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Old 20-06-2015, 21:39   #1
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What can I afford?

Here's a brief outline of me and where I am:

I'm 28 and fresh into a relatively cozy job after 5 years as a broke-ass grad student. Prior to this job, I didn't really having any savings, so my current income is the only money to my name. I have no debt, good credit, and very little money tied up in assets -- most of which I would likely liquidate before I set sail.

I feel strongly that the ocean is the place for me, and not this 8-5 cushy desk job. My tentative plan is to keep the job sufficiently long enough that I feel I can afford to cruise for a solid year or two unencumbered, and then work as needed/wanted, depending on what I want to do from there.

I've been been reading everything I can find and have seen a lot of different opinions abound on "how big and how much". For example, some people finance their boats, but most people seem to say financing a depreciating asset is a bad idea.

Here are my criteria:
  • Solo liveaboard cruiser
  • Blue water capable
  • Option to accommodate a crew member or two along the way (i.e. separate sleeping arrangements)
  • In decent shape, but am willing and prepared to spend considerable time and money making it sea-worthy

I plan to rake in the money for 2 years and then set sail. However, I want to be living aboard as soon as I can make happen.

What percent of my budget should be spent on the boat itself?
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Old 20-06-2015, 22:11   #2
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Re: What can I afford?

...30%...
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Old 20-06-2015, 22:24   #3
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Re: What can I afford?

Put about more than 50% of my take home into paying off a boat when I was your age. Luckily found a few girls who liked to go sailing as I couldn't afford to sspend money on anything else. Ended up with a paid for 35' boat at the end of 4 years.
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Old 20-06-2015, 22:41   #4
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Re: What can I afford?

30% is about what I was looking at intuitively. A few 50% boats have caught my eye, but I worry these would leave me with very limited options when things break/go wrong.

Did you finance your 35 then? Thoughts?
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Old 20-06-2015, 23:51   #5
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Re: What can I afford?

I'm 32 with a similar background. After a couple years of living/cruising/working aboard, 50% up front and 50 for upgrades was about it for me. Amazing the ways you can find spending money when you got it, and amazing how far you can stretch it when you dont.

Only thing I would suggest is don't keep potential crew too high in mind when buying. Buy the boat suited for you and a girl. Moving on a tight schedule sucks, and it's tough getting friends to commit an entire year's two weeks vacation to help get my sorry ass from A to B.

Whatever you end up doing, you won't regret it.
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Old 21-06-2015, 00:03   #6
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Re: What can I afford?

Living aboard will help with costs and with learning boat maintenance and what you need aboard. It's a good plan.

Rather than putting yourself on a schedule and saying "I'll spend 30% of whatever I stash on a boat" and hoping that boat works, why don't you put yourself on a money schedule and work as long as it takes? Might be less than two years, might be more.

I think you should be spending a minimum of $30K for the boat and be prepared to put $15K of upgrades into it including a new suit of sails. Given that this will be an older boat, I recommend a new chart-plotter, autopilot, and wind-vane as these combined are worth an additional crewman. The $15K will just about cover all of that. Also be prepared to spend about $2K in repairs on any good condition used boat. Anyway, that's $45K in boat. I think you'll want to have another $100K on hand for living expenses to cover 2 .. 3 years.

Are you single-handing? For blue water, you need 30 feet plus 3 feet for each crew. My opinion a 35+ is the smallest boat that a person should risk offshore.

Optimal crews are either single-handing if you're not a social person, married two people if you've been together a while and can take some yelling of orders, otherwise the optimum is three same-sex crew. I'm sure this is a super controversial comment, but its based on what I've seen others do that works and doesn't work. More than three is a lot on a small boat, but three makes for a good watch-standing rotation and keeps two people from getting into constant relationship issues. Two people who don't know each other well going out is either going to implode in weeks (80%) or make lasting partners (20%). Just my opinion, not going to argue it with others.

Prefer a heavy full-keel attached rudder boat. Install a >NEW< autopilot, I strongly recommend the new Raymarine 9-axis sensors as they work to counter swells and it helps a lot with comfort. Get enough solar installed to cover the amp-draw of the autopilot indefinitely.

