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Old 04-10-2020, 13:54   #1
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Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

I'm looking for somebody who lives aboard their boat in or around Vancouver and does not have a permanent slip in a marina. Hopefully you could share your experience and maybe let me pick your brain a little.

I want to buy a sailboat and live aboard in Vancouver for free. Of course that would be too good to be true. So I aim to spend half the time anchored in False Creek (14/30 and 21/40 days in high and low season, respectively) and half somewhere else, like Gambier island. I have lots of questions, like:

1. What is the best anchorage that's close to False Creek and has good cell phone coverage?
2. What are the unexpected problems with this lifestyle?
3. How bad is it in winter?
4. What non-obvious extra equipment will I need on the boat? (enough solar panels / other electricity sources, heater, insulation, what else?)
5. Does it happen that sometimes you need to dock at a marina for some reason? where do you go in that case?

I'd appreciate if you could find 15 min to just talk to me over skype, this is a big decision for me (my first boat at the same time) and I want to get it right. If you're not too scared of covid, we can meet and I'll buy you a beer ;-)


(similar questions have been asked a few times, and I looked at the replies, but that was years ago, so I still want to hear more about more recent experience)
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Old 04-10-2020, 15:13   #2
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

I used to live on a floating home in False Creek and at that time there were quite a lot of boats permanently anchored there just east of Granville Island, quite ragged looking, festooned with a lot of scavenged treasures. I enjoyed paddling around the area with my 4 year old in my lap, seeing an interesting view that you can’t get from the street. I moved away just prior to the olympics but word on the street at that time was the city was going to ‘clean things up’. I’m curious what it’s like now.
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Old 04-10-2020, 15:23   #3
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

Officially the rules are you need to get a permit for anchoring, it's free but you can only do that 14/30 days in high season and 21/40 in low season. So my main question is what people do the rest of the time. Plus all the more generic questions of living aboard in a big city without a slip.
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Old 04-10-2020, 18:23   #4
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmitrytoda View Post
Officially the rules are you need to get a permit for anchoring, it's free but you can only do that 14/30 days in high season and 21/40 in low season. So my main question is what people do the rest of the time. Plus all the more generic questions of living aboard in a big city without a slip.

Have you read Waggoners?
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Old 04-10-2020, 18:36   #5
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

You mean the cruising guide? No.
Does it have any liveaboard-specific information? Just finding a second anchorage in not a big problem, Gambier island would probably work. I'm interested in personal experience because I'm sure there are questions it doesn't even occur to me to ask. Like I just came up with another one:

6. Say I want to go away for a few days, maybe a weekend trip to the Rockies - do I just leave the boat anchored and hope nothing happens?
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Old 04-10-2020, 18:50   #6
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

What’s your plan for water? Sewage? How are you going to get food? Paddle a kayak and carry it to the store so nobody steals if off the beach? ..

You’d need a diesel heater in winter.

Not many boats anchored in van. There are livaboard marinas. But nothing will be cheap.
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Old 04-10-2020, 18:57   #7
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

Water - get to a marina every once in a while and fill the tanks, for a fee if needed. Shouldn't be that bad.
Sewage - either get the appropriate number of miles off shore and dump, or same as water.
Food - probably same, buy in bulk, load when you dock once a week or two.
That actually raises another question though, when people go ashore, what do they do with their dinghy/kayak/whatever they use for it?
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Old 04-10-2020, 19:50   #8
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

Well, the old gray mare ain't what she used to be, but:

Provisioning: Dock at the Granville Island Market. There is a "visitors' pontoon" there, but there is a farily short time limit on it. It is exposed. If you leave the boat for half an hour to pop into the market, you'd better lock it! GIM is an expensive place to shop[, but cheaper overall than having to spend money on public transport to get off the island. Call The Market's office to find out what the time limit on the pontoon is.

Water and fuel: At False Creek Fuels next to Burrard Civic Marina.

