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Old 06-09-2012, 10:00   #1
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New Here - So Much to Learn - Questions!

Hello all,
I have been reading posts for months trying to figure stuff out. It's actually quite addicting. So many here have a lot of good advice and experience. It's hard to stop reading.

So, here's my story. I know that it will sound a bit crazy, but be gentle, I really do plan to execute this plan and I was hoping to get some feedback from folks who are already living the life.

I have 5 kids (yes 5) and I am ready to take the plunge and move myself and my kids aboard. I honestly do believe that this experience will be amazing for them. My mom will also be joining us. My plan is to do this in 2 years, so that my oldest son can finish 8th grade and start high school fresh in another state. I am also planning to relocate to Miami. My 4 other kids at that time will be entering 6th and 7th grade. (I have twins). My youngest will be 5. After going back and forth for months over size and motor vs. sail, I have decided to get both. I was initially planning on needing a 80-90' boat, but reality set in and as I am new to boating, it wouldn't be feasible to get a boat that big and need crew, ect. So I figured that if I get a 50ish' Trawler, (really like the Defever) and also get a 40ish' Cat (really like the Lagoon 440), then I will have enough space that everyone will have a cabin and plenty of space to spread out, but I will still be able to operate.
The plan is to live in a marina for at least 4 years to get my oldest son through high school (he is the only person in the family in resistance). During this time I can take the kids on weekend trips and school vacation trips and get comfortable with operating both of these boats proficiently and hopefully learn some routine maintenance, troubleshooting etc and take a bunch of classes. Then, when my oldest completes HS and is off to college I can evaluate at that time wether to get the other 3 older kids through HS or homeschool the rest of their time. At some point I will take off and cruise, but I want the kids to go happily or be in college at the time. My youngest son will be home schooled for sure, because there is no way we can wait 12 more years to get him through school.
The marina that I have been looking at actually has an anchorage area right next to it, so I was thinking that I would slip one of the boats and anchor the other for free. That way, my kids will have solid ground to run off and on all day, but will still keep the slip fees down. So here come my questions:

If I am planning to homeschool my youngest eventually, should I enroll him in school until I take off, will probably mean land school for 4 years maybe 5 or 6 or should I just homeschool him right from the beginning so he will be used to it?

I am planning on a Trawler, probably an 80's model for less that $250k and a cat at the same budget, (not sure what year that will put me in). I will then have 4 years to do do upgrades etc, to prepare for my cruising life once I own the boats, so I'm not going to budget for that now. But, I am concerned about maintenance and hauling, bottom paint, breakages, diver and routine stuff. I have budgeted 2k per month, or $24k yearly for both boats. This is NOT including slip fees, food, cable, electric, just maintenance. So, my question is, is that enough for two boats??? $1000 per month per boat.

Should I try and avoid boats that have exterior wood? If it does have teak on the outside what will that mean for maintenance?

One last question,(for now :-) What kind of daily maintenance do I have to worry about. Do I have to fresh water spray the boats every day? Do I have to wash them? Is that once a week? How often do I have to wax them? Do I have to polish crome daily??? Besides general cleaning, do I need to do something with any interior wood that the boat may have? Just not sure about this stuff.

Thanks in advance for any input. Looking forward to your responses.
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Old 06-09-2012, 10:58   #2
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Re: New Here-So much to learn-Questions!

Hi Galaxy Girl, and welcome aboard! Very ambitious plan...maybe too many questions to get detailed responses. I would strongly recommend taking smaller steps in getting your family "on board" rather than buying two very large boats. Many of your other questions are covered very well in the archives, too. Good luck, and I hope you find the right liveaboard situation.
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Old 06-09-2012, 10:58   #3
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Re: New Here-So much to learn-Questions!

Hi Galaxygirl

Welcome to the forum. Anyone who has 5 kids has got my admiration from the start. That's way harder than any boating.
I would encourage you to start off slow. Two large boats is very ambitious. What about a house/flat and a smaller boat that will give you a taste of the lifestyle.
With experience dealing with this you will be in a better position to narrow down what you want.

To answer your questions I live full time at anchor, so the only freshwater rinse we get is when it rains, but on dewy mornings a wipe down helps.
SS only needs a polish every 3-6 months. Interior varnish needs redoing every 5 years. If there is external woodwork often this is left bare with a saltwater scrub occasionally.

There are lots of other jobs, however, an average liveaboard would spend an hour or two per day in maintance, with a couple of weeks per year in more concentrated jobs like antifouling.
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:25   #4
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Re: New Here - So Much to Learn - Questions!

way too ambitious a plan. highly recommend you start out with one boat. and although i'm a life long sailboat owner, i suggest you consider a large powerboat first. they generally have more liveaboard space than a sailboat and with seven people aboard you're going to need space.

forget miami. having lived there for twenty five years i can assure you it's no longer a family friendly place where you might want to raise children. go a bit north. north of fort lauderdale if you like, or my personal preference, north of west palm beach. or consider the florida keys or even the west coast of florida.
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:31   #5
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Re: New Here - So Much to Learn - Questions!

