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Old 17-10-2010, 06:41   #1
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Is Living on a 20' Boat Possible ?

I'm planning on taking a break from the New England winter this year and heading south for 6 months. Is it reasonable to think I can live on a 20' sailboat full time? I'll be living on the hook and pursuing lots and lots of R&R.
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Old 17-10-2010, 06:50   #2
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anything is possible I suppose it would be a lot like living in a tent How old are you? If you are young you can probably do it You will spend most of you time off the boat Are you thinking Florida?
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Old 17-10-2010, 07:18   #3
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Living on a 20'

I'm 56 y/o and in great health. I don't anticipate spending much time on the hard--just want to bob around and get caught up on my reading and e-mailing. Yes, Florida is my destination--would love to find a good spot to anchor for a while. Any suggestions?
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Old 17-10-2010, 07:49   #4
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Actually a small 20 footer can probably "hide out" anchored in places where a larger cruising boat would attract the attention of the local - "anti-anchoring" zealots. Up creeks and rivers or in cuts and passes that larger boats just cannot manage.
- - That's the upside, the downside is laws and regulations that require MSD's, holding tanks, electrical systems for lights (nav and anchor). Kind of hard to cram all that into a 20 foot live-aboard. Most boats that size are "day-sailors" and nobody lives on them so the rules and regs are different. Especially in Florida with a sensitive eco-system and no shortage of eco-zealots (the eco-idea is not a bad idea, but some folks take it too far, IMHO).
- - Hiding up swamps and creeks impassable to anything bigger than a jon-boat/bass-boat keeps you out of the "target area" - but still you need to think of the personal responsibility aspects of dealing with everyday eating, living and hygiene. Most marinas have a 30ft minimum on slip rentals and by the time you add in live-aboard fees and water/electricity you could probably find a shack or garage apartment for nearly the same money.
- - Continually moving - not spending more than a week in any one specific spot also keeps you "un-noticed." When week-end boating folks and marine patrols see you anchored someplace and then see you again the next weekend it peaks their interest. If the same thing happens the next weekend you just might get a visit from the authorities to see exactly who and what you are doing.
- - The "simple life" on the water has passed by and now there are just too many people interested in what you are doing - and not in a good, friendly way. So, if you want to do this, you would to consider the legal aspects mentioned above and keep moving from one anchorage to another frequently.
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Old 17-10-2010, 10:07   #5
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20 foot liveaboard

Back in the mid 1980's, I lived on a 21 foot Jouet Golif sloop, a French built ocean passage maker. I kept a 1966 Chevy van on shore to house off season clothing, extra sails , tools, toys, etc... It was a comfortable life for a 20 something year old. I cruised the Atlantic coast of the US and the Caribbean. A place for everything and everything in it's place was the motto on board. the key is to find the right design and work out a system. I carried a whitewater kayak and a canoe for a dinghy, so I could transport my mountain bike to shore . I even kept my hanglider in a soft valise, lashed to my mast! Things were much simpler than going for a cruise on my 50 footer now. My advice is GO FOR IT .
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Old 17-10-2010, 11:12   #6
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yes it's possible. back in the 70's i kept a boat in the florida keys. there were any number of people living on small boats. one couple lived on a 22 foot westerly, another guy and his daughter on a 24 foot buccaneer, another single guy on a 25 foot paceship, and so on...

if you're willing to keep it simple you should have no problem. you'll need a battery and maybe a small solar panel to keep it charged - that for your anchor light. don't discount the anchor light - here in florida they routinely hand out $85 tickets for not having one - also to recharge your laptop (sounds like you're taking one along).

chain and lock your outboard to the stern. tow a small HARD dinghy behind you - small enough to row easily. forget about refrigeration - you really don't need it anyway. get one good heavy anchor, danforth is ok, and 20 feet of chain, then nylon line - 100 feet should be plenty.

keep a low profile. keep your boat and yourself neat and clean. if the cops come by and want to hassle you, just tell them you stopped to fix your engine or some other good excuse and that you will be moving on soon. then move on. except in florida. in florida you can legally anchor anywhere as long as you have a legal address on land somewhere (you're not a liveaboard). so take some id along to show you have a legal address. actually, there has been a dramatic decline in water nazi activity in florida, except in maybe south florida and the keys.

get a porta potti, NOT a flushing toilet, to be legal. but don't use it. use a bucket instead - lot less trouble and more convenient to empty.

given the state of the used boat market, you might want to consider buying a bigger boat, maybe up to 25 feet or so. might cost the same to buy, particularly because you yankees are hauling your boats out for the winter.

for a stove, consider a colemane propane camping stove. a couple i know cruised the bahamas with one. they bought a 20lb tank and hooked the stove directly to it, but only when they were actually cooking, for safety reasons.

as for navigation, you'll only need charts and/or a cruising guide. and a compass. binoculars would be helpful. a depth sounder nice but not necessary on a shallow draft boat like yours.

