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Old 08-12-2015, 23:47   #1
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Liveaboard on a Mooring

Greetings,

I’m looking for advice, and for some guidance if possible. My wife and I live near Park City, UT. We have had great experiences living in many areas of the US and overseas. Along the way, I picked up sailing skills and owned a few boats. Lido 14, Mac 25, Catalina 30, Catalina 36, Mac 26… the boats generally were the right fit for the body of water, lakes, bays, etc. that we were close to. 20 years ago, I got my US Sailing certifications and my first real sailing experience with Club Nautique on the SF Bay with several good friends from work. My sailing career started with the Sailing Merit Badge at a BSA camp in Idaho.

We loved living in CA, particularly in Southern California. I am convinced that a decent sized cruising sailboat in a marina or on a mooring in So Cal would be a great “Second Home” for us. I loved my Catalina 36 and have my eye on the Catalina 400. In particular, I would love to be on a mooring, and herein lie my questions, (I think I know how I would handle things in a marina…):

On a mooring, as a “second home", presuming long weekends at least monthly, and several months in a row in some seasons, I’m not sure how to handle a few important issues related to livability. For instance, how to address very reasonable questions my wife has about important things like staying warm and having a nice shower for instance. To wit, how do we heat a boat on a mooring? What’s the best way to have hot water? How long does 100 gallons of water last when living aboard? How long does 35 gallons of diesel last, and for what amenities and comforts am I running the diesel? How often am I running the diesel for charging, other reasons? What about a genset? I have read about some systems, but I just don’t have an integrated view of what is really required in order to enjoy being on a mooring (vs. tied up to shore power). I haven’t done any Caribbean sailing yet, but it seems like 40’ yachts are reasonably self sufficient there for a week at a time?

And… lest somebody recommend a houseboat 😉 … I love to cruise (and race those beer cans) so the mooring would be home base, while looking forward to cruising Southern California including Catalina and the Channel Islands.

Thanks!

-Richard
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Old 09-12-2015, 02:10   #2
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

For showers, use sun showers, above decks. Saves nasty cleaning, because you can bucket out your cockpit.

Ann
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Old 09-12-2015, 02:45   #3
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

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Originally Posted by rbfin View Post
Greetings,

I’m looking for advice, and for some guidance if possible. My wife and I live near Park City, UT. We have had great experiences living in many areas of the US and overseas. Along the way, I picked up sailing skills and owned a few boats. Lido 14, Mac 25, Catalina 30, Catalina 36, Mac 26… the boats generally were the right fit for the body of water, lakes, bays, etc. that we were close to. 20 years ago, I got my US Sailing certifications and my first real sailing experience with Club Nautique on the SF Bay with several good friends from work. My sailing career started with the Sailing Merit Badge at a BSA camp in Idaho.

We loved living in CA, particularly in Southern California. I am convinced that a decent sized cruising sailboat in a marina or on a mooring in So Cal would be a great “Second Home” for us. I loved my Catalina 36 and have my eye on the Catalina 400. In particular, I would love to be on a mooring, and herein lie my questions, (I think I know how I would handle things in a marina…):
I'd suggest keeping the boat in a marina, especially to start, & to figure out your own answers to many of the questions which you pose. But you could also lease a mooring at the same time. So that between it, & hops out to the islands for short stints on the hook, you get a less abrupt transition to life aboard.

I say this, especially as, when you're on the hook, or a mooring. EVERYTHING which comes onto or goes off of the boat is via dinghy. And that takes quite an adjustment, especially if you're hauling heavy gear... like; laundry, water, groceries, batteries, boat parts.

Particularly if you have to do surf landings/launchings in each direction. Plus drag the dink up & down the beach, & lock it (& the oars) on each trip. Row 1/2 mile each way, & always hoist your dinghy aboard at the end of the day, every day. And have it secured for sea, in case you have to shift to a different anchorage on 2 min. notice at 3am, due to a weather shift which you didn't see coming.

