Things I Wish I knew

Could you live on a sailboat? 5 funny lessons this couple has learned

As the weather turns warmer, we can’t help but daydream about living on the water, feeling the salty ocean spray in our hair and hearing the birds’ morning songs echo off the waves. For one couple in Virginia Beach, Virginia, that summer fantasy is their year-round reality. That’s because this lucky pair lives on a sailboat.

Sheena Jeffers

Sheena Jeffers, 31, and her boyfriend Ryan Carroll, 34, call a 43-foot catamaran sailboat home. “We didn’t want to wait until retirement to start living,” Jeffers told TODAY Home.

Carroll bought the 1999 boat last summer — owning one was a dream he’d had for a while. “Ever since I've known him he has always talked about sailing around the world,” she said. And she’s happy she gets to join him for the ride.

We travel not to escape life but for life to not escape us. #seaslifeforgood

A post shared by Captain Ryan & Sheena: Sailing (@seaslifeforgood) on

The two named the boat “Seas Life,” a punny take on the lifestyle they strive for. It’s their motto of sorts, actively seizing the opportunity to choose the life you want by making things happen.

While they have pretty much everything a regular house has including a kitchen, two bedrooms and two full baths, living on a boat does have its quirks sometimes. She joked that things do happen because of the movement on board, such as chicken legs rolling off the grill and into the dinghy or water below.

Closed Captioning
apply | reset x
font
size
T
T
T
T
color

Why Some Retirees Are Trading in Their Houses for Trailer Homes

Play Video - 1:50

Why Some Retirees Are Trading in Their Houses for Trailer Homes

Play Video - 1:50

Think you’d like to give up land life for a floating home? Here are five things you might want to prepare for:

1. Glass objects don’t mesh well with a rocking boat.

Jeffers said they try to steer clear of breakable dinnerware just in case anything takes a tumble — that way, there won’t be broken pieces everywhere. “There are a lot of bamboo-based products that are eco-friendly and fantastic for boats,” she said.

Sheena Jeffers

2. Cabinet, pantry and closet doors have to stay locked.

If you’re the type of person who sometimes forgets to close the closet door behind you, boat life might not be for you. A big wave could make everything fall out, which is why Jeffers and Carroll lock all the cabinets, pantries and closets every time with a push-button lock installed on the doors.

Sheena Jeffers

3. Everything on the boat must be plastic or stainless steel.

As the villain in "Mommie Dearest" would say, “No wire hangers!” That’s because they can rust, and with the saltwater and sea air ready to eat away at everything, it’s best to just steer clear of anything that could be affected.

Sheena Jeffers

4. Be prepared for tiny living.

Just as it would be in a tiny house, space is much more compact on a vessel like a sailboat and you have to be creative. “Plastic bins hold our clothes which are folded in ways to create more space,” Jeffers said, adding that they learned how to fold their T-shirts into tight, sushi-like rolls.

5. Get in the habit of buying backups.

The couple said they’ve lost over 100 pairs of sunglasses, tons of screws, bottles of sunscreen and even a cell phone. “Per Murphy's Law, it falls in the water,” Jeffers joked. “We have gotten really good at ‘man overboard’ drills, practicing with items that have fallen into the water.”

Despite all the challenges living on a boat brings, it’s certainly an adventure — and one they love.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Steve Niedorf

    Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    Obsessed with tiny homes? We are, too. See inside some of our favorites from across the country.

  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    If Joanna Gaines designed a tiny home, this 290-square-foot home from Handcrafted Movement would be it. 

    Handcrafted movement
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    The home features a cozy electric fireplace, a farmhouse-style sink and an Edison Bulb chandelier that gives it a chic but homey vibe.

    Handcrafted movement
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    Home sweet home. 

    Handcrafted movement
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    LED lighting brightens up the bathroom which features a five-foot long freestanding tub with rain shower-head.

    Handcrafted movement
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    Upstairs in the loft bedroom, a storage shelf, baskets and hanging rod make space for clothes and other items.

    Handcrafted movement
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    This 400-square-foot charmer is a slice of heaven.

    Stephanie Butchin/Broken Glass Images Real Estate Photography
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    "It's very open, very airy and very much a sanctuary," the owner said. "You can live there year-round and feel like you're cuddled in the space."

    Stephanie Butchin/Broken Glass Images Real Estate Photography
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    With vaulted ceilings and hardwood floors, the home offers a spacious living room that flows past an eat-in bar to the kitchen, all with stylishly exposed beams and large skylights. 

    Stephanie Butchin/Broken Glass Images Real Estate Photography
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    The bedroom offers a double closet, a ceiling fan for staying cool in the summer and a door to the backyard.

    Stephanie Butchin/Broken Glass Images Real Estate Photography
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    When designer and architect Christi Azevedo came across a place with a former French laundry for sale in San Francisco, she had the perfect idea for the 88-square-foot boiler room: to transform it into a full-service guest apartment.

    Cesar Rubio
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    “The entire place was a wreck, but there were loads of details remaining,” she said. The space, which she lovingly calls the “Brick House,” was given an efficient and modern upgrade.

    Cesar Rubio
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    It now hosts a new IKEA kitchen, complete with a stainless steel countertop and custom upper doors of sanded acrylic.

    Cesar Rubio
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    The bed loft, complete with a queen mattress and plenty of storage, is located by way of a glass landing.

    Cesar Rubio
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    A 42-inch bath features a wall-mount toilet, a custom stainless steel medicine cabinet, small sink and floor drain shower.

    Cesar Rubio
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    It may be tiny, but the new 160-square-foot home feels much bigger thanks to its long panoramic windows that draw the outdoors in.

    Steve Niedorf / Courtesy of Escape Vista
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    The living space is small but efficient. There’s a double-sized daybed (queen-bed optional), extensive storage and LED lighting.

    Steve Niedorf / Courtesy of Escape Vista
  • Take a tour of tiny homes across the country

    of

    Maple cabinetry fills the kitchen, along with a stainless sink, small dining/work table, undercounter refrigerator/freezer and solid butcher block tops. Vacation in the mountains, anyone?

    Steve Niedorf / Courtesy of Escape Vista

The couple says they hope to begin sailing around the world in November of this year (Carroll has his captain’s license), but right now they’re just focusing on living aboard and getting debt-free. One major perk of the setup is that they’re saving money, spending only about $600 a month on the boat slip and insurance since the boat is paid for with money Carroll made from selling his previous home.

Follow their sailing adventures on their blog and Instagram.

TOP