TWA members and others are talking to writer Sharon Babcock about enduring inspirations, life lessons, and perspectives from their experiences on the working waterfront.
This month’s feature: Louis Little who lives on board his boat at the Foss Harbor Marina.
by Sharon Babcock
Louis Little and Sprocket, an English Jack Russell Terrier, live aboard a sailboat moored at the Foss Harbor Marina on Dock Street. Little shares some of his experiences living life on the water.
Q: What brought you to living aboard a boat on the Foss Waterway?
A: I was living in Des Moines and working in Portland with a requirement to be in Tacoma for a portion of my work. I proposed to my employer that I could live aboard my boat in Tacoma at significant savings over his hotel bill for me if he covered the moorage cost. He agreed—and saves $1,200 a month.
Q: What is the boat’s space like?
A: It is the most comfortable place I’ve lived. It sleeps five. There is not a lot of room for belongings, but that suits me because I’ve found that belongings break down. The V-berth in the bow holds you tight; you feel like you did when you were a child.
Q: Does it take special maintenance skills to live aboard?
A: Just the usual boater’s discipline of cleaning the boat and removing algae regularly.
Q: Is there a community in your marina?
A: There are fine people here. I would describe them as helpful and caring about one another. When I first came, three of them noticed that my sailing skills needed some work. They offered to take me out on the water until I came to know what I was doing. The day-to-day is kind of like a Seinfeld scene—people simply drop by all the time. I have a paddleboard on the deck and invite neighbors to use it at will; they take me up on that. From my former life as a cross-country biker, I use my boat as lodging to host individuals and small groups who are biking cross country. It is a beautiful way to live.
Q: What kind of person does it typically take to live aboard a boat? Who do you recommend it for?
A: Though I am in my early 40s, I have learned that sailing takes a toll on the knees. Living aboard takes youth.
Q: How has your view of Commencement Bay evolved since you began to live on your boat?
A: I have lived in the amazing Ouray Canyon of Utah and the San Juan Islands of Washington, the “best of the best” locations in our country. I have learned that beauty is important for the place I live, and that I won’t settle for just OK. Commencement Bay has that “best of the best” level of beauty.