VIDEO: The Boat Show!

Posted In: Airstream, Blog, Video

When I was a wee lad, I daydreamed about owning a boat. I didn’t care so much about owning a speed or leisure boat, but rather a larger ocean-going vessel equipped with all sorts of creature comforts – a cozy bedroom, a spacious living room, a comfy couch. For some reason, I’ve always wanted to be on the ocean at night. In essence, I wanted to camp on water. In my youthful fantasy, I would travel by boat somewhere on the ocean (probably the Gulf of Mexico), and venture out from that starting point.

Oddly enough, this fantasy has played itself out on land rather than sea. My vessel of choice has been an Airstream rather than a Chris Craft. But I haven’t completely torpedoed the boat idea. If the right opportunity came along at the right time, who knows? We could find ourselves donning life jackets instead of pith helmets.

Any way you look at it, boats and RVs share a lot in common. Airstream acknowledged this truth when they named the vintage Land Yacht model. The larger boats are campers on water. (To my knowledge, no one’s embraced the Sea Camper brand, but perhaps they should.) The sleeping accommodations, the grey and black and fresh water tank issues, and the kitchen arrangements are all kind of similar.

This begs the question: if you can part-time on a boat, why can’t you full-time? Of course, you can full-time. I’ve followed a few boating blogs, and have admired the postings of those who sail tiny catamarans around the world. It’s definitely possible to live full-time on ANY boat. I once met an executive in California who confessed that she lived aboard a 20-foot sailboat for more than a year — a boat that lacked even a bathroom! That’s hardcore.

There was a time when I considered taking the full-time boat plunge. In the 1990s, I moved to Los Angeles for a bit. “You’re a single guy,” a San Diego business associate urged me, “you should get a nice motorboat and live the Southern California life. You can take it to Catalina Island, Mexico, and beyond!”

So I BRIEFLY considered buying a boat and living full-time as a “wharf rat” in Marina Del Ray. It seemed a little crazy, but no crazier than paying $2000 a month for a rinky dink apartment in Santa Monica. I spent a few days touring boats in the marina with a boat salesman. One thing I learned: buying the kind of boat I dreamed about, even shopping in the pre-owned market, was going to cost some money.

I haven’t done a lot of scientific research on this point, but boats seem to be priced much higher than RVs, at least on a comparable square footage and amenity basis. I’m not sure why, since the materials and construction appear to be similar; I suppose it has something to do with supply and demand. In any event, if you want to get a boat that’s comparable to an RV, you’re going to have to spend a lot more money for the aquatic experience.

While I certainly see advantages of a smaller rig when pursuing full-time RV travel, with boating it’s a little different. With RV camping, you are surrounded by a natural environment that is (hopefully) inviting. At the very least, it won’t kill you in minutes. If you get tired of your RV, you can just go for a walk.

The same can’t usually be said for boating. You can’t exactly go for an ocean stroll. When traveling your boat is your floating castle, and you’re going to spend a LOT of time in it.

We went to our local boat show recently (as seen in the video) in search of a boat that might be livable on a full-time basis. I’m a pretty flexible guy, and am gamely willing to crouch, duck, crawl, and squat when necessary. That said, and at the risk of appearing spoiled and/or hopelessly out of touch, I’d like to be able to stand upright in my living room. If I am forced to duck every two minutes, I foresee a frequently bruised skull.

At this particular boat show, I was out of luck. The most comfortable motor boat was priced in the $200,000 range, and even it didn’t seem particularly livable from a full-time perspective. It was nice, but still fell far short of the average RV from a comfort standpoint. By comparison, you can buy a brand new LOADED top-of-the-line Airstream for less than $100,000. You can buy a loaded 5th wheel for much less. Heck, I’ve seen plenty of nice travel trailers for less than $10k.

Maybe I am getting old and soft (is there really any need to say “maybe?”) but I was a little disappointed in the boats at this show. I was hoping to see that perfect, inviting, livable boat that beckoned for long term adventure. But it just wasn’t there.

Will our Airstream acquire an aquatic cousin? Will we take our “Long Long Honeymoon” to the open water? Maybe someday, but not on this day. This boat show was populated with casual recreational choices, most of which didn’t seem appealing full-time options.

For now, I will simply continue to browse boats, dream of the open water, and camp in our Airstream. Maybe we’ll just park it on a beach…

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Essential RV Camping Gear

Scout365 – Our Inflatable Boat!
Counter Assault Bear Spray
Oxygenics shower head
Antisway bar

Inverter generator
LED spotlight
Sean’s Tilley hat
Merrell Jungle Moc shoes
Walkie talkies
Boeshield T-9 lubricant
Weber portable grill
OBDII code reader
Water “jerry can”
Eye masks for sleep
Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries
RV water filter
Dry shampoo
The Next Exit book

Airstream Essentials
Trailer Aid tire changing ramp
Britta Bella water pitcher
Pink flamingos

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