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Old 11-10-2021, 08:03   #1
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How to be a boat owner

I am tempted to buy an older boat and live aboard or cruise close to the coast following the weather. I have read about people having no boating experience buying boats and going on a long voyage right after learning along the way, etc. I have a few questions.

1. Is it legal to (own and) operate a boat without any formal boating qualification? How do those people with no experience/qualifications do that?

2. Is it possible to anchor a boat in any public waterbody, so that no rental costs are involved? Does anyone do this in the Central NJ area? Would love to get advice about this area.

Thanks
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Old 11-10-2021, 08:15   #2
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Re: How to be a boat owner

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1. Is it legal to (own and) operate a boat without any formal boating qualification? How do those people with no experience/qualifications do that?
Yes, it is "legal". Is it smart? Absolutely not.


Quote:
2. Is it possible to anchor a boat in any public waterbody, so that no rental costs are involved? Does anyone do this in the Central NJ area? Would love to get advice about this area.

Thanks

There are designated "parking lots" (dba designated anchorages) in many locations. Proper anchoring takes more experience to do it right than does sailing.
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Old 11-10-2021, 08:56   #3
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Re: How to be a boat owner

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There are designated "parking lots" (dba designated anchorages) in many locations. Proper anchoring takes more experience to do it right than does sailing.
+1

And that ain't the half of it!

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Old 11-10-2021, 09:22   #4
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Re: How to be a boat owner

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Yes, it is "legal". Is it smart? Absolutely not.

There are designated "parking lots" (dba designated anchorages) in many locations. Proper anchoring takes more experience to do it right than does sailing.
What is dba?

How to find them, is there a website showing legal boat anchoring sites?
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Old 11-10-2021, 09:46   #5
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Re: How to be a boat owner

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Originally Posted by ak08820 View Post
1. Is it legal to (own and) operate a boat without any formal boating qualification? How do those people with no experience/qualifications do that?

It varies by state. Here's a list. The few states that require formal training (New Jersey is in fact one of them) require that you take a class and, in some cases, an exam. The focus of the class and the exam is on very basic boating safety concepts and compliance, such as the requirements for PFDs and (on most smaller motorboats) engine cutoff lanyards. They also will cover state laws regarding alcohol use while boating, and various ecological concerns that are state specific.


Operating any boat requires skill, though. There are classes, there are lessons, and many people build up skill over the years starting with smaller boats. The "zero to hero" classes that I'm aware of typically involve five half days of actual operation of the boat with an instructor present, and prepare someone with no experience to operate a 30' sailboat under benign conditions in local waters. (There is also a book or classroom component)


Quote:

2. Is it possible to anchor a boat in any public waterbody, so that no rental costs are involved? Does anyone do this in the Central NJ area? Would love to get advice about this area.

Technically, yes, though there are various practical barriers to doing so. The main problem is one of access. Where are you going to keep the dinghy that you use to get to your boat from shore? How are you going to get to the dinghy -- if you drive, where are you going to park your car. How are you going to get friends and family to and from your boat? What if the weather is poor? etc.


The other fact to consider is that you must choose an area where the boat will be safe from foreseeable wind and tide conditions while you are away, without becoming an obstacle to navigation to others. Generally people who care about their boat monitor it while it is anchored in some way. This can be electronic, or by watching it from shore (for people who live on shore and can see their boat while it is anchored), or by having someone else watch it or check on it.


The responsible boat owner would also carry appropriate insurance since the costs of recovering from an accident at anchor can be considerable. There is not only the loss of the boat to consider, but the cost of salvage, disposal, and environmental remediation for loss of fuel and oil.
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Old 11-10-2021, 09:50   #6
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Re: How to be a boat owner

NJ is a very densely populated area. If you are not absolutely required to be there, you might want to consider locations that are a bit less crowded, regulated, expensive, etc.
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Old 11-10-2021, 10:22   #7
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Re: How to be a boat owner

Quote:
Originally Posted by ak08820 View Post
I am tempted to buy an older boat and live aboard or cruise close to the coast following the weather. I have read about people having no boating experience buying boats and going on a long voyage right after learning along the way, etc. I have a few questions.

