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Old 19-06-2019, 11:32   #1
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To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

I want to start of by saying that, yes, I recognize that the view I will get here will be somewhat colored in one direction, bu I want to ask anyway.

I live in St Pete, FL and grew up around sailboats, but had to stop sailing when I went off to College. I am now in my early fifties and have the ability to go do something I want to do. One of the things that have been on my list for some time is to start sailing again, and within 8-10 years cast off and go cruising fill time.

Now that I am getting closer to that, some doubt has set in as to the timing of the plan. The mail question for me now is whether to get a boat now and move on to it, or wait until I get close to the time where I want to cast off. I am not a very material person, and as such don't collect 'stuff' so in that regard, the move will be pretty easy. I work from home with the occasional travel to customer locations, but that is more the exception than the rule.

The question is for the ones who is reading this, that has made the transition to become a live aboard, with a plan similar to mine, if they at time feel that they have made the move too soon? Do you wish that you have waited 4-5 years and maybe stayed in an apartment or a smaller house?

One thing I can see as a possible advantage is that you will get a boat, when you are ready to start cruising, that will be 4-5 years newer, but does that really matter?

I guess that I am looking for some insight into whether the benefits of living on a boat, outweighs the drawbacks? Some of you will likely point out that there are no drawbacks, but honestly, I think we all know that there are.
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Old 19-06-2019, 11:54   #2
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

IMO there are no pluses to living on a boat over living on land unless you are going to go cruising (and yes I live on a boat, but am retired and cruise)

Before you decide you should research into where you could keep your boat in St Pete if you are still going to be working.

If you want to be a cruiser the easiest part of the learning curve is the .............. sailing (bet I get flamed for saying that). So unless you want to sail there is little to be gained IMO of getting a boat too soon just to learn to sail. All that does is eat into your savings that got be going into the cruising kitty. Instead wait till you are near the point of going off to cruise. Then get a boat and spend a couple of months doing location cruising, then head off. After the initial couple of months learning the boat basics from then on you only learn by doing and it makes little difference if you go coastal cruising slowing gaining knowledge and confidence, increasing your trip distance difficulty as you learn, or just to/from a home port doing day sails.

Also IMO unless you are going to get a trailerable boat that you cheaply store when not using skip the "starter" boat and get a "cruiser" right at the start and save the costs of buying and selling.
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Old 19-06-2019, 13:53   #3
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

I actually enjoy living on a boat. I lived at a marina in Jacksonville and now live in the mooring field in Key West, still working full time. My boat is a project boat vs a new boat (so affects some of the +/-)



Advantages:
- Since I'm doing the refit it's easier to work on it when I want to. I'm there to measure things, look at things as I order parts.

- I have the time that I'm still working to complete the refit. Since I'm doing all the work myself I'll break just about even vs buying a boat in better condition, but as with the work, I can spread the money over time (I'm a horrible saver so this means I will actually do it).

- I enjoy living in new locations, but don't like the work of moving. I don't have to pack a thing anymore. Just untie the lines and wind up in a new town.

- I enjoy the solitude. The mooring more than the marina but even the marina was quiet on my dock after dark.

- I enjoy the closeness to nature.

- I'm a water person, so going scuba/snorkeling/swimming/paddleboard in 2.5' vs packing in a car and going to the beach.



Disadvantages:
- Boat life is just like regular life, only harder. Everything has an extra step to it.

- I have a long dinghy ride in (and a small outboard). Can be a pain when you just want to buzz into town for a beer.

- Stormy/Windy times when you have to go to shore to go to work.
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Old 19-06-2019, 14:01   #4
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

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Originally Posted by Sgaar View Post
One thing I can see as a possible advantage is that you will get a boat, when you are ready to start cruising, that will be 4-5 years newer, but does that really matter?
Boats deteriorate just sitting, even without use, so this does make a difference. If you buy one now, and live on it 5 years you would likely be looking at a significant refit before you take off cruising. Value also goes down, so if you are thinking re-sale after some cruising that's another reason to wait on buying.

On the other hand, if you can live aboard and spend several months a year (not necessarily all at one time) getting out and about, learning the boat, and sailing, and systems, and... Then it can be quite pleasant. That's actually my preference - I've lived on boats an awful long time - but I can tell you from experience it makes very little sense financially. With that in mind, it's a lifestyle choice.
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Old 19-06-2019, 14:23   #5
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

Good answers. Add to them: do you know what kind of boat you're looking for yet? Serious question.



Considerations are type of hull, sail plan, wheel vs. tiller, length. Are you height challenged, i.e., over 6 feet?


Regardless of whether you choose to buy now or later, these ARE QUESTIONS YOU HAVE TO ASK yourself.


Many folks in your position ask this question here. The general responses boil down to three options:


Buy now and learn about your new boat, fix it up as you learn.


Buy smaller now, learn what it is you REALLY want and need, and so become much more knowledgeable about what you want to buy. Sell and buy what you want.


