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Old 27-05-2012, 15:38   #1
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Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

Hello everyone!

I'm new here so I hope I chose the right forum :-/

I am looking to buy a sailboat for under $6,000 within the next 6 months in Miami, FL, that I can live aboard. Right now i'm in the 'thinking about it' stage, and I have the following questions:

(1) What kind of sailboat can I get for that price? I would want it to live aboard, for daysailing, and then when I graduate (from grad school - appox. 6 months after buying boat) to sail to the Bahamas. Is this feasible? I understand it'll probably be a fix-her-up job.

(2) How much would the marina fees be for a liveaboard in the Miami-Dade area? (preferably near Key Biscayne/Coconut Grove area)

(3) How much are other fees? (e.g. insurance, equipping boat for cruising, other?)

Thank you for your comments!
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Old 28-05-2012, 10:38   #2
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Re: Buying a boat to liveaboard & sail (on a budget)

Hi Miami.

$6000 is pretty low, but it can be done. You just need to be realistic about what you will be getting at that price.

The first thing to realize is that buying the boat is the tip of the iceberg budget wise. If your total budget is $6000, and you spend $6000 to buy the boat, you will probably end up in trouble. Make sure you budget the whole process from purchase to sail-away to end of cruise before you start.

The next question is how small of a boat are you willing to live on?

If I was you I would do something like the following:

1) Buy a 1970-1980 fiberglass boat in the 25-30 foot range.
2) Try to find a sturdy, well built boat.
3) Buy a boat that is already well equipped
4) Keep it simple (skip refrigeration, ac, autopilots, radar, fancy electronics)
5) Don't worry to much about brand of the boat, find something in your price range that gives you the features you need

Gear is very expensive to add, but much cheaper to buy on an existing boat. If it was me, the expensive pieces of gear I would be looking for are:
- sails
- windvane
- dinghy and motor
- standing rigging

All of these cost thousands new. You could get by without a windvane, but it sure will be nice to have if you are singlehanding. You could also get by without a motor for the dinghy if you get something that rows reasonably well. You have to have decent sails and rigging, so I would make the the priority in searching for a boat.

Other items that can cost in the hundreds new that you will probably want:

- anchor and rode.
- a way to shade the boat
- solar panel
- shore power cord and adapters
- required coastguard safety gear
- cushions good enough to provide a comfortable place to sit and sleep
- vhf (handheld is fine)
- gps (handheld is fine)

The more of this gear you can get, the better.

There are people who have done what you want on much smaller budgets. Just spend lots of time looking at boats and find one that is already well equipped.
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Old 28-05-2012, 10:45   #3
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Re: Buying a boat to liveaboard & sail (on a budget)

Here you go...

Cape Dory 25 Sailboat

$3800

mm
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Old 28-05-2012, 13:06   #4
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

First question will be how small a space can you live in. Some do it in less but personally I wouldn't want to live in less that 25-27'. Go look at a some boats, go inside and think about spending hours there, like on a day when it's raining cats and dogs and you're trapped inside. Boat that size gives you roughly room equivalent to a full size van.

Dock rent in Miami will be expensive for liveaboard. Figure a few hundred per month.

In your budget you will almost certainly be limited to a fixer-upper. So how are your DIY skills: plumbing, wiring, engine mechanics, carpentry, fiberglass repair? If you can't manage basic fixit stuff you are going to have a big problem with your budget.
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Old 28-05-2012, 18:15   #5
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

Thanks RainDog and everyone for your useful comments!

Slip fees: Ok that's good to know a ballpark figure - that would be several hundred dollars which would include electricity/fresh water/showers?

Size: I was thinking 24-30ft. I'm ok with limited space if it's just me.

The Cape Dory 25 looks like the kind of make I am after - but I was thinking to wait several months to buy - so hurricane season passes and I can learn more about what to look for and prepare in the meantime.

My DIY skills are.. mediocre, I don't have a lot of experience, but that is one of the reasons I am doing this - to push myself.

Thanks again!
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Old 28-05-2012, 18:46   #6
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Re: Buying a boat to liveaboard & sail (on a budget)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mangomuffins View Post
Here you go...

Cape Dory 25 Sailboat

$3800

mm
There are people on this forum far more qualified than me to assess a boat, but just to give you a rough idea of what you to expect......

