Re: Newbie seeks salty dog(s) for some sage advice
My husband and I currently live aboard. I am 40 and he is 47. before we moved aboard, we contemplated the same sort of things that you are right now. This is what we did:
Since we were not experienced with larger boats, (my husband has sailed sun fishes, like you, and I was a novice) and din't know for sure how we were going to like spending alot of time aboard one, we decided that it would be best to start out with something small that we could learn on safely without having to take any type of classes, so we got a trailerable Chrysler 22 and took it to a large lake near our house. The marina there helped us step the mast and once up, we didn't have to take it down again because we decided to store it in their dry storage area. When we pulled it out of the water and onto the trailer, we towed it to the fenced in area with the truck and left it there on the trailer until the next weekend, with the mast up. The dry storage rate was cheap, about $50/month, so it made sense. It would cost more to tow it back and forth than to store it there, plus we didn't have to worry about the mast each time. The 22 didn't have an engine or GPS, but we were on a lake, so it didn't matter. We learned how to sail on the 22 and once we decided we did, in fact, like sailing, we sold the 22 and got a Chrysler 26 and took it to the coast. It did have an engine and GPS, since we were going to do coastal cruising. We lived about 2 hours from the coast at the time and every weekend we would go down and sail around the outer banks of NC. We did this for about a month or so and once we were comfortable, we decided to take a vacation and sail the boat down the intercoastal waterway from northern NC to southern SC. We had to go thru locks and drawbridges and learned how to properly operate the VHF radio. Talk about cackling....mess up on the VHF where everyone can hear you! Anyway, the trip went well and we decided that we wanted to live aboard. However, I decided that the 26 was not quite big enough if we were going to live on it full time so we began looking for a larger boat. We had to go thru many lemons before we found our peach. I can't stress enough how important it is to get a survey done before you spend tens of thousands of dollars! That is how you are sure you really are getting a sweet deal. We found a Endeavor 32 in Charleston, SC that was in pristine condition, one owner, and already had a refit (modern wiring, plumbing, nav. equipment, etc.) and all of the equipment already with it (paper charts, emergency kits, life jackets, flags, even a dinghy with an outboard). It was a turn key deal. We didn't need to purchase one thing before we could move aboard and leave.
Since we made the decision to move aboard (after the ICW trip), we had been making arrangements to sell our business and house, so that was taken care of. I purchased the boat on October 30 and we provisioned that same day. We left for good on Halloween and haven't looked back since and that's been years ago.
However, we do know some couples that lease or rent out thier homes "just in case" they decide they ever want to live on land again and that also gives them extra money to either pay the mortgage or if the house is paid for, to live off of, and that works for them.
I hope some of this helps. We only paid $500 for the Chrysler 22 and $1,000 for the 26, so for a $1,500 investment, we were able to decide that this was the lifestyle we wanted.
I wish you guys all the best and hope to see you soon on the water!