Living On a Boat

December 17, 2020 by sitontop_kayak

By Rob Casey

Five years ago, Kylie Keller’s Seattle apartment was being demolished for new condos, so it was time to look for another place to live. Wanting to stay in her favorite neighborhood of Ballard, a community on the shores of Puget Sound known for its rich maritime culture, she began to research her options.

One night, Kylie met with friends who were boaters. The boaters suggested she become a live-a-board, meaning living on a boat.  They explained that by purchasing a used boat she could continue to live in Ballard, have a water and mountain view and live in a cool close-knit community!  Choosing to go in that direction, Kylie began to look for boats and available slips in Shilshole Marina, which has 500 live-a-board residents plus on-shore showers, laundry and other amenities.


After a few months and with help from a friend who is a boat broker, she found a 38’ Carver, a motorboat.  She also found a slip in the marina. The boat had two bedrooms and enough room for Kylie and her son and their new dog Koda. With the help of her boating friends, she also learned how to pilot the boat in the marina and on Puget Sound.  Over the next few years, Kylie and her son became immersed in the live-a-board culture. Her son has even expressed an interest in studying marine electronics in college. During some evenings, harbor seals would jump up on their swim deck for the night.  During Covid-19, residents gathered outside on their docks for live concerts and distanced get-togethers.

In 2020, Kylie gained interest in getting a kayak to explore the marina and surrounding Shilshole Bay. After a purchase of her first kayak, a smaller recreational boat, she learned that she needed something faster and more stable with storage.  In the summer of 2020, she purchased a Swell Scupper 14’ which allowed her to explore further distances around her local waters.  Originally unable to find a solution for storing the boat on her boat deck, a neighbor suggested building a small low dock for the kayak adjacent to the boat.  She found a contractor who built the dock (pictured) during the summer.


After a few years of being a live-a-board, the cramped living situation, a head (toilet) that never seems to get repaired and the challenge to stay warm in winter began to take a toll on Kylie.  Kylie continues “I gave up having a bathtub, washer, dryer, dishwasher and closet space. There’s a delicate balance between using my microwave and space heater at the same time without blowing the breaker.”  With her son graduated from high school, Kylie decided it was time to move back on land.  She recently purchased a home in Port Orchard, across the Puget Sound from Seattle.


Port Orchard is known for its protected bays and scenic waterways and is on the Cascadia Marine Water Trail. Kylie is already getting excited to explore her new neighborhood with her Scupper!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.


Stay Informed