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Old 16-09-2020, 05:34   #1
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Cruising without anchoring?

I know this goes against the accepted practice and I know the accepted practice is the accepted practice for good reasons. This isn’t intended to spark an anchoring vs marinas debate, but I was hoping to get some feedback on the feasibility of long-ish term cruising by hopping from one month-long slip rental to the next for a 1-2 year period in the Bahamas and Caribbean.

I’m acutely aware of the financial implications. I just got a datapoint recently putting one particular marina down there at about $2000 per month for a 30 day minimum (I’m 43’ LOA). Is that figure generally representative of what I might find throughout the region?

Are there enough appropriate facilities to permit this type of cruising plan? By appropriate, I mean are there enough marinas that approximate those found on the east coast of the US scattered around sufficiently to allow me month-long stays without risk of overstaying a visa? To expand on that question (over-simplifying just to demonstrate the concept), if the BVI has the only appropriate marinas, I could hop to a few of them but I would run into a visa issue). As cruisers, we’d be looking for marinas that offer a good live aboard experience (so I’d like to omit mega yacht facilities, commercial docks, etc).

Any other thoughts, considerations, or data points from anyone who may have completed an itinerary like this, or who may have at least done a month in a Caribbean marina as a live aboard?

Thanks as always for the input, and I look forward to the discussion.
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Old 16-09-2020, 06:07   #2
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

I am sure it can be be done. It all comes down to planning/timing and where you want to go understanding you just can not go some places.
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Old 16-09-2020, 06:30   #3
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

Of course you can, and a lot of people do just that. Just crack the cruising guides and plan your passages appropriately.

Most of us really enjoy anchoring and enjoy the kinds of places you get to be in, by anchoring out. But only you can decide what YOU want to do. There's no law against spending all your nights in marinas.

I do recommend however that you practice anchoring and have some skill at it. Make sure you have decent ground tackle, upgrading it if necessary, and know how to use it. This is basic seamanship, and you need to have this capability -- there might be an occasion where you don't have any choice.
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Old 16-09-2020, 06:41   #4
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

Dockhead makes good points, but let's take it one step farther. A big anchor with a stout rode and practice using it is your primary safety tool. When your boat is out of control and you are headed for the rocks, that's how you stop......
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Old 16-09-2020, 07:04   #5
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

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Dockhead makes good points, but let's take it one step farther. A big anchor with a stout rode and practice using it is your primary safety tool. When your boat is out of control and you are headed for the rocks, that's how you stop......

I agree, all good points. I should clarify a little, I’m a 15 year recreational boater (Hawaiian Islands for 4 years, Chesapeake for 3, 2 trips from Tampa to Boston and back). I’m not sharing that as though it’s going to blow anyone away, but just to demonstrate that I’ve got a handle on the fundamentals, and do agree with the need to understand the art of secure anchoring. (The near 20’ tidal range and accompanying water velocity in Boston’s inner harbor makes for some really interesting anchoring experiences if not done properly!). I’m also a 100 ton master from a previous life operating Army landing craft (LCM-8s and LCU-2000s), but that has much less to do with recreational cruising than you’d imagine.


I’m asking because I’m frankly not convinced my wife and daughter will take to it as energetically if we’re anchoring, and in this particular instance, there’s not a pressing financial incentive to keep us on the hook. But I’m hoping this thread may reveal some other compelling reasons (or better yet, a lack thereof) that would force the anchoring solution. And in fairness to my wife, she tolerates anchoring, and has done on many, many occasions, but not for 2 years at a stretch, and my daughter’s preferences/wants/needs also push me to consider the marina path.

This is more intended to get some feedback on region-specific marina living. Are the marina’s plentiful enough for this concept, are they REASONABLE enough to dependably support monthlong stays, are there enough on the islands belonging to a range of countries to allow for a 2 year itinerary without running into visa limitations.

And beyond that, some specific experiences (name names if you feel like it) along with some examples of real-world pricing would be great!

So to clarify my OP, this is less of a “can it be accomplished” question, and much more a “how feasible is this, and what are some unique considerations” type of discussion.
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Old 16-09-2020, 07:09   #6
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

In theory your plan is certainly feasible. There are plenty of marinas throughout the Bahamas, Caribbean and indeed most of the world where cruising boats congregate.

In practice you may at times encounter problems. In peak cruising season marinas can be full with no space available. This is more of a problem in the more desireable areas that you will most likely want to visit. Some areas it may be a long jump between marinas or to a marina that has space available.

Costs? Extremely variable. Will completely depend on the location, the country, the local demand for slips, even the season. $2000 is not unheard of but in more rural or isolated areas $300-$400/month is possible. Usually the costs will be somewhere in between but the only way to know is to research the facilities on a port by port basis.