Realize that you're going to permanently screw your overall money-making potential by retiring as a 27 year old. You'll be taking your most critical work years and sailing around the world. When you get back, its going to take you a year to get re-integrated into the world of work (during which time you'll have no money and be living on a mooring ball), and then you'll be the worst employee the company has, always pining for your former life.

As an illustrative example, my best friend and I wrote some pretty successful books as young men (26--28 years old) and made stupid money young--the exact same money, dollar for dollar because we were co-authors. I leveraged that money to start a business and I bought a house. He retired at 28 and bought a boat cash, a car, a motorcycle, a watch, some nice "sure thing" tech investments in the late nineties--but didn't want a house tying him down. He spent his time sailing and on motorcycle trips, and I spent my time time constantly wondering if I was missing out. Yeah, it sucked that I could only sail on weekends while he was going offshore whenever he wanted and taking motorcycle trips to Alaska just for the hell of it while I was grinding.

Fast forward five years. I bought his boat out of hock and he had to go slave for the man--including a stint for me where I had to lay him off for non-performance (we remain best friends). He sold his car and his watch for living money. It took him a few years to get back to being valuable--thank god he's really smart. We're now 45 years old and I'm looking at retiring in five years with enough money to last the rest of my life. He's finally able to pay his bills and has his debt and tax problems behind him, but is still living paycheck to paycheck. He's just started his first business, and I both wish him well and give him advice whenever I can. I'd invest, but he won't take investment.

Yeah, I'm a bit lazy and hate slaving just like you. That's why I run a spreadsheet model that tracks my net worth and future-valued living costs to tell me the exact date when I can retire with enough money to go the rest of my life without working and reach 85. When the magic day happens, I divest everything, load the boat, and go. My kids already know to expect nothing other than their privileged upbringing and an education because Dad is spending every penny he ever made.

Also--you have to know if you can handle the boredom. I've lived at sea in the Navy as a young man, but its boring as hell out there. Some day sailing, weekending, and cruising leading up to abandoning the landed world is a good idea for everyone. And you can do that with a job.

Shoulda coulda woulda. He got to sail for 5 years. I'll be sailing for at least 20. I'm sure you know how the math works. His boat now? None. My boat now is in my signature, and that's just the current weekender.

P.S. When you get back poor as hell, look me up. I've got work for people like you. Flexible schedule, and you can work from anchor.
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Old 21-06-2015, 00:30   #7
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Re: What can I afford?

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Old 21-06-2015, 02:06   #8
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Re: What can I afford?

I've had ambition and goals to do things in my life that I think I'd enjoy, but more importantly, would have a very measurable impact. Doing something good for humanity and this planet is important to me. Maybe because I was a bit too naive, off on my timing, or maybe just too lazy, things just didn't go as I had planned. I think my journey could have a very real (positive) impact on the world and the people around me through documentation of the trip and bringing issues that we like to ignore to light, as well as inspiring others to go off the rails for a bit. I'm not saying I'll do big things and have my own wikipedia page listing said things, but I will be able to see, very clearly, the results of my own efforts, and not just some abstraction 4 steps removed from myself.

Now, I could grind, work my ass off, get a job I probably even enjoy, but I think I would always be planning this journey, and I think I would always be putting it off, waiting for financial security.

If after a few years I decide I've done this for long enough and go back to the "real world", I'm absolutely confident I won't look back and say "man, I wish I was working those years instead of sailing the world." My post-sailing resume will be weak in comparison to what it would have been otherwise, but I feel very strongly I'll still be employable.

I think this journey is part of my career and not a sabbatical. It will, for better or worse, change who I am and with it, my career direction.

I'm unburdened by terrestrial tethers. I have no financial responsibilities keeping me ashore. I have no one I need to convince to go on this journey with me. I'm young, healthy, and still somewhat plastic. The only better time for this journey is already in my past.