I have enough trouble keeping up with one boat and the tender; doubt I could come anywhere close to keeping up everything on two...

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Old 06-09-2012, 12:33   #6
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Re: New Here - So Much to Learn - Questions!

Welcome, Galaxygirl,

Time on the water, on different kinds of boats, will give you the perspective to order and organize your questions. Do you know what your oldest son's concerns and fears are? What experience does your family have with sailing, or with different sorts of living arrangements? How did you and your mom come to your interest in living aboard?
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Old 06-09-2012, 13:29   #7
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Re: New Here-So much to learn-Questions!

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Hi Galaxygirl

Welcome to the forum. Anyone who has 5 kids has got my admiration from the start. That's way harder than any boating.
I would encourage you to start off slow. Two large boats is very ambitious. What about a house/flat and a smaller boat that will give you a taste of the lifestyle.
With experience dealing with this you will be in a better position to narrow down what you want.

To answer your questions I live full time at anchor, so the only freshwater rinse we get is when it rains, but on dewy mornings a wipe down helps.
SS only needs a polish every 3-6 months. Interior varnish needs redoing every 5 years. If there is external woodwork often this is left bare with a saltwater scrub occasionally.
Thanks for the info. Would you mind elaborating on daily jobs for liveabords?
So I guess exterior teak floors and such isn't a big deal to care for.
There are lots of other jobs, however, an average liveaboard would spend an hour or two per day in maintance, with a couple of weeks per year in more concentrated jobs like antifouling.
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Old 06-09-2012, 13:43   #8
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Re: New Here-So much to learn-Questions!

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Thanks for the info. Would you mind elaborating on daily jobs for liveabords?
So I guess exterior teak floors and such isn't a big deal to care for.
There are lots of other jobs, however, an average liveaboard would spend an hour or two per day in maintance, with a couple of weeks per year in more concentrated jobs like antifouling.
Even a large boat is a small area so domestic jobs like, for example, cleaning floors are quick.
On the other hand boat systems like water, electricity, fuel, motor and sewerage are more complex and less reliable than home systems
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Old 06-09-2012, 13:45   #9
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Re: New Here - So Much to Learn - Questions!

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Welcome, Galaxygirl,

Time on the water, on different kinds of boats, will give you the perspective to order and organize your questions. Do you know what your oldest son's concerns and fears are? What experience does your family have with sailing, or with different sorts of living arrangements? How did you and your mom come to your interest in living aboard?
My mom lived on a sailboat for 6 months in the Carribean. We honestly don't have sailing experience. I've always had a fascination with the ocean. I had a waterfront home for a while but sold it to move to a more desirable school system. I'm a real estate investor so my kids have lived in several different homes. All of which were gutted and renovated before we moved in. I also have several rentals and have been dealing in renovation of homes for 15 years, so I'm not afraid of a maintenance, my whole life is maintenance. I do admit that boats and houses are very different, but I didn't know anything about renovating homes when I first jumped into that either, so I figure I will get through the learning curve. Mostly just trying to get a realistic expectation of what gets spent yearly maintaining them.
I couldn't do a houseboat, they don't move. I might as well just pick up another waterfront...LOL
I'm looking forward to short trips with my kids, but I can't jamb every one into a boat that is too small for day to day living at the marina. I could go larger with more cabins, but then I wouldn't be able to run it without crew and I definitely don't want to be in a nice big boat, but stuck. So, 2 boats seem the best solution.

My oldest son hates any kind of change, but the others would take off now if they could.
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Old 06-09-2012, 14:40   #10
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Re: New Here - So Much to Learn - Questions!

I don't live aboard but my last and current boat were/are 38' sailboats. It sounds like by the time you can drop the lines you will have a smaller crew. It seems to me that sailing is the way to go if you're going to be cruising. If I were in your shoes I'd say pick up a house in the Canaveral or Ft. Pierce area and pick up a big cat (~40'). You can learn the ins and outs of sailing and maintenance while having enough room for your current crew for weekend/week trips. The area isn't far from the Bahamas and the keys and also provides some nice inter-coastal areas for kicking around. You might do some research in that area. The costs are much more realistic than West Palm/Miami/Keys. Then when you're closer to dropping your lines to cruise you will be familiar with what both the boat and you can do. And I would be surprised if you can't find a cat that can accommodate your crew. The power boat seems more applicable to a long term goal of cruising the coast and rivers and staying for extended periods in ports of destination. Fuel expense will be of prime concern. Although cheaper on a trawler than most any other power boat it still doesn't hold a candle to wind power. Plus I would much rather go sailing blue water than do so in a trawler as I'd feel much safer on the sailboat. Just my $.02 and there are probably trawler owners who feel the opposite and may be quite content. Just not me.
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Old 06-09-2012, 14:53   #11
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Re: New Here - So Much to Learn - Questions!

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forget miami. having lived there for twenty five years i can assure you it's no longer a family friendly place where you might want to raise children. go a bit north. north of fort lauderdale if you like, or my personal preference, north of west palm beach. or consider the florida keys or even the west coast of florida.
If you want to aim north of West Palm Beach, Port St Lucie is nice. If I was going to raise a family though and I didn't need to work near a big city(big if), I'd aim at Vero Beach.