That, & the marina will give you a safe place to keep the boat. Safe meaning that it wont be left unattended on a mooring, where (sadly) unprincipled types might apply sticky fingers to some of the gear which you have onboard.
- I say this, having lived on a Mooring in San Diego for 2yrs. Albeit, many years back. But out there, good neighbors are your only real insurance policy. For everything & anything.

Plus, on a mooring, your mooring lines & chafing gear have to be bullet proof. Especially if you're not onboard full time. As if they fail...
That, & one time when I was out of town, some low life cut my boat free. Yes, literally cut it loose. Fortunately, my neighbors called the CG when they noticed it missing, & it was found & towed back to port, from half way between San Diego & Mexico.
Damned lucky for me! And thank the Gods for my SOLAS tape patches that I'd placed on the sides of the hull, & various spots on the mast. They're what let them find her, as she was all wood, so no radar siggy. And yeah, it was at night. But fortunately, a clear one.

Also, while @ the dock, you can easily unplug, & see how well your systems work. And what that lifestyle's like, with the backup of West Marine, & electricity should you need it.
Plus, there's a good sense of community which develops amongst the regulars in a marina, & folks help school each other on things. Be it boat stuff, or the time I got my broke neighbor, access to a fully stocked with tools garage, with a lift. So that we could put a new clutch in his truck.
It took us 2 days, as he was so broke he couldn't afford the spline alignment tool. Coupled with the fact that it was a 4x4, & the transfer case, which we had to line up with the clutch, weighed 100lbs.

When we were done, he could barely afford to by me lunch @ a Taco place, our agreed upon price for the job.
And to be honest, had the tables been turned, he or any of my other live aboard neighbors would have done the sme for me had they been able.
That's what my marina neighbors were like. As were they when I was on the mooring, & when sailing in general. Knock on wood.

On a mooring, as a “second home", presuming long weekends at least monthly, and several months in a row in some seasons, I’m not sure how to handle a few important issues related to livability. For instance, how to address very reasonable questions my wife has about important things like staying warm and having a nice shower for instance. To wit, how do we heat a boat on a mooring? What’s the best way to have hot water?
These questions are easy to answer, but the best way to know, is to live them. Also, sign the Mrs. up on here, & show her the search features. Let her get to know the community.

To wit. There are a dozen different types of boat & water heating systems. You have to look at the pros & cons of each, in addition to talking to other sailors about their experiences with them, in order to decide which ones to try. That, & you can try some of them via renting boats, & or by begging a test or three of them on your neighbor's boats.
Again, MUCH easier to do when living aboard full time @ a marina.

How long does 100 gallons of water last when living aboard?
Minimum is about 2gal/person/day. But that's with using a garden sprayer or Solar Shower for quick cleanups, every other day. And doing your laundry ashore.

You can use less. I've gotten to where I can shower with 1 pint of water, in a plant sprayer bottle. And that's without using salt water for any of my shower. But then again, I also have very short hair, & have backpacked a lot... since early childhood.

How long does 35 gallons of diesel last, and for what amenities and comforts am I running the diesel?
Again, these are things which you can of course read about here on the forums, but you also have to live them, & figure out what works for you.
And the only real way, is to do it full time live aboard, even if only at the dock.

How often am I running the diesel for charging, other reasons? What about a genset? I have read about some systems, but I just don’t have an integrated view of what is really required in order to enjoy being on a mooring (vs. tied up to shore power).
For power, you'd do best to try & get all of it (or almost) from solar & wind. Save the diesel for heating, & running the main engine.
And as to gensets, IMO, get a small gasoline one to start with, which is big enough to run your important power tools (well, & possibly a hair dryer, GROAN).

I haven’t done any Caribbean sailing yet, but it seems like 40’ yachts are reasonably self sufficient there for a week at a time?
With a 40'er, a couple should be able to go for months at a time. It's all about what resources & comforts which you deem as "necessities".

As an example. When I was living aboard (solo, mostly). I'd go through 2gal of water a day. And I had one 35w solar panel, which let me watch 2hrs of TV/day (CRT type TV), plus listen to as much music as I liked, & read all night long. Back in the pre LED days.
Ah, & in the Winter, I'd hoist my Redwing wind genny about every 4-5 days, to top off my batteries (200ah house bank).
And for me, that was plenty.

