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Old 23-02-2021, 18:22   #1
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UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

Hey everyone! My first post here received so much advice that it really helped shape my view of what I want to do.

Refresher:

GOAL: I plan on living aboard solo for a year in 2024 or 2025. I want to cruise around the coast of Mexico, the Yucatan, Central America, South America, the Antilles, and all the way up to the Bahamas before returning to Florida and selling it and going back into the real world. My primary goal is COASTAL CRUISING. I'd like to hop from marina to marina and learn languages (Spanish and French). This is the primary purpose of me living aboard (it's not just to drink a lot).

ABOUT ME: No boating experience. I was going to try to learn to sail but it appears I won't have the time, access, or money to do so. Therefore, a power boat (or "trawler" - I believe this is the right word?) is what I'm focusing on finding now.

I am 25 years old, in good shape, not a moron, and I live a very minimalist lifestyle up here in Lincoln, Nebraska, so I'm not worried about the transition in lifestyle (I lived in a tiny hotel room in a foreign country for 6 months so I'm not afraid of it being cramped - in fact, I almost prefer it because it's easier to clean).

FINANCE: I plan on saving around $20,000 to do this and I have little to no idea if this is a realistic sum (I figured if I ran out of money I'd just sell the boat and head back home). My understand of the cost is as follows:

1) the boat itself
- It sounds like 25-30' is a good estimate but I think I could do a smaller one.
- I really just want her to have; a toilet, a sink, a small fridge, a bed, and a deck for me to do some writing, fishing, and other activities. Am I missing anything crucial here?

2) repairs
- I really won't know what to look for come "boat buying day" besides what I learn on the internet here - so, please, educate me.

3) equipment
- My understanding is that I'll need a water maker and solar panels. Obviously, given my limited budget, I'd like to try and save as much money as possible by investing in this type of equipment. Any recommendations?

4) various docking fees at marinas
- I found a website that shows docking fees for each marina but, of course, it only shows marinas in the US. Any suggestions for international marina websites so I can see those prices? Are these prices even reliable? Are there hidden fees I should be aware of? ALSO - what are ways around docking in a marina? I know you can find some secluded islands that have little inlets that are calm enough to dock in, right? Any resources in regards to that?

5) food and drink
- I'm hoping I can fish for a lot of my meals but knowing my luck I'm budgeting for groceries, too. Is fishing for a meal each day realistic? (I had Red Snapper once and it was great). What about cooking equipment? Anything easy (and safe) enough to use that I should consider?

6) insurance
- I'd like to get the boat insured but I'm not sure I'll be able to. I've heard horror stories about trying to get live aboards insured. Any tips on this?


I've given you as much information as I can think of! Any tips ya'll can provide would be extremely helpful and I thank you all in advance.

Have at it.
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Old 24-02-2021, 04:25   #2
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

You would spend $20,000 (roughly) in the first 3 months alone on fuel for a trawler.

Learn to sail!
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Old 24-02-2021, 05:20   #3
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

With a budget of 20k for purchase and a year afloat, you’re not marina hopping. You’re also not motoring far.

You’ll be anchoring a cheap small sailboat with no watermaker and a scavenged solar panel.
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Old 24-02-2021, 06:29   #4
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpaul7005 View Post
GOAL: I plan on living aboard solo for a year in 2024 or 2025. I want to cruise around the coast of Mexico, the Yucatan, Central America, South America, the Antilles, and all the way up to the Bahamas before returning to Florida and selling it and going back into the real world. My primary goal is COASTAL CRUISING. I'd like to hop from marina to marina and learn languages (Spanish and French). This is the primary purpose of me living aboard (it's not just to drink a lot).

ABOUT ME: No boating experience. I was going to try to learn to sail but it appears I won't have the time, access, or money to do so. Therefore, a power boat (or "trawler" - I believe this is the right word?) is what I'm focusing on finding now.

