The first fantasy
When I was in Ecuador volunteering at Itapoa Rainforest Reserve I was at the hostel they own on the coast. Out in the Pacific Ocean bay was a small military ship. I had fantasies about living on it and going around the world. This turned into the first ideas for my novel Burning Wolfhound. Despite this fantasy the seed had been sown.
I have now decided to try and live on a boat in the future. These are my first speculations where I am going to record how it goes, the pitfalls and otherwise.
My situation now
I live in a grotty bedsit in Norwich. I make money from webdesign and DJ work. Though currently I have no DJ work. After living simply in Asia my needs are few. I get working tax credit and housing benefit. With both of these combined I am not able to cover my rent. The upshot is that with variable income I tend to live on £20 a week (in 2015). I am a mature student and will go to the University of East London in September 2015. For the first year I will use my student loan to live in the halls there.
I’m currently 45 and sometimes my left knee hurts, otherwise I expect at the moment I have the mobility to clamber about a boat. If this changed it could end this idea.
First issues: cost of boat, moorings. I am going to spend £6000 a year of my student loan on rent. It occurs to me that if I could buy a boat with this and live rent free I might have something to show at the end of it. Now you will be shouting ‘moorings’ at me.
There is a ‘new’ culture of boat people. If you move on all the time you don’t need to pay moorings. I see the boat people in Norwich. Some days they are moored near the Riverside shopping area, they don’t stay for long, but I recognise the boats. I expect if you go out into the Norfolk Broads you are not paying anyone for anything (but for your fuel).
Water. Laptop. Internet. Somewhere to sleep. Somewhere to sit. Food.
If I were getting working tax credit on a rent free boat it would cover my living costs. Then my webdesign income for the first time would be my own. My income in tax year 2014-2015 was £2500 (gross), £2000 (net). My housing benefit is massively reduced because I earn so much(!)
I’m not living on the street, but I am at the bottom of the heap.
This then is my plan. I am a writer and I am going to go and study a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Writers don’t earn that much. If I can earn a little from writing, webdesign and DJing then I should have enough to live on a boat. I would like a seagoing boat so I can pop out of a river network and into another. I.e. Thames to Boards! I would like to be self sufficient to an extent by having solar panels and such.
Ideally I would like a 1968 cabin cruiser!
I realise this is not going to be all plain sailing (!!) I expect I have a lot to learn about this yet. I will keep you updated!