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Old 28-07-2013, 08:42   #1
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Desperately Seeking the Sea

Hi there!
We're Dug and Beka, a married couple with a never satiated sea-bound wander lust and an old Akita named Jerry who loves adventure.

The time has come.
The decision has been made.
We're buying a boat.
We want an live aboard for coastal cruising.
Now what?

After years of living by the sea on St. John, USVIs and in Oceanside, CA, we have been landlocked in Ohio for 3 years and it's time to get the salty air back into our lungs. We're green, but we're eager and ready to do the research to make informed decisions. Beka grew up on a small powerboat and Dug had an "interesting experience" when he sailed between the Dominican Republic and St. Thomas on a dilapidated 23'er so, we kinda know what we're getting into.

This forum looks like it can help with our naivety. Our shoe string budget requires us to learn as much as possible from other people's experience and mistakes. We're at the very beginning of our journey and very excited to learn from the forum's wisdom. We've got some questions that we're searching for answers on this forum but we'll post some of them here. If you've got any wisdom to share, we'd love to hear it! Unless it's telling us to not buy a boat. We don't want to hear that...

We've been looking at older trawlers and motor yachts over 40' that are under $25k. Both options look as if there is plenty of living space (Beka's claustrophobic but not deterred, maybe more determined to find the perfect boat for us), we can take them island hopping, and their look is appealing. Thanks to the wisdom of the forum, we scrapped the "fixer-upper" idea and raised our purchase price to buy something that we can take out the day we buy it. We know larger boats can be expensive, so an older one that may be ugly but is sea worthy is fine with us. We're prepared to replace all electronics and would love to totally remodel the interior to best suit our needs. What do you think?

We really want to learn as much as possible to do our own repairs and maintenance before purchasing the boat so we know what we're looking at when shopping. If only we could find someone who wouldn't mind us following them around for a year to listen to everything they have to say, allow us to practice repairing their boat, and not mind when we question why they are doing everything they're doing! LOL!! Our local community colleges do not offer anything that would be helpful, and we've already ordered some books from our local library and bought some that we knew we would like to have on reference. One friend suggested we try sea school as she knows we like to learn everything we possibly can about anything that interests us. An online sea school would be awesome but we need the hands on stuff too... What do you think? Where should we start with that?

Beka is able to work from anywhere that has an internet connection so that's helpful. Have you installed satellite internet on your vessel? Whatcha think of it? Any good or bad satellite internet service providers out there?

We're looking at the Florida panhandle at the moment. Any thoughts or suggestions on that?

Thank you for taking the time to read my first post and we're excited to have found CF at the beginning of our journey. I'm sure this forum is going to save us a lot of headache!

Best wishes,

Dug, Beka and Jerry
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Old 28-07-2013, 08:48   #2
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

Welcome aboard
When I read your post I thought about Beach House, here is their blog. Have fun!
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Old 28-07-2013, 09:02   #3
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

Dug and Beka and Jerry I wish you well, but I urge you to hire a professional and not try to do this on the cheap or learn from your own experience. It only goes so far. You have a thousand questions but why one of your top questions is about satellite or internet belies your limited level of knowledge--and it can be easily answered online. First of all, make a budget but don't be limited by it. No mater what you spend to buy the boat, costs to own it go into effect immediately and continue thereafter. whatever you budget in time and money--double it to be safe.

There are many, many boats out there and with many different capabilities. Study and then narrow down and then narrow down some more. Don't buy based on features or gear but on general hull and engine condition.

Be wise-- hire professionals to guide and assist you. It will save you money and hassle and keep you safer.
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Old 28-07-2013, 09:05   #4
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Dug and Beka.

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
~ John Steinbeck
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Old 28-07-2013, 09:16   #5
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

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You have a thousand questions but why one of your top questions is about satellite or internet belies your limited level of knowledge--and it can be easily answered online.
Thank you for your response, Paul. We are taking our time and doing the research before throwing down any money whatsoever. That's why we're here on the forum. I'm not sure what type of professional you are speaking that I hire? Could you please let me know and I'll be happy to look into it as we're here to learn.

The question about the internet is very, very, very important as I (Beka) plan on working full time from whatever we decide to buy and my job is entirely web based. If there aren't any great satellite ISP's available or they aren't reliable, it's going to limit where we decide to find a slip (how far out does the wifi reach?) and may change plans for my employment arrangements (would rather not). We feel that is a totally valid question to ask at this point and I would love to hear from people on the forum what they think of their providers.

