The Liveaboard Chronicles

Life and Politics along the California Coast

In an increasingly unaffordable housing market, California residents are forced to forge new ways of living. For many middle- and low-income residents, this means taking on debt to finance housing, living far away from their work and enduring increasing commutes, or leaving the state altogether.

For those willing to relinquish some of the basic things taken for granted by many: namely a connected sewage system, 7-foot-plus ceilings, and living in a dwelling secured to land, living in a range of transportation vehicles becomes an attractive option. For instance, tiny homes built into 18-wheelers, shipping containers, and Sprinter vans. And for others willing to abandon the land beneath them all together, living on the water on floating homes, houseboats, power boats, and sailboats opens up a new world of possibility, adventure, and challenge.

To manage living in the Bay Area while working on my doctorate, my partner and I bought an old fixer-upper motor yacht and became "liveaboards" - the term used to describe the small portion (~10%) of marina slip-renters that are permitted to live on their vessels. This project began as simple curiosities about the policies, work-arounds, and realities of daily life that framed our new lives. It has grown into an ongoing research project that investigates the politics that shape marinas' structure and authority, the policies that govern "renegade" liveaboards, and a growing collection of narratives of people who live onboard up and down the coast. While this project addresses themes of interest to academic audiences, it is being written for a general non-fiction audience.

Photo: Heading under the bay bridge on the San Francisco Bay. Photo taken by M. Jeske.