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Old 04-03-2012, 21:18   #1
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Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

Hello,

I'm looking for current info about living aboard in St Thomas. I introduced myself earlier in the newcomers forum, but it looks like this is where I should be looking. I'm in the Coast Guard, Active Duty, and have received orders to transfer to ST Thomas this September. Its a three year tour, so this is my plan:

Step 1: Move to St. Thomas
Step 2: Buy live-aboard sailboat. (40 ft range) I get a housing stipend of 2400/month which I'd like to use to purchase and pay off the boat which gives me a price point around 65 grand. It will be both me and my wife so I don't want to go much smaller than 40' if possible.
Step 3: Complete 3 year tour in St. Thomas and learn to sail sail boat real good.
Step 4: Save enough money during three year tour to go one year w/out income.
Step 5: Take one year sabbatical at end of three year tour (this is a real option for me).
Step 6: Use saved money, sailboat, and 1 year sabbatical to circumnavigate Caribbean.
Step 7: At end of one year sabbatical resume life as normal

Here are my immediate questions... Mooring,. Since we'll living there for at least three years I'd like to have a slip to call home. What's the mooring situation like, long wait lists, average costs?
What is insurance like, I've tried a few companies today but none will cover the USVI, who do you use, whats the percent of cost, and do/will they cover named storms and hurricanes?
This leads me to the next question, hurricanes. How do boats in the USVI fair/deal with hurricanes, are there haulout facilities for hurricanes, have you used them, etc...
Utilities, I understand water and electric are quite high there, what percentage of your budget do they account for?
Any other general information or input would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks a ton for your time! Cheers -Nate
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:25   #2
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

I am in Florida, perhaps insurance issues have some similarity regarding hurricane insurance, here the best rates are related to having a Haul-Out plan for a named storm. The Haul-Out plans are contracts with a specific marina, cost a good amount of money up front, some plans keep the deposit yearly whether or not you have a need to be hauled out for a storm and then there are sometimes additional fees at the time of the actual haul out. The money keeps you on their designated haul out priority list. I bet expensive over there too, check out a few marinas. Also some marinas require you to have your own stands, etc... Over here BOATUS policy's work this way for the best rates with them.

USAA maybe a good way to go for financing since are you are military but you probably know this. They also MAY connect you to an affiliate insurance agency to cover your boat if they wont. Age of the the boat you choose and type of boat, fiberglass or wood, will have something to do with insure-ability, if you can locate insurance.

I would have this all nailed down before I went hunting for a boat. Once you have a boat you will find that your options become more narrow and more expensive. If you know how the game is played up front you can stay ahead of the curve.

One other thought, saying your a Live Aboard to an insurance company can end the deal right there. Would be nice if you had a land based address as well.

Good Luck,

Pat
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:45   #3
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

Try this thread on the same subject from January of this year: The Virgin Islands

and: Registration in US Virgin Islands
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:40   #4
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

PM me and i will give you an email address of a STT livaboard
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:33   #5
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

I've been living aboard in the USVI's (or somewhere in that general area) for 3 years now so I guess I can tell you a bit about the area.

Let me first answer your question about moorings. If a mooring is a must then I have bad news for you. Renting a mooring in the USVI's is illegal, all mooring permits are issued by DPNR so don't fall for any craigslist scams when you get here. The marina's are extremely expensive so any local that has a boat has it on a mooring and the waiting list is a long one. The only hope one has it to buy the gear and set your own mooring up. This route is the most expensive not to mention the application with DPNR will take some time. They might not make you jump through hoops to get it but I assure you it will be done when they feel like doing it. The good news to all of this is there are so many places to drop anchor around Thomas that you would be cheating yourself out of really getting to know the area otherwise.

When you arrive rent something short term and on the water, wait for a hurricane to drop in for a visit. If you're still up for the adventure after the hurricane then buy the boat. Just so you know, if you finance a boat you are required to keep it fully insured. It is possible to get insurance during hurricane season but it is insanely expensive and may be limited in what it will really cover.

