Perhaps it comes from being away from your home country and its associated stigmas. Or maybe there’s an element of feeling on a perpetual holiday. It might even be as simple as no longer caring what anyone thinks. Whichever way you look at it the undeniable truth is that cruisers spend a lot of time naked.


This is not a lifestyle choice, I hasten to add. We haven’t suddenly become naturists and no self-respecting sailor expects to carry out a conversation with another whilst in their birthday suit. But, it has to be said that liveaboard boaters, by and large, do enjoy a lot of time without clothes on.


An awful lot of it comes down to necessity. It’s hot and humid where we are, and for most of the hours of the day, all year round, it’s considered dressing up to be in anything other than shorts or a bikini. Sure, year round sailors who are bashing about in the Solent wouldn’t quite be able to relate to this condition, nor would those spending the winter in Sydney or Auckland or the boats that ply the waters of Canada or Scandanavia. Truly, they probably shudder at the thought of it. But the daily act of diving into the turquoise waters of the tropics and showering the salt off at the stern does give you a certain new confidence and a more lackadaisical approach to privacy.


When your boat is at anchor and the anchorage not too crowded you almost feel as though there is a bubble-like forcefield surrounding each vessel. If you choose to go swimming in the nude then the other boats are far enough away that your modesty remains secure and you can even stand and shower at the back of the boat without accidentally flashing your neighbours if the wind and angle of the boat are in your favour. Or sometimes, you may decide to throw caution to the wind, assure yourself that no one could possibly see you from so far away, or else you simply stop worrying about it and have your shower in the buff.


On board, in the seclusion of your own cabin, who needs the hassle of extra layers when the temperatures are soaring around 30°C? Far easier to save on the laundry and just walk around in your underwear. Among fellow cruisers it’s an ongoing joke as an unscheduled knock on the hull and friendly call of ‘ahoy there’ will often elicit the response ‘hang on, I’m just putting pants on!’. Personally, I admit to becoming far more liberal about whether anyone sees me baring all since having a baby. Our little daughter is regularly bathed or showered in full view of the anchorage and quite enjoys scrambling about on deck totally naked. In fact, one tell-tale sign of a ‘boat kid’ is one who frequently de-robes with no warning and a look of utter composure.


But, before you write us off as a crazy, stark-naked bunch with no boundaries whatsoever, I should point out that even we have our limits to such brazen stripping. I’m sure these vary from cruiser to cruiser but my own cut-off point was definitely trampled over upon encountering friends of ours cleaning their boat one day. This middle-aged couple took great pride in keeping their catamaran a gleaming, brilliant white and scrubbed her down every day, not a bad activity in the blazing sunshine. The wife would be going about the chore while wearing a bikini whilst her husband adopted a more European-style speedo pair of trunks. We saw them undertaking this cleaning task daily as we were sharing an anchorage with them so dinghy trips ashore would include us giving them a quick wave as we sped past. However, one such journey revealed that not only had the gentleman decided to adios his teeny tiny trunks altogether to wash down the boat but then proceeded to call us over and chat, facing us!


My distinctly British sensibilities had me blushing right down to my toes as I averted my eyes but our friendly neighbour, not to mention his bikini-clad wife, was clearly quite comfortable with being buck naked in company. Had he stopped caring? Maybe he’d just been cruising too long? Or perhaps we, only on our boat for a year at that time, hadn’t quite got used to the bold ways of certain sailors. For every person stuck at their desk in an office, dreaming of getting on a boat and getting out on the water there might just be a part of them that craves the bare freedoms that go with it.


Your own private anchorage - complete with curtain-twitching neighbours!
Your own private anchorage – complete with curtain-twitching neighbours!