Life is Like Sailing | Interview

– A Simple Life as a Liveaboard

Hello everybody! Now it is time for another episode of my cruiser and liveaboard interviews. Today I have the honor to talk to Alfy, who lives on his sailboat “Moonshine” in Vancouver, BC, Canada. You will find links to his blog and youtube-channel further down below in the text. (There is also a German version → of this interview!)

Captain Sailnator: Hey Alfi. Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. Please just introduce yourself to my readers!

Alfy: My name is Alfy Vince and I live aboard my sailboat on the west coast of Canada in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was born and raised here and I genuinely believe that I live in one of the best cruising areas in the world. I have two amazing children that stay with me on the boat every chance they get and I hope that one day they will cruise their own sailboats along side me with their own children on board.

Cruising on a sunny day

Cruising on a sunny day

Captain Sailnator: How did you learn to sail?

Alfy: In August, 1997 my friend was moving away from Vancouver, BC and he had a wind surfer that he wanted to sell. Since I have always been the type of person that welcomes new challenges, I bought it and spent every weekend after that on English Bay learning the sport. I was fascinated how I could use the wind to get me across the bay and back and although I was really enjoying this new found passion, I felt like I needed more than just a board and a sail. By the end of September, 1997 I purchased my first sailboat which was a 1976 San Juan 24 which can best be described as a ‘pocket cruiser’ with a fixed keel. I had never been sailing before and the first time I sailed was actually on the day of the sea trial to complete the purchase. From that moment on I knew sailing would be a big part of my life.

Captain Sailnator: What made you decide to buy the boat you have now?

Alfy: Fast forward to October, 2011 and I was living in Prince Rupert, BC, but planning to move back to Vancouver, BC within a year so I was selling my house. I had been looking for my next sailboat for about two years by this point and I was on almost every day as well as going to see boats in person every time I was in Vancouver, BC. Not long after my house sold I noticed a new sailboat listing on the which was a 1982 C&C 34. The boat looked to be in very good condition and after a talk with the yacht broker, I felt it was exactly what I was looking for. The only problem was that the boat was located on Vancouver Island which was a two day drive away. I had a feeling that a boat that looked this good would not last long on the market so I had to make a quick decision to move ahead with the purchase sight-unseen or wait until I could get down to see it and risk losing it.

At anchor while out cruising.

At anchor while out cruising.

I was pretty nervous about buying a boat without seeing it first, but I knew if it was the right boat for me, then it would all work out. Once the offer was made, I had the names of the owners on the contract which allowed to start doing a little research. Google is a great tool and I did a quick online search, which led me to discover that the current owners were very involved in the local yacht club and even sat on the executive. I found several photos of them on the boat at various club events such as Sail Past and Regattas. I could see that the owners were very involved in boating and must have cared about the boat. When choosing a person to do the mechanical survey, I found a mechanic that owned a sailboat. Once he completed the inspection of the engine, he called me in Prince Rupert. After going over the results of what he found, he asked, ‘Have you even seen this boat yet’? When I replied, ‘Not yet’. He said, ‘Well it is a really nice boat’! By the next week I had arranged to have the boat hauled out for the hull survey. Again I found someone who owned a sailboat and when he completed the inspection, he called me. After going over everything that he found, he asked, ‘Have you even seen the boat yet’? and my answer again was, ‘No’. He then when on to say, ‘Well this is a really nice boat’! I can say that after hearing this twice from two totally independent people I felt pretty good about completing the deal without seeing the boat. The reason I wanted surveyors that owned sailboats was because I wanted people that might appreciate a nice sailboat when they saw one and without any prompting, they both gave me their personal opinions above the professional opinions. Three weeks later I was aboard the board and what I saw was exactly what I expected.

Captain Sailnator: What made you decide to move aboard the boat?

Alfy: I’ve always wanted to try living aboard since finding my passion for sailing back in 1997. In September, 2013 the girl I had been with for nearly 4 years left unexpectedly so I decided to turn a bad situation into a good one by finally trying the liveaboard lifestyle. I had a boat that was suitable and there was no one to tell me that I couldn’t do it so all I had to do was move the boat to a marina that allowed liveaboards. On December 31, 2013 I moved my sailboat to a liveaboard marina and started my new life.

Captain Sailnator: Was the transition from life on land to life on the boat easy?

Alfy: Even though I had dreamed about life aboard a sailboat for many years, I still didn’t know for sure if I was going to like it once I was actually doing it. I had some concerns regarding the reality of living in a small space and thought I would likely need a bigger boat if I was going to do this long term. I guess you could say I gave myself a 6 month diary date to re-assess life aboard, because I think I needed to have some sort of a mental guarantee that I could back out if I wanted to. It was just about 3 months into it that I started to realize that the space I had was more that enough and that what initially felt like a small space started to feel like a large space. Fast forward and two years later I feel like the space I have is still more than enough.

At the marina.

At the marina.

Captain Sailnator: What did you do with all your stuff?

Alfy: I have a locker that I intitially moved most of my household items into, but as time has passed I have nearly emptied the locker out completely. Now I have only the few things that I wanted to keep such as snow tires, camping gear, ski equipment, etc. I would say that the transition from moving out of a house to a boat requires you to be good at purging stuff. It you can’t purge then you may end up having lockers full of stuff that you don’t need and will never use. I do recommend that even if you are good at purging, you still have a locker for some of the off-season things you don’t want to keep on the boat full time. It is important to not have too much stuff aboard the boat to keep it less cluttered and more comfortable for daily living.

