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Old 28-04-2013, 00:03   #1
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Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

Hi guys I haven't posted in a wile but I am young and I am looking to plan out how I can live aboard a small 20-27ft sailboat. The other day I thought of something different. What If I lived at anchor? What if I cut out the costs of a slip? I know this is possible and impractical but I really like this idea.
It's not forever. Just until a decent slip opens up at a marina that I like.

What do you guys think? Am I just going off the deep end here or has anyone else thought of this sort of thing? Has anyone spent an extended period of time at anchor that can tell me what it can be like?
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Old 28-04-2013, 01:53   #2
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Re: Challenges of a life at anchor?

I think prison would be nicer. There's a big difference when living on a small boat between being able to step off onto a dock compared to stepping off into the ocean. I'm no longer young, but I have lived on a 25 footer in a marina without much problem but no way would I do it at anchor. Think personal hygiene, waste disposal, grocery shopping and basically interaction with other people etc etc.
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Old 28-04-2013, 05:51   #3
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

I've lived as long as three months at anchor at one location, but I've known others who have done this for far longer periods of time. It's far easier at a place that offers shore amenties for a fee that provides water, pump out, a place to secure a car or bicycle, bath house/showers, laundry,dinghy dock, etc. It is also far easier in a warm climate. I like that giant mousetrap avatar, but is that snow on the ground? Winter can be hard enough living aboard at the marina!
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Old 28-04-2013, 06:06   #4
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

If you are resilient, sure it can be done. If you are soft and weak, no, it can't be done.

It depends on you, how you set up the boat, your outlook on life, your lifestyle (working white or blue collar, bumming, etc), climate and where you anchor.

So provide those details and then we can answer with something a little more specific.
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Old 28-04-2013, 06:12   #5
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

Sure, tons of people do it on here who call themselves "cruisers" rather than liveaboards. In some parts of the country there are rental moorings, which are a sort of an anchor, and they are often a good alternative to docks. In places like Marathon, Florida, they include some amenities like pumpouts and showers. In New England they usually don't include much more than a parking area, but often not even that. In New England I lived aboard and worked regular jobs for many years, using a mooring in the summer and going to a dock in the winter, when they were much cheaper. I prefer to live aboard out on the hook or on a mooring. More privacy, much quieter, better views, you generally swing with the wind so you get better ventilation, your boat is much safer from weather and thieves, and it feels like you are boating, not living in a tiny condo.
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Old 28-04-2013, 06:13   #6
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

A lot also depends on the rules and regulations where you are at? The worst thing about living at anchor in NSW Australia is being constantly chased and often harassed by the Roads and Maritime authority.
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Old 28-04-2013, 06:14   #7
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

It's perfectly legal to liveaboard at anchor almost everywhere in the USA, with some limitations on where you can drop the hook.
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Old 28-04-2013, 06:30   #8
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stephengrem View Post
Hi guys I haven't posted in a wile but I am young and I am looking to plan out how I can live aboard a small 20-27ft sailboat. The other day I thought of something different. What If I lived at anchor? What if I cut out the costs of a slip? I know this is possible and impractical but I really like this idea.
It's not forever. Just until a decent slip opens up at a marina that I like.

What do you guys think? Am I just going off the deep end here or has anyone else thought of this sort of thing? Has anyone spent an extended period of time at anchor that can tell me what it can be like?

I have one very good friend who does it. He is passionate about saiing and in fact has been a mover and shaker in the sailing community. He anchors very close to the sailing club we belong to, and can bring his dinghy in each day. It's a short ride if he has to go back out to his boat, which he often has to do several times a day (think of the time that uses up).

He lives on a 28' boat in a very minimalist life style. It would be just about impossible if he had to dress for work. He has to bring in his laundry and take back his groceries by dinghy, so the level of planning for errands is intense, and it seems as if he's always missing something he needs. He works on boats for a living, and has a double-sized storage unit for all his power tools, etc., so it's inexpensive, but certainly not free.

Truly, he doesn't eat that well. Very often he eats prepackaged meals from Lean Cuisine and such and rarely really cooks, although he knows how.

I think the important thing is that he already has a social network of good friends on land, so when he goes out to his boat at the end of the day, he's already been with not just co-workers but friends.

