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Old 22-09-2012, 21:22   #1
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Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

Hi all! Long time lurker and new member here from landlocked Montana! First off, please forgive my ramblings as English was never one of my better subjects and I'm not particularly fluent in my typing.
A little about me. Used to live in North Carolina, where I did alittle sailing while stationed at Camp Lejeune. Now I have moved back to Montana after I got out in 2008.
Last winter I decided I hate the snow and gotta get outta this place. I don't have much tying me here except my job, which isn't a real great one to begin with. So after searching for a good place to live I'm thinking I'd really like the US Virgin Islands. I have restaurant experience and have heard that restaurant jobs aren't too difficult to get there, plus it being a US territory no special paperwork is needed. My girlfriend of the last 3 1/2 years will be going with me.

So heres my plan I've been working on. In the next year to year in a half I will be buying a used sailboat, between 28-32'. This I feel is the sweet spot in regards to cost and the cost of maintenance/upkeep, and being small enough to be sailed singlehanded or with one other crew- the g/f. BTW, she has nothing tying here to staying here either.

My thinking is buying a used boat, I've seen some- what look like- good deals on sailboats on Craigslist and yachtsworld. My price range is only 5k-6.5k, at most 7k. I'm not afraid of doing alot of work on it myself as far as repairs go- I'm working as a carpenter right now.
Some examples up on Craigslist right now:
Sailboat, 30ft Pearson
32' Irwin Sailboat
1981 Hunter "Cherubini" 25' Sailboat
Columbia 27ft Sailboat 1978
1975 35' Coronado Center Cockpit Sailboat
Theses are just a few of the ones I looked at. WHats your opinion of boats like these? Are they worth buying and spending a few grand to fix up? By few, I mean one or two BTW.

What I'd like to do, is buy the boat, haul it out, do whatever major repairs need done to make it seaworthy, repaint the bottom if needed and then put it back in the water and sail it down the coast to Florida and over to the Caribbean, making my way slowly south to DR, PR, and finally to U.S.V.I. Ideally I'd like to find a mooring that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, or even a slip- though I'm guessing they are hard to come by in the Virgin Islands.

I have a few questions I'd like answered, and any and all help and constructive criticism would be appreciated. Oh, and BTW I have spent large amounts of time at sea, 8 months at a time. Granted it was a very much larger boat- and LHD, but I loved it. One of the reasons I want to do this is I'm an explorer at heart and love the sea. Also I'm an avid SCUBA diver. Oh, and my girlfriend and I lived in a small 14' tow behind travel trailer for 3 years, even during the winter, so we are used to living in a small space. So, the questions:

1. Is living "on the hook" a viable option? Can I just take the dingy to shore to go to work? Probably join a yacht club to tie up at? Are their plentiful mooring fields I can tie onto that I can stay at for a month at a time?

2. What do most do during hurricanes? Find a hole? Haul the boat out? Weather it out at sea? Spend hurricane season somewhere else?


These two questions mostly apply to the Virgin Islands- I know there are some frequent posters to the forum from there

Questions concerns comments? Thanks for putting up w/ my rambling. Oh, and go gentle. Let the games begin
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Old 23-09-2012, 02:21   #2
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

I can't help with your specific questions - but your overall plan sounds well in the ballpark .

Hopefully wiser heads will arrive shortly - or failing that folk who will simply give you a few more thread bumps .

Welcome to CF .
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Old 23-09-2012, 03:15   #3
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

This is a great forum so best wishes and welcome to a fellow vet! I suggest you try out the owners forums for the types of boats you are considering to see what the recurrent issues are. Might also consider buying a boat already in the Caribbean. There are a lot of people on smaller live aboard boats in the Caribbean and certainly not all of them bluewater boats. If you just want a light coastal cruiser, Hunters do make good liveaboards. We previously had a 1985 and for living on it was laid out well. Also go to Noonsite and check out their USVI page for regulatory specifics and get a cruising guide for the USVI. Lots of mooring fields in the BVIs (we spent 3 months there) but I don't know about the USVIs. In the BVIs $20 to 30 per night! Another good place to look for ads is in the back of Good Old Boats magazine (I think they may be on their website as well). Be sure to get a "local boater" decal from the US Coast Guard before you set out as it will save some hassle with check in. Having trouble posting so if there turn out to be 3 of these my apologies.
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Old 23-09-2012, 04:04   #4
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

Found this thread in the Liveaboard Forum in case you haven't seen it yet:
Working in USVI's Realistic ?
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Old 23-09-2012, 05:20   #5
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While there are many sailboats in the 32' range for sale, (my choice currently) there are really not any I have seen that are ready to set sail into blue water. Your price range will only afford you a coastal cruiser that needs lots of work.

