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Old 19-02-2014, 10:37   #1
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Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Thanks for letting me join the forum. I just joined yesterday! What a great arena for ideas, experience, support and advice! It seems like a nice and supportive community. Thanks for letting me join!
I need some help and could use your advice and counsel on my quest.

Some background: We live in the Midwest (US) and my wife and I love sailing. Most of my sailing has been lake sailing (hobiecats, sunfish, 15 foot day sailers, etc..) with one trip in BVI on a 40' monohull. I've been sailing my entire life and I've got great knowledge and experience in the tactics of sailing....however I am very inexperienced on cruisers/yachts.

Now...we want to buy a used 40' boat (probably in the $100k range) and keep in in the Florida Keys (somewhere between Marathon and Key West) so that we can vacation on it 4-5 times a year (week trips, some long weekends, etc..) with my wife and I, as well with occasional family/friends visiting. A 40' (+-) would afford enough space and ability to take week trips (i.e. to Bahamas). After a few years, we'd like to live on it for 1-3 month stretches as a vacation/live-aboard.


In the context described above, here are some questions I could use some help with:
  1. I've always been a monohull traditionalist, but why would I not consider a Cat? I've yet to sail a multihull larger than 18 feet, but I'm intrigued that this just might be a better choice for our potential use (more space, stability, deck space with visitors, draft for exploring in Keys, etc..). I'm sure there is a tremendous debate over the years on this, but what is your quick view on mono vs cat for my uses described?
  2. Slip, mooring, or dry storage? With occasional visits (until we spend months on it), what do you recommend/advise on this? As well, offer any specific locations in the Keys that you'd recommend.
  3. What are the general costs for Slp vs Mooring vs Dry storage?
  4. While I'm sure just renting for weekly charters would be smarter financially based on the usage, however I'd like to start really learning understanding, tinkering (fixing!), modifying systems so that I can significantly increase my knowledge for when I'm ready to start cruising full-time. I don't think I can do that with a charter. What are your thoughts on a $100k boat (either mono or cat)?
Thanks so very much! I'm sure I have 1,000 more questions, but this will get me started as I await some responses.
--Charlie
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Old 19-02-2014, 11:51   #2
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

If you want to sail in other locations, charter.

If you want to own a boat, find a location near you. You can move the boat later cheaper than you can keep it somewhere else and go visit it four times a year. Are you really going to fly to Florida for a week to do maintenance on a boat? Eventually (sooner than you think), that's going to seem ridiculous. Probably during hurricane season.
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Old 19-02-2014, 12:34   #3
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Thanks, LGS3. However, I never mentioned this was an exercise in pragmatism. I know much of this is an inefficient use of resources. However, we'd enjoy the challenge of owning, learning, and enjoying while stepping into the cruising life in the Keys. As well, it would "force" us to get down there and enjoy the Keys more than we do.
I'd appreciate additional thoughts on my questions 1-4?
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Old 19-02-2014, 12:48   #4
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Boats in general are an exercise in "inefficient use of resources". Boats that are lightly used are "mistakes".

If you want some experience in boat ownership, get one near you. If you're trying to force yourself to go to the Keys more, sign up for some plane tickets or charters there.

This isn't the first time I've heard this idea. Maybe you should ask others their opinions after doing something similar. Refining and validating this plan is probably more important than selecting a boat.

That's just my opinion, after doing a lot of boat shopping and looking at many, many boats that have been degrading in their slips from non-use by non-resident owners. I'm sure there are others. Cruising seems to be an idea that changes shape over time.

Try the search functions for debates over monohulls vs cats. There are pros and cons for each, but it's mostly personal preference. Maybe look at sites like Yachtworld or sailboatlistings.com for some sample pricing on available boats.

I was trying to help, not to crush your idea. I'm sure it can work if you're really committed to it, but there are alternate paths to your ultimate goal.
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Old 19-02-2014, 13:08   #5
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Thanks again. I appreciate your insight and feedback. Your direction is definately one that is in my consideration and I have a good handle on that position (chartering vs owning for now, local boat, etc..). What I am doing is exploring the alternate, which is actual boat ownership in the Keys, as described in my questions. Once I feel I have all the information in front of me I will then make my appropriate decision (with all the consequences).
Where this forum can help me is with the questions posed.

