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Old 11-03-2017, 20:02   #16
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

Hi Keri,

I really appreciate your post and sentiments. I can offer some encouragement but also cannot disagree with the previous posts that point out some significant hurdles to your plan.

I'm a bit older than you and have the same plan but with several advantages. I am starting to encounter some restrictions due to age and health but am still able to do 95% of my boat maintenance and repair, at least for now. I also have years of sailing and boat fixing experience to go with it and a bigger budget.

The encouragement, I feel much better, sleep better, fewer colds and just generally all around healthier when I'm living on a boat. Know nothing about how your medical issues will be effected by boat life but I can confirm that most people experience much lower stress levels living on or by the sea.

Your plan might be doable but I think only with some major modifications. First, DO NOT spend all your money buying a boat. Even a brand new boat will suck up lots of money for all sorts of bits and pieces. An older boat, especially if you can't do the work yourself, will almost certainly require a lot painting and wiring and plumbing and all sorts of probably minor stuff that can cost a lot of money if paying a pro to do it for you.

If you really want to do this, go for a smaller monohull. A little searching and a little luck you can find a nice boat with plenty of room for one or two for $30-$50,000, leaving a few dollars for fixing and living expenses.
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Old 11-03-2017, 20:21   #17
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

By the way, welcome here to the club!
So I have been sailing since I was a teenager, I'm pushing 60 pretty hard and this last year I noticed pain in my hands that won't go away, I'm on medication that requires I may need to keep in regular contact with a doc... you know the usual stuff. But I certainly understand your desire for the freedom and beauty of the dream! Everyone is right, and there are a lot of folks here are of a fine vintage. First of all monos are not as bad as you are hearing. But that is neither here-nor-there. I too think it is unwise to spend all that cash on, as Ann says, a depreciating asset, which is really more depreciating than asset right away. That $80K should stay put for a while until you calmly think and plan it all out. However, I would not yet just give up completely on the whole idea of boat ownership. I think Benz has some good ideas too, but I could imagine a nice mono in a tropical marina that could be a nice home. I lived aboard a small mono sailboat when I was young, and 99% of the time there was no rocking or rolling, unless a power boat went by too fast and its wake slopped under me. Now if a storm comes through, then the boat will tug at its docklines, and if it gets really stormy then maybe a hotel room might be nice, but how often is that? And besides, a little rock and roll is kinda nice sometimes. I always sleep like a baby on a boat. (By the way, monos have a HUGE weight underneath that will keep it from going very far over, or capsizing, even when out in big winds.) You may find that a nice mono could meet your need for a cozy home and still be manageable on a small budget. Here is an example, not long ago there was an ad for a boat for sale, a 38 footer, very stout and sea-worthy, which had been completely refitted, just beautiful, but it was an older boat so in spite of over $70,000 spent on refitting the boat, and the refit was completely chronicled on a website!, the owner put it up for $30,000. These things come along. Now a boat like that won't need anything major for a long time, just regular maintenance of things, haul it out every 3 years or so to do the bottom, run and maintain the engine regularly. And if you have a full boat cover and keep the sun off, that helps keep maintenance costs down too.

But then again, as Benz alludes to, you could rent a small place in many nice little central American beach towns for a while and then move from one to another, and that could be handled with a low cash flow. Heck, when I visited Costa Rica some years back I lived with three different families who had rooms to rent. I lived in nice homes, they fed me great food, and we became good friends too. I have a friend who was talking about that as a retirement plan; just rent for a while and then move when he wanted to see more, hopping down from Mexico to South America and then on to other inexpensive off-the-beaten-track places. The only thing for us is we may need to be close to good medical care.

Well there are options...

At any rate good luck wherever the dream takes you! Please keep us posted, there are a lot of folks thinking along the same lines who want to hear what you discover!
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Old 11-03-2017, 21:29   #18
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

Might she have better luck on a river? Great loop? My understanding (no experience) is that the demands on body and boat are both lower. Perhaps she could make do with a cheaper boat. Maybe not even a sailboat.
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Old 11-03-2017, 21:57   #19
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

I e got a few years on you but some of the same afflictions. Find that boat yoga is good for my arthritis. It forces me to move in ways I wouldn't normally do and greatly aids my flexibility. Of course I have to grit my teeth and suffer through the initial pain but find a couple days working on the boat and sailing takes years off my effective age.

