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Old 21-05-2020, 15:28   #1
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New to live abroad - need some help please

Hello there,
We are new to boating. We have been full time RVing for the past *7 years, a family of 4 , my husband myself and our 2 adult girls (23,26). We are now looking to start full time boating , live in BC and are looking to buy used yacht to start our new adventure. *I was wondering if someone here would be able to kindly share some information on the full time boating in Canada? Are there any of you that have kids as our kids age and how is it going for you?*
we are looking to buy used boat, we wanted 3 cabins , but it seems that based on our budget we would need to compromise on 2 cabins and maybe turn some area in the boat to 3rd cabin. Did anyone do it and have experience in it? Basically any information you can please share with us regarding full time boating would be greatly appreciated and helpful. Thank you so much in advanced.*
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Old 21-05-2020, 19:23   #2
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

Hello, NewAdventure52, welcome aboard CF, where you will find a whole lot of opinions to sift through.

Friends of ours with an ex-charter 3 cabin 40 foot grp monohull made the journey from Tasmania to AK via HI, and returned a few years back. Before they left here, they insulated above and below the waterline, and they installed Webasto forced air heating. Originally from the NE of England, they were warm enough. And they had enough storage space for such travel.

If you give us an idea of budget, the forum will make all kinds of recommendations.

At present, Canadians are limited as to where they can go in Canada, due to the corona virus pandemic, and I would expect those restrictions to remain in place for a considerable time due to the vulnerability of the Native American villages in the far north. So, just my opinion, but I think you should look carefully at the Canadian travel restrictions before going forward with your plan.

Another thing, at some point, your daughters will most likely want to get out on their own. And young folks starting out haven't the money to travel far to see their folks.

Something you may not be aware of is that driving a boat around is not like driving a mobile home around. Boats are influenced by tide, current, and wind--and of course, they float. Close quarters maneuvering is a skill that one has to acquire, try and trust me on that.

You guys are on the steep part of the learning curve. If you keep and live in your motor home, and buy a small sailboat of a known brand that you can learn on, and see if you even enjoy travelling on the water and being at the whim of the weather, if you even like sailing, you will be far ahead. This is what I would recommend.

Lots of folks get the sailing bug from watching You tubes, and having watched some of them, all I can say is that while you might think you learn, you really cannot learn from others how it feels to cope with difficulties at sea. Imagine the worst emergency you ever had RVing, and then add, cold, wet, and frightened--and possibly seasick. We are at the mercy of the elements.

In my case, for background, there was a little racing (invited as crew at low club levels), followed by local and coastal crusing. This was followed by a trip from San Francisco to Hawaii in my now husband's 30 footer, to see if we liked ocean passages. All that, before we bought a boat to go cruising in. And that one, we took out in the worst weather we could find, to learn where to sheet the storm jib, etc., while there were still warm showers to return to. Eventually, we went cruising. During the first year, we realized there was more to do to get our financial ducks lined up for sustained cruising, so we returned and worked another year and sold my house, for the cruising kitty. We still are coastal cruising, and living aboard--we have no other home--although we've slowed down a lot. So, it IS doable. It is also really easy to get in over your heads, and can be very expensive to recover from. One of the big pitfalls is that if you do not have the skills to maintain the systems on the boat, you will be paying big dollars while waiting for projects to be done. The systems people want nowadays for their boats add complexity and expense. Of course, you can choose to KISS. And, if you do, it will be easier on you over the long haul.

Imho, you would be best to move a bit more slowly with this plan, and to involve your adult girls in your discussions. Buying a boat right now, is a little uncertain, too, because no one knows the future of cruising. I personally think the effects of the recessions plus the illnesses and the vulnerability of the Island populations will make it much more limited than it has been in the past. But that is only my best guess, and it certainly could be wrong.

Ann, cruising full time for approximately 35 yrs.
Who scorns the calm has forgotten the storm.
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Old 21-05-2020, 20:11   #3
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

Hi Ann,

Thank you so much for the reply and taking the time to share from your experience and knowledge, I truly appreciate it

As for the budget, we are debating. We thought it would be easier to finance used boat, but apparently at least in Canada they donít like to finance used boats so much and can only do it for few short years. This makes it very hard to pay it off each month. The second option is to buy new boat bu then the initial cost will be significantly higher and we limited ourselves to 300k , and take it to 20 years.
But this option is less attractive as we prefer used and not new , and we didnít want to take a loan for so much money especially when this whole boating is new for us.

