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Old 01-12-2020, 22:27   #1
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From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

My wife and I are boating virgins. We have been building a fairly high pressure career together for the last several years and have started to realize we don't have much of a life outside of work. As we explore the changes we want to make, our conversations focus around owning something instead of renting, being close to nature, working with our hands, and inviting friends into our home. Unfortunately, for our career we will need to move to Hong Kong where a 300 sqft apartment sells for about 1 mil USD. This (especially my desire to have something to constantly fix and tinker with) led us to the idea of boating through stumbling across SV Delos on youtube.
With that out of the way, I have a ton of questions for this community.
We are too ignorant to know what we want in terms of boat choice but will only have about 80 hours and $1000 per month budgeted for maintenance (post refit). We'll live tied up to a mooring ball in a typhoon shelter and need to commute to shore at least 3 or 4 days a week. We would probably need to make all of our own power and water.
How practical is this? Can you maintain a decent sized sailboat on that budget or should we adjust it? How much time does it take to bring a dinghy 500m to shore and tie it up for the day?
We have taken an interest in an Islander 44 on the cheap end and a Mason 43 or CT-47 on the higher end. What does the community think of these boats? Are they suitable as daysailers that would have to ride out a couple of typhoons (on a mooring ball in a shelter) each year?
Any thoughts on accommodations? We would be sleeping 2 on weekdays, maybe more on weekends, and needing to seat up to 6 in the cockpit.
Any thoughts on performance? Will we care about performance if we're only sailing to nearby islands on weekends when the weather is good?
Can we string up solar panels all the way down the sides of the boat or is that going to make problems?
Those of you who have firsthand experience with electric drives (I've already heard from ppl who have diesels, love them, and will never part with them), do you recommend it for daysailing or not? How powerful is your motor and what performance do you get in choppy seas? I ask these questions because I can get solar panels and lithium batteries for about a tenth what they typically cost; storage and generation are only limited by space. Also, diesel/gas cost almost $10/gal there.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read through my situation and questions. If you can answer one or more questions, your response is greatly appreciated!

(I realize bunching everything together is not the best way to get a thorough answer to each question. At the moment, though, I'm not even sure if I'm asking the right questions.)
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Old 01-12-2020, 22:42   #2
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

Hi guys,
if i would be you , get the apartment in HK , get a maid and live the dam expat life. HK even today is one of my most favorite cities but i doubt i would want to live the on a yacht in a T shelter during a T. Also consider your status , do you want to dinghy to the Royal HK yacht club in bad weather????? James Bond can go in there in PJ's of course but is your name Bond?
In regards to power , my wife and i both work from our yacht fulltime , power is always an issue and solar works ok as long as the sun is out. In Tasmania in the winter we need to top up with a Gennie. How long does it take to tie up a Dinghy? about 30 seconds if i leave it in the water with the motor , longer if i take the motor off and lift it up on the davids.
South china sea is for sure a cool place but may be buy the apartment and join the HK Yacht club.
We have a 40' steel yacht , 50 HP diesel and currently in Tasmania.
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Old 01-12-2020, 22:55   #3
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

Hi guys - I'm OP's wife. I think my husband may have miscommunicated. We are nowhere near wealthy enough to buy the apartment. Our options are tightening our belts a bit to buy a 100k boat or renting a 250 sqft apartment. So the yacht club isn't really an option for us. At least until we get super successful ��.

We will also have a place to stay on land during a storm.
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Old 01-12-2020, 23:32   #4
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

I have not been to HK in years so I really cannot comment on specifics of living aboard there, but in relation to what SV Dingo said, reliable power on cloudy days is important. Secondly, I'm not to sure that I would be happy with what a watermaker produced in contained waters around HK.
Just my 2Ct.
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Old 02-12-2020, 00:24   #5
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

That makes a lot of sense. We'll probably have to rely on a combo of rainwater, purchased water, and watermaker that we use only when we aren't in the bay. I figured I'd build a lithium batteries in the range of 24 to 48 kwh (500-1000a at 48v) to try to get through a few cloudy days (they really are dirt cheap here). I think I'd need a heavy enough boat to handle that weight, though. And I'd need to take out the diesel tank since I doubt I could afford the weight of both in any boat I'm considering.
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Old 02-12-2020, 00:39   #6
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

How much sailing experience do you have? Will you take some courses to get the skills you will need to do the coastal sailing?

