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Old 03-05-2018, 09:51   #1
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Family Plan

Hey everyone! Iím brand new to the boating community but Iím excited to learn all it has to offer. Hopefully I can get some guidance on our journey.

Iím 35 and my wife is 32. Iím an engineer and sheís a nurse. We have four kids (10, 8, 3, almost 2). We have come to the conclusion that weíre not happy with our status quo. We both have good jobs and live in a nice area with good schools and communities, but weíre not happy. We recently decided to work towards becoming long term cruisers. Iím very pragmatic, and I understand the complications, both financially and personal. Iím just so tired of being stuck in a Netflix world.

We have a plan to purchase a boat large enough for our family of 6 and cruise the world. I would be willing to learn how to sail (there is a large lake near our home with a large sailing community) but my wife would rather purchase a power boat. With a family our size, Iím thinking a catamaran or trimaran would be the most effective use of space. We havenít made any decisions. Iím just here to solicit info and advice.

More to follow...
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:06   #2
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Re: Family Plan

I think your wife will change her mind when she sees the cost of a power boat with enough range to "cruise the world".

Oh and don't forget that "range" doesn't come free. Not uncommon for boats that size to require $30,000 per fill..

However, I don't know your financial situation, maybe it won't be an issue for you.

In any case.. I suggest you use the "search" feature. Your question has been covered literally 100s of times over the last 10 years.
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:40   #3
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Re: Family Plan

When I say cruise the world, I just mean explore different places. Not literally circumnavigate the globe. No transoceanic crossings... Might not even leave US or Caribbean coastal waters. And we wonít be constantly moving. Probably stop for a couple weeks or more in each location.

Financially, we do ok, and my wife still plans to work a couple travel nursing jobs every hurricane season (probably assume 40k annual total but we are still figuring that out). We can also supplement by doing tours and trips. But to start, assume 200k cash and 200k in 401k. I realize that might mean a boat loan.

We just figured itís better to do this soon and if it doesnít work out weíve still got time to adjust. Iíll definitely spend time searching the forum. Thanks for the advice!
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:44   #4
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Re: Family Plan

Start slowly first make sure that everyone is comfortable on the water. We did the same that you want to do. Bought a boat, prepped it for 3 years and then took off for the "trip of a lifetime" only to fin out a month in that our youngest couldn't handle being on the water and not being able to go "home" at night. She was a basket case everytime we left the dock. In the end we had to abandon our trip and "jump" back into a routine that she could handle. Our boat is in storage at the moment while we plan the trip back.
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:57   #5
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Re: Family Plan

Well, forget the tours and trips if your thinking about using the boat, for many reasons, but if nothing else, many professional Captains with proper licenses and Insurence are making a starving to death living ahead of you, a lot are hobbies I think or maybe tax write offs?
Itís similar to thinking your going to supplement your income by teaching SCUBA diving.
We had a Mod that along with his wife were School Teachers and raised a family aboard their Morgan OI Sailboat, worked during the School year and cruised during the Summer and other School holidays up and down the ICW for decades.
Something like that is more realistic maybe?

In your financial position powerboat wise, your talking about a Big Old powerboat, and those things can empty your wallet faster than an airplane. Engine parts can cost as much as a nice car etc.
We had a member about a year ago that bought a big ole Hatteras I think it was for her family with a similar idea of yours, not sure what happened to her?

I bring these things up as others may remember names and point you in the right direction.

Iíd say maybe look at getting a big old decent sailboat with the idea of living aboard, do so in a marina while the kids attend school and you and the wife work, and then go from there. Sailboat cause by comparison they are cheap.
What do you do for a living? Cause if Diesel mechanic, machinist, welder, electrician and HVAC technician are some of your past jobs, that helps a lot.
Donít burn any bridges, most decide pretty quick that this isnít the life for them, or they are totally unprepared for reality.
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Old 03-05-2018, 12:20   #6
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Re: Family Plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingCong View Post
When I say cruise the world, I just mean explore different places. Not literally circumnavigate the globe. No transoceanic crossings... Might not even leave US or Caribbean coastal waters. And we wonít be constantly moving. Probably stop for a couple weeks or more in each location.

