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Old 15-04-2008, 20:38   #1
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Looking forward to living aboard

My husband and I plan to live aboard as snowbirds in about five years to explore Gulf Coast Florida, escaping these cold Missouri winters. We enjoy a 26' cruiser now but are considering 'practicing' in the meantime by upgrading to 32'-40' or larger in the Ozarks. We are planning to rent a yacht for a week in the spring of 09 from either Jung Charters in Sarasota or Southwest Florida Yachts out of Ft. Myers. We figure this is a great way to get a taste of the cruising lifestyle before making a permanent investment. We would love to hear suggestions from this experienced audience as to what things we should consider, if we should be concerned about making a $50,000+ investment in a boat at this time, what marinas/dock restaurants/sites are not to be missed on our rental next year, etc. We appreciate your input and enjoy living vicariously through your experiences in the meantime!
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Old 15-04-2008, 21:28   #2
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Charter good, cheap old boat not so good...

I heartily endorse your decision to charter before committing to a purchase. I suggest more than a few.

$50k is a cheap boat in most parts of the world now. A 32' may be found in good condition but the larger boats may need considerable refurbishment. Unless a boat is newish and has been used for extended cruising it will almost certainly need modification. None of this is cheap.

I suggest doing more research into available boats. Two years is not overlong for a considered purchase nor is two years on refurbishing.
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Old 15-04-2008, 21:59   #3
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Agreed, charters will be our annual vacation plan for the next 5 years to see if this lifestyle would be a good fit. The size/condition of charter yachts should help us decide what we would need for an extended stay. I appreciate your feedback.
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Old 15-04-2008, 22:18   #4
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Hi Emerals:

The family and I chartered out of Ft Meyers a couple of years ago and you can't go wrong going either north or south. There is a wonderful book on the different anchorages that you can reach. It is on the net but I can't find it right now. Ill look again tommorrow. Make sure that whatever boat that you charter has a bimini. The Florida sun is really hot and we were there in April/May.

One thing that we found out is that any street that ends at the water is by law public access to the water or if on the water to the land.
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Old 16-04-2008, 06:46   #5
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Why not charter out of Ft. Lauderdale, or Miami? Make a quick hop to the Bahamas, and get an all new perspective on cruising.
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Old 16-04-2008, 13:02   #6
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There are an infinite variety of cruising styles and they are all valid and appropriate for different people. It’s probably too early for you to know what really appeals to you. So, by all means try a charter in south Florida. If the goal is marina hopping around south Florida and the Keys, you will find that it is quite expensive and crowded. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun - it can be a gas. However, if there is such a thing as a ‘mainstream’ cruiser, most of them save money by anchoring and like to get away from resorts once in awhile.

And one of the best places to do that is the Bahamas. I recommend that you also charter there. It is still possible to find anchorages there where you pretty much have a whole beach or island to yourselves. And, you can alternate that experience with party towns like Staniel Cay or George Town. Imagine2frolic is correct - the Bahamas are perhaps the most spectacular cruising waters in the world, and they are within easy reach from south Florida. Sometimes it doesn't even look real (yes, the boat's shadow is visible through the water on the sand bottom):
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Old 16-04-2008, 13:12   #7
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WOW....great pic...now that could seduce anyone to the Bahamas. I use to be in a hurry to get to the South Pacific, but after doing 4 sailing seasons in the Bahamas. The South Pacific will come when it comes............
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Old 16-04-2008, 22:24   #8
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The Bahamas are tempting, but not for our first big water experience. As Midwesterner's who have only spent time on lakes without so much as a GPS, we figure the first few ocean-going experiences ought to be within earshot and eyeshot of land. Actually I'm the conservative one who's read too many posts about grounding, storms and other perils at sea - my husband would head for the horizon and learn as he goes. I hope to hook up with others heading the same direction some day.
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Old 19-04-2008, 18:07   #9
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Originally Posted by emeraldprinting View Post
The Bahamas are tempting, but not for our first big water experience. As Midwesterner's who have only spent time on lakes without so much as a GPS, we figure the first few ocean-going experiences ought to be within earshot and eyeshot of land.
Good thinking and even more so that are considering renting before buying. You might also consider taking a class where you live on the boat. You can even get one that goes to the Bahamas. But keep in mind it is weather dependant so while you may be thinking "Great! We're going to the Bahamas", weather is saying you are going to the Keys.

As for why it is more like the cruising you will end up doing, schools need to keep the costs down for the students so they tend anchor out most of the time, reserving the dock time for fuel and docking practice. That and more rum.

Just a thought.
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Old 20-04-2008, 12:57   #10
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Good idea. We have a few years to 'practice' so we'll be watching for opportunities to spend more time on the water and learn what we can.
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Old 21-04-2008, 01:54   #11
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$50k is a cheap boat in most parts of the world now. A 32' may be found in good condition but the larger boats may need considerable refurbishment. Unless a boat is newish and has been used for extended cruising it will almost certainly need modification. None of this is cheap.
If that is going to be your budget, and you have a number of years to go, I suggest you start taking some classes at the local vo-tec school or community college on things related. For example a diesel engines class will set you up pretty well. You don't need some elaborate certification class (though that might be a decent source of income while on the move) but it would be useful to know what you can and can't repair, how the engine works, common problems and fixes, troubleshooting, etc.

If you are thinking about a motorsailer you might be able to get in with a sailmaker.

In my opinion, what you are really looking for is not trade mastery but familiarization with a number. This way when something minor goes wrong, you can fix it and not be staring it the cursed thing with a bewildered expression not unlike a pig looking at blueprints.

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