most of all, avoid the dockside boaters who tell you that you need radar, ais, gps charting plotter, autopilot, battery monitor, etc. most of them have never left the dock. keep it simple and you will be amazed at how little you really need, how cheaply you can cruise, and how little of your stuff ever breaks down. but take good care of your outboard.

and when you get to daytona beach, stop in the anchorage near marker 46 and send me an email. i'll come by and give you a hand.
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Old 17-10-2010, 12:18   #7
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i sailed and lived for several years on a 27 foot stiletto catamaran,,, people thought I was nuts,,, in florida i met a person taking a year off to go sailing in an 18 foot hobie cat,,, had a tent set up for housing every night,,, he love going to the keys in it,,,,,,, many shallow draft places you can go he said,, my stiletto had a 2 foot draft with rudders up,,,,when in the island I met a family of 4 that were cruising for 1 year on a similar boat as mine but 30 feet long

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Old 17-10-2010, 13:10   #8
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We met a guy near Staniel Cay who said that back in his youth he had sailed a 16' Swampscott Dory from Florida to the Bahamas and spent the whole winter cruising it down there. A small open boat on 50 and 80-mile passages, with no GPS, and no shelter at anchor except a boom tent. It can be done!

At the time we met him he was perhaps 50+ years old, on a 32' boat, living the high life. . . .
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Old 17-10-2010, 14:27   #9
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in florida i met a person taking a year off to go sailing in an 18 foot hobie cat,,,
An 18 foot Hobie ?????? Well, I ain't a youngster anymore, but I'll bet I can make it through the winter on a 20 footer then. Thanks for the input!
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Old 17-10-2010, 14:36   #10
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We met a guy near Staniel Cay who said that back in his youth he had sailed a 16' Swampscott Dory from Florida to the Bahamas

I don't know....... I'm not an expert but I'm not sure I'd chance taking a 16' ANYTHING all the way to the Bahamas!
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Old 17-10-2010, 14:40   #11
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If you take a look at yachtworld.com there are over 1200 boats from 23-32 feet from 1000 to 15000 dollars,,, lots to chose from,,, if you look at area code 33316, fort lauderdale florida you will find much to choose from,,, close to the keys and very close to the bahamas,, in fort lauderdale there are many yards that are do it yourself,,, everything that you need it available close by
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Old 17-10-2010, 14:43   #12
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i met a fella in pensacola was living on board a hobie--wonder if was same guy-- had a tent and parked on the beach-- cool dude....has a good spirit.

\if i could live on a 22 columbia for 6 months, you can live on a 20 footer and have a good time--- sail the thing and have fun hiding out in the middle of plain sight in places most boats cant go!!!!! i lived on a cal 25 for a year-- they6 ar efound cheaply-- rough and torn at 500 dolalrs and decent at 750 and up.

and sturdy ones can be found-- mebbe a bit rough-- for small dollars-- dont find good ones in yachtworld--just overpriced ones-- find from some other place-- i dont know about small tiny boats-- mine was a gift-- lol.. free boat--ycht clubs -- the saiors get tiredof their old one designs that done sail in groups anymore----outdated boats no one wants-- stored on hard-- look everywhere- yacht broker for a 20-25 ft boat is a rip off , plain and simple. their commission isnt worthy of their time trying o find your dream boat. look for yourself and find a beauty !! mebbe even larger than 20 ft-- market warrants your thinking about even up to 30 ft-- look and look.. sail with others and find a good boat for cheapo... good luck, and have fun!!!!
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Old 17-10-2010, 14:45   #13
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I have taken my jetski tot he bahamas several times,,, from fort lauderdale,,,, they kits surf to bimini from fort lauderdale,,,,, I would have no problem taking a kayak to the bahamas if the condition were right and i have the proper safety equipment onboard,,, whenever I cross the gulf I call the USCG and give them my destination and eta,,, safety,, safety,,, safety,,, there is enough boat traffic from florida to the bahamas if you are careful you will have no problem,,,,in the early 60 and 70 the locals of miami used to do the miami to bimini run in small boston whalers with 25 HP engines and no gps
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Old 17-10-2010, 14:47   #14
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i met a fella in pensacola was living on board a hobie--wonder if was same guy-- had a tent and parked on the beach-- cool dude....has a good spirit.

\if i could live on a 22 columbia for 6 months, you can live on a 20 footer and have a good time--- sail the thing and have fun hiding out in the middle of plain sight in places most boats cant go!!!!!
if it was red it most likely was,,, if i remember he was about 45 or older
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Old 17-10-2010, 14:50   #15
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there is a guy by the name of charlie that lives in miami,,, anchors behind the groves in north miami for the past 17 years,,, takes his dingy into the park for free water once a week and once a month heads to the publix on the water,,,, in the summer he sails up to new england,,,,,,, never works,,, about 65 years old,,,, lives with his 2 cats,,,, really nice guy,,,, has a small pension from military service i think,,, keeps his boat in good shape,,,,,,
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