Financially, we do ok, and my wife still plans to work a couple travel nursing jobs every hurricane season (probably assume 40k annual total but we are still figuring that out). We can also supplement by doing tours and trips. But to start, assume 200k cash and 200k in 401k. I realize that might mean a boat loan.

We just figured itís better to do this soon and if it doesnít work out weíve still got time to adjust. Iíll definitely spend time searching the forum. Thanks for the advice!
You are very early in your process. You really need to figure out where you want to cruise. Staying coastal to the USA and Bahamas is a completely different thing than "heading to the Caribbean". If we are talking power boats, then you would be looking at 2 different boats for those tasks.

Power boats capable of making a crossing into the Caribbean tend to cost more than sail boats. Of course there will be a ton of people that say "I did it on my xx gas boat", but thats not something you will want to do with a family. I would estimate you will be looking at power boats between $350K - $500K (most likely in closer to the upper number for a family of your size). Thats the reason why there are 100 sailboats for every power boat we see down here (its different in the Bahamas). Depending on the boat, there are vastly different fuel requirements. We know power boats that burn 11L/hour and some that burn 50L/hour. At $1.40EUR/L thats a HUGE difference.

The second thing I suggest you look into is actually storing a boat for hurricane season. Its costs a lot more than you think. The haul, block, launch and storage fees are just the beginning. Once you come back to the boat, there will be tons of expenses to get the boat back into cruising form. As an example, our storage for 4 months last year cost us about $6500USD in total (including all the fees and work to splash again). Then add the flights and expenses back to mainland and it was over a $10K summer.

Finally.. You say your wife wants to work some "travel nursing jobs" in the hurricane season. I'm not sure what that means. However, if you are banking on her working jobs down her in the Caribbean, I would discount that. We have a couple good friends that are nurses. Niether of them was ever able to find a job south of Puerto Rico or USVI. Not to mention the legal issues (work visas and such) of trying to work down here. They did find work in USVI, but have been very dismayed at the pay. 40K would be more like an entire YEAR of salary, not a hurricane season.

Now I'm not trying to burst your bubble, but trying to educate you on the realities of this life. There are VERY few people out here making any appreciable money while they cruise (sure there are some). Almost everyone has a pile of money that is burning away as they cruise. We all have a saying... "We are cruising until the money or fun runs out".
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Old 03-05-2018, 13:12   #7
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Re: Family Plan

I suggest you initially buy a boat you can do weekend or vacation trips with that could be sold without a big loss when you move up. Learn on that boat, see how everyone likes life on the water.
I live on the water in an 83' power boat built for ocean service 70 years ago. I get a little better than 1 nautical mile per gallon at my favorite cruising speed of 10 knots. I also have many marine trade journeyman skills and do 99% of my own work. Older, cheaper boats are out there, but without proper skills, they're expensive to maintain.
Here's a couple big enough and safe enough for your family:
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Old 03-05-2018, 14:18   #8
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Re: Family Plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingCong View Post
Hey everyone! I’m brand new to the boating community but I’m excited to learn all it has to offer. Hopefully I can get some guidance on our journey.

I’m 35 and my wife is 32. I’m an engineer and she’s a nurse. We have four kids (10, 8, 3, almost 2). We have come to the conclusion that we’re not happy with our status quo. We both have good jobs and live in a nice area with good schools and communities, but we’re not happy. We recently decided to work towards becoming long term cruisers. I’m very pragmatic, and I understand the complications, both financially and personal. I’m just so tired of being stuck in a Netflix world.

We have a plan to purchase a boat large enough for our family of 6 and cruise the world. I would be willing to learn how to sail (there is a large lake near our home with a large sailing community) but my wife would rather purchase a power boat. With a family our size, I’m thinking a catamaran or trimaran would be the most effective use of space. We haven’t made any decisions. I’m just here to solicit info and advice.

More to follow...
Hello KingCong,

Welcome aboard CF.

A large lake near your home will not prepare you for crossing oceans, one of which is between the East Coast of the US and the Caribbean Islands.

The dream is the first step on a path. Straight talk follows.

