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Old 27-11-2009, 12:33   #1
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Intermittent Cruising

So... I find myself in a position to take intermittent extended vacations, say a month each quarter for the next several years till the university bills vanish.
I can handle the logistics work-wise but wonder how practical it is it to find marinas in the Caribbean to store a sailboat for 2-3 months at a time? At home, for example, you need to join for a year and pay accordingly.

I suspect the obvious choice would be to find a good marina and use it permanently but that means I would spend a portion of my sailing month each trip getting to and from new areas.

If this advances further I will have some questions for the experienced but for now do any of you leave your boats (mooring or dock) for extended periods or is it only for the rich and famous?

Have found numerous websites for marinas but no rates unless you email each one and, of course, they are all described as "perfect".

Thanks for your comments both + and-.
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Old 27-11-2009, 12:58   #2
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No too many problems if you can afford the marinas, bottom cleaning and airfare. Main downside (for me anyway) would be stripping the boat every few months and then spending the first week back aboard provisioning and getting things shipshape. Unfortunately, there frequently are surprises when you get back to the boat.
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Old 27-11-2009, 14:42   #3
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Although we planned on some intermittent cruising we've done more than we thought. When we leave the boat for more than a month or two we have her hauled and stored on the hard. It works out to be cheaper and less stressful for us.

We've mostly been on the East Coast and it is easy to find well protected boatyards. It also saves on insurance. However, all this may change if you are doing it in the Caribbean.
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Old 27-11-2009, 14:54   #4
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Which boat?

If you could let us know what sort of boat you have, where you are starting from and your desired cruising areas we could make more relevant suggestions.

If you don't have a boat is chartering an acceptable option?
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Old 27-11-2009, 15:50   #5
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For the past 3 to 4 years I've had my boat stationed in the BVI. I sailed for a few months twice a year and basically put it on the hard in Hurricane season.. well most of it.

In between the non hurricane season sails, I had the boat on a mooring under a Yacht Manager who took care of it for me and had it ready to sail except for provisioning when ever I advised them I would be down. Worked great.

This time, I'm going down with a one way ticket and hope to liveaboard for about 2 or 3 years but will fly back on occasions but for much shorter terms.

The key factor is what type boat you have and where.... In my area, my boat type is very common and cost to maintain is lower than for other types. How well you select your place to store is also key.

The advantage in stationing your boat in the location you wish to do most of your sailing is also important. From the BVI I can do all the Virgins with no difficulty and same with the Leewards and some of the Windwards. Takes a bit more planning as I would move down the Caribbean chain toward South America.

For short term sails to other far off areas, I would charter as I like cruising with short hops not long duration sails. For me a long duration sail is anything over 2 to 3 days where cruising becomes more like WORK.... NOT something I have a lot of interest in.

It all depends on where and what type sailing you are interested in.
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Old 27-11-2009, 18:04   #6
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If the caribbean is too expensive is there a cheaper place i.e. marina and airfares?
Panama was much cheaper for us crusiing through, what about mexico or some parts of central America or venuzalea, Columbia, Brazil(!!)
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Old 28-11-2009, 04:32   #7
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WB, I'm going to guess you are located in the SE USA (you mention cruising in the Caribbean). If that's correct and if you don't mind leaving your boat on the hook (which is likely the only affordable way you can approach this idea, given the air fares will be costly enough) then IMO the key is to choose the right anchorages. Here's one set of examples you can consider:

SE Florida down to G'town, Great Exuma (post storm season): leave the boat in one of the 'pools' and under the care of one of the regular Bahamian caretakers down there who is recommended by the cruisers; this isn't all that unusual an arrangement (tho' getting a spot in one of the pools is easier if you arrive before the gaggle of Snow Birds). This allows you time to visit some of the Bahamian island groups and reach G'town. Flight back via Nassau from G'town.

G'town to Luperon, where you'll anchor in the big estuary: Not a place I like to recommend for a mix of reasons but it will have long-term boats and finding a caretaker won't be hard; safer than Manzanillo and certainly more affordable than the new marina in Puerto Plata. Allows sufficient time for visiting a mix of Bahamian islands SE of G'town plus Turks & Caicos before arriving DR. Flight out of Puerto Plata.

Luperon to Salinas, PR: Another fetid, semi-protected but popular estuary like Luperon that you can easily reach in the month period you mention, and again where you can find yachties to look after your boat (if not the marina folks themselves). PR is a far better cruising destination in its own right than most Americans appreciate. Flight out of San Juan after a taxi ride over the mountains.

Salinas to Simpson Bay, St. Martin: yet another fetid estuary with lots of semi-resident boats but this time with multiple chandlers nearby should you need to do some repairs/add a system or two. This island has lots of flights and the French side is very casual about length of stay tho' you may need to deal with the Dutch folks if flying out/back in.

