It takes an almighty individual to give up the familiarity of bricks and mortar and the 9 to 5; to venture into the world alone and become fully reliant on nature…that’s pretty much what I did and here I am over 12 months on and still very much in love.
As I write, I’m sat at the bow of my boat wrapped in my wool blankets, drinking my herbal tea, listening to Sting through the speakers (powered by solar) and watching the rain fall on my little port holes. Recently, I’ve been reflecting more on the last few months, and even years; wondering whether I’ve made the right decisions and how I got through the lows. It’s only natural to have negative thoughts from time to time, in spite of what may seem like a life people only dream of.
So how do you live off-grid? You just do it. There are many ways to live a life of sovereignty, from building your own cabin or converting an air-stream to a tree house or a boat. The latter of course is what I chose. Like so many people, I had suffered tremendous amounts of stress dealing with landlords, battling with energy suppliers, councils and giving up on the idea of ever being able to own my own home. If you’ve felt you’ve hit a brick wall in life, then you can probably relate.
Very soon I found myself considering my options and felt naturally drawn to the idea of living on a boat. There has always been something beautiful about the inland waterways; steeped in history and brimming with colour and wildlife. Cabin Cruiser’s start from just a few thousand pounds with narrow boats available for a little more if you’re prepared to put the work in. I opted for a Freeman 26 – the Rolls Royce of the Cabin Cruisers (or so I’ve been told!). In twelve months I’ve almost tripled the value of my boat and essentially own my own home. Bliss.
Living off-grid means thinking on your feet and being prepared to learn very quickly, especially if you have no prior experience of boat engines, bilge pumps, gel coats, solar panels…the list is actually endless but the rewards are too.
Whatever form of wild living you choose, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll feel closer to nature, to the elements, wildlife and the closest you’ll ever feel to contentment, or at least in my opinion. I balance my life on the boat with time in the mountains and time in the city. Just this morning I sat in a beautiful independent coffee shop in Lancaster, writing whilst enjoying my latte and croissant. At the weekend, I’ll be meeting up with friends and enjoying a few drinks in a local artisan bar. Last week I enjoyed a night in a four star hotel; making the most of the bath tub! You really can have the best of everything, without the price tag and ultimately, you do it at your own pace.
Will I still be doing this in 5, 10 or 30 years time? The simple answer is, I don’t know. The boat and the lifestyle have at least taught me to live in the moment and not concern myself too much with the future; something Huxley and Orwell would agree with I’m sure. For now, my mental and physical health is probably better than it’s ever been (despite some truly awful circumstances recently), and I’m continually learning, to love, laugh and live freely.