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Old 04-09-2020, 21:24   #1
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How large of a yacht can I afford?

First let me say that this is mostly a hypothetical question. My wife and I have recently become borderline obsessed with yachts and the live-aboard cruising lifestyle. We have a plan to, in 5-6 years, sell our house, our cars, and most of our possessions and take the kids to go cruising full time. We would homeschool (boatschool?) the boys and our first destination would be The Great Loop for a year or so. Then, we'd head off to the Bahamas, Caribbean, over to the West Coast and up to the PNW.

To my question: How much boat can we safely handle as a family of 4? Beyond that, what does it cost to have a permanent crew of 2? Do larger yachts get exponentially more expensive after going over a certain length, say 100' LOA or larger? We currently have a healthy income and my wife can work anywhere there is internet access. Just looking for some thoughts and experiences from other owners who cruise the larger yachts whether crewed or not.
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Old 04-09-2020, 21:32   #2
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

It's more the cost of the boat than the crew. Boats get exponentially more expensive at every length increase -- you will see this from the prices. At a certain point the cost of a couple (skipper plus cook/maid) is insignificant compared with the cost of boat maintenance.

That said, you'd be an unusual couple to sail alone on a boat over say 65-70 feet, and unusual to have a crew at 50 feet or less.

Remember that a family of four is still essentially single handed sailing during each watch, although naturally you can usually time sail handling to the times when you're changing over.
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Old 04-09-2020, 23:22   #3
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

The following is professional advice from manatees. First. Do you really want a crew ? Please read “And The Sea Will Tell”. Next, A proper 60 to 70 foot nice yacht will start at 2 million and could go to 3. Still with me? You can learn the basics in a year if you stay on the boat...and you will have lots of time for the rest. Don’t invite some bum who looks and talks salty to stay overnight.
All this boat stuff is not rocket science. Take a few courses, go to a sail school.
Go buy a daysailer you can dump, a good dinghy to keep.
You don’t need a new yacht, just a newer one and get your own surveyor.
My final advice. Aluminum, pilothouse, monohull, Dutch.
Roll credits. That’s a wrap.
Happy trails to you.
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Old 05-09-2020, 01:54   #4
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

Ok, I do not have personal experience in the "big yacht" world. 65 or 70 ft is big! But I will try to throw in some thoughts on the "afford" side.



From smaller boats, say up to 35 or 40 ft
-Really well preserved and maintained boats around say 20 years have had market values of around 1/3 of the todays cost of a comparable size new boat. At the moment, the market value seems to be lower than that. It also depends on the actual boat, some designs are more popular, others less.

-For budgeting, when using professional yards, a maintenance and repair budget of around 10 % of the todays cost of a comparable size new boat, is my rough figure for sustainable operation on a high level of good condition. I try to do some stuff myself which reduces the labour cost a bit, but I am much slower than the pros. One figure for calculating own time could be 15 USD/hr worth of the own time for people without a professional background.



The above figures are very rough and there are a lot of very different opinions and experiences. But there is a lot of stuff that needs regular replacement on a boat that is actually used if you want to keep the boat in good condition. Some live longer with already wearing and worn stuff, others replace earlier, others live with fixedthemup gear. Still - after 10 years of actual use, a lot of stuff like upholstery, sails etc. is far from new and after 20 years of actual use, a lot of stuff will have given up.



Bringing up a run down boat very often costs more than buying one in good condition.


Every boat will need some investment after buying to tailor it or to address issues that only become apparent after buying - new boats and used ones.



That should help a bit with the "how big can I afford". Assuming you look in the 2 MUSD new price range (yikes, these are figures I can only dream of) and the above figures work in that range, you would look at around

-say 700 KUSD to buy something in good condition
-say 200 KUSD to address issues and to tailor the boat to your use
-say 200 KUSD for sustainable operation on a high level of good condition. Every year in the western industrialized world. Work is cheaper in other places though.