It would be extremely hard for the typical young single person to have anything resembling a real social life "on the hook." This fellow is unusual, and has done it for decades, so he knows how to make it work, and because of his incredible expertise is sought out.

Even in a marina it can be tough to make friends. People want to make sure you're going to stick around first.

Once my friend has gone in for the evening, around 4PM, he watches TV. He goes to bed early and gets up early to do things like working on writing projects before going on to land.

Really, truly, I think maybe one in 100 could have anything resembling a normal life living this way. He is one of them. Also, he has 3 solar panels, and he still has to come in to charge up. He's lucky that he was grandfathered in at this club, because they don't allow "on the hook" members any more. If he weren't grandfathered in, he would not have a place nearby to tie up his dinghy (which is really pretty safe at the club marina -- where would you tie yours up?)

Oh yeah, he has to have "hiding places" for storms depending on which way the waves and wind will be coming from, or he's in for a rough night sometimes. Do you have a lot of sailing experience? You actually need it "on the hook."

Speaking of "on the hook," he doesn't rely on an anchor. He made a *really* good mooring -- without an anchoring screw -- many places won't let you put one of those down because they're so permanent. I took four 100 blocks of cement, four pieces of really good chain criss-crosssed, and then a bunch of other hardware. Once a year he has to raise that monstrosity, put it on his boat and bring it in to clean it up (not the cement, but everything else. That requires scuba gear to take it all apart. The chains can rust through -- he found a couple of links that were eroded to 1/16" last time he did this, about to give way. Every year we have boats grounded from bad storms (not necessarily tropical storms, just really fierce thunderstorms). The county has taken a hard line. If you can't get it off after a certain period of time (and a number of expensive citations) they will salvage it, tow it in and cut it up. You pay for all of that plus a FELONY (yes) littering charge. A felony on your record. For most employers, they won't care what the felony was. They just won't hire you.

He has amazing boat technical skills, so he installed and insulated a refrigerator, but for several years, on top of everything else, he was carrying ice out to his boat each day.

It's a hard, time-consuming way to live, and what will you do if you get sick or hurt? This guy is lucky. When he needed surgery, the board passed an exception for him and let him bring the boat into one of their docks until he was recovered for a couple of weeks and could go back out to his mooring.

Where would you go?

My friend makes it work and everyone admires him for it but suspects that he dumps overboard. That puts a strain on some relationships in the club.

We have other people here who make it work, sometimes in foreign waters, but again they have lots and lots and LOTS of experience ... and don't have the complication of a job.

Inexpensive marinas can be a real problem. There's one here you could go to, but the current is so strong and swift in the marina that few people ever take their boats out. Many boats are wrecks, the docks are unattractive and it's completely unsecured. In another, better run and nicer marina near here not long ago, a couple were murdered on their houseboat.

If you don't have access to a dock on an official and permanant relationship -- where will you park your car?

This is a tough life you're contemplating.

I live on my boat, but in a marina. I can still take off and sail any time I want, and getting ready for that sail is going to be 25 times easier for me than you ...
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Old 28-04-2013, 06:41   #9
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

Rakuflames, IMHO, your description is unduly negative. My wife and I both held professional full-time jobs and lived aboard for many years on moorings in the summer and docks in the winter in New England. We rowed or paddled ashore each day, and loved it. And we had a two-hour commute each way to work! Did that for years. But, when we were home, we were out on the water, enjoying the sunset, not listening to the argument in the next boat over (some four feet away), or complaining about the dock party. It is perfectly doable, and has been done by many. The bit about groceries and cooking is just silly--what does that have to do with living aboard? I vastly prefer living on the hook to living at a dock. To each his own.
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Old 28-04-2013, 06:58   #10
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

Living at anchor? Gee, I've never thought of that!


Must be, as you say, impractical.



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Old 28-04-2013, 07:08   #11
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
Rakuflames, IMHO, your description is unduly negative. My wife and I both held professional full-time jobs and lived aboard for many years on moorings in the summer and docks in the winter in New England. We rowed or paddled ashore each day, and loved it. And we had a two-hour commute each way to work! Did that for years. But, when we were home, we were out on the water, enjoying the sunset, not listening to the argument in the next boat over (some four feet away), or complaining about the dock party. It is perfectly doable, and has been done by many. The bit about groceries and cooking is just silly--what does that have to do with living aboard? I vastly prefer living on the hook to living at a dock. To each his own.
Yes, I have a two burner stove and considering I hardly bother with ice for the box, I eat fine. Granted I was/am a chef and am currently hitting a semi raw modified primal diet. Rowing the dinghy to shore a few times a day might as well be part of my fitness routine. I have a couple of old going little outboards in my storage shed and that is where they can stay.