I'll await others if they are so called to chime in.
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Old 19-02-2014, 13:16   #6
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Charlie,

First, welcome to the forum. It is a great resource.

Second, welcome to the fold of those addicted to boats and sailing. It sounds like you have the bug pretty bad, and I can relate.

Third, give serious thought to Letsgetsailing's comment. There is so much to learn about maintaining a 40 foot boat, especially in salt water and in a tropical storm area. The maintenance is CONSTANT when the boat is in the water. I would advise against leaving a boat unattended in the water for long periods of time like you are suggesting. EVERYTHING breaks eventually, and together with storms and neighboring boaters, you could find that your boat may sustain major damage just because no one was looking after it for a few months. That being said....you can pay to have someone watch over it for you while you are gone, and do the upkeep, but make sure you budget that if you end up going that direction. You could also store it "on the hard" while you are gone, but there are maintenance issues with that as well, and also a substantial amount of work to get the boat ready to haul and again to launch. If you are going to have someone watch over it, it is probably better in a marina secured to a dock.

Monohull vs cat - lots of debate and opinions on that, and you should read them for yourself. This forum has many posts on the subject...just search. Within the context of where to keep it, a cat is more expensive to keep at a dock.

For dock/mooring/boat yard fees, the best thing to do is sign up on Active Captain. It is free, and allows you to see all of the marinas, moorings and boat yards in a map fashion. You can then click the links of those places to see costs and/or contact information.

Lastly, and most importantly, do more due diligence before you pull the trigger. This post is a good start. My suggestion is to buy a book called The Voyagers Handbook written by Beth Leonard. It was the single best resource for me when I was considering a larger boat and preparing for cruising and living aboard. It will give you a perspective on what it takes, time and money, to maintain a cruising sailboat, and will help you understand the trade-offs of all the decisions that go along with it.

After you do you proper due diligence, enjoy the hell out of it and do it as soon as you can!
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Old 19-02-2014, 14:26   #7
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Thanks, Bill. Some continued great advice and links.

Perhaps I'll charter for the first trip down to examine my needs further.

Any advice on chartering in the Keys?
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Old 19-02-2014, 17:33   #8
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Hey - where in the Midwest? I am from Columbus Ohio. Anyway as I read your post I am kinda "in the same boat" or should I say trying to also research buying a sailboat. Then a crazy idea popped into my head. Maybe we could pull resources and share a sailboat. What I have learned so far is these things cost a lot to maintain. Not sure how often they need new sails and or new running gear and the bottom cleaned etc. etc.

I am retired, how about you? If not retired how much longer before you can retire? My wife just retired last Oct.

About me - never sailed but have owned small runabout boats for inland lake use. I do like the water.

I am not sure trying to share a sailboat I a good idea or not. But I have to agree with the other posts that boats should not sit. For one thing that I see now that I am in Florida for the winter is birds will sit on it and really mess it up. Yuck...

I am about 70 miles north of Tampa but can be anywhere in Florida that makes sense.
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Old 19-02-2014, 17:55   #9
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Hi! Keep your ownership/maintenance cost down by sticking to a mono-hull. While a CAT has many advantages that a MONO does not have, the bottom line will still be money.

Flying to the Florida keys a few times a year to enjoy your boat is NOT a financially sound idea. I'd fly to the BVI or the Grenadines, instead, and locally charter a CAT for 10 days at a time. The upfront cost will nearly be the same, but you'll not have to deal with ownership cost; worry free vacations. (Once you start sailing the Caribbean...)

Finally, you should never be away from your boat more than a 2-hour drive; 100 miles. Boats at anchor require continuous vigilance. Good luck!

Mauritz
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Old 19-02-2014, 19:26   #10
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Forget the question of financial practicality, after all owning a boat generally isn't a practical thing to do. However, I have owned a boat in FL and the Caribbean and commuted from Atlanta and discovered, as someone mentioned, that my sailing vacations very quickly became boat repair and maintenance trips.

