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Old 24-06-2014, 20:58   #1
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Introducing Myself

So here's my story. I grew up on boats in the San Francisco Bay in the sixties and seventies but my parents ran out of money and the boats went away. But then I was a teen we moved to the Mediterranean and I spent idyllic time there working on fishing boats on an island without roads, bridges -- or many people. (My family was rather bohemian and unusual.) Later I came back to San Francisco and sailed with my brother, windsurfed, etc. Crewed a few times when living in Honolulu. For the last twenty five years I've been working a fascinating but tiring job deploying to various war & crisis zones around the world. After my last gig in a war zone two years ago I decided life is too short and I wanted to sail around the world. Here's my situation: (a) I've spent a lot of time around boats, crewing, caulking, cleaning, sailing, fishing, etc. But I've never been the captain -- just crew. (b) I have a seventy thousand a year pension, good health insurance, a couple of mostly paid-off houses (which I want to leave for my kids). I am in good health, strong, etc. But for twenty five years I've been in a life far from the sea, far from doing things for myself (of this nature), and far from sailing.

I am now torn between returning to Iraq or just buying a boat. I've been playing the war zone card a long time and I am getting tired of it -- and it seems to me the longer you roll the dice the more chance you roll a bad double six. I could put out 100,000 for a boat -- in a pinch 150,000, but that would imply a small boat loan. (I don't want to sell my property because I don't want to return to the US without resources.) I have a net of about $5,000 I think, monthly, to sail. I would like to do a circumnavigation of around five years. I am around fifty. My wife is game. Here are my questions:

-- Am I right in thinking I could get away with only $100--150K for a seaworthy cruiser? I am not a great mechanic so when I see these low-ball prices I assume the assumption is a lot of sweat equity.
-- Is $5,500 a month a reasonable sum for monthly expenses? The forum is all over the place on this; some people speak of $500 a month -- others $3000 -- what's the best guess?
-- How much prep do I need to do before I head towards Hawaii? Is a little sailing experience enough or do I need to do some ocean cruising first? How do I develop the experience?

Thanks for your advice. I've been reading the forums with great interest. Thanks for listening and thanks for any advice.


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Old 24-06-2014, 21:09   #2
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Re: Introducing myself

I'll let others tackle your questions as they will surely have a better grasp on the many possible answers. Welcome to CF!
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Old 24-06-2014, 21:15   #3
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Re: Introducing myself

Hi TW and welcome to the forum.

Sure sounds like an interesting background and lifestyle but I have to agree. Keep rolling the dice and the odds you'll crap out keep going up. Iraq is not a healthy place and for the moment it's getting a lot worse but I'm sure you know that way better than I.

Be advised, you come to a cruising forum you are not going to get an unbiased reply. The majority of the members are either incurable boat bums, wananbee boat bums, hopeless romantics and a few BSers. One way or the other, most of us have been bitten and are going to say go for it.

That being said, you're plan sounds perfectly reasonable, practical and financially sound. Seems like you have read the arguments discussions about how much it costs to live on a boat. Well I've got the right answer. It costs as much as you let it. It would be pretty tough to live on $500/month but it wouldn't take a whole lot of care to live very well on $5000/month. Couldn't do that tied up at the downtown yacht club in Monaco but you can do it easily in many, many places; USA or around the world.

Your budget for a boat would be fine. You should be able to find a very good, midsized cruiser for that. Just remember, don't spend the whole wad on the purchase. Put aside a good chunk for the this and that's. And remember and though it sounds like a joke it carries a lot of truth, boat projects will cost twice as much and take twice as long as you estimate.

If you are reasonably handy then start building those skills because if you start paying a boatyard to do everything then double that again. I started out knowing nothing at all about mechanics and learned on the go. No way I'm an expert but can get most things done. May take me a lot longer and I may have to do a lot of R&D to get there but I think most of the time the final result is as good or better than what I would get at a boat yard.

So, what's next?
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Old 24-06-2014, 21:22   #4
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Re: Introducing Myself

Part 2.

How to get the experience. Works differently for different people. Some like taking classes, some take crew positions on other boats, some are self taught.

The way I did it was a combination. Never been on a sailboat in my life and fell into a delivery job. Immediately caught the sailing disease, a very bad case. Knew the first day out that I would be a sailor one way or another. Came home fired up and started reading. Read all the how to books, books by cruisers describing their experiences and how they did it, boat building, boat design, boat maintenance, basically anything about boats. Got another crew spot a few months later and all the stuff I had read started to make some sense. Went home and with some real world experience read it all again and it stuck a little better. A year later I talked my way into a job as a delivery captain and learned on the job.

I would say before taking off for Hawaii it wouldn't hurt to get some experience off shore. It is normally a fairly easy, downwind run but you will be a long way from help if something goes south.
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Old 24-06-2014, 22:15   #5
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Re: Introducing Myself

Thanks Skipmac this is useful advice. Now I need to figure out a way to slip away and sail more often so i can build the experience I need to get started.