You might be able to find a used trimaran for the funds you have but I'd go for a 30-35' mono for half or less of your budget and rent out the house. As you can see I'm not the voice of reality but then I never have been. I'm flying out tonight to sail my 2nd sailboat from SF to SoCal. Everyone needs two sailboats. Don't get big eyes if you do go for it. An under 35' mono is more than big enough to live on solo. My wife and I did it on a Westsail 32 for four years. Even though there are folks who claim to sail 50' boats solo with ease think they are conveniently forgetting about regularly maneuvering it into a slip, raising the anchor when the windlass craps out or changing a sail in a stiff wind. The bigger the boat, the more force it takes to get it moving or stop it fend off a dock or just deal with the forces involved in a bigger boat. Then their is maintenance. Are you willing to get down a dirty with a motor or bottom paint?? If you have to hire regular work done, deep, really deep pockets are a necessity.

Having said the above, there ic nothing so satisfying as messing around on a boat. Good luck in whatever you decide to do.
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Old 11-03-2017, 22:29   #20
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

My breath is taken away by the generosity of all who replied. Wow! I'm so wrapped up in the rat race, I forgot how satisfying it is to talk to people who "get it."
I must say, Benz, maybe you hit the nail on the head when you said something to the effect that "paradise, escape" to you, an experienced sailor, does not make you think of sailing. Sailing is hard work! Yes, I fear pretty much everything I've seen tells me in no uncertain terms, it's an enormous amount of physical labor and if I'm honest with myself, one knee is already seriously "iffy" and I had not considered walking long distances for groceries, etc. I assumed once I got my dinghy to shore or dock the battle would be won.
Lots of wonderful suggestions here that are well worth exploring further - and I will - from the most discouraging to the most encouraging - I think your remarks are all things I need to hear, face, think about - and right now, the "tweaking" route is beckoning to me. If I can find my way to paradise and escape, how I get there comes into better perspective. I cannot thank you enough. I'll likely be back with my next batch of questions and let you know what comes to pass. THANK YOU!
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Old 12-03-2017, 03:04   #21
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

Dear Keri

I fully understand your need to make use of the time while you still can. I'm little bit younger than you (not mucht though ) and I've got some serious eye problems which are making my life harder. I have always had a bad eyesight but it was more or less stable and I could live a normal life and even drive a car. Since few years this has become worse and I do not know if (or when) it will turn even worse. I'm not willing to sit here and wait and hope for the best, so I also plan to retire early in three years time and share the same wish to sail, even if it might mean that I - to put it harsh - risk my remaining eyesight by doing so. As I'm planning to go solo this might be even more of a risk. Something everybody in my in my environment keeps pointing out to me

Having said so, there are a few differences: Firstly I have already owned several boats and done a circumnavigation with one of them, so I know what I'm getting myself into. Secondly my financial situation is better, I can spend more on the boat and will still have a small pension to live on

When I read your post I really can understand your urge to buy a boat, since owning a boat is something very special and emotional - and said in one word - it implies freedom. But please listen to all the other wise people on this forum - DO NOT spend you hard-earned money on a boat! With your limited financial means and the lack of experience this will simply not work out! Not even with a small monohull! A boat is not only freedom it is also a burden and even if you are willing to go REALLY simple it will always cost more than you might believe.

I'm sure you can get some sailing experience by crewing on other boats. Be honest about your skills and willing to help with everything including the dirty work. I'm sure there are always people around who might want some company or help with night watches. Please excuse me if this sonds hard, but if you have doubts that you might not be capable of being a "helpful" crew member due to you health limitations, how could you then be able to cope all alone on a boat?

This way you have several advantages: You do not risk your money and you get experience which you will need if you then decide to still pursue your original plan. And you don't spend money on a sailing class but learn somewhere were it's warm and nice

In the mean time read as much as you can about cruising - there are so many blogs and forums available which have a wealth of information for almost every aspect of cruising.

