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Old 14-08-2014, 03:44   #1
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Is the Liveaboard Life Still Free and Easy?

Hello everyone! I used to be a lurker many years ago. I've recently moved back to the states and have nothing holding me down, so I have been thinking about getting a classic like an Alberg 30 or Triton 28 and living aboard on the hook, or maybe even a cheap mooring, on the east coast or in the gulf. I would fix the boat up and improve my sailing over several years so that the boat's abilities grew with my sailing skill until I could hopefully make offshore passages. (I know--big dreams, small steps.)

But I just can't justify paying more than perhaps $100 a month for easy dinghy dock access and showers when it should be possible to anchor out, use a solar shower, and do my laundry in a bucket. I see posts about Florida and Georgia trying to run off people anchoring out, private mooring littering the east coast anchorages, towns enforcing rental of expensive moorings.

Wherever I go I'd need to stay for some months at a time and work in order to eat and fix up my boat, and work for me would be a minimum wage retail or food service job--the new American Dream. I would need to be someone the town didn't want to run off. So many places that would welcome you seem fixated upon fleecing the sailor of all he has with $10/day dinghy docking fees, or $500/month mooring, or $900/month slips. And then there are the cruising fees outside of the US. Wow have they gone up! I paid $100 a month for my last apartment so these prices seem crazy nuts to me.

Is it possible to live simply on your boat, working and saving your money to fix her up? I must think that it can still somehow be done, but maybe I'm wrong or even a delusional romantic. If it is still a viable lifestyle how does one go about it?

I'm thinking I'd anchor out and chainlock my motorless dinghy to a bridge (or hide it somehow and chain to a tree) then ride a folding bicycle to work--taking the oarlocks with me. I'd drill small holes in the oar blades and lock them to the dinghy with steel wire.

(Regarding the expense of outfitting the boat, I don't want the fancy electronics and know I'd need to put it on the hard in a marina for repairs sometimes.)

Thanks for reading my post.
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Old 14-08-2014, 04:32   #2
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

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but maybe I'm wrong or even a delusional romantic.
your plan doesn't sound romantic to me
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Old 14-08-2014, 05:32   #3
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

Welcome back!

Living "poor" is tough. Whether on land or on a boat. I'd rather be poor on a boat for sure.

Don't believe everything you hear about people being "run off" - The people living in the "margins" don't advertise on CF what a good deal they have or can get. Word of mouth for the go along-get along person is still strong.

Sure you may have to do the footwork and not internet surfing to really find out what is doable.

Go read up on the $500 a month thread. There are lots of people doing it. Most of them don't hang out in CF. Don't get hung up on location.

Find the boat, wherever it is and get going. Too many people are looking for assurances. Too many people are looking to keep their "land" lifestyle intact and way too many of us (me included) are so tangled up in out "lives" we have to have 5 and 10 year plans to get disentangled.

You will figure it out. You can work at McDonalds anywhere...
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Old 14-08-2014, 06:03   #4
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

I swear there are two different Florida's, I've seen nothing at all to restrict anchoring or anything else in the Panhandle like there is in South Fl.
Now there are a lot of derelict boats in the Panhandle too and that is a problem that will eventually have to be dealt with and will affect all of us, probably negatively.
A lot of people in the Panhandle have grown up there, made their living off of the sea and are a lot more tolerant of people that don't have a lot of money.
Get around the Big Bend portion of the Panhandle and you'll fit right in I bet.
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Old 14-08-2014, 06:16   #5
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

There are plenty of places you can still anchor, legally, for free. If you want to do this and stay on good terms with the locals a few hints.

#1 Keep your boat clean and neat. If your boat is covered up with bikes, laundry, jerry jugs, boxes, potted plants or whatever, all under a huge blue tarp so it looks like some kind of floating vagrant's tent city you will not be popular. Of course it's almost impossible to live on a boat without keeping some stuff on deck but try to keep it so your boat looks like it could actually be used as a boat.

Living on board and holding a full time job is doable (have done it) but can occasionally be a pain. Commuting by dinghy can add a good bit of time to the morning schedule so plan for that. Then there are the days when it's dumping rain so you will arrive soaking wet so have to carry work clothes in a dry bag and change somewhere. Finding a spot for the dinghy can be a hassle and sometimes the only available spot isn't the most convenient.

