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Old 15-08-2010, 18:53   #1
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Change of Lifestyle

Hi all,

I am looking for a significant change in our life-style: to give all of you some background:

I am 38, and have been chartering (skippered) for at least 2 weeks per year for the last 10 (both monohulls and catamarans). I have always loved the sea and sailing (I drew my first mono-hull design for a 100-footer maxi on millimetre paper aged 12).
I recently married my girlfriend of 4 years and we have a 4 month old daughter. Before this I've spent most of my time in the last 15 years or so as a bachelor concentrating on growing my business, working in excess of 80 hours per week and since my offices are in London, Minsk and Colombo, family life is taking a huge hit.

As it stands, I have an offer on the table to sell off a large chunk of my business for around $3-4 million and retain a small part of the business that would require me to work less than 20 hours per week and would show a consistent profit of around $100-150k/year.

Now the deal is not cast in stone, but I am looking to decrease my emphasis on my business and concentrate MUCH more on my family and quite simply: turn our life, rather than just my business, into an adventure. I would like to spend the next decade afloat in the tropics and sub-tropics (and the Med in summers occasionally)

Here are my ideas and I would really appreciate if the forum community could poke as many holes as possible....

In the first instance about our cat:
  • I'm looking to invest up to $3m (although I'd prefer it to be under $2m) into a large cat, whether that is a new or second-hand cat does not concern me at this stage - it will take at least 18 months-2 years until I can achieve the required independence, so building a custom cat is on the cards. ($1/4 m is available now for deposit)
  • In terms of production cats, I am warming towards either the Sunreef '62 or the Lagoon 620. I've looked at gunboats, but really dislike the steering position. Outreemers are maybe a little too slim and basic for my requirements and the rest I looked at seem to be too small. I love the direct access to the cockpit from the owner's cabin and galley the Lagoon has - it is unique. The Sunreef seems to provide plenty of bang for your buck - and all semi-custom.
  • I would like a cat that is a "home away home", so I do want to have luxuries such as constant fresh water, sufficient power to run several fridges/freezers, washing machine/drier and maybe dishwasher too. An absolute must is a continous broadband internet connection - I know it is exorbitant, but would really appreciate advice on this. Has anybody had experience with using say 3-5GB weekly?
  • At least in the first year, I would require a full-time skipper and probably a first mate and/or hostess. So there should be crew accommodation for 2/3.
  • I would need a flexible layout, that would be suitable to me as an owner, but would not exclude charter. In my experience (please tell me if I am wrong) the average mid-budget charter usually includes at least one family with children along with either friends, inlaws or parents.
  • I would want the cost of maintenance and depreciation to be self-sufficient as much as possible, there can be some short-fall, but everything taken into account, I would not want to lose more than around $20k/year. This obviously will have to be addressed by charter. I think there are 2 options:
    • We spend some of our time ashore and charter the cat. Some questions: What would be the best location? My presumption is either the Med or Caribbean - but what about the Pacific? Has anybody got a reasonable "rule of thumb" as to how many charter weeks would cover the annual cost of maintenance, salary for 2 or 3 crew and depreciation?
    • We do "adventure charters", keep living on-board in one dedicated hull, have a pre-defined world itinerary and charter out 2 cabins in the 2nd hull to join the boat, at different costs according to season and intinerary (surely 4 weeks Panama to Marquesas cannot attract the same rate as 2 weeks Marquesas - Fiji This option would actually be preferential to my vision. My question is obviously: is there enough interest in the market for this type of charter?
  • Considering all of the above, I have been thinking about my ideal layout for our cat. What worries me is that I have never seen it before ....
    • Good passage maker, but comfort takes priority. In my view less that 20% of the life onboard would be spent on extended passages. The average passage being 1-5 days with a 2-5 day break and passages of 10 days or longer only 2-3 times per year.
    • Galley up: for 2 reasons:
      • If cruising in tropics or Med in the summer, I think the interior lounge would be quite under-used and should only be considered a haven in case of bad weather. The cockpit, flybridge or trampolins are the areas where life should concentrate on, so I think the extra space a galley-down configuration would afford in the saloon would largely be under-used.
      • Having the galley up, will free up space in the hulls for personal space and/or crew accomodation
    • A family starboard hull: Should be primarily designed for a family with 1-2 children. Parent's cabin with settee and desk, shared family head - if possible with a half tub or even full tub. 2nd cabin to be flexible: convertible settee to either single bunk or cot for smaller children with fold-down or drop-down bunk above for bigger kids. Desk and chairs opposite for play/study. Considering a shared head, it should give a few extra feet in the forepeak for a comfortable crew cabin and/or extra buoyancy space for redundacy.
    • friends and charter guest port hull: two identical twin, convertible to double queen cabins - most charter yachts seem to have either/or. I don't see why both is impossible. Large shared head with separate day head. Space saved by shared head should be converted to additional buoyancy and/or crew mess in forepeak.
I would really love to get some feedback on any or all of the above, but other than feedback on my ideas, my main question is regarding cost and covering depreciation.

