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Old 26-06-2019, 12:52   #1
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Liveaboard Alaska?

Is it possible to "comfortably" live aboard in Alaska? More specifically, in the marina in Homer or Seward? I've lived in Fairbanks, AK since 2011 so I'm no stranger to living in cold conditions, but living in a cabin in the arid interior is different than living on a boat on the ocean I'm sure.

There doesn't appear to be much sailing in Alaska, especially outside the inside passage and even less about livingaboard.
After searching the forums and other online locations I can't find the answers I'm looking for, which makes me think it's not done because it's a dumb idea.

Maybe someone with much more knowledge about this sort of thing would feel like giving me their 2 cents or point me in the right direction:
I am a geologist and spend my summers working in the field, usually in remote locations from Mid-May until late September/October. After years of paying rent for a place I only use 1/2 the year I got fed up and for the past 2 years I've put my stuff in a storage unit and been nomadic in the summers and have found month-to-month leases on places in the winter.

I've often thought of learning to sail and eventually spending my winters working my way south from Alaska to warmer climates while returning to AK for the summer field-season. But 1st I need to learn to sail, and my work schedule does not provide time for that during the sailing season up here.

My latest idea is to buy a liveaboard and overwinter in it. I'm tired of paying rent on an empty house and my wanderlust/fear of commitment won't allow me to buy property. Living on a boat I own sounds like a winner to me. I'd spend the winter learning the ins and outs of boat maintenance and sailing around Kachemak bay. Plus I'd have a home to go to on my odd break in the summers rather than camping or crashing at a friends place.

I have very limited sailing knowledge gained in the mid 2000s when my dad bought a Santana 20 and we spent a year teaching ourselves to sail around a lake in Oregon. After that i got back in college and spent a semester involved with the sailing club, attending one regatta before other obligations got in the way and my sailing experience ended. That was over a decade ago.

Anyways, can it be done? Is it done? Do I have no idea what I'd be in for?
If it's not a terrible idea, what should I look for in a liveaboard based in Alaska? Thanks!
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Old 27-06-2019, 05:34   #2
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

First thing to do might be to find out if the marinas in Homer or Seward ALLOW liveaboards. Some marinas don't. See other threads about extra fees (elec/water/pumpout...). In addition to the possible cold, being on/in the water is DAMP. The humidity can make it feel miserable, even if it's not that cold. Condensation because of the different temperatures of various surfaces is often a problem- it can lead to mold growing in places you can't/don't get to, which can be unhealthy. In steel boats it leads to rust, too. A balsa-core might provide better insulation than a solid fiberglass hull to help with this issue. Some people spray foam inside their hulls too. Insulation is a good idea because water conducts heat (away from your boat) so well - 25 times better than air. Does this means the heater that you ran for three hours a day to keep your cabin in the woods warm would need to run 75 hours each day to keep your boat as warm? Not exactly, because only part of the boat is in the water, but you get the idea. The heater would need to be on.... a LOT. That could get expensive, even if the boat and marina costs were reasonable. You are right to be asking questions beforehand. There are lots of them.
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Old 27-06-2019, 06:57   #3
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Pseudonym.
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Old 27-06-2019, 09:41   #4
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

Seward does allow liveaboards, and some people winter over. This past February a man died in a boat fire in Seward marina, which was attributed to his wood stove heating.
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Old 27-06-2019, 09:53   #5
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

https://soundsailing.com/thebobblog/
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Old 27-06-2019, 22:06   #6
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

