Life Aboard vs. Life Ashore

People often ask us how safe it is to live aboard and to go long distance sailing. While life aboard can have its risks, life on land is not devoid of dangers either. 


We woke up on the winter morning of December 17, 2016 and found the boat covered in ice. The deck was a bit slippery, but we were able to walk on the deck by chocking our feet into the toe rail. We held onto the lifelines and grab bars as we worked our way to gangplank. 


The gangplank was completely covered in ice, and traction was non-existent. Thankfully, the rat bars offered a way to hold our feet in place and keep us from sliding down the gangplank onto the pier. While this entire journey was not the most graceful nor quick, it was also never risky to our safety.


Walking down the pier, our neighbors wooden yawl had gorgeous icicles hanging from his mizzen boom. The ice covered everything and made the boats look like a magical wonderland! I decided to go visit my parents this morning, so I made my way to the car and found life ashore to have a completely different outlook to the winter wonderland.

Cars in the city were spun around and smashed into light poles and walls, but city drivers swerve around the city streets like madmen. The fact that they may have spun out on a patch of ice was of little surprise to me. I continued to make my way towards the country, where my parents live, when I came upon a massive disaster on the highway!

In the early hours of the morning, a fuel tanker slid on ice and went over the barrier wall, exploding into a blaze of fire that engulfed the highway. Approaching traffic slammed on their brakes as they approached the inferno, but they slid on ice and began crashing into each other. By the early morning, the cars and trucks had been turned into scrambled eggs as they kept compacting into each other.

When people question how safe living aboard or cruising is, I must ask, how safe is it to live on land and commute on crowded highways traveling very fast and close together. If a driver error were to occur, the consequences could be dire! This mornings collision involved more than 50 automobiles and caused at least 2 deaths!

Sailing in the exact opposite, everything happens very slowly and you always keep plenty of space between you and the next yacht. When we are in the bay, we set the proximity alarm on our AIS receiver to 0.25 nautical miles. In the ocean, we increase the alarm range to 2 nautical miles! If someone were to come within that distance, we begin to worry as we are getting "too close for comfort". Yes, on a sailboat traveling 6 knots, 0.25 miles is too close for comfort, whereas on a highway, cars traveling over 65mph are only a few feet apart!

When landlubbers seem concerned about the safety of sailing, I wonder what they think about the safety of driving.