All that aside and back to the discussion at hand: I don't plan on leaving with crew unless it happens by chance. By "room for crew" I guess I meant more for people who would be interested in joining for a month or so along the way, whether they be friends/family back in the states, or people I meet along the way.

There are the usual crowd of 32s I am considering, and perhaps a 35 or 37, depending on when I buy.
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Old 21-06-2015, 08:43   #9
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Re: What can I afford?

There are plenty of older, well built boats, that cost next to nothing. And in some cases, actually nothing. I suggest you look for an older Pearson 35. It will take you anywhere and won't cost you "a year" of work. From there, pile up as much money as you can, as fast as you can. Then live like a pauper while you sail the world.
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Old 21-06-2015, 08:46   #10
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Re: What can I afford?

Our generation has more opportunities for supporting a mobile-based lifestyle than ever before. If you decide you love it, it's not necessarily all or nothing. Website development has worked well for me, coming from a background in the liberal arts. Or you can find a land-based job that allows you chunks of time off. A lot of angles to shoot from.
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Old 21-06-2015, 08:55   #11
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Re: What can I afford?

Ryban, obviously re-read all that has been said for it is all good advice. In the end, it's your choice, so choose wisely. You obviously subscribe in some part to the delayed gratification theory but have the wanderlust for something different, which is a good thing. The only advice is from my perspective is that there are plenty of good quality offshore boats out there that are under 35 feet. You will probably start out single handing and then evolve into finding a sailing mate which you are compatible with. I'll remind you, you don't spend a lot of time offshore, you spend most of your time at anchor, and exploring, gunk holing, etc...I have two Cape Dory's one 31' and one 27'. I would take either one offshore with no hesitation, In my opinion they are both offshore quality boats. The 31 of course has more livability, but the 27' is quite adequate and can go places the 31 can't with the main thing being the draft. My 27' is for sale for 28,500 in which the only thing it needs is interior cushion, beside that? nothing. I've lived on board in the Bahamas for 3 and 6 months at a time with no problems. Just as a friend told me once when I was thinking of a bigger boat, which is of course the mantra today, there are a lot more 30 footers sailing around out there than 35 footers. Numbers for things such as haul outs occasional dockage's system repairs etc. I think you understand where I am coming from. If you want further information, contact me with a pm, and I'll be glad to talk with you further about the subject. But like I stated with the information above, all good advice for sure. By the way, living at anchor in Florida is about the most inexpensive way to live that you can. Trust your hook, not a mooring ball. These are just my opinions, and surely others will express them as needed or wanted. Good luck, and may the wind always be at your back.
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Old 21-06-2015, 09:05   #12
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Re: What can I afford?

Quote:
Originally Posted by laika View Post
Our generation has more opportunities for supporting a mobile-based lifestyle than ever before. If you decide you love it, it's not necessarily all or nothing. Website development has worked well for me, coming from a background in the liberal arts. Or you can find a land-based job that allows you chunks of time off. A lot of angles to shoot from.
Well said!

Rather than think of sailing as "not working"...find a way to make it work for you...to earn some $$$. Joshua Slocum set a good example for us, earning his keep as he sailed around the world. He had $1.85 in his pocket when he started his circumnavigation.

This is the 21st century. The information age. We are starved for content. Add a GOPRO to your equipment inventory, and maybe even a video equipped drone...who knows...maybe all alone out there on the ocean you will be the next internet sensation/millionaire! Or get a sponsor (rolex seems to like sailors), or adopt a school to follow/skype your trip. You seem like a bright guy....so, find your "red paperclip".

There's a whole world out there waiting for you. Don't let money stand in your way.
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Old 21-06-2015, 09:12   #13
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Re: What can I afford?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamburking View Post
There are plenty of older, well built boats, that cost next to nothing. And in some cases, actually nothing. I suggest you look for an older Pearson 35. It will take you anywhere and won't cost you "a year" of work. From there, pile up as much money as you can, as fast as you can. Then live like a pauper while you sail the world.
This^^^, Bristol, Allied, etc. lots of older very seaworthy boats to choose from that are in sailing condition now. The Pearson mentioned above is a very good choice. You will have life long memories, and great stories to tell your friends.
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Old 21-06-2015, 10:14   #14
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Re: What can I afford?