There are however some real good hurricane holes to hide in close by if you cant find or don't want a yard to haul you out. I always stay with my boat but that's a personal decision and one you will have to make. Flamingo pond on Water Island isn't bad for a Cat 1-3 if you're draft is 5 foot or less or you can wait for high tide and plow your way through the soft mud. The mangroves in Culebra is my favorite but Salinas in Puerto Rico is where I go for a strong Cat 4 or up. St John has a good hole managed by DPNR and Salt River in St Croix is only on option for boats with less than 5 foot draft.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Good luck and fair winds!
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:40   #6
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

I read through that thread, it gave me some good info, but was more about dropping anchor than marina living which is what I'm trying to learn a little more about. Thanks for the registration thread, I definitely start reading through that one to learn a little more too
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:43   #7
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caribesque View Post
I've been living aboard in the USVI's (or somewhere in that general area) for 3 years now so I guess I can tell you a bit about the area.

Let me first answer your question about moorings. If a mooring is a must then I have bad news for you. Renting a mooring in the USVI's is illegal, all mooring permits are issued by DPNR so don't fall for any craigslist scams when you get here. The marina's are extremely expensive so any local that has a boat has it on a mooring and the waiting list is a long one. The only hope one has it to buy the gear and set your own mooring up. This route is the most expensive not to mention the application with DPNR will take some time. They might not make you jump through hoops to get it but I assure you it will be done when they feel like doing it. The good news to all of this is there are so many places to drop anchor around Thomas that you would be cheating yourself out of really getting to know the area otherwise.

When you arrive rent something short term and on the water, wait for a hurricane to drop in for a visit. If you're still up for the adventure after the hurricane then buy the boat. Just so you know, if you finance a boat you are required to keep it fully insured. It is possible to get insurance during hurricane season but it is insanely expensive and may be limited in what it will really cover.

There are however some real good hurricane holes to hide in close by if you cant find or don't want a yard to haul you out. I always stay with my boat but that's a personal decision and one you will have to make. Flamingo pond on Water Island isn't bad for a Cat 1-3 if you're draft is 5 foot or less or you can wait for high tide and plow your way through the soft mud. The mangroves in Culebra is my favorite but Salinas in Puerto Rico is where I go for a strong Cat 4 or up. St John has a good hole managed by DPNR and Salt River in St Croix is only on option for boats with less than 5 foot draft.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Good luck and fair winds!
OK, so I am curios, are boats sold with a lease to a mooring as well - as a package deal?
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:51   #8
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

The three main marina's are Crown Bay, yacht-haven-grande and American yacht in Red Hook. A 40 foot boat would be 1200-2000 per month and the electric and water would kill you. Last I heard it was 70 cents per KWH. There are a few other marinas in the area but are so unsafe I would never leave my boat there. Just so you know ALL marina's make you leave when there is a named storm coming to the area so be prepared.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:03   #9
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

Section 405-9 Non-transferabilty of permit.

A mooring permit is issued to an individual for his/her exclusive use of a specific mooring, at a specific location and for a specific vessel unless specifically authorized in writing the by department, a permit is not transferable. Whenever a permittee parts with possession of or transfers the title or interest in the vessel identified in the mooring permit to another person the mooring permit becomes null and void.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:05   #10
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

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. Just so you know ALL marina's make you leave when there is a named storm coming to the area so be prepared.

NOT TRUE Crown Bay Marina were taking in boats in 2011 when a TS was on the way to STT.

Nothing wrong with Independent Boat Yard either who were also taking in boats at the same time both for in the water and on the hard storage.

