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Old 25-05-2011, 12:02   #1
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Liveaboard Idea

I'm on the trailing edge of a career in the military and am starting to plan the next chapter. I have a broad plan and would like your input. As for money, I'll retire with a pension of about 60% of my current pay ($6000 +/- monthly). We have 3 kids that will be ages 12f, 8f, 6m when I plan to leave (2016). I have a little sailing experience and no boat right now. We have the typical bills, but will wipe those out by 2016, easy. I want to do another 5 years, then get out of the military and sail away until the kids are ready for college. I have a deployment to Miami coming up later this year and I will spend 11 months there. I was thinking about taking a course through bwss, then being able to charter boats to do a little sailing with the family.
My questions are these...
How do you recommend I build the experience needed to Cruise the world? I've read that chartering is not the way to do it and it will just eat my money.
When should I buy a boat?
If I buy it soon, I can spend my time sailing it and prepping it, although there is a chance I will not be stationed near the water.
Should I buy an older boat, and fix it up, or a newer boat? (I do love a good project).

Is this a realistic 5-year plan?
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Old 25-05-2011, 14:02   #2
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Re: Liveaboard Idea

If I were in your situation I would follow a two step approach. First buy a moderate size cruising boat in the 32-35' range and keep it in Miami and learn the ropes. That size will be tough for a couple with three children, but doable. Miami isn't a cheap place to keep a boat, but there are lots of easy destinations- Key Bicscane and on to Marathon and Key West. After you build up some experience and with a couple of weeks time, you could do the Abacos to get a real taste of cruising.

After 2-3 years of this you will know what kind of boat you want for full time cruising. Sell your first boat and buy it with a year to go and spend that time fitting it out for extended cruising. Then go!!!

David
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Old 25-05-2011, 15:17   #3
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Re: Liveaboard Idea

No one answer - therefore I would do a little bit of everything to find what works for you.

Some training (to get a handle on yer unknowns, even if not to learn everything), some crewing and some chartering (if you are thinking of a 40' Beneteau etc - then a week or 2 onboard will be useful. as well as just fun).......I would hesitate on trying to buy "the" boat on day 1, but nonetheless your own vessel will teach you a lot, about sailing, about boat ownership and about being a Skipper......but for that don't need 40' - as you don't say you want to liveaboard until 2016 I would be tempted by a smaller (and older?) Trailer Sailor, something that could be towed to your new deployment or to onshore storage / new cruising grounds. or easily enough sold via Ebay etc. The thinking about "older" is not only lower cost, but also to give a taste of what fixing older boats can be all about - IMO far better to learn if that is to your taste on something you haven't financially (over) committed to.

I wouldn't be shy about starting with a sailing dink either - whether or not involving racing (doesn't have to).

5 years? plenty of time to do pretty much anything you want.
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Old 25-05-2011, 15:26   #4
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Re: Liveaboard Idea

Miami is the gateway to one of this earth's most beautiful cruising grounds, the Bahamas. Good suggestion for a less expensive, and small boat to squeeze the family in, and hone your skills........i2f
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Old 25-05-2011, 15:29   #5
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pirate Re: Liveaboard Idea

Thats what I call serious planning ahead.... a 6mth old when you retire in 2012....
With precision like that you need help.....???
and I mean this in the best possible taste....
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Old 25-05-2011, 16:23   #6
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Re: Liveaboard Idea

Agree with those above that the Miami area is near ideal for finding, buying, and fixing up an older sailboat in the low 30-foot range: big enough to take the family out on weekends or maybe even for a few weeks in the Bahamas. Plus, you will be in a great location to "learn the ropes" of cruising. Maybe some trips down to the Keys, eventually some crossings over to the Bahamas, etc. Once you've got your own boat and some experience you'll run into other folks with bigger boats who might want a hand moving the boat over to the Bahamas, or taking it north up the Gulf Stream to the Chesapeake for the summer--a great way to build experience and learn from other more-experienced boaters. Lots of ex-military out cruising--you have a good situation with a decent retirement income, healthcare taken care of, and probably the right attitude to learn how to do things properly so that you and your family will be safe.
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Old 25-05-2011, 16:28   #7
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Re: Liveaboard Idea

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Thats what I call serious planning ahead.... a 6mth old when you retire in 2012....
With precision like that you need help.....???
and I mean this in the best possible taste....
Ahem, I think that's f for female and m for male
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Old 25-05-2011, 16:31   #8
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pirate Re: Liveaboard Idea

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Ahem, I think that's f for female and m for male
OOOPPPsssss..... he tiptoes quietly away...
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Old 25-05-2011, 17:16   #9
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Not fixing a sailboat in exotic locales...

Cruising is sometimes defined as fixing a sailboat in exotic locales however I cannot recommend this as the way to go.

Owning a boat, particularly an old boat, will have you spending your time fixing, not sailing and not looking after your career and family.