Wait, learn in between about what you want, buy later.


These are questions only YOU can answer, 'cuz we don't know what you know or don't.


Good luck.
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Old 19-06-2019, 14:34   #6
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

Can't really help on the choice to liveaboard or not. However, can give some advice about living on a boat in the Tampa Bay/St Petersburg area.

If you decide you want to liveaboard, you need to go to the "liveaboard" marinas in St Pete and get on their waiting lists now....

When I went shopping, St Pete Municipal had a long waiting list. The Harborage just said that they were full. Pasadena Marina and Blind Pass Marina were the only others that allowed liveaboards.

Farther south, you might find a slip at Regatta Pointe or Twin Dolphin. Good luck.
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Old 19-06-2019, 15:23   #7
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

I moved aboard when I was 33, and am now 70, so you know the side of the argument I am on! Dwedeking 2 gave the best answer, in my opinion. I would add that most people who go cruising wish they had gone earlier. Bean counters often wish they had never gone! Dirt Dwellers tend to dream up all sorts of delaying scenarios tied to mathematics and all manner of other things. They don't usually go cruising until it's too late, but they read a lot.



I think many foks actually don't really enjoy sailing, or overlook the fact that they don't. In some cases, they actually dread it. From the moment I bought my first boat I made it a rule to take it out every week, even if it was just motoring around for an hour. Usually, it was a much longer sail, but I did it regardless of other activities. I didn't even have a plan to go cruising back then, but when I decided to do so, I was pretty well prepared for all the minutiae of cruising and liveaboard life. There is no counting the number of people who go cruising, these days, without much of an idea about any of the details of cruising. And that's probably because the either come from the "I will buy right before I go...how hard can it be?" or the "I will buy early and work on the boat" but never go sailing demographics. They depend upon Google, You Tube, the internet, or passers by to "learn as they go", but the effectiveness of this is debatable.


Let me say that every one of these groups may have made the right decision FOR THEM. A lot of fun can be had as an armchair sailor, a would be conversationalist, or just working on a boat, and not sailing it. We have many of each amongst us! BUT, if you want to go cruising, buy your boat, sail it every chance you get, learn it, modify it, and when you eventually cruise, you will have the best time and......help all those other folks! Good luck, whatever you do, but I am not joking about any of this!
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Old 19-06-2019, 15:24   #8
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

Thank you for all the replies. Let me start from the bottom and work my way to the top. I am, and have been, on the wait list at the St Pete municipal marina for about 2.5 years for a live aboard slip, so I am likely going to be offered one in the fall. -that is at least according to the marina management office.

I am 5'11" so about 'average' height, and the boat I am looking at is a 47' mono-hull from '07. In that regard, it is a 'modern' boat with all of the trappings that comes with that, including electronics, pumps, engine, etc. As to learning to sail, as mentioned, I grew up sailing from when I was about 8 years until about 20, so I am not necessarily concerned about sailing the boat and navigation. With that said, i recognize that there is a bog step between that and full-time cruising and passage planning.

Both @sailorboy and @Dsanduril have valid opinions when they say that a the time when I am ready to go cruising, the boat will be an additional 7-8 years older. At the same time, with a modern boat, as long as it is kept up, does it really matter that it is a 19 year old boat vs. a, say, 12 year old one?
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Old 19-06-2019, 15:32   #9
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

@contrail, thank you for that post. One of the things that I am considering in favor of moving aboard now vs. later, is that I don't want to do it too late! If I could cast off tomorrow, I would do that.....I might only make it to Bradenton, but I would at least be going south!

Please allow me to ask, and absolutely no disrespect intended, but when in your opinion are you you tool old to cruise? My dad is 82, healthy and active along with my mom, but I would think that even with good health, at some point, you will have to go dirt-side?
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Old 19-06-2019, 15:54   #10
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

I moved aboard 6 years onto a 1980 36' boat before I left to go cruising. It was great!

I practiced sailing on weekends, had years to make improvements/repairs and took a couple of longer vacations (a month or so) to go on longer trips. I even did some racing in it!

By the time I headed offshore, I knew every inch of that boat, made a ton of modifications and had pretty much overhauled everything. People who buy a boat and then immediately head out in it are way braver than I am.

I think a lot depends where you live and work though - I was right in downtown Victoria BC, meaning I could work my normal job just fine (they even had a shower at work!) while living aboard
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Old 19-06-2019, 16:16   #11
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

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At the same time, with a modern boat, as long as it is kept up, does it really matter that it is a 19 year old boat vs. a, say, 12 year old one?
Well that's up to you. I have a 2001 "modern" boat and have owner it for 8.5 years and full time cruised it the past 33 months. Search on my user name and I have posted every month's costs with a line item for boat maintenance, upgrades and repairs. When you look at that considered I'm pretty good mechanically and electrically and had done all work myself except removing and reinstalling the mast. I've never done a "refit" and am close to not being able to patch the original sails much longer.

