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Old 31-12-2015, 18:00   #1
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How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

Hi all,

Our family is planning to go sailing for 6 month in a year from now, and we are starting to plan it now... It will be my wife, our 3 yo old and her future sister (which will be 6mo by then). Would love to get some help on the following:

Where to go?
We plan on leaving in Dec 2016. Currently, the Caribbean and Tahiti are on top of our list, but we have a long list of pros/cons. Would appreciate any ideas of itinerary, advice or tips

How to get a boat?
Any advice on whether we should try to rent one or buy one and sell it after? Any alternative? Any advice on how to rent long term, or buy/sell within 6m...

How to get ready?
Does any of you have a check list for this?

Thanks!
Best,
Jeff
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Old 31-12-2015, 19:03   #2
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

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Old 31-12-2015, 20:36   #3
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

Welcome to CF. And it's nice to hear of your dream. As to making it a reality, or even to try & field some of your questions. Some of what we need includes; your & the family's sailing experience (levels), your budget, boat size range, & several other things.


But also, from having prep'd a LOT of boats (professionally), for you to get ready in the kind of time frame which you're tossing around, you're going to need a project manager.
Both to help you to find & screen candidate boats, & then to re-fit/fit out your boat, once you purchase it. The latter task(s) needing to happen SOON (as in 6mos to a year ago, quite literally).


Also, questions like yours come up a lot, & you need to make the Search function your friend, very quickly. As there's Loads of information on here that's right up your alley.


Good luck
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Old 31-12-2015, 21:52   #4
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

I would second the recommendations from Uncivilized. Perhaps I am misinterpreting your questions but they give the impression that you have little or no experience with sailing. More information about your previous experience and your plans would help. If this is your first venture into long distance sailing let me say that it is not as simple as buying a van and driving across the country. Yes there are people with little or no experience that bought a boat and successfully sailed off into the sunset but there are perhaps 100 times more cases of failures and rescues.

Also agree that spending a little time with this forums search function as your questions are some of the most common and you will find a wealth of information in previous threads.

To obtain a boat; it is very, very rare that anyone will rent a boat for long term, long range cruising and any owners that might consider this would probably want to see a pretty good resume from the potential renter. It might be much cheaper to buy and resell.
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Old 31-12-2015, 22:22   #5
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

Having ramped up cruising with our 2 children over the past several years, I can say that the bigger question to ask is not about the boat, but about whether you're ready to live on a new boat with 2 tiny kids for 6 months. Things like food, diapers, etc are much tougher to come by down there. That said, we started cruising for weeks at a time when my firstborn was 6 months old, and continued when our daughter was born. But this was on an established boat that I knew well, with what I consider expert coastal cruising and moderate offshore cruising experience and skills.
So if you have a good underlying skill set- sounds good but the boat is only a small part of your planning IMHO. If you are a new cruiser, i will humbly suggest that going it with a baby and 3 year old is not going to be easy to say the least. Worst case is you put the family at risk on a reef etc.


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Old 01-01-2016, 05:52   #6
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Jeff.
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Old 01-01-2016, 06:23   #7
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

Welcome to CF!

As the previous posters have already said, not an easy task and the information you're after depends mainly on what you didn't mention: experience and budget.

Contrary to popular belief I don't believe you have to have all that much experience to do what you're planning, but it will definitely all be a whole lot easier and more enjoyable the better you are prepared.

You + your wife + 2 little ones = you'll do pretty much all the boat handling & sailing alone, while your wife is taking care of the little ones. Possibly 2 seasick little ones, even. The better you prep the boat for 2 little ones (baby proof boat, bunks for the babies etc.), the more time she'll have to enjoy the trip.

As to the rest: please let us know how experienced you (and your wife) are, and what the approx. budget is for the boat (buy / refit / monthly maint.).

Quote:
Originally Posted by malbert73 View Post
Worst case is you put the family at risk on a reef etc.
Real risks, as are many others. Tho I wouldn't let that be too much of an issue - strapping your kids in their car seats and driving on the highway is a lot riskier, yet we all do it and accept risks are part of life. Same on a boat - there are some very real risks, just not as many as on land. We just seem to be less aware of risks we take every single day as part of daily life.
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Old 01-01-2016, 06:38   #8
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

Just for clarification of my prior post- if you are fairly new to sailing, the prior post outlines challenges- you'll be singlehanding.
From my perspective, I would wait until kids are older as YOU will have more fun when they can play more independently, swim, walk on beach, etc. i consider the time sailing when our 2 kids were very young (3 and under) to be fun and a lot of hard work. Once they were about 3 and 5 we found still lots of fun, but much more relaxing and much less hard work.

We have had boat and financial ability to take sabbatical for some time, but we are waiting for our 6-12 month getaway until they are a little bit older so that they can share some responsibility.

