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Old 16-07-2011, 16:20   #1
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Impossible for Military?

Hey folks,

I fly for the USAF and I'm going to be stationed in Destin, FL for at least three years. I'm stoked and can't wait! It's just a few months away now.

I'm able to buy a home but housing prices are expected to drop at least another 10% in this area over the next three years. So, I started looking at other options on where to live.

I used to work on a cruise ship for four years and LOVED IT! I miss ship life and I feel a live-aboard would be another great three years of my life to look back on with fond memories. It's certainly no investment but then again, neither would the house and I'd enjoy the live-aboard a thousand times more.

But making this happen is not an easy challenge. Here's what you need to know:

Experience of ownership = none.

Goals:

Buy a 30'-40' Cruiser or Motor Yacht for 30K - 65K (including taxes, fees, etc).

I have to (HAVE TO) dock it around Destin, Niceville, or in the near area as I have to drive to Eglin AFB everyday.

Monthly budget = about $1,500 +/- $150 (after loan payment, maintenance, insurance, docking fees, etc.)

Extra Info/Questions:

I have an FJ cruiser with 5,000 lbs of towing capability (not enough for a boat this size). What do I do about moving it out of water if needed? Do I need to?

I'll be deployed or gone for misc. training 230 days out of the year. Is there a problem leaving my boat unattended for months at a time? (longest deployment will be 4 to 6 months).

I'd love a Sea Ray 370 Sundancer (or similar). At least this boat seems to have everything I need/want. Any chronic problems with this boat? Recalls, etc.?

The big question... How feasible are my goals? Can this happen for a single guy in the military?

Thanks for your feedback...even if you say, "Don't be dumb, buy the house." I'll probably ignore it anyway

-Cheers
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Old 16-07-2011, 16:27   #2
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Re: Impossible for Military???

Get a small, trailerable boat to sail and rent a bachelor apt.
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Old 16-07-2011, 16:33   #3
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Re: Impossible for Military???

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
Get a small, trailerable boat to sail and rent a bachelor apt.
Absolutely and in the meantime rather than paying of large bank loans, squirrel the cash away somewhere safe were you won't touch it. When you have finished then is the time for the large cruiser. Some of us have been were you are now and yes I had a boat, but towed it to the new location on each posting including half way across Europe.

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Old 16-07-2011, 16:38   #4
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Re: Impossible for Military???

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
Get a small, trailerable boat to sail and rent a bachelor apt.

Agree.

Especially since you will be
Quote:
"I'll be deployed or gone for misc. training 230 days out of the year."
Quote:
Is there a problem leaving my boat unattended for months at a time? (longest deployment will be 4 to 6 months).
Yep.
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Old 16-07-2011, 16:58   #5
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Re: Impossible for Military???

Okay, starting to see a trend.

My only qualm with renting AND buying a (small) boat is rent will cost a $1000 and the small boat will end up costing somewhere around $500 (my guess) after maintenance, etc. So I spend the same amount for two things I'm not all that crazy about.

Is my logic flawed?

If I start going in the direction being recommended, the smartest thing for me (still need to verify this with lots of research) is to buy a vacation condo in Destin and rent it out when I'm gone. This of course means no boat.

Backing up a second though, reading the few replies here, I'm getting answers but not many reasons. I understand that owning a boat that size will pose some serious challenges, but that's all they are, challenges. I've been overcoming challenges my whole life.

I guess what I'm looking for are specific problems I will face, and recommendations on how to overcome them. Now, that being said, if this idea is just ludicrous, then gives me some good reasons why.

I don’t mean to so sound like I’m fighting the voice of reason, but if I listened to it every time, life would be no fun!
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Old 16-07-2011, 17:11   #6
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Re: Impossible for Military???

If you didn't listen then you don't have to listen now.

But you asked.
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Old 16-07-2011, 17:35   #7
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Re: Impossible for Military???

I was half way expecting that response. I don't want to come across as if I'm not listening, because I most certainly am. I joined this forum because there are people here with a wealth of knowledge and I want to learn.

That being said, telling me it's going to cost me an arm and a leg is not helpful. How much does an arm and a leg cost? This is helpful.

What's worth the hassle for me may not be for you. So saying, "buy a small boat," is great advice for the person who said it but in fact, I really don't need a small boat. I'll have half a dozen friends with these that I can use when they go out.