One of the big hurdles is division of labor when there are 2 adults and 4 children. Who gets to have the most fun? If you are the hero in this fantasy, where's the fun left for your wife? Even if she thinks that is not important, it is a question she will have to answer, because it is not every woman's goal to care-take her man and family 24/7 while the rest of them have fun. We have some friends who bought a sailboat in Europe (a 56 footer, iirc), and sailed it from there back to Australia. They brought a nanny to attend to the children so that they could have the fun of sailing the boat. When your 2 yr is toilet trained, life will become a little easier, but you are talking 4 separate levels of education, and that is a big home schooling burden. Sailing the boat takes most of an adult's attention during his or her watch.

I'd suggest you look at the blog by s/v Totem, who had a successful cruise with their kids, and whom we had the pleasure of meeting.

Your plan may eventually include moving somewhere there is an active sailing community, join a club, and start learning sailing; there are programs for children, but not as young as 2. See how the family does with it. Or buy a small, cheap mono, and sail the pants off it, till you know if you still like it, can handle seasickness, or being scared, cold, wet, and miserable; funny thing, some women don't find the latter attractive.

Live in a Studio apartment. Get used to lack of privacy from size and learn to create it mentally. Limit possessions. Find a marina from which you can walk to services, transportation, and/or jobs.

What you are thinking of doing is doable, but you all are going to need to be dedicated to making it work. And, imho, it is really important for your wife to learn all the skills of sailing the boat, and most of the maintaining the boat ones. All it takes is a severe concussion on your part, and she is on her own with the boat and the kids. Bad stuff does happen, and particularly to newbies who don't know things like, never stand over a loaded block, or get out of the way before the gybe. You need to cultivate the awareness of what might go wrong, both in yourselves and your kids, who will learn faster than you, possibly. Kids do really well on boats.

I noticed someone above suggested searching CF for similar threads. There will be a number, use the CF Custom Google Search, about 6th down under the Search menu, it will yield a number of threads on the subject.

All over the world, except the US, children are expected to share sleeping quarters. You'll have to work out the minimum number of berths that will be acceptable to you parents, and you'll have to work out where they all can do their homework. If that means a catamaran to you, you will have to look at fixer upper cats. Cats have two hulls, and they are effectively twice as much $$ to buy. Decide the smallest boat you think might be made to work for you all, and justify that to your good lady wife and us, and we'll try to help you.

If you continue with this, you will be learning a lot of stuff you may never have thought you would.

And, here's a link to a cautionary tale: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...es-188429.html Fortunately, there was no loss of life.

Ann
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Old 03-05-2018, 17:47   #9
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Re: Family Plan

Thank you everyone. I appreciate your input. Iíll try to figure out how to reply to the comments...

pcmm: We are not rushing into anything. We recognize this is a multi-year prep. Our two oldest 10 and 8 have both been on boats and havenít had any issues, but I understand your point. Hopefully none of them experience that kind of anxiety.

a64pilot: Good to know about the day trips. We figured we could rent out the boat and take people snorkeling or to a beach once a week for supplemental income. If thatís unlikely, we wonít plan for it. As far as type of boat, based on the comments about the kids, Iím pretty sure we would only consider powered catamaran or trimaran if there is such a thing. I was assuming we could get one ready to go in the 250k-350k range. Any suggestions? It doesnít need to be fast, but stable and fuel efficient (diesel not gas). Iíve read to assume 10% of value in annual maintenance. Is that accurate? Iím an engineer and Iím pretty handy so I pick up technical stuff pretty quickly.

travellerw: Yes, very very early in the process. Why would going to Bahamas from Florida be any different than continuing down along the Caribbean islands? I should never need to travel more than 100nm or so right? Even with a cat trawler at 8 knots thatís a 12 hour day. We may not store the boat. We need to investigate options. To be determined... Travel nursing is short term contract nursing, typically 8-12 weeks. 2 stints of 8-12 weeks should bring at least 40k, maybe more. But we are investigating that as well. he has a BSN and we would probably come back to the states in the summers so she can do that.

Lepke: I think thatís a good idea, and I will discuss it further with my wife.

