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Old 30-12-2019, 08:06   #1
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Practice Living Aboard

I am a want to be full time sailor with my wife. We know nothing of sailing only that we love the water and traveling. What is the best way to "sample" life on a boat? The Moorings comes to mind but are there other, better ways to learn about boat life? I live in Ohio currently so the set up would have to be a week maybe two vacation to a boat and a short stay.
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Old 30-12-2019, 08:44   #2
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

IMO taking a charter in no way prepares or allows practice for full time liveaboard.. but it all depends what you mean..

..do you imply sitting in a marina full time as liveaboard?.. in which case rent an RV for a week or two and get used to small spaces for yourself, food, and limited electricity, gas, water and storage space.

..if however you mean to liveaboard and cruise, then..

1. Still go rent an RV for a week but stock up the once.. lol

2. find a sailing school that operates as a liveaboard.. there are one week courses for example in the BVI that have you live, work, learn & do all boat chores while aboard learning to sail...and receiving ASA qualifications.. they are about $1800pp or so

3. find a crew website and look for opportunities as delivery crew and go as a couple.

4. Develop skills : sailing is only a small percentage of cruising... we typically spend ~10%+/- of the time sailing..the rest is cruising lifestyle.. summed up as navigation, weather, provisioning, route planning, finding spares in foreign places & inventory planning so that you don't have to..and fixing stuff...

So whether it be sewing sails/canvas, plumbing, electrics, the engine & all assorted mechanical items... you both need to develop some aptitude to attack these things, so have a healthy discussion and divide and conquer with your partner..and a LOT of this prep can be done without leaving the house... be it diesel courses, first aid courses, etc..

For provisioning try this exercise... plan meals, cook on only one or two burners, go to the grocery store every week, then two weeks, then three weeks.. then half the amount of refrigeration space you use.... you will be amazed at how flexible and adaptable you can become when you remove the choices offered by unlimited storage space, big freezer and big fridge.

On my last boat, a Sabre 38/II we could go for 4 weeks between grocery store visits and KNOW that we would still be eating well (enough) at the end.. (because we did it) and KNOW that we had the water capacity to match.. (because we did it) Of course that does not mean we avoid the opportunity to grocery shop or fill with water, but it is exercises like this that give you confidence..

am sure there are a lot of other ideas other members have that can help you along the way..
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Old 30-12-2019, 08:58   #3
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

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Originally Posted by Mystic38 View Post
IMO taking a charter in no way prepares or allows practice for full time liveaboard..
I agree with this! Chartering teaches you about living on a boat the same way a vacation in a beach resort teaches you about living in a different place. I don't even feel having you own boat, cruising on the weekends, with a week long "cruise" once a year really teaches you much about liveaboard cruising.

In the end read cruiser blogs that post real world boat life andnot just the good stuff.
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Old 30-12-2019, 10:03   #4
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

Thanks guys. What I meant about the Moorings is their sailing school with the Colgates. Learning while being on the boat. I realize this is not everything but is one ever really prepared until one actually commits and goes for it. Much to do and learn but I think the sailing school is the only logical place to start. I was just wondering what other options there might be or other paths people have taken that I haven't heard of. Thanks for you advice it is appreciated.
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Old 30-12-2019, 10:23   #5
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

I took the path of:
- ASA classes
- local sailing club for 3 months, sailing on 33/34' boats each weekend
- buying first boat Cal-39 the next year
- buying current boat 2 years later
- sailing off full time

time from school to sailing off 8 years (so 7 years of owning before leaving)

In my opinion sailing and cruising/living full time on a sailboat are a lot different. The sailing part is easy, it's learning the rest of the stuff that takes time. But really that stuff can be pretty much learned just as well "out there" as anywhere else.

Your plan of taking the weekend long cruise to learn is as good a place to start as any.
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Old 30-12-2019, 10:35   #6
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

Perhaps you might provide a bit more information about where and when you would want to get started? There are many paths one can take and it depends greatly on a variety of factors such as your age, availability, financial situation, comfort desires and expectations, technical skills and physical condition etc. etc. Of the many thousands of persons I have introduced to sailing, and of the many hundreds to whom I have provided training and consulting, I have found that it is best to conduct a detailed personal interview and consider short, medium and long range goals, but it sounds from your description as if you are starting at ground zero. Sometimes I recommend a simple learn to sail course at a commercial school on a small boat as a first step. Other times it may serve you best to get right into it on a cruising sailboat. Build your castles in the air and then build the foundation down to the earth or sea. You have already gotten good advice above but beware of simply gathering a hundred differing opinions. I take guests on private and public sails on a 38' sloop near Annapolis for day, evening and much longer trips as well as training. Perhaps I can listen to your questions and provide some advice. Please, feel free to send me a PM.
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Old 30-12-2019, 10:51   #7
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

Welcome Want. It's a grand life you are contemplating, and you are right to take it slowly. I think the main point others have made already is that sailing is not cruising, and there's no real substitute for actual experience.

Any experience is good, so taking liveaboard courses, or even chartering, is not wasted effort. These will give you some experience, but there is a world of difference between going on a vacation, and living and cruising aboard a smallish sailboat.