I would secure jobs, purchase a pair of one way tickets, have a savings account large enough to live off for a few months and a pair of tickets back to the States if the job falls through. Money will spend fast in a strange place.

There is a K-Mart there. Get a job at your local K-Mart and take management classes from them. In 18 months of being the best employee you can be, apply for a transfer to the V. I. Would not have to be K-Mart, any big company with locations there.

Once on the island, with a good steady job, lots of coastal cruisers will present themselves.
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Old 23-09-2012, 09:57   #6
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

If you want to stay in your price range, you would def be better off buying a boat already in the USVI that may not be ready to sail, but is ready to live aboard. The ones you're looking at are good boats, but to get them ready to sail from the mainland to the USVI will probably coast you more than you want to spend. Get one thats already down there and then you can fix her up as you go along without having to commit massive amounts of money all at once and leaving yourself short. BTW, who where you with while you were in the Corps? I was at Lejune myself at that time.
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Old 23-09-2012, 11:46   #7
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

Thanks for the replies everybody. Wanted to add, I plan on taking some more advanced sailing lessons before doing it, and my girlfriend will also be working, so we'll have two incomes. Also, we are young so don't mind doing "lower" jobs like washing dishes and waiting on tables- though I'm more inclined to be a prep cook or line cook.
Maybe I can volunteer as crew for someone doing something similar?

If I wait to find that mythical perfect boat I'll be here in Montana forever. I want to just do it and get out there and make it happen.

I plan on making the passage from FL to the VI after hurricane season, so I can take my time while I'm in the islands.

I was at Camp Lejeune from 2004 till 2008. I was with 2nd BN 2nd Marines. My brother in law was their at the same time as well- he was with artillery as a radio operator.

Another option besides working I forgot to say; I can use my Montgomery GI bill to attend university there.

Oh, and David Old Jersey, I had to click on your avatar just because it said not to.
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Old 23-09-2012, 11:53   #8
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by MTLandlocked View Post
Thanks for the replies everybody. Wanted to add, I plan on taking some more advanced sailing lessons before doing it, and my girlfriend will also be working, so we'll have two incomes. Also, we are young so don't mind doing "lower" jobs like washing dishes and waiting on tables- though I'm more inclined to be a prep cook or line cook.
Maybe I can volunteer as crew for someone doing something similar?

If I wait to find that mythical perfect boat I'll be here in Montana forever. I want to just do it and get out there and make it happen.

I plan on making the passage from FL to the VI after hurricane season, so I can take my time while I'm in the islands.

I was at Camp Lejeune from 2004 till 2008. I was with 2nd BN 2nd Marines. My brother in law was their at the same time as well- he was with artillery as a radio operator.

Another option besides working I forgot to say; I can use my Montgomery GI bill to attend university there.

Oh, and David Old Jersey, I had to click on your avatar just because it said not to.
Recon! I was attatched to 1st BN 2nd Marines. We sure as hell chewed the same dirt, and were in the same fights. Semper Fi Brother.
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Old 23-09-2012, 11:55   #9
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

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Recon! I was attatched to 1st BN 2nd Marines. We sure as hell chewed the same dirt, and were in the same fights. Semper Fi Brother.
I'm sure we did! Semper Fi back!
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Old 23-09-2012, 11:58   #10
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

This one looks like a heck of a deal...
View Boat Photos - YachtWorld.com
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Old 23-09-2012, 12:12   #11
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

