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Old 01-07-2006, 08:33   #1
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What Are the Disadvantages of Living Aboard ?

The wife and I took a long weekend trip to San Diego recently, and as usually happens when we go there, we want to move there. We've since gotten the crazy idea to buy a boat and find a slip or a mooring somewhere and live on the boat somewhere in San Diego bay. It's me, my wife, and our four - yup, count 'em - four sons ages 6, 9, 9 (twins), and 13. I probably have enough equity in my house to cash out and own a decent boat with a few bucks left over.

We know there are few slips and moorings available, and long waiting lists for either, but that works out because it would take us a while to get prepared to move, find a boat, etc. I'd also prefer to keep my current job for another year or two anyway before quitting and moving halfway across the country.

Surely there's got to be some big downside to this plan that we're missing. Can anyone tell me what it is?

What are the disadvantages of living aboard?

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Old 01-07-2006, 09:30   #2
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I lived aboard in Mission Bay @ the foot of the Islandia Hotel back in the early 80's. At the time one was not suppose to be living aboard but there are (were) loopholes to get by that (then). It was nice but the constant deception and avoidance made us feel like criminals.

I say GOOD LUCK in San Diego. There are soooooo many restrictions that it's basically limited to the big yachts (60' +). And they're not really living aboard but just staying on vacations or get-aways.

I don't know what it's like now but I'm sure it's not any EZ'r. I hear horror stories up in Marina Delray (L.A., CA). They are pushing out the smaller slips to accommodate the mega yachts.

I don't mean to snuff your dreams BUT you're in for a long haul. It'll take a large enough boat that would be hardly noticeable if one were there most of the time. A large holding tank. No plants, laundry or pets. That would be the first giveaway. There are Nazi spies out there now reporting on people that are not ECO friendly. So you really have to watch your step.

San Diego IS a paradise in a sense but I think I would try a different local up the coast. Besides, there are not many places to go from S.D on a day trip. Just out then back in. It takes all day to get to Coronado Is. or the Catalina's. Then what? This is why I'm in the PNW now. Places to go and things too see for someone who works. But we do have short summers.

If you can do it? More power too ya! But it'll take a good some of $$$ to blend in....................................._/)

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Old 01-07-2006, 09:52   #3
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As delmarrey pointed out, getting to be a live aboard isn't easy. In the twenty years since he tried down in So Cal, things have only gotten more difficult. But, for the sake of arguement, lets say you found a good boat, a good slip, AND you won the lotto and got legal live aboard status.

First - take a look around your house. Look at all that nice STUFF you and your sons have. Where are you going to put 3/4s of that stuff? 'Cause I got news for ya ... it ain't gonna fit on the boat. Ohhhh... a storage shed you will rent ehhh. Good idea - usually the closest one of any size is a couple of miles away and will run you only a couple of hundred a month. In of and by itself, no problem. But you add that to: $1400 a month for slip fees (you are going to have to have about a 50' boat or larger with that many aboard)(utilities not included), Insurance is about another $150 a month, Liveaboard for five people (5 people!!!!! - better not tell the office person that you had to bribe with those lotto winnings that there are more than three of you) would be close to $300, and so you are at about $2000/mth.

Now lets talk personalities and free time. Five people on the boat, with limited space to: watch TV, do homework, use the computer, and ... oh ... did you say you would like a little quiet time when you got home? So what do four boys like to do ... any of them like run around, play ball, visit friends - not gonna happen on a dock - maybe a park near by - 1/2 mile .. mile? Personnalities are going to clash, and there ain't no where to go and chill out or 'room' to have to go to (unless you bought that mega yacht of 75' with those lotto winnings and everyone has their own stateroom - oh.. and with that size boat, triple the aforementioned monthly fees). Furthermore, ever notice how sounds carry over water - especially after dark? EVERYONE within about a 1/4 mile is going to know everything that goes on with your boat, sons and you. Not many can live with all that lack of external privacy, let alone internal.

Does this seem like I'm discouraging? Good - it is. And I've just touched the surface. There really isn't any way you can check it out ahead of time (except the costs).

Good luck.
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Old 01-07-2006, 10:29   #4
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You asked for the down side and you’re getting lots of it. A couple of possibles to add to the negatives:

As late as 1999 there were still live aboards at some Shelter and Harbor Island marinas. One possible method of getting a slip is to buy a boat in a slip and keep the slip. I did that in Oceanside when I lived in San Diego.

