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Old 19-04-2011, 18:27   #1
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Planning to Live Aboard from Massachusetts

Hello! (ahoy?)

A little about me
I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that I don't like staying in one place for extended periods of time. I'm 27, and for the past decade (rounding), I've moved pretty consistently every 6 months. I own two duffel bags of things, and a pair of computers (they constitute my income), and that's really it. I'm used to selling/gifting all my furniture, moving, and buying/receiving new furniture.

So after I came across a video about Teresa Cary and (kind of about) Ben Erikson recently, my interest was seriously piqued. They seemed to have found some magical way to put all my favorite things together AND travel around as part of everyday life. I did a bit more research, and more investigation, and a bit more reading after that, and with every new piece of information I uncovered, I became more and more interested in this lifestyle.

Complications
There are a few minor snags, like the fact that I haven't sailed in the past 15 years, and the largest boat I've ever sailed was a Sunfish, but I'm a big fan of learning on the job. I'll worry about those trivial setbacks once I'm in the water.

My Plan
Now, my initial (unrealistic, in all likelihood) goal is:
find+purchase a suitable boat (25' to 30' sloop of some brand seems reasonable, based on the advice I've seen others take), perform whatever essential maintenance is required, stock up on provisions and whatever gear I'll need, and start sailing South. I have friends along the East Coast that I can visit as I continue down, and I'm really interested in continuing on past the Florida Keys, crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas/Caribbean Islands, and continuing South to meet up with a handful of friends in Brazil that I haven't seen in far too long. Ideally, I'd like to purchase a boat by August, and be on my way toward Virginia by October. If I take my time and am cautious of weather, I think I'll be able to make it to Brazil by February (for Carnival!), at which point I'll just turn around and head back (or sell/gift the boat and fly back, if I'm not in love with it by then).

I expect this will be seen as an overly-enthusiastic entrance into sailing, and that I'll be in over my head in no time, and I'm happy to listen to any advice anybody offers... but that doesn't necessarily mean I'll take it. I've made plenty of horribly ill-advised decisions in my time, and am proud of every single one of them. They have helped to make me a better person, living a more full life, and that's exactly what I'd like to get out of this.

A little more about me (you haven't skipped to the bottom to leave a reply yet?)
I'm a web and software developer and systems architect, and as such already work in a mobile setting. Ideally, I'd want to have reliable internet available but I'm very aware of how impossible that is, especially after leaving the coast of Florida. I can work around patchy Internet, as long as I can wrangle up a decent wireless signal once every couple weeks to upload my latest work. I've looked around for different onboard solutions, but haven't come up with anything. In the US, it looks like the East Coast is fairly well covered by Verizon's 3g and 4g networks, which will keep me perfectly content.

I consider myself a very mechanically inclined, logical person, and have fallen in love with several of my cars and re-engineered several others in the process. I run an automotive website called Driven Daily, and have become the go-to guy that my friends call when their mechanic can't figure out what's wrong with their car. Somehow, that paragraph was supposed to indicate that I plan to do as much of my own work as possible. I like getting my hands dirty.

Anyway, that's me, in a nutshell. After reading around on a few different forums, I decided this was the place for me. Most sailing forums seem to have a lot of very knowledgeable people lurking around, but I like the atmosphere here. Overall, you seem to be a logical bunch of interesting people who aren't afraid to respect illogical, passionate decisions. I have a feeling I'll like it here.

*footnote: My plan is very subject to change. It is not set in stone in any way whatsoever, and depends primarily on my bank account's status if/when I come across 'the perfect vessel'.
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Old 19-04-2011, 18:48   #2
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

Sounds like a great plan to me.
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Old 19-04-2011, 19:18   #3
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

Wooo! Now to find a boat!

I've been looking at a few abandoned boats at a few marinas near Boston (some haven't even been abandoned, but the marinas essentially take possession of ships that have more owed on them than they're worth), and it seems like I'll be able to get started on this journey for a lot less than I had initially intended.

I was expecting to have to put away around $10,000 to buy a reasonable boat, but based on a few Craigslist searches and what I've seen in the Marinas out here, I may even be able to have a working, livable sailboat for a quarter of that. I'm trying to budget out what kind of provisions I'll need for this, and how much I should save up before starting out on it, but that's very difficult without any experience. Right now I'm just kind of estimating based on daily caloric intake and food storage time limits, and I'm tentatively going to say that living on a boat looks less expensive (on paper) than living on land. Huge bonus for me, and I won't have to worry about finding car parking any more!
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Old 19-04-2011, 19:36   #4
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

I suggest you not go too cheap on the boat. It is generally a better deal to buy one in good shape than make repairs and buy things for one.
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Old 19-04-2011, 19:47   #5
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

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I suggest you not go too cheap on the boat. It is generally a better deal to buy one in good shape than make repairs and buy things for one.
I've read that a few times, and even based on my own experience with cars, have to agree. I don't know what the most expensive parts of boats are, but I'm guessing sails, mast, and rigging add up more quickly than any other individual components. I'm not afraid of fiberglass repair in the least, interiors appear to be relatively straightforward woodwork, wiring is very straightforward (compared to modern cars), and sailboat engines are simple enough that they make me giggle a little (I love them!).