FINANCE: I plan on saving around $20,000 to do this and I have little to no idea if this is a realistic sum (I figured if I ran out of money I'd just sell the boat and head back home). My understand of the cost is as follows:

Unrealistic, in the short term..

The "no boating experience" is the first deal-breaker. You can GET training and subsequent boating experience, but powerboats/trawlers are not by definition all that much easier to learn than sailing.

The $20K "all in" is another deal-breaker. Cheap boats are available, and some might even float... but they generally end up costing 2x or 3x purchase price to make them decent. Really cheap boats aren't all that easy to sell; more often, they're due for the knacker's yard... which usually costs you. (FYI, marinas are our largest expense when long-distance cruising. Cheaper places exist, but we usually guess $2/ft/night at transient rates... and that usually comes in lower than reality.)

The idea isn't completely unsolvable, but training followed by a couple of years of experience would likely help you survive the attempt. And a larger starting budget might head off some of the pitfalls of buying cheap.

-Chris
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Old 24-02-2021, 06:57   #5
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

Welcome. I grew up in Omaha, and learned to sail in Nebraska. The opportunities are there, you just have to sail on lakes, in smaller boats. But everything you learn about line handling, points of sail, tacking and gybing, and so on will be 100% transferable to larger boats.


Honestly, though, if your main objective is to learn languages you would probably be better off spending a few months in Mexico, followed by a few months in Montreal. That would certainly be cheaper, entirely within your $20k budget, and you would learn more than you will spending time on a boat.


Otherwise, I'm sorry to say that I have to agree with the folks who have already told you that your $20k budget is not realistic even for buying a boat that is ready for the kind of journey you are talking about. Never mind the additional costs of the journey itself.


Maybe I should also mention that I have taught myself both French and Spanish. Not enough to be fluent, but more than enough to have simple conversations, and get along WAAAY better than the average tourist.


Look for audio recordings by Michel Thomas and Pimsleur. I have found them to be the best. Look for video lessons entitled "French in Action" and "Destinos." If you are serious about French, there is an Alliance Francaise chapter in Omaha, and they offer an excellent series of lessons.


Good luck, whatever you do.
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Old 24-02-2021, 08:24   #6
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleWing77 View Post
You would spend $20,000 (roughly) in the first 3 months alone on fuel for a trawler.

Not likely. With our 900 hp, we spent "only" (?) ~$3500 for our last trip from Annapolis to JAX and back... and while we run "trawler-like" as often as practical, that trip included several more on-plane sessions than usual.

I'd expect a legitimate 6-kt trawler to better that by a factor of at least 2, maybe 3 or even 4. OP's dream route is much longer than ours was, but I'd guess fuel would be a much smaller expense category.... off-hand guess, maybe $5k or less for the whole magilla.

If the boat -- some smaller percentage of a $20K budget -- floats that long.

-Chris
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Old 24-02-2021, 09:02   #7
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

Your plan is unworkable.

$20k isn't even close to what you'll need. You'll need more than food. You'll need water, clothes, gear, repair parts, cruising fees, marina fees, emergency reserve money, yada yada yada and all of that is going to cost you more than 20 grand in a year.

The "no experience" thing isn't a deal breaker but it does mean that you're going to be spending money at the school of hard knocks instead of the institute of boating knowledge and skills. Either way, you'll be spending cash you're not including in your financial planning outlay.

I think in the longer term your ultimate goal can be achieved. But that's the longer term, not the short or immediate term. Instead of going forward willy-nilly, I'd suggest you write out a "business plan" (google it and see how easy it is to write one) as your personal "life plan" and work toward creating a plan that will actually get you where you want to be.
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Old 24-02-2021, 11:15   #8
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpaul7005 View Post
Hey everyone! My first post here received so much advice that it really helped shape my view of what I want to do.

Refresher:

GOAL: I plan on living aboard solo for a year in 2024 or 2025. I want to cruise around the coast of Mexico, the Yucatan, Central America, South America, the Antilles, and all the way up to the Bahamas before returning to Florida and selling it and going back into the real world. My primary goal is COASTAL CRUISING. I'd like to hop from marina to marina and learn languages (Spanish and French). This is the primary purpose of me living aboard (it's not just to drink a lot).

