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5 Tips for a Liveaboard Life

5 Tips for a Liveaboard Life


With many waterways on the Gold Coast (and beyond!), living aboard a new (or not-so-new) boat is all very appealing. Has the romantic idea of living on board a boat become a very tempting option for you? Sue Parry Jones provides a short list of things to consider.


Play by the rules

The first thing you must decide is where you will actually live when you are not travelling – at a marina, on a mooring, or at anchor.

While several marinas allow for liveaboards and provide facilities for their use, there is unfortunately very limited space available across the Gold Coast. Further, it is no longer possible to obtain one of the very few moorings that remain, though this situation may change if moorings that were removed and due to be relocated are returned to the water. Living at anchor then becomes the most viable option for those considering a liveaboard life.

There is no national or state legislative restriction on people living aboard a boat. It must be noted, however, that local councils have jurisdiction to apply locally appropriate rules. On the Gold Coast, the Gold Coast Waterways Authority currently has the task of monitoring all boating activity and has the mandate for enforcing all relevant rules and restrictions relating to the waterways use. It is imperative that liveaboards be well informed about their local rules and comply with them.

On the Broadwater, there are several anchoring zones and a requirement that vessels anchor for certain periods, and then move. Some anchorages have a limit of no more than 24 consecutive hours in any 30-day period, and others no more than 7 consecutive days in any 60-day period. Moving between anchorages is permitted to allow access to anchorages for all. So long as you are moving around as required, you will not incur any wrath.

Complying with other rules like the proper wastewater disposal is also mandatory. Pump-out facilities are available at Southport Yacht Club, Mariner’s Cove, Runaway Bay, and several of the Hope Island marinas. Composting toilets are becoming very popular with liveaboards making it easier to avoid pollution.


Be self-reliant

You have to be pretty resourceful to manage a life on board a boat. Things break and must be repaired or replaced. But, unlike in a house where nothing is going to happen while you wait for the plumber, you may find yourself needing to figure out a quick temporary fix so your home does not sink while you wait!

On a more day-to-day level, if you are halfway through cooking a meal, for example, and realise you do not have enough flour, you cannot just pop out to the car and run down to the shop. It is a much bigger ordeal, and often too big an ordeal! However, the boating community very closely resembles the old-fashioned village that many of our parents grew up knowing: you can drop by a neighbouring boat to see if you can borrow a cup of flour to complete the recipe! Still it’s true that, on the whole, liveaboard boating is going to require a little more resilience and creativity than living in a regular bricks-and-mortar property.


Be self-managing

Liveaboards need to be more independent and managing of their own lives. One of the things people often do not realise about liveaboards who live at anchor is how much they must do for themselves. There is no water supply, electricity supply, garbage collection or postal delivery. All these things must be arranged by and for themselves.

They often have to go to elaborate lengths to set up things like wireless Internet connections and have greatly limited access even then for Internet use and of course higher rates for the access they do have. “Home” delivery service can be quite a problem as many shops struggle with the idea of delivering to anything other than a house with a clearly visible number.

Those who choose this lifestyle must also be unfazed by the occasional difficulties that this life might throw at them, such as arriving at a jetty in the evening and finding that your dinghy’s outboard has been stolen.

To make this life work, it is important to maintain a high degree of self-sufficiency and a sense of humour!


Be not scared of bad weather

When you live in a house, bad weather impacts very little. For the liveaboard, this is not the case. Sometimes when the weather is bad, it is not possible to get off the boat for days at a time. Other times it is necessary to remain on board to manage the vessel during these conditions, and sometimes to protect your boat from neighbouring unattended vessels. All these things must be considered if the weather is less than blissful!

Many liveaboards also work on the land and must face difficult weather to get to work. Taking a change of clothes in a dry bag is often the solution, but it’s not a lot of fun arriving at work soaked through even if a dry set of clothes is at hand!


Be open to solitude and isolation

Here is an interesting contrast. On the one hand, living on board a boat is more physically isolating than living in a house with actual neighbours, where you have a sense of proximity with others. Yet, on the other hand, the reality is that you will likely have a stronger sense of community than in a suburban setting. The boating community is a lot like an old fashioned village. It’s not at all uncommon for others to drop by and say hi on their way home, or for friends to call past on their way out. There is (almost) always the camaraderie of the boating community. It is the other liveaboards who are most likely to hop on board their own dinghy to help other boaties in need. During bad weather, the liveaboards usually prevent unattended boats from causing damage to themselves or others, or fish floating debris from the waterways, or rescue stranded jetskiers who have come to grief.


If you are thinking of making a boat your home, then it would be true to say that, while it is not all a bed of roses – especially when the weather is difficult – the liveaboard lifestyle appeals to many and is still reasonably manageable on the Gold Coast.



Sue Parry-Jones has lived on board and sailed her boat for close to six years. She has made the Gold Coast her home while her son completes his training as a marine electrician.



Gold Coast marinas that allow liveaboards (LAs):

  • Southport Yacht Club (Operates a live-aboard quota and can only accept new LAs if and when other LAs leave)
  • Mariners Cove (Primarily operates for commercial vessels; has some LA but needs to limit numbers)
  • Marina Mirage
  • Runaway Bay Marina
  • Hope Harbour Marina (This is managed by a percentage of LA to other users and ratio is strictly monitored; welcomes LAs as being excellent for marina security)
  • Hope Island Marina
  • Horizon Shores (Jacobs Well)