As sailors to whom the thought of living on a boat is about as appealing as living in a dark and musty cave, we were wary of this latest guide to living aboard, assuming it would be yet another book touting the wonders of the liveaboard life. Surely the authors of this book will be no different than so many others &endash; painting a rosy picture of the perfect life that awaits those of us who free ourselves from the shackles of everyday life and sail off into the sunset.

This is not that book, and these are not those authors. Living Aboard is a wonderful guide for all who ponder turning a boat into their home, for those who have already made up their minds and are preparing to pack up and do it, and for those who are living aboard. It is divided into practical sections, covering everything from choosing your boat to the equipment needed, unforeseen costs, personal belongings, medical issues, mail, kids, pets, tools, cleaning, safety, security, and how to gracefully return to shore-based living.

Sometimes this attention to detail goes overboard. The chapter on generators and refrigeration systems was overly technical and difficult for the average reader. This discrepancy could be attributed to the differences in writing styles between Gordon and Janet. Readers who are more technically inclined may have an easier time understanding and enjoying those chapters we found dry and difficult.

Aside from those sections, the book was easy to read and full of useful information. It offers options and advice that you may not have considered. It should be kept in your nautical library onboard or on the hard as a reference book for those times when you need a professional opinion. This book is not meant to be read once and discarded; even the physical structure is different than “ordinary” books. The book is bound with a plastic comb, and the cover is heavily laminated. The Groenes intend for this book to be able to withstand the rigors of boating life.

If you are entertaining the idea of moving aboard, this book is a must read. It should be a part of your library because you will refer to it at all stages of your adventure: planning, packing, selling, equipping, moving, living, and going. It’s not a book that will convince you the liveaboard life is for everyone; it’s a book that will help you decide if living aboard is the life for you.

Living Aboard by Gordon and Janet Groene (Bristol Fashion Publications, 2000)