JPA Cate: Iím not sure I understand what youíre implying. My wife and I are equals, always have been, always will be. We both work, and I have the kids quite a bit on my own. Just like we do now, weíll work together to raise the kids. That means Home schooling them on the boat. Weíre both well educated and I feel we would be capable of that task. Nobody is trying to be a hero. We may move to a smaller place, but not to see if we can deal with each other. It would be to save more money for the life change. I think we are convinced sailing is a little too much, so weíll probably go the power route. Those articles are incredible. Very glad everyone was safe.

I really am grateful for the comments and advice. Youíre already helping us figure stuff out.
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Old 03-05-2018, 18:21   #10
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Re: Family Plan

It sounds like you and your wife are a good team. To me, that's pretty far up there in terms of importance for making whatever you end up doing work. Mysterious forces in the world, but you will often see a man yelling at his wife coming into an anchorage, telling her what to do, even pushing her out of the way to get the job done. It's fairly commonplace and one wonders how these boats make it work.

South and east of the Exumas in the Bahamas you get past what's relatively sheltered island hopping from south FL. Georgetown, Exumas is sometimes called "Chicken Harbor" because many boats seem to get there and then find they just don't want to keep going further afield. It gets more and more remote, there's fewer services and the jumps are a bit longer and more exposed. Self-sufficiency becomes more paramount. The route SE from FL is often called the Thorny Path bc youre heading straight into the trade winds. I've not done the stretch past the out islands of the Bahamas, but I know it can turn into quite the slog. Still, people do it all the time.

Good luck with whatever you end up doing. I'm on the other side of things..35 and was aboard full time since my mid 20s..finally decided I wanted a little more stability in life again. Bought a little taildragger/float plane to satisfy the newfound lack of adverture, and the GF and I now cruise winters with the boat currently holed up in Mx.

I say this because there's a million ways to do it. Sailors are a very eclectic bunch and everyone has their own idea of what cruising means. Take it slow and you can't go wrong. Cheers
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Old 04-05-2018, 00:51   #11
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Re: Family Plan

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JPA Cate: Iím not sure I understand what youíre implying. My wife and I are equals, always have been, always will be. We both work, and I have the kids quite a bit on my own. Just like we do now, weíll work together to raise the kids. That means Home schooling them on the boat. Weíre both well educated and I feel we would be capable of that task. Nobody is trying to be a hero. We may move to a smaller place, but not to see if we can deal with each other. It would be to save more money for the life change. I think we are convinced sailing is a little too much, so weíll probably go the power route. Those articles are incredible. Very glad everyone was safe.
I think Anne may have been suggesting that if you see yourself as the one standing at the wheel driving the boat while your wife looks after the kids, then maybe that doesn't work so well in reality. Everyone needs to experience the fun of boating. Particularly if you don't have a heap of experience, both you and your wife need to be able to do everything. And to be able to do everything requires that you both actually do do everything. Except fixing the head. That's your job.

I'm not a liveaboard, but we did cruise as a family for 6 months of last year with two kids, 10 and 7. A couple of things we learnt;
- The 10 year old boy has been described by his teachers as the most robust and resilient kid they have taught. Plus he loves the water, and has 3 seasons of sailing dinghys. And yet he got scared a few times. Kids need time to be reassured at the same time as things are going wrong, and they really need to know that you are not worried.
- between my wife and I, I think we studied subjects across every faculty at University. So home schooling with a provided curriculum should have been easy? It takes lots of time, and quite a lot of work -you need to go through the material in the way that the curriculum specifies, and at the pace the kids can deal with. One adult really cannot supervise kids AND be on watch while the other adult sleeps.
- passages are boring for kids. As above, while it seems a great time to catch up on schoolwork, that rarely worked. At best they read books. The 10 year old did do short (15 minute) watches, and plotted our position every two hours, so was kind of involved... but mostly bugged us adults to play computer games. Or caught big fish that I then needed to deal with.
- Getting food, washing clothes, cooking etc takes a lot of time when you live on a small boat. When my wife was seasick on a overnight passage, I needed to keep the kids fed, and manage the boat. I'd get maybe a couple of hours sleep, which meant that I was tired and grumpy when coming into port. Which is when you really need to have everyone onboard and thinking. (Kids had set duties when docking and anchoring, and were a real help. Boy could anchor by himself if needed) And if something went wrong? Everyone got worn out.
- Sticking the kids in the dinghy and towing them a 100m or so behind the big boat can be a welcome respite occasionally...