1. Is it legal to (own and) operate a boat without any formal boating qualification? How do those people with no experience/qualifications do that?

2. Is it possible to anchor a boat in any public waterbody, so that no rental costs are involved? Does anyone do this in the Central NJ area? Would love to get advice about this area. Thanks
If your sole purpose is to bypass paying any rent by anchoring then I recommend you not get into boating. On the surface it may seem like a good move but most boat owners will tell you otherwise. Some seaside areas I have visited, usually with larger populations or high cost of living, will see this attempted. They are usually the boats in the worst condition and eventually abandoned after the owners realize everything that is involved in properly maintaining a vessel. Also they realize the lifestyle they envisioned doesn't exist...there is no free lunch.

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Old 11-10-2021, 10:30   #8
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Re: How to be a boat owner

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What is dba?

How to find them, is there a website showing legal boat anchoring sites?
Designated Boat Anchorages(dba)
May I suggest you get together with someone with sailing experience and learn some basics on Chart usage.

FOR SURE KNOW WHICH SIDE OF A CHANNEL MARKER OR NAV. BUOY TO BE ON.

There are many areas that on the surface look as though you can sail.
Don't be lulled into hidden dangers.
You are responsible for the lives on board your boat.
There are dangers to you and you vessel out there.

Remember, this isn't a car where if you break down or start taking water, or get into some bad weather(and you well may), you'll not be able to just get off.
Please bring a dinghy with you!

Wear a Personal Floatation Device(PFD)
And, at least a handheld VHF radio, and learn to call for help.
Cell phones are fine, but local tow vessels listen to VHF.
And keep emergency PH#s handy.

Safety first is a rule on Boats.
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Old 11-10-2021, 10:38   #9
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Re: How to be a boat owner

Quote:
Originally Posted by ak08820 View Post
I am tempted to buy an older boat and live aboard or cruise close to the coast following the weather. I have read about people having no boating experience buying boats and going on a long voyage right after learning along the way, etc. I have a few questions.

1. Is it legal to (own and) operate a boat without any formal boating qualification? How do those people with no experience/qualifications do that?

2. Is it possible to anchor a boat in any public waterbody, so that no rental costs are involved? Does anyone do this in the Central NJ area? Would love to get advice about this area.

Thanks
A Possibility that you may encounter an Insurance Agency that requires at least a boater Ed. card, or proof of an ASA course in boat handling, to insure you.
Get at least liability insurance, or much better.
You Boating Buddies will thank you.
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Old 11-10-2021, 10:41   #10
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Re: How to be a boat owner

If you buy a boat and act sensibly in how you handle it, go out in good weather, learn as you go, there is not a lot that can go wrong. Read a few books on how to sail first and tie a knot.
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Old 11-10-2021, 11:23   #11
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Re: How to be a boat owner

1. Is it legal to (own and) operate a boat without any formal boating qualification? Yes How do those people with no experience/qualifications do that? They justy do.

2. Is it possible to anchor a boat in any public waterbody, so that no rental costs are involved? It depends, check with the USCG Does anyone do this in the Central NJ area? see https://marinas.com/browse/anchorage/US/NJ
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Old 11-10-2021, 11:34   #12
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Re: How to be a boat owner

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I am tempted to buy an older boat and live aboard or cruise close to the coast following the weather. I have read about people having no boating experience buying boats and going on a long voyage right after learning along the way, etc. I have a few questions.

Be aware there are boatloads (sic) of additional issues: access to fresh water, access to a pump-out station assuming the boat is in territorial water, access to AC and heat (both of which need electricity from somewhere, access to parking (car and dinghy)...

And then every day, something on a boat will need service, repair, or replacement. Occasionally you can put off fixing today's problem until tomorrow -- then fix both of tomorrow's problems on the same day -- but generally you will need to pay attention to something daily.

Which in turn means you need to be a plumber, electrician, HVAC tech, engine tech...

In addition to knowing how to navigate safely, operate the boat safely, get to shore and back safely...

Et cetera.