Our most affordable option is to take personal loan for 100k and look for used one. With this come many difficulties, especially because it appears that in BC the boats are more expensive than in the east and in addition there are not many options for this budget here.

But we do think that stick with top 100k will be the best option and not more than that. I would even say that we would prefer to find something in the 60k or 70k and leave some space for fixing or renovation, because in that budget we are left with 1985 and around it boats , which usual all require some kind of renovation.

The boating adventure was basically proposed by our girls they brought up the idea after watching some videos of others on you tube. We were looking into it for the past few months free they brought it up, and we decided that it can be a nice experience.

Between us, as a parent, it did crossed my mind the issue of the age and that it will somehow in some way will limit their social life. But at the same time I must say that they are into it way more than we are.
I actually resented the idea at first as I am not so comfortable being on the water, and in addition to that I am claustrophobic and small narrow spaces makes me nervous. But after many thought back and forth , we decided to give it a try.

But the thought of their social limitation still bothers me

At first we thought just to do local cruising here in bc , and stay close by to the shore or even marinas. I donít have enough confidence or then knowledge to go further.

Do you think that even do local cruising and live in marinas will be too risky and still itís better to buy small sail boat? Also, do you literally mean sailing boat or do you mean even power boat, just a smaller one?

Because we didnít want sailing boat , we wanted motor boat, but Iíd love to hear your opinion on that

Today we live all 4 of us and our dog in a 39í fifth wheel with 4 slides, itís a big rig and we feel ok with it. The reason we wanted 3 cabins and not 2, is due to the fact that I wanted each girl to have her separated space. It makes life easier

But it looks that in our budget we wonít have much luck to buy 3 cabins and it looks more towards the 2 cabins. I thought of maybe converting some of the living or other part of the boat to another space like a cabin and make it 3 . But Iím having hard time to find models to answer this issue.

Are you aware to a specific model you know of that might answer this issue and be able to convert part of the boat to another mini cabin?

I just think that with 2 cabins it might be too tight and will eventually bring some ďfightsíĒ Iím the RV they sleep in bunk beds and it is ok but I think that in the boat 2 cabins will be too little.

As for the elements and the rest of the factors, this is all new for us and thatís what guided me to stick with the shore line and marinas for now, or maybe just do coastal cruising in bc.
We also thought to maybe start with the great loop but Iím having problem figuring out how to get from bc to the east of Canada to start the loop, as I donít want to go further or sail near Mexico. Are you aware of how to get from bc to the east based on your experience?

Do you think the great loop wonít be good for us as beginners or does it have too many challenges in the way ? Of course we would need to see whatís happening with the restrictions, but I understood from other loopers that said you can stay longer in each point till you move further and maybe we can do it that way and go day by day?

As you can see, this is a whole new thing for us and we are finding ourselves in an unknown territory. Any information , input or just suggestion would be way more that just appreciated it would be welcomed and very much needed

Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and share your experience with us.

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Old 21-05-2020, 21:34   #4
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

It really sounds like you need to charter any boat you can sleep on for a weekend and see how it all works out for you as a family and individual. It would be better if it was a wet weekend as nothing is more claustrophobic than being on a boat while it is raining for days on end. Throw in a wet dog that needs toileting everyday and life starts to get interesting.
Where ever you buy the boat much sure you can live aboard, some marinas do not allow live aboard.