Captain Sailnator: What is the best thing about living aboard full time?

Alfy: This might not be something that everyone can understand, but I would have to say the best thing about living on a sailboat is how alive everything feels. After a long day at work, I love that moment I turn onto Dyke Road and I see my marina, I love the walk from my car in the parking lot, down the ramp and along the dock. My sailboat will rock gently as I step aboard and it is not often that the boat feels completely still. It is like my environment is alive all the time when compared to how static a home feels on land.

A nice marina sunrise.

A nice marina sunrise.

Captain Sailnator: What is the worst thing about living aboard full time?

Alfy: Well this might sound like a funny answer, but the worst thing about living on a sailboat is dating. I have dated a few women since moving aboard full time and I am always up front right away with my passion for sailing and living aboard. At first they usually think it is quite interesting and even enjoy spending time on the boat. I am sure they are focused on the romantic and ‘cool’ aspect of a guy living on a sailboat. Then eventually the time comes that you start talking about living arrangements and possibly living together. I usually offer right away that a larger sailboat could be an option I would consider if they felt my sailboat wasn’t large enough, but what they usually have in mind is where we should buy a condo or house. This is usually the beginning of the end because I just don’t ever see myself living on land again.

Captain Sailnator: Are you cruising full time or living at a marina?

Alfy: I would say that there are three types of liveaboards, 1. liveaboards that cruise full time, 2. liveaboards that cruise part time, but have a home port marina, 3. liveaboards that never cruise and live at a marina full time. I fall into the second category, but not because I don’t want to cruise full time, rather that I have a full time job here and my kids here so for now I take my boat out as often as I can and cruise as much as I can during the Summer season. In the Winter I stay tied up at the marina mostly and I focus on my kids, my work and boat projects. My long term goal as soon as I retire is to leave the marina permanently and cruise full time of course.

Captain Sailnator: What does a normal day on board look like for you aboard a sailboat?

Alfy: Living on a sailboat at a marina is not like living ‘off the grid’ by any means and my days are pretty much the same as anyone who lives on land. I have a full time job so many days I get up early and go to work and when I get home I make dinner, relax and maybe watch a show on tv. I have all the comforts of a regular home with the only difference being the size of my home really. On my days off I do other regular things like getting groceries, going out for dinner, working out at the gym, making videos for the Youtube Channel, etc. One thing I don’t have on board is a washer and dryer so I have to go to a local laundromat. At first I wasn’t overly excited about having to sit at a laundromat to wash my cloths, until I realized I could do 3 or 4 loads of laundry in less that 2 hours.

A nice spot to work on videos.

A nice spot to work on videos.

Captain Sailnator: Where do you publish your adventures aboard your sailboat?

Alfy: ‘Life is Like Sailing’ is the name I use for all my social media:

Captain Sailnator: Why did you start sharing your adventures aboard your sailboat?

Alfy: When I moved aboard full time, I started looking for content online relating to liveaboards to help me with my transition to this new lifestyle. Although I found a few channels on Youtube that documented people cruising full time, I couldn’t find much about living aboard at a marina so I thought, hey I should start making videos to document my experiences on Youtube. Plus I had been sailing off and on for nearly 20 years by this point and although living aboard a boat was new to me, I thought it would be nice to share some of the other things I had learned over the years. I also decided to purchase the .com and .ca domains and have the Facebook Page as well to reach a broader audience. I hope through social media I will be able to connect with other people all over the world who share the same passion for sailing and maybe even meet some of these people in far off tropical destinations one day.

Captain Sailnator: What do you recommend to people who have a dream to cruise or liveaboard full time?

Alfy: When I was 15 years old I was diagnosed with cancer and given a 50/50 chance to survive it. I would say that if you want to try something like living aboard a boat, then make it happen sooner than later. Don’t hesitate to try something new just because you have never sailed before or if you are worried about living in a smaller space. If there is one thing I have learn in the last 2 years as a full time liveaboard, it is that people are adaptable and we can manage with much less than what society says we need. I think the liveaboard lifestyle offers simpler living that is more rewarding than what the mundane commute to your house in the suburbs can give you. One of my viewers posted a quote on my wall which I think sums it all up, I’m not sure who originally quoted authored this , but here it is. ‘The only things in life we regret are the things we didn’t try’.

My favourite spot.

My favourite spot.

Captain Sailnator: I think it was Mark Twain who wrote that, but I am not sure. Do you have anything else you want to tell us?

Alfy: Moving onto my sailboat has been a big milestone in my life, but in a way sharing my experiences and adventures through social media has been equally as big. I want to thank everyone who subscribes and comments on the Youtube Channel, the Facebook Page or emails me directly through the website. I hope that everything I share on social media shows others that anyone can follow their dreams of living aboard a boat full time.

Captain Sailnator: Alfy, thank you very much for this very interesting interview. I and my readers very much appreciate that and I hope we could inspire people and motivate some of them to leave their comfort zone. Furthermore, I wish you a very good time on Moonshine, fair winds, and maybe we meet each other out there one day – on the roaring sea!

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