Based on what I can see (assuming the boat is as described), I would expect to make this boat usable for your plans:

1) Buy for $3000
2) Do a new bottom job yourself - $800 supplies/fees, 100 hours labor.
3) New running rigging - $250
4) New standing rigging - $1000, 50 hours labor
5) Anchors and rode - $400 (used)
6) Canvas for shade - $300, 25 hours labor (assuming you an borrow sewing machine)
7) Solar panel and regulator - $500, 25 hours labor
8) Shore power cord and adapters - $200 (used)
9) Repaint cockpit sole - $200 supplies, 50 hours labor
10) Fix "soft spots" - $200 supplies, 50 hours labor

This means just for the major things, $6850 plus 300 hours labor to get this boat up to snuff for coastal cruising and living aboard. But it leaves you with new engine, new sails, new rigging, new canvas, new solar panels, new bottom job, etc.

Assuming my majorly wild guesses are close and there is not a major problem not listed, this is close to what you are looking for and about what you will probably be looking at in terms of the amount of labor you will put in.

Note that to do this amount of work in 5 months you are looking at 15 hours+ a week. And that is just for the major things.
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Old 28-05-2012, 20:23   #7
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miami View Post
Thanks RainDog and everyone for your useful comments!

Slip fees: Ok that's good to know a ballpark figure - that would be several hundred dollars which would include electricity/fresh water/showers?

Size: I was thinking 24-30ft. I'm ok with limited space if it's just me.

The Cape Dory 25 looks like the kind of make I am after - but I was thinking to wait several months to buy - so hurricane season passes and I can learn more about what to look for and prepare in the meantime.

My DIY skills are.. mediocre, I don't have a lot of experience, but that is one of the reasons I am doing this - to push myself.

Thanks again!
If you want to check marina rates in the Miami area you can go to the activecaptain website. https://activecaptain.com/X.php

It has a pretty complete data base of marinas that show as red markers on the charts. I checked a couple in Miami area. Dinner Key in Coconut Grove has a 40' rate minimum so about $870/month. Didn't say if that included power, water, etc or not. Looked at a couple of others and most were in the range of $700-$900 range including power, water and/or liveaboard fees.
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Old 29-05-2012, 18:11   #8
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

Are there any free anchorages in the Miami area anymore? If you are looking at ~$6,000, you should look into that.

This is my 'plan B' if I ever don't have a job in the future. Or if I turn 35 and have my mid-life crisis...
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Old 29-05-2012, 22:09   #9
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

Ouch! Slip fees are expensive! That's the price range I pay now for my apartment. Free anchorages would be great SunDevil, but I don't know how practical it would be for my schedule each day!

SkipMac - Thanks for the website its a great interactive source of info.

Arghh that's tempting RainDog - I'd love to get it ASAP and start work - but I think I need to wait a bit - especially since the slip-fees are so high. But's its great to now have a 'yard stick' by which to measure other potential sailboats in the next few months. Saying that - is this a one time great deal or just an average deal? I really dont have a clue with sailboat prices in the US! (and only minimum in the UK my home country).

I'm currently on $2000/month stipend - so with slip-fees at $800/month (same as my apt), my motorcycle is cheap and costs only ~$30/month, food and drink (I need beer - i'm english) ~ $250, saving for flights home to family $120/mnth, other unexpected $100/mnth. The only other things are insurance for sailboat, and paying for the necessary repairs. Tax?

Does anyone have any idea of insurance for eg. for a sailboat like the Cape Dory 25? I guess it would need to include hurricane damage...

Thanks!
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Old 29-05-2012, 23:34   #10
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

You may want to consider liability insurance only, vs. full coverage for a vessel in your price range. This is the approach that I and may other boat owners go with for insurance and it allows for minimal ongoing insurance bills. Savings can be put in the bank towards repair/replacement costs. Others can chime in on liability rates in FL. as I'm not sure exactly what they would be.

That CD 25 is a good deal, but not a once in a lifetime deal in my opinion. There are plenty of boats of all types for sale. Depending on your needs even a great deal on the wrong boat isn't worth following up on though. The CD25 is an excellent boat, and may be ideal for your needs. Since your primary needs/purposes for the boat seem to be living aboard I don't think that the CD 25 is ideal though as it seems it would be too small. If you were going to take off soon as a budget cruiser then it may be perfect.