As far as social networks are concerned, I would not be living at anchor if I wanted neighbours again. Even marinas get a bit claustrophobic and sterile for me.

Good thing too about living at anchor is you restrict the access people have to your home (Thieves, annoying idiots, police and process servers included) Then if you are getting bored with your surroundings you can just pick up and move.

Oh, don't start thinking I am totally antisocial. I am just more relaxed around the sea away from most people's baggage.
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Old 28-04-2013, 07:33   #12
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
Rakuflames, IMHO, your description is unduly negative. My wife and I both held professional full-time jobs and lived aboard for many years on moorings in the summer and docks in the winter in New England. We rowed or paddled ashore each day, and loved it. And we had a two-hour commute each way to work! Did that for years. But, when we were home, we were out on the water, enjoying the sunset, not listening to the argument in the next boat over (some four feet away), or complaining about the dock party. It is perfectly doable, and has been done by many. The bit about groceries and cooking is just silly--what does that have to do with living aboard? I vastly prefer living on the hook to living at a dock. To each his own.

'Scuse me? It's not silly nor unduly harsh. It is what it is like for my good (and extremely experienced) friend to live on the hook. I listed the negatives because he has to get past them to the positives and because anyone with any imagination at all who sails has already spotted the positives.

You've done it a while. You have it all sorted out.

This fellow mentioned a possible TWENTY foot boat. How big is yours? And I'm sorry, but the comment about cooking is NOT silly. Not everyone has the gumption to bring good food aboard and cook it well. The surgery this friend had? On his carotid artery, because years of not eating well had clogged one of them 60%. He's lucky to be alive. He's lucky to be grandfathered into that club, because they let him stay at the dock for 2 weeks while he recovered from two different surgeries he needed.

He vastly prefers living on the hook to living at a dock, but the fellow who posted here knows nothing much about it yet, and has a very steep learning curve ahead of him. In addition, if there's no safe place for him to tie his dinghy up every day, and if they won't let him park his car there, he has some BIG hurdles to overcome.

Never, once, did I say it was impossible. I said there are a lot of challenges. You've overcome them, and good for you, but there simply is no point in not telling this guy what the problems are.

A month ago I sprained my shoulder quite badly. Left arm, I'm left handed. Not only could I not have rowed in -- I might have had a hard time starting a dependable outboard motor. There are two of you. Presumably if you had that injury your wife could row or start the little outboard.

My friend loves it. He goes out to his boat at the end of the day and the land has not blocked the breezes. He also never has mosquitoes or no-seeums ... nor love bugs! He does not have AC on his boat and is happy that way. At night, he's surrounded by twinkling lights in all directions -- not to mention the spectacular stars -- and it really is amazingly beautiful. He sees things in nature the rest of us may never see. And because he's out there, he's saved four people from drowning.

But it's not easy, and there are some very significant hurdles to overcome. VERY significantly where I am, there is no place for newcomver anchor-outs to park their dinghies or their cars. That will likely change for those who use the mooring field and I'll be interested to see what they charge for it.

I NEVER said no one should do it. I know it's not right for me. I know it's ideal for some other people. I know the rewards can be great. I take my boat out just to anchor out sometimes because spending the evening that way is so utterly delightful.

And I can see, just from how our new member worded his question, that he doesn't know what the challenges are. I hope that boat he gets is watertight or nearly so. But where I am, his biggest hurdle (and it's a huge one here) is -- where is he going to come into shore, and where will his car be?

It was just announced that Gulfport, FL has been cleared to put in a mooring field. They will have a floating boat that comes out to do pumpouts, and they will put dye in holding tanks that will reveal anyone who doesn't play by the rules (the biggest concern of many town residents). Of course there will be a charge, and this means that people who want to truly anchor out will have to go farther out into the bay, with a longer row or motor in. But it will also lessen the number of derelict boats, and certainly the number that break free (sometimes hitting properly secured boats in the process) in storms. Last time I anchored out, apparently a waterspout was forming over me the next morning in a line of squalls, because the boat turned 720 degrees (one weird experience, I can tell you) -- fouled the anchor, and i dragged 500 feet according to the gps.