BTW - I think the perfect couple mono size is about 46' for reasons I can tell you if you ask. But if not I think a 36' boat is a better single person boat for some other reasons.
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Old 19-06-2019, 16:19   #12
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

Quote:
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>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Both @sailorboy and @Dsanduril have valid opinions when they say that a the time when I am ready to go cruising, the boat will be an additional 7-8 years older. At the same time, with a modern boat, as long as it is kept up, does it really matter that it is a 19 year old boat vs. a, say, 12 year old one?

Thanks for that additional input about yourself. Much appreciated and helpful.


contrail's points are very valid, especially about USING THE BOAT. While I am not a world girdler, I have sailed since I was a kid, and have owned boats since 1983, this one for 21 years now (in 2 weeks!!!). I sailed this boat almost every week, attempting to disprove that old BS about "the amount of time a boat gets used is inversely proportional to its length!" I upgraded the electrical system from marina hopper to anchor out. I believe that, in itself, is critical to anyone considering venturing out. Anywhere, actually. Because during the time I was sailing in SF, the ocean and the California Delta, we kept up with maintenance; hoses, wires, equipment (muffler, exhaust riser, etc.). So when my wife unexpectedly told me we were moving to BC to support her then 95 year old father, we packed up the house in six weeks, moved and a month later I went back and sailed the boat 1500 miles up here with my son. Travels with Aquavite: San Francsico Bay to British Columbia 2016


One option, as noted, is to buy now and get to know your boat inside and out. I did.


Only it took longer.


But knowing that the boat was ready only BECAUSE I'd spent the time and effort to KEEP IT UP properly, did I feel comfortable enough to embark on that unplanned journey, one never lightly taken.


But that's just my story, however it might help you make YOUR decision.


However, when we bought our boat in 1998, when we put the offer in, that very day we went to the yacht brokerage and looked at new ones. Our then 12 year old boat, in pristine condition thanks to the PO, was HALF the price of a new one. We couldn't justify the twice the price for the same boat. My logic was: in 10 years those owners of new boats were gonna have to fix the same damn stuff I get to start on right away! Turns out that because I know so many of the newer boat owners of my particular boat, that was a good call. I've replaced hoses twice, they've done 'em once, but are rapidly coming up on their second change!


I have a 32 year old boat. They have a 20 year old boat.


So?


Again, good luck.
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Old 19-06-2019, 20:57   #13
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

Sgarr:

A well maintained 20 yr. old boat is way, way, way better than an abused 8 yr older. With the liner-built construction, the issues arising from hard groundings are extremely labor intensive and complicated to do right. The biggest part of the story with good old boats is how to tell them from ones that have been abused.

Stuff like engine oil analysis can give you a good idea about the engine of a prospective boat; you can examine dacron sails and if they feel soft and you can put a #2 pencil through the cloth, they're finished, and so are laminate sails that you can see mildew between the layers.

If the boat you select has a good rig, you're cool to wait to re-rig till just before you leave the States. You may or may not need to replace the engine. It is where/when you spend the money, but the big deal is if you get a good boat now, you get to play with it as well as work on it. Both are useful.

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Old 20-06-2019, 04:49   #14
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

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@contrail, thank you for that post. One of the things that I am considering in favor of moving aboard now vs. later, is that I don't want to do it too late! If I could cast off tomorrow, I would do that.....I might only make it to Bradenton, but I would at least be going south!

Please allow me to ask, and absolutely no disrespect intended, but when in your opinion are you you tool old to cruise? My dad is 82, healthy and active along with my mom, but I would think that even with good health, at some point, you will have to go dirt-side?

No disrespect felt....it's a good question. Sailing keeps you fit and young. I have very few charter guests fifteen years younger than me who are in as good health. Many folks actively sail into their 80's. Some go long distance. A few sail into their 90's, although that is a very small number!


Some eventually ease back on the sailing, and still live aboard. Some shift to power boats. and some go back to land. It's individual, based on health and desire. There is no rule of thumb other than that those who keep sailing generally stay pretty health and keep sailing!



We have some folks on this board who have sailed a long time. Ann and Jim Cate are two good examples, and there are quite a few more.



Cheers,
Tim
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Old 20-06-2019, 05:36   #15
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Re: To live aboard, or not to live aboard, that is the question

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At the same time, with a modern boat, as long as it is kept up, does it really matter that it is a 19 year old boat vs. a, say, 12 year old one?

Don't think so. Kept up is kept up. You will have gotten years of use (value) from systems, and even if some need replacement (again?) that would be a good time for you to be prepping the boat for extended off-shore cruising.

More importantly (to me) would be that you'd have more years experience with the boat if you start early. Our is 17 years old, and I'm becoming comfortable about my knowledge of some systems, still learning about others, somewhere in between on many.

-Chris
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