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Old 11-12-2012
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Re: My Escape Plan - Insights Wanted

First of all... I am 41, and doing it. Not my first time though. We had our kids aboard at 5 days old. We have known little else than the boat, though we have been through several. I need to start off with many disclaimers: we have cruised on and off for over a decade, owned fixed keels since circa mid 90's, and had the benefit of sailing on boats long before that.

Now, next disclaimer of sorts: Capt Aaron is one of a handful of posters on SN that I highly respect. I really like his advice. I find it typically right on target and he and I generally agree on most things. I really think it is a case of one who has made his dreams fit into his checkbook. BTW, Aaron, hope to meet you soon. We are Tortugas in a few weeks, and likely keys thereafter. You buy the first round!!!

THat being said, I could not live and cruise like Capt Aaron (CA) does. THis does not make my way right or my way wrong. It is a difference of opinion. That is all. I repect his opinion immensely... but I prefer refrigeration, a variety of meal, and what I consider a comfortable lifestyle for my family.

Your $500 would not even cover our food budget. We push clost to $800/month. Food in Florida is much more expensive than PNW. I know that because I just got back from there. My Pops keep his boat there. We spent considerable time there abd we love the people, but with the exception of housing, found it relatively cheap compared to FL. Just one of todays examples is that I went to Publix today ad got a great deal on a whole chicken for $1.89/lb where that same chicken in WA for sale is $.89-.99 lb. Double your food budget in the south.. with a big exception to be read shortly.

We had good friends that were going to sail out of Vancouver (CA), then south through Mexico, then the canal, then the carrib, etc. God love them, but they met the folks in the baja and never left after five years. But you will have a LOT of adjustment being from the PNW. THe heat is one thing. WHen the low is 85 at night, you better get used to it real quick. If you plan on outfitting in FL (which is a great idea), I can give you a LOT of advie. I love this state for the cruising (as does Capt Aarron), but many things have changed. Insurance is one. A decade ago, a cruiser could get away without insurance. However, any marina that I would stay at anymore requires insurance. In the islands down south... I have no experience. But most of the US marinas now require insurance... and they require you listing them on the policy. Just a warning!

In Florida, we pay between 10/ft - 20/ft for a month.

My maint bill realistically runs $150/month. I can give you a better idea if I add it up, just pulling this off my head.

My insurance, $225k incl. Bahamas is $2700/year. You can get less... or you may pay more. A friend of ours had his similar policy dropped and Boatus wanted roughly $5000/year for the same (actually less) coverage. We have never had a claim and I have over 15 years with them.

THe marinas are great. You meet some incredibly well traveled people and it is a great camraderie. There is no way I could anchor out 24-7 like others do. I enjoy camraderie and dock partys, group destinations, internet access, access to h2o and elec, groceries, pumpouts, etc. Remember, in the gulf, you are 3 miles out to pump out (though I think they havre changed this to 12 nm... whatever). So the thought of just anchoring off an island and enjoying its benefits without any negatives are not legal unless your holding tank can accomodate a good bit. We go through 45g holding in about a week if we are really conservative. Now you can jump pump it out into the bay, but that is another discussion.

We try to spend a good portion of our time anchored out. We love living off the anchor. I put in 4-kyocera 130 watt panels and 4 4d lifeline batteries for 840ish amp hours on the batts and a realistic 200 ah/day on the solar. Many days it is less. Your budget for elec will run a solid 100ah/day unless you are a minimlaist. Realistic is 150-180 ah/day. How are you going to generate that? I have over $7000 in my solar arrays (the best investment I have made). A diesel generator like mine (Mastervolt 3.5) sips the fuel at .25/gallon.hour. However, it is 15k installed. You can go with a Honda, but the fuel will eat you up over time. I can get you exacts as that is what most cruisers here use, reluctanty. They often found that the cost of running it equaled out very close to a marina and ended up going there.

My bottom line is that I can give you exacts on what we cruise on, but rememebr we have two kids on board. Our cruising local is FL and Bahamas. Carrib is coming up if we dont do the East coast hitory tour first. My numbers and yours are very different.

ALl that said, you can do it and I think you should leave sooner than later. It is a wonderful life. You will finally be a part of a community, something many Americans have lost sight of. My best friends I meet on the water. They are incredible people and will do anything for you. Land based, it is a wonder if you even know your neighbors. And when you get tired of your backyard, you can change it at a moments notice. It is wonderful. Words cannot define how great it is.

Brian

PS September is really pushing the departure date to head out of the PNW. Get your boat south or in FL.
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