Houseboats and other liveaboard vessels are not uncommon on AirBnB, and they're as varied if not more so than every other type of accommodation. For all the questions listed, ask the owner, but here's a rough outline:
- Most liveaboards have basic cooking facilities. If you are self catering, expect everything to be smaller and more rudimentary than on dry land.
- Whether the owner is on the boat with you will depend on the lifestyle and choices of the owner just like any AirBnB, and should be made clear in the advert (if it isn't, ask), but things like the engine room (assuming there is one) will almost certainly be securely locked down either way.
- They should tell you if you need to bring anything special (but there's no harm in asking). There's nothing standard you might be reasonably expected to "just know" that you'd need. One exception: if you are planning to pose for photos on the boat in a captain's hat, you'll most likely have to bring your own
There are just a few additional things you should consider that are boat specific, especially for a sailboat in an open harbour:
- If the owner isn't going to be around, check what happens in case of an emergency such as a mooring rope coming loose in a storm. There might be a harbour master or similar, in which case, you might want to make sure you get their number, but you're very unlikely to need it.
- Check that it is hooked up for electricity and water (i.e. clean water in, waste water/sewage out). Most long-term moorings will have these facilities connected straight to the boat, and they'll "just work" just like in a house, but in some locations it might not be the norm and some nautical types might be so used to, say, only having 4 hours electricity a day on evenings from a battery charged by solar panels, or managing a septic tank, that they might forget to specify this to us landlubbers. But this is unlikely and is the sort of thing AirBnBers would be quick to complain about.
- There might be additional little things to do compared to a normal house, for example a procedure to avoid damp such as not keeping more than a few windows open or keeping a dehumidifier running, but the owner should tell you about these if there are any in the normal introductory tour.
Apart from that, simply pay more attention that usual when the owner shows you around, particularly to securing the boat and the "man overboard" procedure (probably just a rubber ring somewhere, but remember where it is!). If it's your first time on a boat (never thought I'd be on a boat), mention it in your introduction email, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
In general, I really enjoy staying on boats. Do be prepared however to have much less space than usual, and for any weather to feel twice as dramatic and be much louder than it normally would.