Archive for the ‘Outlaw Guide to Living Aboard’ Category

the outlaw guide to living aboard

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

By Boom Dock

So your house was repossessed, your friends and relatives don’t have room for you anymore, or so they say, and suddenly it occurs to you: Why not move on the boat I have down in the harbor? Wait, don’t I need a permit for that? What about all those stories I heard about people losing their slip after getting caught? Don’t worry, this easy to follow guide reveals how to live on your boat, without a liveaboard permit, and GET AWAY WITH IT FOR YEARS, until your name comes up on the waiting list. And those stories? Have no fear; they’re just whiskey laced salty talk. We’re talking MUNICIPAL MARINA here.

1. The Radar
There are two theories on this subject. The more popular proposes that partaking in drink festivities with your dockmates will protect you from being turned in, and if The Harbor snoops around, they will deny your very existence. It does not account, however, for that weaselly liveaboard who has no sympathy for your game because he had spent a long time waiting for his own permit. The competing theory is called “under the radar,” and involves spending the least amount of time in the harbor, only enough to get some shut eye on the boat each night. The idea is that folks won’t even notice you. The downside is that it is almost impossible for that to happen, because the dock is as transparent to the regulars as a jail yard. You could possibly counter this with flattery and expensive gifts, but this has yet to be proven effective.

2. The Cameras
So you noticed the security cameras strategically placed around the harbor. They are intimidating. Is Big Brother watching me? The answer is maybe, but it DOES NOT MATTER. In order for you to be caught living on your boat, the camera would have to show you not only emerging from, but also entering your boat, more than three nights a week. The Harbor does not devote that kind of manpower to observe the cameras, and they likely do not record. More importantly, the cameras are not trained on your boat, so you can always claim that: I was sleeping on a friend’s boat next to mine. I was actually standing on the dock next to my boat the whole night, fishing. No, that’s not me in the grainy picture. This is where a hat and frequently refreshed wardrobe are your friends.

3. The Parking
At some point, once your friends no longer have that spare bedroom available because the mother-in-law has suddenly decided to spend more time with the family, you may need to sleep in your car on occasion. Here’s the delightful truth: You can sleep in the car next to your dock gate for years and nothing will ever happen! The reason is simple. The Harbor does not pay attention, because there is so much more career-building stuff happening downtown every night, e.g. murder & mayhem. Even if they did, you will not be hassled unless someone complains, and if they do, you are not jeopardizing your boat permit in any way. Trying to hide your car in a different parking spot every night shows a beginner’s lack of confidence, and only arouses suspicion. Parking in the harbor with a valid parking sticker is safer than parking in the city, because – let’s face it – the city is pretty rough, and sleeping in the car is illegal.

4. The Vehicle
The choice of vehicle for those few nights when it is safer to stay off the boat varies among the outlaws. A Class B RV (up to 19 feet long) can be parked overnight virtually anywhere, including San Diego, and a model with a cot near the roof allows for the curtains to be left open, with no one seemingly inside. Another good choice is an SUV with very dark tinted windows. Use sunshades to cover the windshield. Just make sure to have your parking sticker affixed and you’re ready to snooze in peace.

5. The Snitch
The surprising answer is: Don’t worry about it! These busybodies with nothing better to do than to interfere with your answer to the recession (or the poor career choices you have made) are of no more consequence than a buzzing mosquito. In order for you to lose your slip permit, the Harbor must prove in court that you broke the law, and they must prove it with evidence, which does not include hearsay. So next time you see that snitch, just flip him off.

Keep in mind, though, that apart from your “getting away with something,” the liveaboards in your neighborhood may have a somewhat legitimate beef with the shady nature of your lifestyle, not to mention  their higher rent.  The beef is generally inversely proportional to the size of the boats involved, and directly proportional to the length of time the snitch’s snitching is unresolved, as evidenced by the tenacity of your residence. Proximity is the third, arguably the most significant factor, so depending on your situation, consider resetting the game timer on a new dock. Remember that your first move is free of charge, and getting on a transfer list to your choice dock is also free.