I will consider ONLY the economic numbers and ignore the question about what type or size boat. The biggest variable is "where will you keep the boat?"

If you live on the hook away from an urban area you will incur much lower costs. If you live in a marina with easy access to urban civilization you will be spending many hundreds of dollars a month more.

A 2nd big variable is insurance. Will you insure the boat? What geographic region will you be in? Insurance in the SE US is twice as expensive as identical insurance on the West Coast.

A 3rd variable will be "how much maintenance work can you do?"

A 4th variable will be "do the assets not spent on the boat provide any income?" and "where will the money to pay your living expenses come from?"

Most liveaboard folks will consider 5% of the boat value to be the annual cost of ownership for operations, maintenance, and upgrades. If you spend 50% of your assets on the boat then you will use up the remainder of the assets in just 10-years for boat maintenance. However in a lower price boat the annual maintenance cost will be a greater % of the boat cost.

My answer to "what percentage to spend on the boat" would be "what amount of money is left after you set aside money:
- to live on
- to maintain the boat
- to deal with emergencies
- to operate the boat

For example - assume you have $100,000 in assets. Let's assume you spend the following:

- $9,000 living expenses ($750 a month)
- $2,000 boat operation and maintenance

and want to keep $10,000 available for emergency considerations.

If you want to live for 5-years then you need to set aside $55,000 for annual expenses and another $10,000 for emergencies. So, you have $35,000 left to buy a boat. But, the purchase cost of the boat will be about 10% so you have about $30,000 left to buy the boat.

IF - you plan to live in a marina add another $4,000 to the annual cost and therefore reduce your remaining budget for the boat purchase by $20,000 which will leave you almost nothing.

You need to answer a lot of hard questions before you can determine how much to spend on the boat!
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Old 21-06-2015, 10:32   #15
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Re: What can I afford?

"I'm 28 and fresh into a relatively cozy job after 5 years as a broke-ass grad student. Prior to this job, I didn't really having any savings, so my current income is the only money to my name. I have no debt, good credit, and very little money tied up in assets -- most of which I would likely liquidate before I set sail.

I feel strongly that the ocean is the place for me, and not this 8-5 cushy desk job. My tentative plan is to keep the job sufficiently long enough that I feel I can afford to cruise for a solid year or two unencumbered, and then work as needed/wanted, depending on what I want to do from there. "


Here is another way to think about the issue:

Your introduction exactly matches my life situation at age 28. I had a new MS degree, a great job, and infinite love for sailing. I raced sailboats most weeks of the year, cruised for several months a year, and lived on a sailboat. I did not have enough money to put new tires on my old beater car so my new 18-year old girlfriend purchased new tires for me before she would ride in my car on the freeway.

All I wanted to do was sail! But, I wanted to do it for a long time and have financial peace of mind.

My girlfriend, to whom I have been married for 41-years, and I decided to work hard, save a lot, and go sailing forever at some time in the future. During the next 22-years we saved 35% of our gross incomes and invested aggressively. During that time we sailed a lot on other peoples boats and became hardcore small boat owners and sailboarders.

I retired at age 50 at which time I owned a beautiful 40-foot cutter that we had purchased new 5-years earlier. We could afford to spend a great deal of money and time outfitting the boat exactly as we wanted. That was 18-years ago and we are still on the boat and loving the liveaboard life.

At age 34 I started my own company, based on the research I did in grad school, and was able to have a very enjoyable life led on my schedule with my priorities. I sailed a great deal of the time, spent a month each year sailboarding in Hawaii and another in the Columbia River Gorge. My work allowed me to travel the world on my clients dime.

We chose to defer our permanent sailing adventure to later in life while ensuring that we led an adventurous and entertaining life until we could go sailing full time.

Our Keys to getting there:
- NO CHILDREN
- SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
- Invest aggressively
- Marry a woman who makes a lot of money and enjoys saving
- Have fun
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