My suggestions: 1) With your family get them to the local pool and make sure their swimming skills are fully up to scratch. Then spend some time by the seaside learning snorkeling and surfing. I never got past a boogie board, but then my father couldn't swim at all.
2) Get an off the beach sailing dinghy or cat. Learn to sail it yourself, then train your family. If you get transferred it could be given away, or even taken with you.
3) With a bit of online study and book reading you should be able to get enough knowledge. As you're planning on another 5 years your military may be prepared to upgrade some, or maybe all, of the cruising related skills. Its got to be a lot easier to learn diesel skills on terra firma while being paid than head down in the bilge being firmly rocked by passing ferries as you watch your wallet emptying. If you must hone your repair skills then do it by fixing houses-see point 4)
4) I'm a mono person and I like real estate so my personal preference, if I were in your shoes, would be to scrape every penny I could get together and then buy Florida real estate. A nice shabby rental house in a good area near reasonable schools and transport that you initially live in and fix up could well translate, in 5 years time, to a very nice Caribbean ex charter cream puff. Got to be a good renter 'cause as as soon as your superiors see that you're happy they'll probably transfer you. If they don't I'd look to buying a second in a couple of years if the first works out OK.
5) Once your finances and knowledge skills are on track I'd do a few charters, maybe one a year over 3 years. This would be the time to do a few sailing courses. One day courses could be fine, try to do them with your wife and a female instructor. Some recommend a crewed charter as well. Very relaxing and a good operator may be a source of valuable knowledge as he demonstrates how to manage a big boat with a minimum of fuss.

Owning a boat is 99% pain and 1% pleasure, so I'd really put off a major purchase for as long as possible.
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Old 25-05-2011, 19:26   #10
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Re: Liveaboard Idea

As a few others have said. Get sailing on a smaller cheaper boat first. Obviously you will take lessons. Also try and crew on as many different types of boat as possible. This will help you learn what you like and dislike about different types of boats. The more boats the better.

One thing to consider with your final purchase. Most of you time will be spent at anchor. So make sure it is comfortable inside and in the cockpit. For example and ex racer will be a fast passage maker, but once you get there it will be a little cramped.

Yes your plan is realistic in two years if you get out there and start doing a bit of coastal hopping on your practice boat. A bit of twilightclub racing will also hone your skills very fast.
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Old 26-05-2011, 00:48   #11
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Re: Liveaboard Idea

Wow, thanks for all the advice. Seems like I am on track. one of my biggest concerns is easing the kids into it and getting them used to being on a boat. I was a little concerned as my kids will be a little older when we decide to depart. If I can get them motivated about the boat/beach now, living on a boat won't be that big of a shock. We have a 30' travel trailer so living in close proximity isn't that big of a deal for them. They LOVE the camper and all that comes with it. How could they not love a boat and all the adventures that come with it?

David_old_Jersey:
Great advice, thanks tons. Living aboard until 2016 would be perfect, but not an option at all as, who knows where they will send me after my time in Florida. Even if I return to Fort Bragg, we're hours away from the coast.

Boatman 61:
lol, no worries, although I was seriously confused until Hummingway chimed in

Kettlewell:
Thanks, and glad to hear there are a lot of ex-military out there. I couldn't agree with you more, hard to put a price tag on the true value of good training.

Boaracay:
I couldn't agree more. There are certain "life skills" which I believe are non-negotiable. Swimming is one, especially if you want to live on a boat. Fortunately we have that piece covered, all 3 of my kiddos have been in the water before they could walk. The 2 girls are strong swimmers already and my son spends a good amount of time in the water already.
Good idea with the rental property, but I've already gone that route and have been burned. All it takes is one bad renter to turn into a nightmare.
I like the idea of doing a few charters a year. What better way to sink the hook in with the family in the whole cruising lifestyle?
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Old 26-05-2011, 05:25   #12
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Re: Liveaboard Idea

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one of my biggest concerns is easing the kids into it and getting them used to being on a boat. I was a little concerned as my kids will be a little older when we decide to depart. If I can get them motivated about the boat/beach now, living on a boat won't be that big of a shock. We have a 30' travel trailer so living in close proximity isn't that big of a deal for them. They LOVE the camper and all that comes with it. How could they not love a boat and all the adventures that come with it?
I think a good plan to get the kids (and Missus!) involved from day 1, at least to the extent of getting them to associate water, beach, boats with fun! and doing that at a young age makes it easier. Whether that involve a 40' foot boat, an 8 foot sailing dink, a kayak or even...........a jetski ....or a bit of everything. building Sandcastles on the beach and exploring rockpools seems to work for kids of all ages

If you lay the groundwork in over the next year or so, even if you then leave the seaside for a few years the experiance they have enjoyed will stay with them .......the fact that the reality of life 24/7 aboard a boat will not be the same is something that can be addressed later

FWIW here is "my" first command, circa 1970 (been doing a bit of photo scanning recently. and reminicising ):-



I think that red Pom Pom hat is still around somewhere Due to starting at a young age, for me the messing around in boats thing is second nature (don't mean I know everything - but have an instinctive handle on when I should be worried )....for me father it was a learning curve from next to zero - and for that finding France involved an ex-RAF compass and a chart (Now on GPS, but he still uses the same Chart ).

Unfortunately I never took on his love of Varnishing - probably because of the above boat

If you were feeling really sneaky and planning well ahead, you could try and get at least one of the kids interested in Marine Engineering. and maybe one into sewing.......
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Old 26-05-2011, 05:58   #13
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If you were feeling really sneaky and planning well ahead, you could try and get at least one of the kids interested in Marine Engineering. and maybe one into sewing.......
+1
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Old 26-05-2011, 07:45   #14
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Re: Liveaboard Idea

I've got the sewing thing locked. The wife is an industry-trained seamstress who makes everything from gun cases and tactical gear for "the boys" to prom dresses and Christmas stockings for their families.

Thanks again for all the advice. I think a small boat we can trailer/take on small trips seems like an outstanding idea. Add to that 3 little ones who can't seem to get enough of the beach and I think it will be a no-brainer. Can't wait to head home and get the ball rolling.
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Old 26-05-2011, 08:06   #15
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Re: Liveaboard Idea

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maybe one into sewing.......
The thought that came to my mind was military riggers. They sew up the parachutes.
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