Press my thumbs for you!
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Old 12-03-2017, 06:08   #22
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

There's a joke among sailors that cruising is "boat repair in exotic places". That is particularly true of older boats. Another truism is that the cost of maintaining and managing on a boat is always dramatically higher than new cruisers think it is. Yes, you can life frugally on a boat but that is itself hard work; ferrying water, fuel, laundry and groceries can eat up that time you thought you'd be lounging in a hammock on the foredeck. And that's just transporting stuff.

Again, I think you need to find a different way to skin the cat...but don't throw out the cat. Preserve your assets, and find inexpensive ways to introduce yourself to the lifestyle.

Sailors are mostly a generous lot. The more of them you get to know, the more opportunities you'll discover.
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Old 12-03-2017, 07:14   #23
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Hi Keri.. interesting conundrum you've set us here..
Firstly I think you have the right choice with a catamaran.. but it should not be large.. I think something like a Prout, Iroquois or Heavenly Twin with an outboard rather than twin diesels would be more suited to you financially both as an initial purchase and re future maintaining.. you could buy a new outboard for what it may cost for a rebuild on one of the diesels and outboards today are pretty damn good.
Prouts and Heavenly Twins are very easy to sail and everything can be handled from the cockpit including the mainsail.. their rig is large headsail and small main with the mast set well back on the coachroof.. they're not fast and twitchy and are very stable.. in my mind perfect for you with certain provisions listed below. Also.. the HT aft cabins can be converted into one huge cabin by removing the dividing ply bulkhead that's just tabbed in.
Apart from your disabilities you need to take a serious look at yourself.. how tall affects the minimum headroom you can live with.. overweight (fat) will affect ability to clamber around and in and out of the boat.. bunks are not like beds.. they need to be clambered into.. not just sit on and lay down from any angle.
Your knee problems can be got round by building muscle strength to take some of the load of ligaments and cartilage (works for me after multiple bike accidents that have shattered kneecaps and torn various internal bits)and diet, sunshine and warmth can help with the arthritis..
Also.. as others have suggested, find somewhere you can get some sea time.. see if the reality comes close to the dream and.. use the time spent on the learning curve to explore the various boats available out there for sale.
Examples of Prout, Iroquois and Heavenly Twins here.. sadly all in the UK.. but shown as food for thought.

Heavenly Twins 8m for sale UK, Heavenly Twins boats for sale, Heavenly Twins used boat sales, Heavenly Twins Sailing Yachts For Sale Heavenly Twins Catamaran - Apollo Duck

Iroquois MkII for sale UK, Iroquois boats for sale, Iroquois used boat sales, Iroquois Sailing Yachts For Sale Iroquois Mark 2 - Apollo Duck

Prout Sirocco 26 for sale UK, Prout boats for sale, Prout used boat sales, Prout Sailing Yachts For Sale 1989 Prout Sirocco - Apollo Duck

Born To Be Wild.. Double Click on the picture.
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:33   #24
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors


I don't have anywhere near the sailing experience as many here, but I have mostly lived my life as a person of little means, even though in the fullness of time it turns out I came into plenty...

I get my kicks on a 22 foot monohull. Now most folks over about age 15 would not travel or live on a boat this size for long, but if I could spring myself from all my obligations and responsibilities, I would have no problem spending the northern season aboard. As the saying goes the sunset is the same from the deck of my 22 feet as it is from 50 feet.

I come from a cycling/camping background in my youth (biggest trip Winnipeg to Vancouver) so even a 22 foot monohull is luxurious and dry compared to a 3 man tent.

Yes, it can get uncomfortable. On those sorts of days, I make sure I am at a dock. Between 6 AM and midnight, there is always somewhere else to be, say library, mall, restaurant. On my 18 foot boat, I spent some time walking around the park after midnight once rather than be in the boat whose stern and bow we're alternating jumping 3 feet with each wave cycle.

Let's talk costs. I paid $3500 Canadian for this boat. At any given time there are thousands of boats this size available for anywhere from free to $10,000. I dock for a bit over $1000 Canadian a season. House insurance covers liability insurance. Annual fuel bill is under $50. I have spent probably another $8000 since, but about half would be on the trailer and a set of boat stands. Probably long term maintenance costs would be $1000 to $2000 annually. Much of what I am doing is what previous owners neglected to do over the prior 40 years, you might be luckier and find a boat in better condition. Actually that is not entirely fair, much of what I have done is because I want a cruising boat, not a weekender.

