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Old 05-11-2010, 17:06   #1
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The Rules of the Road (or Lack Thereof)

I'm just beginning to research the would-be life of living on a sailboat (well, me and the doggo). I'm a very rugged outdoors woman, I've worked as canyoneering/hiking guides for years, so living in the 'lack of luxury' is nothing new. Neither is space, or hauling my own water, food, waste, etc. I'm temporarily looking to dock in Florida, however, I must admit I'm a bit of a loner and don't care for crowded docks (plus all the rules/regulations, noise, and everything that goes with it). Do I have to dock in a marina, or are there more private places that I can hang my hat?

Also, any recommendations for a boat. I've been looking at a appro. 30ft Catalina. My goal is to set up shop in Florida for a few months and sail on down to Central America when the time is right. Would this be the best boat for this journey? My budget is around $10k.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-11-2010, 17:17   #2
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What part of Florida? You should search CF for info on costs of living on board, boats purchasing, etc. There is a lot of info on this Board available to you. Welcome and good luck in your pursuit of the dream we all share.
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Old 05-11-2010, 18:16   #3
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And from what I've read, FL is one of the worst places to drop a hook due to the authorities. For someone that doesn't know the rules of FL it would probably be best to stay in a marina until you do head South.
But then insurance will most likely be a requirement until you leave, or at your discretion.
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Old 05-11-2010, 22:40   #4
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Active captain has data on marinas & anchorages.Fl is to me not boater friendly,although I spend time there.marc
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Old 06-11-2010, 11:38   #5
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What are the rules/regulations for living at anchor? Does it change from state to state? This type of lifestyle is most appealing to me, however I'm not really sure how it works (logistically and legally).

Thanks for all the replies!
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Old 06-11-2010, 12:42   #6
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Originally Posted by Janae View Post
Also, any recommendations for a boat. I've been looking at a appro. 30ft Catalina. ... My budget is around $10k.
Thanks in advance!
A Catalina 30 is not the boat. They are about the cheapest 30'ers around, and the reason is the very low quality of construction, especially older ones. Some boat's that you might consider: Pearson Triton, Bristol 30, Sabre 28.

With your budget, expect to invest a lot of sweat equity before heading offshore. Stuff that is relatively easy and inexpensive to fix: wiring, plumbing, cabinetry, cushions and upholstery, canvas, fiberglass decks. Stuff that is expensive to fix: rigging, sails, engines, transmissions, tankage.

At the risk of over generalization, the stuff that makes the boat go always costs more than the stuff that makes the boat livable. Shop for boats that need a new sink and head and galley stove and cushions, and avoid boats that need a new engine or have rotten sails.

The best thing I can say about Florida is that fuel is readily available so you can get the hell out of there.

Best of luck
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Old 06-11-2010, 12:45   #7
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if you live on the hook you need a dinghy to go to and from land for provisions. unless you have a grocery by boat delivery service. Consider this in your coast of ownership, the dinghy i mean.
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Old 06-11-2010, 13:26   #8
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I believe the keys would be the best choice to live aboard on the hook With you budget you will need to look hard but it can be done
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Old 06-11-2010, 15:34   #9
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Of course it can be done, especially in Florida as hundreds or more are doing it. Finding the best place is a bit of a challenge though. Very generally speaking from the Fl/GA border south the hassles increase for live-a-boards. Green Cove Springs near Jacksonville is a very popular live-a-board place - but - it is in the middle of nowhere and unless you like being in the "boondocks" you might not like it. It is definitely not a "happening place." Although Jacksonville is only an hour drive east.
- - As you go further south down the east coast to the Keys the social life gets better with about the best being in Key West. But the difficulty of finding a place for the boat increases but is not impossible.
- - The west coast is pretty "old-folks" with a few exceptions like Sarasota until you get to the Panhandle. The further north and west you go the easier to find a good place for the boat, but again you are getting into the "boondocks."
- - It wouldn't be a bad idea to do both coasts before you make up your mind unless work or other considerations prevent.
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Old 06-11-2010, 15:35   #10
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Welcome to the Forum, I once looked at moorings in Stuart, FL, they seemed relatively inexpensive and there were good facilities ashore, I couldn't say about noise or other factors, but it looked like a viable area to me, at least via the internet and the phone conversations I have had with the operators.
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Old 08-11-2010, 15:25   #11
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What are the rules/regulations for living at anchor? Does it change from state to state?
Yes, it changes from state to state. Here is a link to a site with some good information... Cruiser's Net
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Old 08-11-2010, 16:25   #12
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Great feedback - incredibly helpful. Thanks everyone!
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Old 09-11-2010, 20:50   #13
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Janae, Florida recently passed specific statutes defining "liveaboard" and putting restrictions on them. They're not always very friendly about transient yachts passing through, either. If you look at the SCCA.ORG web site and others, there are lots of threads about this.

FloriDUH (as their own establishment newspapers call it) is not a liveaboard-friendly place. It tends to upset the rich folks, having to actually SEE the poor folks cluttering up their water view.
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Old 10-11-2010, 08:11   #14
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JFloriDUH (as their own establishment newspapers call it) is not a liveaboard-friendly place. It tends to upset the rich folks, having to actually SEE the poor folks cluttering up their water view.
I think you overstate things a little bit.

There are areas that are very liveaboard friendly. And there are marinas where you can liveaboard all over the place. There are some people that are trying to restrict liveaboards who anchor out, and there are some people who are trying to clarify and standardize the rules for anchoring out. These groups have been going back and forth for some time now.

So, as a general statement I don't think Florida is any more liveaboard-UNfriendly than anywhere else. It is just that you need to be cognizant of where you are, what the local rules are, and whether or not the local police choose to ignore state law or not (yes, in some places they do that, which means that you win when you fight them in court, but you have to spend the time and money to fight them in court).
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Old 10-11-2010, 09:18   #15
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denver, I was considering that Janae said she'd prefer to anchor out, not at a dock or marina. Most of Florida doesn't want that kind of liveaboard, those areas that accept it tend to be very crowded, and the new state laws defining and regulating "liveaboard" make it all the more difficult again. In contrast to the many states where no one asks how many days your hook has been down, or where you may be sleeping at night.

Janae, you can also expect that in many parts of Florida the watercops and revenuers will be checking your registration(s) and expecting you to register and pay tax in their own state if you stay...what is it now, 183 days? or just 90? And if you have a dink, that will need separate registration if there's a motor on it, too.

OTOH, Florida has been an early & eager adopted of the internet, pretty much all their regulations are online at some florida.gov web site.
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