Very rough figures, you will hear very different opinions, but these figures at least can start your budgeting.


If the above is to much, you have to look smaller ... And make do, with or without permanent crew. Most families of 4 probably sail in the roughly 40 to 50 ft range. And dream of 3 ft more ... But there has been a trend for boats to become bigger and bigger. For less demanding people, 4 persons on around 35 feet is possible.



Have a good surveyor involved before buying.
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Old 05-09-2020, 02:07   #5
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

Wew.Bummfuzzle.Com is a blog about a family of 4 who have been adventuring for years. Converted Bus/RV, VW van, airstream trailer, couple of sailboats including a circumnavigation on a 37 foot cagamafsn, and now a Grand Banks 42 trawler in the Caribbean for the last few years. They are exceptionally good writers and photographers, and he works as some sort of financial planner. Should have plenty of good tips for a family of 4 with adolescent kids including home schooling.

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Old 05-09-2020, 02:21   #6
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

Well, you ask us what you can afford, but then give no information about what kind of resources you have.

So no one can answer that question like that.

So maybe let's start with what you might NEED for that kind of lifestyle. A family of 4 can be quite comfortable on a 40 foot trawler. A used but quality 40 foot trawler can be had for a few hundred thousand. Cruising budgets vary from near zero to near infinity, but you can live on a 40 foot trawler for not too much different money from what you would be spending on land -- some thousands a month. Depends on a lot of different things, and especially your choice of berthing (anchoring out? expensive marinas every night? more out of the way marinas and town quays?). You can easily spend $3000 a month or more just on berthing, or you can spend zero if you anchor out every night. Or anything in between.

If you can afford more than that, then you can go bigger and have space to have guests and/or crew. I am all in favor of crew -- keeping a live-aboard size boat in good condition and running is an almost full time job. So either you are going to be really busy with not too much time for your own work or other types of leisure, or you are going to be using a lot of tradesmen at $100+ per hour, OR you could have a handy crewman, which might not cost you all that much money. Maybe you will want one capable of captaining the boat or maybe not -- maybe you'll want one who comes as part of a couple, so that you also get help with cooking and cleaning and domestic work -- there are infinite combinations to suit whatever needs and budget you have.

Once you get up to the 100' range, then this is a very different budget category. I have a close friend with a 100' motor yacht and have spent a good bit of time on it. That requires a much more extensive crew -- in his case I think 6 people -- and that costs a few hundred thousand a year by itself. Then fuel for a vessel that size which burns a couple hundred liters per hour at slow cruise, maintaining two 2000 horsepower V16 diesels, all that stuff -- adds up fast. Acquiring a boat like that will cost a few million, and running a boat like will not be a few thousand a month, it will be tens of thousands a month.

But it's mighty nice if you have the dosh. A boat like that is especially nice for entertaining -- so for example if you own a business which requires high level business entertainment -- then this is the ticket. You might even be able to write off some of the cost. But it's a different price category altogether.
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Old 05-09-2020, 03:17   #7
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

Another good blog is KensBlog.com. He retired 20+ years ago after selling some sort of software company. He's a good and prolific writer who started on a Nordhavn 62, upgraded to a Nordhavn 68 (might have been slightly smaller), and just had a Grand Banks 60 built to his specifications. He's at least a comma beyond me, but likes a comfortable boat.

I suggest his blog because you get a good sense of what it takes to operate a larger yacht. Equipment is not the garden-variety 12vdc/24vdc West Marine type stuff. Heavy duty hydraulics, electrics, HVAC, and mechanicals. Electronics are not a standard Simrad/Furuno setup, but highly customized black-box systems that can easily run $250k for the system with monitors. Generators (plural) are 20kw+. Inverters (plural) are stacked 10kw systems and often include Atlas universal current/voltage converters that can easily run $20k installed. Household water pumps are commercial-grade and run $2500/ea; A/C units are chillers that will easily set you back another $10k when one zone fails. Waste treatment is commercial grade, sometimes incinerators, and run over $10k to repair. Heck, you can spend $25k on a search light alone. When any of this gear needs service or repair, you best be near a major yacht center (Ft Lauderdale in US) or plan on flying-in technicians.