I do not disagree with your idea to get into that aspect of boating but it will most likely become your entire boating focus if you only get to the boat a week or so a few times a year. One of the worst things to do to a boat is to leave it closed up and idle. Humidity penetrates your engine, wiring, electronics and things quit working, mildew gets everywhere.

Not saying you shouldn't do it, but you should be aware of what you're facing.

Cat vs Mono. Been discussed, debated, rediscussed, argued and discussed some more, many times on this and every other boating forum. Do a quick search on this forum for past discussions and be prepared to spend a couple of evenings reading.

Dry storage. Not generally practical for larger boats. The charge for hauling and launching every time you use the boat will add up and you still have to pay for storage. Agree that Activecaptain.com is the place to research this. Has a very comprehensive list of marinas, lists their websites, usually shows rates and even reviews from other boaters.

Costs? Slip much more than mooring. Actual costs vary a lot. Just depends on location, location, location.

$100K is a good budget for a mono in the 40' range, doable but on the low side for a 40' cat. But don't forget that you need reserves for ongoing costs.
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Old 20-02-2014, 08:36   #11
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepInTune View Post
Now...we want to buy a used 40' boat (probably in the $100k range) and keep in in the Florida Keys...
Okay, frankly, I agree with the others who say that chartering is really a better idea in your position, but let's just let that go, and assume you are absolutely set on buying a boat. Why the Keys?

Yes, I know the Keys are great. I go down there when I can. Love them. But I can just drive down there. For you it is going to be a flight into Miami, rent a car, then drive down to wherever your boat is, spend what time you can before you have to drive back to Miami to catch another flight. You would do much better to keep your boat near Miami, or even Tampa, where you can fly direct, and then be on the boat within just a very short drive, or maybe even a cab ride.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepInTune View Post
...ability to take week trips (i.e. to Bahamas).
From Marathon to the Bahamas and back in one week would be a grueling marathon (if you'll pardon the pun). And that would only be going to Bimini and then turning right around. If you want to go to the Abacos, Freeport, or Nassau for example, from Marathon, you're going to need several weeks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepInTune View Post
...why would I not consider a Cat?
Main reason would be cost. More to buy, more to maintain, more expensive to dock. Of course, on the other hand, you get more space. Some people also say that a cat is more comfortable, because it doesn't heel like a mono does. Personally, I find the motion of a mono much more comfortable than a cat--I get seasick much more easily on cats than I do on monos. My advice would be a charter to try out a cat and see if you think the extra expense is worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepInTune View Post
Slip, mooring, or dry storage?
Leaving it for months at a time, dry storage would be best. But then you have the time and expense of launching and hauling it every time. A dock would be second choice; make sure you have a good relationship with the people who work there so that they will keep an eye on it for you. While a mooring would be the cheapest, I think mooring a boat that you only visit so infrequently would be a disaster waiting to happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepInTune View Post
What are the general costs for Slip vs Mooring vs Dry storage?
Not sure about down in the Keys. Here in Tampa a slip will usually run you $7-$10 per foot per month. You can also sometimes find a dock behind someone's house that they will rent for 1/2 to 2/3rds of that amount. Dry storage is usually a little bit less than a slip. Moorings can vary from almost nothing up to nearly as much as a slip, depending on the location.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepInTune View Post
While I'm sure just renting for weekly charters would be smarter financially...
It would.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepInTune View Post
What are your thoughts on a $100k boat?
Not sure what you're asking. For $100k you could find a decent boat, probably not too old, that won't need a lot of work. Really, though, the best thing would probably be to spend some time searching yachtworld.com and sailboatlistings.com to see what is out there and what is being asked. One caveat is that a lot of times the pictures are years (even decades) old, so the boat might not be in as good of shape as it appears. In the end, the only way to know what you want and how much you should spend for it is to go and personally look at a lot of boats.

Good luck.
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Old 20-02-2014, 12:10   #12
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Charlie,

Teknav's post gave me another thought....another possible option.

