Living Aboard: Passing The Buck

March 2016 Feature Janet Groene and Gordon Groene

Disclaimer: These sites are listed for information. No endorsement by the writers or this magazine is implied.

Some chores are more fun than others. Some require skills that aren’t in your wheelhouse and others require tools or supplies that you don’t have room to keep onboard. The buzzword today in business is outsourcing. Where can this new trend fit into your liveaboard life?

Thanks to the internet, FedEx and other modern conveniences, you can be almost anywhere and still get quick and affordable ground transportation (think Uber), a virtual assistant (think or or have a personal shopper take your grocery list to the supermarket and bring back your order (think is even considering making deliveries from farmers’ markets.

Where does it pay to pass the work on to others?

Get Organized

If you just can’t find enough room onboard for everything, sites such as and will send you a professional organizer. The median price according to is $25 per hour with rates up to $60 an hour in some areas and more for mileage or complex projects.  

Pro: You get hard-headed guidance. You may be emotional about bric-a-brac or that stack of unread paperbacks. A professional is not. A pro also knows where to find storage and organizing aids that allow you to sort and stow more efficiently.

Con: A stranger comes onboard and takes charge of your stuff. You pay for the advice even if you don’t follow through.

Get a Meal

Meal-in-a-box companies are getting national attention. Through or you can get pre-measured ingredients for three gourmet meals for two people for about $60 to $75.

Pro: Everything is delivered dockside, right down to frozen meats and plastic bags of pre-measured herbs. Instructions take you through preparing a gourmet menu. You don’t have to plan, shop or stow. Cost is cheaper than a restaurant meal and for many cooks it’s creative and satisfying. Menus include hard-to-find ingredients.

Con: You’re cooking from scratch with all the usual work: peeling, dicing and clean up.

Ship a Parcel

Whether you’re shipping a gift to a loved one, returning a misfit or sending an item in for repair, it’s a hassle to find wrapping materials, prepare the package and get it to the post office. Instead, go to sites such as or These sites are specifically for shipping while is a general site that can find a gofer for all types of errands. 

Pro: Shyp packs the items, evaluates the best shipping methods and texts or emails you a receipt and tracking information.

Con: Insurance coverage may be limited and it’s available only in larger cities.       

Outsourcing Realities

* Most outsourcing websites are agents or franchisers for individual entrepreneurs. They may or may not be bonded, insured, licensed or background-checked.

* Many marinas don’t permit outside workers to work on resident boats. This probably doesn’t apply to personal and household jobs, but ask before commissioning work on the deck, hull or mechanical, plumbing or electrical systems.    

* Forget privacy. The search begins by asking your email or mobile phone address and, if you seek hands-on help, your location. You need a payment method such as a credit card or PayPal. Some sites ask your social security number. By nature, some jobs must probe personal information. Your personal shopper knows you’re buying adult diapers, hair dye or a 42-inch belt and your personal organizer learns you’re a packrat. Even if it’s entirely an online job done at a remote location, your virtual assistant takes online control of the files you want cataloged, the novel you want edited, the mail list you want vetted, the itinerary you are planning and perhaps your entire hard drive.

* Online help can be accessed from anywhere but it takes time and effort to find the right hands-on work at your location. And even though is one of the larger networks, it’s not available everywhere.

About the Authors

“Living Aboard” is a recurring column that focuses on living on your houseboat. Gordon and Janet Groene lived full-time on the go for ten years and they hold the NMMA Directors Award for boating journalism. Janet posts new galley recipes weekly at


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