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Old 12-09-2020, 11:46   #1
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Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Hi there!

My wife and I are relatively new to sailing and are looking at buying our first boat and going full time live-aboard cruising within the next 6 years.

We currently live in Portland OR, and I wanted to get some thoughts and advice from the folks on here as to what the best steps would be?

The two thoughts we had were to save up to buy a boat out-right in about 6 years. We bring in about 70k together after taxes, already about about $10,000 saved and spend about $1,400 per month in rent and utilities. What boat we could buy at the end of this time would dependent on how much we could actually save in those 6 years.

The OTHER idea would be to purchase (and finance) a boat sooner, 6 months to a year and then go live-aboard this boat in marinas while still holding our full time jobs. We could then use the boat for weekend sailing, practice, and vacations as desired. This would then eliminate our rent payments, which would turn into loan payments for the boat + the money we intended to save initially. Potentially doing it this way we could buy a newer or bigger boat that needs some work since we'd have the extra time and money to work on it?

We are pretty aware of how difficult living on a boat might be in Portland's winter and rainy season but her an I used to live in a 10 ft hand built tear drop trailer traveling the country while climbing, so pretty used to some hard living conditions.

I would love to get some advice from you all, maybe this is a great idea, or a terrible one. Either way I look forward to your responses!

Thanks!
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Old 12-09-2020, 13:21   #2
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Buy now and take the loan. You will have a better chance of actually leaving in 5 years as the boat will be ready to go, or you will be done with the dream. Otherwise, you will be 2-years away from departing in 6-years as any $70k boat will likely need some work and investment to get ready.

In short, if you're gonna fail, fail fast and move on.

Good luck. It's a great dream if it works out. If not, you'll still have some great experience for your life story.

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Old 12-09-2020, 13:44   #3
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Something to consider: "project" boats, those that need some repair or renewal, are less expensive than ready-to-sail, but often turn out to cost more in the end and take far longer to repair than anyone projected. A boat that has been neglected will have lots of repairs to be done that were not evident at the time of purchase. In addition, you are planning to live aboard, which means right in the middle of a construction project, with much more crowding than in a fixer-upper house. And in another addition, you can't sail on weekends if the boat is diassembled. There are good reasons to consider purchasing less boat in better condition, especially for a first boat.

You seem quite comfortable with a small space. Wonderful! When space becomes the issue in your mind, perhaps consider the difference between a monohull and a catamaran. Cats cost more per length, but have a bunch more interior space.

I hope you get to live this dream.
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Old 12-09-2020, 13:45   #4
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

By the way, welcome to the forum, libbymr.
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Old 13-09-2020, 08:33   #5
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Do remember that instead of paying rent you will be paying marina fees, which can be quite expensive depending on the size of the yacht.
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Old 13-09-2020, 10:24   #6
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Quite a number of us liveaaboard on the Columbia in Portland. I do and hate it during the winter. My reverse cycle heat pump can't function because the water temps are too low during the 2 coldest months of the year, exactly when I need heat the most!

I pay around $600-$650 per month for my liveaboard slip which includes, slip fee, liveaboard fee and electricity.

Finding a liveaboard slip will be your biggest challenge. They are rare these days as each marina is only allowed so many per marina.

Not to rain on your parade but the sailing in PDX sucks. It's a river. You can have some awesome days but they are far and few between because of prevailing winds.

You might consider a small sailboat to just sail on, not live on, to learn more on.

As far as living on it while working??? Definitely not for the faint of heart. When I was younger, while holding a corporate job I removed and rebuilt the pilothouse on my boat while living on it and working full time. It can be done but is this what you really want to do?

I have been working on my current boat for about 3 years. A project I thought I'd get done in a year. The main reason it taken so long is the weather in PDX. There are too many days you can't work on anything. BTW- I worked on boats for 15 years so my time estimate was pretty realistic for the SF Bay area weather, not PDX.

