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Old 25-04-2015, 08:20   #1
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home port or not?

I am brand new to sailing. I sold my home and most of my worldly possessions and bought a forty two foot sailboat which I have been living on and learning how to sail for the last month. So far it has been beyond my wildest expectations. Currently I'm living in Solomon Island Maryland going to a local sailing school and getting a lot of sailing in with friends I've met at the marina. I do not want to spend another winter below 75°. I plan on leaving MD around October 1st at the earliest. The boat is already equipped to sail anywhere I want to go. My question is about a home port I'm thinking Corpus Christy Tx and then being able to sail Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean from there. Or is it just as easy to just keep sailing kind of island hopping. Looking for any comments from any experienced sailors on this topic. Thank you.
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Old 25-04-2015, 09:02   #2
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Re: home port or not?

Hi tnollr

Not really sure how to answer this question. First I guess I need to make an assumption. You refer to sailing the Caribbean or island hopping. By island hopping I am assuming you mean Bahamas to the Virgin Islands and on down that chain of islands and by Caribbean you mean south towards Central America. Both are Caribbean. Central America is the west Caribbean the islands called the Lesser Antilles are the east Caribbean.

If I guess correctly then it depends so much on your likes and dislikes; what you enjoy and want to do in cruising. Kind of like asking a stranger who you should marry or whether you should order your breakfast eggs over easy or scrambled.

One thing to consider, if you head towards the western Caribbean, Mexico and Central America and later decide to head towards the eastern Caribbean you will have a long, very hard sail directly against the wind, waves and current to get there. One alternative is to head back north to Florida and then head back east to do the island hopping towards the eastern Caribbean.

Regardless of which direction, research security before you go. Some countries especially in Latin America have gotten very dangerous. Honduras and Venezuela are two that come to mind. Some of the islands in the eastern Caribbean can also be a bit problematic.
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Old 25-04-2015, 09:28   #3
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Re: home port or not?

Legally, 'Home Port' usually indicates where your boat is registered and kept most of the time.. Since I have never done so, having your boat 'documented' may or may not require you to indicate a 'home port' too.

There are advantages and disadvantages related to taxation and how frequently you are required to pay for re-registration. Fees vary considerably between states. If you were to list San Diego as your home port, obtaining a permit to use the 'cruisers anchorage' for 90 days will probably be denied. The anchorage is for 'transient' boats only. Depending upon where you bought your boat, choosing a home port in a different jurisdiction may require you to pay significant transfer fees and taxes.

All I'm suggesting is choosing a home port entails more than choosing a convenient location.
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Old 25-04-2015, 09:38   #4
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Re: home port or not?

Home ports dont have to be where the vessel is kept most of the time... It can be any city you want. Hell I've seen Breckenridge and Athens, GA. Pretty stupid to have a home port that isn't on the water but go figure


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Old 25-04-2015, 09:44   #5
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Re: home port or not?

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Home ports dont have to be where the vessel is kept most of the time... It can be any city you want. Hell I've seen Breckenridge and Athens, GA. Pretty stupid to have a home port that isn't on the water but go figure


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It is required to choose a home port for USCG documentation and many people choose their actual home. To me, this makes as much sense as choosing a random port that you never actually spend much time in just because you had to choose something and your plans were still up in the air.

As for having a conceptual home port, that you actually return to after a few weeks or months of cruising: Are you planning on paying the marina while you are gone? If not, they probably will not guarantee your spot. Some may hold your spot for a reduced price; it will depend on how full they are and how reasonable the management is. Heck, it may even depend on their mood the day you ask.
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Old 25-04-2015, 10:05   #6
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Re: home port or not?

If USCG documented you name any home port you want. Check tax issues.

We don't keep the boat at any particular place. When we need to be away from the boat for family or work reasons we shop for reasonable priced marinas near where we happen to be. We do try to avoid marinas except when we can use a monthly rate. We look for good security, clean well maintained facilities, WIFI, transportation access and don't care about fancy clubs or swimming pools so we usually pay $250 month when really lucky up to around $400 or so for a 42 foot boat.
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Old 25-04-2015, 10:16   #7
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Re: home port or not?

Not sure if you are asking about home ort designation for your boats stern or where you should sail out of? I think where to sail out of......? Florida is a great place to do that from... but bottom line is you are going to leave and not worry about where you started...
Also, The Bahamas are just an overnighter away for you to "test your mettle" and test your boat/systems.
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Old 26-04-2015, 08:42   #8
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Re: home port or not?

This is an interesting article comparing sales tax and property taxes for East coast states for home port.


How to avoid paying taxes on your boat…legally!
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Old 26-04-2015, 09:16   #9
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Re: home port or not?

I have to agree with Skipmac and Cheechako. As well, I've never heard much about sailing the Caribbean side of Mexico, and the little I've heard makes it sound dangerous and not particularly pleasant. If I were in your shoes I'd pick a port in Florida, then get to know the Bahamas, then the Virgin Islands and then work your way down the Lesser Antilles chain.
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Old 26-04-2015, 09:40   #10
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Re: home port or not?