Don’t worry about “stealing” revenue from the harbor. It is far easier for them to raise the rent on a captive audience  to make up for a deficit than to enforce the rules, manage the budget,  or come up with smart solutions – that would be properly expected from a private enterprise.

6. The Denial
If Officialdom ever approaches you about your sneaking aboard, don’t be sheepish, and firmly, yet politely deny you live aboard. You may admit to loving your boat so much that you can only stay away from it four nights a week, and on those four nights you always leave at 9:59 p.m., and return at 4:01 a.m. the next day. Heck, sittin’ in the car for six hours ain’t that bad; AM radio reception clears up real good at night.

7. The TV Gambit
The most effective way to deny sneaking aboard is to claim you fell asleep watching TV. If your case ever went as far as the courtroom, this is what will introduce reasonable doubt.

8. The Schedule
At first glance the rules seem clear about how much time you may spend on your boat (three nights a week). But the fact is that even Officialdom does not understand the exact INTERPRETATION of the rules, and – more importantly – it turns out the rules are fairly flexible depending on who you are. But if you are not a lucky member of the do-not-disturb crowd and get caught spending an extra night on your boat in one week, simply claim that it counts toward the following week, because you count your weeks from each Wednesday (insert the day you need). It is THAT SIMPLE. This point is the least understood and often overlooked by the sneakaboard community, but is among the most effective. The thing to remember is to rotate your nights off, to create confusion. Finally, spread out your vacation and hotel passes over the course of the year, but don’t waste them on major holidays, when the docks are full and you get lost in the crowd.

For the timid, a foolproof schedule involves three nights on (mix in with the weekenders), one or two nights off (create confusion), and then on again (the weekend people are absent + see 3. & 5. above). Skip one or two nights (at most) before your next three day stretch. The four day stretch is slightly more advanced, but a breeze in combination with other measures in this guide. Works so reliably that it comes with the BOOM GUARANTEE!

9. The Coming-and-Going Show
Once you have exhausted your permitted nights on board, make it a habit to depart and arrive with a lot of gear in tow. This will make it clear that you are GONE, or just GETTING IN, like you are supposed to. The idea is to stage a departure, only to return later under the cover of darkness. It is a good idea to then slip out very early the next morning, have coffee in a distant parking lot, and come back with all your gear mid-morning, as if you were just arriving from the “house” you “live in.”

10. The Padlock*
This simple trick will carry you for as long as you don’t get caught in the act. Keep the padlock on the companionway boards, and enter and exit through the V-berth hatch, thus presenting a locked-up and therefore empty boat for all the patrols in the world to see (if they are actually there to see, as in “does a falling tree make noise when there is no one in the forest?”). *Skip this trick if you’re a grotesquely obese fatass, and move on to #11.

11. The Cloak
In two or three years – depending on the amount of beer that flowed through your lips on the dock – you will get to a point where people assume that you really are a legal liveaboard. This is a signal to CLOAK your boat, so it is more difficult to determine if you are inside. Cloaking the cockpit with tarp and bungee cords is a good start, but if you are able to scrape up some money from under the car seat, Sunbrella on a steel tube frame is the way to go. A FULL CLOAK MODE covers the ENTIRE boat for you to slip in by merely unzipping the side. No more fumbling with the padlock while dodging your dockmates. BE WARNED however, of PREMATURE CLOAKING, because cloaking is the most POWERFUL measure in your arsenal, and in this case haste indeed makes waste. Use ONLY once you get near the top of the waiting list, if you manage to see it. (More on Revelations of the Waiting Lists’ Mysteries later. As of Sep. 2010 waiting lists are still shenaniganously mysterious. As of Jan. 2011, waiting lists are still unaccountable.)

Sure, you may get an inquisitive phone call from Officialdom, but this is where indignation and denial work wonders (or see “the law” link). Only the weak give in at this point and move under a bridge, trembling. But if you listen carefully, you will note that all they have on you are allegations, suspicion, even belief, but NO PROOF. So just lay low for a week – longer is really unnecessary – and follow the other rules in this guide. It has been successfully applied by many before you, some even for YEARS, all the while moving up the waiting list. Just keep this to yourself, in case he IS watching.