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Old 01-02-2014, 15:12   #1
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New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

Hi all, just signed up here, seems like the perfect place for answers. A little about me, I am married, have step-son and older dog, paying around 2,200 per month for fancy condo in La Jolla, UTC California. I have had enough of the management here, the noise of students on my roof and in the hallways. I love the beach and have always had an interest in boats and always wanted my own boat for skiing.

Recently have gained and interest in sailing haven't started lessons, just started learning on a simulator. Last weekend we attended the 2014 San Diego boat show and fell in love with a couple of 42' and 47' motor yachts in the price range of 84k to 125k, 1970 thru 1980.

Talking to some people it seems like a really interesting and adventurous way of life, one of these yachts came with a slip in Kona Kai, San Diego. We have decided to really think about this option and are looking for a motor yacht in the price range from 80k to 130k and a length of 40' to 50' with a beam of min 13' to 15'.

Some of our desires are, washer/dryer, descent size kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 to 3 heads with showers, 3 decks with BBQ on deck and ample living space for 3 people. What's really crazy we have been able to find some boats pretty close to these needs. We do realize sacrifices will need to be made in regards to space and personal items.

I guess my main question is advice. what's it really like to live aboard, we like to visit places locally and possible even further if we lived on a boat. I want to learn how to navigate and get really into it. Our rent is up in a few months and thinking really seriously about moving to the water.

Not sure weather to move to marina life or just anchor somewhere. I have a fulltime job in Solana beach, California as a designer, we have 2 cars and my wife is looking for work. not sure of parking situation or any of that stuff.

Do you guys think it is cheaper than owning a house or renting an apartment which in it's self is throwing money away. We do like our showers, so I know a large water tank is required, what do you think size of water tank should be for 3 people to have hot showers each.

Definatly want a power yacht, so we can lift up anchor and cruise to either Catalina or down to Mexico or even crazier cruise to Bahamas, obviously only when I can navigate comfortably. Some of the boats we have seen online have really nice accommodations. Seems like diesel engine is the way to go, not sure of cost of fuel per gallon, and what size generator one needs to maintain power onboard for things like internet, sat tv etc.

I know living in a marina you can hookup to water, power, and some places have free wifi and a bunch of amenities, but at around 1k per month, not sure if its the right path to take. But if you live on anchor there is another set of responsibilities to take into account. More advice in this area would be great.

What about financing, 125k is a lot of money and down payments are 10 to 20% of boat cost, plus interest rates, not sure of percentages, and want to make sure my investment isn't lost, based on current knowledge older power yachts seem to maintain there value somewhat.

What are your opinions on fiberglass hulls versus aluminum or metal. I know one needs to set aside 5 to 10% of boat value for maintenance and this cost can be greatly reduced to like 5% if i do the work myself. Wow I'm going crazy here with typing. but I really need some good advice.

Is there a resource online for locating private yachts in San Diego we can rent for a weak or so to get a feel for it. I know you can rent fancy ones for 180 bucks a night, but would be nice to rent one like what we want, an older one to get a good feel for living aboard.

For know this all I can think off as a start to my questions for living a board a powered yacht. I know there is a lot more to learn, investigate and eventually just do it.
Thanks, Anthony
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Old 01-02-2014, 18:52   #2
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

Been living aboard for 5 years in the Pacific Northwest and absolutely love it. It's the best lifestyle in the world IMO. Like anything else, it's a series of compromises.

If you're addicted to junk, or "stuff" has a stranglehold on you, you'll more than likely never make it a liveaboard.
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Old 01-02-2014, 22:43   #3
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

I was planning on going back and editing my post above, but wan't able to....so, here's a bit more detailed answer from one who has lived aboard for the past 5 years:

Living board is not for all- the reality often eclipses the fantasy. That being said, it is an awesome way of life. First of all, all parties involved must be onboard mentally with the move- it is the most critical thing to consider when moving onboard. Dragging a non-committed person into a liveaboard situation is a slow burning fuse on a keg of dynamite.

Being onboard, one must change their mindset in things big and small. Your kitchen storage space is a fraction of that in a land dwelling. Same for closet space, book space, drawer space, and personal space.

In Southern California, you'll be dockside more than on the hook- especially if you're still working.

As a new vessel owner, expect to be required to obtain some skippered training on a vessel in the 42'+ range. You will find that the purchase price is only a fraction of the overall costs you'll encounter, especially on an older vessel. Mooring, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and more comprise the "hidden costs" you'll encounter.

