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Old 20-07-2008, 17:47   #1
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Question Can you give me a REALITY check on living aboard?

Hello All,

I'm new here and of course the first board I had to check out is the live aboard one. I grew up living on a trawler. That was many moons ago but the memories are the fondest I have. We first lived a couple years on a sailboat and sailed the Pacific NW and up around Canada (Victoria). Then we bought a trawler and continued the lifestyle until I was 9. I remember all of the salmon trolling we did, putting crab pots down and clam digging during low tide. We had some scary moments when our engine quit during a storm while going through the straights of Juan De fuco and we nearly capsized. Fortunatly we got the engines started. I don't think our cat Sam was the same after that. Poor thing was quite sea sick. But the great memories out weigh the challenges by far.

I'm now 30's something and would love to experience living aboard again. However, I'm not sure just how realistic it is and hoping for some reality checks from all of you. Let me see if I can put my questions in a easy to read format.

About Us:
Late 30's - young 40's. Two children ages 7 and 12 that are homeschooled. House in Michigan we plan to keep and spend summers here (guess that would make us 60% live-a-boards or there abouts). Several Pug dogs. Experience on boats consists of my experience as a youngster and now our 20 foot runabout.

Ideal Boat: A trawler would be our ideal choice for a live aboard or similiar. Diesel a must. Personally, I'm very adaptable to smaller living spaces having lived on a sailboat and a trawler in the past as well as a 25 foot travel trailer years ago. Our current home is 2500 sq ft, but I think the adjustment wouldn't be that difficult. Being that we are a family of 4, can anyone recommend a boat that might suit us as far as double cabin and since my husband is 6'3" tall we have to consider the head room. Are there any models that have a deck area that would serve as the "poop" deck for the dogs...literally speaking as we would plan on having a section of artificial turf. They actually sell that stuff made just for dogs (: How much can we expect to spend on a boat that is around the 42'-45 or so size? Is it possible to find anything decent under $100k? I've thought about a house boat because it may be more ideally laid out as far as space, but not crazy about the idea because we want to eventually do some cruising.

Learning Curve
Because we both have limited large boat experience (hubby was in the navy but I don't count that), we will probably have to do a lot of learning as we go and hopfully not make a bunch of mistakes along the way. My main consern of course is being able to manuver such a larger boat. I'm the calmer one between my husband and I. Lord help us How did you all learn? Did you start out with smaller boats and move up from there? We have a 2005 Bayliner 20 footer but I know there is so much more involved when it comes to a larger boat and the challenges that can present themselves. Is there any type of larger boat, boating class one can take? Even just for safety stuff?

Ideally, I would love to have a boat in Florida on the gulf coast side. Of course the Keys would be my dream but it would likely be too expensive for us to dock there year round. Finding live-a-board dockage that doesn't cost your child's college fund after a few years appears to be a challenge. I understand the reasons though because of the idealic setting Florida presents. Do any of you anchor out in areas in Florida? Do they allow you to do that?

As I said we have several Pugs. Do any of you live aboard and have 2-3 dogs? Is that realistic as far as their comfort and theirs? Do the live-aboard marina's allow dogs or is that a challenge especially if you have more than one?

Live-aboard Marina or Anchor?
Our dream is to spend December through the end of May aboard. Due to the cost of docking, we thought of anchoring but not sure how difficult that may be with having dogs and children. Though we would want to anchor relatively close to shore to be able to dingy in. If we opted not to dock our boat, how expensive is it to haul out and dry dock it for the months we aren't using it? Then of course we'd have to put it back in the water again come December. Any idea of costs for this? Or does it make more sense to find a live-aboard dock and pay monthly? From what I've read it's pretty expensive in FL for live-aboard spots. Are there any that are more reasonably priced? Meaning under $600/month. We'd consider even more north if need be for a dock.

I'm sure I'll have several more questions, but that's a start and I appreciate any input you all have.

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Old 20-07-2008, 19:52   #2
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Hello Floathome (Kel), we too are following the same path, albeit, I won't have any animals on board, I am just personally sick of dog hair everywhere. We have a 25 footer and that is our teacher. You were comparing your 2500 square foot home to a boat? Lol, don't bother, the comparison will just deter you. From what I gather, a livaboard becomes a true minimalist with material things. I used to think the two of us needed a minimum of 38 feet to live on, but I was just on a Catalina 30 and was blown away with the space compared to my Coronado 25. We have adjusted our sights down to maybe a 33 footer, brand undetermined.

Our goal is not just to be a livaboard, we are going to travel, and travel.I'll have two small pensions when I'm 55 and with no debt we should be able to have a modest lifestyle on the go. I assume you and your husband plan on working while living on board?

BTW, I was in the Canadian Navy for 18 years (My first pension) as a Marine Engineer. What was your husbands trade?

I didn't really answer any of your questions but just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your dreams.....Good luck to you guys.....Allan
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Old 20-07-2008, 20:43   #3
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Sounds like you have thought about this a lot. Getting a handle on some of the parts of it is hard. Taking a full family and sticking them all on a boat is something that isn't a standard thing. Not all families that do it well do it the same and the variations are almost limitless. The fact that you home school is a huge advantage and is a serious issue for anyone with a family.

