Paying rent every month is not Connor Crowe’s biggest concern as a college student.
The recreation, parks and tourism administration junior decided to completely change his way of life last year to pursue his dream job.
After becoming a reserve firefighter for the Morro Bay Fire Department, Crowe had to find a place to live within close proximity to the station.
“They told me I had three weeks to move to Morro Bay and I needed to move to Morro. I started thinking, ‘Oh, I’m gonna have to sublease my room, I’m gonna have to find some living in Morro Bay,’ and it was all pretty expensive,” Crowe said.
Crowe decided to find an alternative housing option — on a boat.
“I just thought of cheap living situations that I could do and I found the boat and … I thought, ‘Eh, why not?’” he said.
Last December, Crowe started searching on Craigslist for a boat in his hometown in San Diego to sail up to San Luis Obispo, but was concerned about finding a place to keep it. Days before the quarter started, he found his boat from a local owner in Morro Bay, and Crowe convinced him to sell it.
The boat, “New Marimar,” is a 27-foot sailboat on which Crowe has learned to sail, eat and sleep.
“It like happened so fast, I was like, ‘Did I really just make this decision? Did I actually just do this?’ … all of a sudden it’s like, you’re living by yourself, no one is out here really,” Crowe said. “So it’s definitely a big adjustment to going with all your friends to just yourself and literally no other people really around you.”
Besides feeling initially isolated in his new home, Crowe also faced some challenges in his everyday life, from making himself meals to trying to keep dry.
The biggest problem Crowe has faced so far is cooking food. He said it was initially hard to get electricity to the boat, so simple life necessities like refrigeration were difficult. After repainting the boat and installing solar panels though, Crowe said he had it dialed in and it felt like home.
Although the space on the boat is small, Crowe has made himself at home, with a kitchen, TV and bed — which he said he sleeps well on because it rocks him to sleep.
“It definitely has its ups and downs, literally, with the tide … the first month I lived here it was when it was raining last year in the winter a bunch and the electricity wasn’t working on the boat, so I had no electricity, no power, it was so cold, and I just had like a bunch of candles set up,” Crowe said. “The boat had leaks when I first got it, too, so like water was coming in and I had like little buckets set up, so that was kinda sketchy but now like I have it dialed in.”
Despite these challenges, Crowe said the experience has allowed him to grow and prepare for his future.
“I like just coming out here at nights and it’s, like, so quiet. The only thing you hear are the owls and stuff and it’s so cool, and the bioluminescence at night is really cool. Like, one night I remember, specifically, it was so good you could see schools of hundreds of fish swimming in the water and it was like a trail of glow-in-the-dark fish in the water and just cool experiences like that … I think it’s probably actually been a good thing almost, it’s made me more independent, and it’s kind of prepared me for whatever is going to come next,” Crowe said.
Even though Crowe enjoyed the experience living on the water, he said there are times he misses the life of being a typical college student.
“I was so close to campus on Kentucky Street like with all my friends on the [track] team,” Crowe said. “I think it’s probably been actually a good thing almost it’s made me more independent and it’s kinda prepared me for whatever’s gonna come next. I really do not care, like, where I live after this.”
Crowe said he probably won’t live on this boat for the rest of his college career and plans on selling it. However, he does hope to get a bigger boat someday.
“It depends where I end up going with my job, but I’ll probably keep it as long as possible. There’s certain slips in Morro Bay that are privately owned, and you own the slip and don’t have to pay a monthly fee to keep your boat there, so I would just keep the boat for the rest of my life probably and just like have it as a vacation home to come to and take my family out sailing,” he said.