But to each their own, and good for you for considering a great adventure that will create lots of family time.


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Old 01-01-2016, 07:09   #9
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

how is your sailing experience?? have you taken the kids and momma sailing??
might wanna try that first.
there are chartering companies everywhere, so renting a boat for a day then weekend then week to see how all get along may be mandatory in your situation.
some folks go out without experience, most of those fail. you hear of bumfuzzles and others who did succeed... but those are small percentage.
so, charter daysails first. then figger out if sailing is what you really wanna do with 2 very small kids who cannot do but need momma, you will be solo on your trip despite having others on board who will need constant attention to prevent mishaps and mayhem.
best of luck in your adventure.
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Old 01-01-2016, 07:41   #10
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizzy Belle View Post
You + your wife + 2 little ones = you'll do pretty much all the boat handling & sailing alone, while your wife is taking care of the little ones. Possibly 2 seasick little ones, even. The better you prep the boat for 2 little ones (baby proof boat, bunks for the babies etc.), the more time she'll have to enjoy the trip.
I spent six months cruising with my wife and 18 month old daughter. and this was pretty much our experience. One parent was always on baby duty, the other on boat watch.

Since my wife is not very strong, 5'4" 105 lbs, she mainly did watch duty while I did all the sail handling, anchoring and other strenuous chores. Occasional jobs that really needed two we could barricade our daughter in the forepeak for a short time but couldn't really depend on that.

Bottom line, taking off on a cruise like this as a newbie can be done but I think it takes a special kind of person to make it work and the odds are highly against success. Look back just on this forum over the last several years at similar posts and plans to see how many worked out. Even our member Rebel Heart who had significant experience and spent a long time prepping his boat and his cruise plans had to abandon his dream and boat.
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Old 01-01-2016, 09:08   #11
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

One option. Charter a yacht out of Grenada in hurricane season, either through a charter company on a special deal, or through a private owner if you can find one. Lots of owners leave their yachts there unattended or hauled out anyway. I have a friend who doesn't mind chartering his 46' cat for long terms, so it's possible. From Grenada you have a lot of options and beautiful cruising grounds at hand, within a day's sail. You can easily spend six months just in that area, or hang out at anchor or in a marina with close by amenities, supermarkets, doctors etc. you can wait for ideal sailing conditions before sailing if you like. The weather is great. You can jump back on a plane and fly home anytime if it's not for you. Maybe drop an email to LTD charters in Grenada to check prices and feasibility as a first step. Another option might be to join a private yacht in that area who doesn't mind having a family join them. I'm sure you would find a willing skipper or couple with a yacht for around $1000-$2000/week.
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Old 01-01-2016, 09:30   #12
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

I would call up charter operators in the planned and see how much discount they are willing to offer on a long term charter. Take this as your reference point for break point analysis in your buy vs. rent options.

The Moorings 'rent&own' programs, I would not touch without complete understanding of what one is into and a long tete a tete with your accountant/financial adviser.

If you buy, buy what sells well, (unless you want to buy and hold). Given that you are into the kids thing, if your budget allows, buy a cat: stability, space, ease of operation and lifestyle close to a beach bungalow.

It may be a hard task to find a financially neat solution for only one 6 mths period but it should be easier if you consider returning there in future periods. If so, consider renting the boat out in the periods you are not going to be there. A cat docked in a marina can be an outstanding opportunity to people who simply need a less expensive camp to explore the island. You can get some of your marina / storage fees down this way.

Important: fully explore the financial side of the undertaking and do allow for the unknown unknowns (Rumsfeld, I think) - it may and pretty often costs 1.5 to 2 times more than what your estimate. At least the first time, before you learn the ways, tricks and trappings.

Have fun.

BTW Tahiti is Caribbean. Low level medical services and some criminality, so read up prior to visiting.

b.
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Old 01-01-2016, 11:07   #13
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

I have been chewing on my tongue a while here trying to come up with a way to be positive about this. We had 2 children about the same times apart as you and my daughter has 2 about the same age spread as you will have on the boat. Just dealing with the babies at that age was a LOT of work. I will admit that I'm not a naturally good father so it may be easier for someone who doesn't have to work as hard at it as I did. Never the less learning to live aboard in this situation will add substantially to the work load. Would it be financially possible for you to have a full time crew member during this time? An crew member even if not a Capt. who has experience on the type of boat and area may be literally a live saver. Where to provision? Cooking and daily tasks. Do you know the best way to tie netting on the life lines? Just an experience Cook/Nanny would be a huge help but with a Capt. you wouldn't have to get up in the middle of the night to check the anchor or make a thousand other decisions every week.

