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Old 30-11-2014, 11:53   #1
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Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

So looking for soul searching opinions from you who have done it or are doing it. I am looking at a 1988 36' Catalina Mk1 for $40K USD(fresh water boat in Canada). Selling the house will net 150K. Currently I'm 56 and in good health. That will leave 110 K plus about 20K earned between now and then left over to head south in the spring 2017. So heading south @ say $1500/month will give me about 5-6 years till I"m boat broke. Thats doable.
Soul searching part means coming home after that with no money @ 61 and working into a retirement. Can I afford to do it, or can I afford not to do it.?
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Old 30-11-2014, 12:20   #2
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

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Originally Posted by Larr View Post
So looking for soul searching opinions from you who have done it or are doing it. I am looking at a 1988 36' Catalina Mk1 for $40K USD(fresh water boat in Canada). Selling the house will net 150K. Currently I'm 56 and in good health. That will leave 110 K plus about 20K earned between now and then left over to head south in the spring 2017. So heading south @ say $1500/month will give me about 5-6 years till I"m boat broke. Thats doable.
Soul searching part means coming home after that with no money @ 61 and working into a retirement. Can I afford to do it, or can I afford not to do it.?
Depends upon how badly you want to do it. Anchoring rather than using marinas or moorings will stretch your funds significantly. One can still eat out - my weakness - provided you choose reasonably priced meals. Always preparing your own meals is another way to slash costs. Dump the car, use a bike and public transportation. Managing a car when living aboard and sometimes moving between anchorages in response to changing weather is a major PITA, especially if available parking is limited and non-free. Two bikes placed between alternate anchorages is very helpful, just in case you have to change locations on short notice. Maintenance, insurance, licensing, registration and parking/towing fees come with having the car. Eliminate those costs and realize more significant savings.

Bank enough contingency money to replace running and standing rigging, sails, repairs or if necessary replacement of the engine. Same for generators, reefers and such.

Follow this recipe and you should be able to get by on between $300-$500/month while cruising. Otherwise your costs while in home waters will depend upon local boating regulations and enforcement. In other words, what's possible.
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Old 30-11-2014, 12:24   #3
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

If you think you should be doing it then do it! There is always a way to finance things. Better to have tried and failed to have never tried at all. Regret is a painful friend.
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Old 30-11-2014, 12:30   #4
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

Larr,

You do know, of course, that this is a decision only you can make. We don't know anything at all about the environment you expect to return to after a 5 or 6 yr. absence, or what type of work you do that you might be able to be hired (so cannot evaluate the possibility of special circumstances that might make you a more desirable property in the workplace), or what kind of shape your body is in or hereditary problems one should anticipate, or your personal tolerance level for stress. Would it bother you to be on Welfare? You haven't given us any information about your background as a sailor, either, and that, too would have an impact on any recommendations people would make.

My own sense of it is that you should get the boat and use it, but not impoverish yourself. However, that imposes my values and my need for security on you, and YMMV. Additionally, IMO, the boat is not up to extensive blue water cruising, but could make you a nice lake, river, and coastal platform.

My two cents'.

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Old 30-11-2014, 12:57   #5
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

I'm not sure you will need $1500 a month cruising south if you are alone. But only you know that.
If the boat has no issues it should be able to do the Caibe. Not having a nest egg at age 61 is not a good thing, will you be able to collect SS at 62? How much? can you live on that?
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Old 30-11-2014, 13:07   #6
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larr View Post
So looking for soul searching opinions from you who have done it or are doing it. I am looking at a 1988 36' Catalina Mk1 for $40K USD(fresh water boat in Canada). Selling the house will net 150K. Currently I'm 56 and in good health. That will leave 110 K plus about 20K earned between now and then left over to head south in the spring 2017. So heading south @ say $1500/month will give me about 5-6 years till I"m boat broke. Thats doable.
Soul searching part means coming home after that with no money @ 61 and working into a retirement. Can I afford to do it, or can I afford not to do it.?
Is the house equity your only asset?

If so, then that really is a tough decision. You will be basically putting yourself into real poverty. You could lose your health and ability to earn money at any time and then you'll be in a pickle.

