Living Your Dream in About 1,000 Square Feet or Less: Harbor Your Dreams

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After Leslie Webster lost her job as the managing editor of Apartment Therapy: San Francisco, she noticed that she was reaching midlife as a single woman who did not own her own home or, indeed, any significant assets. What she had was a love of the ocean. "I grew up by the beach, I worked on cruise ships, I lived on a Greek island," she says. "I always headed to the coast to clear my head." She had put off her dream lifestyle and didn’t want to hit her midforties still fantasizing about it. That’s when she found a houseboat on Craigslist and took the plunge. It was a soul-enhancing decision. "I’ve become interested in nature and tides and full moons and shorebirds and sea creatures," she writes on her charming blog, A Simple Life Afloat. Webster, a self-described minimalist, says, "I’m probably the only person in my marina who isn’t paying for storage." She has dealt with such design issues as paint colors, TV cabinets, ships’ horns, mattress ticking, built-in furniture and Sunbrella fabrics to keep out the sunshine, which is amplified by the water. She’s learned about home making in moist conditions (jute carpeting: not a good idea) and working with the rhythms of nature-a life-transforming idea. Choosing a Craft "The boat is flat and on one level, important because I am a seeing-eye person for a blind dog! It’s very stable and easy to roam around on. Cruise-a-Homes were made between 1968 and 1980 in Washington State. They are cult items now." Wardrobe on the Water "I’ve simplified. I wear jeans, linen shirts and flip-flops or Converses. I’ve also learned to love cashmere-especially socks in the winter. It gets cold on the water."
Photo: David Meredith
A Really Good Night "I seem to dream less, but I sleep much better than ever." Fitting In "I have a great social life here. I’ve gone from being a workaholic who never left home to someone who eats out on friends’ boats every night. I have a real sense of neighborhood."
Photo: David Meredith
Dollars and Sense "My boat cost $11,000. I make a living as a freelance writer and editor, and I’m very careful about what I spend to fix it up." Steering a Course "I don’t have a pilot’s license.I don’t know how to drive this thing. Ijust stay anchored."
Photo: David Meredith
The Urge to Blog "I couldn’t find any information about living on a boat when I started out. I wanted to know basic stuff, like whether paperbacks or hardcover books were better on board. So the blog, at asimplelife?, was meant to be a place to answer questions for other people. It is a great creative outlet, too." An Even Keel "I never get seasick, but when we’re in a patch of severe weather and it gets too intense and noisy, I ride it out in the library or a coffee shop."
Photo: David Meredith
Changes "My friends are thrilled. They think I’ve never looked better. But my mom can’t visit; she can’t handle the deck ramp. So I take lots of pictures." No Second Thoughts "This is the best decision of my life, and I’m thankful every single day that I did it. I not only found a great place to live but also found a great way to live."
Photo: David Meredith

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