I did laundry every 10 days or so. Bought groceries every 3wks +/- with no refrigeration. Ate well, & healthily. Also feeding my neighbors at my table about once a week, including vino. And we often shared sundowners, & tapas at times. But mostly enjoyed each other's company.

And my total weekly trash (mostly biodegradable packaging from food) amounted to 1 plastic bag that they give you @ the grocery store, if you don't have your own bags. So maybe 2 gal in volume.

Given that it was San Diego, I didn't bother with heat. Though on occasion, it was nice to visit my neighbors, who had a Dickenson. Or visit friends on shore, to say hi, share a meal or a movie. Swipe a full power shower, though I had access to one on shore @ a gym.
That, & I had an old, but trusty & paid for car, & went through maybe 3gal of gas a week, which equated to 50 miles (RX7 = gas hog).

For comms, I had a pager (mid '90s). And all of my friends knew where I was & could get my attention by shouting at me from onshore, 30yds away.
Like I said, a Mooring in San Diego, just off of Shelter Island ($60/mo back then).

A few other things which made it tolerable, even though it was a small boat - 31' Searunner, so the interior space of a 25-27' monohull.

Since she was a trimaran, I didn't roll like crazy when boats went by leaving large wakes. Though the same couldn't be said for monohulls, until they got up to 40' & above. And when I say roll, I mean through 25+ degrees in both directions. Enough to mandate lee cloths for sleeping were you aboard one.

Also, given my boat's extreme bouyancy, she didn't pitch much in storms. Where as most of the mono's (small & midsize, meaning sub 40' again) around me, would almost submerge their bows during the waves generated during storms. Like every 5-10sec. type submerging.
No one lived on those boats, & I categorically would not have wanted to.

Plus, with a trimaran, I had loads of deck space. A key for lounging in comfort. Doing various chores. Stowing dinghies out of the water. Optimizing my solar panel for gathering trons, etc.

Also, with the amas (floats) I had loads of space to keep the boating gear, & live aboard essentials, out of the living space.
- Spare warps. Fenders, Hoses, Bilge Pumps, Tarps & Awnings, Sails, Docklines, funnels. Scrap plywood for projects, bits of lexan, cans of paint, etc.
Basically all of the crap which eats up living space in a mono like crazy if you're not careful. That, or it winds up as a giant pile in your lazarette, making it tough to find things @ times, unless your an OCD type organizer for your storage therein.

On smaller boats, 35' & under, primarily, your only real luxuries, are; books, movies, & music. There simply isn't room for a lot else, if you have anything resembling the full compliment of cruiising/liveaboard gear. And all of the tools & spares to go with same.
And it's tough, even on a big boat, with dedicated storage areas. Watch the atached vid, & also, snag a copy of the Dashew's early sailing video (perhaps on ebay).


The caveat to all of this, is that as boats get bigger, you have a bit of room for toys; scuba gear, surf boards, sewing machines, etc. But your gear's still likely to be a bit packed in. Ask any of the long term live aboards/cruisers on here.

Such is also part of why I'd suggest starting at a dock first. So as to wean yourself of all of the crap which one accumulates on land. For as a live aboard, when you're ashore & considering buying something, even just a DVD, or a sweater, you literally ask yourself the question; "So if I buy this, where will I stow it onboard". Seriously.
Thus, when living at a marina, you have a dock box, for some of your not being used right this moment boat gear. And you're not far from your storage locker either.

So, with both of those, you can adapt to living aboard (full time) & the space restrictions.
My basic rule is, if I haven't used it in 6mos/1yr, then I don't need it. Especially as it'll be taking up space for sometheing more vital. Or from keeping a drawer & half a dozen hangers free for when company comes to visit for a few days.

