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Old 02-01-2020, 05:54   #1
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Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

Thought I would start picking the brains here... Retirement is 3-6 years away. Wife (Colombian) and I own a waterfront condo in Cartagena - eventually that becomes home base for a 6 month home/6 month cruising lifestyle.

The boat is gonna be a 42-ish foot pilot house config with plenty of tankage. About a $100-$150k budget including refit.

Initial plan is to base in the panhandle between Pensacola and maybe as far as Panama City. Goal is to rent for 6 months to a year. Ideal place would be on the water with a dock suitable for the boat. We will be on the boat hunt during that time. All US/Caribbean and Mexico locations are potential from the PNW to the Chesapeake. Boat would (of course) need to be seaworthy enough to relocate it from the purchase location.

Plan starting this summer is to start exploring areas in the panhandle by RV. So...

1 - Looking for proximity to good haul out facility with good labor - Would plan to do some work myself but also pay for a lot of work to be done.

2 - Looking for easy access to the gulf with "reasonable" cost of living - say a $4,000 a month budget all in for housing and living.

3 - Also looking for tips on good RV/camping parks. Vehicle is a truck based cab over camper.

Thoughts appreciated...
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Old 02-01-2020, 06:06   #2
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

Carrabelle has the items you mention. Quick access to the gulf, plenty of available slips, RV parks, walking access to hardware and groceries, good yard with 100,000 lb hoist and DIY friendly, reasonable prices all around. If you would like to pose questions, give me a private message and we'll set up a phone call.

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Old 02-01-2020, 07:31   #3
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

The cost of living is pretty reasonable in Pensacola, but it is sweltering there in Summer.

And if a Hurricane gets into the Gulf then well........

I went through maybe 6-7 hurricanes when I was there with Ivan in 2004 being the worst. It was similar to the ones we are seeing today.

It was a Cat 5 but dropped to a Cat 3/4 just before it came into Pensacola Pass with it's 14'-18' surge. No power for a couple weeks and the National Guard was patroling for looters. We had a curfew also everyone off the streets before 4 pm until maybe 8 am

If there was anything good about it that would have been that it hit in mid September when the temps were cooler
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Old 02-01-2020, 08:10   #4
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

Pensacola harbor and Panama City Harbor took it in the teeth again with Hurricane Michael, a Cat 5 (in retrospect, thought it was a 4) with little warning. Conditions at Carrabelle were Cat 2 with 9 1/2 feet of surge. Destroyed some boats and lots of docks in the harbor. Two miles up the river, our boat went 9+ feet straight up and back down, losses were a few scratches on the paint and water inside the radar, 28 feet above the waterline, destroying it.

I guess the point is that anywhere in the southeast or east (Sandy) you are exposed to hurricanes, and most places there are ways to mitigate, here by either having dock space up river or by hauling out. That might be more difficult in the overdeveloped areas such as Miami or Tampa.
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Old 02-01-2020, 08:15   #5
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

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Pensacola harbor and Panama City Harbor took it in the teeth again with Hurricane Michael, a Cat 5 (in retrospect, thought it was a 4) with little warning. Conditions at Carrabelle were Cat 2 with 9 1/2 feet of surge. Destroyed some boats and lots of docks in the harbor. Two miles up the river, our boat went 9+ feet straight up and back down, losses were a few scratches on the paint and water inside the radar, 28 feet above the waterline, destroying it.

I guess the point is that anywhere in the southeast or east (Sandy) you are exposed to hurricanes, and most places there are ways to mitigate, here by either having dock space up river or by hauling out. That might be more difficult in the overdeveloped areas such as Miami or Tampa.
A friend of mine had his Tayana knocked off it's stands and destroyed during Ivan in 2004.

He had it hauled for safe keeping.

