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Old 23-06-2016, 23:53   #1
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Planning a move to Liveaboard in Pittsburgh

Hi all!

as the title says I'm planning to purchase and move into a liveaboard in Pittsburgh.

Currently:
I live in Portland, OR, I'm moving out there for Graduate school starting this fall (end of August start)
I've been sailing a Newport 28 on the Columbia river out here for 4 years, so I'm not completely new. I've never spent more than a night or two on my boat out here (its just not set up for it and I currently own a house).

I've always toyed with the idea of living on a boat. I can't remember how many times I read through the classified ads daydreaming when I was a kid. I figure since I have to throw away half my stuff (read donate to charity) anyway for the move, why not make it 90% of my stuff and move onto a boat at the same time!

Plan:
I'd always previously planned to live on a Sailboat, but from what I've been looking up (and from the available market in the Pittsburgh area) it looks like since I wont be travelling at all, and will likely have to resell the boat in about 3 years (since I likely wont get my first job in Pittsburgh).

So I'm planning a budget of <35k for the purchase. My target range is is a 26-40 ft cabin cruiser or a 30-36ft sailboat (as I said the availability of sail and my relatively stationary owning seems to favor a cruiser though)

Things I'm paying attention to/planning:
Proper survey and trial prior to purchase of boat.
A/C - its humid and hot in the summers and I'm weak
Heat - So neither I nor the boat freeze
Enclosed shower - I plan to primarily use the marinas facilities, but on the occasion I do use mine I'd greatly prefer this
Fuel type - My current boat is Gas, I'd prefer a Diesel (both for lower fire risk and potential to use a diesel heater and share fuel type) if I can find a solid one, but it looks like in my price range I'll likely be staying with Gas?
Enclosed cabin - or at minimum all interior space enclosed together, no separate entrance to the aft cabin or I wont be able to use that space much in the winter.
Cost - I'm expecting about 6k a year in marina fees for the size I'm looking at and staying in pittsburgh proper. That leaves me up to 500 a month in maint, fuel or repairs to still come out ahead vs renting in the majority of places I was looking.

What other aspects should I be looking at, what have I missed?

Any advice you can give will be greatly appreciated! And I promise I'll be reading anything you take the time to write!

Thank you in advance,
Nate
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Old 24-06-2016, 05:01   #2
vjm
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Re: Planning a move to Liveaboard in Pittsburgh

Talk to the marinas you have in mind and ask what facilities are available in winter. Frequently there is no water, no pump outs, and you have to set up your own system to keep ice clear around the boat. That is if the marina allows you liveaboard in winter. This sounds like total misery to me, but I am not a lover of the cold.
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Old 24-06-2016, 12:11   #3
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Re: Planning a move to Liveaboard in Pittsburgh

Quote:
Originally Posted by vjm View Post
Talk to the marinas you have in mind and ask what facilities are available in winter. Frequently there is no water, no pump outs, and you have to set up your own system to keep ice clear around the boat. That is if the marina allows you liveaboard in winter. This sounds like total misery to me, but I am not a lover of the cold.
I've already checked and 2 of them allow liveaboard full time, I will however check which facilities remain open during the winter!

Thank you,

Nate
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Old 07-01-2017, 20:06   #4
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Re: Planning a move to Liveaboard in Pittsburgh

I grew up in Pittsburgh. I have some advice about the river. You're not gonna like it...

1. If you are going to live aboard in Pittsburgh do NOT bother with a sailboat. There are little to none on the rivers because of the current/debris Also its the city of bridges, 446 in the metro area to be exact and they are all fixed. Downtown the bridges are between 60-80' in the center but up the rivers they are as low as 25-30'.

2. Our rivers are some of the most polluted in the nation. The Ohio River also ranked third for reproductive toxicant discharges like benzene, fourth for cancer-causing discharges like arsenic and fifth for developmental toxicants like mercury. The Monongahela River ranked 17th nationwide for total toxic discharges. The Ohio River ranked first among the nation's waterways for the most toxic discharges, with 31.1 million pounds. Of the "3 rivers" the Allegheny is the best. Green instead of brown. Its the only river that doesn't smell of rot in the heat of the summer. However it is swift and full of debris including cars, planes, and I believe a couple trains they failed to retrieve.
3 If you MUST live on the river check out the marinas near Fox Chapel and Blawnox. The sharp bends ans small islands keep the ice broken up in the winter. Most Pittsburghers who love the wind in their sails keep their boats 3 hours North in Erie or 4 Hours East in Baltimore.
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Old 07-01-2017, 20:18   #5
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Re: Planning a move to Liveaboard in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is NOT a city for sailboats...

You are quite correct on this front. I'm sad (and happy?) to say I came to the same conclusion as I moved deeper into research on this. Bridge heights in the city were actually the breaking point for me (many bridges in the city only have promised clearances around 40 ft) I simply could not find a sailboat I was excited to live on that could make that clearance.

I am however glad to add your additional information behind this decision!

Thank you so much for replying, especially so long after.
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Old 08-01-2017, 04:36   #6
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Re: Planning a move to Liveaboard in Pittsburgh

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Grandure, and klburkett89.
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Old 08-01-2017, 04:58   #7
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Re: Planning a move to Liveaboard in Pittsburgh

Living aboard in the winter in a certifiably cold location has its own collection of unique challenges, none of them insurmountable. If you're flexible and adaptive enough to live on a boat in the first place, doing it in winter is just an incremental step.

Obviously having enough heat is important, it needs to be a built in heater, preferably diesel which is inexpensive to run and safe. Don't even think about loading up your boat with electric radiators; you'll overtax your boat's electrical system and if you have extension cords running to the dock pylon electric, you're asking for a short sooner or later. I've seen more melted plugs on extension cords, rated for the draw of the load, on boats with electric heaters than I can shake a stick at.

Condensation will be an issue, but you'll learn strategies to mitigate it and make it live able. Showering on your boat in the winter, boiling water for pasta, leaving a kettle boiling, all of them can turn your boat into a dripping mess.

The biggest challenge is generally safety, surrounding getting on and off the boat and along the dock when everything is covered with a sheet of ice or snow. It can be challenging and dangerous, and there have been days when I've elected to just stay on the boat rather than risk it. Much depends on the specific circumstance of your type of boat and it's dock.

I will just add that if you're buying a boat to live on to save money vs. rent, you'll probably be disappointed. That $500/month repair/maintenance on a 35' boat you bought for $35k may prove inadequate in the long run, and the compromises you make in order to conceptually save a couple of thousand dollars a year are not inconsiderable. Also, the boat is going to further depreciate during your ownership so you need to factor that into your cost-of-living calculus.

In other words, live on a boat if you're going to go out and use it, and travel, but consider other options if you're just looking for more affordable housing.
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