Oh - I'd suggest that sailing is no more stress than motoring. I spent as much time on servicing the engine etc as on the sailing gear. With a motor only boat you have less redundancy, so really need two engines, so twice the effort.

Sailing's easy. It just makes the boat lean over a bit. Or a lot, until someone complains and gets you to slow down.

We loved it, and the kids would go again in a heartbeat. Ultimately though, we think the kids need the socialisation of school and community, and we want to expose them to more than just sailing / boat living. On the boat, they don't get as much opportunity to just be kids.

Mike
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Old 04-05-2018, 01:52   #12
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Re: Family Plan

@MLOI,

Thank you for explaining more where I am coming from. For me, it is that I know how it is for the two of us, but not so much for families. I know what needs to be done, and that even young kids can take over serious duties short time, but orchestrating that is beyond my experience. The kids are all good. They have lots of intelligence from the get go, it is orchestrating that into shipboard life that you understand better than me. for you.

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Old 04-05-2018, 04:52   #13
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Re: Family Plan

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travellerw: Yes, very very early in the process. Why would going to Bahamas from Florida be any different than continuing down along the Caribbean islands? I should never need to travel more than 100nm or so right? Even with a cat trawler at 8 knots thatís a 12 hour day. We may not store the boat. We need to investigate options. To be determined... Travel nursing is short term contract nursing, typically 8-12 weeks. 2 stints of 8-12 weeks should bring at least 40k, maybe more. But we are investigating that as well. he has a BSN and we would probably come back to the states in the summers so she can do that.
Its not the fuel stops that are the issue (as long as you follow Van Sant's route), but the type of crossings it requires. Although the gulf stream presents a challenge going to Bahamas, its not technically an "offshore" passage. Heading south of Georgetown, Bahamas changes things. The jump to DR, or the Mona Passage are not trivial.

However, with that said. Yes we know someone that has done that passage in a power cat. He reported that it was not difficult, but was quite uncomfortable. So uncomfortable, in fact, that his girlfriend ended up leaving the boat and rejoining once it was south of St. Martin. Without the weight of a mast aloft, a power cat has a different motion in big(ish) seas. She said the motion was "hellish". In our 2.5 years of cruising the Caribbean he was the ONLY power catamaran we have seen south of BVI.

Now I have nothing against power boats at all. In fact, if I was doing US coastal, Bahamas or The Great Loop, I would be on a power boat. It just doesn't make sense if you want to venture further.

As to the "Travel Nursing".. Very cool, I wasn't aware that nursing was in that big of deman in the USA. If you can make that work, you should have a nice amount of money to cruise on. I think your biggest challenge will be the separation (I'm assuming you can't travel nurse and drag a family of 6 with you?). Homeschooling will be especially difficult on the parent that is left behind with the kids. I have a similar work opportunity, but have agreed it would probably end our cruising if I left her with the kids for 12 weeks (the fun would run out).

Anyway.. It has ocurred to me that you may be interested in my blog since we are a family of five cruising. We went from not knowing how to sail, to buying a sailboat in Cuba, to refitting it, to sailing off to the Caribbean. We have now been out about 2 1/2 years. I blogged about the whole adventure, including costs and expenses. If you are interested, I will PM you a link!
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Old 04-05-2018, 05:30   #14
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Re: Family Plan

Going somewhere on a boat (sail or power) is not the same as keeping it going.
Take a look at the photos in Marine Survey 101 to see how complicated it can get.

Note: Last year our cruising repairs cost about $500 dollars, this year we are already up to $15,000.
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Old 24-05-2018, 18:16   #15
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Re: Family Plan

Welcome Aboard CF!

Your plans are not unusual.
Several members of CF have done similar.
You can read all about it here on CF.

Enjoy your time on the forums and on the water!
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