ABOUT ME: No boating experience. I was going to try to learn to sail but it appears I won't have the time, access, or money to do so. Therefore, a power boat (or "trawler" - I believe this is the right word?) is what I'm focusing on finding now.

I am 25 years old, in good shape, not a moron, and I live a very minimalist lifestyle up here in Lincoln, Nebraska, so I'm not worried about the transition in lifestyle (I lived in a tiny hotel room in a foreign country for 6 months so I'm not afraid of it being cramped - in fact, I almost prefer it because it's easier to clean).

FINANCE: I plan on saving around $20,000 to do this and I have little to no idea if this is a realistic sum (I figured if I ran out of money I'd just sell the boat and head back home). My understand of the cost is as follows:

1) the boat itself
- It sounds like 25-30' is a good estimate but I think I could do a smaller one.
- I really just want her to have; a toilet, a sink, a small fridge, a bed, and a deck for me to do some writing, fishing, and other activities. Am I missing anything crucial here?

2) repairs
- I really won't know what to look for come "boat buying day" besides what I learn on the internet here - so, please, educate me.

3) equipment
- My understanding is that I'll need a water maker and solar panels. Obviously, given my limited budget, I'd like to try and save as much money as possible by investing in this type of equipment. Any recommendations?

4) various docking fees at marinas
- I found a website that shows docking fees for each marina but, of course, it only shows marinas in the US. Any suggestions for international marina websites so I can see those prices? Are these prices even reliable? Are there hidden fees I should be aware of? ALSO - what are ways around docking in a marina? I know you can find some secluded islands that have little inlets that are calm enough to dock in, right? Any resources in regards to that?

5) food and drink
- I'm hoping I can fish for a lot of my meals but knowing my luck I'm budgeting for groceries, too. Is fishing for a meal each day realistic? (I had Red Snapper once and it was great). What about cooking equipment? Anything easy (and safe) enough to use that I should consider?

6) insurance
- I'd like to get the boat insured but I'm not sure I'll be able to. I've heard horror stories about trying to get live aboards insured. Any tips on this?


I've given you as much information as I can think of! Any tips ya'll can provide would be extremely helpful and I thank you all in advance.

Have at it.
Dreaming or trolling.
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Old 24-02-2021, 12:08   #9
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

You need to read up on Sean a member on here:

About

You might be able to do a "sailing Tarka" with a small yacht:

https://www.youtube.com/c/TheAdventuresofTarka/videos
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Old 24-02-2021, 12:15   #10
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleWing77 View Post
You would spend $20,000 (roughly) in the first 3 months alone on fuel for a trawler.

Learn to sail!
I disagree
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Old 24-02-2021, 12:42   #11
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpaul7005 View Post
Hey everyone! My first post here received so much advice that it really helped shape my view of what I want to do.

Refresher:

GOAL: I plan on living aboard solo for a year in 2024 or 2025. I want to cruise around the coast of Mexico, the Yucatan, Central America, South America, the Antilles, and all the way up to the Bahamas before returning to Florida and selling it and going back into the real world. My primary goal is COASTAL CRUISING. I'd like to hop from marina to marina and learn languages (Spanish and French). This is the primary purpose of me living aboard (it's not just to drink a lot).

ABOUT ME: No boating experience. I was going to try to learn to sail but it appears I won't have the time, access, or money to do so. Therefore, a power boat (or "trawler" - I believe this is the right word?) is what I'm focusing on finding now.

I am 25 years old, in good shape, not a moron, and I live a very minimalist lifestyle up here in Lincoln, Nebraska, so I'm not worried about the transition in lifestyle (I lived in a tiny hotel room in a foreign country for 6 months so I'm not afraid of it being cramped - in fact, I almost prefer it because it's easier to clean).