As pointed out, however, San Diego is becoming increasingly restrictive and difficult for live aboards. This is not exclusive to San Diego, it’s happening in more and more locations.

There are many families raising children on boats. It can be done.

What do you need all that stuff for anyway? Many cruisers are able to jettison all that material junk and move aboard happily.

Having said all that, if I had to live on a boat with all my kids when they were young, I might have gone completely bonkers.

The “stuff” issue for us is one of the reasons we have both a house and a boat. Neither of which is as nice as if we had only one or the other. That leads to why we are in North Carolina where property is affordable versus San Diego where it is not.

Lots of rambling I know, just trying to add to the confusion and complexity of the living aboard in San Diego dilemma.

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Old 01-07-2006, 11:58   #5

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I would avise against living aboard with that large a family. It's pretty hard with just a couple. Cruising, on the other hand, would work out very well. It's the ties to land that will do you in if you just "live aboard."
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Old 01-07-2006, 12:03   #6
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Now that everyone has talked you out of it The down side is not insurmountable. But, you do have to approach it realistically. My wife and I made the leap over 8 years ago. We sold the house, and moved aboard. The first thing we discovered is that a project boat will never get done while you live aboard. The second, it is not really a money saving option. Cost of living aboard at a dock while working is very comparable to living on land. Finally, that pesky live aboard slip issue. I think Thomas is mistaken. I think livaboard slips in San Diego are far fewer than lottery winners. The waiting lists are generally not a year or two, but more like 5-20.
If we were to start over, we would buy the boat. Forget about the live aboard slip, and keep the house until we were ready to leave, and the boat was 100% ready to go. We would move aboard the week we were leaving, and just go.
As for the kids, you could compare living aboard at dock to living in a small apartment in a bad neighborhood. The situation once you take off is quite different, and very beneficial to kids, but to be cramped into a boat at dock with very limited kid related facilities will raise the stress level for everyone.
OTOH, if you are in a position to liquidate and go, that is another story.
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Old 01-07-2006, 12:04   #7
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Hey Sean, looks like great minds think alike
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Old 01-07-2006, 13:34   #8
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I lived on Coroando Island 12 years ago and at that time livaboard in SD was about done. Actually back in the 70's there was a fantastic flotilla at the San Ysidro end, of livaboards that was pretty colourful! They shifted them out though...pollution you know. Which was a king hell case of the pot calling the ketttle black but thats another story.

Family on board? With the right boat in the right place..? Fantastic idea! I see it done very successfully every day. If it's possible at all in SD it would be difficult to the point of taking the gloss off it though. (my opinion) There has to be better places. Is the delta area still good up north I wonder? And the east coast would have destinations ... ummmh yum.

And don't confuse SD with some image of free thinking liberal tolerance. I think if they prised Richard Nixons stinking corpes out of the stygian depths, SD county would elect him God. But I'm not biased!!..

Find the right place and do it!
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Old 01-07-2006, 16:41   #9
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I have to agree that the chosen location has allot to do with the discouraging comments so far. The delta does still have live aboard slips, and warm weather. There are lots of day sail destinations there as well. Not the best sailing, and a few shallows. Also not the best public schools for the kids. But, it is a good option. Also a reasonable commute to several large cities where you might be able to continue working if that is part of the plan.
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Old 01-07-2006, 23:17   #10
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Originally Posted by ssullivan
Cruising, on the other hand, would work out very well. It's the ties to land that will do you in if you just "live aboard."
First - to those who mentioned it - getting rid of 3/4 of the stuff we own is part of the appeal of the idea. We know the kids may not care much for the idea at first, but they don't like a lot of things that are probably in their best long-term interests either. As for the rest, there appears to be a solid case for making this look like an idea that's either not too smart, or not really possible in SD. BTW, we were looking at SD primarily because of the climate. I'd certainly be willing to keep an open mind about other locations - at least other relatively warm (compared to Minnesota, that's almost everywhere, but I digress) west coast locations. The CA delta area looks interesting, and quite a bit more friendly for liveaboards.

Second - to this comment specifically - why would cruising work, but not living aboard in one location? Aside from the difficulty of finding a permanent home in one spot, it seems that cruising would include all the practical difficulties of living at a home harbor, and then add a few on top of it.