Good luck with your adventure.......
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Old 22-05-2020, 04:48   #5
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

At your price range (or considerably less, read below), you will be able to find a very nice boat to suit your family's needs. Look at craigslist! You never know when you'll find something amazing on there. Used boats sometimes are a hot mess, but if you find one that's been well maintained over the years, you won't be sorry. A well maintained and regularly sailed 80's boat very well might be better for you than a neglected boat from the 2000's!
Regarding space, you're looking at 4 adults living in a small space. If you've survived thus far in an RV without killing each other, I'm sure you'll do just fine in a boat. Three cabins is unusual unless if you're looking above the 40 foot range.
I'd second the idea of chartering a boat in that range and seeing if you think it will work for you. Do keep in mind that bigger boats require more hands to sail.
We live on a surprisingly roomy 30 foot boat with 2 cabins, one aft, and a nice vberth forward. We've been happy thus far with it! We hare a family of 3 plus pets: 2 grownups, one 8 year old, and a dog, cat, and ferret. Most would think we are nuts to squeeze into a 30 footer with that many living beings, but it works for us, as we all like small spaces and are very close.
When I asked advice on this forum about boats, specifically sizing, most recommended 40 foot or above. But it really does depend on the boat and the family. Our old boat was 35.5 feet loa, but we actually have more space below in our current 30 footer!
We found our boat on craigslist for 5,000. It's worth far more than that, but we got lucky with a guy who wanted a bigger boat and who simply wanted to sell his old boat for "what he'd put into it."
Another thing to consider: There is a family in our current marina who live on two boats, not one. Both boats are in the 30-35 foot range, and are older (70's / 80's). The parents live in one, and their two daughters, who are in their late teens/early twenties, live in the other. You could consider that kind of arrangement. Sail together, caravan style! You get more space, way more privacy, and a far cheaper price tag. I'm pretty sure they paid around what we did for our boat for the larger one, and got the smaller boat the girls live in for around 1000. That's one tenth of the 60k you've mentioned in your post for your "most affordable option." More expensive is not always better.
Happy sailing!
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Old 22-05-2020, 05:39   #6
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

Already plenty of good advice here, but I would like to add if you wan to do the great loop, buy a boat already located on the great loop! You don’t need to start in BC.

Your RV (once travel restrictions ease) could make a great platform for going boat shopping.
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Old 22-05-2020, 07:57   #7
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

There are boats out there with 2 small cabins in the aft and one forward. I don't know of any way to convert the salon living space into a cabin, though you can use part of it for sleeping on many boats. Cast a wide net and find the boat... it doesn't need to be in your backyard.
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Old 22-05-2020, 08:55   #8
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

Originally Posted by Newadventure52 View Post
Hello there,
We are new to boating. We have been full time RVing for the past *7 years, a family of 4 , my husband myself and our 2 adult girls (23,26). We are now looking to start full time boating , live in BC and are looking to buy used yacht to start our new adventure. *I was wondering if someone here would be able to kindly share some information on the full time boating in Canada? Are there any of you that have kids as our kids age and how is it going for you?*
we are looking to buy used boat, we wanted 3 cabins , but it seems that based on our budget we would need to compromise on 2 cabins and maybe turn some area in the boat to 3rd cabin. Did anyone do it and have experience in it? Basically any information you can please share with us regarding full time boating would be greatly appreciated and helpful. Thank you so much in advanced.*
By "full time RVing" I assume you mean you live with your family in your RV.

If so, you'll find living on a boat a familiar experience, with the twists of movement on the water (risk of motion sickness) and the harshness of the marine environment requiring much more maintenance and repair than an RV on land. You'll need much more emergency equipment and spares than an RV, and will need to learn navigation, weather, tides, currents, etc. that aren't as important on an RV, not to mention sailing, docking, close quarters maneuvering, anchoring, etc. Getting water and fuel requires more planning on a boat.

Here's my top two things to bring to your attention at this point-

1. Where will you live?

You're not ready to untie the lines and cruise, you would need to build your skills first.

Most marinas have restrictions on living aboard your boat, so finding a marina that allows liveaboards would be a priority, even more important than what kind of boat to get.

2. How will you learn to stay safe?

If you break down, make a wrong turn, get into an accident, or make a mistake on an RV, you have a high chance of survival. The smallest thing can kill you or sink your boat when you live and navigate on the water.

You could get a boat and live in a marina (see #1 above) or on the hook, building your skills over time. Living on the hook (or "anchor out") means you anchor in a location with shore access (dinghy dock, market, etc) and pretty much stay there or move short distances from anchorage to anchorage. You could coastal cruise this way, just stay within your limitations and skillsets.

