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Old 13-07-2012, 19:38   #1
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Thinking about living aboard NYC area

Hi everyone,

After a few days of surfing the forums here, I was so impressed with the wealth of knowledge that I had to join. First off, let me admit that while I explored the threads a good amount, there is so much information that I couldn't possibly go through them all. So, keeping that in mind, let me apologize as I'm sure that most, if not all of my questions are repeats. I figured it be best to get all of my questions in one spot rather than go searching everywhere for them.

Let me tell you my current life situation. I'm 27 years old, I'm a professional, full-time firefighter in my hometown in New Jersey. I'm at the point where I want to do something different with my life, and while I did grow up around boats, power and sail, I am by no means an expert. While in conversation with my brother, it was brought up how my uncle was a live aboard for over 30 years out in CA. It took just that for me to become curious about the possibility of doing that. The more I'm researching it, the more obsessed I'm becoming with actually doing it. I am aware there will be challenges, and that is what brings me to you all. I have a bunch of questions, just to make sure my obsession doesn't force me into an uninformed decision. I'm pretty set on going power (43'-45'), I'm sure to the dismay of my family, but I would like to have more space, seeing as I'm 6'3".

1. Financially, is it as appealing as it looks on paper to me? Everyone keeps telling me how expensive boats are. But, considering this would be in place of, say, a $400,000 house, it appears to be much cheaper. I figure everything you pay on a boat (maintenance, dock fee, etc) is something you could just as easilly be paying for on a house, yet the boat would be a quarter (at least) of the price, so I wouldn't be paying $100,000 in interest over the life of a mortgage. Am I missing something? Also, financially speaking, do you think it is a better idea to go with a cheaper, older boat that might need some $ and TLC, or a newer boat that will need less (immediate) maintenance? I'm leaning towards older since it will depreciate slower.

2. Winter. This is something I've looked extensivelly into. Seeing as my job is in NJ, there will be no travelling South for the winter. I've noticed that people say that condensation is the bigger challenge than the heat. I would not be against insulating, however, I have this dream of installing a wood stove. I'm aware of the risks of this with a power boat. I will be sure to buy diesel rather than gasoline and I'll be sure to take all precautions. I'm a firefighter, that stuff is my job. My question is, if I do put in the stove, which is a dry, radiant heat, will condensation still be an issue or will insulating not be necessary? Also, I'm not sure on how often the Hudson freezes (I've been looking into Jersey City marinas), but what is the best way to keep the boat ice free? Bubbler system or ice eater the way to go? Does anyone know if Marinas tend to have these already installed?

3. Schedule. I work 24 hour shifts, which is great in that I get a lot of days off, but it means there would be days and nights where I wouldn't be at the boat at all. Besides the security risk, does anyone see this as a logistical risk as well, especially in the winter? I do have a friend who lives down the street from the marina who could swing by if I get caught doing a 72 hour shift.

This post is obviously getting long, so I'll leave it at that for now. I'm sure I'll have more questions, but I look forward on everyone's input on that for now.

Thanks,
Greg
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Old 13-07-2012, 22:24   #2
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

Greg: I just sent you a private e-mail with a link to a new website that might answer some of your basic questions about living aboard. Good luck.
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Old 13-07-2012, 22:50   #3
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

Nyc in winter? You must be very tough and possibly crazy! If nothing else you will need to be careful about water systems freezing. I cant see it working out with wood heat, between getting/storing the wood and burning to stay warm-ive done it for years in Wisconsin in cabins that are much better insulated than boats, and have to wake up a lot to restoke the fire...easy with a big stack of wood dry in the house but where on boat can you keep it? And wood contains bugs.

Best of luck with it and if you pull it off I hope you will share the experience!
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Old 13-07-2012, 23:51   #4
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

Hi Greg and welcome to the forum. I'm a Fire Fighter here in Northern California.

I've kicked around the Idea of having a wood stove in a future boat. I think it would be great as a secondary source of heat. But you need another source that can work safely while you are not there.

I used wood heat for my house. It is great and cheap where I am. But if my family and I leave for more than one night during the winter, I have to have someone house sit and keep the fire going at night.

Either way, insulation will help keep the heat in and reduce the amount of wood (or diesel, etc.) that you will use.

I've read a couple of blogs about people wrapping their boats in plastic (makes it like a green house) during the winter. You might check into that.

