Tiny Home Off-Grid Living: Life on a Maine Sailboat in South Portland

(Originally published in the fall of 2016 on my old blog, Outdated By Design.) One of Wayne’s colleagues in the marine industry lives on a sailboat year-round. When he first mentioned she lives on a boat I assumed he meant a houseboat. Nope. Skye and her husband Matt graciously accepted my request to see their home and find out what it’s like to live on a sailboat in Maine where the winters get interesting.


You can’t tell from the photo, but this incline is super STEEP because it’s low tide. I had to hold onto the railing (and Wayne) on my way down. Immediately I flashed back to the 1998 ice storm when I was forced to sit to slide my way down a small hill; otherwise I would have wiped out. (Now that I think of it I want to write about that experience here at some point.) I was trying to imagine going up and down this walkway in January.



The water was calm and reflected the winterized boats parked on the pavement across the way.



The white plastic is shrink-wrapped around the boats similar to the way some Mainers, in an attempt to keep out the drafts, will lay clear plastic film over their windows and then shrink it with a hair dryer. Wayne explained that in the case with boats a large propane-powered heat gun is used. Although these boats above are housed here they aren’t housing people like the boats still on the water.


The front entrance.

Our shadows strolling in the little neighborhood towards Skye and Matt’s.


Some of the friendly neighbors, one of whom was leaning over to get a closer look at us.


Here they are! (I love their moccasins. I forgot to ask where they bought them.)



Cool! It’s like a bubble boat shrink-wrapped in clear plastic to allow in the daylight and sunshine.



Discussing boats.


How’s THAT for a “backyard”?


Low tide exposes things like the white marker and the earth beneath the water.


Home Sweet POLYNYA!

Come on in!

Inside! Yes, those are Christmas lights!

Wayne is very much at home on boats.


This is Farley, their Maine Coon cat who is only six months and lives on the boat with them. I’m generally not a “cat person” but he won my heart during our visit.


Wayne is definitely a cat guy. Awwww.


Let’s take a look inside their living quarters. Watch your head as we step down the ladder.



Whoa! Look at those beautiful wood floors!


Yes, this is a cute and functional kitchen (“galley”) with more impressive woodwork.


Dishes are kept in this clever drop-down cabint.

More hiding places.

Spice cupboard!


The sitting/dining room next to the kitchen looks like the inside of a groovy 70s camper which makes sense since the sailboat was built in the 1970s.


This cat.

Some more of the many wooden built-ins for storage.


The bathroom (“the head”) has original mid-century fiberglass shades and light fixtures!



Pretty chill place to hang out. I asked Skye about the winter ice and she said that she does sometimes have to slide down that walkway and wears cleats. The docks also get icy which can be scary when they are moving with the water! Yikes!



Handrails for when the water is less than calm reminded me of those on the NYC subway only these are nautical chic.


The adorable master bedroom.

Bedroom storage.

The shower is in this little room next to the bedroom.


This is the entrance to the underbelly–the engine. Skye and Matt enjoy sailing after the winter thaw.


“Stay Afloat” and other necessities.


Farley takes advantage of the many nooks in which he can “hide.”


After an hour visit the sun was setting…at four o’clock, people! That’s northern New England November living.


Watching the sun set as we walked back.


To see more of Skye and Matt’s adventures with sailboat living, especially the technical aspects, check out Matt’s blog “A Life Aboard.”

I’ll be back sometime before Thanksgiving, but will be busy ’til then. I hope you enjoyed today’s “field trip!”

12 thoughts on “Tiny Home Off-Grid Living: Life on a Maine Sailboat in South Portland

  1. Enchanting! How do they heat the rooms in the winter? I'm not a cat person, but Maine Coons are so facinating. Hey! There's a big snow storm heading through Wyoming in the next couple of days. Don't know how much of it will be left by the time it gets to you, but it's supposed to get wintery. I think North Carolina wishes it would hurry up. Until we see you again, Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. Fascinating! I happen to follow a blog by a lady who sails full time with her husband. They have a small dog on board and she has featured another blogger who's cat lives with them on the boat. I haven't been on boats very often at all. It's interesting all they have to do for upkeep, maintenance, troubleshooting and just plain living on the water! And I am a cat person as you probably already know. Farley is beautiful!


  3. So wonderful to see how these clever nautical minimalists live. The boat seems so luxurious yet simple. Such great use of space. Thank you for sharing. Oh, and please find out about the moccasins and report back πŸ™‚


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