I love your adventurous attitude and envious your family is on board to do this together.

Be open to learning, realize the much higher risk factor living on a boat (when not tied to a dock), and as you've done here, reach out for information and support from your fellow boaters. We love boats, water, nature and sharing our passion.

One small tip about using this forum- you'll find no shortage of opinions, both informed and uninformed. Pay more attention to the informed opinions based upon real world experience directly related to your questions who give you more than a sentence spouting their "wisdom." If your goal is to cruise PNW, find and connect with experienced PNW cruisers, they will be your best resource.
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Old 22-05-2020, 09:08   #9
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

Because we didnít want sailing boat , we wanted motor boat, but Iíd love to hear your opinion on that

Given that you don't really want a sailboat, I think you should be looking at trawlers many of which will have three cabins (at least) They will be somewhat stark in the interior as they were probably working boats at some point. As it's a very long way from BC down through the canal and up to Canada, you really should be focusing on boats already there (Chotu's advice) The loop is for motoring anyway so a trawler makes more sense as you won't have to worry about bridge clearances. Either way, arrange to get on a boat first and decide if any of you are highly prone to seasickness before buying your own boat, as you won't always be in canals.
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Old 22-05-2020, 09:27   #10
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

Overall, a powerboat, older with twin diesels would make a very good choice for you. Get one that is plastic, no wood boats, wood decks etc. Yes, they look pretty but are labor intensive and usually not well cared for in older boats and therefore a lot of work to rehab.

Working autopilot with modern electronics for nav would be huge. Upgrading electronics gets expensive fast. Make sure the engines have been checked over by a mechanic.

Unless you have experience not mentioned, I'd assume you will need to hire someone to teach you how to operate your boat. Ideally you want a professional with direct experience at taking you from know nothing to competent to actually plan and execute a voyage. Canada has large tides, rapids and other things that you must pay attention to or you could lose the boat and everyone on it.

Something else to consider is fuel. You'll be paying more for fuel because it's on the water. Your fuel burn might be 5-10 gallons per hour or more. This isn't like an RV that gets 8 mpg, kinda like 8gpm lol. Will you have the budget for this?

Insurance. No experience, large boat, Big bucks! if even available. Having a professional teach you goes a long way. I've done that for clients and it made the difference between no insurance available and reasonably affordable insurance (but still high) for the 1st year which then drops way down 2nd year if no claims.
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Old 22-05-2020, 10:36   #11
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

23 and 26..LOL Time for them to get their own boat and be happier and free.

My 2 daughters started at a year old and now have had their own for a while already.
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Old 22-05-2020, 10:38   #12
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

A lot of Canadians live the winters in Caribbean and stay in Grenada for summer or fly home. Aim for 5 year old boat with cruising gear. Charter for a week with skipper who will teach you in Caribbean, Grenada and Grenadines. Far too cold and tricky conditions in Canada.
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Old 22-05-2020, 11:00   #13

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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please


Ann Cate has given you very sound advice, as she does everyone who asks a question such as the one you have asked. Let me, as a resident of BC, add a few more specific, more immediately practical bits of advice. What I have to say is not meant to discourage you or your family. Quite the opposite! It is meant to give you a little insight into some of the things you as a family will need to discuss in order to understand what it is you are proposing to do, and to stress that there are a great many people on this forum who can and will be helpful. But we will need to do it in full recognition that for you, it will indeed be a Newadventure where you will have to start from “ground zero” and exchange old accustomed perceptions for entirely new ones :-)

While we are all constrained from travelling freely at the moment, I will disregard that. The following applies in “normal” coircumstances.

Pounding the highways of BC in your MH you would (“on passage” as we sailors say) put a hundred clicks behind you every HOUR. Cruising in a boat, it will take you an entire DAY to do that, and that would be a LONG day, indeed! So cruising calls for a kind of patience you don't need to “navigate” an RV from, say, PG to PR along Highway 16!

