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Old 23-08-2008, 16:51   #1
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Where to store our new catamaran

Not sure if this is the right forum for maximum exposure but, if not, I am hopeful the moderator will point me in the right direction.
We are Canadians and have made an offer on a 38ft catamaran, subject to survey in Ft. Lauderdale in October. With the belief that the deal will close in October, I need advice as to an ideal place to store it for 3-4 months until we can use it for our first sailing vacation in Jan or Feb, '09. It is being surveyed in Ft Lauderdale but not sure, because of tax reasons, if I will be able to store it in the U.S. or need to keep her offshore. I am Canadian and buying an offshore registered boat.

Therefore, I would really appreciate recommendations for a good and fairly priced marina to store our "new baby" for 3-4 months (Oct '08 to Jan '09) either in:
1. Florida - Ft Lauderdale?
2. Bahamas
We need to feel comfortable that our new acquisition will be safe and taken care of until we can take it for a 4-5 week vacation to the Bahamas and then potenially Cuba this winter.

It will then need to be stored on the hard for 10 months after this initial use until I retire the following winter and then it will become our liveaboard for at least 5-6 months every winter in the Caribbean.

I would appreciate advice from sailors/cruisers that have first hand experience with a recommended place to leave the boat. It will be frustrating enought to buy our retirement dream in a few months and then have to store her for several months before we spend our winter vacation aboard.

Thanks in advance for any first hand advice from a nervous first time boat owner.

Teej
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Old 23-08-2008, 17:35   #2
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Hi, Teej, and welcome to the forum ---

Having bought our own boat in Ft. Lauderdale, I have a couple of suggestions.

First, be aware that you can buy your boat in Florida and not pay sales tax (8+ percent, if I recall correctly), BUT you MUST take the boat out of the state absolutely no later than 90 days after you close the sale. And, yes, most definitely, they DO follow up and verify that you have done so. You must supply proof that the boat left the state. Furthermore, the boat may not re-enter Florida for at least six months.

So, unless you really want to contribute thousands of dollars to a place where you don't live, then you need to factor that into your plans.

I suggest that you see what you can do to postpone the closing to a date closer to when you would leave.

Also, keep in mind that you will very likely have to do some work on the boat. It will, most definitely, take three times longer to complete than you estimate. While Ft. Lauderdale has a wide variety of marine tradespeople available, they are not always working on your schedule. Also, do be prepared for a certain "attitude" in Ft. Lauderdale. It is, by far and away, the rudest place I've ever visited. That's not true for lots of people, especially in the marine industry, but the service people in stores, and the general attitudes elsewhere, are remarkably rude.

The Bahamas would certainly be an option, and there are certainly marinas where you could store it, but you also might want to consider taking it up the coast to the Brunswick area. I don't know their laws on taxes, though, so you might want to check that out.

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Old 23-08-2008, 17:49   #3
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We have just gone through the same exercise as you. I am English, we bought our new (to us) cruising catamaran back in April, but won't use it until October. It is currently in Newport News, Virginia. A cheap, safe, good marina. Also north of most of the hurricanes (we hope).

I know it is a long way to go, so is only a potential option. You will have to check with your insurers as they may not allow your boat to stay in the Bahamas during the hurricane season (Bluewater do, All State also do, but you have to be within 100 miles of the US)

You also need to check the travelhoist widths as I found many US yards cannot cope with catamarans.

Next summer we may well leave our boat in the marina at St Augustine. They are cat friendly and reasonably priced.

You may find someone on Craig's list offering a slip for rent.

But it will probably all come done to the tax problem.

Maybe we'll meet on the water this winter.

Good sailing!

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Old 23-08-2008, 19:38   #4
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BUT you MUST take the boat out of the state absolutely no later than 90 days after you close the sale.
Just in case you missed this from the above. It's real - it's important!

Richard, Newport News is pretty safe. At least I hope so since we are 20 miles north.
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Old 23-08-2008, 20:08   #5
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Florida does collect that tax. It's 6%. I wholeheartedly agree that it's much better to leave inside of that 90 day window than to be forced to pay the Florida tax.

One loophole might be to apply for Canadian Documented vessel status immediately upon closing. If you received Canadian Documentation, Florida will not be able to collect that tax.

If this aggravates the forementioned tax problem, then possibly 6% is a reasonable penalty to pay as Florida boats are heavily discounted these days to begin with.
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Old 24-08-2008, 23:16   #6
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Where to store our new catamaran

Thank you for the thoughtful replies to date.
Intentional Drifter, thanks for your perspectives. Can I ask where Brunswick is (I assume presumably out of FL, per your comments). I certainly do not want to pay the state of FL sales tax on a boat. The boat is presently foreign registered and will be registered by me under Canadian registry so I was thinking (hoping?) that FL sales tax would not be applicable.
Richard, thank you for your suggestion on Newport News, Virginia. How did you choose to store your catamaran there pending your October cruising plan - was that its home port where you purchased it or did you move it there for particular reasons?
RickM, your observation on Canadian registration immediately upon purchase is the route I am planning. I will be closing the deal offshore in the Bahamas or BVI and would enter U.S. waters in FL as a foreign, unregistered boat upon my ownership, obtain a temporary cruising permit through the documentation company I am using, and then await the Canadian registration to come through. I'm sure no state tax expert, given my Canadian nationality and residence, but I think this will avoid having to pay $15K+ sales tax to FL when I don't even live or plan to live in the state. At best, my intention would only be to store the boat there after sales closing until I pick it up in the new year, some 3-4 months later. Or, as I am looking for recommendations, store it somewhere else, conceivably out of Florida.

