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Old 19-06-2008, 16:55   #1
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Buy a sailboat and vacation the caribbean. Realistic?


First off, I am new to this board and just wanted to say hi. I am really glad I stumbled upon this site for there seems to be a lot of good information here.

I live in Atlanta, and I was wondering how realistic (Financially wise) it is to own a boat and cruise the caribbean when I please. I can't help but think this is a lifestyle more suited towards those with extreme wealth. But as I have read on this board, there seems to be some "average joes" who live and sail the world on a modest sum of money.

So I was curious to how much this lifestyle actually costs. From what I've read, you can get a pretty good boat for around $150K (US). But what about all the other expenses? If I was to sail all around the carribean, how much would slips cost? Do you just rent one a per diem basis, or do you even need one? Can you anchor close to shore and live out there? What about insurance? Gas (how much does this cost per year)?

This lifestyle some of you lead seems absolutely amazing. I'm just curious as to how feasible this lifestyle is, and how it all works.

Do some of you spend time in the caribbean one year, and then move on to the south pacific for a year, and then the Mediterranean?

Also, do any of you fish off your sailboats? I figure that would be a pretty good way of being self sufficient.

I am fairly young (26), and would love to start planning to make this lifestyle a reality one day.

Thanks so much for your thoughts!

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Old 19-06-2008, 17:06   #2
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A couple other thoughts

Do you miss the "normal lifestyle"? Do you get bored out there? Is there a pretty big boating community where you can meet others and do things together? Do most of you all have significant others that sail with you? What keeps you entertained?

Sorry for all the questions. I'm just extremely curious and envious of your position.

Thanks again!

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Old 19-06-2008, 17:33   #3
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Short answers to some of your questions (much longer and more informative ones are available and will probably be provided by others).

1. There are an infinite variety of cruising styles and all of them are valid/appropriate for different people. Most cruisers do not rent slips; they anchor. Nothing wrong with marina hopping if you can afford it and that's what you want to do.

2. Yes, you can buy a good cruising boat for $150K. There are many full time cruisers sailing both much less and much more expensive yachts.

3. Boat repair and maintenance is usually the biggest general expense for cruisers. Life style expenses vary greatly and range from modest to extravegant.

4. From the Georgia coast you are well positioned to reach the Caribbean. Typically this would involve sailing down the Florida coast and jumping over to the Bahamas. From there you would slowly and leisurely island hop to Mayaguana or T&C, then jump to DR, PR and the Virgins.

5. You can spend a lifetime cruising the Caribbean. Probably this is true of the Med and the South Pacific as well. Moving from one to the other involves crossing an ocean. This is significantly different from sailing the thorny/thornless path from Georgia to and around the Caribbean.
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Old 21-06-2008, 09:49   #4
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All the info supplied is good.....

I'm about to end my latest 2+ month Cruise of the Virgin Islands. I now spend between 4 and 5 months in the Carib each year. I often single hand but also have friends down for a week or so as visiting crew. I have one "special" crew-mate who tries to make a couple of trips down to sail with me for 3 to 6 weeks but hopefully soon more on a fuller time basis.... as we head down the chain over the next couple of years.

Good boats for this type sailing can be had well under the $150 base price but you will often want to add "stuff"... good stuff would be Solar Cells, wind Generators, shade cover extensions from your Bimini added water tankage and a good refrigeration system and all LED lighting with a good power management system like an MMP for the solar/ batteries banks.

As indicated above, when crusing... you do not typically want to spend much time in marinas.... too expensive and too busy and noisy... anchor out for free and you will find you will locate nice places and spend a several days/ week or more. I've have some very prime BVI anchorages basically to my self this time of the year which is the wind down heading into the storm season where you will probably have to put your boat on the hard for insurance reasons... and many places just simply close for a month or so in September and October.

Cruising is NOT like chartering.... chartering is more hectic and you typically have x number of places to see in Y time... OK for a vacation but not what cruising is about.

