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Searoom, a woman's houseboat journey

by Andree Jeannette Hardy
(Tampa, Florida)

Searoom, my houseboat with a sailboat neighbor

Searoom, my houseboat with a sailboat neighbor

Being a woman, living on a houseboat was not on my bucket list of things to do. I moved onboard "SeaRoom" out of necessity, following a series of unfortunate events, financial and personal. What seemed a nightmare at first, moving onboard that old 1969 Thunderbird, an unfinished project, turned out to be a dream come true.

Waking up to the seagulls, the sun piercing through the palms and watching the panoramic views of sunsets on bay side where I was anchored out, in Sunset Cove, Key Largo, being rocked to sleep at night as the waves brushed my hull.

I fell in love with the simplicity, the space that surrounded me; the efforts taken to get me there each day after driving 120 miles round trip to work in Miami. It was worth it each day to come home to a vacation. I rowed my Walker Bay sometimes backwards when the wind blew against me, but I loved the challenge, every minute of it.

I had a large solar panel on the roof top, connected to my inverter, a small blender, a fan directly connected to the battery under the floor boards, turned constantly for my cats were onboard with me. Out there with the windows all around, the breeze never let me down and I was comfortable at night while I heard the fish jumping and music playing from shore at Snook's a water side restaurant and bar. I was close enough and far enough for my taste.

I was able to live on nothing, my needs were minimized but my rewards were worth more than any gold could buy. In my life never had I have so little and been happier. For a woman alone, it was a challenge.

It is important to stay on top of things, the motor needs to be started, otherwise the steering shaft will freeze (I've done that). The required equipment must be updated and kept ready for inspection, the anchor light visible a mile away need to not be yanked out by a playful cat or you may get a ticket for it not being on (done that too).

I paid someone to clean the bottom cause I'm a bit of a sissy about those little shrimp like things getting on your skin. If you don't clean the bottom your boat won't be able to move when it is time to escape hurricanes and go hide in the mangroves!

I had a wrap around deck and lots of roof top space where I would sleep alternately
on starry nights or moonlit nights. Mother nature was my best companion, the manatees and dolphins became family.

The boat was 12 x 42, the hull was solid fiberglass, back then they made things strong. My anchors buried by hands never let me down. I had binoculars and loved watching the tourists from Motels on shore, take off with the water toys and get stranded out there, when the wind blew them over or they got too far. I'd row over and play hero, me who had to survive on my own.

My tip for living on the water is, think about carefully before hand, be realistic about living in danger if you life in south Florida, have a plan of action in case a storm approaches; plans for your pets, your car and majorly your castle; my dreamed life came to an end in 2005 after fighting breast cancer and letting my boat to its fate, not willingly, I lost SeaRoom to hurricane Wilma.

Appreciate each moment you live that delicious life cause you never know how fast everything can change, like "in a New York minute" ! I recommend to women who are thinking about living on the water to be informed about all requirements, responsible and physically able cause it takes a lot of energy living on the hook and above all the simplicity you may be blessed with.

Thanks, I just wanted to share my thoughts, Andree Jeannette Hardy.

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Reply - Answer

Andree, I wanted to thank you for sharing a woman's thoughts and experiences about being on a houseboat. Sorry to hear that it all came to an end, but I am sure that you are glad that you had a chance to get a taste of it…. It's Priceless…

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers and visitors will share and post comments about their houseboat experiences and tips. A good time for our female readers to comment.

Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

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Comments for Searoom, a woman's houseboat journey

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From another Woman!
by: Cate

I, too, am considering living on a boat as my large family and I did every summer growing up in Michigan.

Like you, due to a series of unfortunate financial and personal losses, and at 54 years old, I want to spend the rest of my life chasing my dreams. My life is well over half over and we only have one life to live - sounds like a soap opera!

My biggest fear - safety. I was the victim of a home invasion by a stranger on 1/1/2000. I understand about locks and self defense and preservation but am interested in any thoughts regarding "bearing arms". I am against guns unless it involves me, as selfish as it sounds. Any thoughts? From anyone>

Thank you for your courage! Cate

You need to write a book
by: Yvonne

Oh this little tidbit of your adventure was delightful. You need to not only do it again, but write a book about your adventures. Enjoyed reading this very much.


Bonjour Andrée Jeannette
by: Esther Paré

Je termini à peine la lecture de ton livre "Sea Room" que tu m'as si gentiment offert à bord de l'avion à destination de Plattsburg en décembre dernier.

Je gar dais ton livre sur ma table de chevet, ne sachant quand je le lirais.

Cet après-midi, je l'ai pris dans mes mains et l'ai apporté avec moi au salon, me suis assise sur ma chaise favorite, bien installée et j'ai débuté la lecture.

