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Old 07-09-2015, 12:21   #1
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Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

Hello all,

This is my first post. I am a retired scientist from Los Alamos NM, age 74 and still quite fit. I lived in San Diego for 20 years and want to return. The only way I can afford it now is to live on a boat in a marina. I am considering 36'-42' trawlers to be moored at Chula Vista Marina. It will be mainly for living with some cruising around San Diego Bay and Mission Bay. Maybe an infrequent trip to Catalina. Mainship and Defever trawlers look interesting. Any other suggestions? Oh yes, I have two indoor cats. Any advice regarding the marina, San Diego, trawlers, and live-aboard cats would be most welcome. My budget for the trawler is up to $45K expecting another $15K to bring it to good shape. Thanks in advance. Bob


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Old 07-09-2015, 13:59   #2
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Re: Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

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Originally Posted by bourque View Post
Hello all,

This is my first post. I am a retired scientist from Los Alamos NM, age 74 and still quite fit. I lived in San Diego for 20 years and want to return. The only way I can afford it now is to live on a boat in a marina. I am considering 36'-42' trawlers to be moored at Chula Vista Marina. It will be mainly for living with some cruising around San Diego Bay and Mission Bay. Maybe an infrequent trip to Catalina. Mainship and Defever trawlers look interesting. Any other suggestions? Oh yes, I have two indoor cats. Any advice regarding the marina, San Diego, trawlers, and live-aboard cats would be most welcome. My budget for the trawler is up to $45K expecting another $15K to bring it to good shape. Thanks in advance. Bob

Hi, Bob. Although I lived in California for 14 years, I can't offer any insight on San Diego. I lived in LA and Berkeley. That aside, I always coveted Grand Banks trawlers when I was a kid growing up in Maine.

A few years ago I ran across an interesting site put together by a retired Australian couple who converted an old cray fishing boat into a power passage maker. I'm no longer interested in owning a trawler, yet their story is very interesting. They go into great detail regarding the conversion and how they planned every aspect of their trawler conversion to be an ultimate live-aboard. Many photos. Last time I checked they were cruising Indonesia/South-East Asia. Don't know if they are still out cruising.

Although much easier to buy a used Grand Banks or Defever, you might find their site interesting.

Cruising Under Power Southeast Asia in a Converted Fishing Boat
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Old 07-09-2015, 23:06   #3
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Re: Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

I'm 67 and spent much of my life aboard ships and boats. For me a boat feels more like a home than any house.
At 74, you should move quickly. We never know how much time we have. I would avoid any big project boats. You don't want to be a slave to your boat in retirement.
Los Alamos doesn't sound like it has much water. You might try to meet boat owners in San Diego, maybe join a yacht club. Having some friend to look at boats with you and maybe some boating experience would be helpful.
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Old 08-09-2015, 11:23   #4
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Re: Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

Be sure you get a boat with a slip, getting a slip in San Diego Bay is difficult. There are long waiting lists for some places. There is more choice in Mission bay, but the same holds true there. My info is dated as I tried to find a slip back in '04 and gave up.
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Old 08-09-2015, 14:15   #5
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Re: Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

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Originally Posted by tbodine88 View Post
Be sure you get a boat with a slip, getting a slip in San Diego Bay is difficult. There are long waiting lists for some places. There is more choice in Mission bay, but the same holds true there. My info is dated as I tried to find a slip back in '04 and gave up.

As you state your information is dated. In 2004 there were significant wait lists for slips in most sizes at most marinas.

Most of the waiting lists have dried up impacted by the economic down turn in 2008 and the rise in fuel costs. Also the opening of a new marina in National City a few years ago and rebuilding of the area at the north side of the America's Cup Harbor. For a boat in decent condition I don't think there would currently be much of an issue on finding an open slip somewhere in San Diego Bay.
A liveaboard slip might be an issue.

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Old 08-09-2015, 16:29   #6
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Re: Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

You won't have a problem finding a slip now. Besides Chula Vista, you should consider Pier 32 in National City. It's rates are very similar and it's brand-new with very nice amenities.

You may find that you'd like to be closer to downtown, and if so, the next most cost-effective option is Harbor Island West. It's getting a bit run-down comparatively, but it's the least expensive option north of the bridge.