Now, 60-80 feet is an awkward sized yacht. It's at the upper end of what a couple can handle by themselves even if equipped with thrusters and such. But it's not big enough to have dedicated crew that aren't under foot all the time. Sure, the boats in this range usually have 'crew quarters' in the bow sections, but for the most part, all the living spaces are shared. For example, there is no crew mess, no crew hangout space. Just sleeping quarters. But if you really want crew, plan at least $80k/yr for a captain and another $40k for a crew, plus all expenses of course, which add-up as you will be flying them home a couple times a year. You will also need a Rolodex of agents and fuel bunkering companies.

Or you can go the route of many and get a 40-something foot trawler, maybe closer to a 50-footer to get a third stateroom for your two kids. And learn to handle it yourself. Sounds a lot more fun to me.

Peter
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Old 05-09-2020, 03:33   #8
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

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. . . Now, 60-80 feet is an awkward sized yacht. . . it's not big enough to have dedicated crew that aren't under foot all the time. . .

Well, by the time you get much over 60 feet, in power boats, the crew quarters start to become reasonable.


The key to being happy having crew on board is really your own nature and style of interaction with people. Having crew is great when you find good people you enjoy being around, and if you are the type to enjoy that kind of interaction. Many people with crewed yachts are entrepreneurs or corporate execs accustomed to working in teams, and who like to have people around them. The same people might have staff in their land homes too.



Count me as one of those. I'm not that rich, but I've had staff in my land homes most of my life, and I have had rich and rewarding relationships with them. One man who takes care of my lake house has been on my payroll for 20 years. I have had professional crew on my boat (first 3 years) and it was great -- even on a boat too small to have crew quarters at all. Cruising with professional crew -- when they are good people and you have a good relationship with them -- can be just great -- you don't necessarily feel like they are "under foot" at all.


But, you know, it depends on you, and whether that is to your taste or not. Some people are uncomfortable with any kind of non-family members in their domestic space. YMMV.
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Old 05-09-2020, 04:01   #9
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

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Well, by the time you get much over 60 feet, in power boats, the crew quarters start to become reasonable.
I don't know, Dockhead, the smallest motor vessel I ever crewed on (Head Stewardess) was a 125' Feadship (I've captained much smaller boats, of course). We had separate crew quarters and hangout area separate from the owner, forward of the galley in the bow section.

While I would agree that the owner needs to be someone who is comfortable with having crew around, a larger boat, with separate crew quarters of some sort also contributes to a harmonious onboard environment.

For my part, owners who want to be your friend and "could I just ask you a favour" were among the hardest to work for - exactly because they muddied the inherently unequal business relationship by kidding themselves that we were friends.

I was their servant. Which, was fine, of course. I enjoy being of service, I am good at it and was well-paid during my tenure. But I was not the Owners' friend. It's important that crew remembers that. Separate crew quarters help maintain that distinction.

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Old 05-09-2020, 04:08   #10
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

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. . . For my part, owners who want to be your friend and "could I just ask you a favour" were among the hardest to work for - exactly because they muddied the inherently unequal business relationship by kidding themselves that we were friends.

I was their servant. Which, was fine, of course. I enjoy being of service, I am good at it and was well-paid during my tenure. But I was not the Owners' friend. It's important that crew remembers that. Separate crew quarters help maintain that distinction.. . .
Absolutely agree that it is crucially important for a happy relationship with crew, to NEVER forget the fact that it is a business relationship, not friendship, at least not friendship first, and that it is certainly not "equal".