If you are still interested in this idea then I'd like to invite you to come over to my boat, see what a boat in progress looks like and I'll answer any questions you'd like to ask. PM me.
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Old 13-09-2020, 10:43   #7
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

I have also lived aboard in Portland, and in Seattle. I would agree with Cpt Mark. Hone your sailing skills on a smaller boat such as a Ranger 20 and save your money for later, rather than spending it on slip fees and annual maintenance/repairs. When you are ready, don't buy a project boat. You will have enough time and expense involved in simply preparing the boat for longer passages and open water.
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Old 13-09-2020, 11:49   #8
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

I'd say it was a life style and economic decision only you can make.
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Old 13-09-2020, 12:26   #9
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Buy a cheap boat soon for cash. In a few years when you're ready you can buy the boat of your dreams. In the meantime you'll be saving more as costs will be less and you'll be learning sailing and boating skills.

Plus, and this is very important, you're knowledge base will have built up such that you can make a good decision about the eventual dream boat you buy. You'll know what you need, not what you want.
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Old 13-09-2020, 12:51   #10
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Assuming the yacht charter business will survive Covid-19, why not buy a new boat for charter from Moorings and let their "guaranteed rental income" program pay for at least half of your boat when the contract is up in five years?

The Moorings is the only such company I would do business with, and no, I don't have any financial or other interest in that company but I have owned two of their boats.
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Old 13-09-2020, 13:33   #11
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

I’m not going to speak to location, winter, slip availability, etc.. I am sure you’ll get plenty of pros and cons. I’ve also always been a big believer in not having debt - to the extent possible. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve tempered those rules a bit. I’ve buried too many of my fiends before their time - succumbed to “in the line” injuries, later secondary impacts, or the wear and tear of their life and careers taking them away too early. I can’t tell you the number of “someday when I retire” dreams I’ve seen ended in horrific, premature fashion. So, I really only want to share with anyone who asks... Do whatever you can do to pursue ANY dream... TODAY. Tomorrow is not promised.

So - think about it. Research and plan. Assess your financial and personal situation. And then make a plan. Even if, in this case, it’s baby steps of a small trailerable... DO IT. Or, damn the torpedoes... buy and move aboard.

I don’t know your age, but sometimes us “Boomers” roll our eyes, aghast at the millennials buying crappy boats, and with little to no money, or experience, sailing off into the unknown. And sometimes I wonder if they’re really not smarter then us.
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Old 13-09-2020, 13:39   #12
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Agree with phyrcooler (I think). Assuming OP is fairly young, the upside potential benefit far outweighs the downside risk of just "doing it." Plenty of time to recover if it's a mistake.

Watch the early episodes of Project Atticus and Sailing Uma. They started with gumption and not much else. Had they waited and saved, well, they'd still be waiting and saving.

If the dream is strong, do it now, work your butts off to payoff the loan asap, and figure it out. What's the worst that can happen financially? You take it in the shorts and lose $20k - less than price of a car. Not trivial, but recoverable.

Peter.
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Old 13-09-2020, 14:59   #13
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Wait, save and study!

I keep hearing from really smart guys that there will be a downturn in Q1 of 2021. If that happens, boats that were purchased based on assumed income, as well as those who need to shed expenses because of COVID will hit the market.

If I am wrong, you have more cash to buy.

If I am right, you have more cash, are a more informed buyer, AND get a better deal.
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Old 13-09-2020, 16:08   #14
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Purchase a 30' monohull for a learning platform that doesn't cost too much. Get one with a diesel, wheeled steering, autohelm, and refrigeration. A big plus if it has a trailer in order to be stored when not in use and hopefully saving on marina dock fees. This size boat is an excellent learning platform. Let the CF help you learn. I have a preference for Catalina but also could look at Hunter or Pearson. This size boat will allow multi days travel for up to 4 people. Will teach anchoring as well as many other things. They sail pretty well. Then save your money up. If you take care of the 30', you may get most of your money back. I believe they are the cheapest way to experience the most. This will probably convince your spouse to purchase a catamaran as mine did.
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Old 13-09-2020, 16:18   #15
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Re: Question? Purchase a boat now and pay-off or save for 6 years and buy?

Assuming you are rich enough to finance rather than buy cash in hand, I believe it all boils down to how you want to use the boat.


If you want a weekend recreation boat, buy it now and use it every weekend or during your longer vacation periods.


If you want to buy the boat and sail it far away, buy later - when you are ready to cut the shore ties and go.


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