It is doable and you can be welcome in the community (well at least most of them) if you try to be a good neighbor and respect the people that live around you.
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Old 14-08-2014, 06:24   #6
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

I know that here in LA ( lower Alabama) you can anchor free in the rivers and there are lots of server/ food service positions in Mobile and the Eastern Shore. There are also cheap marinas- Lake Forest Yacht Club (the redneck version) is about $200 a month with power and has shower facilities. The east side of FL is totally different than the gulf side- LA, MS, AL and FL panhandle seem to be much more boat friendly. I have also looked at land locked marinas in FL panhandle and for around $200 you can get covered slip, wifi, power, showers and laundry. I'm currently searching for a new job that will allow me to do this in the area.
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Old 14-08-2014, 06:33   #7
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

it is possible that an extremely resourceful person might be able to achieve an a extremely basic lifestyle in some backwater (bayou?),I met a few who did who did ,back before the contemporary restraints you cite. However even in the permissive Hippy era one had to keep low profile and keep moving before some vested interest complained that there is this 'bum boat that never moves etc. ,etc……." .

Since 9/11 the funding for the police agencies has increased the number of craft that will be arriving alongside without invitation. In my local waters there are six different gov. agencies that patrol outside my marina that is located in a rural area.

Best is to keep moving , but then how are you going to keep your low paying job? You will still need cell phone service so some would be employer can contact you ,a mailing address ,a means of trash and waste disposal ,a way to get potable water and so on.
If you have some skills that a boat yard could use ,there are still a number of backwater operations run by ex pirates that might look the other way if you found some otherwise non productive part of their operation for your needs AND you made yourself very useful to them at low cost. Might be a good way to start.
Another thought: restaurants are in constant need of help (esp. kitchen) since there is high turnover; many waterfront restaurants will have some sort of dock and dine for boaters with a discrete tie up for your shore access needs once you have proven yourself reliable and useful.
Hope this helps…………………..luv you all…………..mike……………………………………………...
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Old 14-08-2014, 07:02   #8
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

What you want is not impossible, but it is not nearly as easy as you would like it to be, either. Water and waste disposal are two of the major complications that you have to consider.

Here in Florida it is not that hard to find a place where you can anchor your boat for months at a time, but it won't be the prime spot, right next to downtown, where you can easily and quickly get to any job you might have. More importantly, if your boat doesn't look like a derelict then the odds of getting run out of anywhere in particular go down drastically. As with everything else in life, presenting a pleasant and respectful appearance goes a long, long way.

I would encourage you to try it. But I would also say that if you think this is going to be a cheaper and easier lifestyle than living in a $100/month apartment, you are probably in for a rather rude awakening.

Good luck.

Oh, and, by the way... You asked about it being "still" free and easy. It was NEVER "free and easy." There was a time when finding a place to anchor might have been easier, but the lifestyle of a liveaboard is not nearly as easy as some people imagine, and it never has been.
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Old 14-08-2014, 07:35   #9
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

First a clarification: Providing a service is not "fleecing". If I just paid several million dollars to buy a marina, why would I give my services for free or cheap when there are plenty of people wiling to pay a fair price?

You can anchor out in a lot of places...if you don't make a nuisance of yourself. As someone else said, keep the boat clean and ship shape will go a long way towards your neighbors not trying to chase you off.

One issue you face is the more convienent and nice the location, the more likely they have delt with people trying to take advantage of the system.
- If you anchor in an isolated mosquito infested anchorage 10 miles from the nearest dock or house, no one is likely to care if you stay there for years but it's not a convienent place to live, especially if you need to commute to work.
- If you try to anchor long term in a popular built up area...lots of others have already tried that and there are usually at least a few bad apples who ruin it for the rest.

There is no free ride and there was no mythical time when there was a free ride. You can go cheap but it comes with costs and always has.

An interesting thing I've noticed:
- There are people who's lives become the quest for the next dollar at the expense of actually living and enjoying life.
- There are also people who's lives become the quest to spend one less dollar at the expense of actually living and enjoying life.
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Old 14-08-2014, 07:58   #10
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Re: Is the Liveaboard Life Still Free and Easy?