Now, on top of all of that, including figuring out how to organize all of your stuff. You get to learn how to do the 1,001 regular sailing tasks, without you & your mate making each other loco from; living in a space the size of a walk in closet, with absolutely zero privacy. And having to continually YELL @ one another in order to be heard over the wind & the engine, in order to do basic crap like anchoring (where it's nigh on impossible to hear someone at the bow, & you have to resort to hand signals. - See why we like the lifestyle

And… lest somebody recommend a houseboat �� … I love to cruise (and race those beer cans) so the mooring would be home base, while looking forward to cruising Southern California including Catalina and the Channel Islands.

Thanks!

-Richard
I hope that that helps, & feel free to hit me up with any questions. And please pardon any typos, as my confuser, er computer, isn't cool on interfacing with the automatic spell checker right now.

Ciao

PS: I can do boat rec's, & links to expert reference sites for same, needs be. Though it'll only be a paragraph of info. Just say the word.
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Old 09-12-2015, 03:21   #4
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

> "For as a live aboard, when you're ashore & considering buying something, even just a DVD, or a sweater, you literally ask yourself the question; "So if I buy this, where will I stow it onboard". Seriously."

And you also tend to ask yourself "If I buy this, what should I get rid of in compensation?"

(It took the better half a while to appreciate that this applies especially to clothes )
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Old 09-12-2015, 03:21   #5
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

have enough boze for sunset drinks.
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Old 09-12-2015, 03:26   #6
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Richard.
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Old 09-12-2015, 04:58   #7
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

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Originally Posted by StuM View Post
> "For as a live aboard, when you're ashore & considering buying something, even just a DVD, or a sweater, you literally ask yourself the question; "So if I buy this, where will I stow it onboard". Seriously."

And you also tend to ask yourself "If I buy this, what should I get rid of in compensation?"

(It took the better half a while to appreciate that this applies especially to clothes )
StuM, I'm glad to see that somebody survived my thesis.
I was figuring that most would throw in the towel
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Old 09-12-2015, 05:26   #8
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Nope. I read the whole thing. It was right on with my experience. Thanks.
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Old 09-12-2015, 05:39   #9
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

i lived on a mooring in san diego coronado from 1999 december to 2011 april when i left to cruise.
i also worked at nursing as critical care and emergency room rn and triage.
i was fortunate to have a resident call room for my self as i made sure this was in my contract. therefore--showers and freshness for work days.
i lived 130 miles from work. i stayed for 3-4 days then went home to boat. did this 5 yrs before i left. worked out well.
most moorings havent amenities-- coronado mooring is near a municipal pool which has showers for 2 usd, and for old folks, 1 usd. they also have a gym and pool for use.
solar showers work well in summer months. in winter it gets COLD.
solar panels are important--one can only use so much diesel before wishing panels were installed. then once panels are in use, one wants more electrricity-- windmills work well in conjunction with solar, especially during dismal and windy winter days.
the nights-- feather quilts. oil lamps. snuggling. you get a month of COLD...
generator for electrical heating--watch the amps in and amps out thing--- overloading can cause fires. ask me how i know this...
i enjoyed my tenure on moorings--is much more comfortable to me than a marina, even with the extra work of jugging water and fuel to boat from a beach...
most of your questions are subjective-- specific to each individual, and their choices in the lifestyle.
i had enough solar input to run a puter and cell fone. pagers went out with my first boatsit in rock n roll hell in 1995.
it is not difficult to become independent enough to reside on a mooring. once you are there, it is all a lot easier than first starting.
the neighbors on the moorings in sd are helpful and most are decent folks.
storms--another chapter in this epic saga....

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Old 09-12-2015, 05:53   #10
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

Quote:
Originally Posted by rbfin View Post
On a mooring, as a “second home", presuming long weekends at least monthly, and several months in a row in some seasons, I’m not sure how to handle a few important issues related to livability. For instance, how to address very reasonable questions my wife has about important things like staying warm and having a nice shower for instance.
Careful what you wish for. My wife and I started out boat shopping looking for a "second home" and ended up living aboard full time for three years before leaving this fall to go cruising.