I'm really more concerned about the TIME investment of repairing a boat, since most of the refurbishing stories I've read quickly turn weeks into months. I'd much rather be sailing than tinkering. I fully plan to have a boat surveyor take a look at whatever I intend to purchase, but as long as it's a solid shell (hull?) and nothing is dangerously broken, I'm fine with cleaning and painting the bottom and fixing 'little things' underway.

Don't walk away with the impression that I'm trying to cut corners and get out of this as cheaply as possible, I just don't want to spend more than I have to. If I can meet all my needs for less money, I will. I accepted that I won't have a pretty boat (like a Nor'Sea, mmmm) any time soon.
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Old 19-04-2011, 19:55   #6
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

Welcome to CF, Drummerboy'... I wish you well in your adventure. Many may advise you to cool your jets until you have more experience/boat/money/ whatever but my advice is to go as soon as you feel confident you can navigate a sound vessel on your own. With no experience, before you invest or aquire a boat, have someone with maritime experience check her out an make sure the bones are sound and give you some idea what it will take to make her sea worthy. It will take $ to do this but it is an investment in your life, so don't scrimp.
If you are in the Boston area, check out some sailing clubs and try and get as much experience as you can. Very competent sailors in the area.
Your abilities with software should make it fairly straightforward to pick up navigation and load up charts for your voyage on your computer.
It sounds like you have some mechanical knowledge which is handy in two ways. You can troubleshoot and fix your own engine and you can sell your talents helping others with mechanical problems along the track.
I would encourage you to invest in a couple of primers on rigging, sailing, anchoring and spend your evenings reading and your days practicing.
Brazil is a hell of a long way so plan your voyage in hops down the coast and islands, learn about weather and ask alot of questions.
Good Luck... Capt Phil
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Old 19-04-2011, 20:25   #7
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

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Welcome to CF, Drummerboy'... I wish you well in your adventure. Many may advise you to cool your jets until you have more experience/boat/money/ whatever but my advice is to go as soon as you feel confident you can navigate a sound vessel on your own. With no experience, before you invest or aquire a boat, have someone with maritime experience check her out an make sure the bones are sound and give you some idea what it will take to make her sea worthy. It will take $ to do this but it is an investment in your life, so don't scrimp.
Thanks for the warm welcome, and all the advice heaped into one! I know how frustrating it can be hearing the same questions/concerns/etc over and over and over from every person who has an interest, so I really appreciate all of you bearing with me.

Your advice is well received, and my only argument is that I'm going to have a very hard time getting more experience without a boat, and if I'm going to have a boat, I might as well be using it as often as possible. Money is relatively easy to come by, in the relatively small amounts I need.

I have a few friends in the area who have expressed an interest in helping me along the way, with purchasing and acquainting myself with handling a big (30' is big to me, at least) boat. I have no problem with paying a professional surveyor to come out and identify potential problems for me, I definitely do think it's a sound investment, even on a free boat. As I've seen several times over with cars, sometimes a beautiful free classic isn't worth giving away because it'd take so much time, effort, and money to bring it back to functional that you may as well pay full price in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
If you are in the Boston area, check out some sailing clubs and try and get as much experience as you can. Very competent sailors in the area.
I don't even know where to begin! I'm going to do everything I can to get out on the water soon, which will start with meeting up with a few of my fishing friends, who'll hopefully know some sailing friends, who'll hopefully become my friends, and we'll all live happily ever after.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
Your abilities with software should make it fairly straightforward to pick up navigation and load up charts for your voyage on your computer.
It sounds like you have some mechanical knowledge which is handy in two ways. You can troubleshoot and fix your own engine and you can sell your talents helping others with mechanical problems along the track.
I would encourage you to invest in a couple of primers on rigging, sailing, anchoring and spend your evenings reading and your days practicing.
I'm actually planning to stop by the library tomorrow and pick up whatever I can to prepare myself as much as possible. I hadn't even considered prostituting out my mechanical abilities, but I love the idea! There don't seem to be a lot of machines to take care of on a boat, though. I love the straightforward simplicity and elegant engineering that goes into them, and so many boats turn a simple device like a pulley into a work of art, simply by placing it in the perfect place to make it extremely adaptable/useful.

As for the GPS/Navigation, I don't see that being much of a problem. They all seem pretty straightforward to use, and I've worked on a few applications that integrate with GIS systems that utilize GPS heavily. Knowing where I am will be fairly easy, as long as there are openings in the sky. HOWEVER, I'm extremely interested in 'classical' navigation. I'd love to try to rely on non-electronics, and just use GPS to confirm/deny that my navigation is correct than to rely 100% on GPS. In the same vein, I often leave my car's GPS in the glove box or trunk, and just pull over every half hour to check my map when I'm on a long trip. It just feels more immersive in general.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
Brazil is a hell of a long way so plan your voyage in hops down the coast and islands, learn about weather and ask alot of questions.
That's exactly why I'm here. This is the place to ask questions, more than anything. It seems like "hurricane season" ends in the Caribbean sometime around November, which definitely concerns me a lot. I have a healthy respect for the sea, compounded by my very limited sailing skills. I hope to avoid bad weather as much as possible, and am willing to give up days (or weeks) of sailing to wait for better conditions.

