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Old 04-03-2012, 13:48   #1
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Me and My Plan

Hello All,

I love sailing. When I was 19 I got my check for college tuition assistance in the mail and used it to buy a 1984 28' Bayliner Bucaneer. I sailed that thing with no knowledge and experience around the San Juans all spring and summer long until school started the following fall and my parents found out what I did with my tuition... Well I couldn't pay for school and got the boot from the folks so I did the next logical thing, joined the Coast Guard!

Now I've got 10 amazing years in with the Guard, I'm 30 years old, married with no kids, and still looking for adventure! My first tour with the coast guard was in Key West was on a 110' patrol boat where my primary duty after scrubbing shitters, polishing brass and sanding paint was navigation, charting, plotting etc... I was a qualified Quarter master of the watch and spent 18 months on that boat helping to navigate between Key West, Cuba, Nassau, and even up to the boatyards in Baltimore. However, that boat was my last time being underway and now nearly 9 years in the past.

This winter I received orders to the US virgin Islands, St. Thomas. Its a three year tour, so naturally I've devised a 4 year plan:

Step 1: Move to St. Thomas
Step 2: Buy live-aboard sailboat. (I'll receive a housing stipend of $2400/month for a 3 year period which gives me around a $75000 price point)
Step 3: Complete 3 year tour in St. Thomas and learn to sail sail boat real good, while using housing stipend to pay off boat.
Step 4: Save enough money during three year tour to go one year w/out income.
Step 5: Take one year sabbatical at end of three year tour.
Step 6: Use saved money, sailboat, and 1 year sabbatical to circumnavigate Caribbean.
Step 7: At end of one year sabbatical resume life as normal, or...

So with that as the "plan" I look forward to gleaming as much knowledge as I can from the more experienced on this forum. Any advice would be much appreciated. I look forward to anything such as tips on boat shopping, living aboard, cruising, insurance in the VI, dealing with hurricanes, or any flaws or general thoughts you may have with my plan! Cheers, Nate.
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Old 04-03-2012, 13:57   #2
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Re: Me and my plan

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Caribbean Bound.

Sounds like a great plan, to me. Iím jealous!
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Old 04-03-2012, 13:59   #3
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Re: Me and my plan

Well Nate, as they say, "plan your work, and then work your plan". Do you plan to buy your live-aboard IN the St Thomas area? If not, I have a 34' Columbia MKII located in Pensacola that I lived aboard until a couple of months ago. I just decided to sell it. Great experience, and saved a lot of $$. Want to do it again only next time with my wife, and in the Caribbean. There is a great wealth of info on these pages (and other sailing forums) so read a lot, talk to them that's been and done, and best wishes for your future.
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Old 04-03-2012, 18:28   #4
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Re: Me and my plan

Thanks for the welcome guys! As of now I do plan on waiting till I get to the VI, and purchasing a boat once I get there even though I know this will drastically limit my options. The main reason for this is that I'm moving from Kodiak, AK and my wife and I will be road tripping the 7500 miles to Orlando. I won't have time to then to pick up a boat on the east coast/gulf coast and sail it to the VI. I figure if I get to the VI and can't find something in the immediate area I will start exploring options in Florida and Puerto Rico. Also, its been a long time since I've been on the water, and even longer since I've sailed, so I wouldn't feel comfortable cruising to the VI right away.

I lived on the 28 footer for a summer by myself with no problem, however I feel that for both my wife and myself we'd want something in the 40' range, although I think we may be able to make 34' work if it came down to it. Remember the first part of my plan is to live on the boat for 3 years before taking off on long distance cruises. That being said, anyone have suggestions for what boats I should be looking for for a liveaboard around 40' in the $75 thou price range?
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Old 04-03-2012, 19:25   #5
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Re: Me and my plan

Great plan! Should be lots in your price range in this market. I wouldnt want to go smaller than the 36' we are on. Mind you, there's five of us. But we're a little nuts
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Old 04-03-2012, 19:34   #6
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Re: Me and my plan

I wish I had your crystal ball, that sounds like a dream come true in my books welcome and good luck.

