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Bill4 06-12-2012 08:36

Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive ?
1 Attachment(s)
Hello everyone.

We (my wife and I) have a dream to live aboard our own boat. We both have some sailing experience and qualifications so we are not completely unaware of what we are letting ourselves in for, but I do have concerns about our finances.

We are quite homely people and live very modestly. I am very capable and self-sufficient in terms of skills and there is very little I cannot do myself or learn to do myself. We expect we will live a similar modest and self-sufficient lifestyle when we live on our own boat. We both enjoy sailing and hate motoring. We also dislike marinas and prefer the idea of living at anchor as much as possible. Anticipated cruising areas would be US east coast, Caribbean, northern Europe, maybe eastern Mediterranean.

We are from England and are both approaching 50 years old. We will have to wait until we are 67 before we have any pension income so what money we have will have to last us 17 years.

If we sell the house, car, possessions and add up all our savings we come up with a total of about US $480,000 (converted from British as I know this is mainly an American forum).

We want to have a nice 'home' afloat and want to spend a maximum of $190,000 on a sailing catamaran about 40' in length. This will leave us with $290,000 to live on. My calculations allow for a total budget of $19,000 per year, rising 2.5% per year for inflation. That $19,000 per year has to include everything: boat insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel, food, clothes, etc, etc. Is this realistic or are we being naive?

My calculations are in the attached spreadsheet.

Attachment 50807

All feedback, thoughts and advice welcome.

Thank you.

Richard5 06-12-2012 08:51

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
Rough estimate is $1,400/month. Factor inflation at 6% and you likely are looking at $1,000/month. Can two adults live on $1,000/month?...on your own boat...for 17 years?

Your new job description will be scrounger.

Hudson Force 06-12-2012 08:57

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
I do think that your plan is possible, but I would consider the option of increasing your living funds for the 17 years by finding a suitable boat for about $90K. There may be some comfort for a less experienced person to buy a newer or larger vessel, but with time invested in the learning and the search, this can greatly improve your economy.

Celestialsailor 06-12-2012 09:10

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
Personally...if you've never done this, you won't really know if this lifestyle will work for you long term. I would say, hang onto the house and rent it out if you could. To buy back into Real Estate might be difficult later in life. I know for myself, eventually, I will end up land bound as I age. For me...go small, cheap and go now for a few years and see how it works for you...good luck.

Richard5 06-12-2012 09:11

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
To be clear, I do think it is possible at least in the short term. I am quite curious what emergency funds would be available. I have also been looking at sail listings. What I see is that very few catamarans are less than $200K asking. Sure you can be a powerful negotiator and come in with a turn key boat at $190K but it won't be a new boat. So you tinker over the years and make it into your home. But 17 yrs is a long time. Running and standing rigging, sails, winches, glass repair, anchors etc have the sewing machine, the foundry, etc to produce what you need? Or you can get chummy with the loft and smith to try to strike a great deal. But you still don't have comfortable margin for catastrophe.

Your best solution at this point is to find a lesser priced boat. I have seen many well found boats ideally suited for liveaboards at even half the price you mention. These are monohulls. This presents an alternate fiscal strategy.

Rather than watch your kitty diminish, buy a lesser price boat now but keep the per annum expense structure you have now. Set aside (investment) the difference in boat purchase price until yr 17. At that point buy the boat you truly must have. Dollars to donuts you won't keep a boat for 17 yrs anyway.

skipmac 06-12-2012 09:17

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
As far as your typical monthly costs the budget is possible IF you spend very little time in marinas. Depending on where in the world and the season, paying for a slip in a marina could take a very big bite out of your monthly income.

Otherwise, if you live modestly, spend most of your time at anchor, cook on board, don't have Dom Perignon for dinner every night you should be able to live on your budget BUT!!

What can be a problem are the occasional catastrophic expenses. An engine blows you could spend US$5,000 for a small diesel or triple that for a larger, say 60-75 HP. If you cruise a lot you will have to replace sails at some time. New main and jib for my 42' monohull +/- US$3,000 each. All new rigging DIY about $3,500.

So in my opinion you could live monthly on a small income if you are very careful with the budget. You would have to watch your expenditures for food, beverage, docking, closely. What can kill the budget are the unexpected, large bills. If you are very good about putting aside a bit every month to build an emergency fund then it could work. However, just remember you would not be living a fancy life style with the rich and famous. Stay out of the casinos at Monte Carlo.

I would second the recommendation to look for a more modest boat. Cats are nice but hauling, painting, docking are all much more expensive than a monohull. I see lots of marinas in Europe charge not by length but square footage so the wide beam of a cat will hurt a lot there. In general costs for parts, maintenance, repairs, sails, dockage, etc all increase dramatically as the size of the boat increases. Double the size of the boat, quadruple the costs.

Amnesia II 06-12-2012 09:28

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
Bill4, I like your plan to get out of UK. I would point you to a monohull...cats are nice but expensive to park! Buy your boat in the USA or Caribean. Life is short, don't wait just do it!

roverhi 06-12-2012 09:32

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
I'll second going for a less expensive boat. For 1/2 your proposed boat budget you can get a really nice mono hull. You might even find trimaran quite a bit less.