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Old 11-10-2021, 11:49   #13
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Re: How to be a boat owner

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I am tempted to buy an older boat and live aboard or cruise close to the coast following the weather.
Welcome here, that's how many started. Whatever you read here don't be discouraged, even if most of it will point out difficulties. All of them can be overcome with work, dedication. Let me give you a little different perspective, which might help.

First, you should check whether living on a boat is really what you want. A boat is about the most stupid way to live - except if you really want to be on the water. Then it's the only game in town. So if you don't see yourself moving around, go RV, find a beach house or move into a cabin in the woods. More comfort, less hassles, cheaper. The seawater combined with sun and wind is about the worst (liveable) environment on earth. Everything is constantly disintegrating under your fingers. On the other hand, if you want to sail, you need a boat and have to handle this.

If you think you want to live aboard, best try to get a feeling whether the dream matches the reality. While lazing around on a yacht in sunshine and calm weather, trying to work on a shaking boat in bad weather in November is a different matter. Specially if the boat is old and has a long list of projects, starting with some leaks in the deck or around portholes. (very common) You might do this by taking one of ASA live-aboard trainings, which will help you with the next problem too.

If you don't know what you're doing, getting an ASA certification is a really good idea. It will help you to move from catastrophic errors to just costly errors. And no matter what, you will make them. We all did. The make entertaining stories a few years later with sundowners in the bar, but they're definitely no fun when you live them.

You probably will need a marina spot for some time. It's very hard to find an anchorage which is comfortable around the year and not already overcrowded and free. Having a home base really makes the project a lot easier.

Next is the old boat. You get what you pay for. Getting a fixer-upper is definitely possible if you're able to do much of the work yourself. Would you buy a scrap-car where you need to change half the parts to make it able to drive you to work or do you prefer a used car with a recent proof it's street legal and working? Same with boats, only worse.

If you don't have the experience, you can learn. But expect the boat to be on the hard for some time - and you can't live on it - or you have the money to get something useful. If you think you can save money by living on a boat, forget about it. It'll be a lot more expensive than you think, and the most expensive boats are the ones you get for free.

All in all, while under the right circumstances your plan can work, there are many obstacles on this track which you should be ready to overcome. There's no shame in realising the dream isn't worth the effort and it's only sane to do a hard reality check before committing to this path.
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Old 11-10-2021, 14:24   #14
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Re: How to be a boat owner

I'm from Northern NJ and purchased a relatively inexpensive boat in which my family of 4 lived on for 16 months after a moderate refit. We ended up in it for under $50k for a 41ft boat that was fairly well kitted out for live aboard life. A single guy in a low 30ft boat that isn't too picky could do it for half that.



Mid-NJ has shallow water and low bridges making it undesirable for cruising on a sailboat. We bounced around between LI sound and the Chessy before heading to the Carib... you can get into some of the inlets along the NJ coast depending on the draft and park up for free on anchor... NJ is not the best coast for this, but we've been into Atlantic City, Cape May and the Raritan bay area/Atlantic Highlands. Check ActiveCaptain for info on anchoring and inlets.



Many states, including NJ, require you to pass a 'boating safety' course. It's a weekend of classes and teaches basic rules of the road, basic safety requirements from USCG, etc. Highly recommended. You may find it hard to get insurance especially as a live-aboard. So if you can keep a permanent land address, that will make that step easier. There's no legal requirement for insurance, but most marinas will require it. you are going to need to be in a marina at some point to work on the boat or have it hauled out.



Yes, you can usually anchor for free. In the 16mo we lived and traveled nearly 10,000 miles, we never paid to anchor except for a handful of moorings usually in national parks in the Caribbean. Logistics of getting food, water (if no watermaker) and fuel and protection from weather, etc. will dictate where you will want to anchor. There are some restricted areas, generally shown on charts and/or signs posted in the water way on pilings or buoys. Florida has a lot of these signs. But there's still a lot of places you can anchor free. again see ActiveCaptain
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Old 11-10-2021, 15:53   #15
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Re: How to be a boat owner

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And, at least a handheld VHF radio, and learn to call for help.
IMO, learning to not need to call for help is a better idea.

Again IMO, encouraging folks who are primarily looking for a cheap lifestyle is bad for everyone: the newbie, their neighbors (both afloat and ashore), the cruising community, and the environment.

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