Above all- SLOW DOWN. Don't rush into something you'll regret later.
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Old 01-02-2014, 23:27   #4
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

I was paying $700 for a slip in a San Diego marina for a 38 foot boat. A 50-footer is going to be a couple hundred dollars more, plus another $200 or so for being a liveaboard, plus the electricity. Perhaps a deeded slip will be less, but it seems you'll likely pay at least $1100. Then add insurance (~1000/year), maintenance (good to budget 10% of the boat's value/year) and fuel (about a gallon of diesel for a few miles in a motor yacht), and your costs may be close to your current condo payment, but with much less space and storage. If you put anything in storage, then it's very likely a zero sum game. If you're thinking about moving because of the rent increase, perhaps you could consider getting a smaller place and getting rid of 50% of your stuff. Then make steps in the next year to continue to downsize and do more boat shopping and researching and sailing. This is what I've been doing over the past 4 years and just bought my boat last year. I only live aboard a couple of days each week because of my big old dog who hates the water, but I realized a while ago what a large leap in mindset it is to untether from land. From your description of needing a large kitchen, lots of water for showers, 2-3 bathrooms, it's not clear what kind of sacrifices you're willing to make. Living on a boat is not everyone's cup of tea and if you're only doing it to save money, you or the other family members might be quite unhappy in a very short time.
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Old 01-02-2014, 23:31   #5
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

Be advised that just because a boat comes with a slip, does not mean its a liveaboard slip. The Liveaboard waiting list in Socal is not a short one. More like years long waiting lists (5 to 10 years in some cases). Moorings might be available sooner, but then you dinghying in every day, which can get a bit old with the 9 to 5 jobs. Hard to explain the wet butt look (dinghy riding is rarely dry).

To simulate living on a boat, try living in your walk-in closet, which will have similar space to the average stateroom/cabin. My entire living space including storage is less then 150 SF. But I love it so.

A 50' boat might have roughly 500 sf total, including all the storage for stuff. Closets (lockers) will be about 24" wide and that's for two peoples clothing.. Large heads are smaller then power rooms on land and that includes the shower. A large galley might have a 4 foot long counter. I have a 12" counter, but use the top companionway step for food prep and dish rack. Some boats do have a washer dryer, though that's coming out of that 500 SF. A large water heater is 11 gallons. Normal is 6 gallons.

Sailing simulators are not so very much like real life. They lack the salt water in the face when sheeting in the jib and the constant shifting of weight to maintain balance as the boat bucks up and down over a close chop. 40 to 50 foot boats are huge when your trying to pull into a slip for the first time or ten. Heck, a 30' boat looks big the first time you dock it.

Factor at least 30 percent extra cost for maintenance on any boat you buy. Some need 50% or more spent. Paying others to work on your boat will get very costly.


Me, I've been a liveaboard cruiser for about 10 years now and love every minute. I'm hoping to never go back to land...
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Old 02-02-2014, 00:39   #6
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

I think it's a great idea.... for some people. You need to figure out if you are one of those people. I LOVE boats and always have but I could never have survived living on board in the days when I had to put on a suit every morning. And it's never as easy or inexpensive as it appears at first.

One thing you said particularly concerns me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnthonyWS View Post
Definatly want a power yacht, so we can lift up anchor and cruise to either Catalina or down to Mexico or even crazier cruise to Bahamas, obviously only when I can navigate comfortably. Some of the boats we have seen online have really nice accommodations. Seems like diesel engine is the way to go, not sure of cost of fuel per gallon, and what size generator one needs to maintain power onboard for things like internet, sat tv etc.
Somewhere near La Jolla to Catalina in conservatively 150 miles round trip. I've never owned a power boat, let alone one 40 ft +, so maybe someone will correct me here, but I doubt you'll get more than two MPG. @ $3.75 a gallon (a guess because I haven't lived on the left coast for several years) + $90 for two nights on a mooring at Catalina. A weekend in Catalina would be at least $370 before you even crack open a beer. And that's nearby. (I'm bias towards sail in case you hadn't figured it out ).

And make sure you have some where to keep your boat before you buy it. Only 10% of slips in CA can be live aboard and, despite what some people will tell you, most are not transferable with the boat. And there aren't a lot of moorings or places to anchor along that coast.