TM
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Old 04-03-2012, 19:40   #7
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Re: Me and my plan

Uncle Sam pays for cruising, sure sounds like a great plan to me. As to the boat, my first was over 20 years ago, a Cal 40 ex-race boat that I fitted some nice cruising systems to and had a blast in Sea of Cortez. Spent $16K back then and about the same on systems, so $32K, current for nice cruise equipped Cal40 is $25~35K. Fast boat.
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Old 04-03-2012, 19:54   #8
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Re: Me and my plan

Welcome aboard.

Are you planning on leaving the Coast Guard after 13 years or can you leave and get back in? With only seven years till retirement, with pay and medical benefits you could retire and sail forever. I did 20 yrs in Navy and at times absolutely loathed it, but now, not a day goes by that I am thankful I stayed. Hopefully all will work out for you and again welcome.
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Old 04-03-2012, 19:57   #9
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Why not see what's available in the charter fleet.
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Old 04-03-2012, 20:17   #10
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Re: Me and my plan

Wow thanks for all the quick tips! Ovrmyhead 36/5 = 7'2.5"/person I think that qualifies as a little nuts! thanks for giving me a standard OI can bring to the ol lady.... Deckofficer when it came to cruising systems, did you rig for singlehand? Zeta - I have the option of taking up to a two year sabbatical once during my career (after putting in ten) and then returning to the Coast guard and picking up right at where I left off and finishing my retirement, which is what I fully intend on doing. Nibiruwayne, I'm not familiar with the charter fleets, can you explain a little more?

Ironically, for the last 8 years I've spent in the Coast Guard none of it has had anything to do with being on, or around, boats. Half of it has been spent in Pollution response (Think Deep Water Horizon) and the last 4 years I've spent as a weather forecaster for our aircraft in Kodiak AK.
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Old 04-03-2012, 20:23   #11
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Re: Me and my plan

Lines running aft, but not much else and I single handed from Long Beach non stop to Mulege 1/2 way up the Sea of Cortez. Systems were more for comfort, inverter, solar, freezer, water maker, wind vane and auto pilot, HF SSB.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:40   #12
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Re: Me and My Plan

Hi Nate,
Sounds like you've got it well sorted and I wish you every success. IMHO try and squeeze up to a 40 footer if you plan long term cruising especially in warmer waters. For sure you'll have plenty of choice with your budget.
Well done, enjoy.
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Old 05-03-2012, 13:29   #13
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Re: Me and My Plan

Outstanding! I love posts like this.

As one who also has a wench (wife) let her choose as much as possible about the boat. You will find a comfortable wench makes for a comfortable captain.

I sure hope you understand the temperature differences between Kodiak and the Caribbean. It might take 3 years to get used to the difference!
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Old 05-03-2012, 16:00   #14
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Re: Me and My Plan

Charter fleet explanation - the charter fleets in the virgin islands regularly sell-off their boats once they reach ~ 5 years old. The ones I've seen that people have bought look surprisingly good, but they will be mostly Beneteaus. Google "The Moorings." Probably won't find much for $75k, though. Also, www.BVIYachtSails.com always has some good boats - call Brian Duff there.
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Old 05-03-2012, 18:56   #15
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Re: Me and My Plan

Thanks for the warm wishes swagman, gelfling and breakaway! I've started another thread in the liveaboard section if you want to see how my plan shapes up! Swagman, I'm definitely trying to stay on the + side of 40 with two good options at 43' and 46' right now, and according to Gelfling's advice, after narrowing the field I will simply let the "wench" decide. THanks for the advise Breakaway, I've noticed about a half dozen beneteaus in the 38 - 43' range for sale in the area. Most are mid 1980's boats in my price range, I was wondering why so many, guess that explains it... Whats the general feeling about the Beneteaus?
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