The Basics of Living On A Boat

The Basics of Living on a Boat (formerly Unwritten Rules of the Cruising Life) is an introductory course, designed for people who are actively preparing to cruise as well as people who are starting to explore whether they might like cruising. 

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Get ALL my courses, including this one, for just $175.

Learn About the All-Access Pass

For those who are preparing to cruise, it's an opportunity to get a leg up on that first-year learning curve.

And for those who are exploring cruising, this is a chance to see what other cruisers are like and how you'll fit in. To answer a lot of the questions about the lifestyle.

Although I've been cruising for over 15 years now, I still remember what it was like when we first started. I had hundreds of questions, questions that weren't answered in any sailing classes, charters or cruising books that I found. 

That's what this course is designed to help with. To give you all the "living on a boat" information that's not part of a "learn to sail" or "learn to cruise" course.

You'll find a total of 29 (!) modules in this course:

  • New Boat Checklist
  • Getting Help In An Emergency
  • Anchoring & Mooring Balls
  • Stopping Water Coming Into The Boat
  • Using a Propane Stove
  • Getting Back Aboard From The Water
  • The Daily Checklist
  • Sleeping Well
  • Boat Bedding
  • Quieting Halyards
  • Internet
  • Trash and Recycling
  • Getting Mail and Packages
  • Office Services
  • Cleaning Products on a Boat
  • A Bug-Free Boat
  • How To Check In to A Marina
  • Etiquette Around the Marina Or When Anchoring Out
  • Dinghy Safety
  • Provisioning Without A Car
  • In The Laundry Room
  • Doing US Taxes
  • Living on a Boat and Cruising
  • Over Age 75
  • Drones
  • What the Cruising Community is Like
  • Socializing With Other Boaters
  • Meeting People
  • Boat Cards
  • Living in Foreign Countries

Buy Now


Get ALL my courses, including this one, for just $175.

Learn About the All-Access Pass

Enrollment gives you access to a private Facebook group where you can meet other course participants and discuss your questions, worries, and triumphs with them and with me. You'll also get a free subscription to The Boat Galley Newsletter, a weekly collection of tips to make your transition to "cruiser" just that much smoother.

If you've read even a few of my articles on The Boat Galley, you'll know that I'm a straight talker, without fluff. I don't repeat myself five times just so that the material looks longer. There's plenty to talk about without that!

I promise not to waste your time. Each section is packed with useful information. John Herlig, who wrote "Using Your VHF Effectively" operates the same way.

What People Say

I don't shy away from the trickier questions, either:

  • How do you deal with constantly having to meet new people if you're shy?
  • When should you offer a spare part that you thought to bring to a remote anchorage, and someone else didn't?
  • What should you do if a boat is dragging anchor and no one is aboard?
  • What's the best way to tell someone they've anchored too close to your boat? What should you do if they don't move?
  • How do you gain respect in the cruising community?
  • Should you take someone's clothes out of the washer in the laundry room?
  • What if you don't drink alcohol? Have food allergies or other dietary restrictions?
  • How do you socialize if you're on a really tight budget?

Let's get started!

32 Modules


A quick peek at what all will be covered in "The Basics of Living on a Boat" and how to go through the course materials.

NOTE: This course was formerly called "Unwritten Rules of the Cruising Life." As of April 2023, it is being expanded to cover far more information.

New Boat Checklist

Don't forget any of these important details when you buy a boat!

Getting Help In An Emergency

Six ways to get help fast when you're on a boat.

Anchoring & Mooring Balls

The basics of anchoring securely and tying onto a mooring ball.

Stopping Water Coming Into The Boat

  • Gear to have on hand
  • Bilge alarm
  • What to do if you discover water coming in

Using a Propane Stove

How to use a propane stove and answers to FAQs.

Getting Back Aboard From The Water

Could you get back aboard your boat from the water -- without help?

The Daily Checklist

What things do you need to check every single day -- or even multiple times a day -- when you live on a boat?

Sleeping Well

A comfortable bed is just the first step to sleeping well on a boat

Boat Bedding

How to create a comfortable bed on a boat, where to find sheets that will fit, and more.

Quieting Halyards

How to keep halyards from clanking on a sailboat.


How do you get internet on a boat?

Trash and Recycling

What to do with your trash and recycling.

Getting Mail and Packages

How to get mail when you live on a boat

Office Services

How do you fax a document, get something notorized, or deal with other needs for office services?

Cleaning Products on a Boat

What are the best products to use that will do a good job of cleaning and not put nasty chemicals into the water?

A Bug-Free Boat

How to keep your boat free from bug infestations

How To Check Into A Marina

All the details of how to check into a marina.

Etiquette Around the Marina Or Anchoring Out

In marinas and most often when anchoring out, you're going to be living in very close proximity to your neighbors. We'll discuss the unwritten rules for many common occurrences.

Dinghy Safety

What you need to know to stay safe in your dinghy.

Provisioning Without A Car

How to get groceries when you don't have a car.

In The Laundry Room

What do you do when all the machines are finished, but no one is there to remove their clothes . . . and other questions!

Doing US Taxes

If you are out of the US or traveling, how do you do taxes?

Living on a Boat and Cruising Over Age 75

6 key considerations for living on a boat and cruising when older.

Dog Aboard

Most dogs love the cruising life . . . but they also require more work.


Drones are definitely a hot topic for people living on a boat.

What the Cruising Community is Like

The cruising community is incredibly varied, yet certain traits are common. We'll cover:

  • The diversity and the common denominators
  • The faces of the cruising community

Socializing With Other Boaters

  • Happy hour
  • What if you don't drink alcohol?
  • Meals out
  • What if you're on a tight budget?
  • Stopping by another boat
  • Sharing meals
  • Food allergies and other dietary restrictions
  • Rental cars
  • Land trips

Meeting People

Friends are both one of the best things about cruising and one of the worst. Best because you meet some really amazing people. Worst because many of us are shy and find it hard to start speaking to strangers.

We'll discuss:

  • Actionable steps to be more comfortable meeting people
  • How to make sure people have the right impression of you
  • Facebook groups to help you connect with other cruisers and would-be cruisers
  • Boat cards

Boat Cards

Tips for making and using boat cards -- like a business card, but for you on your boat!

Final Thoughts

Parting thoughts on living on a boat.

Modules for this item 32
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