Scott
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Old 14-07-2012, 06:26   #5
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

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I've kicked around the Idea of having a wood stove in a future boat. I think it would be great as a secondary source of heat. But you need another source that can work safely while you are not there.
Scott
That is something I've considered. Maybe diesel stove to start and then when I'm more settled in instaliing a wood stove and just using the diesel for when I'm not around to prevent freezing.

As far as the shrink wrap, I think I would rather just properly insulate the boat rather than do that every year.
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Old 14-07-2012, 06:28   #6
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Greg.
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Old 14-07-2012, 06:48   #7
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

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Originally Posted by Corcy423 View Post
Hi everyone,

After a few days of surfing the forums here, I was so impressed with the wealth of knowledge that I had to join. First off, let me admit that while I explored the threads a good amount, there is so much information that I couldn't possibly go through them all. So, keeping that in mind, let me apologize as I'm sure that most, if not all of my questions are repeats. I figured it be best to get all of my questions in one spot rather than go searching everywhere for them.

Let me tell you my current life situation. I'm 27 years old, I'm a professional, full-time firefighter in my hometown in New Jersey. I'm at the point where I want to do something different with my life, and while I did grow up around boats, power and sail, I am by no means an expert. While in conversation with my brother, it was brought up how my uncle was a live aboard for over 30 years out in CA. It took just that for me to become curious about the possibility of doing that. The more I'm researching it, the more obsessed I'm becoming with actually doing it. I am aware there will be challenges, and that is what brings me to you all. I have a bunch of questions, just to make sure my obsession doesn't force me into an uninformed decision. I'm pretty set on going power (43'-45'), I'm sure to the dismay of my family, but I would like to have more space, seeing as I'm 6'3".

1. Financially, is it as appealing as it looks on paper to me? Everyone keeps telling me how expensive boats are. But, considering this would be in place of, say, a $400,000 house, it appears to be much cheaper. I figure everything you pay on a boat (maintenance, dock fee, etc) is something you could just as easilly be paying for on a house, yet the boat would be a quarter (at least) of the price, so I wouldn't be paying $100,000 in interest over the life of a mortgage. Am I missing something? Also, financially speaking, do you think it is a better idea to go with a cheaper, older boat that might need some $ and TLC, or a newer boat that will need less (immediate) maintenance? I'm leaning towards older since it will depreciate slower.

2. Winter. This is something I've looked extensivelly into. Seeing as my job is in NJ, there will be no travelling South for the winter. I've noticed that people say that condensation is the bigger challenge than the heat. I would not be against insulating, however, I have this dream of installing a wood stove. I'm aware of the risks of this with a power boat. I will be sure to buy diesel rather than gasoline and I'll be sure to take all precautions. I'm a firefighter, that stuff is my job. My question is, if I do put in the stove, which is a dry, radiant heat, will condensation still be an issue or will insulating not be necessary? Also, I'm not sure on how often the Hudson freezes (I've been looking into Jersey City marinas), but what is the best way to keep the boat ice free? Bubbler system or ice eater the way to go? Does anyone know if Marinas tend to have these already installed?

3. Schedule. I work 24 hour shifts, which is great in that I get a lot of days off, but it means there would be days and nights where I wouldn't be at the boat at all. Besides the security risk, does anyone see this as a logistical risk as well, especially in the winter? I do have a friend who lives down the street from the marina who could swing by if I get caught doing a 72 hour shift.

This post is obviously getting long, so I'll leave it at that for now. I'm sure I'll have more questions, but I look forward on everyone's input on that for now.

Thanks,
Greg
Greg:

I lived on board my 30 foot Nonsuch sailboat in New York from April to December for six years in the late 90's and early 2000"s. I was working in Manhattan and loved being on the water front and leaving the noisy city behind once I stepped on the dock. Since you work in New Jersey I would recommend one of the marinas there. Liberty Landing is quiet and calm the others further north have better views but, do get some roll from the ferry traffic though they are more convenient as far as getting groceries too. Which is something to consider.
I think you will find that other's at the marina who live on board will keep an eye on your boat when you are away. At least we all did at the marina I was at.
As for winter I had to leave the marina each December because it closed down in winter but, I also had a house available to me so it was not a problem. I know Liberty Landing stays open all winter because some of my dock mates went there. As for heat I usually used a small cube heater that worked well. But, I also had an Espar diesel furnace that also worked well and put out very dry hot air heat that dried things out very well in the cabin.
I really enjoyed my time living on board in New York (except for 9/11 but, that's another story).
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Old 14-07-2012, 06:50   #8
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

Greg,
Welcome and wonderful post. First there are no experts in this game.. only people with move experience in various things. Take all advice with a grain of salt.