And I agree, Brazil is a long ways away, and there's a lot of stuff between here and there that I'd call scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
Good Luck... Capt Phil
I'm going to need it
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Old 19-04-2011, 20:29   #8
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

Howdy Drummerboy,

It sounds like a pretty good plan to me but I'm a bit biased though since so many of the details are similar to my own plan/life.

I've been traveling while doing computer work for 6 or 7 years now. I've mostly done this overland in a VW Westy, around the U.S. Mexico and Canada but am restoring a Pearson 28-1 which I plan to cruise the U.S. East Coast (maybe bahamas/carib) in (while I continue to do the computer work) until the next pursuit comes up. I've also restored autos, done lots of mechanical work etc. etc. which sounds similar to your background. About a year ago I started restoring my current boat and have really been enjoying it. I miss sailing (sold my last boat before starting this one) but know that I'll get back out there soon enough. In the mean time I meet lots of cruisers that pass through the yard from all over the world, and have all the time I need to go through the boat stem-to-stern so that it will be comfortable and reliable when I launch and shift focus to the on-water demands.

I mention all of that for two reasons. First let me know if you have specific questions that I may be able to answer since I've been steadily learning about/dealing with a lot of the same challenges you have, or will have. Second, don't overlook the pleasures that can come from the boat refit/restoration.

You've probably heard this, but go look at/in/on/under at least 5 or 6 different types/sizes of boats before you buy one, and more if possible. Ideally you can go sailing on a few of the primary types that you will probably be looking at. For example, go out on an older/heavier/narrower full/modified keeler to see how you like the handling/layout. Then go out on some slightly more modern designs with fin keels and more beam etc. That may not be possible but would be worth the effort if possible. I had only sailed on a few boats when I picked up my current Pearson 28-1 but have since been on more and love the variety that is available, and seem to find things that I like about each design.

Oh yeah, I'll second the reading recommendation too, there are a lot of great sailing books out there. I've been reading sailing books steadily for years and have plenty ahead of me in the queue.

Good luck and say hello if you pass through NC

Jonathan
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Old 19-04-2011, 20:42   #9
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

Welcome aboard. Good words from Capt Phil
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Old 19-04-2011, 20:53   #10
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

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I mention all of that for two reasons. First let me know if you have specific questions that I may be able to answer since I've been steadily learning about/dealing with a lot of the same challenges you have, or will have. Second, don't overlook the pleasures that can come from the boat refit/restoration.

Oh yeah, I'll second the reading recommendation too, there are a lot of great sailing books out there. I've been reading sailing books steadily for years and have plenty ahead of me in the queue.

Good luck and say hello if you pass through NC

Jonathan
That DOES sound like we have similar histories. A Pearson 30 looks like a pretty solid bet, simply because there are SO MANY of them. I'm kind of approaching this like buying my first motorcycle:
Buy something that's easy to handle, easy to maintain, and will resell well when I'm ready to upgrade.

I'll enjoy all the pleasures of refit/restoration on my second (or fourth) boat. Right now, I just want to get out on some saltwater.

I'll be stopping by for a few days (at least) at Virginia Beach to visit some friends, and it looks like it'll take a few days to get through NC, so it sounds like a great idea to stop by and hang for a bit.

Any reading recommendations? There are a few free books online, but some conflict with each other a bit. What's useful, and what are the have-to-have books?

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Welcome aboard. Good words from Capt Phil
Thanks!

I can't believe what a warm welcome you're all offering! What a friendly place!
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Old 19-04-2011, 21:25   #11
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

Aw man, my first Private Message and I can't even reply to it because I'm not "trusted" yet. I wish I knew what "trusted" meant. The forum FAQ didn't answer that one for me.
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Old 19-04-2011, 23:41   #12
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

If you are truly serious do whatever it takes to make it happen. Dont look back. Dont listen to naysayers- and go full steam ahead.
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Old 20-04-2011, 07:35   #13
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

Welcome Aboard CF and enjoy the site
Nice to have you here
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Old 20-04-2011, 08:07   #14
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

I live aboard the cutter PEREGRINA year round at Constitution Marina is Boston. This is the second boat I have lived aboard is Boston, but first lived aboard a pretty little gaff rigged wooden boat back in my 20's - The Peregrine Sea: Living Aboard - SKYE of Eagle Harbor. I say figure it out and do it. There are people living aboard small boats here. If it suits you and you find a bigger boat you can move up. It is the lifestyle and adventure that matters. blog.peregrinesea.com
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Old 20-04-2011, 13:21   #15
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Re: Planning to Liveaboard from Massachusetts

Welcome aboard what is without doubt the best sailing forum ever. You have already had lot's of great input on a wide range of things but I would add to your already long list of things to do by asking you to consider what you need to do in order to enjoy your offshore sailing Safely. I know, I sound like your granny but I'm serious, the safer you are, the more fun you will have. And since my beloved Hab's are going to toast your Bruins, you will need all the fun you can get...
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