Now to enter a bit of a thought experiment, if I had limited means and winter ... I could probably rent a room in a house for about $500 per month. I think given these arrangements and running a 22 foot boat in the warm weather, an average​ annual budget of under $15,000 is entirely possible. Could probably get it under $10,000 if you had to. You have $80,000 that you need to stretch 3 years, so looks feasible. If after buying the boat and trying it a season and deciding it is not for you, you would still have most of your capital.

Now is it possible to have any sailing fun. Well we spent 2 weeks in the north channel of Lake Huron in 2014 and 2015 on our 18 foot 1200 pound displacement boat, and am heading there this season I think. Last year we left Belleville, Ontario in the 22 foot boat and made it to Hamilton and back over 2 weeks. I did a solo trip to Kingston over 3 days in October.

Some details about me. 6'4", sleeping in a 6'2 quarterberth. 240 pounds. Age 54. Some stuff is starting to hurt, but in reasonable shape. I have sufficient resources to add 20 feet, but frankly I don't know what it would really get me. I enjoy the tinkering, being an engineer by training, but I already spend more hours working on the boats than actual sailing time. Much of this is just the engineer in me wanting things just so... So probably best to keep it small or I'd never have time to sail it. More boat would be more work and cost, same sunset.

Hope you find something in this helpful.


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Old 12-03-2017, 08:35   #25
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

I agree with the consensus that a 30-35' mono would be ideal with your budget. I have been living aboard for the last 13 years. The last 10 in my own 34' sailboat. of course I started or rather restarted sailing at 48.

I have lived on about $500-$600 month which is bare bones. I spend the spring, summer and fall anchored out in the SF Bay and delta. In a year, I'lll have ss and will live high on the hog with about the same as you will have. So it is doable.

Myself I would look for a older 1970's boat of about 32-33 feet for less then $20k. Then have $30k set aside for repairs, less if you do some or most of the work. Take the other $40k and cruise for a year or two. BTW there are tons of older sailboats for sail. or an old single engine displacement trawler (Far better fuel economy) in a power boat.

The important things on a boat is hull, engine and mast and standing rigging. Everything else will need replacing sooner or latter. Actually standing rigging needs to be replace too, but rarely.

BTW any boat you buy will need money spent for repairs. so make sure you hold back $20k for that.

My old sailboat gets about 10-12miles per gallon which is very good. On the other end, a twin engine power boat will get about 1.5 mpg. $$$

I purchased an old 1972 saiboat for $11.5k and put another $10K into it (plumbing, lighting, electrical, 3cf fridge, etc.. My dad had taught me how to do electrical, plumbing and I was his gofer when he worked on the car so i picked that up too. None of it is hard. BOATS always need repairs and doing the work yourself saves lots.

Now at 61 I find that I motor more then sail. Stiff hands, a sore back and and old grumpy cat. Though I do think boating helps keep one younger. So it's not an impossible dream.

I would see if there is a crew list near where you live, where you can sign up for dailsailing as crew. If your not on a coast, get thee there.

There are many (ok some) mature women singlehanding or having crew aboard for longer passages. I know of at least 7 in the USA that are 60+ years of age. Good luck with your adventure.
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Old 12-03-2017, 09:00   #26
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

1. Corporate working life is NOT life. You are sooo correct. I can believe it's killing you.
2. You could take SS earlier, with a penalty. Your real issue is medical insurance until Medicare kicks in.
3. If husbands are for retirement maybe boyfriends are for living? He'll get 2, have a catermer-MAN? 2 would provide more stability than 1, maybe 3, Trimer-man?
4. You are on the right track, you just need to open up your search a bit. Look around to see what is possible.
5. Step 1 is to have hope and imagination, you do! Step 2 is to keep feeding that hope. Turn off the TV. Read, Dream, Do!
6. Where do you live? What resources are local? Resources come in many sizes and shapes. Do you have local boatyards? Sailing clubs? Boat building/restoration projects? All these things will help you work towards your dream, help clarify what you really want, and feed your soul.
7. We retired last year at 65 and 63 and are now full time live aboards and have done about 4,000 miles in 11 months. If our paths can cross we would invite you over to sink a bottle of wine and talk. That's an open invitation. Georgia area early May.
8. At the bottom of our home page are some "sister sites". There is one on retirement. It's not as much fun but does provide more meaningful financial input. Look at the FIRE retirement calculator. It's FREE and widely accepted as the best available.
9. My Wife, the Social Worker, thinks it wise to take SS early. She believes that once on SS it will be harder for the money grabbers/politicians to take it away from you.
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Old 12-03-2017, 09:08   #27
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