If you're looking to live in a "walkable" neighborhood ashore, you'll want to go to Shelter Island. Nothing else is within close walking distance to grocery stores, chandleries, or a wide variety of restaurants. Chula Vista is essentially a large campground, Pier 32 is nice but isolated in a commercial port, Harbor Island is pretty but ensconced by the Airport and miles walks from anywhere, and Mission Bay is also very isolated from town. For Shelter Island I think shelter Island cove is the least expensive option.

If you slip in Pier 32, you'll have reciprocal rights at Point Loma marina in town as well if you want to move about for a weekend.

I hear good things about Ranger Tugs, but they're a bit smaller than the trawlers you're looking at. I think they're designed to be trailered which is probably not important to you.

Anyway, I live in San Diego and have slipped in a number of the marinas here (Cabrillo Isle, Harbor Island West, Pier 32, Oceanside, and the downtown moorings) so I'm happy to provide any insight you'd like.

Here's all the local marina's pricing from a study I did last year. The last number is the nominal price/foot. You can google maps the marinas to see where they are:

Marina, phone, 24 Ft. Slip, 30 Ft. Slip, 35 Ft. Slip, 40 Ft. Slip, 45 Ft. Slip, 52 Ft. Slip, End Tie price/foot

California Yacht Marina (619) 422-2595 N/A $376.50 $448.35 $533.60 $625.95 $753.48 $16.70 Ft.
Marina Village (619) 222-1620 $270.00 $337.50 $455.00 $580.00 $663.75 $806.00 N/A
Chula Vista Marina 619-862-2835 $309.60 $405.00 $477.75 $588.00 $717.75 $832.00 17.50 Ft.
Pier 32 1-800-729-7547 N/A N/A $500.40 $612.00 $688.50 $837.20 $21.80 Ft.
Half Moon Anchorage (619) 224-3401 N/A $480.00 $560.00 $680.00 $765.00 $936.00 $20.50 Ft.
Harbor Island West 619-291-6440 $395.00 $487.50 $557.50 $680.00 $765.00 $910.00 $22.00 Ft.
Loews Marina 619-424-4455 $312.00 $510.00 $595.00 $680.00 $765.00 $884.00 N/A
Shelter Island Marina (619) 222-0561 $324.00 $450.00 $603.75 $690.00 $798.75 $949.20 $21-$29 Ft.
Shelter Cove (619) 224-2471 N/A $480.00 $577.50 $700.00 $877.50 $1,178.00 $26.00+$2Ft.
Sun Harbor Marina (619) 222-1167 N/A $525.00 $612.50 $700.00 $787.50 $1,092.00 $21.00+$1Ft.
Bay Club (619)222-0314 N/A $528.00 $596.75 $720.00 $829.35 $1,001.00 $20.35 Ft.
Glorietta Bay Marina (619) 435-5203 ‎ $348.00 $510.00 $630.00 $720.00 $792.00 $1,040.00 $24.86 Ft.
Marina Cortez (619) 291-5985 $360.00 $490.00 $560.00 $720.00 $810.00 $936.00 $18.00 Ft.
Kona Kai (619) 224-7547 $396.00 $495.00 $665.00 $760.00 $855.00 $1,040.00 $27.00+$1Ft.
Sunroad Marina (619) 574-0736 N/A $555.00 $647.50 $760.00 $855.00 $1,154.00 $33.00 Ft.
San Diego Marriott (619) 234-1500 N/A $631.80 $737.10 $842.40 $985.50 $1,172.08 N/A
Cabrillo Isle (619) 297-6222 365 $538.00 $690.00 $852.00 $1,000.00 $1,322.00 $26.00 Ft.
AA Marina 24 Ft. Slip 30 Ft. Slip 35 Ft. Slip 40 Ft. Slip 45 Ft. Slip 52 Ft. Slip End Tie
Oceanside (760) 435-4000 $366.00 N/A $493.00 N/A $623.00 $793.00
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Old 08-09-2015, 16:44   #7
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Re: Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

We lived aboard at Chula Vista Sept '00 - Nov '01 and have lived aboard on Harbor Island (Sunroad Marina) from Sept '10 till now. My wife loves Chula Vista and would prefer to be there.

The folks at the CV marina are nice and accommodating. Shopping is only a mile away in downtown CV where there is everything you need. Old Chula Vista is only 1.5 miles away and has a lot of nice things to do. The big shopping mall is between old CV and the marina.

