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Old 27-09-2012, 08:03   #1
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Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

Right now I'm 19 years old and in my second year at college. My school is in Beverly Massachusetts, which is on the coast, and I've had this idea that I want to live on a sailboat full time for a while now. I've been lurking on these forums for some time too. I really got it in my head last year after my Dad bought and moved aboard a Cal 34. Basically my plan would be to buy the boat in the spring and move aboard in the summer, then spend my next two years living off campus and commuting to school. There are some marinas in Beverly and nearby Salem that I was looking at, and it seems like a pretty reasonable commute to classes (<10 miles).

My real concern is about winter. Obviously winters are pretty cold and snowy in New England, and I'm not sure how this would affect my schoolwork. I've lived in Massachusetts my whole life and I'm not afraid to get a little cold, but is it really a good idea for me to move onto a sailboat at this point in my life? Basically, am I crazy? The upside to this plan is that over the next two years I would spend 10k a year on my dorm room anyway, so if I spent it on a boat then I would be able to buy at least a 20k boat and then have a place to live after I graduate. I'm not opposed to taking out a loan to pay for it either. There's also the matter of paying for a slip. During the winter that gets pretty cheap, but north of Boston all the marinas are quite expensive during the summer. Still it's cheaper than an apartment, and there's really no contest between an apartment and a boat.

I pretty much know all the basics about sailing. I own a Sunfish and I know how wind works. I've also gone on some extended sailing trips with my Dad, mostly weekends and overnight stuff but we did go on a 10-day sailing trip to the Massachusetts islands (Cuttyhunk and the Elizabeth Islands, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket) last May. The thing I don't know a lot about is boat maintenance, especially anything to do with engines. I figure that I'll have at least two years before I'll go on any serious sailing trips (I plan to visit some family in the US Virgin Islands after I graduate) so I'll have plenty of time to learn. Ideally I'd like something on the smaller side, maybe 26-30 feet. Is this plan a little too reckless? And does anyone have some tips for buying a boat?

-Jimmy
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Old 27-09-2012, 09:36   #2
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

The plan isn't reckless. I mean, you buy the boat, if you don't like how things are going, then you just sell it. It's not a life commitment or anything. But the 10k per year in a dorm isn't comparable to the boat cost. Your comparable cost is the marina slip + electric + boat upkeep. My guess is that the slip would run 5k a year and electric + maint could push that up to 10k a year which would be the same as the dorm.

For me the main issue would be post college plans. If your career plans allow you to stay coastal pretty easily and that's something you want to do, then living on the boat may work out for you. But personally I've found that marina choices can limit your job choices some. Many of the good jobs just aren't in the same areas as good marinas and good sailing.

But you have to feel out your choices with that. There's no point making six figures in South Dakota if you're hating life.
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Old 27-09-2012, 09:44   #3
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

Are you crazy? Yes. Should you do it? Hell yes. I wish I had done something like that at your age. Think of the reaction when you tell girls you live on a boat. If they want to see your boat, they've passed the first test.
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Old 27-09-2012, 09:47   #4
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

Actually being able to work remotely is pretty much the main reason I chose to major in Computer Science. Most people I've talked to about the issue say that computers and boats don't mix well, but if I can travel as much as I want and still hold down a full time job then I say why not? There's the issue of internet connection, but someday in the future I bet there'll be free WiFi anywhere on the planet, including the middle of the ocean.
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Old 27-09-2012, 12:32   #5
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

Jimmy, I support all your plans and experienced the same except for dealing with the cold. I too, was saving my money with plans to buy a boat when I was 19. I didn't actually move aboard until I was 24, but, to date, I've been living aboard for over forty years during my career; throughout my marriage; raising children aboard and in retirement. I frequently read posts by those who wait for retirement to live aboard and wish they would have started earlier. There are no reasons to wait! Life aboard offers independance, self-reliance, freedom, a lower carbon footprint, an awareness of the cycles of nature and a potential for more discretionary income. There is much advice here regarding dealing with the winters in New England
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Old 27-09-2012, 12:35   #6
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

Of course the idea is crazy ......but well within the ballpark of doable (whether doable by you is another thing).....I would say, crunch some real numbers.

For a 2 year liveaboard I think 26 foot will be a bit small (people do, but not many) - I would go for 30 to 35 foot. I would not go for length simply because it's bigger. Main requirements being standing headroom in the saloon / galley and a seperate sleeping area. Plus the ability to seat 4 in comfort (you are likely to have guests aboard). Nice to have would be a full cockpit enclosure (expensive to retrofit - a PITA to DIY, but doable) as gives an extra "room".

