May 20, 2023

Is Nude Boating Really A Thing?

Some people find their solace in the wailing rhythms of blues in an old Mississippi juke joint. Others, in the majesty of the Sistine Chapel, the serenity of a Kyoto temple garden, or the warm embrace of a family gathering on Thanksgiving. But for a certain kind of freedom seeker, the only sanctuary that soothes their restless soul is the bracing caress of sea breeze against bare skin, the soft lap of ocean waves beneath their naked feet. Welcome to the world of nude boating, my friends. Yes, it's a real thing. And I’m diving in head-first to explore it, all in the name of SeaMag cultural anthropology, of course.

Are These Nature Lovers Or?

Let's clear the air first. Nude boating is not some creepy, fringe activity practiced by weirdos and eccentrics. It's a global subculture that embraces body positivity, freedom, and a love for nature and the open sea. From the sunny shores of the French Riviera to the secluded bays of Croatia, people are shedding their threads and taking to the water just as they came into this world – stark naked.

You know, in my years traveling the globe, I’ve met a lot of different people, each with their unique ways of finding joy and living life to the fullest. The naturist boaters, or "bare boaters" as they like to call themselves, are no different. They are as varied as the spices in a Moroccan souk. From young, intrepid explorers seeking adventures without tan lines to older, laid-back couples just enjoying their retirement with the sun on their skin and the sea at their feet. I've even met a self-styled shaman who claimed that sailing naked helped him communicate better with the spirit of the ocean. I don't know about you, but I'd take that kind of crazy over 'normal' any day of the week.

Why So Many Foodies Boating Naked?

Now, you might be wondering, “what about the food? Surely, there must be some gastronomic angles to this whole nude boating business?” And you would be right, dear reader. In fact, food on these vessels is just as vital, if not more so, than on their clothed counterparts. However, it does come with its unique challenges and nuances.

There’s an unspoken rule amongst the bare boaters that frying is strictly off-limits. Can't say I blame them. Hot oil and naked skin are not the best bedfellows. Instead, they favor more 'nude-friendly' cooking methods like grilling, boiling, or raw foods. I once shared a delightful ceviche aboard a yacht off the coast of Belize. The cook, a freckled woman from Germany with an infectious laugh, told me the trick was in the citrus and a bit of freshly grated coconut. While bobbing gently on the Caribbean waters, made it taste like nothing I'd had before. The sensory overload, the tang of the sea mixing with the tang of the ceviche, was simply out of this world.

Safety, of course, is a major concern, more so than in a regular kitchen. A stray spatula flip or a rogue boiling pasta pot could lead to some rather uncomfortable incidents. But like any community, the bare boaters look out for one another. Cooking is done carefully, and often together. It’s not just about making food; it’s about sharing experiences and bonding in the truest sense of the word.

Is This For Couples?

Sure, there's a degree of eroticism involved in nude boating, but it's not the primary focus. In fact, most of the bare boaters I've interviewed look at nudity more from a comfort and freedom perspective than a sexual one. There's something pure about feeling the sun and wind on your skin, unobstructed by fabric.

It’s a return to a primal state, a communion with nature that our modern lives so often deny us. One veteran bare boater, a grizzled Frenchman with a passion for Nietzsche and a sailor's mouth, explained it to me this way: "Charlie, we're all just animals pretending to be humans. Out here, on the sea, naked as the day we were born, we get to drop the act. We get to be real again."


And yet, it's not all sunshine and daisies, of course. Nude boating has its fair share of challenges. Sunburn, for instance, is a very real and serious concern. Trust me, there are places you absolutely do not want to get sunburnt. And yet, the bare boaters take it in stride. They have their rituals and rules, their sunscreen brands of choice, their wide-brimmed hats, and their shaded nooks on deck. They face the challenges head-on, and, in their resolve, you see their love for their lifestyle and their passion for the freedom it offers.

There's also the issue of legality. Not all waters are friendly to nude boating. In many parts of the world, public nudity is still a punishable offense. Many bare boaters have stories of confrontations with law enforcement, of being driven from their favorite spots by less tolerant folks. But they persist. They keep on exploring, keep on seeking out places where they can be free. In their determination, you see not just a love for nudity, but a plea for tolerance and understanding.

In the end, what these boaters taught me is that nude boating isn’t just about baring bodies, but about baring souls. It's about peeling back the layers of societal expectation and pretension, and finding joy in the simplicity of human connection and nature's embrace. It's about freedom, in its most primal and pure form.

So, is nude boating really a thing? Oh, hell yes. It's a subculture, a lifestyle, a community, and, for many, a path to self-discovery and liberation. But like every journey, it may not be for everyone. Yet, if you ever find yourself yearning for a different kind of freedom, for an adventure that takes you beyond the usual boundaries, you might just want to give nude boating a shot.

Just remember, though, the sunscreen. Lots and lots of sunscreen.

And just a note to the foodies among you, the gastronomic world aboard a nude boat is as rich and diverse as any you'll find in the clothed universe. From freshly caught, grilled fish served on a bed of crisp, organic greens, to succulent tropical fruits and island-made cheeses, to the catch-of-the-day sushi rolled up by a seasoned Japanese chef, there's no shortage of culinary delight to discover.

But beyond the cuisine, there's something more profound to be experienced. Food tastes different when you're naked (so they say) – sharper, more intense, somehow more real. It's as if shedding your clothes also sheds a layer of sensory inhibition, allowing you to experience food in its raw, unfiltered glory.

I remember, on a balmy night off the coast of St. Martin, I was invited to a barely-there boating barbeque. I was skeptical, yes, but I accepted. The aroma of jerk chicken and lobster tails grilling over an open fire, mixed with the salty sea air, is a memory that will stick with me forever. Eating that meal, under the stars, the Caribbean Sea gently lapping against the boat, clothed-like half the crowd – it was an experience that transcended the mere act of eating. It was a communion of sorts, a primal celebration of life, freedom, and joy that few dinners could ever hope to match regardless of the attire.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. "aren't you worried about, you know, 'things' getting in the way?" And to that, I say, sure, it's a concern. But let me tell you, nothing sharpens your anchoring etiquet like getting something snagged on the line. It’s not for the faint of heart, but then again, neither is life.


And then there's the camaraderie. When you're sharing a boat with fellow naturists, stripped of the usual societal norms and status symbols, you get to connect with people on a deeply human level. Stories are shared, friendships are forged, and a sense of community is built that few other experiences can match.

Nude boating strips life down to its essentials. It removes the unnecessary and the pretentious, and leaves behind the raw, the real, the beautiful. It teaches you to appreciate the small things – the warmth of the sun on your skin, the cool splash of the sea, the simple joy of a well-cooked meal shared among friends.

So, is nude boating really a thing? More than a thing, it's a philosophy, a celebration of life in its most primal form. It’s a testament to the human spirit's unquenchable thirst for freedom and connection. And while it might not be for everyone, for those who dare to bare, it's a journey of discovery that can transform the way you see the world and yourself.

And the number one rule: never forget the sunscreen. It's a wild, beautiful ride out there on the open sea. Enjoy the journey, my friends. After all, we only have one life to live. Why not live it as authentically, and as freely, as we can? Stay adventurous. Stay curious. And, if it feels right, stay naked.

Charlie Hardcastle
Charlie is Editor-in-Chief of Sea Magazine
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