But this is second nature to a person otherwise experienced in dealing with employees. That's why I mentioned entrepreneurs and corporate execs. Just because the relationship is unequal and is by nature a business relationship, does not at all mean that it cannot be personally rewarding to both sides. If it were otherwise how could we enjoy working in teams in our companies?



The key to running a good company is properly leading and motivating the team, getting performance out of everyone, understanding talents and drawbacks of everyone, helping people to be their best, putting them into right combinations with each other. This is great fun for those who have this talent, and working for a great boss can be great fun for the employees too -- that's actually kind of the hallmark of a great company. No one must ever forget that you are the boss, and you can't be just "buddies" with your employees. But that does not mean that these interactions cannot be very interesting and satisfying


Of course the more space there is the easier all kinds of relationships are, and not just with crew. Why I like big boats. But in my experience life with professional crew can be just fine without a separate crew mess area. YMMV.
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Old 05-09-2020, 04:26   #11
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

Having said that, Mountain Sailor,

I spent my childhood on and off my dad's boat - a Gulfstar 43 trawler. There were 5 of us aboard and my brothers and sisters and I provided crew. I stood watch at 12 years, if I remember correctly and we went up and down the Intercoastal Waterway a couple of times - as well as all over New England. The boat finished up her time with us in the Florida Keys.

I don't remember ever "learning" boat-handling. Dad was always saying things like, "would you please get the binoculars and find channel marker number XX" or "I need everone on deck to help with docking - on the double!"

It was just assumed that we would all pitch in and we - being kids - just thought that all the tasks we got to do were new and fun because they were so unusual, but then, I was fortunate to have grown up in a pitch-in sort of family.

Fair winds,
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Old 05-09-2020, 05:15   #12
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

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First let me say that this is mostly a hypothetical question. My wife and I have recently become borderline obsessed with yachts and the live-aboard cruising lifestyle. We have a plan to, in 5-6 years, sell our house, our cars, and most of our possessions and take the kids to go cruising full time. We would homeschool (boatschool?) the boys and our first destination would be The Great Loop for a year or so. Then, we'd head off to the Bahamas, Caribbean, over to the West Coast and up to the PNW.

To my question: How much boat can we safely handle as a family of 4? Beyond that, what does it cost to have a permanent crew of 2? Do larger yachts get exponentially more expensive after going over a certain length, say 100' LOA or larger? We currently have a healthy income and my wife can work anywhere there is internet access. Just looking for some thoughts and experiences from other owners who cruise the larger yachts whether crewed or not.

"How much boat" depends more on layout and equipment than it does on length... which is still a factor, of course. Depending on how easy it is to get around the boat, whether you have bow and stern thrusters (perhaps with remotes), visibility, etc. it's easy enough for 2 people to handle a boat somewhere between 35-65 feet. Maybe more importantly at first, the insurance company will want to see you become qualified, so hiring a teaching captain up front is not uncommon. (And BTW, you might get more info on questions like that at trawlerforum.com, a sister site.)

IMO, having permanent crew will totally screw up your family dynamic... unless you already routinely have "crew" at your house (estate?). Can't speak to cost... One way to learn about large crewed yachts is by chartering. Look first at the cost of chartering a 100' yacht.

Yes, length often adds exponential increase to costs, although it's not usually on an exact "per foot" basis. Depends on how much complexity might be added to to the larger boat. A 40' boat with systems X and a 50' boat with the exact same systems (no additional ACs, no additional gensets, etc.) will mostly cost approx the same except for dockage. OTOH, a 60' boat with 3 ACs and one genset will usually be less expensive to maintain than a 60' boat with 7 ACs and two gensets, etc.

The Great Loop is height-limited. You can check out the AGLCA website for details, but it means boat selections can be a big deal based on air draft (bridge clearance). 100' yachts aren't common on the route, I think, and 100' yachts with low air draft, ditto.