I'm a little puzzled by the title. To my knowledge living aboard has never been free or easy. When I first moved aboard a daily slip was 5 to 10 cents per foot and we were shocked to find prices moving up to 25 or 30 cents per foot. I remember the sad notice when my monthy slip rate jumped from $50 to $80/month. These were not inexpensive days. Average incomes then were proportionally smalller too! Forty years ago marinas were not offering free access to their facilities and those that anchored out had few safe and secure places to leave their belongings ashore.
........... 'but then the good news,- living aboard is just as free and easy as it used to be!
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Old 14-08-2014, 08:35   #11
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
What you want is not impossible, but it is not nearly as easy as you would like it to be, either. Water and waste disposal are two of the major complications that you have to consider.

Here in Florida it is not that hard to find a place where you can anchor your boat for months at a time, but it won't be the prime spot, right next to downtown, where you can easily and quickly get to any job you might have. More importantly, if your boat doesn't look like a derelict then the odds of getting run out of anywhere in particular go down drastically. As with everything else in life, presenting a pleasant and respectful appearance goes a long, long way.

I would encourage you to try it. But I would also say that if you think this is going to be a cheaper and easier lifestyle than living in a $100/month apartment, you are probably in for a rather rude awakening.

Good luck.

Oh, and, by the way... You asked about it being "still" free and easy. It was NEVER "free and easy." There was a time when finding a place to anchor might have been easier, but the lifestyle of a liveaboard is not nearly as easy as some people imagine, and it never has been.
Well said.
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Old 14-08-2014, 08:38   #12
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

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First a clarification: Providing a service is not "fleecing". If I just paid several million dollars to buy a marina, why would I give my services for free or cheap when there are plenty of people wiling to pay a fair price?
Agree, even if the price is not "fair". A business owner has the right to charge what they like and it is not cheap to own and operate a marina in this country. At the same time, as consumers, we have the option to not pay for a service that we think is overpriced or if it is just out of our price range.
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Old 14-08-2014, 10:51   #13
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Re: Is the liveaboard life still free and easy?

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
First a clarification: Providing a service is not "fleecing". If I just paid several million dollars to buy a marina, why would I give my services for free or cheap when there are plenty of people wiling to pay a fair price?
I agree although I have noticed that more and more marinas would rather be half full at $500 a month than 95% full at $260 a month.
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Old 14-08-2014, 11:29   #14
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Re: Is the Liveaboard Life Still Free and Easy?

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But I just can't justify paying more than perhaps $100 a month for easy dinghy dock access and showers when it should be possible to anchor out, use a solar shower, and do my laundry in a bucket. I see posts about Florida and Georgia trying to run off people anchoring out, private mooring littering the east coast anchorages, towns enforcing rental of expensive moorings.

Wherever I go I'd need to stay for some months at a time and work in order to eat and fix up my boat, and work for me would be a minimum wage retail or food service job--the new American Dream. I would need to be someone the town didn't want to run off. So many places that would welcome you seem fixated upon fleecing the sailor of all he has with $10/day dinghy docking fees, or $500/month mooring, or $900/month slips.

I'm thinking I'd anchor out and chainlock my motorless dinghy to a bridge (or hide it somehow and chain to a tree) then ride a folding bicycle to work--taking the oarlocks with me. I'd drill small holes in the oar blades and lock them to the dinghy with steel wire.
It is still free and easy in Boca Ciega Bay (Gulfport, Fl.). There is a good-sized liveaboard fleet anchored out there. No one hassles them, from what I was told. We spent a couple of weeks anchored there ourselves, and got to know some of them. I'd say they were pretty good people. There is a free (nice) dinghy dock in front of a couple of bars/restaurants, and next to the old casino. No one locks their dinghy up, so, must not be much of a theft problem. There is a small beach, and a nice little park, by the anchorage.

You can catch the bus in front of the casino, or ride your bike from the dock, no problem.

Our blog even comes up if you google boca ciega bay - Boca Ciega Bay | sailing away with R & B

There are probably other areas that would work, but this would be a good possibility.

Ralph
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Old 14-08-2014, 11:39   #15
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Re: Is the Liveaboard Life Still Free and Easy?

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It is still free and easy in Boca Ciega Bay (Gulfport, Fl.). There is a good-sized liveaboard fleet anchored out there. No one hassles them, from what I was told. We spent a couple of weeks anchored there ourselves, ............... Ralph
Gulfport is one of many places where we have anchored for some time in Florida. We've never had any difficulties with restrictions, authority, theft or hassles while anchoring, but our longest stay in one place has been just three months and more often just a few days.
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