Best wishes,
Beka
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Old 28-07-2013, 09:21   #6
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

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Welcome aboard
When I read your post I thought about Beach House, here is their blog. Have fun!
Thanks for the welcome, Ocean Girl! That looks like the kind of beach house we're looking for. Thank you for the link - Bookmarked it!
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Old 28-07-2013, 09:22   #7
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.
~ John Steinbeck
Ain't that the truth!! We learned that a long time ago and just roll with it now. Thanks for the welcome Gord!!
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Old 28-07-2013, 09:34   #8
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Get to the docks. Great Lakes are closest for you. You'll find experienced advice there and here.

Given your plans, consider buying in Florida. Many well-kept "retirement project" boats there. Look along the caloosahatchee (sp?) river and around Indiantown on google satellite. You'll see all he yards and all the boats. Fresh-water region full of salt-ready cruising boats - that's what we like.

Get the self survey list off this forum. For boats that pass that filter, do a moderate conditions test sail and a heavier conditions test as well.

Hire a captain to help you get off to a good start - 2-3 days only going 20-25 miles a day. Sail a little but not a lot. Use every system (oven, windlass, emergency tiller ++). Live, cook, anchor and sleep aboard. This is critical while you earn Your rating on Your vessel. You are looking for grey, or better yet white, hair on that captain. That local captain should be the broker or someone the broker recommends. Why? Sailing is a small community and you are well-protected inside that social fabric so wrap up in it. He'll return to his home dock with both (a) your boat intact and (b) his reputation intact, guaranteed. The $300-$400 you spend will be your best insurance of protecting your asset through acquiring first-hand experience.
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Old 28-07-2013, 10:24   #9
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

Thank you so much, SecondBase! We'll surely find a white-haired captain to help us learn what we're doing on whatever we end up with. Wise, wise words there!

We've read to not fall in love until we do an engine survey and a marine survey but I'll be sure to check out the check list you suggested.

Thank you again, SecondBase. Your suggestions will be heeded.
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Old 28-07-2013, 10:32   #10
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

You're lucky because the net has given you easy access to a wealth of wisdom... and lots of it to be found right here. It is or can be overwhelming... the options and the possibilities daunting. In the end... well long before the end.... you have to do the real world thing. There is no substitute. I have no specific advice of how to get from here to there. But you'll do it... YES you will. Ask and don't be afraid to ask... and when you don't understand... ask again.

I started as a total landlubber without a clue. I was smitten by accident and 6 years later I was able to sail solo around the Caribbean. Who woulda thought? And that was well before the internet.... when all you had were books!

Welcome aboard... you've come to the right place. We're thrilled to have you aboard.
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Old 28-07-2013, 10:41   #11
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

Hi guys and welcome. As you can guess, you will run into a lot of members that were bitten by the same bug. After years of trying various things I determined that there is no cure and gave in to go back to cruising.

So a couple of answers and suggestions.

Internet. Satellite is either very slow, very limited bandwidth or very, very expensive. Possibly all the above. You can get reasonable text only connection that is not too slow and not too expensive with limited message time. If you need serious speed the only not horribly expensive option is to get to an island or port with wifi or internet cafes. You can get some wifi systems for your boat that will give you reliable connection from a mile or two (some claim 5-10 but I wouldn't bet my job on that range).

Regarding power vs sail. Power boats are generally more open and more roomy than a similar sized sailboat. I lived on a 36' Morgan Out Island that is one of the roomiest 36' boats ever built and cruised on a 36' Pacemaker power boat that wasn't the roomiest design but was still more roomy and open than the Morgan. BUT, if you want to cruise on a budget you might want to rethink. Yes all boats are expensive and sailboats do have all that rigging and sails to keep up, but on a power boat, if you plan to do much cruising the fuel bills can mount up really fast. If you will mostly do short hops and live in one spot for long periods then this might not be an issue but if you want to cover some miles it will cost you.

Also, be aware that your average power boat can have a very limited range, some as little as 100-200 miles. This can limit where and how far you can go.