Will likely be cheaper for something less seaworthy - but the more sailing you can do the better. Nothing on a boat that can't be learnt to DIY given the motivation - and even if later in life you can afford others to do everything, you knowing what they are doing and why will be cheaper. and simply understanding when something needs attention before it breaks will always save money .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seltzer View Post
Actually being able to work remotely is pretty much the main reason I chose to major in Computer Science. Most people I've talked to about the issue say that computers and boats don't mix well, but if I can travel as much as I want and still hold down a full time job then I say why not? There's the issue of internet connection, but someday in the future I bet there'll be free WiFi anywhere on the planet, including the middle of the ocean.
And just because you are on a Boat wandering around the planet does not mean you have to always work afloat - or even require a connection 24/7. or even travel on a boat .
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Old 30-09-2012, 21:07   #7
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

I agree with general consensus offered here.
1) Am I crazy?? No, you are being far more thoughtful about your present and future than most people your age and older. While most people think that living on a boat is all Jimmy Buffet music and boat drinks, it's a lot of work. Upkeep and maintenance can be time consuming. That said, it can be a perfect place to live and study. When your friends in college leave their dorm rooms they will have memories of their temporary quarters, you will have the option off sailing off in yours.
2) Buying large isn't always the best thing to do, but buying comfortable is. Consider all the ergonomics. Can you stand up, is there a place to comfortably study, is it the kind of boat once you're done with school you could single hand? Since you live in a cold climate is the boat you choose well insulated and can it be safely kept warm? If you're at a marina how is it maintained during the winter? "unable to walk on the dock for a week" most likely won't cut it as an excuse for cutting classes.
3) My husband, son, and I lived aboard and cruised off and on for 3 years in the Caribbean. Our son is, who was 10 when he moved on and 15 when we moved into a land house is now 26 and his travel and sailing experience has greatly enhanced every part of his life. My husband and I now live aboard and sail part time and live in a land house the other part of the time. We simply enjoy the best of both worlds.
4) In all our travels we have never had a problem with salt water and our computers. There are so many protective cases and devices that this shouldn't be an issue. I also agree that just because you live on a boat doesn't mean that you have to work from the boat. I was the nursing director of an Emergency Department. I got off and on every day in a suit and heels. My husband did contract work with a large tech company. He even worked out of state for a while and just flew back and forth. People don't look at the big picture and options.
5) My husband and I quit our good paying jobs twice, took our son out of school (I home schooled him) and took off sailing. Our friends and some family thought we were nuts....we might have been but we had a great time doing it! After we sailed for a year each time we just came back and started working again. A friend of ours who was a well respected Dr said he was living a life that a 17 year old boy had planned. He had a wife, 2 kids and a house in a gated community. He so regretted that he hadn't taken life a little slower and sailed before he was so ensconced in living that he couldn't take the time to do the things he dreamed of doing.
6) Don't think of boundaries....think of possibilities and GO FOR IT!
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:50   #8
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

Allow me to be the voice of dissent, mostly because I have a kid in college. To be clear, living aboard a boat can and probably will be the coolest thing you could ever do. I've done it and loved it. However, I fear that it might interfere with your college education/overall experience. I know for a fact that the majority of the friends my son has now in his senior year were all met in his earlier years in a dorm. The spontaneous "who feels like pizza & beer" yells down the dorm hallway are part of the experience of college that shouldn't be missed. Just in general, I think school would be more fun if you weren't off on your own huddled on a boat (which VERY few of your friends will actually make an effort to visit a second time). Secondly, much of your schoolwork will rely upon your access to a computer and the internet (not so much a printer anymore, but occasionally that too). Picture yourself on a cold boat trying to get your work done instead of in a comfortable room where all the tools you need are right at hand. Call me a wet blanket, but I think you might think about waiting 'til you're out of school and see where both you and your life are headed and then choose such a move. The concept of "if you don't like it, just sell it" is WAY easier said than done. Good Luck

Mike
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:16   #9
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

I dissent with the dissenter. I enjoyed my alone time in college. While everyone was partying I was preparing their reports for money. My studying was more casual although I accomplished more.

My biggest concerns are boat maintenance and commute to college. Making use of the marina facilities can help alleviate any maintenance issues. Just remember, the buck stops with the owner. Living in the dorm you have 24 hour maintenance service, on the boat you ARE the maintenance service. Everything from shore power to plumbing to electrics to why is all my stuff wet?

That said, go for it young dude! But don't sacrifice your studies because liveaboard gets chicks.
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:17   #10
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

Space heaters and lotsa blankets makes a cozy home.
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Old 02-10-2012, 23:07   #11
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

exactly!
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Old 02-10-2012, 23:22   #12
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

Do it. Of all the dumb ideas people post on here, yours is definitely less dumb than mine. There's nothing easy about sailing and living on a boat. If you want easy, get a condo and play Fallout all day.
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Old 03-10-2012, 07:20   #13
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

Eh the social aspects can be hit or miss with dorm life. For one your neighbors can be annoying and noisy. Personally all my friends were on other parts of the campus so I didn't do anything near my dorm anyway. We'd all meet up in a public hall and play cards all night. Being on the boat should be a lot quieter and let you get away from things when you want.

As for Fallout, my boat has an xbox 360 and I can play Borderlands 2 all day if I want to
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Old 03-10-2012, 07:40   #14
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

Only you can answer that question.

Why not ask your Dad?... Does he live aboard in Mass? In him you have a family member who should know you better than any of us...
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Old 03-10-2012, 07:51   #15
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Re: Thinking about moving aboard. Am I crazy?

I have to agree with Mike. You'll miss out on a lot of the social aspects of being in college, which is really what college is mostly about. It is probably sacrilegious to actually put it down in writing, but the stuff you learn in the classroom, from the professors, is far from the most important stuff you will learn in college.

What's more, living on a boat, in a marina, is probably going to be more expensive than getting an apartment near campus. Almost certainly more expensive than on-campus housing, if that is available.

Living aboard is a wonderful thing, and I strongly encourage it, but I would suggest that you wait, save your money, and do it after you have finished your degree.

Good luck.
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