Thanks for reading this far

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Old 15-08-2010, 19:02   #2
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Has anybody got a reasonable "rule of thumb" as to how many charter weeks would cover the annual cost of maintenance, salary for 2 or 3 crew and depreciation?
Rule of thumb for this is 52 weeks.

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Old 16-08-2010, 02:59   #3
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Originally Posted by Drew13440 View Post
Rule of thumb for this is 52 weeks.
So what you are telling me here is that manufacturers building cats for the charter market are foolish, that there isn't a single profitable large charter cat/company out there and that the annual upkeep is somewhere between $1.2-1.8 million (which would be the average weekly charter rate extrapolated over 52 weeks)?

Could you pull the other one now please?
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Old 16-08-2010, 03:38   #4
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Wow .... and I thought WhataWorld was out there. Sorry but your issues are way out of my league. Nice problems to have if you can get them.

I think I'll just sit back and listen.
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Old 16-08-2010, 04:11   #5
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Hi green-flash,

There's a lot to absorb with your extensive post. Each section could be a thread of it's own. I am having a trouble separating the financial/chartering discussion from the what kind of boat I want discussion.

On the cost side you state that you want to lose no more than $20k a year on maintenance and depreciation. On a $2-3mm boat that is pretty sporty. But maybe I am missing something.
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Old 16-08-2010, 04:14   #6
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Even with the charter, I would be very surprised if you can have a $2M depreciating asset and only dump $20k per year on it...

I would be buying a boat for $1M, investing / banking the rest (so i never had to be active in the business / work again) and not bothering with the chartering.
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Old 16-08-2010, 04:15   #7
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Why not buy a smaller boat that will fit just you and your family, invest the rest of the money. Leave the paid help and headaches on land and have a real adventure.
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Old 16-08-2010, 04:43   #8
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smj +1. You want a lifestyle change right? Go and cruise the Pacific and find out how little money you actually NEED!
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Old 16-08-2010, 04:53   #9
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Congrats to you sir, wish more people would smarten up and live the life on the water while conducting business, it is easily done these days.

Contact RAYSAT company and ask about their tv/internet satellite, they have it for the military and should now be public.

I think and have been told by world cruisers that Bahamas, Cuba, Florida area is just as nice as anywhere.

The production cat builders are building big girls now or are tooling up the 60' range. I would go to the big shows and looksee.

Good luck.
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Old 16-08-2010, 12:10   #10
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fundamental questions

Having been in your situation a couple of times before, I wish I could sit down with you for a long talk. And by the way I spent a long time in Minsk years ago, had an apartment on Nemiga.
If you have been working 80 hours a week for a while and you are 38, it indicates to me that work is satisfying to you. Going to a tropical cruising lifestyle, its possible you could not adjust well, get depressed, or be very unhappy. Whatever your inner needs were that drove you to work so hard are still going to be there. Maybe you are already aware of this issue, but it bears repeating.
I would encourage you to look into a used boat that is in good condition, that you could possibly be happy with. I have learned from experience that happiness is rarely related to the size of boat you have.
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Old 17-08-2010, 10:11   #11
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dohenyboy +1
smj +1

OK, you've got good chunks of money. It can buy you freedom from (financial) worries.
But your plan will cause more worries.