In Cruising the Carib... you have less "time" constraints and generally little of the "must see" mode of doing things... you go with the flow and enjoy the boating/ sailing experience with out the time constraints and you search out the less traveled areas, avoiding the clusters of Charter Boats and all square boats. You may find, like I have, locating a small anchorage with only a boat or two... is far better... better yet if they have Dutch, French or Scandinavian flags... those are interesting sailing people... too many flying US just have a hard time getting their mind out of the US and into the actual area they are sailing... what a loss for them. Getting to meet and know locals, eating in the non-tourist places is far more enjoyable and less expensive by far.

Can your dream occur... I don't know about you.... but that is exactly what I'm doing this very minute.... and well under $150k

Good luck and fair winds
sv Reality Check
I prefer a sailboat to a motorboat, and it is my belief that boat sailing is a finer, more difficult, and sturdier art than running a motor.
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Old 21-06-2008, 09:54   #5
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We spent a couple of years in the Caribbean from 1998 to 2000 and were never obliged to use marinas, although we did occasionally as a luxury treat (usually resulting in our scurrying back out to anchor because it was, like being in a marina anywhere, a little like living in a car park...
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Old 21-06-2008, 10:30   #6
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Everyone experiences the "experience" differently, I suppose. There are many blog/websites written by cruisers that will give you a pretty good idea of what it can be like. There are even a few "commercial" sites selling books or dvds about the various aspects of cruising. They're easy to find by "googling".

Beth Leonard wrote a good book about it, and has answers to a lot of your specific questions: The Voyager's Handbook.

Our six month experience is written up at : The Belle of Virginia in the Caribbean 2004-2005
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Old 21-06-2008, 10:57   #7
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Hi Casey,

I'm only slightly older than you now and when I was 26 I bought my first boat and went sailing solo in the Med. for a year. It was amazing, but I ran out of money. I've now spent 6 years working on that and have just bought a new boat.

The thing about sailing is that it is expensive. You can definitely do it cheaply (or cheapishly), but I find that the more you know about sailing, the more you can save. In the beginning it is tough to save money, because you need help for even the simplest tasks. As you learn it gets easier.

What I'm trying to get at is this. Unless you have the money in the bank and a real lust to go sailing for a few years, I'd do a sail course, or go sailing with people in the area where you live now. If it seems like something you might like, then I'd charter boats or try to crew for people needing crew (though that's tough if you don't have any sailing experience, but don't let that stop you). Chartering boats may seem expensive at first but, it's a lot cheaper than owning a boat, unless you live on it or at least have it nearby, so that you can work on it often and with ease, without having to rely on others to do it. I can wholeheartedly recommend getting a group of friends together and chartering a boat. It's an awesome experience. By doing a lot of sailing you'll find out if it is for you or not. It's a shame to sink a ton of money into a boat, if you find out it's not for you (I think you'll love it, but you might not, so it's good to have an escape route). When I first did it I ran out of money, so now I've been kicking a plan around in my head for about six years and been doing hard core planning for the last year. I'm still a beginner, but it's a lot of fun. I'm sure you'll love it too, but try it out a few times, before you throw yourself into it... and plan properly
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Old 21-06-2008, 11:57   #8
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Wise advice from SettingSail2009! There is no question that owning a boat that you do not live on is horribly expensive and it is also undeniable that buying a boat to live on before you have tried the lifestyle can turn into a nightmare. A stroll through the Internet should enable you to make a shortlist of the kinds of boats you can afford and seem desirable. Then you can look for opportunities to charter the kind of boat you'd like to be on (as SettingSail2009 says, with a bunch of friends it can be a relatively inexpensive exercise and a lot of fun) before deciding whether to strike that model from your list or keep it on there. Maybe some people in your area have boats and would be happy to take on a novice sailor for a weekend trip, for example, on the understanding that you bring the food and drink and help with some chores in exchange.
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Old 22-06-2008, 09:10   #9
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Thanks a lot for all the great advice and information. You definitely sold me on chartering a boat a few times to see what it's like. I can't imagine not liking it, but better safe than sorry.

Reality Check - Good advice. I know what you mean by getting out of the US mentality and exploring the area your actually in, and getting to know locals. I've done a bit of backpacking in South America and Central America and the same type of theory holds true.

I'll check your blog out, Hud.

Thanks again!
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Caribbean, vacation

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