Hong Kong gets some pretty bad typhoons/cyclones. How will you insure the boat? Talk to a yacht insurance professional and find out how much you will pay in annual premiums in Hong Kong. Ask for the best course of action for these type of storms. Your insurer will want you to provide an action plan in the event of tropical cyclones. I'm pretty sure being tied to a mooring isn't in the storm plan.

Do you really want to sail or would a motor yacht suit your needs better? You talk about motoring between islands on a weekend so maybe a nice motor yacht would be a better fit. You can get some pretty good deals on motor yachts in Asia.

Boats are a good way to become an electrician, diesel mechanic, painter, fabricator (both metal and GRP), solar expert and chemist. You will learn to do twice as much with half the resources you are accustomed. But it's very rewarding if you don't get frustrated. None of these positions come with a degree though.

If you haven't lived on a boat for a few nights then you owe it to yourself to try it out first. Go walk the docks and talk to other boat owners in a marina or yacht club. You can learn a lot that way. Also, check to see if you can charter for a week or so to see how it fits your wants and needs.

You may be able to rent a boat as living quarters in a marina in HK. Do some legwork and find out if this is possible.

Good luck with the career move and your transition to the water. Some of the best people I've met lived on a boat.
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Old 02-12-2020, 01:03   #7
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

My first question would be why do you need to stay 100% of the time in and around HK? If it's just your legal residence why not make use of the wonderful crusing grounds in SEA?

I think most of your questions can only be properly answered knowing the local conditions in HK... and I doubt you want to be on a boat without aircon throughout the year. I know the place a bit and have been many times, there are wonderful islands with a much slower pace of life that could offer you mooring places, but it's best to research your options before you worry about what type of boat, propulsion etc. in my opinion.

Probably best to find out first whether it's even doable to live full-time on a boa
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Old 02-12-2020, 02:18   #8
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

Looking at sailboats like only somewhere to live, is sort of like moving into a trailer park. You don't know sailing or sail boats, hence to miss problems with one you think about living on. Nor do you know the liveaboard subculture. And you want to do this in Singapore.

My opinion--and that's all it is: air--is that you are totally unprepared to own a sailboat, and it is is house that can sink out from under you. For you, I do not think this is a good idea.

Now, y'all can go out there and prove me wrong, and that's okay.

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Old 02-12-2020, 05:05   #9
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

This is a tough one.

Up until a few months ago I've lived part time in HKG for 20 years. My GF still lives there but I can't get to her now as Americans are currently banned.....lepers of the world that we are. So I'm surprised that you can currently move to HKG.

I've known a few people that own yachts in HKG, but nobody that lives aboard full time. Personally, I'm not sure I would want to live in HKG on a sailboat...esp at the typhoon shelter in Causeway Bay. Sai Kung on the other hand is really nice, however no matter where you live you still have to deal with the hot humid weather and the issue of typhoons.

I'm sure you are well aware of all the political changes that are going on in HKG since the ChiComs have started to take over the place. Given the negative political changes, people are leaving and the cost of office space is coming down. I'm not sure if this is happening with residential properties yet. I would definitely look into what's going on in the rental market before committing to purchasing a sailboat.

Good luck with your venture. There are a few HKG based yacht owners on this board that should be able to help you with your specific questions.
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Old 02-12-2020, 05:18   #10
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

Personally I see no real issue with the OP plan other than the lack of experience and knowledge. Sailing is easy to learn really and the boat maintenance is something most who are “handy” can do. There are books for both and the internet to look it up if not.

Everyone starts somewhere. I started with a 39’ boat with only 3 months of weekend sailing experience and am still alive etc.

To the OP, keep in mind you are a cruiser wannabe and mostly are going to live on the boat. Chose a good boat for living as all of them can sail, but not that sail are good for living on.
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Old 02-12-2020, 05:48   #11
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

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Originally Posted by Saleen411 View Post
This is a tough one.

Up until a few months ago I've lived part time in HKG for 20 years. My GF still lives there but I can't get to her now as Americans are currently banned.....lepers of the world that we are. So I'm surprised that you can currently move to HKG.