FINANCE: I plan on saving around $20,000 to do this and I have little to no idea if this is a realistic sum (I figured if I ran out of money I'd just sell the boat and head back home). My understand of the cost is as follows:

1) the boat itself
- It sounds like 25-30' is a good estimate but I think I could do a smaller one.
- I really just want her to have; a toilet, a sink, a small fridge, a bed, and a deck for me to do some writing, fishing, and other activities. Am I missing anything crucial here?

2) repairs
- I really won't know what to look for come "boat buying day" besides what I learn on the internet here - so, please, educate me.

3) equipment
- My understanding is that I'll need a water maker and solar panels. Obviously, given my limited budget, I'd like to try and save as much money as possible by investing in this type of equipment. Any recommendations?

4) various docking fees at marinas
- I found a website that shows docking fees for each marina but, of course, it only shows marinas in the US. Any suggestions for international marina websites so I can see those prices? Are these prices even reliable? Are there hidden fees I should be aware of? ALSO - what are ways around docking in a marina? I know you can find some secluded islands that have little inlets that are calm enough to dock in, right? Any resources in regards to that?

5) food and drink
- I'm hoping I can fish for a lot of my meals but knowing my luck I'm budgeting for groceries, too. Is fishing for a meal each day realistic? (I had Red Snapper once and it was great). What about cooking equipment? Anything easy (and safe) enough to use that I should consider?

6) insurance
- I'd like to get the boat insured but I'm not sure I'll be able to. I've heard horror stories about trying to get live aboards insured. Any tips on this?


I've given you as much information as I can think of! Any tips ya'll can provide would be extremely helpful and I thank you all in advance.

Have at it.
Judging by the original thread you started and how it's evolved into this one, I think your best option for the type of experience you're describing might not be on a boat. While it may be possible with your budget (but doubtful) to enact your plan on a boat, it seems slightly more viable to do something similar in a diy converted van.
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Old 24-02-2021, 14:16   #12
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

I did some very rough calculations. Small trawler with a single diesel engine might burn about 1.5 gallons/hour running 6-7 knts so approximately four miles per gallon. The trip you describe would be roughly 4000 miles so at least 1000 gallons. Prices in the islands can be $4-$5.00/gallon so you could easily spend $4-$5,000 just on fuel.

Fishing very problematic. I have trolled for days without a bite. Other times maybe more consistent but I wouldn't plan on that as my main source of food. Also, in case you ask there are not wild fruits hanging everywhere for the picking. Most of the fruit trees will belong to someone.

Buying food in the islands can be expensive even if you never eat out so you could spend $4-$5000 on food.

Now you're down to $10,000 for the boat and I don't see that happening. Marinas? No way.
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Old 24-02-2021, 14:47   #13
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

I unfortunately agree with the other posters - a 20k budget it not going to come close to the money you'll need for a powerboat, incidentals, and fuel.

It sounds like a worthwhile plan, but I think, in any sense of reality, you're going to have to go with a used sailboat, in the 30 ft range, and learn the love of sailing. Completely doable if you have the drive and ambition, but still a tight budget. Experience wise, it'll be something you'll never forget, and that's a big part of what life is about, IMO. Check out some of the shoestring youtube sailors, and you'll get an idea of what's really involved in boat maintenance, repair, and doing it on the cheap.
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Old 24-02-2021, 17:31   #14
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

I think it is possible with the right boat. Even with the op's budget possibly, lots around.

PWS Albin 25 - All About the Albin

It in the size range the op wants. It sips fuel so running costs are low.
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Old 24-02-2021, 17:49   #15
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Re: UPDATE: Requesting tips for SOLO living aboard a trawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleWing77 View Post
You would spend $20,000 (roughly) in the first 3 months alone on fuel for a trawler.

Learn to sail!
Exactly. The lad didn’t give a time frame but he has so much to learn.

As I re read his inquiry, I see that he did give a time frame. If he started now he could learn enough in that time frame. He sounds like he just cooked this idea up before reading the numerous posts on this forum. He could learn a lot by doing so. He has many misconceptions.
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