I would also highly recommend following the advise to have a good anchoring system and to practice the skills. I have had to leave marinas in bad weather because they were exposed to winds from certain directions with the options to anchor nearby or to sail to another marina miles away during a storm and try to dock in very unfavorable conditions.
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Old 16-09-2020, 07:16   #7
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

OK. You can do far better than that $2,000/month in the Bahamas. West End, Spanish Wells, and Great Harbour all charge rates comparable to the upper end in the US. Great Harbour (world's best hurricane hole) currently charges $20/ft/month, or $800 for a 40 footer. Carrabelle marinas charge $350-$450, but hey, we're the forgotten coast.
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Old 16-09-2020, 07:23   #8
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
OK. You can do far better than that $2,000/month in the Bahamas. West End, Spanish Wells, and Great Harbour all charge rates comparable to the upper end in the US. Great Harbour (world's best hurricane hole) currently charges $20/ft/month, or $800 for a 40 footer. Carrabelle marinas charge $350-$450, but hey, we're the forgotten coast.
You’re not kidding. I had to do a Google Earth search for that one, and I’m not terribly far south of you in St Pete. You’re not far from Mexico Beach, hope you rode out Michael okay... heck for that matter, hope you’re riding out Sally as well.
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Old 16-09-2020, 07:48   #9
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
OK. You can do far better than that $2,000/month in the Bahamas. West End, Spanish Wells, and Great Harbour all charge rates comparable to the upper end in the US. Great Harbour (world's best hurricane hole) currently charges $20/ft/month, or $800 for a 40 footer. Carrabelle marinas charge $350-$450, but hey, we're the forgotten coast.
Oh certainly you can do better than $2,000/month but go to Nassau and you can do worse. All comes down to choosing your poison.

And after boating in Florida for 40 years I can say that I have been to Carabelle......... but it's been a while.
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Old 16-09-2020, 07:49   #10
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

In Hurricane Michael our boat went 9 1/2 ft straight up and straight down. The only damage was water forced into the radar antenna....
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Old 16-09-2020, 07:58   #11
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

An issue is, one that traveling in one day to the next good marina isn’t often possible, unless your a planing powerboat.
Secondly at least in the Bahama’s many if not most of the best places to go, don’t have Marina’s, Marina’s are often collocated with the large built up tourist areas, and frankly many are substandard by US standards. $100 a day gets you an old wooden non floating dock and not much else.
You often don’t get a nice clubhouse, pool and hot tub etc. unless your in the large tourist area.

Marina’s have their place, I’m sitting in one right now and have been for months, but we aren’t cruising now either.

Cruising from one marina to another in a cruising boat to me makes as much sense as buying a large RV, but only staying in Motels. Sure you can do it, but your missing the point
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Old 16-09-2020, 07:59   #12
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

While I can't help directly, actually we do the exact opposite we try to anchor always, I can say to the fees you quote only wow, just wow.
These prices are absurd. How can anyone even contemplate spending that much for a monthly berth?
Its their money and they can do with it whatever they want, but still, that's way beyond my comprehension.

About 2000$ is what we pay per year for storage of our 35ft catamaran per YEAR in France. Including one launching and retrieval operation...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Creedence View Post
I know this goes against the accepted practice and I know the accepted practice is the accepted practice for good reasons. This isn’t intended to spark an anchoring vs marinas debate, but I was hoping to get some feedback on the feasibility of long-ish term cruising by hopping from one month-long slip rental to the next for a 1-2 year period in the Bahamas and Caribbean.

I’m acutely aware of the financial implications. I just got a datapoint recently putting one particular marina down there at about $2000 per month for a 30 day minimum (I’m 43’ LOA). Is that figure generally representative of what I might find throughout the region?

Are there enough appropriate facilities to permit this type of cruising plan? By appropriate, I mean are there enough marinas that approximate those found on the east coast of the US scattered around sufficiently to allow me month-long stays without risk of overstaying a visa? To expand on that question (over-simplifying just to demonstrate the concept), if the BVI has the only appropriate marinas, I could hop to a few of them but I would run into a visa issue). As cruisers, we’d be looking for marinas that offer a good live aboard experience (so I’d like to omit mega yacht facilities, commercial docks, etc).

Any other thoughts, considerations, or data points from anyone who may have completed an itinerary like this, or who may have at least done a month in a Caribbean marina as a live aboard?

Thanks as always for the input, and I look forward to the discussion.
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Old 16-09-2020, 09:11   #13
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

I know, I know!!!! As a voracious consumer of cruising books, and a long time recreational boater, I get it! This is the path less traveled, and for all the wrong reasons.