I was going international (i.e., out of the US) for a few years of sailing, so I set up legal residence in Nevada, so I wouldn't be a resident of another state that would charge me income tax.
Since I didn't want any place in Nevada on my stern ("You sail that thing across the desert from Nevada? Har! Har!"), I put San Fransisco as my home port - SF is the location of the USCG headquarters for Nevada. Boat had never been in California, but so what? Well, California "Department of Equalization" (Honest, that's what they call it!) assumed I was a California resident trying to evade their personal property taxes, and they dunned me for years with the fees, late fees, and interest piling up to the point where they were going to file suit or something against me. I wrote and said the boat had never been in CA, but how does one proove a negative? It was a real hassle getting out of that one!
I suggest using a place where you have a mailing address that someone else can access, for sooner or later someone official or officious will write to you at your home port.
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Old 26-04-2015, 11:23   #11
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Re: home port or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tnollr View Post
I am brand new to sailing. I sold my home and most of my worldly possessions and bought a forty two foot sailboat which I have been living on and learning how to sail for the last month. So far it has been beyond my wildest expectations. Currently I'm living in Solomon Island Maryland going to a local sailing school and getting a lot of sailing in with friends I've met at the marina. I do not want to spend another winter below 75°. I plan on leaving MD around October 1st at the earliest. The boat is already equipped to sail anywhere I want to go. My question is about a home port I'm thinking Corpus Christy Tx and then being able to sail Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean from there. Or is it just as easy to just keep sailing kind of island hopping. Looking for any comments from any experienced sailors on this topic. Thank you.
Oct. 1st? prime for late hurricanes leaving Maryland. Wait a month or so.
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Old 26-04-2015, 11:26   #12
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Re: home port or not?

the only people who will make fun of your "Home Port" are clueless people who don't understand the system. The USCG came up with this so that people wanting to document their boats with the USCG (if you're qualified to) can have a boat with the same name as another boat. Imagine how many Serendipitys or Summer Breezes or PlanB's there are sailing around out there. A LOT of them. With the same boat names. Putting different Home Ports vastly expands the number of vessels the system can handle.

Imagine you're a new boat owner in NYC, and you just bought a new boat and want to name it Linda after your wife, sister, mother, whatever. S/V Linda, homeport NY, right?
Wrong. You'd find there were a number of Lindas already documented. And for sure NY will already have one.

Under this system, no big problem. Just pick another home port that does NOT already have the boat name you want registered to it. You can name the boat 'Linda' from Salem NH, or Belle Fourche SD. We picked a town that doesn't really even exist any more, in the middle of North America. And we picked a boat name that has never been registered in the US, UK, Australia, or anywhere in Europe or South America, that I could find in a couple years of searching. Not so easy to come up with a unique name that doesn't sound like gibberish on the radio.

But to recap, the Home Port for USCG documentation has absolutely nothing to do with where you keep the boat. Just needs to be a place with a zip code in the US. That's the ONLY requirement for it.

We bought this boat from a 20 year USCG LtCdr. I got the whole education, when we changed the name and kept the USCG documentation.

And we haven't lived in the USA for ten years. And the boat is imported here, with USCG documentation.
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Old 28-04-2015, 14:05   #13
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Re: home port or not?

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Originally Posted by sailsw00 View Post
I was going international (i.e., out of the US) for a few years of sailing, so I set up legal residence in Nevada, so I wouldn't be a resident of another state that would charge me income tax.
Since I didn't want any place in Nevada on my stern ("You sail that thing across the desert from Nevada? Har! Har!"), I put San Fransisco as my home port - SF is the location of the USCG headquarters for Nevada. Boat had never been in California, but so what? Well, California "Department of Equalization" (Honest, that's what they call it!) assumed I was a California resident trying to evade their personal property taxes, and they dunned me for years with the fees, late fees, and interest piling up to the point where they were going to file suit or something against me. I wrote and said the boat had never been in CA, but how does one proove a negative? It was a real hassle getting out of that one!
I suggest using a place where you have a mailing address that someone else can access, for sooner or later someone official or officious will write to you at your home port.
-Steve
-Steve
If you are considering a 'base' from which you plan to sail and repeatedly return to, you'll invariably be spending some time there on your boat. Between seasons or for a longer time if you're skipping sailing seasons for awhile. It may not be the case for documented boats, but if your boat, registered or not is in a location long enough to be 'found' you'll be dealing with the tax authorities. This is particularly true if your boat is in a marina. In California tax authorities can find your boat by simply walking docks in a marina and noting registration numbers. It may be the case too that marinas provide lists. Although my boat was in transit and registered in Washington State, she was in a California marina during one of these 'walks' or was listed by the marina. Tax folks declared my boat was obviously being kept in California and I had no choice but to pay nearly $400 in county tax.

States require boats be registered in-state when your boat has been there for specific periods of time, regardless of current registration.

More regarding where your boat is registered. When I was in Australia, I met a boat owner who's boat was registered in an entirely separate area than where he was at the time(Bundaberg), that allowed incinerator type heads. Yet, he was being told by authorities he'd have to dispose of his incinerator type head, install a standard head and holding tank. He was also prevented from leaving until it was done.
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Old 28-04-2015, 14:22   #14
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Re: home port or not?

When researching USCG documentation pros and cons I also heard/read rumors of local tax authorities randomly sifting through lists of boats USCG documented with their city or town as a home port. So it makes sense to put as a home port a place that 1) does not have state sales tax and 2) has lowest local taxes, if any.
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Old 28-04-2015, 16:38   #15
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Re: home port or not?

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Originally Posted by Island Time O25 View Post
When researching USCG documentation pros and cons I also heard/read rumors of local tax authorities randomly sifting through lists of boats USCG documented with their city or town as a home port. So it makes sense to put as a home port a place that 1) does not have state sales tax and 2) has lowest local taxes, if any.
I have heard of municipalities walking the docks and looking for more than transients. I have no problem with that. If you are using their infrastructure you should help pay for it. Looking for the lowest taxes makes sense, if the place is livable
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