My wife is experienced on a boat and we are admittedly old and much lower energy than we were but if we had to take two babies on our boat now some kind of additional help would make the stay fun instead of wearing us down.

If you are looking for a family bonding experience I would be inclined to wait until both of the kids know how to swim and are old enough to help with the boat and remember the experience.
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Old 01-01-2016, 17:05   #14
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

Quote:
Originally Posted by darylat8750 View Post
Would it be financially possible for you to have a full time crew member during this time? An crew member even if not a Capt. who has experience on the type of boat and area may be literally a live saver. Where to provision? Cooking and daily tasks. Do you know the best way to tie netting on the life lines? Just an experience Cook/Nanny would be a huge help but with a Capt. you wouldn't have to get up in the middle of the night to check the anchor or make a thousand other decisions every week.

My wife is experienced on a boat and we are admittedly old and much lower energy than we were but if we had to take two babies on our boat now some kind of additional help would make the stay fun instead of wearing us down.

If you are looking for a family bonding experience I would be inclined to wait until both of the kids know how to swim and are old enough to help with the boat and remember the experience.
I'd say that the above thoughts (and that similar to it in this thread) is pretty premium advice.
And also, in my comments below, you can insert the word; Nanny, or Crew, most anywhere that I say "Skipper".

There's nothing which says that you can't find a Skipper who loves little kids, & is great with them. Actually, you should find such a person. But from the start, it has to be unquestionably clear that his primary responsibilities are to the boat, period.
Up to & including, creating an environment conducive to his getting proper sleep quality (& quantity). And that any other labors on his part are subject to negotation. If he takes on any such tasks, at all.

Also, as an FYI, one of the better "charter" setups, IMO; is where the boat comes with a Skipper, & a Chef. Thus, the two (actually 3) biggest tasks onboard, are thus taken care of.
Specifically: Handling the boat (24/7), Cooking (including meal prep, & cleanup), & Provisioning.

I'd also suggest that if you do hire a full time skipper, that you have a boat where he has his own private living space. Such as a boat with a full on aft cabin, which stretches the wholel width of the boat. Or similar.
NOT just an abridged hidey hole (with a door), such as is found in the aft quarters of a former charter boat. But rather, a true Master's Cabin. Preferably with an enwuite head & shower. Fully seperate from everyone & everything, else. Thus, he has his own, inviolate, private space.
Also, have it written into his contract that he gets X number of days off per month. With paid for lodgings (& per diem) off of the vessel, & or the vessel fully to himself for said time period.

Doing so will give both you, & him (or hired crew, etc.) a much welcomed breather from the day to day (& each other). Plus, if it's you who gets off of the boat for that time period, you'll get to see & experience a lot more of life as a local/the local culture, wherever you happen to be.
For instance, you can plan a 'vacation' (trip) ashore, to destination X, to go & see, attractions Y, & Z.
In addition to having a temporary break from life aboard & all of the chores which go with. Ergo, you can enjoy the luxury of life ashore for a bit... including room service & washing machines, etc.

That, or you can take a bit of time off from the cruise, & fly "home" for 3-5 days (or more). To take a breather, back in "civilization". Visiting friends, & or family. Such that you also have built in care givers for the little ones, with whomever you choose to visit. And thus you get a break from the kids dominating your life's every minute of the day, too.
Heck, leave the kids with the Grand parents for 3 days, & go stay at a local'ish 5-star venue, which comes with inclusive massages & the whole deal. And have a mini 2nd Honeymoon.

Plus, the Skipper, as a Skipper; frankly, deserves some time with the boat to himself. Given that he's responsible for it 24/7. In addition to putting up with you & the kids. Even if he full on adopts you all, & vice versa. Becoming another Uncle to them.
Ditto on writing it into his contract that he gets to go home/on (paid) vacation, every so often too.

I say as much, having done all kinds of skippering. And I genuinely both love, & am great with kids. But in such a situation, I'd surely want to have my GF/other half, come & spend some time with me, alone, on the boat. Every so often.
In addition to having her there when the (owner's) family is aboard as well. Which, is also, another thing to take into consideration, when hiring a skipper/crew/nanny.

Meaning, include spending some time with their other half, & their other half spending some time with you, & especially with the kids... on the boat. As a bit of a screening/adjustment process.
Plus, if the Skipper has kids too, you'll need to realistically see, how all of you get along. Though not to the degree that his kids will routinely be cruising with you.

For as they say, "When you're thinking about inviting someone to do a bit of cruising with you. Ask yourself what it would be like having them living with you in your bedroom at home. Because that's quite literally the amount of space & privacy which you have onboard a boat".
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Old 01-01-2016, 18:07   #15
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Re: How to find a boat for 6 months in the Caribbeans?

You should read this thread about cruising with young children
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