I know this sounds a bit negative; it's not meant to be but you have a steep learning curve just to figure out if this is right for you.

BTW, I don't think anyone is going to rent you a boat without experience. You'll need to find some local classes or other way to gain experience. Start by spending a few nights searching the forums - there's a lot of information out there, including information on many of the things you have asked. Please, note that I said "information, there are no "answers" until you figure them out for your personality and circumstances.

Good Luck
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Old 02-02-2014, 04:41   #7
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Anthony.
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:14   #8
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorchic34 View Post
SNIP
Moorings might be available sooner, but then you dinghying in every day, which can get a bit old with the 9 to 5 jobs. Hard to explain the wet butt look (dinghy riding is rarely dry).

SNIP
Dinghy butt is a fact of life. And forget about docking a 50 being hard the first time. Dinghy bumper cars at the dinghy dock is an experience in and of itself and it never ends no matter how many times you have done it.

But there is a real upside for some folks like me all the little annoyances aside.
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:23   #9
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

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Originally Posted by Geoff54 View Post
SNIP

I doubt you'll get more than two MPG. @ $3.75 a gallon (a guess because I haven't lived on the left coast for several years) + $90 for two nights on a mooring at Catalina. A weekend in Catalina would be at least $370 before you even crack open a beer. And that's nearby. (I'm bias towards sail in case you hadn't figured it out ).


SNIP

Good Luck
Gas at the local stations in the Keys is around $US3.30 and R90 is $US3.99. Of course for me that means firing up the van and driving with five five gallon fuel jugs. But that is the easy part, lugging them back when they are full of R90 is hard on my old, slow, weak body.

Around here fuel at the fuel dock is five dollars a gallon or more what ever you are using, and you still have the enjoyment of risking hitting a dock with a 50 footer.

Is it worth all the hassle, for me definitely.

YMMV
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Old 03-02-2014, 08:54   #10
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

Thanks very much for all the advice. It has all been very helpful
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Old 03-02-2014, 09:32   #11
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

Step 1:

Make a phone call to a few insurance companies and ask them about coverage for a first time boat owner of a '70-'80's 50 footer that is financed....
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Old 03-02-2014, 09:39   #12
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

No way boats are cheaper than anything, except perhaps helicopter skiing.

"what's it really like to live aboard," Simplest way to find out, charter one like that for a week, see how everyone feels at the end.

Of course, a couple of basic courses (sail or power) might be in order before you charter a boat, much less buy one. The whole sail-vs-power decision is a major one too.
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Old 03-02-2014, 09:50   #13
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

A MY in the size and price ranges that you are considering is going to be old.

It is much harder than it used to be to finance older boats.
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:06   #14
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

I think step one would be to get a smaller condo, and buy a smaller boat to get out on the weekends for fun. I don't think living on a boat is going to be cheaper than living in a condo.

Probably a lot cheaper to separate your hobbies from your dwelling, and probably more fun as well.
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:29   #15
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Re: New Live Aboards to be, need advice before commitment

As one who recently went through this I second many of the points here. I've been sailing for over a decade and have done a bunch of charters and crew. Even with that experience I wasn't able to get the insurance coverage I wanted and had to settle for lower coverage. My wife and I debated paying cash vs financing. We found two companies willing to finance a 25 yo boat. Essex and Suntrust. Essex bailed after seeing the survey. Suntrust had no problems with the survey. I was surprised that Essex bailed because the survey wasnt that bad and we were going to fix the major issues right away. Neither would finance without insurance coverage. Fortunately we had the ability to pay cash and financing was more about money management than a have-to-have. Most marinas will require insurance coverage too.

Unless you fix stuff yourself it will be very expensive. If you fix stuff yourself it will just be expensive. If you have to finance to purchase you probably don't have the money to pay someone to do the repairs. If you dont have any experience with boats it is going to take you a while learn how to fix them right. This board is very helpful. I'm very mechanically inclined and the learning curve is still steep. Fortunately for me I like the engineering challenge of figuring out how to do something. If you like working on your own home or cars then you probably have the aptitiude to learn. Expect progress to be slow at first.

I got boat fever 12 years ago and immediately started looking for a boat, on and off for 12 years. It took 10 years before I was finally willing (not sure about ready) and 2 years to find the boat I wanted.

Take your time. The way I see it I had one shot at it. If I blew my money on lemon or lost the good will of my wife it would be hard to take a second shot at it.

Good luck.
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