You speak of the “Great Loop”. Yes, that would no doubt be lovely, but remember that people who live on the “Great Loop” lust after the experience of cruising the Salish Sea and the Broughton Islands. We have cruising waters right here in BC that are second to none, and they are so vast that you CANNOT explore them fully in an entire lifetime! The BC you see pounding the highways is an ENTIRELY different kettle of fish from the one you see from the water. You cannot even GET to Chatterbox Falls by road!

You, or more particularly your daughters I judge from what you write, need to view the myriad of YouTube clips that extoll crusing as a way of life with some considerable skepticism. A crusing boat is an immensely more complex piece of machinery than even a “battlewagon” of a motorhome, and the skills that are required to manage, handle and maintain a crusing boat are of an entirely different order, because unlike an RVer stalled on “the Coke”, a boater cannot just call Mission Towing and hand the problem over to a mechanic in Merritt.

As for handling even a biggish cruising boat at sea, that is in itself relatively simple. Until the weather comes up. Compared with “parking” even a modest “3-bedroom” crusing boat in a tight marina, parking even a battlewagon of a MH in a provincial camp site is a piece of cake. Nevertheless, I fancy I could teach you the rudiments of both in a couple of week ends. Handling is NOT the hard part. Managing and maintaining the vessel is.

The reason we have Marine Academies for professional seafarers is that the road to becoming a competent skipper is long one. VERY long. In fact, in practical terms it is never-ending, although the period required for “book learning” is relatively short: four or five years, interspersed with practical application of the learned material during periods at sea. You can (and should) as a “Sunday sailor” take courses offered by sundry organisations, such as the Canadian Power Squadrons for the theoretical stuff and by sundry commercial sailing schools (there are several in
Vancouver) for some practice under the watchful eye of experienced sailors. Driving a boat is NOT like driving an RV!

Ann touched on some of the psychological factors that come into play. You, yourself, voiced some hesitation in regard to your own attraction to the idea of “chucking everything” and going cruising. It behoves us all to remember that the sea is an enviroment that is fundamentally inimical to human habitation. To exist successfully at sea requires a certain mindset that very few people are born with. Some manage to DEVELOP it. But usually only by being at sea under the tutelage of people who already have that mindset. Going to sea under a skipper that DOESN'T have that mindset is NOT a good idea!

Selecting a boat is a subject all unto itself. The “glossy” press (no need to mention specific publications, they are all around you) CANNOT help you to develop an understanding of what kind of boat would be good for you. Only actual experience in divers boats can do that. There are, reduced to the simplest terms, boats that are good for cruising, and there are boats that are good for racing. Articles in glossy mags and other marketing fluff notwithstanding, “cruiser/racers” are not really good for either. So you will need to develop an understanding of WHERE you want to sail and HOW you want to sail, for boats, except for “cruiser/racers”, are designed and built for specific uses in specific waters. One of the things you must consider at this time is that, roughly speaking, there is TWICE as much space in a 40-foot MH as there is in a 40-foot boat! And a 40-foot boat is MUCH more costly to keep than a 40-foot MH

This matter has alredy been touched on: MOST (though not all) marinas forbid living aboard. It is a term in their moorage contracts. They also forbid performing repairs on your boat while in the marina. “Anchoring out” is viable for HARDENED cruising types, but it is not a suitable sulution to the ”living aboard problem” for most people.

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Old 22-05-2020, 13:58   #14
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

I'm going to throw this out because a friend of mine has a boat with features similar to what you described. Not that many years ago he & his wife bought an older Morgan 46. It is a blue water, center cockpit w/cutter rig. It has a huge main cabin aft that has a full size queen bed. It looks more like a small master BR in a house. Forward is another berth, a 2 person V-berth as I recall. Amidship is a port side cabin with bunk beds that will sleep 4-6 I think. Pretty sure he & his wife paid less than $50K USD. It's a beautiful boat and worth a look.
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Old 22-05-2020, 15:54   #15
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Re: New to live abroad - need some help please

Living on the water is great but it can be a lot of work. What are your mechanical and electrical skill sets?

If it were me, I'd take some courses from Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons.
You will all need your PCOC (Pleasure Craft Operator Card).

Live aboard space is limited in BC, but easier for power than sail.

Join the Trawler Forum and ask for advice there. They have lots of members in this area.

Good luck.
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