Don't need a dink if you shop at the GIM. For longer absences I don' know what people do.

Gambier (Centre Bay) is fine. There is a Government Wharf there with a pontoon for pleasure boats. You can get your hook down about 200 yards from the float. Nobody there in the winter. Brigade Bay on the east side of Gambier is also fine. There is a small breakwater there and a pontoon for a few boats. If you want to get behind the breakwater, make sure you make friends with the locals. If you have a bicycle aboard a 3 mile ride will get you to the island's "trading post" with a moderate selection of vittels.

Keats Island is a park with a pontoon. There is a fee in the season. You can anchor a few yards from the pontoon.

From Keats to Gibsons is only a long spit. Gibsons has everything you could wish for.

Your numbered questions require a small book to answer. Maybe we can get back to that tomorrow. You don't say where you are presently located. I take it it isn't Vancouver. Clue me in and I can probably give you better answers when I know a bit about you.

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Old 04-10-2020, 19:51   #9
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

The main place you’re going to want to shop is Granville island Market and immediate area. For years I always just left my kayak at one of the fingers in front of the market. Never even crossed my mind that’s someone would paddle away with it. There are about a zillion tourists sitting there looking down on the area at any given time, taking photos...I had a cute kid with me- a toy or two on the kayak. Probably lots of security cameras there, etc.
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Old 05-10-2020, 07:47   #10
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

TrentePieds, Oeanda, thank you, this is very helpful!

I am currently in Vancouver, just not on a boat. Renting an apartment so far, and have a choice to either keep paying rent, or buy a boat and deal with all the fun that comes along. So I figured, I'd better invest those $1500 a month that a separate place would cost me (at least!) into my own boat then into landlord's pocket.

Maybe it makes sense to find a marina for the first few months, until I get more used to this lifestyle. Doesn't have to be in Vancouver but should be within say half a day sail from it.

I know that's a long list of questions worthy of a small book lol.. that's why I said it would be great to have a little chat with somebody who is doing it now, maybe hear a story like "a typical week from a liveaboard life in Vancouver".

Looks like most of my questions are solvable, the main one that remains is how people go about longer absences. I am definitely not going to be self-isolating on a boat 24x7.
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Old 05-10-2020, 08:54   #11
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

We lived aboard, legally, at False creek Yacht Club for 5 years. GIM was 100 yards away. It was always a challenge, never in 5 years walked to the boat empty handed. You have a grasp on the rules of False Creek, you can shop locally, but you will likely need a bike and a dinghy, capable of carrying a bike. O/B? Walk the seawall, you will see what the live aboards do with their dinghies and kayaks, they pull them up on the foreshore and leave them. Heat, lights, showers, water and groceries. It is a job. Love East Bay on Gambier, but it is open to the west, and southwest. The government wharf gets you nowhere, except into the forest trails. Keats is a possibility, maybe just a 'spit' across to Gibsons, but in an ebb or flood and a wind, you better be an olympic class rower. If you have ever left False creek to Gambier in a wind over tide, you may understand it isn't always a pleasant, or desired cruise. There is no free, everything you mention will cost time. As for longer absences, you will need boating friends. You may find a society lives on those boats, and you will need to become a part of it. Love to hear how you make out.
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Old 05-10-2020, 09:05   #12
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

Thank you Greg, very helpful too! I understand it is a lot of work and takes time.
My initial plan was to do all this much later, like in a few years, after I've finished some other life quests. But I just arrived to Vancovuer two days ago, saw those boats in False Creek and thought, what the hell, I have the budget already, why not do it now. Still trying to take it slow, haven't even started looking at the boats yet. Given how long the whole buying process takes, I'd be lucky to transition by spring.

Any advice on a cheap marina within half a day sail from Vancouver anybody?
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Old 05-10-2020, 09:15   #13
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

Quote: "Maybe it makes sense to find a marina for the first few months, until I get more used to this lifestyle. Doesn't have to be in Vancouver but should be within say half a day sail from it."