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Old 25-06-2014, 04:33   #6
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Re: Introducing Myself

Welcome aboard! (SkipMac's answer is good enough for me. We've generally found that life costs a little less when we're full-time cruising than when we're living on land, but, then again, we spend a lot of time in idyllic, remote anchorages – sometimes it's too hard to spend any money there!).
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Old 25-06-2014, 05:16   #7
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Welcome to CF Whimsical..
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Old 25-06-2014, 06:49   #8
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Re: Introducing Myself

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Whimsical1 View Post
...............
I am now torn between returning to Iraq or just buying a boat. ............

Am I right in thinking I could get away with only $100--150K for a seaworthy cruiser? ..................

Is $5,500 a month a reasonable sum for monthly expenses? .............
I think most of us would agree that the money is adequate.

The Iraq or boat question is puzzling. I must be missing something,- It's as if you were asking, "Eat a bug or a bite of lobster?" ..... "....a poke in the eye or a soothing massage?" I would choose the boat!

For gaining sailing experience, I think the best option is to learn sailing on a small sailing dinghy or pram. You will have immediate feedback for all you do and quick learning without great expense. A big boat sails the same way, but the response of the boat is slower.
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Old 25-06-2014, 07:06   #9
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Forget Iraq... fly BVI, buy this and rent a Skipper for two weeks with your change....


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Old 25-06-2014, 08:53   #10
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Re: Introducing Myself

If 100K won't get you a good boat, and if you can't live like a king on $5,500 a month, them I'm screwed, cause I'm planning on trying it on about half that
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Old 25-06-2014, 09:48   #11
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Re: Introducing Myself

It depend on how you are viewing the 100k. At that price, it will likely need some sweat equity and/or outfitting. It will not likely be ready to set off to the wide blue yonder. Others will tell you that there are boats available for half that, but the only one we saw went to a friend of the family. They had only listed it in case he fell through. They are a rare thing on the West Coast.

You say that you are not very mechanically minded. In that case, I highly recommend something that needs sweat equity. Better to learn your systems at dock than at sea! My husband and I are both quite handy. We still get a bit overwhelmed with diagnosing and fixing so many different systems. We were able to hire a rigger and an electrician that were happy to answer questions and have me give a hand. The mechanic wasn't at all comfortable with having me hang around, but he sure didn't mind an extra hand when it saved him from crawling in and out of the lazarette.
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Old 25-06-2014, 10:12   #12
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Re: Introducing Myself

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterway Guide View Post
Welcome aboard! (SkipMac's answer is good enough for me. We've generally found that life costs a little less when we're full-time cruising than when we're living on land, but, then again, we spend a lot of time in idyllic, remote anchorages sometimes it's too hard to spend any money there!).
Back in the early 80s I spent a few years in the West Indies sometimes anchored for months in the far out islands of the Bahamas. Most of that time I had my wallet stored away and didn't spend any money for weeks at a time. Then back to civilization to buy some fresh food, water and fuel. I figured on a month to month basis I was living on $100-200/month.

Of course that did not factor in going back to the states ever 12-18 months to haul, bottom paint, repairs, etc. Then once or twice bigger costs like some new (to me used) sails, add an autopilot, etc that were a few thousand.

So when I'm asked the cost to cruise. It cost exactly what you spend for food, fuel and docking every month........ until one of the big bills comes due. Could be haul and bottom paint, a thousand or so. New sails, add a few thousand. Blow a transmission, several thousand. Blow an engine many thousand.

If you anchor out, eat on board, shop sensibly, don't go to the bar every night, then I think it would be easy to make that magic goal of living on $500/month. Just be sure you save up about a years worth of that $500 per for the occasional big expense that will happen once in a while.
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Old 25-06-2014, 19:08   #13
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Re: Introducing Myself

Thanks to all for these great replies. I really appreciate that nobody shot me down for stupidity, instead explaining patiently your views. Much appreciated!!


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Old 25-06-2014, 20:25   #14
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Re: Introducing Myself

G'Day Whimso,

My good fellow, if you have a hard time deciding whether to return to Iraq or go cruising then ipso facto, you need to go cruising!

And unless you have a huge appetite for very old wines, very young women, very large boats and very fancy restaurants, your proposed budget will indeed be more than adequate!

I hope that you jump the right way, 'cause I think that I'd like to meet you in some distant anchorage one day, and I ain't likely to cruise Iraq!

Good luck, mate

Jim
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Old 27-06-2014, 17:55   #15
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Re: Introducing Myself

Pull the plug and shove off to sea, plenty of money for cruising. I got drifted at age 56. I spent two years worrying about $$, then figured out I was fine, havnt worked since Aug. 2009.


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