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Old 14-09-2011, 22:16   #1
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Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

Hello,

I'm 27, stably employed, and I've wanted to have and live aboard a beautiful sailboat since I was quite young. I've been considering switching from an apartment to a boat at a local marina, and I have many questions.

I had a dinghy when I was a teenager and sailed that quite a bit, but I know that a full sized sailboat is an entirely different beast. I've never had to crank a winch, let alone repair one, or man a forty foot craft by myself. My knowledge of the rights of way is fuzzy at best and even then only enough of the simplified basics to get me run over by a tanker.

So, where should I start? And at what point will I be ready to safely man my own boat? How can I learn best without spending a lot of $$?

What is financing like for the young? I make ~35k and can live well within my means, but save poorly. I don't intend to buy some $150k yacht, but something in the $40k range seems like it would be quite sufficient. From my experience with even a small sized sailboat, parts are ridiculously expensive and there's always something more that can be done. How much should I expect to spend in yearly upkeep, barring utter catastrophe for a basic ~35'er?

How difficult is it to secure a good mooring which accommodates living aboard? I'm in the Seattle area and there are plenty of marinas around. Full marinas. Would it be best to buy a boat which comes with a slip? And how comparable is renting dock space to renting an apartment?

So basically, how can I do this on the cheap, with little experience, and not totally screw myself?

Thanks!
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Old 14-09-2011, 22:38   #2
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Re: Living-aboard for the young and inexperienced

Well, what do you spend on an apartment? You could rent for a little while and get the feel for it. These are expensive but every once in a while something tiny comes up cheap.

seattle apts/housing for rent classifieds "houseboat" - craigslist
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Old 14-09-2011, 23:52   #3
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Re: Living-aboard for the young and inexperienced

if u wanna live aboard, buy a boat, ditch your excess crap and move aboard.

u can expect to initially a bit more to live aboard than you do to rent. once u get accustomed to living aboard you will spend about 75% of your seattle rent.

you cant really get a roommate while living aboard

it takes a bit to get the hang of cooking on board so, when you 1st move on you will eat out more and take more cabs etc.

if you wanna sail too... well that changes the profile of the boat you are gonna buy. meaning... u can buy a nicely equipped sailing ready 32 and have a few more challenged adjusting to living on or a 36-38 that needs work to b ready to sail but easier to move onto.

PM me and i will talk to you in whatever level of detail you like.

in the mean time... go visit a marina and find a boat to go out on.

-steve
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Old 15-09-2011, 06:15   #4
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Goon.

For starters, you might check out the New Boater Class, and free seminars, at the Seattle chapter of the United States Power Squadron:
Seattle Sail & Power - Boating classes for fun & safety + vessel exams

Seattle Sail & Power - New boater safety classes for Washington license
Seattle Sail & Power Squadron - Free Seminars
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Old 15-09-2011, 07:24   #5
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

I might also suggest you DO hang out at the local marina and see if you can't crew on a sailboat to get the experience of sailing. I did this prior to purchasing my Cat and found it to be a tremendous amount of experience first hand under pressure. The understanding captain was quite happy to have an extra set of hands as well as understood that I was inexperienced. I got a free lunch and free lessons as well as a fantastic ride. As you get more experience you can move up in boat size or competitiveness. If you get good at it you start to get phone calls to join short handed crews to race and, on occasion, a delivery. This will give you a great deal of experience as well as life aboard a boat and maintenance issues. I learned a great deal from this experience prior to buying that I feel was invaluable when looking to purchase. It also gave me a list of friends in boating that I could tap for advice. Something the community is well known for.

Steve in Solomons MD
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Old 15-09-2011, 08:57   #6
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

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Originally Posted by Goon View Post
What is financing like for the young?
Pretty horrid. Usually the easiest option is to save up several grand and buy an older 28-30ft boat. The down side is you'll be on a smaller, older boat and it might take a year or two of eating ramen to get onboard. The up side is you won't even be 30 years old and you'll own your own home.

I know it sounds lame, but really, search around for Catalina 30's. They make good liveaboards and since so many were made, they're a dime a dozen.

First steps would be to check the local marinas and get some idea about what's involved in live aboarding in your area. In some areas it's easier than others. Take some classes or beg people to take you out and teach you. Start saving up and start studying about how to fix things. They buy the boat and move aboard her.

