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Old 02-12-2009, 09:50   #1
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Spending Winter in the Keys

So the plan right now is to drive down to FL mid January, buy a boat and live on it till May and then sell the boat and drive back up. I have about $10k for the whole trip and I'd like to have some left over so I can get an apt when I get back.

I'm not looking for luxury, I'm basically considering this a long camping trip. I'm looking for a boat 27'-30' and I've seen a few on craigslist in "sail away" condition asking around $6k and I'm hoping for just a tad cheaper than that. I'm hoping to avoid any major flaws and I can live with any minor flaws. One thing I'm looking for is a boat in good condition but with a bad engine for cheap that I can repair while living on the boat. The Catalina 27 seems to be very popular and not overly expensive.

I would prefer to stay at a marina and I'm hoping to find one somewhere in the Keys for around $400/month, does that sound reasonable?

Assume $5k for a boat and $2k for marina fees that leaves me with $3k for food, booze, phone, car insurance, maintenance, and other things that come up which will leave things pretty tight. I am going to be working while I am down there so I need to be within cell phone range and I will hopefully have some extra income starting Feb-March. If I need extra money I can probably find a job detailing motor yachts and cars. I've done it for the last 5 years locally so I have plenty of experience and equipment.

Now I know this is not a lot of money to work with but I also know that this can and will be done. With that in mind I'm looking for some advice on basically any aspect of my trip.
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:19   #2
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I would steer clear of Key West but Marathon, Hawks Cay or the Greater Key Largo area might work for you. There are a lot of crap boats down here so you may want to look around Tampa for the boat and sail it down. Good luck. Dave
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:22   #3
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I'm looking anywhere that is not landlocked and not too cold in January. I'm going to take my time as I'm not going to be spending much money while in FL because I'm going to be camping.
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:47   #4
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buying a popular boat like the Catalina as opposed to an unknown brand would be good if you want to resell in a resonable period of time. Good luck! sounds like a good plan..... except the selling part!
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:17   #5
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May want to rethink the amount budgeted for Marina fee's...it's going to be ALOT more than your estimates. Look online at "Keys News" sometimes in the classified you can find a slip for rent but usually not for liveaboards. Best bet would to buy a Honda 2000k generator and anchor out or get a mooring in Key West or Marathon. If you want the most entertainment, go to Key West. It can get pretty slow in the Keys in winter. Check the local Marina's for boats for sale they seem to accumulate several every year due to non-payment...bargain HARD with them if you find something you like. And work a deal on dirt storage for the first month or so while you work on the boat...much faster to work on the boat when you are "dirt boating"...a great motivator! Increrase your budget for booze if you intend to socialize in the bars. Key West, IMO is the best of the islands for activities. One more idea, put an ad in the Keys News for caretaker or "want-to-rent"...a much cheaper and less work solution. Forget about apartments...can't be had for your budget. May want to leave the car at home or sell it...you won't need it there, parking is a B**ch, especially in KW. You may want a scooter, tho...fiqure $800-$1200 for a used one you won't have to push home.
Hope this helps....
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:34   #6
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Rvrratt - I was planning on driving down because I was planning to look at boats all over FL and camp out until I found one I liked. Logistics of getting my car and boat the the Keys was going to be tricky but once in the Keys I was hoping to park at the marina I was at. I was also planning to bring my bike to get around the island, don't think I need another motor to take care of. Thanks for the tip about Keys News, I'm gonna check it out.
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:04   #7
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Marathon is about 275 a month for mooring with pumpout, shore showers, parking spot, etc. Not outrageous IMHO.

details The City of Marathon FL - Official Website
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:12   #8
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Well, I'm not quite clear on whether you want to do any sailing. If you have a 27' sailboat in a slip in a marina or on a mooring for that matter and it has a bad engine, you won't do much.

My take is that a power boat would be better for your intended use. Eg.:

1974 Pacemaker Flybridge Sedan Power Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

Or, if you really want an engine to work on:

1979 Chris-Craft 281 Catalina Power Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:18   #9
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shipofools - that is perfect and even less than I was expecting to spend and includes parking. Do you know if they currently have any availability or if they likely will in January? Thanks!

slomotion - I'm going to be working full time during the week but plan on sailing to the bahamas and doing some island hopping.
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:23   #10
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joburnet, no clue on availability. it is first come first serve. we are doing the same thing, heading down for winter, but are driving our boat down in december. we are debating where to kind of make our homebase, looking all over florida, just can't seem to make up our minds. if we go for a slip, our beam makes it pricey. Right now it looks like the tampa/st petes/sarasota area is best for us.
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:27   #11
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One more thing...camping aint' so easy and cheap on the islands...KOA is expensive, check out their site for latest prices. Cheap camping will be the Mangroves with the homeless/drug abusers...NOT kidding!
Fiqure $600-1K for Marina w/liveaboard in KW. with parking.
Anchor out or moor...really...it's the best way to experience life there, and by far the cheapest....just get something that floats, buy a good dink w/motor (easy to re-sell there) and ride your bike. Take your car down and if you can't find a place to park it, drive it North until you can find a good spot and then bus back down. Can't overstress the parking difficulties in KW. As shipofools suggests, Marathon is nice too, but social life is slower. Renting a mooring is by far the best way to go for the bucks...remember if you anchor out, you will be charged to pull your dingy into shore.... everytime! Then there is hauling your water and most importantly is pumping out your waste....big pain if you are just anchoring out....that is also why you need a motorized skiff....great for exploring and snorkeling, too. Consider your skiff your car..and forget about rowing if you really want to see the islands.
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Old 02-12-2009, 19:09   #12
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I was just at Boot Key Harbor / Marathon City Marina 2 days ago. There are moorings still available. Mooring fees include 1 weekly pump-out and dinghy dock usage. If I understood correctly, parking is NOT included and is $40 extra per month.

Pretty busy there but still some space. Also they have 3 or 4 new dinghy docks that will open very soon. Looks like a decent place but as others have said, Marathon is not KW for night life, etc.

Good luck with the plan. Choose wisely grasshopper.
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Old 02-12-2009, 19:42   #13
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Do a search for dockage rent for s. florida there are slips for rent generally probably more then you want to pay I am heading fron the chesapeake and hope to split my time between dockage and mooring
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Old 03-12-2009, 10:33   #14
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I also found information about mooring a Key West, apparently they just added many new spaces.

Key West Florida ~ Mooring Field
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Old 03-12-2009, 10:39   #15
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Last winter I rented a slip in Marathon at Keys Fisheries marina for, I believe, $11/foot (+ tax). I don't remember whether they have a 30 feet minimum price, or not. It is a small marina at a restaurant, but they did have a couple slips available, no reservations were needed. Liveaboard is allowed, there are basic showers there. It is within walking distance from the K-Mart/Publix.
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