Finally, continuing to work for at least a while is definitely part of the plan.
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Old 02-07-2006, 02:24   #11
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Living aboard (while working) could be compared to jail; but without access to free weights and a library.
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Old 02-07-2006, 06:21   #12
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My two cents

My two cent for what little it is worth about the difference between dock side and cursing would be this. Dock side with the immediate ties to land would be like moving out of your bedroom and into the closet. More inconvenient than benefit. We went from a four bedroom brick, two car garage corner lot into a 37 foot catamaran (roomier by mono hull standards). Love it, never want to go back. That said, the move started with the comment to the wife “Ya know the youngest is graduating in a few months & off to college – What do we need this barn for? We could sell the house buy a boat and live on it, What ya think?” Two and a half years later we don’t regret it. NO Kids! The boys had lived on land way to long to think we could up root them and move them into box. Skate boards, bikes, friends - THEIR stuff. The youngest came back home for three months to the boat. He likened it to living in a cubby under a bridge. If they were young and under way there would be watches to sand. Unlike a land base home, chores to maintain the boat are shared and the need of them being done are unlike not making your bed or taking the trash to the curb on trash day. Home schooling is the order of the day and that is one of the big pluses in my mind. Learning geography and seeing it are way different (better). If the kids are young enough (pre teens) they will adjust. But with all their friends land based there would be so much peer envoy for you to answer for. That is bad enough land based but the so deprived syndrome could be huge. We had neighbors at the dock with three kids. All pre school. They seem to be happy normal little rug rats. The tricycles were left in the laundry room and at the end of the dock. But all their time was spent with Mom and Dad. Kids I’ve met that live aboard from younger years are the most mature kids I’ve encountered. Where we are now there is a family that moved from Washington to Florida and a boat. Two Girls 12 & 14, the youngest is doing great the oldest isn’t a happy camper. You know your kid Good luck.
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Old 02-07-2006, 15:35   #13
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We're in the process of moving aboard our boat in Portland Maine of all places as I go back to grad school. It was a choice of selling the house or the boat when I stop working. It was a clear choice to me and my wife. Though she actually had to think about it for a few days.

So, I have no direct experience to the poster's original query. However, I can voice my concerns and observations as we come near to making it happen.

-We're going to be right down town. There'll be easy access to all kinds of temptations. We're going to have to be careful about not eating out 3 times a day. Besides being unheathly it will get expensive. From experience, I know it is difficult to get kids to stop whining about eating at home once you establish a pattern of eating out. It'll be even tougher when there's 20+ restaurants within sight.

-People will think you are weird. Your kids friends parents may not let them come over. We're starting to get hints of this from our daughter's friends.

-We are fortunate in that our daughter is able to take a bus just about anywhere. Otherwise everytime she wanted to go some where, my wife or I would have to treck to the garage and get the car out. Then if she's at say youth group for an hour, what do you do? You pretty much have to wait around as it would take 30 minutes to park the car and walk back to the boat just in time to leave again.

-Otherwise we're looking forward to selling our crap and live light for a while.

Oh, and I am reasonably sure there is no such thing as a happy 14 y.o. girl.
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Old 03-07-2006, 06:24   #14
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4 (including a pair of twins!) I only have one on the way, but I can see that cruising is going to be a lot better than living at dock.

First while you are on the move sailing or motoring, there is homework to be done, watches to stand, boat things to be learned about (first aid, knots, navigation, rules of the road, etc, this list is endless) sails to adjust and you can use the kids to start some of the research you don't know it gets them involved and excited about it.) It sound like you have a built in set of racing crew. You can have a radio operator, a desiel mechanic and maintence checker. Think of all the mental imagination you can bring to bear to solve unexpected problems! Though they are fixing to get ready to eat out out of house, home and boat! I shifted vast quanities of food as a teenage kid!

While on the hook you are in a new location and with a sufficent size dingy think of all the exploring your kids can do! Talk about paradise on earth to a young boy! A chance to explore a real honest to God new island, go fishing 24-7 and get to eat it, free diving! wow the list is endless......

It really comes back to just how upbeat and inventive you are.

But I would not do that at a dock. Sail boats are made for sailing.... go travel!

Getting closer to leaving every day!
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Old 03-07-2006, 07:08   #15
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There are liveaboard slips available in San Diego with a reasonable wait list. Chula Vista marina and now the soon-to-open Pier 32 Marina complex in National City.

Pier 32 is now accepting slip deposits and they expect to open in September. They are also taking liveaboard reservations for a percentage of their slips. Prices are to be in the $10 - $14 per foot range according to the letter I got.

Of course - keeping the 'taggers' away from your hull may be another problem...

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