If you liveaboard in the CV Marina you get full use of the facilities at the CV RV park which is adjacent to the marina. Pool, club house, nice showers, buffet breakfast. The marina complex has a great restaurant with friendly bar. They have a cheap dinner special every night and the marian denizens spend a lot of time there. The restaurant also has live music several nights a week.

Chula Vista Yacht Club, which also has a nice marina, is only about 100-yards down the waterfront walkway and has a very nice clubhouse and facilities. It is cheap to join and they too have a friendly bar.

The CV Marina is on the South Bay bike path which goes all the way thru Imperial Beach (5-miles) to Coronado Island via the Silver Strand. Or, you can head north on the bike path and be in down town San Diego in 12-miles.

There are two good San Diego Trolley stops within a mile of the marina. The SD trolley system is cheap and fast and will take you to Mexico, downtown San Diego or East County in just 30-minutes. The trolley runs every 15-minutes. A senior all day pass is $1.25 or $18 for the month.

The reasons we have not moved back to Chula Vista Marina as liveaboards:

- six miles to open sailing water (north of the Coronado Bridge)
- two miles thru a dredged channel to get into the marina
- only one good marine parts store close by (a small West Marine)
- the 40' and larger liveaboard slips are a 100-yard walk from the parking lot
- 12-miles by bike or car to the big San Diego Public library

I've got to disagree with much that Mstrebe says.

The Chula Vista marinas have large and well cared for city parks north and south of them. The RV park is very high end and caters to the mega-RV crowd. The CV marinas are very well cared for and kept clean and up to date.

We've lived on Harbor Island for five years and consider it in the middle of everything. We ride our bicycles everywhere because the bike path starts at our marina gate and takes us directly to Shelter Island, Pt Loma, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, the downtown waterfront parks, Gaslamp, PETCO field. All within a few miles (except OB/PB). The path is entirely separate from the road and is dead level (except going over to OB).

My favorite bar is on Shelter Island and just 2.25 miles by bike. There are three very good grocery stores and pharmacies within 3-miles by bike.

Shelter Island is a very nice place to live but is also very busy and crowded much of the time. We have an unobstructed view of downtown from our cockpit on Harbor Island East where there are five great restaurants.

We've visited Pier 32 many times and have seriously considered moving there but:
- it is relatively isolated because I-5 and Hwy 54/Sweetwater River separate the marina from shopping and services
- the I-5 road noise is annoying when the W or NW wind is not blowing

Feel free to ask questions or e-mail me for more info.
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Old 08-09-2015, 17:21   #8
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Re: Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

We are pretty happy with Chula Vista Marina, other than being far from the open ocean and all the marine stores near Shelter Island. We came here because it was several hundred a month cheaper to liveaboard.
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Old 19-09-2015, 09:31   #9
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Re: Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

To all those who have given me this valuable advice: THANKS!!! I'm planning a trip to San Diego in a few months, probably just after the first snowfall here in Los Alamos.

Incidentally, I have a 14' all-wood Penn Yan Swift built in 1954 with a 45 hp Mercury Merc 400 built in 1960. An hour from Los Alamos is the 5000 acre Abiquiu Lake, one of the loveliest on earth.
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Old 19-09-2015, 10:26   #10
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Re: Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

Pier 32 in National City is physically isolated in an industrial port. However with Pepper Park next door, the bike path running along the jetty, and the trolley about 1/2 mile away, there is plenty going on. There are a handful of restaurants within walking distance, but you aren't likely to meet anyone else at these small, quiet places.

We realized that we can drive to most places faster from Pier 32 than from Shelter Island because there is no traffic between the marina and I5.

As for the cats, we know one family that keeps their cats indoors on their trawler: we have only seen one of them once. Another woman has installed an electric fence around the railings. It took one of the cats a couple of weeks to decide that the pain just wasn't worth the freedom, but the other one never escaped at all. At any place south of the bridge, there is plenty of open space and an outdoor cat will be mixing with feral cats, skunks, etc. chewing on what is left from the fishers.
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Old 19-09-2015, 20:49   #11
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Re: Living on a trawler in San Diego Bay

You may want to broaden your choice to include Ensenada. Coral has lots of room, lots of lovely live aboards, great amenities at a good price.


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