However, what the hell else is life for? If you really want to do it, then do it. No, you can't afford it, but so what? Just be morally ready to get down to work and build some kind of retirement, essentially from zero and starting very late, when you get back.

You might consider refinancing the house, rather than selling it, and renting it out while you're gone. Depending on the rental market for that particular house in its particular location, that might or might not make sense. But if it does, it can leave you in a better position than just selling out and p*ssing away the equity. We are likely to have another run up in real estate prices over the next 5 years or so, due to QE. A crucial factor in whether such a thing will work or not is having a really good manager.

One more thing: A 25 year old cruising boat is likely to need a whole lot of fairly expensive work, to be ready for an extended cruise like that. Particularly during the first year, expect and budget for a whole lot of things to break and require replacement.
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Old 30-11-2014, 13:42   #7
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

Only you can answer this question Larr. I'll offer some comments from my own growing experience:

#1. We are doing the same. My spouse and I have built a kitty that will sustain us for a number of years, but will be drained if we don't find a way to make money along the way. As a self-employed writer I have some hopes of carrying on my business "out there", but who knows... We are 47 and 52.

#2. Our target budget is less than yours. Probably not $500/month, but certainly less than $1500. We have a lifestyle, both on land and at sea, that lends itself to low-cost living. The less we spend, the less money we have to make and/or the longer the kitty will last.

#3. There are lots of reasons why we're going now. Mainly though, it's b/c we both realize that the one thing you can't get back is time.

If you need security and certainty, then stay put. If you value (greater) freedom, and can live with not knowing what will happen when you hit 61, then go. There is no right answer for everyone. It's up to you.
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Old 30-11-2014, 14:03   #8
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

If you wait 1 more year so you end at 62 what would Social Security be?
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Old 30-11-2014, 14:07   #9
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

You could also do what we do. Work 5 or 6 months and cruise 5 or 6 months. Depending on where you want to go either take the cold season or hot season off. we have a duplex so rent out the apartment House is paid for rent covers costs + a little left over and pension covers day to day cruising stuff. Where in Canada is the boat? we're in Toronto for the winter then back to Norway for the summer.
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Old 30-11-2014, 15:21   #10
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

It's your decision but reentering the workforce at 61 is problematic for me but I tend to be risk averse.

You don't describe if the house is paid of or not but I sense it still has a mortgage on it. For me one ideal way to go cruising is to have a rental income and a retirement income. If you are due a company retirement at some point and add SS to it you may be better off working a bit longer.

Do 5-6 more years, pay off the house, build the kitty and get the retirement figured out. Then you won't have to come back to no house, no job and no money.
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Old 30-11-2014, 15:45   #11
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

My first thought is run don't walk but run to the dock. Just go.

But then my practical side jumps in and says "not so fast Bucko" theres some red flags here. 1. Your boat seems very inexpensive for a capable bluewater cruiser. You could easily blow thru your kitty very quickly making unexpected repairs. 2. Entering the workforce at 61. Ouch that's a tough reality. You never answered do you have retirement or pension or Social Security money that you'll have when you retire at 62. If not that makes your situation even worse. Have you thought about the potential of having someone join you and share in the expenses? That could help you. I know there are certainly other guys out there doing exactly that.

As some of the other guys of said only you can make this decision. Man I wish you the best of luck buddy. Let us know what you do. Lastly make sure you have your boat thoroughly surveyed before you purchase it.


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Old 30-11-2014, 16:29   #12
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

Quote:
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...I am looking at a 1988 36' Catalina Mk1 for $40K USD(fresh water boat in Canada).
In addition to the good advice given here, we also don't know how "boat knowledgeable" you may be.

An '88 C36 is a great boat for coastal cruising, the ICW and to the Bahamas, we bought an '86 C34 16 years ago (1998). If you're cruising, you NEED to KNOW about boat systems: electrical, plumbing, engine.

The C36 Association website has a ton of information, and since our boats are essentially identical, so does our C34 website.

www.catalina36.org

Catalina 34 - C34

Good luck.
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Old 01-12-2014, 07:52   #13
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

We only live once.