Most people end up with too much money in the boat. Not only does it deplete the cruising kitty but it increases monthly outflow cash to support the boat. Marina costs are a savings if you live on the hook but all other maintenance costs go up as the size of the boat increases.

What you are thinking of doing is entirely feasible but keep more of your cash for the unforseen.

boatman61 06-12-2012 09:35

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
In my opinion its absolutely do-able.... something like this 1999 Naval Force 3, La Rochelle Tropic 40 Catamaran Sail New and plus your natural skills... when the rig needs re-doing change to DIY rigging systems... be prepared to when in an area for a while... it happens constant movement gets boring... look around for opportunities to earn... lots of small Charter companies in the WI. have a steady turnover of skippers and always looking for more.. boosts the boat funds... short deliveries... the can do is down to you and what you can live with... :thumb:
Others will work on their lifestyle... in all likelyhood from a stronger position.. I'm looking from down below...:p

Cheechako 06-12-2012 09:39

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
It's close enough to being a good plan. Just do it. You may tire of it in 5 years anyway , or you may not. Heck, you may die at 65! Who knows. I wouldnt trade my cruising misadventures for anything!
It's amazing how simple life gets when the car, furniture, insurance payments, utility bills etc are gone. Your biggest expense really is medical care/insurance... at least here in the US.
The Caribe is a great place to start cruising, just fly to the US and buy one here....

boatman61 06-12-2012 09:44

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
Or go cheaper still..

donradcliffe 06-12-2012 09:56

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
I rented the house out and bought a monohull when I was 50. My spreadsheet said I could go cruising for 5 years before I had to go back to work. Seventeen years and 1.5 times RTW later, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Mike OReilly 06-12-2012 10:03

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
Hi Bill, you'll get many more informed responses than mine, but I'm sharing my thoughts here b/c your situation is very much like mine.

My spouse and are leaving in 1 1/2 years. We are right around 50 (a couple years on either side). We too plan to cruise the east coast of NA, getting quickly down to the Caribbean and SA, and keeping to the inexpensive areas as much as possible. Anchoring out has always been our norm, so that will continue.

When we cut the lines we will have no guaranteed income until "retirement age," a small nest egg (~$100,000), a well-found smallish boat (37-foot monohull), and the ability to manage many of the maintenance issues we'll face. We have some portable economic skills (writer, photog, electronics tech), but I doubt that we'll be able to generate a lot of income. Of course, our plan is not to need a lot of income (see cruising $500/month threads ;)).

So, from my perspective, your plan is far from crazy. Hell, if I had your money I'd throw mine away:D. Two thoughts though:

#1. I would question your choice of boat though. A 40' cat is a large sailboat, at least from my perspective. Boat expenses go up exponentially with size. I've never owned a catamaran, but I suspect your boat will be pricey to operate and maintain.

#2. I infer that you don't own the boat yet, and plan to acquire it shortly before heading off. If you've never owned a cruising boat, I'd urge you to get one asap, and start using it as much as possible. Sailing on someone else's boat is not the same as owning and operating your own. Sailing is the easiest part of living on a boat. It's all the rest that is difficult. So I'd urge you to get a boat, and start cruising as soon as possible. You'll learn tons about boat ownership, and also about what it actually means to live on a floating home.

Capt Phil 06-12-2012 10:23

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
Health forced me to go the other way. After many years living aboard and cruising both sail and power on the west coast from Alaska to Panama, we ended up selling our home afloat and moving to the high Nevada desert where living and taxes are easy, utilities and ammo are cheap and few neighbors to fuss with. My advice is to give it a go... you can always bail and move back ashore but if you don't give it a try, you will forever wonder what might have been. If you are nervous about maintaining sufficient funds to last the course, go a little cheaper on the initial hard investment. As a test, rent a caravan for a few weeks and try living without many of the creature comforts you enjoy ashore right now.
Mike O'Reilly's advice is sound... get some more cruising experience if you can. Some folks take to it like a duck to water... others dream the dream then when they get afloat long term, they panic, fall ill or are so nervous they cannot function. So try and reduce the number of surprises you will experience. Good Luck! Cheers, Phil

Seaworthy Lass 06-12-2012 12:07

Re: Is this possible or are we being unrealistic and naive?
Hi Bill
Looking at your table, a big flaw in your calculations is if inflation increases significantly. The income your nest egg earns will rise, but will by no means match the increase in funds you need to live on, particularly as the years progress and your capital sum decreases.

Living reasonably carefully you can certainly live on $1580 per month in today's terms if you avoid marinas and sail rather than motoring, but as several people have pointed out, this leaves very little for boat maintenance and upgrades (particularly when replacement of big ticket items crops up), let alone emergencies.

The other concern is what will you do at the end of 17 years? You will have an aged catamaran with almost nothing in the bank, no other assets and no income other than a pension. This may not be a great concern as you may have had 17 brilliant years while you were still in the prime of your life, but it is certainly a consideration.

Lots of people are cruising on a shoestring without the funds to maintain their boats well and without any backup funds, so it is by no means impossible, just an uncertain way of living.

As others have suggested, I too would consider spending substantially less on your boat purchase (perhaps something smaller and monohull with correspondingly lower maintenance cost), leaving a reserve for maintenance/upgrades/emergencies.

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