I need the facts so I can decide what's worth it for me.

So for starters, what are some suggestions that I can do for the 4 or 6 month periods that I'm gone? What does it roughly cost to store it out of the water? Where can I call to find this out? Can I lend my boat to a chartering company for them to use while I'm gone? (Owners of planes do this often). These are the things I'm looking for.

Thanks again for those who have already replied and I look forward to more responses.
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Old 16-07-2011, 18:23   #8
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Thumbs up Re: Impossible for Military???

Ok, I'll bite.

You have a good idea, and it makes sense.

What some folks may not 'see' here is the importance of the other 100 days a year you are 'home'.

Not sure of your situation (for the reader, it varies by rank / assignment) but the housing allowance that WOULD pay for an apartment (and be gone forever) can instead go for a boat payment.

Couple things that are crucial... the sea ray is really not the boat. Sure, the weekender crowd will argue, but if you are looking for something to live on and (eventually) cruise, get either a displacement power vessel or a Sailboat.... it is REALLY not hard to learn to sail... look at, go aboard, and talk to (in person) folks who are living on different boats... Get in touch with the Eglin Yacht Club... go to a club meeting, and see who you can meet.

Read threads about livaboard boats, and then ignore most of what you read.... you DO NOT need a 60' boat, or even a 40' boat to live on. Do not believe most of what you read, or most of the BS you hear on forums... check out everything for yourself... my post included.

Niceville is a really great place to have a boat. Lots of less expensive dockage, not sure about the base marina... but you will get the low down on that when you go to the YC meeting. Oh, btw here is a link.

You are going to HAVE to figure out someone trustworthy to keep an eye on your 'home' while you are deployed.... do not 'skip' this step. The marina staff will be VERY unlikely to be concerned unless your boat is on fire or sinking. (especially base marina staff... they are civilian, lowly payed, and rarely have much boating experience).

Here is my take, LIFE is SHORT... live it. Yes, others are right... it will not make $$$ to some to get a boat now... some will say you need to wait till later. I think you understand that, don't wait... for some 'later' never comes.

Here is a link to a write up you may be interested in.... you will at least better know how to evaluate the (crazy) advice I am offering.

Fair winds,
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Old 16-07-2011, 18:30   #9
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Re: Impossible for Military???

SeaAir:

I'm not sure what I will say will be helpful, but here are some of my notes:

- I personally always pay for my boats in full. I don't deal with loans on boats because they are a financial trap to freedom and true ownership.
- Buying a small boat has a lot of merits in cost savings. You don't need a 30-40 foot cruiser to live and cruise. I myself am looking for a boat between 20 and 38 ft. But, I know out of my experience a smaller boat say between 20-30 feet is livable for one person. Hence, if something that I like comes in this range, I will bite. There are affordable cruisers on this range, and some are also trailerable.
- Dockage and storage is usually charged by the foot, so you will have to check the locations where you are to find out the fees. Remember also the hauling in and out of the water is also chargeable.
- There are tons of little things to take care of on a boat, so KISS is the rule. And smaller is apart of that KISS strategy.
- Saving for a boat doesn't have to be a big deal. I saved and paid-in-full CASH for my first boat in about 2.5 years. I'm sure you can do better than I or already have cash saved.
- After learning the ropes, so to speak, you can always move up.
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Old 16-07-2011, 18:51   #10
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Re: Impossible for Military???