How would you rather spend the next 5-6 years? Mouldering away, while the inevitable affects of ageing may reduce your ability to engage in certain kinds of physical activity like sailing? You may not live to 61, so why worry about it.

You are in an enviable position because there are people thinking the same thing, but have no resources to draw upon. If that's all you have, the first requirement is you spend your money judiciously by focusing less on the size of boat you want than buying the best cruising boat available at the lowest cost possible. 'Best' takes into account the boat's condition, design strengths and construction. If that proves to be a 27', 28', 32' or 34' boat, it's realistically possible to sail wherever you wish to go. The advantages of smaller boats is the lower cost for maintenance, yard services and when you need a slip, a lower cost per foot is normally charged. The smaller boats are typically easier to manage under challenging sailing conditions when alone. The disadvantage of smaller boats is less interior living space, shorter water line length (slower) and depending on the design, less space for stowage.

When you believe you've narrowed down your choices, sit in each of them for some time all the while asking yourself "could I live on this boat"?

I transitioned from a 'normal' existence to living and voyaging on a 27' sailboat 23 years ago. So, when I tell you it's possible to do this on between $300-$500/month you can believe it. I'd feel like I was spending lavishly if my costs per month were even $600/month.

If you can find the resolve, right location and adapt to 'living on the hook', it can be a reality. If anchoring is restricted, the next most affordable option is a mooring.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure at the age of 67 (soon to be 68) I receive a small social security stipend every month. But, when I made the leap in my mid 40's it was with total abandon. LIVING while I still had my health was more important to me than anything I imagined could happen in the future. And, I had nowhere near the amount you say you'll have after selling your house.
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:31   #14
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

LARR,
I just saw this in the Vendors Spotlight here in the CF. I don't know anything about it though. Might want to check it out. Good Luck,

MASSIVE PRICE DROP!
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:33   #15
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Re: Soul Searching Live Aboard Opinions Requested

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larr View Post
So looking for soul searching opinions from you who have done it or are doing it. I am looking at a 1988 36' Catalina Mk1 for $40K USD(fresh water boat in Canada). Selling the house will net 150K. Currently I'm 56 and in good health. That will leave 110 K plus about 20K earned between now and then left over to head south in the spring 2017. So heading south @ say $1500/month will give me about 5-6 years till I"m boat broke. Thats doable.
Soul searching part means coming home after that with no money @ 61 and working into a retirement. Can I afford to do it, or can I afford not to do it.?
First a slight problem with your math. If buy a boat for $40K you will likely need to put $15-30K into the boat to make it ready. You can do this before you leave or along the way. But you need to account for upgrades and repairs that will likely need to happen sooner rather than later. For instance, a good friend purchased an 1988 Catalina. First season he had to do the mast compression post step, a common problem with that vintage (at least the C30 don't know about the C36). It's a very doable repair but cost him $2,500 to have a yard do it. By the end of that season it was obvious that the sails were at the end of their useful life. Take on another $3-4K for sails. This doesn't count things like filters, hose replacements, impellers, water pumps, etc. you get the drift. The boat will need work. You may want electronics. All of this will cost money and you will typically spend more in the first couple of years of owning the boat then later down the line. We purchased a Catalina for around $68K and spent an additional $20K to get the boat close to ready for cruising. We will spend another $5K this year before we leave.

Now as to the question about going without a nest egg. We are about to do that at 40. We have come to the conclusion that no matter how or where we live, retiring in our early 60s or even 70s is not likely. Bottom line is we are going to be working for a long time. We can choose for that to be in a box near a city working and having a large portion of that money we earn go towards just living or we can choose to live cheaply out doing what we love and working from time to time to fuel that life style.

It's all up to you, no one else can decide which is right for you. But in my opinion if at 56 your nest egg is what the equity of your house is then I don't see you retiring any time soon to do the retirement cruising thing. So if you decide that cruising is something you really want to do, you just need to find a way to make it happen.

It also doesn't have to be an all or nothing choice. Just because you leave your home area to go cruising doesn't mean you will never work again. You can pick up work as you go and work to support your lifestyle choice along the way. Might not be neat, tighty office work if that is what your used to but you can usually find something.

Just my thoughts. Good luck and fair winds,

Jesse
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