NYC area can be tough in the winter for anyone and especially live aboards.. icy docks and decks and the heat and condensation issues. Condensation occurs when moist interior humid air which touches a cooler surface which cause the air at the boundary to "give up" it's moisture. So when there is a temperature gradient of the boat *envelope* from outside temp (cold) on the outside surface... and inside temp... as close to the air temp as you can get... condensation will form on the inside surfaces. Note how it will on windows and aluminum frames and much less on the thicker insulated hull. So without thermal break glazing and thermal break window frames moisture on them in unavoidable no matter how much insulation you place inside the hull... or the type of heat you use.

Combustion as you know produces water as a bi product. If the exhaust gas are vented outside this should not raise the humidity inside the closed environment of the boat... Furnaces which exhaust all combustion air and are heating the room air tend to be drier than any sort of open flame heat source. Hydronic heat, from the engine or electric source will produce no moisture from combustion obviously. These are not always possible or economical.

The type of boat depends on the actual use. If you simply want to live on the water and not actually navigate get the largest volume/headroom and an older boat of any type will do. If you get a fixer upper after some time you'll have a seaworthy boat to navigate with. You might enjoy the refit and learn all the systems in the process.

Security as in theft has not been a concern for me in the NY/NE waters for 27 years. We've had only two thefts... one dink and OB in RI and some running rigging removed when in winter storage in Greenport. Most of the time the boat is left locked with what amounts to a puny lock that any determined thief could break or open the latched bu not locked hatches. People around boatyards are not criminal types. The most common theft I've seen is a the drunk crew ashore late at night taking any dink they find to return to the boat.

Paying for work is very expensive.. so doing it yourself saves lots of money and again this depends on what you are doing. Marine parts are spendy and if you can use land stuff you can save some money but the marine environment is harder on materials and so maintenance is required and service life of things is less than on dry land. You don't have to pay property and school taxes and so forth. It appears to be more economical... but your living space is much smaller too. Nothing wrong with that because it trains you to not acquire and collect useless things.

Good luck...
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Old 14-07-2012, 22:10   #9
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Hi, Greg. I live aboard in NYC area. I stay on a mooring ball year around. Yes, I cartop my kayak to work and paddle it from and to the boat. You know, hard core guy I run wood stove, actually, it is coal stove. Well, I have done for two years, all romanticism is wearing down, I will switch to diesel heater for next winter.
No marina around here will let you use wood stove while at a dock, forget about it.use electric heaters and be ready for big bill. Condensation is no problem on insulated boat. My boat is balsa cored all around, I had no problem with condensation. I stayed one winter at Liberty Landing Marina, it is a nice place.
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Old 15-07-2012, 07:36   #10
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

Hi Greg! I lived aboard a 36' Nonsuch sailboat in Boston Harbor for four years.

The summers were to die for -- everyone came down to their boats in high spirits and it was like being on vacation all the time. Coming home after work was like coming home to a resort.

The winters were another story. We had propane-based heat and kept the cabin as warm as possible - which was not warm. We knew it was spring when the dish detergent liquified again. In the mornings I would peel the sheets off the inside of the hull and ice would flake off.

Everyone who wintered in Boston built a shrink-wrap structure over their boat with a door in it. Sitting in the cockpit inside this structure was fun -- sunny and warm, though hard to see out through the mylar. When it snowed you didn't need stairs to the boat -- you just opened your shrink-wrap door and stepped out onto the finger pier straight off your deck.

I was 34-38 at the time and it was a ball. But when we moved out of the boat and went to Phoenix to live (and thaw out), I swore I would never live on another boat again unless it was in the tropics.