Otherwise, seems like you are approaching the plan in a good way. Research, learn, plan and don't run off half cocked. Might go to the local library and read through the shelf of boating books. When I first got the bug I had no boating experience at all and just happened into a delivery with a couple of old friends. One trip and I was hooked. First thing I came home and read every book, novel and magazine I could about boating, sailing, cruising, boat building, boat repair, etc. 90% of it made little sense, until I picked up another crew job and had a lot of aha moments. Came home and reread a lot of the stuff with a new understanding. Slowly it all started coming together.

So, good luck and enjoy the forum.
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Old 28-07-2013, 10:43   #12
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

The question about the satellite is of course very important but the answer can be easily found--and yes of course, there is absolutely NO reason why some sort of long distance and worldwide comms can be placed on almost any boat--but it can be very expensive. I have about zero experience with such matters but enough to know that it is done all the time. MANY boaters on large and small craft have such capabilites.

I suggest hiring a pro for different possibilities.
1. Consult from the beginning on how to properly determine your goals, and needs and start searching and narrowing down the search; helpful, but not necessary, may save you a lot of time, help narrow your choices

2. Once you've chosen a boat or two, hire a pro to go through them with a careful eye toward maintenance and repair "red flags" or concerns--before a complete survey. Very helpful, can save a lot of money--you'll learn a lot and there is a good book on self-surveying--read it!

3. If you did not do number 2 above, before you make a deposit and hire a surveyor on the boat you have chosen, hire a pro to do number 2 above. Hire that poro to conduct the sea trial during survey.

4. Once you've bought the boat, whether you did 2 or 3 above, hire a pro to hel you determine how check the systems, what gear or eqpt is needed or needs to be replaced, ow to prep for cruising and now, most important of all...

5. TAKE LESSONS...and don't focus or obsess about docking...I mean seamanship, rules of the road, man overboard, emergencies, anchoring etc...etc... Take a day, two days a week or a month--and learn from the experience of another pro--not from your own mistakes.

6. Get a log book and start compiling notes on everything about your boat and cruises, weather, navigation etc etc

OK...I am not white-haired but I have a few gray hairs. They came from transiting freaky inlets up and down the east coast, from a storm in the Gulf Stream and from many long and hot boring days...or long and cold, wet days and nights at sea....
Visit my website and read some of my blog posts...www. foerfront dot com....and don't be afraid to spend money. The boat is NOT an investment but a financial loss, but you can invest properly in choosing the right boat and in learning how to enjoy it to ensure you get as much out of the financial loss...

Thanks
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Old 28-07-2013, 11:20   #13
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

Hi Dug and Beka, May 2011 we took off from Lake Pepin, WI for the Gulf of Mexico in our 25' Pacific Seacraft (sailboat). We made it down to Mobile, AL in Sept. Terrific trip. The entire trip, we connected to internet with Verizon smartphone (only 3G back then) and it worked great most of the time. I was even able to upload photos & video from our sightseeing movies. (bobsuzbigadventure.blogspot.com) I was so amazed that I was sitting in a tiny boat in the middle of a river near the tiniest towns like Grand Tower, IL and Ste. Genevieve, MO and could still send email, check weather.com, Facebook, etc.
We had sold our house & 95% of our possessions (5% went in storage). We've sold the sailboat, but bought a 20' Nimble Vagabond. (paid $3500). Needed a new motor and repairs on interior, but we've thought it would have made for much more comfortable living than the sailboat on that 6 month river trip. (see more about the Nimble on the blog) My husband is currently fixin' her up. Some other boats we think would be nice for cruisin' would be the Albin 25' or Nimble Nomad 25'. They aren't big, but keep in mind, you spend most of your waking hours outside and makes maintenance costs low.
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Old 28-07-2013, 21:12   #14
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Welcome to the forum. I have found that one of the key things that I have learned is to be very careful in the size of boat. It may be easy to find a large boat ... Like say 45 foot fixer upper but to maintain that boat in a proper standard may be more than this sailor wants to afford. Good luck in the venture. There is a boat waiting for you out there and you will meet as time moves forward.
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Old 23-08-2013, 19:44   #15
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Re: Desperately Seeking the Sea

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very careful in the size of boat.
+1

And buy a copy of Mr. Pardey's "The Self-Sufficient Sailor"

You should read and re-read this book every couple years. As your experience builds so will your understanding of his approach.
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