Pick up a house on the cheap in Vero, it's a nice area with a lot of families. Then park a decent size sailboat at the Vero marina which has slip/mooring fees that won't kill me. Then spend the summers taking the entire family down to the keys or Bahamas until the older ones go to college.

After that take the boat and go, maybe rent out the house or flip the house and boat, buy something more to what I want in long term cruising and take off.

Only downside is that the mid east coast of Florida sucks for weekend sailing. If you want to do that then I'd pick Tampa.
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Old 06-09-2012, 16:58   #12
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If you want to aim north of West Palm Beach, Port St Lucie is nice. If I was going to raise a family though and I didn't need to work near a big city(big if), I'd aim at Vero Beach.

Pick up a house on the cheap in Vero, it's a nice area with a lot of families. Then park a decent size sailboat at the Vero marina which has slip/mooring fees that won't kill me. Then spend the summers taking the entire family down to the keys or Bahamas until the older ones go to college.

After that take the boat and go, maybe rent out the house or flip the house and boat, buy something more to what I want in long term cruising and take off.

Only downside is that the mid east coast of Florida sucks for weekend sailing. If you want to do that then I'd pick Tampa.
Thanks for the info. I guess my logic for Miami is that we need lots of diversity and culture in our lives. We will be coming from a major city (VERY EXPENSIVE) so I know that there will be no sticker shock in that regard. I've actually already researched the price of a slip and not worried about that. My main questions are more about day to day routines.

Your right though, I could just rent a place and buy a boat for weekends, but that would be so unexciting. I guess I feel like I've paid my dues, and plenty of it, now I'm ready to have some real fun. Tired of conforming. Tired of mainstream. I've never really been the "in the box" type, but I'm still very ready to break completely free.

I can certainly admit that I wish that I had been owning boats and boating for years, so I would have the tough experience stuff over with, but I have been very busy all these years and after busting my butt, it's now time that we reap some of the reward. I don't ever want to look back and say I should have done that.
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Old 06-09-2012, 17:04   #13
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I don't live aboard but my last and current boat were/are 38' sailboats. It sounds like by the time you can drop the lines you will have a smaller crew. It seems to me that sailing is the way to go if you're going to be cruising. If I were in your shoes I'd say pick up a house in the Canaveral or Ft. Pierce area and pick up a big cat (~40'). You can learn the ins and outs of sailing and maintenance while having enough room for your current crew for weekend/week trips. The area isn't far from the Bahamas and the keys and also provides some nice inter-coastal areas for kicking around. You might do some research in that area. The costs are much more realistic than West Palm/Miami/Keys. Then when you're closer to dropping your lines to cruise you will be familiar with what both the boat and you can do. And I would be surprised if you can't find a cat that can accommodate your crew. The power boat seems more applicable to a long term goal of cruising the coast and rivers and staying for extended periods in ports of destination. Fuel expense will be of prime concern. Although cheaper on a trawler than most any other power boat it still doesn't hold a candle to wind power. Plus I would much rather go sailing blue water than do so in a trawler as I'd feel much safer on the sailboat. Just my $.02 and there are probably trawler owners who feel the opposite and may be quite content. Just not me.
That was some of my back and forth. Gas vs comfort. The trawler has amazing space and is like a house on the water. It would be a great live aboard for us, but hard to get past the idea of sailing for almost free when taking long trips. I guess that's why I decided to just get both of them. I can take the Trawler for quickie trips and weekend jaunts and the Cat if I'm taking off for the summer. The best of both worlds. Then when I'm sitting tight and the kids are in school we will have both boats to live in so we'll have plenty of space.
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Old 06-09-2012, 17:16   #14
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Re: New Here - So Much to Learn - Questions!

Would it really be nuts to have 2 boats to live aboard??? How bad would it really be and why??? Has anyone ever done this??? Maybe I should start a new thread.
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Old 06-09-2012, 17:53   #15
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Re: New Here - So Much to Learn - Questions!

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Would it really be nuts to have 2 boats to live aboard??? How bad would it really be and why??? Has anyone ever done this??? Maybe I should start a new thread.

I just don't see how you could possibly do it. I live on a 31' by myself. I don't have to take care of small children, or supervise homework, or work out transportation so kids can be with their friends, and it's just about a full time job just to live my own life and take care of the boat.

Especially with the sailboat, but also with a trawler, consider what it would take for a weekend cruise: the personal possessions of SEVEN people would have to be secure from a sudden wake, or heeling.

Do you have the mechanical skills to take care of two boats with two engines, two sanitation systems, etc?

I think you would be much better off to find a home on the water and one boat to take weekend cruises on. Smaller spaces are much more tolerable for a weekend, especially when you consider that that sulking teenager can go up to the bow to be by himself for a while.

But then, some of them will inevitably want to bring friends along, and that's just normal. Kids bunch up with their friends like lemmings -- and they're supposed to.

I understand the dream completely but I'm not so sure that now is the time for it.
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