Do it! Have fun! Buy lots of warm clothes and blankets!!!
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Old 15-07-2012, 13:39   #11
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

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Hi, Greg. I live aboard in NYC area. I stay on a mooring ball year around. Yes, I cartop my kayak to work and paddle it from and to the boat. You know, hard core guy I run wood stove, actually, it is coal stove. Well, I have done for two years, all romanticism is wearing down, I will switch to diesel heater for next winter.
No marina around here will let you use wood stove while at a dock, forget about it.use electric heaters and be ready for big bill. Condensation is no problem on insulated boat. My boat is balsa cored all around, I had no problem with condensation. I stayed one winter at Liberty Landing Marina, it is a nice place.
Interesting. Never wouldv'e considered the marinas wouldn't let you, but I suppose that does make sense. I guess that makes my decision easy. Will they allow diesel heaters? I see the diesel heaters claim to be a dry heat. Is that true?

Where do you moor exactly? It's something that interests me but in the long run I don't think would be practical for me. Plus I wasn't sure that you were allowed to in the Hudson (or whatever surrounding waterway) due to Ferry traffic.

I've taken a walk down to Liberty Landing. Seems very nice. Do you know if Liberty Harbor across the way allows year round liveaboards? I've also researched Newport Yacht Club a little further North. I think it might be a hair more expensive, but it would cut my commute by about 10 minutes, which would make it worth it in the long run. Hear anything about there?

Did your boat come balsa cored? Not too familiar with it. How well does it work as an insulator? Brings me to my next question which I'm sure will sound stupid to many, but do any boats come insulated? Or just if you buy used from someone who installed insulation?

Greg
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Old 15-07-2012, 13:41   #12
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

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Hi Greg! I lived aboard a 36' Nonsuch sailboat in Boston Harbor for four years.

The summers were to die for -- everyone came down to their boats in high spirits and it was like being on vacation all the time. Coming home after work was like coming home to a resort.

The winters were another story. We had propane-based heat and kept the cabin as warm as possible - which was not warm. We knew it was spring when the dish detergent liquified again. In the mornings I would peel the sheets off the inside of the hull and ice would flake off.

Everyone who wintered in Boston built a shrink-wrap structure over their boat with a door in it. Sitting in the cockpit inside this structure was fun -- sunny and warm, though hard to see out through the mylar. When it snowed you didn't need stairs to the boat -- you just opened your shrink-wrap door and stepped out onto the finger pier straight off your deck.

I was 34-38 at the time and it was a ball. But when we moved out of the boat and went to Phoenix to live (and thaw out), I swore I would never live on another boat again unless it was in the tropics.

Do it! Have fun! Buy lots of warm clothes and blankets!!!
Did you insulate? My main question is whether shrink wrapping is necessary if you do insulate. I am more for doing a slightly larger project once rather than something like shrink wrapping each Winter.
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Old 15-07-2012, 16:00   #13
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Small ceramic heater is good and safe if your electrical is solid. Shrink wrap will add to your comfort. Deep water has better temperature then shallow water. I have a ceramic heater I bought 20 years ago. It's good heat. Course I once froze my hair to the hull of a boat living aboard in Newport.
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Old 15-07-2012, 16:49   #14
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

Hi Greg, I've been in the marina business for 38 years in Michigan. I designed and built two "floating cottages" that have been in the water for 7-8 years. I let them freeze in with no damage. I use electric baseboard heat which is plugged into the marina's shore power. In 2005 & 2006 I heated both units and it cost approx. $900 each. I now close them up for the winter. I used vacu flush toilets with a 350 gallon tank which will carry you threw for the winter. I used 50 amp cords that are 125/250 v. I made them 14' wide so they can fit in any well. They are insulated and very comfortable. The web site is Floating Vacations, Water, Resort to see how they were constructed. I used an 8" 3/8" pipe for the drain in the center of the barge. I was going to run a single fresh water hose, but I never hooked it up. I also installed a 225 fresh water tank but use marina supplied water. They have fireplaces but they were propane......and I am going to change them to elec. I rent them out in the summer only now. I did the sides out of 3/8" steel plate so the barge is heavy but it isn't tippy at all. With the second loft bedroom it's a nice unit. So....anything is possible! This is a great forum to check out your ideas. Welcome aboard.
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Old 18-07-2012, 14:38   #15
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Re: Thinking about living aboard NYC area

Anyone remember Dick DeBartolo? He lived aboard in Manhattan, worked for Mad magazine and wrote for boating magazines. Also did TV gigs about new gadgets. Great place to live if you rely on media for a living.
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