Physical limitations have caused my wife and I to move ashore after forty five years aboard monohulls. I agree with those that have suggested that a monohull could suit you well and be very safe. I also like the opportunity presented by those Heavenly Twins that Boatman has recommended. I'd give far less importance to the choice between a monohull and a catamaran regarding safety, stability or a thought of comfortable motion.

Where you begin cruising is an important factor too. Some places are mostly harsh coastline and others have huge areas of short passages to easy anchorages.

Keep us posted of your adventures!
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Old 12-03-2017, 10:00   #28
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

Keri, a LOT of good advice has been given here. Myself, I'm 55 in fairly good shape with the exception of the normal aches and pains that come with age. I have been living in Egypt for the past 20 years and am repatriating to the States next month (Last visit to the States was 10 years ago). Last year I purchased a 35-year-old 27-foot mono-hull for $6500 after having it surveyed (Good in nearly all areas), and intend to move aboard it towards the end of next month. As I work in boat and yacht repair, I understand maintenance, which is a big advantage and money saver. As such, I have spent a bit over $3700 on parts and materials that I know that I will need to make my boat a comfortable live-aboard for me. I also know that there will be more to be purchased once I am actually onboard and do my own assessment of the boat.

I went with a 27-footer for a few reasons: Slip fees are cheaper, bigger boat=bigger engine=more costs (sometimes), I comfortable doing solo on a 27-footer (docking, mooring, anchoring, etc.....important where physical ability comes into play).

My budget isn't as big as yours so I don't have your advantage. A guestimate would be that I will end up spending $12K on a fairly well outfitted boat that can be sailed in coastal waters and to the Bahamas when the weather window is right.

Follow your dream, get some more sailing experience as others have suggested, and good luck!

Oh, and sailing to those destinations where you can hang out on the beach?....Makes it all worth it.

But doing the hotel thing does sound appealing too! (less boat maintenance )
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Old 12-03-2017, 10:04   #29
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

Walking is a big part of cruising. I hadn't noticed it until my 75 year old parents spent a week with us. Then I really noticed it was either a lot of siting in one place or hiking miles to get somewhere :-)

But how about another thought entirely. We started out "life aboard" experience on the canals of France. Europe is riddled with them. England has a great narrowboat community as well. Get a lot of the benefits of the lifestyle (except maybe the palm trees) and a lot less of the hassles. I know of several hard core mono-hullers that have moved from full time sailing to the canals.

I recently started following this guy on Youtube who quit his job and bought a narrowboat. I'd love to join him someday.

Just a thought
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Old 12-03-2017, 10:04   #30
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Re: Aging Newbie Needs Reality Check from Experienced Sailors

What timing you have! I'm in bed high from Percocet recovering from surgery to rebuild/restore my left thumb joint; I have osteoarthritis and no cartilage left in both thumbs, and will probably have the right thumb done at the end of this year. Without describing the rest I'll share that i will most likely sell my beloved 36' trimaran and hope to buy a cat with an electric primary winch, self-tacking jib and aim to sail a bit less athletically in the near future.

I just got the new Practical Sailor, and you may find this article invaluable as you search. I've always loved multihulls, but if my budget forced me to look for a monohull I'd do so rather than give up sailing; I can adapt to anything. Affordable Cruising Sailboats - Practical Sailor Print Edition Article. Affordable Cruising Sailboats
Practical Sailor reviews nine used boats over 35 feet and under $75,000.

Here's wishing you all the best in your search!
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