Thanks for the advice everyone. After looking into it for a bit I realize I'm in way over my head and need to get much more experience before I even consider buying a boat. There's so much to know (obviously)! I'll be heading to Seward and hopefully Homer on my break next month and will be sure to walk the harbors and hopefully chat with some folks docked there (and at the Salty Dawg!). I've been looking into ASA courses but they're hard to come by in AK and my work schedule doesn't match up with any. But that makes a great excuse to go someplace warm this winter to learn. Maybe next year I'll be sailing the cold waters of Alaska. Cheers
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Old 27-06-2019, 22:41   #7
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pseudonym View Post
Thanks for the advice everyone. After looking into it for a bit I realize I'm in way over my head and need to get much more experience before I even consider buying a boat. There's so much to know (obviously)! I'll be heading to Seward and hopefully Homer on my break next month and will be sure to walk the harbors and hopefully chat with some folks docked there (and at the Salty Dawg!). I've been looking into ASA courses but they're hard to come by in AK and my work schedule doesn't match up with any. But that makes a great excuse to go someplace warm this winter to learn. Maybe next year I'll be sailing the cold waters of Alaska. Cheers
I think you might be giving up a little too easy - not to say I'd ever even consider overwintering in Seward or Homer.
Your reasons to choose a boat make a lot of sense to me - and I have always found field geologists beating about the bush or tundra of Alaska to be pretty resourceful fellows.
Speaking of bush, is the Great Alaskan Bush Company still open in Anchorage? It's been a lot of water under the bridge for me since the last time I worked on the Slope.
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Old 29-06-2019, 17:50   #8
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

I haven't given up yet. Just think I need to gain more experience and knowledge before I pull the trigger. That hasn't stopped me from looking at boats online though. I've found at least one I want to check out on my next break. Thanks for the encouragement.



The Bush Co is still going strong. I've had to drag a friend or two out of there at closing time over the years, although it's been a few since I've been.
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Old 30-12-2020, 07:47   #9
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

Did you ever decide to Liveaboard in Alaska? I am considering the same.
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Old 30-12-2020, 14:10   #10
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

No, I'm not living aboard. I did buy a Catalina 30 that is docked in Seward and I overnight on it sometimes. I'm still have a lot to learn about sailing and I think I may do the live aboard thing in a few years, but I'm not sure if that will be in Alaska or not
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Old 30-12-2020, 14:21   #11
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

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Did you ever decide to Liveaboard in Alaska? I am considering the same.
This is who you want: https://svdenalirosenc43.blogspot.com/

They hang around here on CF intermittently as well: Bill Wakefield.
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Old 30-12-2020, 15:07   #12
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

Chuck and Laura of Cruising LeaLea had lived aboard an Albin Vega in Alaska for many years. It's certainly doable but I think you would be wise to ease into it. Get a feeling for what it takes to keep moisture at bay. I would probably want to have a couple of diesel electric heaters plumbed and ready to go given the severity of one failing in winter. If you already have the boat and a home maybe try a few weeks aboard, see how u like it.

Maybe search cruising LeaLea on YouTube. They don't respond to many comments but you could try. Good luck.
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Old 30-12-2020, 18:13   #13
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macblaze View Post
This is who you want: https://svdenalirosenc43.blogspot.com/

They hang around here on CF intermittently as well: Bill Wakefield.
+1 on Bill and Donna of S/V Denali Rose. When we went up to Alsaks in 2017 and overwintered to spring 2018, we got to be good pretty good friends with them. Their blog is nothing short of spectacular; loaded with great information put out in a very informative manner.
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Old 07-01-2021, 18:28   #14
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

My partner and I have lived aboard our Island Packet 35 for over 2 years - year around and it has been great! The weather here is similar to the Southern parts of Alaska, so I think our experience would be similar. I don't know how it would be in the more northern areas of Alaska. I would strongly recommend that you have a good diesel heater. It makes a huge difference. We used to have a propane heater and we've also used electric heat. We were not happy with the latter two.
Our kids grew up and moved out of the house and we sold the house and put our things in storage. I don't think we will go back to a house as we are quite happy living aboard our cozy boat!
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Old 07-01-2021, 19:09   #15
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Re: Liveaboard Alaska?

Dry heat is a must, either diesel, propane, kerosene, etc with a chimney to the outside. Electric or other unvented heaters heat the air but don't absorb the moisture from breathing or temperature differential between the cold cabin and deck sides and the heated air in the boat.

Spent a winter living aboard in Virginia with electric heaters. As soon as I turned on the heaters every surface inside the boat became slick with condensation. Generated so much water thought there were leaks somewhere in the cabin and hull. Once it warmed up the water went away. Even though I could get the boat to what normally would be a livable temp. always felt cold because of the interior humidity.
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