It's not a complex thing. You'll learn as you go.
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Old 15-09-2011, 09:30   #7
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

oh yeah... another thing

take the time in advance to 'master' boat terminology. i would suggest that you dont need to know how to sheet a main the 1st time you step on a friendly sailor's boat, but you dont want to be running to the bow when the captain is talking about the main.

i wish i was more knowledgeable about what lines did what and where i would expect to find them prior to my 1st 'big boat' adventure. i was not (and you should not be) shy about asking questions and i NEVER did anything i was not 100% sure about but, all the same, it was easier to ask about how to set the spinnaker pole than to ask what a spinnaker pole was. know what i mean?

and buy a good pair of sailing gloves. ropes & hands are not bedfellows.
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Old 16-09-2011, 17:48   #8
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

I like Lauder-boy's advice above. Success is well within your reach,- we all started out "young and in manure"!
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Old 16-09-2011, 17:54   #9
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

Thank-you all. I'll definitely be looking for the cat-30s and checking out the local Sail and Power courses. Maybe by next year I'll be living the dream
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Old 16-09-2011, 17:55   #10
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goon View Post
Hello,

I'm 27, stably employed, and I've wanted to have and live aboard a beautiful sailboat since I was quite young. I've been considering switching from an apartment to a boat at a local marina, and I have many questions.

I had a dinghy when I was a teenager and sailed that quite a bit, but I know that a full sized sailboat is an entirely different beast. I've never had to crank a winch, let alone repair one, or man a forty foot craft by myself. My knowledge of the rights of way is fuzzy at best and even then only enough of the simplified basics to get me run over by a tanker.

So, where should I start? And at what point will I be ready to safely man my own boat? How can I learn best without spending a lot of $$?

What is financing like for the young? I make ~35k and can live well within my means, but save poorly. I don't intend to buy some $150k yacht, but something in the $40k range seems like it would be quite sufficient. From my experience with even a small sized sailboat, parts are ridiculously expensive and there's always something more that can be done. How much should I expect to spend in yearly upkeep, barring utter catastrophe for a basic ~35'er?

How difficult is it to secure a good mooring which accommodates living aboard? I'm in the Seattle area and there are plenty of marinas around. Full marinas. Would it be best to buy a boat which comes with a slip? And how comparable is renting dock space to renting an apartment?

So basically, how can I do this on the cheap, with little experience, and not totally screw myself?

Thanks!
Personally I think it's unrealistic to think you can, with your experience, single-hand a 35' sailboat. In addition, the bigger the boat, the bigger the expenses. Everything is bigger -- the lines, the winches, the sails -- everything. That means bigger costs when they inevitably have to be repaired or replaced. The bigger the boat, the more it costs to have the bottom cleaned. If you're in a warm climate, that's every single month. If you live in a colder climate, you have to think about what it will cost to prepare the boat for the winter, wrap it, etc., and whether you're wiling to live on a wrapped boat. Will you keep it in the water over the winter? If so you're going to be very isolated. Very few people will join you. How safe will that be?

A 35' boat will not work with an outboard. What do you know about diesel engines?

Are you sure you need that much boat? I live happily on a 31'.

Finally, you really should think about what potential dates/mates will think about this lifestyle. At my age I get to be eccentric. It's harder to pull that off when you're young.
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Old 17-09-2011, 05:25   #11
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

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Personally I think it's unrealistic to think you can, with your experience, single-hand a 35' sailboat. In addition, the bigger the boat, the bigger the expenses. Everything is bigger -- the lines, the winches, the sails -- everything. That means bigger costs when they inevitably have to be repaired or replaced. The bigger the boat, the more it costs to have the bottom cleaned. If you're in a warm climate, that's every single month. If you live in a colder climate, you have to think about what it will cost to prepare the boat for the winter, wrap it, etc., and whether you're wiling to live on a wrapped boat. Will you keep it in the water over the winter? If so you're going to be very isolated. Very few people will join you. How safe will that be?

A 35' boat will not work with an outboard. What do you know about diesel engines?

Are you sure you need that much boat? I live happily on a 31'.

Finally, you really should think about what potential dates/mates will think about this lifestyle. At my age I get to be eccentric. It's harder to pull that off when you're young.
The last paragraph is the reason why you'd want a 35'

For stuff you don't know, read the manuals - they really help.
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Old 17-09-2011, 06:09   #12
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

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The last paragraph is the reason why you'd want a 35'

For stuff you don't know, read the manuals - they really help.
For beginners, "Sailing for Dummies" is actually a very good book. Honest.
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Old 17-09-2011, 06:52   #13
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

I'm early 30's, had no savings to start with, no experience at all. Saved up for a little over a year (although I actually tried to save up the year before that but it didn't work out) and managed to put 10k in the bank. Sailed a dingy for that year as well to keep me motivated. Took some lessons. Bought a 30' boat on the east coast and moved aboard. Singled handed it 5 days down the chesapeake without ever sailing bigboats more than a few days prior... It's not that difficult.

35 foot would not be too big. But it does cost a little more for a slip and haulout, and boatparts are a size or two bigger than a 30 footer, so they're a lot more expensive... But as for the boat size itself, as a noob, with no experience, you'll be fine as long as you get out and sail with somebody once or twice and learn how to handle docking it by yourself. It just takes a little practice. everything just takes practice...

30 feet is very small to live on, but it's not 'uncomfortable' by any means. I've been aboard my boat for close to 3 months now, and I'm just now figuring things out that make it a little more comfy and easier to manage. the most difficult thing (which was actually really easy to do, but difficult to imagine) is how much stuff you're going to have to get rid of... You really have to live with essentials only. On a 34 footer, it'd be an entirely different story.