Sailing is the easiest part of this life. It's all the rest of the stuff around the cruising life that is hard(er). Ideally you'd start by cruising with a friend. Then maybe buying, and actually cruising, in a modest cruising sailboat. But this may not be possible.

Although I've never done this, I do think experience gained by living in a smallish RV is one good way to go, especially if you don't have access to water. This would give you experience in how to live in a small space.

But Ohio borders Lake Erie and the Great Lakes. Any chance you can make a connection there? There's lots of good cruising to be had on those Big Lakes.
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Old 30-12-2019, 10:52   #8
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

A good way to learn about liveaboard might be to do the following:
1) Set up a small water container on some precarious perch
above your bed so that random night time movements might overturn it and cause it to drip on you while you sleep.
2) set up a motor to rock your bed, with a random pattern of increased and decreased amplitude of motion.
3) occasionally pre-clog your toilet so when you get up in the middle of the night to use it, it won’t flush, thereby leaving you un a quandary whether to fix it right away or deal with it (and an irate bedmate) in the morning
4) leave your car lights on all night so that when you get up in the morning, the battery is dead
5) enjoy a cup of coffee on your deck while watching a beautiful sunrise. Ditto with a drink and sunset.
6) invite friends over to the house with stomach flu to mimic seasick guests requiring personal attention.
7) shop at stores where you have to pay 100 to 300% of normal prices.
8) walk around your town head held high, shoulders straight because you feel that you accomplish something positive everyday that few people will ever dare do
9) go to dubious restaurants and order the daily special
10) take your lawnmower and drop it off a cliff to mimic losing your dinghy outboard while getting it off for a passage.
11) start learning a new language
12) learn DC electricity and simple plumbing. Get a big bonus for small diesel mechanics
13) learn how to curse like a sailor because the friggin MFD just stopped talking to the rest of the mf boat’s nav and sensor system
14) go to a swimming pool and get some laps in first thing in the morning before making coffee. Imagine you don’t have to drive to get to the pool, there’s palm trees (or cactuses in my case) around the pool - and you don’t have to wear a suit
15) occasionally get into situations that are really dangerous - and practice being somewhat nonchalant talking about them over a drink with friends because they probably have even more interesting stories
16) budget? hahahahaha. Your house won’t sink with everything in it if you don’t keep up with critical maintenance. You can always pull over onto the shoulder if your car breaks down.

Feel free to add more preparatory exercises.
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Old 30-12-2019, 11:11   #9
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyEss View Post
A good way to learn about liveaboard might be to do the following:
1) Set up a small water container on some precarious perch
above your bed so that random night time movements might overturn it and cause it to drip on you while you sleep.
2) set up a motor to rock your bed, with a random pattern of increased and decreased amplitude of motion.
3) occasionally pre-clog your toilet so when you get up in the middle of the night to use it, it wonít flush, thereby leaving you un a quandary whether to fix it right away or deal with it (and an irate bedmate) in the morning
4) leave your car lights on all night so that when you get up in the morning, the battery is dead
5) enjoy a cup of coffee on your deck while watching a beautiful sunrise. Ditto with a drink and sunset.
6) invite friends over to the house with stomach flu to mimic seasick guests requiring personal attention.
7) shop at stores where you have to pay 100 to 300% of normal prices.
8) walk around your town head held high, shoulders straight because you feel that you accomplish something positive everyday that few people will ever dare do
9) go to dubious restaurants and order the daily special
10) take your lawnmower and drop it off a cliff to mimic losing your dinghy outboard while getting it off for a passage.
11) start learning a new language
12) learn DC electricity and simple plumbing. Get a big bonus for small diesel mechanics
13) learn how to curse like a sailor because the friggin MFD just stopped talking to the rest of the mf boatís nav and sensor system
14) go to a swimming pool and get some laps in first thing in the morning before making coffee. Imagine you donít have to drive to get to the pool, thereís palm trees (or cactuses in my case) around the pool - and you donít have to wear a suit
15) occasionally get into situations that are really dangerous - and practice being somewhat nonchalant talking about them over a drink with friends because they probably have even more interesting stories
16) budget? hahahahaha. Your house wonít sink with everything in it if you donít keep up with critical maintenance. You can always pull over onto the shoulder if your car breaks down.

Feel free to add more preparatory exercises.



That still paints a rather idealistic existence. I would add:


Live in a damp, smelly closet which moves, sometimes violently, trying to clean up an overflowing toilet while nauseous from the smell of diesel while hungry, tired, lonely and bored and intermittently petrified of crashing into something you can't see all of which done at great expense.


Now, how much do you enjoy the sun coming up just to signal having to do all of that all over again?