1. Is living "on the hook" a viable option? Can I just take the dingy to shore to go to work? Probably join a yacht club to tie up at? Are their plentiful mooring fields I can tie onto that I can stay at for a month at a time?
I've not seen much for mooring fields. You can live on the hook, but you'll have to figure out how to keep the batteries charged and how to get water. Setting up solar/wind, alternator and a watermaker will cost you a lot of money if you want the boat to be self sufficient.
2. What do most do during hurricanes? Find a hole? Haul the boat out? Weather it out at sea? Spend hurricane season somewhere else?
Most would go elsewhere I think. Hauling the boat might be an option, but then where would you live?
There arent a lot of "offshore passages" getting to the Virgins, but your boat must be sound (you can drown within sight of shore quite easily! )However, you could certainly do without a bunch of nav equipment.
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Old 23-09-2012, 12:27   #12
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
1. Is living "on the hook" a viable option? Can I just take the dingy to shore to go to work? Probably join a yacht club to tie up at? Are their plentiful mooring fields I can tie onto that I can stay at for a month at a time?
I've not seen much for mooring fields. You can live on the hook, but you'll have to figure out how to keep the batteries charged and how to get water. Setting up solar/wind, alternator and a watermaker will cost you a lot of money if you want the boat to be self sufficient.
2. What do most do during hurricanes? Find a hole? Haul the boat out? Weather it out at sea? Spend hurricane season somewhere else?
Most would go elsewhere I think. Hauling the boat might be an option, but then where would you live?
There arent a lot of "offshore passages" getting to the Virgins, but your boat must be sound (you can drown within sight of shore quite easily! )However, you could certainly do without a bunch of nav equipment.
Ideally, I'd like to find a boat that already has two panels installed, I've seen a few in my price range. I realize two 75 watt panels won't be alot, but it'll be a start. It'd work untill I can improve upon the system. I'm looking for a boat I can fix up and improve upon, sort of like how people buy older, cheaper homes that they can fix up and improve. I wouldn't mind taking the dingy w/ a few jerrycans to get water, or using 1gal. jugs. Get enough water for a few days at a time. If I'm working I can do that after work w/out having to go back on board. I was planning on having a "hotel fund" for those times when hurricanes make living aboard impractical. Either that, or befriend a few locals who would mind taking us in for a few days
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Old 23-09-2012, 12:30   #13
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

Yep, that's what many of us did years ago! Ferried a lot of Jerry jugs to shore in Mexico! I think you'll find a lot of competition for jobs in the Virgins, not sure how you can check that out.
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Old 23-09-2012, 14:15   #14
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

MTLandlocked,
I lived on the hook in St. Thomas for several months. Man the weather was phenomenal! I think yo ucan get a waiter bar tender job in St. John, St. Thomas or St. Croix. We also fell in lvoe with Culebra and there are a couple of restaurants there (but it is off th e"beaten" path).

You should expect to anchor out rather than look for a long-term mooring - just not that many. We would go in to a marina for a day or two for repairs and to fill up and dump stuff. I would shower at a local marina for a small fee and we had a postal box at the marina.

I think you can find a vessel in the VI - but I guarantee it will need work - and will be a risky deal, especially if you don't know a surveyor or another experienced sailor. A friend of mine bought a little steel 27 fter and quickly became overwhelmed by the work and his lack of understanding. I think he walked away from it.

Our boat was fully rigged for wind and solar power with a large battery bank. Have a genset too, but never used. If I were on a boat under 30 feet - I think a Honda gas generator 2kw is what I would opt for. They are quiet, and by the time you invest in solar and wind, you might be able to get a couple of these small Hondas.

I would caution you about sailing from the US to the Virgins - It is a long sail to windward, and could be a bit dangerous if you are inexperienced. Most folks start at a latitude above Charleston SC in order to get a more comfortable sailing angle. It will take quite a few weeks to work your way from Florida to DR to PR to VI.

Your plan is viable though, and I encourage you to give it a go. Save up plenty of cash and set enough aside to get back if the whole deal loses its appeal. We met many people young and old doing the same thing. Some came when they were 18 and never left! Heck, we may head back too.
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Old 23-09-2012, 14:33   #15
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Re: Please don't skin me alive... but I'm a wannabe lol

While I was cruising, I worked different winter seasons in all three USVI - stayed on the hook at all of them. I had solar and wind power, so the battery upkeep wasn't much of a problem. St John was doing alot of home building back then, so if you are any kind of carpenter, electrician, etc, you'd probably be able to find a job there. I always found a job in T Shirt shops, but I also did some vacation home cleaning and one year, painting.

It's a great idea - build up a cash cushion and go for it.
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