Beyond your initial questions... boat layout can vary a lot and it's not always perfectly aligned with length. Assuming you want (at least?) 3 staterooms, there are lots of ways to get there from here... and that could easily run between about 40' to about 55' -- not usually absolutely necessary to go over that... unless you add some additional requirements that aren't yet apparent. A nice 55' motor yacht or trawler offers a boatload of space, and even a 45' sportfish could work for a family of 4, depending. And it's actually easier for people to answer questions sometimes when you can fling a dart at a given boat model or style first. You might browse yachtworld.com for ideas on what types of boats might appeal to you... and there's a "Powerboat Guide" with very basic info on many (not all) boats that have been available.

-Chris
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Old 05-09-2020, 05:31   #13
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

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Originally Posted by Mountain sailor View Post
First let me say that this is mostly a hypothetical question. My wife and I have recently become borderline obsessed with yachts and the live-aboard cruising lifestyle. We have a plan to, in 5-6 years, sell our house, our cars, and most of our possessions and take the kids to go cruising full time. We would homeschool (boatschool?) the boys and our first destination would be The Great Loop for a year or so. Then, we'd head off to the Bahamas, Caribbean, over to the West Coast and up to the PNW.

To my question: How much boat can we safely handle as a family of 4? Beyond that, what does it cost to have a permanent crew of 2? Do larger yachts get exponentially more expensive after going over a certain length, say 100' LOA or larger? We currently have a healthy income and my wife can work anywhere there is internet access. Just looking for some thoughts and experiences from other owners who cruise the larger yachts whether crewed or not.


Hmmmm. You have asked a broad question and provided few facts. So some assumptions; are he fact you have no issues hiring crew - I will assume $1-2m budget, as you mention doing the loop- I will assume power boat

You can buy a very nice and fairly new or brand new 40-50’ trawler at that price point. Why newer? You are a newbie. Why complicate things trying to fix an older boat that was repaired by God know who? Also newer vessels will have twin engines, thrusters and some will even have joystick docking.

Why a trawler? Range and comfort.

You could hire a permanent crew, but that is like watching an activity and enjoying the event vicariously. A better solution is to get family buy-in for the total concept and then hire a “coach”. This licensed professional’s role will be to work himself out of a job by training you and your family. While you will never learn everything the coach knows in 30-45 days, you can become good coastal and moderate weather mariners. Then when you have a ‘big hop’ you can hire that same coach to work with you to plan and do the passage. Once again a learning experience. Taking this piecemeal approach will maximize knowledge transfer and should lead to a better experience.

The direct answer to “How big of a boat a family of 4 can handle?” Is probably over 100— IF THEY WERE ALL SKILLED. That is not the case hence the smaller vessel.

Finally, when you are ready to move forward. Interview and engage your captain or mentor in the buying process. It is always better to have a pro who is not only in your side, but has an interest in making sure the boat is 100%.
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Old 05-09-2020, 05:56   #14
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

You don’t state in your first post if you want power or sail. You are mountain sailor so I guessed sail. A number of sail boats do the loop without the mast or with the mast on deck as they do in Europe. It must be very secure.
After you learn to sail and navigate, crew in a 60 foot boat is nothing but problems. Maybe for your first major voyage. You will find having good friends as occasional guests interesting enough. There are lots of sail vessels at or near 60 which do fine with two adults especially if the owners have a really good boat and the funds to put it in proper condition for a voyage.
If you are intelligent, careful, and like to learn new skills and most of all, are happily married and do work as a team, the sailing, the boat, all that will fall into place. Do it while you both have good health. I spoke with an 80 year old sailor who was moving very carefully on his beautiful 55 foot sail boat. His layout was perfect for ease and safety. He told me his wife wanted him to switch to a trawler but he felt he could sail for a few more years. No crew. Not many guests as most of their non boating friends were dead. “Keeps me young, sailing” was his advice. I rest my case.
Happy trails to you.
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Old 05-09-2020, 06:45   #15
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Re: How large of a yacht can I afford?