I'm not sure if it was a tornado or high water that did it.
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Old 02-01-2020, 08:42   #6
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

Do you know the area? It is brutally hot in the summer time; you can't walk on the sand in bare feet. Nor would I see it as all that interesting since Destin has mestasticized into a vast wasteland of condos and vacation houses in 10 rows back from the beach and stretching almost from PC to Pensacola through all its various suburbs.



Further down the Gulf Coast is much more pleasant in my opinion, starting from around Sarasota, and the cruising is more interesting with a bunch of islands and much more complex coastline. Good and cheap haulout facilities up the Caloosahatchee River at Glades. It's generally more expensive down there but there are affordable spots here and there. Although in summer I'd rather be somewhere up in Maine, personally.
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Old 02-01-2020, 08:49   #7
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

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Do you know the area? It is brutally hot in the summer time; you can't walk on the sand in bare feet. Nor would I see it as all that interesting since Destin has mestasticized into a vast wasteland of condos and vacation houses in 10 rows back from the beach and stretching almost from PC to Pensacola through all its various suburbs.



Further down the Gulf Coast is much more pleasant in my opinion, starting from around Sarasota, and the cruising is more interesting with a bunch of islands and much more complex coastline. Good and cheap haulout facilities up the Caloosahatchee River at Glades. It's generally more expensive down there but there are affordable spots here and there. Although in summer I'd rather be somewhere up in Maine, personally.
Yep, and all that construction was happening in the mid 1990's.

We'd use the high rise building cranes as land marks all along our 100 mile race course while sailing in the Gulf along the coast from Destin to Pensacola Pass and back.

That race was in September thankfully otherwise it would have been a scorcher to do taking anywhere from 10 hours to 20 hours to complete depending on the wind.

The buoy racing in the sound off Pensacola Beach was totally changed with the high rise condos blocking the breeze. They totally changed the tactics on the race course.

The town of Pensacola is pretty much the same though. No new high rise condos there but in July and August folks tend to stay indoors a lot
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Old 02-01-2020, 09:10   #8
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

I grew up in Florida. The sand is too hot in Pensacola but even hotter in Sarasota. The water can be too warm. The wind on the Gulf side is not that great either.

FWIW. We had friends that had a beachfront condo on Perdido Key. Sometimes they would offer us a really good deal when it wasn't booked or they had a cancellation. I think it was $325 a week instead of $325 a day and that was just to cover fees. I stayed there about a month in total. Ivan took a major chunk out of that 6 story building. The rumor was that it was condemned but my friends died before it was all worked out. It was the last complex before the state park on the tip if the island.
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Old 02-01-2020, 10:12   #9
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

You guys don't know what condo city looks like until you see Cartagena. Makes Miami Beach look like Carabelle.


We do have hurricanes and they do seem to be getting stronger. It is hot and humid in the Summer, but never any trouble walking these sugar white beaches.

The coast between the FL AL border down to Apalachicola is one of the most enjoyable I have ever encountered (not quite up to Cam Ranh Bay standards, but most everyone speaks some version of English ). Not nearly as crowded from a watercraft perspective.

I moved here 55 years back, no plans to ever live anywhere else.


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Old 02-01-2020, 14:43   #10
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
Carrabelle has the items you mention. Quick access to the gulf, plenty of available slips, RV parks, walking access to hardware and groceries, good yard with 100,000 lb hoist and DIY friendly, reasonable prices all around. If you would like to pose questions, give me a private message and we'll set up a phone call.

--Tim.
Thanks Tim - I was planning to get down in the area during this Christmas/New Year break but life intervened. Next chance will be spring. I will definitely hook up with you if you are available for a "guided tour." I like the sounds of the place and Carabelle looks to be a couple hundred miles closer to the Carribean...

As I tried to explain the panhandle won't be the permanent retirement spot. We'll be in Cartagena or San Andreas during hurricane season and cruising otherwise.

We are looking for a place for 6 months to a year to establish tax residency and refit the boat before we head south.

