Electric companies get zoning laws enacted so if you build a house you have to tie into the grid. They can require deposits, access to bank accounts, and they reserve the right to shut off the power anytime they feel like it. Cable and phone companies tie you up with onerous long term contracts which are expensive and difficult to break. And they always reserve the right to change the terms to suit them anytime they please. Want to use any of the infrastructure like roads or such, you know, the stuff that was built with our tax dollars? There are more taxes, on the fuel we burn, the tires and batteries we use up in our vehicles, tolls, and over bearing law enforcement that uses the traffic laws as a cash cow.
Taking advantage of all the modern conveniences we have today requires a lot of money, and some loss of freedom. If we want cheap electricity, 500 channels on the tv, and a place to take a crap that doesn’t involve a shovel or a bucket, we will have to submit to the grid. And as hard as we work to take advantage of the grid, we are all just a couple pay checks and bad credit rating from losing it. So, I got sick of it all. I got tired of dishing out money every month for all those damn bills and finally decided to do something about it. I’ve already made tremendous progress. My monthly bills currently consist of: rent, electric, iphone, and food. Now that I have the boat, that adds to the mix but it’s also controllable. And the money I drop on the boat is towards a means, not throwing cash every month to some corporate entity. (My transportation bills are so small now they have little or no effect on my budget.)
So what is this cunning plan to get off the grid of which I speak? It’s pretty simple in it’s design, a bit more complicated in actual doing. I want to make this boat, or the next one, if there is one, as independent as possible from any ties to land. Meaning, generate my own electricity. Travel without the need for any fossil fuels. Generating as little waste as necessary. I want to apply these concepts of minimalism and non reliance on the grid on as many facets of living on a boat as I possibly can. I know I won’t be able to go 100%. I still need internet to provide an income and it is slightly easier to write this blog with the interwebs as opposed to sending carrier pigeons out with new posts. I will still need to bring things like food and water aboard and properly dispose of waste. But what I don’t want is to be tied into any power grids, or having to rely on another vehicle to get around on land.
So every now and then, I will take a particular system on the boat, electricity, cooking, sanitation, etc., and break it down into what is currently on board, and what options I would have to make things more better. Again, how much of this plan actually happens will depend on a lot of things, mostly money, but the technology is there to do things a little more efficiently, with less waste, and off the grid. I’ve done quite a bit of research into some of this stuff but I will always be looking for new ideas. Please feel free to share anything you may have done to free yourself from grid living. Be it on a boat, an rv, or even a standard house. Even if I don’t wind up putting any of this stuff into actual use, I want to share what is out there so it may help somebody else make a change for the better. It should be interesting to anyone interested in this sort of thing, and judging by the latest site stats, there is. It should also be fun and hopefully useful. I’ll be talking sailor talk and all kinds of stuff so follow along.
I went to West Marine yesterday to pick up a few necessary things. Egads! The price of swashbuckles had gone through the roof. And don’t even get me started on cutlasses and cannonballs. This ain’t gonna be cheap.