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post #1 of Old 07-29-2009 Thread Starter
SailNet Grom
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Another liveaboard family in the making?

Greetings all, first time poster, long time reader. What an incredible community. I'd have posted this in the "intros" section, but I have a whole slough of questions about living aboard still (most of my initial questions have been answered by Cap'n Google and your forum here, the two of whom seem to be old mates).

Here's our situation. Family of four - Me, the wife, the boy (18 months), and the wolf (9 year old dog ~80 lbs, mostly fur ). Currently we're lubbers in LA, pissing away perfectly good income on an apartment when we could be putting it into an awesome boat. My wife just got a tremendous job opportunity in DC, and we're about 90% certain we're moving there to take it. We want to take this opportunity to break from land and the huge pile of junk we've accumulated! Life here has been getting more and more complicated - we just want to simplify what we can, and put some energy and money towards something beautiful and fun, instead of another landlord's pocket.

Goals are primarily to own something, and to be paying for something that's OURS, instead of someone else's. A top goal of mine is to have a boat we can cruise on, it's been a lifelong dream of mine to sail all over this great blue world. Her job is due to last about a year and a half, during which time I will be raising our son, working occasional odd jobs, working on the boat, and honing my sailing skills so that when her job is done with, we can take a nice long cruise somewhere. I know there are costs to boat ownership, and I am prepared to sacrifice that money and labor to Poseidon for the opportunities it brings. I'm hardworking, a very fast learner, and as one born and raised in San Diego, I know a thing or two about boats and the ocean, though I'm certainly no salty sailor. (I've taken two or three sailing courses in my youth, involving sub 20' boats and catamarans on the open ocean) Mainly this means basic proficiency with sailing, knots, terminology, courtesy, and fiberglass repair (mostly done on surfboards).

In discussing my dreams with Admiral SWMBO, the ideas of ownership and the freedom from clutter have really taken hold, though the idea of sailing far and wide just doesn't seem real/possible to her yet (though I am confident it will eventually dawn upon her as a real possibility), but it is certainly something she would like to do. The sacrifices at first seemed daunting, but we have both been very encouraged by reading the experiences of those who have already taken the plunge so to speak.

Now, onward to my questions.

How long does a 15 gallon holding tank take to fill up? Anyone have any experience with treatment systems? Are they a real bear to integrate? Are they really sanitary/environmentally sound?

Any suggestions for vaccum cleaners? I was thinking a mini-wet/dry shopvac. With our dog, it's a necessity.

Aftermarket shipborne heaters and AC - what sort of price range can I expect to find on these? Where can I begin looking? Are there any used ones out there?

Speaking of heating - I've read that most people use propane, electricity, and diesel heaters. No love for the old fashioned wood stove? Does this have more to do with fuel storage than anything else?

Sailing to DC - the boat I'm hoping to buy is in Florida, and I'll have to sail it there. I won't purchase it unless it's up to snuff, but it was surveyed a year ago and since, well maintained. How can I find bridge clearances for the Chesapeake and Potomac?

Speaking of the boat I'd like to buy, anyone ever lived aboard a Kettenburg 40'? Anyone in the Tampa Bay area feel like having a look over it with me when I fly out? Know of any good third-party surveyors that I can trust? If anyone wants to sail to DC with me, I'm open to the suggestion, and could sure use the company!

Home-entertainment systems - I'm lucky to have an HD projector and awesome surround sound here in my apartment, I know those will have to go. ...but has anyone set up a flat-panel HDTV and small surround speakers? Any suggestions about what's better in the confined spaces of a boat?

Computers - should I stick with my laptop only? Or try to integrate a desktop in somewhere, using the TV as a monitor? Should I chuck my Playstation3 in favor of a blu-ray drive for the computer?

Mooring in DC - Eventually we'd like a slip, but we're willing to live "on the hook" for awhile until we sort that out... I read here that you can moor for free or very cheap for up to two weeks at a time off the gangplank marina; does that mean we'll need to find another place to stay for one or two nights a week? Where else could we moor in or around DC?

Toolkit - I'm going to need to pair down my set of tools. What do you think are the essentials I'll need to bring? (preliminary list: Sander, drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw, jigsaw, worklight, wrenches, drivers, planer, torque-wrench, hammer, ball-pein hammer, rubber mallet, steel drift, wood chisel)

Any good car parking solutions in DC or Arlington that don't require a slip at the marina?

Any good DC area DIY yards where I can haul her and work on it when I need to?

Building a bimini - how hard is this? Anyone done it? I'd like to give it a go, any advice?

Dinghy's - is sail/row ok? Or is something with a motor really that crucial?

Winter - Ice. Freezing river. What, if any, mods do I need to do to my boat to account for this?

Firearm safety and storage aboard - where are the best places to keep the ship's armory?

Ok, I think that's about it for now. Sorry for the massive list. If something has been discussed to death on another thread, feel free to refer me or let me know what to search for. There's lots to wade through, and though I've found answers to many other questions already, I'm striking out on some of these.
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