Trying to fnd some ways to give it a dry run first wouldn't be a bad idea. It is easy to adjust to being at a live aboard dock living in the space of a small efficiency apartment. It's not really boating though. Being tied to a dock just means you have a small house with neighbors that are very close by. Boating people are pretty nice but then we all might feel that way. What is possible is a lot broader range than what you might choose or like. It's all posssible but if part of the family is miserable it's like spending 6 months in the back of a pickup truck.

Under $600 / month is a tough number to reach for marinas. You also have boat expenses that are not like house expenses plus all your living expenses too and the house back in MI. Insurance, bottom paint and other incidentals are new expenses you don't have now. Just the marina fees isn't enough. With housing as expensive as it is living on a boat is not competitive any more at a marina. Just because the keys might be harder won't make the Florida Gulf a bargain.

Lots of folks travel with dogs so that is just another part of the new program. You sure won't want to turn them loose and head off.

Boat handling isn't so hard. Past experience helps but with a bigger boat it takes time and practice. I do not see that as your major obstacle. Boat handling and dealing with all the new things is a big learning experience. I expect you already can understand that part even if you don't know how just yet.

How much can we expect to spend on a boat that is around the 42'-45 or so size? Is it possible to find anything decent under $100k?
Estimating the size is not so easy and brings with it some issues. A few extra feet can cost a lot more after you pay for it. A lot of expenses are by the foot. At 6-3 you won't have huge problems finding a boat that fits your husband but not all of them will and not everywhere on the boat. At $100K trawlers in the 37 ft range may work in a double cabin variety maybe a early 80's Tiawan trawler, single engine. Outfitted it could be very very tight on the budget. This could get you up and down the Inter Coastal Waterway. You can't go off shore on your budget.

You really need to work over your financial arrangements so any limits you set can work. That part is very complex.
Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 20-07-2008, 20:47   #4
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Originally Posted by Pblais View Post
<snip> A few extra feet can cost a lot more after you pay for it.<snip>
One of the more intelligent observations I've read at CF.

"Your vision becomes clear only when you look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks within, awakens."
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)
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Old 23-07-2008, 06:32   #5
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I live with two dogs on board. Mine are Cavalier king charles, and pretty easy keepers. Ive had 3 at one time, its alot harder than living on land, we walk 3x a day and i do keep wee wee pads for those times at sea or when weather is too bad to get off like TD or Rain and high winds.
It takes alot to manage dogs on a boat, its just more dedication to their daily walks, grooming making sure their shots are up to day if you cruise they need pet passports for any UK or EU c ountrys (BVI) is one place, bahamas you file 90 days prior with the infomration its $30..
I dont know about kids on a boat, I am retired

good luck finding the right boat

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Old 25-07-2008, 21:47   #6
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i am anolder lady living aboard in southern cali----dago, precisely.....i left an ericson 35 mII for a formosa cat appreciated the move upward, as afterwards i stopped stepping on his tail....was a good move---but , yes, from 25 ft to 35 ft is 100 more dollars for items, and from 35 ft to 41 ft the price jumps to 1000 dollars more for logarithmic......
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Old 30-07-2008, 17:01   #7
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A couple of thoughts:
Have you considered a sailboat instead of a trawler? Diesel costs can only go up, and then there will be the future issue of shortges to consider. The lifestyle will differ a bit, but if you intend to cruise, then wind power beats hydrocarbons every time!
Marina slips will also continue to rise in price, and there are already shortages of available slips, which will likely worsen as more waterfront becomes "condo-ized". Living at anchor would also represent a significant change in lifestyle, but a great cost savings.
In general, it seems to me that in terms of cost, you can save a great deal by going simple and self-sufficient. This is our life plan....
Rocky and Lily
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Old 02-08-2008, 22:33   #8
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Hi Kel
My wife and I live aboard our 38 ft yacht with a medium sized dog (no kids at home)... We have been aboard for 12 months after deciding with minimal sailing experience that we wanted to give it a go. NEVER REGRETTED IT! Go for it... And go for sail... Not trawler. We are the same as spammy... Simple and self sufficient! Love it!!
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Old 03-08-2008, 09:42   #9
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i have been a power boater and a sail boater in my career in boating---the trawler will have more room than a sailboat of same size unless you go with a taiwanese boat----there is lots of room inside them......sailboats go farther when running out of fuel---never do because of the sails......consider the fuel problem very hard-----is only going to get worse, so please consider sail, as you will be able to go farther under sail than under power.......

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Old 07-08-2008, 20:23   #10
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FYI: There are lots of places in the Tampa Bay area of FL where you can live off the hook for free. Quite a few of them are very well protected and close to an accessible dock and facilities.

I am hoping to do this myself, very soon!
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Old 08-08-2008, 04:22   #11
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I live in Orlando but keep my boat in Sarasota area, below Tampa Bay. I keep mine at the marina but would agree with Seafarer24, there are lots of boats anchored. There are no private beaches so you can land your dingie on any of them.

Key West (and Dry Tortugas) are a 24 hour ride and same deal you can anchor out there, other members would be better to address this area since I have not done it alot. My wife, 18 month, 5 year old, and 9 year old prefer a marina.

Good Luck!
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