sorry about the tone, didnt come out the way I thought it would.
I still dont think a family of 4 would need a watermaker for coastal cruising. What is your tankage? We saw a half dozen kid boats anchored in Newport harbor this summer. If water access is what is keeping you tied to the dock, you need to rethink that. As I mentioned, there are plenty of town docks you can pull the boat up to and fill water tanks. In Newport they have a water float in the middle of the harbor. Free water.
Saw kid boats in the Bahamas where water is harder to come by but they were making do.
I jumped on this because you seemed to be inferring a boat with 4 people couldnt coastal cruise without suffering a water shortage. Again, between fuel stops where water is available, free town docks where water is available and an occasional stop at a marina where you can wash the boat and fill up...there is quite a bit of water accessable. If you're burning thru 50 gallons a day then you need to stay tied to the dock.
I think it is necesssry for people to differentiate between livaboard at the dock vs cruising. Big difference in lifestyles and costs
Hey E, it's all good. We are friends. I also appreciate your comments and I think it is good for the thread because you are also cruising. I have been upfront that I am not telling anyone how to do it, but how we do it and how we have kept doing for now on 14 years (for the most part).
Lets see, water usage: 2.4 seemed to be the average per person/day on the cruisers i polled (though ours hits 2.2 without washing much if any an no boat washing). We can push that down to about 1.5 but that is pure water conservation and not enjoyable for long periods. 2.4 (wasnt that your usage too?) is not fun but doable. Something close to five, especially including clothes washing, probably comes in quite comfortable.
I have plumbed and wired for a water maker, but honestly, i have yet to find a real hard need for it. The places we enjoy staying, Boot Key Harbor for instance, i would not make water at... Nor would I at most other popular harbors. And honestly, water has never really been one of our most restricting issues, but an issue.
When you said,"water usage keeping you tied to the dock..." I was not sure if you meant me personally or a person in general. Certainly isnt keeping me from leaving a marina since (except for Saturday) i have not been at a dock in four months!!! Curiously, how long has it been for you? I do agree that if water is keeping a person at the dock, there are ways around that depending on the boat.
But that is not the only issue. Other issues are are black water. How much does your boat hold? The average person will make 1-3 gallons of black water waste/day. Electroscans are becoming increasingly prohibited and many areas, including the entire florida keys, are no discharge zones to seven miles out (not 3). How long before you have to get pumped out? You can get pumped out at some gas docks, but they generally charge you for it too (our last one was $25). When you begin adding that into your budget, many of whom will need 2/week, that bites hard into the 500/month business.
Now what about trash? Can you throw your trash into the local dumpsters or gas fuel docks? Well, maybe. We have been to places from Pensacola to the Keys where they let you... And others where they dont.
Come summer, the rules begin to change. I have little interest in going up the coast just to escape the heat. We have talked ourselves into going up the coast for years, and talk ourselves out of it every year. I do think we will do it one year, but as I love the west coast of Fl and the keys in the summer (more than the winter), it may be a while. Come summer, we have to have air conditioning. While i dont mind the heat during the day (dont enjoy it either), it is the heat at night that is the killer. A day? Nah. A few days or week-2 in the tortugas or marq? No problem. But day in day out for months? No. I neither want to be miserable nor does my budget require it. There are those who do it without ac, but they are tough brother! And they dont do it because they want, they do it because they have to. Some can do it long term, most get burned out (no pun intended). Before anyone says they dont need a marina or ac in the s fl summer, tell me how long you have done it on a boat! As i have said before, some days are frankly miserable.
So the water was only one thing which i was pointing out where i disagree with your 15 days/year marina bit. There other factors. For those who will sail to New England every year and back, maybe you can make the 15 days work. But you will also move out of this area in the most beautiful time and even going up the coast carries its own costs.