My wife has enjoyed being a member of the "Women Who Sail" group on Facebook which was started by a Cruisers Forum member named Charlotte Kaufman. Maybe your wife would like it too? My wife has found it to be both a welcoming community and a great resource for women's concerns. Best of luck.
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Old 09-12-2015, 11:34   #11
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

While living on a mooring would be cheaper; living at a marina would be way more convenient, safer, and more social.
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Old 09-12-2015, 11:52   #12
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

Ventura or Long Beach are great sailing communities. Channel Islands are very close by and wonderful weekend trips. Great scuba diving and just like living in a different country without all of the hassles of getting there. Long Beach harbor has wonderful beer can races that are just crazy fun. Wish you the best of luck and pretty much every one else put in good things for you to contemplate. Make sure mama is happy. You know what they say when mama ain't happy......smile
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Old 09-12-2015, 12:34   #13
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

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Originally Posted by rbfin View Post
Greetings,

I’m looking for advice, and for some guidance if possible. My wife and I live near Park City, UT. We have had great experiences living in many areas of the US and overseas. Along the way, I picked up sailing skills and owned a few boats. Lido 14, Mac 25, Catalina 30, Catalina 36, Mac 26… the boats generally were the right fit for the body of water, lakes, bays, etc. that we were close to. 20 years ago, I got my US Sailing certifications and my first real sailing experience with Club Nautique on the SF Bay with several good friends from work. My sailing career started with the Sailing Merit Badge at a BSA camp in Idaho.

We loved living in CA, particularly in Southern California. I am convinced that a decent sized cruising sailboat in a marina or on a mooring in So Cal would be a great “Second Home” for us. I loved my Catalina 36 and have my eye on the Catalina 400. In particular, I would love to be on a mooring, and herein lie my questions, (I think I know how I would handle things in a marina…):

On a mooring, as a “second home", presuming long weekends at least monthly, and several months in a row in some seasons, I’m not sure how to handle a few important issues related to livability. For instance, how to address very reasonable questions my wife has about important things like staying warm and having a nice shower for instance. To wit, how do we heat a boat on a mooring? What’s the best way to have hot water? How long does 100 gallons of water last when living aboard? How long does 35 gallons of diesel last, and for what amenities and comforts am I running the diesel? How often am I running the diesel for charging, other reasons? What about a genset? I have read about some systems, but I just don’t have an integrated view of what is really required in order to enjoy being on a mooring (vs. tied up to shore power). I haven’t done any Caribbean sailing yet, but it seems like 40’ yachts are reasonably self sufficient there for a week at a time?

And… lest somebody recommend a houseboat 😉 … I love to cruise (and race those beer cans) so the mooring would be home base, while looking forward to cruising Southern California including Catalina and the Channel Islands.

Thanks!

-Richard
Liveaboard you do in the marina. Mooring when sailing. If not your life will be utterly miserable.
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Old 09-12-2015, 12:39   #14
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

A friend of mine lived on the hook at Catalina for three months while he was prepping for Mexico cruise. He would sail to Marina Del Rey about once every 10 days for water and supplies. I believe he had 100 gal of water and 35 gallons of fuel (And a 35 KG rockna for a 38 foot boat) Moorings in Catalina are well maintained and during the winter you pay for two days and get seven.
Let me know if you need any info from around here. I am in Marina Del Rey
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Old 09-12-2015, 12:52   #15
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Re: Liveaboard on a Mooring

All good advice. I talked my wife into living aboard for more than a year three different times... but never on a mooring! But your more modest goal of weekending on a mooring/ sailing is much more doable and actually comes close to more traditional mainstream sailboat use. We were in San Diego for 5 yrs, but at Harbor Island West marina.

Yes, you'll need a little heat. Of course we used electric at the dock, but we installed a 'air tonic' 16,000 BTU diesel heater for anchoring out. It only needed to be set on low (approx 8,000 BTU in San Diego, glad we have the extra umph here in Chesapeake Bay area weekends... burr. It only sips diesel. You might need to fill up once/ twice max a Winter in San Diego. It uses your12v battery to initially start and drawls abt 3.5A while running. So you would need a combo of solar & wind Gen to sustain your batteries (over cloudy days) with having to run engine (not a good idea to put wear and tear on main engine just to keep bats up). But there are 'passive' diesel heats that only use 12v for a very low use micro fuel pump.