Je n'ai pu m'arrêter avant la fin! L'anglais n'étant pas ma première langue, j'ai un peu peiné au début mais j'ai rapidement pris le rythme.

Merci pour ce beau cadeau! J'ai adoré cette lecture merci aussi de ce témoignage touchant.

Long et belle vie à toi, Esther Paré

Where do I put it?
by: Ann Mutschler

Where could I keep my houseboat in the Dania, Ft Lauderdale area?

Andrea my hero
by: Anonymous

Thank you for sharing! I am buying a houseboat to live by myself. I'm excited and a novice, but a good learner. So I took your story to heart. Thanks

by: Anonymous

The beauty of your story brought a teary eye to a
crusty soul.
I have always loved the water.
Your life attitude is priceless.
I hope to be like you, if I grow up.
You are proof that for life to grant and bestow beauty upon one, one must first be able to recognize and embrace it.
May Christ grant to you each day, greater truth and beauty, with peace always.

Graciously grateful
by: Cate

Andree, thank you for this graciously insightful portrayal of life on the hook in your houseboat. I am a woman… about to turn 60 and purchasing a houseboat as my home for the foreseeable future.

For six years I was a chef at sea aboard a 68 ft Ketch, cruising the Pacific Northwest from Vancouver to Alaska and the queen Charlotte Islands. For me the water has always felt like home, as well as living in the fold of the mountains.

Your story offers me such encouragement. I am also grateful for this web page. It offers honest opinions based on factual researched information.

I plan to journal my experiences as I enter into this process , experiences to perhaps share with others wanting to live The Dream !
Para la gloria de la vida en el agua¡¡¡
Cate from the Kootenays !

To Mary
by: Andree

I am writing here perhaps the editor can forward, since I do not have the e-mails of those who write comments. I think it would be an awesome experience for your son to live on the water with you. He would have wonderful memories, learn a lot about himself and nature, it would give him a piece of paradise to always fall back on.
Go for it! Read a lot and find people who have done it. This is a feasible dream, I wish it to all water lovers.

by: Mary

Thanks for your short story. I am considering buying and moving aboard a 41 ft. houseboat. I have an 8 yr old who will be living there with me. I am looking for any advice I can get.

An amazing story
by: Jerry

You are an amazing woman. I would also love to hear a lot more about your adventures. I too lived on a 21 ft sailboat for about a year and even though it was exciting at times, and I felt pretty cramped too.

I am a 60 year old man who isn't very flexible or skinny so a sailboat although very exciting and romantic is not for me. I have been very intrigued by houseboats for a long time. For one thing I can hang family photos etc… on the walls and bring aboard some of my old family furniture etc…

Anyway, I want to hear more about your experiences. I would love to pick your brain about life on a houseboat too.

I hope all is well and I look forward to maybe hearing from you.

Thank you, you are very inspiring. You should give talks or write a book.

Cheers, Jerry Gotts

Something you'll never forget.
by: Margaret

Andree is a good friend of mine - and whatever she says - is what she really feels.

I know exactly what she is talking about as I had a little sailboat and would go out overnight in the same area she lived in.

You could almost talk to the dolphins as they played around your boat overnight! The feeling she expresses is probably something that most people may never experience - but - once encountered - will stay with you for the rest of your life!! Wonderful!!

Way to go girl!!
by: Carole from Key Largo

I know well the area your houseboat was anchored. As a younger person, it's something I would have done, for a lark, but not to live full time. You are a resourceful woman with adventure in your soul! May you always be blessed.


Very interesting!
by: Suzie

Thanks for your beautiful story, I want to hear more. You should write a book about your experience, it inspired me.


Boating in the Keys, and a Nature Lover
by: Max

Andree, you seem to be an amazing person and thanks to being a nature lover, you over came unfortunate events in your life.

The way you expressed yourself makes one almost feel as if they were there with you at times. I loved the fact that you would sleep on the roof top now and then with Mother Nature as your best companion \.


Nice, inspiring
by: Don

Thank you for your story. Very inspiring, makes me want to get my houseboat - just have to convince the family :-)

A woman's journey, such a wonderful life
by: lenny turner

To come through times of trouble and almost stumble on such a life almost defies imagination. Thank you for sharing your world Andree.


Hats off to Andree!
by: EL

Andree, I'm so impressed with your story, thank you very much for writing it. Living on board is not an easy task for a woman alone, referring mostly to the maintenance aspect.

Certainly the rewards of finding your strength must have been exhilarating! As I reflected on your adventure, I wondered if I could do it alone, I truly admire you! So sorry Mother Nature intervened!

My husband and I have lived aboard our boat for 20 yrs and we've loved every moment. I can so relate to "coming home to a vacation every night" true! El

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