You will probably want to wait until you are ready to buy and on site before you worry too much about which particular boat to buy. Shop and learn as much as you can now for sure, but don't pick one boat until you have looked at a variety of boats in person with an eye for their suitability to your needs. Again, it sounds like "live aboard" is your top criteria which will be probably be best met by the largest clean, dry and low-maintenance boat that you can find. Cruising to the Bahamas is not overly demanding so a boat with the basics (ground tackle, sails, solid, dry, etc. etc.) should be sufficient. Do buy a boat that is pretty much complete, as refits and restorations are way more expensive in time and money than buying a boat that is already in good condition. At the end of the day, you can certainly make a CD25 work, and be happy and comfortable as long as the rest of your life fits in with the lifestyle.

I agree with all of the other comments in this thread and think that RainDogs deserves special consideration. His wisdom:

"$6000 is pretty low, but it can be done. You just need to be realistic about what you will be getting at that price.

The first thing to realize is that buying the boat is the tip of the iceberg budget wise. If your total budget is $6000, and you spend $6000 to buy the boat, you will probably end up in trouble. Make sure you budget the whole process from purchase to sail-away to end of cruise before you start."

is so true. I've spent so much more time (years) and money (much more than the boat is worth) setting my boat up than I ever would have dreamed, and there is still tons to do. It's a common tale and it seems that most boat owners have learned this truth one way or another. If you are in a position where you can come up with the extra money or spend the extra work time if the boat needs it then you will succeed with living aboard a sailboat. If time and money is really tight and you aren't fully committed to the living-aboard thing then "you will probably end up in trouble" as RainDog said.. It's often said that schedules and sailing don't mix. It may be equally true that boats and budgets don't mix.

Keep the questions and ideas coming and good luck with all of your decisions.
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Old 30-05-2012, 06:31   #11
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miami View Post
Ouch! Slip fees are expensive! That's the price range I pay now for my apartment. Free anchorages would be great SunDevil, but I don't know how practical it would be for my schedule each day!

SkipMac - Thanks for the website its a great interactive source of info.
Living at anchor and commuting to work dailiy is doable but, depending on the details, mainly how far out you are and where you leave your dinghy and car can be pretty simple or a huge pain.

I did it for about four months and it was a pain but mainly because I did not have the ideal situation for commuting. From my mooring to the dinghy beach was over a mile. Morning commuting routine:

- bail out the dink (slow leak I never did fix
- motor to the beach
- drag dink up the beach. With a 5-6' tide that could be a ways.
- Remove outboard, gas tank, oars, etc and carry to the car.
- Change clothes
- 1 hour drive to work.

Evening, reverse the process. Overall it took about 2 hours from boat to office. If you have a secure dinghy dock it would be a lot, lot easier.
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Old 30-05-2012, 07:14   #12
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

Two things to remember:
the dream is always better than the reality and the cheapest part of owning a boat is the purchase price. My wife says everything costs a $1000, and as much as it hurts to admit it, she's right.
Having said all that, the researching, planning and dreaming are half the fun.
Don't give up the dream.
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Old 14-11-2012, 17:03   #13
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

Miami-

Any updates? I'm looking to give it a go in the San Francisco Bay Area and have many of the same questions. Interestingly enough, there aren't that many questions that haven't been addressed somewhere on the web if not in CF. I'm almost there with my budgeting with the exception of finding out how much a reputable and thorough survey will cost me.
Hope it's coming along!
Joe
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Old 18-11-2012, 21:06   #14
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

Hi Joe,

I have been lucky enough to become friends with someone who happens to live on a beautiful 44ft sailboat. He's looking for another person to live on the boat to share slip fees etc, and so I've decided to do that, starting in the new year.

I figured it was the best choice as I get to learn and experience first hand living on and maintaining a boat, without any financial commitment. When I come to buy my own boat, I will have much more knowledge on what to look for.

Great for me, but sorry I can't give any enlightening information!

Good luck!
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Old 19-11-2012, 02:51   #15
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Re: Buying a Boat to Liveaboard & Sail (On a Budget)

IMO a very good move (pun intended!).........and no reason why you can't also get own boat, even simply a sailing dinghy will teach you a lot that will be useful later.

Anyway, have fun!
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