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Well, you ask us what you can afford, but then give no information about what kind of resources you have.

So no one can answer that question like that.

So maybe let's start with what you might NEED for that kind of lifestyle. A family of 4 can be quite comfortable on a 40 foot trawler. A used but quality 40 foot trawler can be had for a few hundred thousand. Cruising budgets vary from near zero to near infinity, but you can live on a 40 foot trawler for not too much different money from what you would be spending on land -- some thousands a month. Depends on a lot of different things, and especially your choice of berthing (anchoring out? expensive marinas every night? more out of the way marinas and town quays?). You can easily spend $3000 a month or more just on berthing, or you can spend zero if you anchor out every night. Or anything in between.

If you can afford more than that, then you can go bigger and have space to have guests and/or crew. I am all in favor of crew -- keeping a live-aboard size boat in good condition and running is an almost full time job. So either you are going to be really busy with not too much time for your own work or other types of leisure, or you are going to be using a lot of tradesmen at $100+ per hour, OR you could have a handy crewman, which might not cost you all that much money. Maybe you will want one capable of captaining the boat or maybe not -- maybe you'll want one who comes as part of a couple, so that you also get help with cooking and cleaning and domestic work -- there are infinite combinations to suit whatever needs and budget you have.

Once you get up to the 100' range, then this is a very different budget category. I have a close friend with a 100' motor yacht and have spent a good bit of time on it. That requires a much more extensive crew -- in his case I think 6 people -- and that costs a few hundred thousand a year by itself. Then fuel for a vessel that size which burns a couple hundred liters per hour at slow cruise, maintaining two 2000 horsepower V16 diesels, all that stuff -- adds up fast. Acquiring a boat like that will cost a few million, and running a boat like will not be a few thousand a month, it will be tens of thousands a month.

But it's mighty nice if you have the dosh. A boat like that is especially nice for entertaining -- so for example if you own a business which requires high level business entertainment -- then this is the ticket. You might even be able to write off some of the cost. But it's a different price category altogether.
Thanks Dockhead (and everyone else of course!). This is exactly the kind of information I'm looking for! I posted in the powered boat section of a sailing forum so I should've been more clear in what type of vessel I'm thinking about. For the 'Loop' I'm thinking trawler or motoryacht and after that either a power cat or sailing cat.

As for the crew, 2 would be ideal with one being the captain and the other handling cooking/cleaning/deckhand duties. See, I hate cooking and cleaning. Well, cleaning up after cooking to be more precise. Here on land, once every 2 weeks, we have a private chef come to our home and prepare a nice meal for our family and leave the kitchen spotless afterward. It's one of my favorite nights of the week because I can finally relax and enjoy quality time with my young family.

On the financial side, currently we have about $30K/month coming in with the potential to increase to ~$70K/month by the time we make the lifestyle change in about 6 years. We are HENRYs (High Earners, Not Rich Yet). I'm not shy about talking financials as it is an important part of the boating equation.

I feel, without a crew or some sort of "help" will have me running and maintaining the yacht like a full time job. I don't want that! I want to be swimming, snorkeling, SCUBA, exploring things on land and museums, hiking/biking, etc. Also, I will need to be homeschooling the kids as well during this time.

Thanks again for all the informative responses and insights into this fascinating world. You should see the number of boating, yachting, sailing, looping books that have come into our house the last few weeks
Don't worry, I'll be signing up for a number of sailing classes too. My wife and I want to live with intention and raise our kids in a different way than we were. Life here in the 'burbs is "nice" but I can't see doing this for another 18-20 years. We want to get out and see the world and expose our kids to all the magic it has to offer.
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New Sails . . . if You Have to Ask, You Can't Afford it ! Alm0d0g Deck hardware: Rigging, Sails & Hoisting 19 16-07-2011 15:18
What Can We Afford After Retirement ? jamiecrab Liveaboard's Forum 58 26-10-2010 18:52

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