As we know with boats themselves, everything is a compromise. In this instance, the cruising style itself must be a compromise. My alternative is, the family elects not to participate and I can spend those two years of my life in my marina in Tampa Bay doing essentially nothing. I need to cater to them, PLUS I’ll have some remote work to do which would need some reasonable Internet connectivity and bandwidth.

So for every reasonable cruiser here who, like me, prefers the discovery and unique experiences that come with gunkholing, I offer my well-worn peace skivvies:
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Old 16-09-2020, 09:23   #14
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

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I know, I know!!!! As a voracious consumer of cruising books, and a long time recreational boater, I get it! This is the path less traveled, and for all the wrong reasons.

As we know with boats themselves, everything is a compromise. In this instance, the cruising style itself must be a compromise. My alternative is, the family elects not to participate and I can spend those two years of my life in my marina in Tampa Bay doing essentially nothing. I need to cater to them, PLUS I’ll have some remote work to do which would need some reasonable Internet connectivity and bandwidth.

So for every reasonable cruiser here who, like me, prefers the discovery and unique experiences that come with gunkholing, I offer my well-worn peace skivvies:
First comment, staying at a marina, at least in the Bahamas and Caribbean, is no guarantee of a fast, reliable wifi connection. Some place, yes. Most, no. In the Bahamas an unlimited cell data plan is much more reliable with some planning and holes in the coverage here and there.

So is the family only interested if they are tied to a dock? What is it they think they can do on land in some of the small islands? Unless they plan to shop at the one or two small stores, eat out at the same two or three cafes and hang out at the same little bar every night, they will quickly run out of things to do. Do they have no interest at all in swimming, diving/snorkeling, hiking, exploring deserted islands, fishing, beaching?

Sorry to be negative but if the answers to all the above questions are also negative then a cruise could be a disaster no matter where you put the boat.

Another thought, if the family has no interest in the normal tropical activities listed above maybe cruising Europe and the Med would be a better option. Lots of restaurants, markets, shopping, local culture, museums, sight seeing and in many places, marina prices are much less than you see in the US.
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Old 16-09-2020, 09:35   #15
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Re: Cruising without anchoring?

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First comment, staying at a marina, at least in the Bahamas and Caribbean, is no guarantee of a fast, reliable wifi connection. Some place, yes. Most, no. In the Bahamas an unlimited cell data plan is much more reliable with some planning and holes in the coverage here and there.

So is the family only interested if they are tied to a dock? What is it they think they can do on land in some of the small islands? Unless they plan to shop at the one or two small stores, eat out at the same two or three cafes and hang out at the same little bar every night, they will quickly run out of things to do. Do they have no interest at all in swimming, diving/snorkeling, hiking, exploring deserted islands, fishing, beaching?

Sorry to be negative but if the answers to all the above questions are also negative then a cruise could be a disaster no matter where you put the boat.

Another thought, if the family has no interest in the normal tropical activities listed above maybe cruising Europe and the Med would be a better option. Lots of restaurants, markets, shopping, local culture, museums, sight seeing and in many places, marina prices are much less than you see in the US.

I love the European cruising concept. The Atlantic crossing, then return in my time frame being the only logistic hurdle for me.

I love the participation in the thread, and do value the input- and for that matter, I personally agree with the position most are asserting here.

But having said that, let's say for the sake of this particular discussion that the gunkhole vs marina problem was hypothetically already decided upon. By that I mean, my wife and child will not be participating if I deprive them of whatever random amenities they choose to retain (not an invitation for debate of lifestyle preferences of course, because I don't speak for them- though I personally hold the view many here do!!).

What are some marinas that DO have reasonable internet connectivity. Which have reasonable amenities for month-long liveaboards? Are there a variety to choose from among the many countries represented throughout the Caribbean? I have some great options provided for the Bahamas now.


And are there any other thoughts about month-long marina stays worth pointing out?



And skipmak, to your very valid question it has to do with laundry, air conditioning, stroll to dinner, etc. My 4 year old does not yet know the pleasures of snorkeling or diving, but I hope to change that- she'll be 7 by the time we cast off. They are not against any of that- they'd simply ask for an overnight trip from the marina to go diving or sailing or fishing as we currently do here in St. Pete. So imagine if you will simply transferring the current boating situation to new locales as opposed to them ever becoming the Pardys and embracing this as a lifestyle.

I've managed over 15 years to keep my wife from revolting against my boating lifestyle by moderating it to a level she and I can both subscribe to. It's worked so far, I'm not really keen on poking the hornets nest. Just looking to enjoy some of the Caribbean and Bahamas on terms they'll go along with.
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