I was lucky. My boat was out of the way and I didn't hit any other boats as all this unfolded. It also avoided the nearby shallows, so I wasn't stuck aground in the next squall. I'm in favor of the mooring field. Haven't had a chance to talk to my friend about it, but since he has built his own excellent mooring I doubt he'll be ecstatic ...
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Old 28-04-2013, 07:35   #13
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

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I've lived as long as three months at anchor at one location, but I've known others who have done this for far longer periods of time. It's far easier at a place that offers shore amenties for a fee that provides water, pump out, a place to secure a car or bicycle, bath house/showers, laundry,dinghy dock, etc. It is also far easier in a warm climate. I like that giant mousetrap avatar, but is that snow on the ground? Winter can be hard enough living aboard at the marina!

My die-hard live-aboard friend has a kerosene heater on his boat. We don't have many cold nights here, but we had one in the 30's -- in March (weird). He has lived aboard year-round off Long Island. (That had to be rough; they did not have a heater then). There are solutions to just about everything. The question is, how fast can this guy acquire the practical day-to-day knowledge to make it work and still be pleasant ... only he knows.
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Old 28-04-2013, 07:45   #14
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Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

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Yes, I have a two burner stove and considering I hardly bother with ice for the box, I eat fine. Granted I was/am a chef and am currently hitting a semi raw modified primal diet. Rowing the dinghy to shore a few times a day might as well be part of my fitness routine. I have a couple of old going little outboards in my storage shed and that is where they can stay.

As far as social networks are concerned, I would not be living at anchor if I wanted neighbours again. Even marinas get a bit claustrophobic and sterile for me.

Good thing too about living at anchor is you restrict the access people have to your home (Thieves, annoying idiots, police and process servers included) Then if you are getting bored with your surroundings you can just pick up and move.

Oh, don't start thinking I am totally antisocial. I am just more relaxed around the sea away from most people's baggage.

Well, that's how my friend looks at it. He has LOTS of friends -- but no neighbors. However, it prevents neither thieves, nor annoying idiots, nor police, nor process servers. Things have been stolen off boats out there; he complained about the commercial boats deliberately going through the anchoring area for the live aboards, throwing things aout with a big wake, and had their leftover dinner thrown on his boat for his trouble; the police went through a spell where they would put their boat in the water and do 3 AM inspections because townies didn't want live aboards out there (that's stopped thank goodness); and we have a couple of process servers in our club who entertained us through an entire dinner once describing what they went through to do their job, including serving people at anchor.

You will have neighbors if some idiot anchors too close to you, and you'd better hope their anchor holds in a storm. Nuthin's perfect.

I have no desire to live anchored out. I can have the best of anchoring out by ... well ... anchoring out!

There are also people who can't imagining "putting up" with what I "have to put up with" to live on my boat at a dock (small refrigerator, no central air, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.) but the rewards greatly outweigh any negatives for me. For me, not for anyone else. Even laid up with this arm, the promise of just throwing the lines off and taking off is still there.
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Old 28-04-2013, 08:31   #15
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pirate Re: Challenges of a Life at Anchor?

I think the Flamer has made a few good points about access and parking, although brevity seems to escape her. I am particularly sensitive to issues of neighbors. Marinas are much more convenient obviously but for me the "hell is other people" notion rings true.

Not to be mean-spirited, but Flamer is very little more than a noob herself. Why offer advice on something one hasn't done? And kinda argumentative to boot. What if the OP got the slip next to hers? The headlines would read: Sailboater's body found in boat in nice marina. No signs of foul play. ME's preliminary findings is the he "was talked to death."

Folks that learn to live at anchor don't do it for convenience. The privacy is worth the hassle. Shane's attitude, the dingy trips being good exercise, is how that's handled. With a proper hard dinghy. And you're so much closer to nature rowing around than zooming around. But nature ain't for everybody. That's for sure.

I'm inclined to call BS on her friend's clogged artery caused by frozen dinners as well but then I've only played a doctor on TV.
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