I lived and cruised throughout the Pacific. It is a lot different from the romantic and idealized perception newbies often have and chartering for a week wont cure the delusion. The above picture is more realistic than part-timers often paint.
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Old 30-12-2019, 11:16   #10
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

if I experienced the liveaboard cruising life some of you do, I would definitely STOP
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Old 30-12-2019, 11:32   #11
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

Spending some extended time boondocking in an RV is (i.e., off grid, not in an RV park) which is very similar (but somewhat easier) to living aboard a sailboat (less the actual sailing part). I know people who have bought an RV and then quickly decided it was too uncivilized for them and then sold them. Those people should learn their lesson and stay away from a cruising boat purchase.
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Old 30-12-2019, 11:35   #12
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

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Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
if I experienced the liveaboard cruising life some of you do, I would definitely STOP
lots of people do. That's why its constructive to remove the veil of idealism and romanticism new folks have about cruising.
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Old 30-12-2019, 12:10   #13
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

Hi, WantoSail,

You're really worried about the wrong things. Every single thing you need to learn about living aboard is something you already have a basic knowledge of. Living's sorta the same wherever you are if you make it simple enough. We need shelter, food, and a sense of purpose. It isn't the mechanics of living aboard that make a serious challenge.

What is a challenge, however, is taking up a new sport, sailing is expensive, boats, berths, insurance, all costly, and if you're someone who wants to be supported in the activity by strangers, that is the entertainment industry, and the competition is pretty tough. Another challenge is learning to deal with an environment that doesn't behave as predicted.

Latitude 38 once published an article, the essence of which was that if you wanted to prepare yourself for a cruising lifestyle, life in your bathroom for a week, take cold showers, and tear up hundred dollar bills and watch them go down the drain.

Imho, get a small sailboat, 8-15 ft., and learn to sail. It's okay to teach yourself. See if you like it. There are a number of people who find ways to live aboard 25 foot boats. Still, small, simple, easy to learn and accomplish maintenance. Lakes and rivers are your stomping grounds. If you still like it, you can consider coastal cruising and a liveaboard cruising lifestyle. You change boats when you've learned all that that one can teach you.

Another way to learn to sail--remember you can work out the liveaboard portion at any point as long as you are not fixated upon boat length--is to start crewing as soon as the season opens in Ohio. Sign up to help people get their boats ready for the season. See if you can crew when racing begins. You'll learn a lot, and the more varied the boats and skippers, the more you'll learn. You do not have to put up with screamers.
You will develop friendships among people who will encourage you.

You will find out if you get seasick; if you have mechanical and electrical ability; about plumbing: lots to learn and it is wonderful to learn basic survival skills. Learn to save $$. Learn to cook the kinds of food you want, and don't expect the learning curve to be a moderate uphill ascent--sometimes there are really steep spots, others, not so much.

Ann

PS. Hiring a charter for a week, you can have a good time, but if you don't have sailing skills already, all you'll do is motor around. Without the responsibilities for provisioning (not just food and drink for the people, but also that the boat is properly stocked with tools and spares, and in good shape), it's only a vacation, it is not a real practice for the skills you need to accumulate. And, unless you're quite well off, you really will need those very same dollars for boats.
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Old 31-12-2019, 08:52   #14
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

Perhaps in my quest to find answers and opinions on all things sailing I may have worded the questions incorrectly and too open ended. What I want to do is learn how to sail a boat. I also want to spend some time, we can call it "staying on" instead of "living on a boat". A class setting like the Colgate's offer seems to make the most sense. The original question was supposed to be asking what other ways people both learn the craft and are able to actually spend some days on a boat. I understand this would only be the beginning and the road to what I think I want at this point is a years long endeavor. One has to start somewhere and while I understand no one's path is the same and no one path is the best I'm just hopping to hear some opinions and maybe some stories about how others have come to learn live on boats.
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Old 31-12-2019, 09:55   #15
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Re: Practice Living Aboard

Hi WantToSail,
We don't currently live on a boat, so this is not entirely a description of what we have done, but more a combination of what we have done, are doing, and might do in the future.

Where we live is too far from an active sailing community to crew on anybody's boat regularly. The boat we currently own is our second sailboat, which is a 17' rowable sailing camping boat (Norseboat 17.5). We take that out on a local lake, some larger not-so-local lakes, and occasionally the ocean.

We also have taken a liveaboard ASA course to get bareboat certified, and have just returned from another one-week charter on a Catalina 38' in the Sea of Cortez. It is true that chartering is expensive, but we do it for experience with a larger boat that we don't get from our little open-boat. Plus, it's just an awesome vacation. It's not too expensive for us due to airline mileage plans, and a sketchy, poorly-run charter company that doesn't charge much. YGWYPF.

Our tentative plans for the future are that in 3-4 years when I retire we buy a larger boat and hopefully find a place to slip/moor it in Southern California. From there we can spend some time, maybe a year or two, learning about the boat and sailing it out to the Channel Islands. IF that goes well we might decide to take it down the coast to the Sea of Cortez and explore for a few months. IF that goes well we'll see about venturing further out; South Pacific, Hawaii, Alaska.

Being fulltime cruisers is not off the table. I spent several years living out of my vehicle when I was an itinerant mountain guide. My wife spent several years living in a tiny dry cabin in interior Alaska, so we're pretty comfy with sparse accommodations. Doing a circumnavigation is not off the table. We're just taking it in a reasonable progression that works for us.

Cheers,
Mike
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