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Old 26-12-2011, 09:31   #1
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Need Help for Rookies

My wife and I are going to retire to the Caribbean or Central America in the next few years. We are looking at a 38-42 cat to travel around. We would live aboard while we travel but would be based out of a land location.
Our problem is two-fold. One, neither of us have sailed anything larger than a 16' hoby cat. We are both power boaters but want the freedom of being able to sail to any location. Second, we are on a fixed income and can not afford many locations.
We want to be based out of a land location. We are looking for getting the most for our money, yet still have a good location for sailing adventures.
We lived in St. Thomas for 5 years and grew to love the island life and the endless opportunities of the water. We really enjoyed seeing other island from our house our when on the water. It was like living on a lake instead of the ocean. We owned a 25' power boat and used it almost daily.
We love to dive, but got tired of just looking diving. We enjoyed diving for lobster and spearfishing. We also enjoyed diving for bottles, china and other items. This mostly took place in St Thomas harbor. Visibility sucked but found many great historical items.
We are on a fixed income from Social Security and VA disability. We are able to spend around $4,000-$5,000 per month. This limits our ability to choose anywhere in the Caribbean/Central America. We are not opposed to the Pacific side but would prefer the Caribbean/Atlantic area as we already know and have friends in this area.
Are we crazy about taking on such a larger change? Is the learning curve fast for cats? We would not do blue water sailing until we were very confident in our boat and abilities.
Any help or advise would be great.


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Old 26-12-2011, 09:37   #2
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

Hi Mark, welcome to CF!

It sounds like you are comfortable on a Hobie Cat and power boats, correct?

Prior to our first charter of a 47' Catamaran in 2009, all I had captain'd previously was a 27' monohull and a 27' power boat along with lots of smaller boats (Hobie Cat's, smaller power boats and sunfish!).

I think sailing is pretty much the same regardless of the size, but there are some things that do differ and you really just need instruction for your particular boat. For me, I found moving to the 47' Cat to not be a big deal. Maneuvering took a little getting used to, but I took it slow and steady and had no issues. I think what you want to do is very doable, especially if you start in a location like the Virgin Islands where you can take your time and get to know your boat and expand your abilities.

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Old 26-12-2011, 09:59   #3
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

I believe many of the true cruisers follow their dream on a lot less than a "fixed" income of 4-5G's per month. If it can't be done with that kind of money; it can't be done.

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Old 26-12-2011, 10:24   #4
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

i cruise on a fixed income of way less than 4-5k per annum. i do not have catamaran but i do have a cat--the feline kind, and a formosa 41.

oh yes..and i am disabled.
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Old 26-12-2011, 11:05   #5
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

Have you read the Bomfuzzles blog? It's about a young couple that buy a cat and sail around the world with virtually no experience. | living, sailing, procreating Start at the beginning. IMHO it was better back then.
The moral of this story is cats are easy. Just go for it. BOB
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Old 26-12-2011, 11:17   #6
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

Hi, Mark.

You mention your monthly income of $4-5K, but also stated that you want to base out of a land dwelling and also buy a 38-42' catamaran to cruise in. Certainly you could live well on a cat for much less than $4K per month, but putting the money down to buy the catamaran and also buying a home or condo (and maintaining it) is going to soak up quite a bit of cash. Having bought our house here on Nevis with no mortgage, we could (if we tried very hard) probably get by on $5K/month, but it wouldn't be nearly as much fun as $7K/month. And we don't have a boat any more. Living on land, in the eastern Caribbean anyway, can be more expensive than you might think.
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Old 26-12-2011, 17:21   #7
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

Thanks for all your help. Keep it coming.
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Old 26-12-2011, 17:54   #8
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

It's just tough to have any fun nowadays for less than 10 or 15K it seems.
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Old 27-12-2011, 11:16   #9
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

We've been cruising our 51' catamaran for the past five years. We always owned & sailed monohulls before that, although my husband had raced Hobie's, Nacra's, etc. A couple things to keep in mind with regard to owning a multihull vs. a monohull:

Multihulls are a LOT more expensive to buy. You can buy a very nice used monohull for $100K, but not so with multihulls. On this same note, multis are also more expensive to own, as you have two hulls vs. one.

You will pay anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times the dockage rates for a multi vs. a mono. Plus you will tend to have a harder time finding a slip.

Since you are power boaters but wanting to take off sailing, I recommend you start participating in some sailing activities. I see you're in Tampa. I lived there for 20 years. Go out to Davis Island Yacht Club, the 'sailingest club in the south', and do some of their races. This time of year there's only one race per month (full moon race). Once daylight savings times begins next spring, they have weekly Thursday night races. Go into the clubhouse & let them know you're 'crew looking for a boat'. You should be able to catch a ride and make some new sailing buddies and gain invaluable experience.

All that said, I hope you realize your dream and make it happen. I love my catamaran and the cruising life. The people you will meet and new friends you will make will renew your faith in the human race. Too many sailors I know talk about wanting to take off 'some day'. I know for a fact that some day will never come for most of them. Wishing you the best...
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Old 28-12-2011, 02:04   #10
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

A buddy of mine is just heading out to the islands from West Palm on his Gemini 105 which he loves scubia diving off of and the price was affordable and the 14 ft beam easy to find a std sized slip for. The draw backs is they slam a little like a lot of cats do. We bought a Gemini 105Mc and really like it, and my arthertic neck loves not wabbling around at anchorage, I also like the 10 to 12 kt speed I get.
Wind in my hair and a nice catamaran
Phil & Elaine
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Old 28-12-2011, 04:07   #11
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

In our 20 years of cat ownership we have never paid more to dock our boat than a similar sized mono.
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Old 01-01-2012, 08:30   #12
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Re: Need Help for Rookies

Originally Posted by Mark Kaiser View Post
...Are we crazy about taking on such a larger change? Is the learning curve fast for cats? ...
Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Mark.

Yes, taking on any change is crazy.
Although cats learn fairly quickly, people are actually faster learners.

Enjoy your retirement!
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 06-01-2012, 11:59   #13
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pirate Re: Need Help for Rookies

Hi Mark:

I'm a certified financial planner and a boater. Hoping to join you'll someday but for now I am in the office and raising a family...still!

I advise some clients in a similar situation as you describe. One concern I have is the VA disability. Not knowing the extent of the disability limits my ability make a suggestion. But one idea I have is for you to subscribe to International Living magazine or Soverign Man. Both help primarily Americans and Canadians migrate to places such as central or south America. You can learn a lot about coastal towns that are affordable and provide high quality health care for little expense.

I am trying to convert from owning a Formula to a catamaran for the purpose of hosting seminars and to live aboard (at some point). Sailing a catamaran is not that hard but you do need to be respectful of nature and aware of your physical limitations. The bigger the boat the harder it is to manage and the more it will cost for ongoing maintenance. Keep it as simple as possible. And more than likely the intl. real estate will appreciate and the boat will depreciate. It is very unlikely you will get all you money out of the boat if you decide not to own her any longer. Being on a limited budget means every decision you make to spend large sums of money puts you that much closer to or into financial strain for the remainder of your life.

I wish you all the best in this new adventure.


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