Hello,
Having been a Soldier stationed in Hawaii for what started as 3 years and ended up 5 I feel I might be able to help you out on this one. When I arrived in Hawaii I had just divorced, had nothing to my name, and the locals stole my motorcycle 2 weeks after getting the bike on island.
Anyway, I had always wanted to live on a sailboat and by good fortune had met another diver (I am an Army salvage Diver) who was living on a 35ft sailboat in Pearl Harbor (rainbow bay Marina). As luck would have it this was just 2 years after 911 and Pearl Harbor was still a pain in the ass to sail in and out of so the slips were there for the taking. I was able to buy the boat and keep it in the same slip. Being in the MWR marina rocked. Everyone was either active, retired or DOD. We all helped each other out and looked after each others boats. SO, I lived aboard for those 5 years. (when I met my wife we would spend two or three days at her house and then 3 or 4 at the boat. turned out to be the best way to break her into sailing!!)
During those 5 years I went TDY, almost 2 weeks a month, spent 15 months in the Desert, and when I was home I must've worked 14 hours a day most work days. That boat was my life off work and provided everything I needed, from friends, activities, memories and even a new WIFE!!
Who btw agreed in the wedding vouys to live on a sailboat for a period of 5 years. She did stipulate I buy a bigger boat and my teenage daughter be out of the house before we lived on a boat!
Mostly it was awesome! The boat had been a harbor queen and I spent my off time doing almost nothing but rebuilding her. I worked on her for 7 months, took her out and then spent the next 6 months rebuilding everything else I found was wrong!! Rebuilt EVERY system and learned a hell of a lot about what works and doesn't work for me... Way to many stories to tell!!

NOW for my advice....
*DO NOT Do this to save cash!!! that doesn't work!!!
*I went into living on my boat because I knew it was what I really wanted to do...(How many people can say they lived on the water in Hawaii, and only 400 yrds form the Arizona?)
*I knew I couldn't afford anything fancy so I went with what I could afford...Kept the boat 35ft, needing work with very little extras!
*I kept my cost down so my BAH covered the boat, slip and most of my repairs!
*Pensacola has an awesome marina worth checking out. I know Eglin isn't to bad either but I don't believe they have nearly as good of facilities.
*if you are planning on going cruising when you retire, set the boat up to handle you being away from the boat for long periods. Plus, set your costs up where you can keep the boat through the rest of you military service (my biggest regret was selling her). Then when you retire, plan a good haul-out 2 months of prep and then LEAVE!!
** being gone long periods meant I setup multiple systems to insure if water got into the boat it could be pumped out!! I had 3 different bilge pumps, one of which was 110VAC that could handle a hell of a lot of water(want to say 250GPM) I rigged all through-hulls with plugs and adds extra zincs. Good ventilation can't stress that enough for here in Florida!!

SO to sum it up...if you are going to go for it
1. don't go big, keep it comfortable but simple.
2. have a good plan for when you are gone.
3. from day one have a plan for when you have to PCS to your next duty station.
4. Enjoy sailing to the sandbar!!
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Old 16-07-2011, 18:59   #11
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Re: Impossible for Military???

Couple great posts by Salty Monkey, and Free Rain.

Just one minor point from Free Rain's post;

Quote:
Pensacola has an awesome marina worth checking out. I know Eglin isn't to bad either but I don't believe they have nearly as good of facilities.
Pensacola (Bayou Grande) marina is not a bad marina, but they are too far from Eglin to commute, AND more significantly they do not allow liveaboards....
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Old 16-07-2011, 19:03   #12
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Re: Impossible for Military???

Great response Free Rain. People like you being willing to step in with experience and wisdom specific to the request is why I love this forum - thanks
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Old 16-07-2011, 19:17   #13
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Re: Impossible for Military???

Usually storage on the hard is cheaper than storage in a marina, so if you expect to be gone for a while, haul out. That also relieves you from worrying about corrosion, leaks, and all sorts of other disasters while the boat is in the water. And the boat will need hauling occasionally anyway for bottom paint and through-hull service.
But - what will you do with it if your next assignment is Minot, North Dakota?

Michael
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Old 16-07-2011, 19:18   #14
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Re: Impossible for Military???

Forgot - in addition to dockage cost per month, marinas charge extra for livaboards.

Also dockage may not be available when you get back if you pull it while away.
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Old 16-07-2011, 19:20   #15
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Re: Impossible for Military???

You will need someone who can take your boat out of the water if a hurricane is approaching. Or have it hauled and stored on the hard when you leave might be best. Keeping/finding good moorage when you are gone so long might be an issue , I dont know. Another option is to find the place you want to buy and offer to lease with option to buy. There is so much real estate up for sale down there they are giving it away.... no one really knows if it's going to go down more or not.... but with the demise of the space shuttle maybe it will in the Merritt island area/space coast. The Sea Ray is a good boat, it will depend on the particular one you buy. Heck, why not....you're throwing your money away if renting anyway. Boats are a bargain now too. Maybe just leave it during hurricane season and buy good insurance....
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