View of downtown skyline from bay
  • View of downtown skyline from bay

Author: Jason Gentile

Neighborhood: San Diego

Age: 28

Occupation: Musician/Graphic Designer

Okay, ­here’s the deal: I ­don’t really have a neighborhood. A description of my general place of residence would look something like this: Pacific Ocean, San Diego, CA. Yes, really. I would tell you the exact part of the bay — and which one — I live in, if it ­weren’t for the fact that residing in a boat (renting it like an apartment) is now illegal in San ­Diego.

Six months ago, when I found myself hard up for cash and losing a financially crucial (yet annoyingly snobbish) roommate in North Park, I asked some friends to ask some friends about a cheap and decent place to live in this gilded town. Turned out that a friend of a friend of a cousin had a brother-in-law that had a boat docked here in SD and was thinking about renting options. I threw in my hat, and here I am, bobbing in the ­bay.

My sea legs have become semi-permanent, yet the 150 dollars a month it costs me is quite worth the adjustment. I make sure my presence is low-key around the docks, so as to prevent any boat owners from being tempted to alert the authorities. I also have to keep the favor of local security personnel. Typically a six-pack or a bottle of tequila does the trick. The biggest downfall is the showering and bathroom situation: public. It may be a bit disgusting at times — and it is — but ­I’ve got my system down ­now.

You see, this is no yacht ­I’m renting. ­It’s a 20-foot sailboat. Aside from a minuscule monthly payment, my responsibility is to keep it clean. ­That’s it. My dining room is Robertos (or any prefix “-ertos”) taco shop. My living room is the nearest coffee shop — where my bathroom usually is, too. At times I feel half-civilized, half-pirate, and half-secret agent, which I guess makes me one and a half persons? ­That’s kinda how I feel, even as I write this. One foot in the modern So-Cal world, and one in an aquatic, semi-homeless “other.”

This space can be both freeing and imprisoning at times. It can be downright alienating and lonely some days. Yet with a good book and a trooper of a girlfriend, this place is paradise — minus the exorbitant San Diego price tag. Each day I step off land and look back at the lights. ­Here’s the simple truth I see from my saltwater shelter: In this world — in this town — it seems to be the prices that are far more entrapping than a small boat could ever be. So my little slice of freedom has been to choose to live on a little boat. And although I am certainly not innocent in the biblical sense, I am no criminal either. Even though I am apparently breaking a law by sleeping here, my only crime is that ­I’m one step from homelessness and two from complete conformity...I ­think.

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antigeekess June 15, 2009 @ 10:34 p.m.

How enviable. I've considered the possibility of residing on a boat myself. Illegal in SD, is it? Figures. Anything that allows a wiley anticonsumerist type to stick it to da man usually is.

If your boat has a good looking brother, maybe you could hook me up? Until then, I hope you can continue to give the fuzz the slip.



Evelyn March 24, 2010 @ 9:40 a.m.

I'm curious, why journey to Lomaland? Are you a Loma student?


redcharlotte June 27, 2010 @ 10:03 a.m.

Living on a boat sure changes your perspective on land living. You know it's not illegal everywhere in San Diego. Being a sneakaboard isn't allowed, which is what you were doing, sneaky, sneaky, but legal liveaboards are allowed at many marinas.


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