Been living aboard
since 1985, Hawaii
, PNW, Canada
, and now Mexico
..(East coast - only what I've heard or read). The boats I've lived on have been all sail, a 45', 41', 38'(x2), and now a 30' Catalina
. Been married living on a boat, single
living on a boat, divorced living on a boat, gone to school
while living on a boat and at different times lived with single
ladies, and at one time two ladies. Been broke, dirt poor, had trash boats, all the way up to being a professional living in pure luxury in Hawaii
... all on a boat.
There's my liveaboard
experience...not bragging, that's just my experience. With all that said, here are a few observation and musings on the topic...hope it helps...
1. I totally agree with all the posts I've read so far on advice given and at one time in my life I was where you are...it can be done.
However....these are the things I wish I had of known before I ever bought a boat. It's important to note, however, that I absolutely have no regrets...
2. At the same time you're thinking about getting a boat, figure out realistically where you're going to put it. As a general rule
of thumb, the closer you are to "anything" the more the relative cost (I mean anything...towns, cities, grocery stores, even showers!). Near medium to big- sized cities, be prepared to wait. As Harrison Ford says in Six Days and Seven Nights
..."A long long long...long long...long.....long time!" Slips are becoming more scarce, esp. for liveaboard. Scarcity usually equals increased expense, the old law of supply and demand applies everywhere. That doesn't mean they aren't available...it just means that's my
reality of our current boating
situation. Many (most?) marinas
, won't let you anchor
out ...at all. Some have mooring
buoys but there are rules for those too...mooring or anchoring
out is a whole other ball of wax too long o go into here...as if this isn't going to be long enough.
3. Just because there are slips available doesn't mean there are liveaboard slips available...biiiigggg difference! A whole lot depends on the marina management, the rules, team, or person(s) who are enforcing the rules. I've lived aboard in non-liveaboard marinas but that's only for a very short time and it can be very dicey. Again, it depends on management style. Non-liveaboard status may
allow you to stay overnight on the boat like one, two, or even three nights in a given week, but more than that requires special skills and agility.
Fortunately, none of us have to do that these days
3. Often times "slips" (esp liveaboard slips) are non-transferable, meaning you could buy a boat with a slip, even a liveaboard slip
, but that doesn't mean you will get that slip. Be careful here. I've bought a boat, been told the slip didn't come with it (after the fact thank you) forced to leave, where there was no leaving to go too... and/or go to the bottom of a two year waiting list!
4. If you don't pay cash outright for your boat, you'll have the remainder of the note, plus slip fees
, utilities, liveaboard fees
, and extra's or requirements, like insurance
, parking and internet
etc., (I haven't had a car in like...twenty years now, but that's my choice). Also, as what was stated before, all expenses are at least directly proportional the size of the boat (actually it's exponential)... And one more thing on that...anything, any boat part with the word "marine" associated with it, in conjunction, conjecture, or context..usually doubles or triples the price
of said object or subject (at least).
5. Do not buy a boat without a complete professional survey
(inspection by a certified boat surveyor
or inspector)...any boat, and if it's a sailboat, this includes rigging
and the power plant!. Engines or problems w/rigging and sails
can end up costing you thousands and these are not usually included in a general hull survey
. Don't kid yourself that you're not going to want to take it out either. You may not have the conscious thought, but the desire will always be there...it's a boat...that's what boats do to us.
6. Obviously, we sailors live and die by the weather
, and maybe, not-so- paradoxically, that includes those who just liveaboard. I think people who own and/or live on a boat are closer to nature than just about anyone living on the planet (except maybe farmers, explorers, campers, or astronauts)...so it's a factor in decision making...tidal flow, currents, thunderstorms, hurricanes, ice on the dock
, galvanization (look that one up) to snow on the boat, are factors that need to be accounted for and included in the decision making. I've been late to work or class more than once because boats were going down all around me due to heavy snow, talk about Sleepless in Seattle! Ha!...(Port Angeles really.). Living in a boating
community there are certain unwritten expectations like....helping someone who's fallen overboard
or off the dock
, wayward boats, to scraping the snow off the roof of a boathouse with a quarter million dollar yacht inside that was doomed to sink with the boathouse! Fecal matter happens. Probably best to not do like I do and tell them... "You wait right there...I'll be right back...I'm going for help!"
6. Try to get a handle or flavor on the boat maintenance
policies, general party rules, and lifestyle for the marina you are looking at. This includes unspoken unwritten expectations of said community. I've lived in marinas that allowed boat re-building right at the docks! Having to listening to loud music
, drunk partiers, sanding
, hammering, and sawing all night every night, for weeks does not make for good living or sleeping. (me thinks the Sock Monkey has some agenda here).... Talk to people on the dock and get the truth before you sign on the dotted line, of course unless you're talking to a boat re-builder or partier then you won't necessarily get kind of truth youre looking for. Ha!.
7. Just because there's a huge waiting list for a given marina doesn't mean it will always take that long to get in. I've landed a spot after they called 20-30 people on the list ahead of me who had been waiting for months, and the marina staff either couldn't contact them, or lister's already made other other arrangements. People don't like to wait, and some can't wait. More observations here...length of the list is generally related to size of the boat, however, there are lots of truisms here, specific to individual cases and individual locations. Example, if you have 40 people waiting for a 30' slip... odds aren't good but if you're #3 wanting a 45' to 50' slip, odds may
be a little better...depending on three other factors...(1) Number of slips actually available at the marina, and (2) how long the waiting list has been running, and (3) your relationship to the management or/or the other people's relationship with the management (e.g. brother-in-law,drinking buddy, etc.)...Reality sucks but that's more often the way it is. Rule
of thumb here...put your name on every list you can, keep your phone
handy and try to form a good relationship with the management before you get in. With some marina operators...good luck with that!...think Building Super at NYC
tenement housing! Whatever you do ...but be sure and call and cancel your name off the lists if and when you get one. I personally think that most of the time I just got a slip by pure luck or I came on the day after a hurricane
...pets are okay in most places, and there's a lot written on the topic. Check the archives
a lot before getting or bringing one on your boat...even liveaboard! I thought about writing a book called "Cats Without Fences" or "Doggy be Gone".
I do apologize to you and other members of this board who've waded through this, perhaps unnecessarily, long post. Of course everyone is invited to critique or add their own experiences or opinions. Obviously, I either have a psych problem or I don't get out much....and I was just going to erase it all, but instead figured "what the hell"....and because of that...I've inspired myself to maybe create a file so we don't keep answering the same these same questions over and over.
I figure, other than survival, experience only counts half of much if we don't share it.
I do want to welcome you to the wonderful world of boating where all of us are are just mere inches away from getting an up close and personal perspective of the flora and fauna growing underneath our boats. People tend to forget that even liveaboards are also living a little closer to the edge. (It's gotta be the rush, no other lifestyle even comes close and his lifestyle makes no practical sense at all unless you have either a really bad spending habit or death wish.... or both!
"I felt sorry for the man with no shoes until I met the man with no class."