I've known a few people that own yachts in HKG, but nobody that lives aboard full time. Personally, I'm not sure I would want to live in HKG on a sailboat...esp at the typhoon shelter in Causeway Bay. Sai Kung on the other hand is really nice, however no matter where you live you still have to deal with the hot humid weather and the issue of typhoons.

I'm sure you are well aware of all the political changes that are going on in HKG since the ChiComs have started to take over the place. Given the negative political changes, people are leaving and the cost of office space is coming down. I'm not sure if this is happening with residential properties yet. I would definitely look into what's going on in the rental market before committing to purchasing a sailboat.

Good luck with your venture. There are a few HKG based yacht owners on this board that should be able to help you with your specific questions.
Thanks for your comments! I have noticed that prices are coming down a little. I should have mentioned that we will have a bedroom set up in our office on shore for bad weather or times we just don't feel like commuting. We were thinking of renting a mooring in Tai Tam Bay since it looks gorgeous. I do think it's a bit less protected than some other typhoon shelters, but what's life without risks?
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Old 02-12-2020, 05:53   #12
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

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Originally Posted by Simon.Sails View Post
My first question would be why do you need to stay 100% of the time in and around HK? If it's just your legal residence why not make use of the wonderful crusing grounds in SEA?

I think most of your questions can only be properly answered knowing the local conditions in HK... and I doubt you want to be on a boat without aircon throughout the year. I know the place a bit and have been many times, there are wonderful islands with a much slower pace of life that could offer you mooring places, but it's best to research your options before you worry about what type of boat, propulsion etc. in my opinion.

Probably best to find out first whether it's even doable to live full-time on a boa
Good thoughts. I didn't talk much about location because it's a non-negotiable for the next few years. Our day job a couple days each week will be in an office we rent downtown. The rest of our work is online and can be done anywhere we have internet access. Unfortunately that does mean we have to stay close to HK.
We would love to cruise eventually, but our first foray into boating will just be practice while we work ashore.
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:04   #13
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

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Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
Personally I see no real issue with the OP plan other than the lack of experience and knowledge. Sailing is easy to learn really and the boat maintenance is something most who are “handy” can do. There are books for both and the internet to look it up if not.

Everyone starts somewhere. I started with a 39’ boat with only 3 months of weekend sailing experience and am still alive etc.

To the OP, keep in mind you are a cruiser wannabe and mostly are going to live on the boat. Chose a good boat for living as all of them can sail, but not that sail are good for living on.
Cruiser wannabe is the perfect description! Maybe that's what we should name our boat.
Hopefully Starlink or some other form of global internet access will set us free in the future, but for now it's just practice and seeing if we like it.
We have zero experience sailing and are looking for a way to get that experience now in the midst of the demands of our jobs rather than waiting till we're too old to want it anymore.
Thank you for your encouraging words. We'll take them to heart as we screw this up miserably repeatedly until one day maybe we get it right. =)

Also, thanks @kmason for the suggestion of spending a few nights on a boat. I'm not sure how to do this with the current travel restrictions (I've repeatedly struck out looking for opportunities within HK).
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:23   #14
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

I would be more concerned with the geo-political climate as much as any of the legit concerns raised here. It reminds me of when I was cruising a few years back and told to steer clear of Venezuela ... rumor was if Chavez got bee in his bonnet he would declare all marinas property of the state and inpound all property, etc. Using that analogy, China seems to have a swarm of bees in her bonnet about HK and with with a China friendly administration coming in, China may start to do what she pleases with HK and Taiwan. I am positive you are much more informed about this issue thank I am. China is halfway through her 50 year marathon to dominate the world and next to be dominated is HK or Taiwan. But when one goes, the other will follow. IMHO.
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Old 02-12-2020, 07:23   #15
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Re: From boating virgins to living aboard - so many questions

OP and wife, I support your exploring this option more, but you need a few months in “normal” housing to settle in first. Don’t be overly concerned about having much savings your first year as an expat either.

There was an episode of House Hunters International where an adventurous gringo with zero boating experience bought a big sailboat in HK to live on. Search it up.

BTW I did more than a decade as an expat in Syria, Qatar, UAE, India and NZ. Best time of my life and best way to raise my kids!
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