There is a CG Aux (Commander i think) who lives on her L380 cat in STT

still waiting for a PM from the O/P
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:07   #11
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

Thanks for the insurance info Pat, Unfortunately USAA and Progressive have already been ruled out even without revealing my liveabord plans. I will need insurance as I plan on financing the boat and using my housing stipend to pay it off. The way my housing allowance works is I show them a bill, and they give me the money to pay it up to $2400, so If I bring them a bill for a thousand - I get a thousand. This means I can't just live on land as cheaply as I can for three years saving all the extra money and then buy a boat at the end.

Osirissail, I read through the previous thread on Virgin Islands moorings and it had some good info. However, I'm more interested in marina living so I was trying to get some more info on that, thanks for the registration thread- I'll definitely start reading through it to learn as much as I can.

Caribesque, thanks for the info. Initially I'd like to be in a marina, at least for the first few months to a year. My wife and I will both be working full time, We'll be in a new place, and boat living would be new to us as well which makes me think that until we adjust I want the security comfort and convenience of a marina. I also think that I'll have an easier time getting insurance
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:26   #12
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

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The three main marina's are Crown Bay, yacht-haven-grande and American yacht in Red Hook. A 40 foot boat would be 1200-2000 per month and the electric and water would kill you. Last I heard it was 70 cents per KWH. There are a few other marinas in the area but are so unsafe I would never leave my boat there. Just so you know ALL marina's make you leave when there is a named storm coming to the area so be prepared.
Wow, that is pretty high, I was hoping to be able to stay around a grand for marina fees including water and electric... Also, with my job being what it is I'll probably be mandated to a specific shelter in place location, which leaves me with two options, leave the boat in the water, or haulout. But to get insurance it sounds like I'll need a haulout agreement, and to get a boat I'll need insurance (financing)....
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:42   #13
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

The best way to find out what the marina charge is to go to their websites and look. They have contact information and you can ask them directly what the costs are rather than relying on "second hand" information.

Also there are several small and large marinas for "long term" in Benner Bay, St Thomas. These might be better for your situation than "transient/tourist" type marinas such as in Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook. There are even more scattered around the island in tiny places like Krum Bay, FrenchTown, etc. These you pretty much have to visit in person to find out what is what.

Crank up your GOOGLE EARTH and zoom in on St Thomas and look around the coastline. You will find some new marinas and some old one to check out.
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:11   #14
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

Ok, so after some marina recommendations from Caribesque and Highland Fling I've found out some good info. First off no one offers short term haul out (less than three months) this might be a deal-breaker for me if it means I can't get insurance. No way can I risk a total loss on an uninsured $60000 investment that's doubling as my home. So far I've tried USAA Progressive and Markel, next up Jack Line IMFM? I've also learned that on the high end slips are going for $18-20/ft, at the low end $12-15/ft. This works for me, my housing allowance covers the boat payment, and the utility stipend I'll receive is right in line with slip fees. This leaves me with my out of pocket expenses only being maintenance/upkeep/repairs, Insurance (please let there be a realistic way!!!), and electric/water ( currently at 16/54 cents per gallon/KWH).

For budgeting and planning purposes I've started eyeballing some potential boats. At the top of the list is a 1996 43' Brewer Pacific.It looks ideal for what we want to do, its in the area and its in my price range. It has a 125 gallon fresh water capacity, and water maker (doesn't state rating). If I supplement this with a rain catching system do you think two people who are conscious about usage will still need to budget for water purchase? However, In order to make water I need electricity! Fortunately this boat has 5 solar panels, unfortunately I know nothing about KWH boat usage and solar panel production, thoughts?

Also, how would you feel leaving this boat in a slip during a named storm? I won't be able to stay aboard with my job requirements, and without haul-out, it means my only option would be battening down as much as possible and walking away... And finaly, what would you guestimate as a rough monthly budget for repairs and maintenance for such a boat?
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:25   #15
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Re: Anyone Living Aboard in the USVI?

Nate - we have our Pearson 42' insured through Caribbean Insurers Marine Ltd in St Thomas at 284-494-8239, ask for Sharon Daly. I'm guessing a $75000 boat will run around $3-4k/year.
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