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You guys don't know what condo city looks like until you see Cartagena. Makes Miami Beach look like Carabelle.
<snip>

The coast between the FL AL border down to Apalachicola is one of the most enjoyable I have ever encountered (not quite up to Cam Ranh Bay standards, but most everyone speaks some version of English ). Not nearly as crowded from a watercraft perspective.

I moved here 55 years back, no plans to ever live anywhere else.


Frankly
So are there good options for haulout/boatyard in Panama City?

And for the others - hot don't scare us at all - We lived and cruised Singapore for 10 years and I was hatched in SoCal. Hot is good. Cold is bad - LOL...
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Old 02-01-2020, 15:07   #11
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

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Thanks Tim - I was planning to get down in the area during this Christmas/New Year break but life intervened. Next chance will be spring. I will definitely hook up with you if you are available for a "guided tour." I like the sounds of the place and Carabelle looks to be a couple hundred miles closer to the Carribean...

As I tried to explain the panhandle won't be the permanent retirement spot. We'll be in Cartagena or San Andreas during hurricane season and cruising otherwise.

We are looking for a place for 6 months to a year to establish tax residency and refit the boat before we head south.



So are there good options for haulout/boatyard in Panama City?

And for the others - hot don't scare us at all - We lived and cruised Singapore for 10 years and I was hatched in SoCal. Hot is good. Cold is bad - LOL...
Actually the heat in Pensacola and along the Gulf Coast at times is totally sweltering.

It might not scare you now, but if you don't have AC in July and August, you will understand.

One of the hurricanes we had when I was there was in July. It was so hot in my apartment after we lost power I went out to sleep on a lounge chair at the pool and it was no better.

This was the pool and that was my apartment center lighted.

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en...oiowCnoECA4QBg

I remember finishing 50-70 mile bike rides by 11 am and it being 95 degrees already with no wind
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Old 02-01-2020, 15:14   #12
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

Given your plans, I'd look for the boat and boatyard first.

Those are your highest priority, as that's where the money will be going.
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Old 02-01-2020, 16:32   #13
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

Panama City got worked over pretty well by Hurricane Michael. My IP 32 was stored in a boatyard but still got blown off the jackstands (along with most of the rest). A couple of boatyard is all we have and most of the marinas (along with their yachts) got trashed.

If your plans are to store your yacht unattended on the hard, I would take a look at some of yards inland on Okeechcheebe Water Way. 48-50 ft bridge clearance on the Atlantic side but storage yards are accessible from Atlantic. Cruise where you want, but slip down the coast to stash her before heading home.

Pensacola is nice town, Destin a Zoo, Panama City kind of poor but home to St Andrew Bay which makes up for all other shortcomings.

Come for a visit and then you can make up your own mind.


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Old 02-01-2020, 17:39   #14
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

It’s not the Gulf Coast but Green Cove Springs meets a lot of your requirements I think.

GCS is up the river last Jacksonville and is the home of St Brendan’s Isle which is the primary cruiser mail forwarding service. We use their service but have retained residency in PA. I am TOLD SBI will assist you in acquiring FL residency. Not that you need to be located there. But it happens that there a a few yards there of varying expense. We stayed at the cheap one and were able to do as much DIY as we liked. It’s about as safe a location as you will find in FL being some 40 miles from the coast.

So other than giving up living on the Gulf it should work for you. AND the Bahamas are not so far away. A 2-3 night passage depending upon weather.
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Old 03-01-2020, 03:38   #15
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Re: Retirement: Pensacola-ish...

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Given your plans, I'd look for the boat and boatyard first.

Those are your highest priority, as that's where the money will be going.
That's sort of the plan - Boatyard first. Most important thing is good management, labor and skills. I did my own boat refit once and am not interested in a long process.

Then I think it's about the community. We like a semi-active sailing community with decent social interaction. Then boat dock / access to boat. And finally the type of apartment/condo/house that we rent.

We don't plan to prep for "years" and once the boat is located we want to get any refit done in 3-6 months. This of course will be dependent on the boat and how much it needs.
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