You get the idea. I'm not keen on leaving my boat on her own in a foreign port and on the hook, nor in trusting folks that will have access to her, which is what I think is the main wrinkle in your plans vs. costs, logisitscs, etc. With each of these 'jumps', there are marina alternatives in the same area where the boat would arguably be much safer BUT which will be relatively more costly and not help you pay off the college debt as easily.

In your shoes, I'd look at the SE USA area as my cruising venue instead. The St. Johns River and GA Sounds (including lovely Cumberland Is.) would make one great venue for a month's cruising, operating out of the Indian R. area would allow you to hop over to the Abacos on another segment, the Keys & Everglades would offer some interesting stops for you during another round, then there's the lovely Charlotte Bay (much of it undeveloped) and the beautiful waterfront venue of St. Petersburg for another segment. All of these areas make for good cruising and, with the exception of the jump over to the Abacos, are somewhat independent of weather since protected waters are nearby - an important consideration given you'll be watching the calendar. However, the 'leave her on the hook' vs. 'cost of a berth' will still be a hurdle you'll have to seriously think through at the end of each cruising segment.

Jack
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Old 28-11-2009, 08:32   #8
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One added note to help with leaving your vessel in the Florida-Caribbean areas,- google "damprid". We find that leaving this product onboard in our absence greatly improves the condition of the interior when we return. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 29-11-2009, 14:26   #9
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I have chartered just enough to know that a week or two doesn't cut it. A month may not either!!
I am starting from Nova Scotia so the initial plan is just to get south of winter, say Beaufort, NC by Oct 15 - 30. Boat then goes on a mooring or storage till Dec 1.
That is decision time, A) passage to Caribbean or;
B) coastal/ICW southwards towards Florida hoping to make southern Florida by Christmas. Plan A of course could be forced into plan B at the last minute due to weather or other constraints. Hey, if NC is as far as it goes I will have a leisurely trip back home next summer.

There is lots to see in either direction so I don't really care too much except that
version A lets me hop up and down the islands over a few trips and then it is downwind over the next few years to Florida and around back north.

Flight costs are accepted. Whoosh, any idea of storage charges in southern US?
Reality Check, if I use $600 per month for storage in Caribbean do you think that covers it? I don't want to be on a firm budget but also don't want to think $600 covers it and find out it will be $1500 after I get there. I will not be comfortable with leaving the boat at anchor for a couple months so it needs to be a mooring or dock.

The boat is C&C 110, 6 ft draft, 55 ft mast so fits ICW if necessary. It is a bit light on fuel, water and storage space for plan A passage but great for coastal or island hopping.

Anyway, thanks for your comments so far, the dialogue will help the plans gel. Have ordered a couple of cruising guides which should have lots of info for marinas on the way south from NC.
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Old 30-11-2009, 07:50   #10
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From Beaufort NC direct to Bermuda and points south -or- direct to the Virgins (your Plan A), leaving in December is IMO too late by a month or more. Given your premium on time, I'd opt for a series of overnight hops using the large estuaries all along the East Coast with their deep, well marked 24/7 entrances. Ovenight run, check wx to see if one continues on or it's time to pull in, then another overnight run, etc. Easy on fuel, quite safe if watching weather, and relatively quick. After enjoying Cumberland Is. (adjacent to the St. Mary's river and nearby estuary), one hops to Port Canaveral (another 24/7 entrance) at which point you can weigh whether you spend some time in the Abacos or spend it in SE Florida. The critical issue is whether you hope to do this for more than a single year, as leaving the Bahamas/USA east coast is more of a logistical commitment.

You seem to have more faith in moorings (about which you will know very little, even if you dive it) and your own anchors and rode (which you will know intimately). I'd suggest you reconsider that, tho' it may lead you in the direction of discounting all storage options other than going on the hard ($$$ with the lift costs included and also fewer once you are away from the U.S.) or tied up, in season, to a marina berth ($$$). Truth be told, even outside the storm (cyclone) season, there are no 'totally safe' berths for boats with absentee owners, tho' protected coastal waters (e.g. inside the Indian River of FL) are close.

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Old 30-11-2009, 09:24   #11
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Cost would depend on size and type of the boat. Multi hulls are more expensive in general and depth requirements come into play in some locations. For my 36' bene I can get what I need for a bit under $600. In general the rates for a mooring at a monthly rate is between $12 to $16 per foot (most often a $500 min) and an additional sum... $150 and up for yacht management with each activity they perform based on a fixed schedule.

The alternative is putting it on the Hard. Nanny Cay Resort, Marina & Boatyard - British Virgin Islands - Marina Rates these are the upper end rates for the activities... some lower rates are offered by other marina approved contractors or other marinas but typically with lesser facilities. NOTE: Nanny Cay is a great place to store a boat and shop/ reprovison get fuel and such but when the wind is down in some seasons the bugs are horrible!

As far as "having to spend time getting to next new location" you can always island hop and store at a new place at the end of each trip. You just have to do your homework on where. For most of the Eastern Caribbean, you can reach almost anywhere in a day if you select your weather/ winds and plan on what is typical for the time of year you will be sailing.
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