Marinas on the Mainland side of the Straits are expensive. On the VI side, far less so. I was in West Van, and went to the VI side to a marina far superior to the one in WV. the savings on moorage fees pays for 10 (TEN) return trips a year on the Tsawwassen - Duke Point run! The transit time twixt my home in the eastern end of the Valley and the marina is exactly the same as crossing the Straits from WV to Porlier Pass under power. There are lotsa ways to skin a cat :-)!

Quote: "So I figured, I'd better invest those $1500 a month that a separate place would cost me (at least!) into my own boat"

Well, yes. However: Lotsa people can find the money to BUY a boat. Far fewer can find the money to KEEP a boat. My budget for KEEPING the 30 footer is fifteen grand a year, i.e. it is equivalent to rent on a modest apartment. Just like rent, that is money up the flue! You'll never see that money again. And as much to the point, the money you pay to BUY a boat is also money up the flue, or at least you should so consider it. Anything you might recover on selling her would be like winning a few bucks in the lottery. While you could buy a boat suitable for what you seem to propose for twelve or fifteen grand you cannot count on recovering that money in a sale, and depending on what fate has in store for you, you might have to scrap 'er, which would set you back $20K. So tread carefully!!

In answer to your question #2: You seem to be in your working years. If – of which I have no knowledge – you happen to be employed in the construction industry, for example, living aboard is perfectly feasible, since your work-clobber is not significantly different from your boating-clobber. IF, however, you are an articling law student or accountant you MUST wear the “business uniform” every day, and there is NO WAY you can keep a business rig in decent and acceptable shape living in a small boat! In the winter, you simply cannot keep it dry! You know how easy weather forecasting is in Vancouver: If you can see the mountains, it's gonna rain. If you can't – it's raining!

I have no doubt that you could find a slot at Shelter Island Marina. But SI is to-hell-and-gone out in Richmond, and while there is cell phone coverage, the public transportation is as good a non-existent. Thus you must have a car if you have to go to work anywhere in the metropolitan area. Downtown the parking fees are ferocious. You also have to remember that when the Fraser is in spate, a 27 or 30 foot sailboat is gonna have a hard time going upstream against a four knot flow!

Lotsa stuff to consider. Send me a PM if you like :-)

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Old 05-10-2020, 09:44   #14
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

I work in IT. Right now with covid any job I'll find will be remote so I'll be able to work from the boat.

Shelter Island Marina looks like an option. I do have a car so I will be able to get around by land, and it's less than 30 nm from False Creek so I could do that run by boat say once a week, spend one week at anchor there, one week in the marina. That also solves the problem of longer absences.

I am actually looking at bigger boats, something like 35-40 ft for $50-70k, with the idea to get her ready for offshore cruising in a few years.

Your $15k/year budget for keeping a boat, does it include marina fees?
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Old 05-10-2020, 10:30   #15
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Re: Liveaboard around Vancouver without a slip

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Originally Posted by dmitrytoda View Post

I am actually looking at bigger boats, something like 35-40 ft for $50-70k, with the idea to get her ready for offshore cruising in a few years.

Your $15k/year budget for keeping a boat, does it include marina fees?

Since you are looking for a boat may I suggest "Parallel Dreams" currently on the hard at Jack's Boat Yard in Lund, BC. She's a gorgeous, steel, fully-equipped 45' offshore cutter/sloop - an Amazon I believe. I'm convinced the only reason she hasn't sold is because of her location. She can probably be had for around $50k Cdn. Call Gerry (Geraldine) the yard manager there, for more details (604-483-3566) and owner contact information. No broker!


Scorpius is now in the yard there for the winter (If I didn't have Scorpius I would buy Parallel Dreams in a heartbeat!). After the provincial election (I'm working on my sister's campaign) I'll be going up and could take you or whatever and introduce you.
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