Save up, get a little experience, own the boat outright, and just go for it. You'll be fine.
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Old 17-09-2011, 07:15   #14
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

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Originally Posted by callmecrazy View Post
I'm early 30's, had no savings to start with, no experience at all. Saved up for a little over a year (although I actually tried to save up the year before that but it didn't work out) and managed to put 10k in the bank. Sailed a dingy for that year as well to keep me motivated. Took some lessons. Bought a 30' boat on the east coast and moved aboard. Singled handed it 5 days down the chesapeake without ever sailing bigboats more than a few days prior... It's not that difficult.

35 foot would not be too big. But it does cost a little more for a slip and haulout, and boatparts are a size or two bigger than a 30 footer, so they're a lot more expensive... But as for the boat size itself, as a noob, with no experience, you'll be fine as long as you get out and sail with somebody once or twice and learn how to handle docking it by yourself. It just takes a little practice. everything just takes practice...

30 feet is very small to live on, but it's not 'uncomfortable' by any means. I've been aboard my boat for close to 3 months now, and I'm just now figuring things out that make it a little more comfy and easier to manage. the most difficult thing (which was actually really easy to do, but difficult to imagine) is how much stuff you're going to have to get rid of... You really have to live with essentials only. On a 34 footer, it'd be an entirely different story.

Save up, get a little experience, own the boat outright, and just go for it. You'll be fine.

Here's the best advice I ever got for docking single-handed.

It's all about having the boat under control in the slip in spite of currents, wind, waves, passing boats, etc.

Put up a line on one side of the boat -- generally you want it on the side OPPOSITE the direction of the most typical winds in your area, but You'll have wind from every point at one time or another, so have your boat hook handy.

This line should go from your aft piling to your forward piling or cleat. It should have a figure-8 loop in about the middle. You want a carabiner within that loop. Either side of that knot serves as a spring line. Spring lines keep the boat from drifting either into the seawall or dock in front of you, or back out into the fairway/channel.

Also, you put a harp-shaped shackle on your toerail. It can be attached to the base of a stanchion.

You bring in the boat (slowly), use reverse for your final brake, and gallop to that shackle, grab the line, and clip the carabiner to the harp shackle -- before your boat hits whatever is in front of you.

Badda bing badda boom, your boat is secure. It can't go into the seawall, and it can't go into the fairway. You're safe in your slip and can take your time with the other lines. You'll be able to reach them all with your boat hook because you left them within boathook distance before you ever left the dock. (And you didn't leave them dangling in the water where they can wrap themselves around your propeller. This important, because your ALL of your line is in love with your propeller and will do anything it can to be with it.)

If the wind is hard on your stern, you stop the boat before the boat is completely in the slip so you have time to grab that carabiner before the wind pushes you into whatever is in front of you. Once you have that carabiner in your hand, you can use either end of that springline to pull the carabiner and the harp shackle together.

To fit this line, you start with the carabiner in the harp shackle. Then you set both ends so that it can do what it needs to do. There will be enough slack that you can unclip it, but keep it tight enough to keep you off whatever is in front of you.

The variant on this when you come into a different slip or at a transient dock, is a long line attached amidships with a baggage tie so you have two ends. You stop yourself where you need to, grab either end of the baggage tie and loop it around a piling. The bow and stern can swing to an extent, but the boat isn't going anywhere. Call the dockmaster ahead of time to fid out if you'll be tying up on your port or starboard side so you can have that line ready ahead of time.

For a storm you don't want to rely on that docking line. You'll want longer springlines. But as a docking aid it can't be beat.
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Old 17-09-2011, 08:34   #15
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Re: Living-Aboard for the Young and Inexperienced

always give the tanker room. it takes three miles for a tanker to stop at best and they maneuver poorly... OH and you will quickly find out that a weekend warrior (easy to spot) knows or cares absolutely nothing about "right of way". they will cut in front of you 50 feet away at 30 knots throwing a three foot wake. avoid them too...

the older the boat the harder it is to get financing especially if you list it as your primary residence so don't tell them you plan to live aboard. they figure boats can sail off into the sunset without paying.

repairs and maintenance costs?? depends on the condition of the boat you buy. the rougher the condition the more it will cost. if you are good at scrounging and searching for deals you can cut those costs quite a bit. ie: used parts off derelict boats (marinas do part out these boats), finding good deals on Amazon or Ebay happens too...

contact marinas about derelict boats. they range from decent condition to wrecks. most if not all will need at least some work but usually you can get real good deals on these.

if your looking for a 'move in condition' boat look at Pacific Sea Craft or Watkins (there are more just don't remember right now). these are wide beam 27 to 31 footers. pretty comfortable and roomy (because of the beam) for their size. they are stout proven passage makers and fairly easy to handle solo although slow sailers. can be found in your price range.
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