Water... again with your goal of weekends you carry enough water for indoor Navy showers, especially over Winter months when you don't want to be wet outside... and with just weekends... how many showers do you really need?? Maybe you'll need to fill water tank every few months.

I'm not keen on generators unless you really need one (Summer air conditioning/ live aboard refrig). I've written many times the quality of life boost a 2000w inverter gives a boat, especially a weekend sailboat. You can warm up your pre-prepared meals you brought from home, power a k-cup coffee machine, warm up tea/ coffee, soup, make popcorn, run big TVs, power almost any shore base convenience. You'll have enough room/ Sun to keep batteries up and even install a wind Gen if you really need the extra juice to bridge a cloudy weekend.

Most boats of the size you are considering (35-40') will have room for rear rail BBQ, and galley stove (maybe even oven). You might have to slightly change your main courses a bit, but we managed to still have 98% with our normal land based meals with boat BBQ, microwave, stove top. You give up long constant indoor cooking (crockpot,...)

Hot water. More and more cruisers/ weekenders are installing propane 'on demand' hot water heaters. Quiet, instant heat up... off. Flip on gas solenoid and gas main valve when you arrive and both off when you leave. Unlimited hot water/ minimal propane use. One 20lb propane tank will likely meet all your cooking, hot water needs for over a year!

TV. The new LED flat TVs and the new digital transmission technology really helps us boaters. We have been able to receive about 40 viewing option almost everywhere we're been... for free! We installed tv in cabin & main saloon. If you can stay with 19"-21" size... they almost always have a 120 to 12v wall-wart supply so it's easy to power direct from your 12v. But for just weekends, we just turn on the inverter... and leave it on 24/7 until we leave. Then life is pretty much business as usual like being at home. You can use bigger 120v TVs if you like, use a drill, soldering gun, (short) use of hair dryer, microwave, k-cup... Yes, some of these will drawl 100+A... but only for a 1-4 minutes and that's ok if you have 10a of solar/ wind to replace these short high loads... only will take a few hours at 20a charging to having batterie fully charged up again.

Battery monitor/ amp-hours. Your best friend as a cruiser/ sailboat weekender is a battery monitor. Highly recommend you install one ASAP after getting your boat. While seeing and learning what your instant loads are... its the digital amp-hour readout that is most useful to keep track of what you have taken out and put back into your batteries. These monitors usually have a dumbed down 'fuel gauge' for quick no brainer monitoring. Being just a weekender... you can actually operate your battery/ loads at a sight loss since the solar (& wind) will have all week to top back off the batteries. With an extra battery or two wired in you may be able to go a whole weekend w/o wind or much/ any solar.

Small refrig. We use a small 12v/ 120v refrig to keep ketchup, mustard, mayo, water, butter... bringing these things to/from a boat on a mooring every weekend gets old fast! If you go with one, you'll have to add solar (maybe wind) to keep it powered at a mooring.

Clothes. Well this might come close to TMI... but if it's just you two... leave a set or two of boat 'over clothes' onboard. Wear clean clothes to the boat... IF you need a change.., swap to what's onboard and then wear them back home Sunday for laundry recycling... it's only a weekend... no one knows you're wearing the same/ last weekend's sweatshirt/ last week's two days in a row! RVer's who are moving to new park everyday... not doing heavy tasks do this as a matter of course. You have something they don't... easy access to a washing machine when you get back home Sunday.

Now... all that said, when I was in San Diego... the marina all the way at the South end of the Bay (Chula Vista?) really wasn't that expensive. By the time you factor in the realistic costs of upgrades to support 100% mooring weekend cost ( Dink, outboard, diesel heater, solar, wind, extra batteries, propane hot water, inverter... you might find the marina option far less expensive the first year or two... and let you ease into the full on-mooring options after a phased period of 'cruising' up-grades... and test period that you really like this weekend lifestyle. Bob


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