You could buy a boat through one of the charter companies and charter it out. They maintain it and you get to use it. The rules for the owner's use vary by charter company, but you may be able to get something that works for you. I looked at The Moorings years ago and decided it wasn't for me. I am not sure if any exist in the Keys, but the cost to get to the Keys may not be much less than flying to St Thomas or Tortola or the Bahamas.
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Old 20-02-2014, 13:39   #13
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

All: Thank you so very much for your great insight! These are the objective views from experience that are really helping me out. I will continue to search the forum on various related topics and probably post a few follow-up questions.
From what I'm learning here, I'm reconsidering actually owning the boat in the Keys and keeping it unattended. Until I'm there or close by, it may be "..a disaster waiting to happen" for sure.
I think what I will do is to Charter a couple of times and that will help me out tremendously.
Thanks again for your nice and honest feedback!
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Old 04-03-2014, 08:59   #14
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

I had a similar idea a few years back after owning a few small boats (20-25ft) in the Midwest. I have been visiting the Keys for several years now and always wanted to have a "vacation boat" moored in the Keys. My thoughts were similar, if I had a boat near Key West, I could come down 4-5 times a year and stay aboard the boat. I thought of it as a floating condo with the added bonus that I could get out on the water and eventually do some extended cruising, perhaps to the Dry Tortugas or Bimini.

I had a much tighter budget, but I ended up buying a 27ft boat with two other partners. Both partners are good friends of mine and I have vacationed with them in the Keys on several occasions. For a few grand each, we had ourselves a boat in the Keys. Well, that boat ended up being a huge project. I did get to sail it a few times, but mostly I spent the last 18 months flying to the Keys to spend time in a boat yard. It was a costly lesson, but I did learn a lot. I now have a network of mechanics, boatyards, fellow boaters, and friends in the Keys as well as private spots for cheap dockage. I know a lot more about the water and the issues/obstacles of owning and operating a saltwater boat.

So, I recently sold that boat and took a loss. With three owners though, it wasn't that bad and the experience was valuable. That said, I just recently bought a Catalina 30 with the same two partners, so we are doing this all over again. So...did I learn my lesson or not??! Well, this time around, we have a much better boat and we now understand the costs. We have a turn key boat and although we can do a lot of the routine maintenance, I have a mechanic and friends who keep an eye on things. You can find private dockage in many of the Oceanside residential canals for ~$5/ft/month. I have a trustworthy mobile mechanic that can do pretty much anything. Flying into Key West is quite convenient for me from Indianapolis/Cincinnati/Dayton, and the fares are reasonable, and I would be vacationing there regardless of if I had the boat or not. With three owners we split costs but also split trips, so instead of 5 uses a year it is more like 10-15.

Does it make financial sense? No not quite but that's typical of any boat...I often think of the alternative of buying a time share or just simply renting a condo or hotel for my trips and then getting a membership at the KW community sailing center to satisfy my desire to get out on the water. However, I love owning the boat, and I love working on it, even when that means I fly 1300 miles to sit on a boat in a dock or boatyard doing maintenance.

So maybe that doesn't answer your question, but what you are proposing is definitely possible. I would say spend some time looking for a boat and maybe look for something a bit smaller for your first test, maybe 30-33ft? This will give you more docking options and save you money all around. There are plenty of turn key boats that size for $50k or less. Buy the boat right so you always have the option to sell it and then save the rest of the money for dockage and maintenance. Do a few charter trips down there too, so you get an idea of what it is like to cruise in the Keys before making that kind of investment.

Hope that helps? Happy to answer questions or tell you more about my experiences in the Keys.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:09   #15
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Re: Seeking your help and advice to a newbie....Wanting to buy, and boat in the Keys.

Boats never make financial sense, so forget that part.....

Now, I'd recommend a compromise between various positions. Charter for one year. Different boats in the different areas. It would accomplish two things. First, give you an idea of what type boat you want to purchase. Second, see how many times you are able to go. See if you can really get in 4 to 5 trips a year. A big difference in what you do next based on getting six trips in or only two. You'll find out what the commute really is like.

By chartering, we were certain of what we were buying when we placed our orders.
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