Assuming that the earliest I will own this boat, pending successful survey, is mid Ocober, is that past the hurricaine season as considered by insurance companies? I also need to determine an appropriate insurance company that will fully cover the boat while it is afloat waiting our arrival 3-4 months later and then continue the coverage while we vacation aboard for 4-6 weeks in the new year and then again as the boat is being stored on the hard (location totally unknown at this time) for another 10 months until my retirement. In Jan 2010, we'll then be moving aboard for what we hope will be annual 6 winter months in the Caribbean. So, I would also appreciate insurance company recommendations from the knowledgeable cruisers already into this (greatly anticipated by us) lifestyle.

Thank you all again,
Teej
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Old 25-08-2008, 04:49   #7
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I believe Insurance companies use November 1st as the end of Hurricane season
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Old 25-08-2008, 05:22   #8
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Teej --

Brunswick is in Georgia, on the coast, just north of Florida. Easy to get to, whether you go outside or ICW. Lots of marine related businesses.

As for insurance, Nov 1 is the official end of the season for most companies, but some will give you a waiver on it, sometimes.

Personally, we use IMIS and have found them to give a good policy, at a good price. Their agents are often cruisers. One of them (TabbyCat/Susan Ratrie) is a member of the forum. We had the pleasure of meeting up with them in Charleston and had a great time.

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Old 27-08-2008, 14:08   #9
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Romany was already in Newport News. Initially we thought of moving it to John Lombardi's yard in the Mobjack Bay, but in the end took the easier option and left it in Leeward Marina. At 34ft x 20ft it is by far the biggest boat in the marina, the entrance is very tight with a dogleg.

For avoidance of hurricanes the further north you go the better and the further inland better still. However sailing Eclipse north didn't prevent us from getting rather too close to Isobel for comfort.So if you can sort out the tax problem what about Green Cove Springs in the St John River. Or Hilton Head SC

I'd like to know the answer myself, as we are in the same boat (no, not literally!) as you

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Old 27-08-2008, 14:24   #10
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First, be aware that you can buy your boat in Florida and not pay sales tax (8+ percent, if I recall correctly), BUT you MUST take the boat out of the state absolutely no later than 90 days after you close the sale.
Just to keep the record straight, Florida sales tax is 6%. Some counties may add another 1%, but that 1% is only levied on the first $5,000.
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Old 02-09-2008, 00:34   #11
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Thank you for the responses to date. The plot has thickened somewhat for my storage inquiry. I think we will want to store this "soon to be purchased" Admiral 38 on the hard from its purchase timeline in October to our first opportunity to sail her in Jan/Feb. Now here's the hitch - the Admiral 38 has a 23 foot beam so I need to find a yard that will accommodate that width. The Lauderdale Marine Center, where she is being hauled for the pre-purchase survey, has a large lift to handle 23+ ft beam but does not do long term storage on the hard.
Assuming I will close and finalize the purchase after a positive survey, I only have 7 days to get my new purchase to some boatyard for storage (north of Florida or the Bahamas?) before my return flight to Canada.
I'd sure like to have the comfort of knowing that our "retirement dream" catamaran is safely secured on the hard awaiting our return in 3 months to take her our for the first of many future winter vacations!

Again, knowledgeable cruisers, your helpful suggestions for specific yards would be greatly appreciated.

Teej
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Old 03-09-2008, 13:25   #12
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Another option

In Florida (to avoid state sales tax.) you can extend beyond the 90 days if you are having work done on your boat. You have to file an affidavit about the work. As noted, there are lots of marine service facilities and organizations in south and central Florida but they operate on their schedule. That may be to your advantage, if you are having work done and want to drag the time out until you are ready to sail.

Ours in on the hard in Ft. Pierce having some necessary work done and some minor upgrades before sailing. I hope not, but it might take us 7 or 8 months to get all of the work finished. But it is all documented and we'll have receipts with Dates in case the Florida tax folks want to know.

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Old 03-09-2008, 14:26   #13
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If you have to get out of FL fast, Brunswick or St. Marys, both in Georgia are your best bet. This'll be wet storage as your beam's too great to be hauled here.

Canadian registry does not require a tonnage survey if under 15 metres so you can get the registration done fairly quickly. Go to this site for complete requirements
Registration of Vessels: Frequently Asked Questions - Ship Registration Office - Marine Safety

If you want to store in Bahamas, there is a Marina in Marsh Harbour that can haul you. Because of your beam you'll be limited in where you can haul.

Wet storage is expensive in Florida, especially south Florida, running about $800 a month in a county marina and I would not leave the boat that long unattended anywhere from Palm Beach to Miami.

Having only a week to do all this is extremely optimistic. If the surveyor finds work needs to be done, this'll take time and then you have to get the boat ready for sea. The weather might not cooperate with getting to Marsh Harbour. Georgia seems the best bet, Brunswick Landing Marina is quite a nice facility in a quiet town.

Have you asked the broker what they can do for you?
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Old 03-09-2008, 14:47   #14
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What about Puerto Rico?

I have heard other people in this forum talk about how they store on the hard in Puerto Rico. Is that an option here or as a US Territory would all the previously mentioned stuff get in the way?
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Old 03-09-2008, 15:04   #15
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He's only got a week and his Admiral isn't as fast as your Leopard.
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