And you want to put all that money into a floating home that you have to rent out to get some return? To charter guests that you have to entertain instead of caring for your own family's needs? You want someone in your home that treats you like a cheap employee?
You want to meet other peoples timetables instead of leisurely doing whatever you want?
You want crew? Strangers living in your home that you you have to pay and worry about?

Spending huge money to have more worries than before. Sorry but that sounds somewhat stupid to me.

My choice:
Get a boat in a reasonable size with all the nice stuff you think you need (unless you have 15 kids with multiple wifes you should do OK with ~45ft), invest the money left over and get out there without having to worry about deprecation, charter people and crew.

If you don't like it you can sell it without loosing too much. If you really like it you can still sell it and upgrade.
Selling your envisioned brand new $2m custom cat will cost you an arm and a leg
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Old 17-08-2010, 13:56   #12
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Originally Posted by green-flash View Post
I am looking for a significant change in our life-style: to give all of you some background:
How significant?

From what you have posted, it seems like you simply want to move your lifestyle (minus the working 80 hours a week) onto the water.

Captain, Crew, 60' yacht..etc.

You don't really mention what you have put away now and what assetts you might be selling. Without that, we could assume you are buying the boat with the 3-4 million you will get from selling your business.

There are a LOT of boats you could choose from for under a million. Why not look at that and then perhaps you wouldn't have to worry so much about the yearly upkeep. You could invest the rest and live off your salary quite easily which would certainly cover upkeep. And with a smaller more affordable boat, a captain and crew would not be necessary.

And this would REALLY be a change in lifestyle - significant at that!

As far as the owners hull you want, I haven't seen anything like that. I think your best bet would be an owners version where the kid(s) sleep on the port side when they are older and in a crib or whatever fits in the owners side in the meantime. Once they are old enough for a bed, you move them to the port side.

I'm definetely jealous though - If I was in your shoes, I'd sell, but a 45-50' Catamaran and head off sailing and leave work behind completely. It's actually what I plan to do in a few years, just not with that kind of funding
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Old 17-08-2010, 14:12   #13
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Hey Flash,

Have a look at the Voyage 580, Owners version. It has a nice office and a workshop. The boat is set up to sail easily and is under $2M. Go charter one for a week to really get the feel of the boat. If we had the cash, that is the boat we would have.
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Old 17-08-2010, 14:29   #14
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My first concern would be selling your business. I love to dream and have done so for many years but in the end, I'm a hard cold cash business person. There have been so many "2 to 3 million dollar deals" that didn't pan out I really don't count on them. And, you better get the money in full, not shares of a larger company.

FWIW, there is a member of this forum that is doing EXACTLY what you are. His boat is a 60' er.
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Old 17-08-2010, 16:21   #15
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<sigh> Interested in adopting an orphan? I don't suppose you would... they always want the cute, little ones. Once I passed 40 I figured my chances were slim to none...

I had a cousin who planned to make his first million by age 40. He did so, and by 54 was worth around 40 million. We had lunch one day at his country club, he showed me his business and his warehouses, introduced me to his employees, and told me how hard he worked. At the end of the day we hugged and I gently reminded him, "At the end of your life, you won't ever regret not having work enough hours. But don't forget your family... they need you and that's what's important." A month later I received a call that he died in a crash on the way home from work- at 1:00 in the morning. His wife and kids were left very well off... but without a husband and father.

You're a wise man to understand that your family needs you. I applaud that. Doheny boy has a good point, though. A drastic change in your lifestyle might be more difficult than you think. You might want to examine what drives you to work so many hours. After that, you might want to consider how to effectively balance your life.... family, work, charitable hours and/or financial donations.

Still, I'd love to be adopted... (again.)

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