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-   -   What do I need to be legal? (http://www.sailnet.com/forums/boat-review-purchase-forum/100106-what-do-i-need-legal.html)

postwarcomet27 06-03-2013 12:51 PM

What do I need to be legal?
 
Hello Everyone,

I live in an apt in South Jersey, I have been looking for a 27-28 foot sailboat to live on for nearly a month now. I scan ads on all day looking for a decent affordable boat. I have found a good amount in the Barnegat Bay area that are pretty close by. However, after looking at areas like Norfolk, VA I found that there are a lot more boats for sale and they are a lot more affordable.

So my question is, if I was to buy a boat in VA and found a marina that I could dock at and live on. What would I have to do to be completely legal? Would I need to register my boat with VA (I have NJ license and address and I do not know of any friends or relatives in VA that I could use as an address). Would I have to travel back to NJ to register the boat? Could I just document the vessel with the USCG? Also, would I need a boat license in VA? I am about to take my test for my NJ boat safety course, so I will have that very soon. I'm just unsure of what I would need to successfully move from NJ to VA and become a liveaboard. Any thoughts or insights on this would be greatly appreciated.

Also, I've always thought about moving to Florida, so that is also a possibility.

Thanks
Jared

denverd0n 06-03-2013 01:31 PM

Re: What do I need to be legal?
 
Some states require you to register the boat, even if it is USCG documented. Some do not. Some will charge a sales tax on your boat purchase. Some will not. Some will also charge you a "personal property" tax each year on the value of the boat and--you guessed it--some will not.

Do a google search for "vessel registration virginia". I'm sure you'll find that the state of Virginia has a website with all of the information you need.

Good luck.

jimgo 06-03-2013 01:44 PM

Re: What do I need to be legal?
 
I just went through this, Jared. The reason you're seeing the spike in demand in the NJ area is because of Hurricane Sandy. Do you NEED a boat now, or can you wait until the end of the season or beginning of next season? If you can wait, I'd suggest it. Life will be a lot simpler.

I bought my "new to me" 1980 31' Allmand at the end of March in Deltaville, VA, which is North of Norfolk. The boat was federally documented and registered in VA. That's the way most states handle it, USCG handles the "title" to the boat, but it must still be registered in the state if it's going to be there more than a certain number of days a year (in NJ's case, I think it was more than 180 days). I did not have to register the boat in VA; I will have to register it in NJ, which is where I inted to keep it (Barnegat Bay). NJ DMV told me that I couldn't register it until the USCG documentation had been appropriately transferred to me. That process is a LONG process (several months). Your NJ boat license should be sufficient for your short "stay" in VA.

The bigger issue will be the logistics of getting to the boat, ensuring it is in good shape, and then getting it home. A 27-28' can be trailored, but that is going to be EXPENSIVE. Otherwise, you're going to have to sail it home. Sailing it home from Norfolk, you have two options: inside, and outside. Inside involves sailing up the Chesapeake Bay, over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, down the Delaware River, and then out to the NJ bay of your choice (there are issues with many/most of the inlets to the bays, which we can discuss later in your planning). This is, if you're sailing only during the day, at least a 4 day drip, and may wind up being 6 days just to get to Cape May. Add on another day if you're going to keep the boat in Wildwood, Avalon, Ocean City, or other places South of Atlantic City. If you're headed north of Atlantic City, you can basically tack on at least 2 more days. The outside route is faster - probably 2 days - but you will be sailing through the night, and there are VERY few places to duck in if you have trouble or if bad weather comes up. Check out http://www.activecaptain.com and look at the nautical charts for the two routes and you'll start to understand why I chose to move her up the Chesapeake.

The other logistic you'll have to contend with is how to get to/from the boat for the initial launch. You'll be luckier, in that in Norfolk you have an airport and, if I recall correctly, a train station. Deltaville had neither, and it was expensive to get there. So expensive, in fact, that I could afford to hire a captain to move my boat part of the way (to the Annapolis area) for not much more than it would have cost me to get down there.

In my case, the captain's trip was a blessing and a curse. He tried to move the boat in a timetable that worked for me at the time (which I appreciate) but he wound up moving her during some very strong winds. The engine was taxed, and it looks like it was pushed a little too hard. The damping plate shattered, causing the engine to lose propulsion a few miles from the intended drop-off point. I'm now looking at several thousands of dollars in repair fees to get everything working again. If the boat had been local, it probably wouldn't have been pushed so hard so soon, and I may not have had to deal with this expense for at least another year or two. On the plus side, though, the propulsion issue may well have happened while my family was aboard and we were racing to get back to the slip before a storm came in.

As to your size selection, is there a reason you aren't going a little bigger? 27-28 is a bit tight for a live-aboard, IMHO. Others here will disagree, and I can be a bit of a hoarder (though not QUITE as bad as the folks on the TV show), but 27 is small for those purposes. 30 is decent, and 32-34 is better. But have you looked into where you'd keep her?

BTW, where in South Jersey are you? I grew up in the Laurel Springs/Blackwood area just off Route 42.

jimgo 06-03-2013 01:49 PM

Re: What do I need to be legal?
 
LOL...just re-read your post, and see that you're considering moving to VA, not keeping the boat in NJ. If you do it that way, as Don points out, you'll have personal property taxes to pay in VA, and they can be a real pain. I'm 90% sure VA also has a state registration requirement (I think I saw the sticker on my boat).

Ultimately, what's your real goal? Is it to live aboard a sailboat and travel the world, live aboard a sailboat and travel the East Coast, live aboard a boat at a dock somewhere comfortable and occasionally leave the slip, or just avoid some of the costs associated with living on land and be more self-sufficient? Each of those are perfectly valid reasons for wanting to get a boat, but different boats will meet (or fail horribly to meet) each of those requirements. And, of course, the locale also had a lot do to with it. If you're able to move and want to go someplace where you can get the boat out on the water for extended periods of time, I'd strongly consider Florida, especially the Gulf Coast.

tommays 06-03-2013 01:49 PM

Re: What do I need to be legal?
 
The live aboard part is almost as hard as finding a good boat as finding a marina that allows it is very hit and miss from place to place

postwarcomet27 06-03-2013 02:27 PM

Re: What do I need to be legal?
 
Thanks Everyone, I figured I would have to travel back to NJ for registration. I did not know I would have to wait until USCG document would take that long to be transferred yikes!

jimgo I live right next to Blackwood, I'm in Runnemede right off Rt. 42, small world lol. I do plan on moving back up around NJ, probably Cape May, but not until next Spring (I hate cold winters). My ultimate goal is to be more self sufficient and live on a boat that I can travel down south in the winter and head back up to NJ/DE/MD area in the spring/summer. I've been looking at the Fl keys, as a winter destination. I am also a musician and hear they have a lot of bars, clubs, which I'm sure I could find some work at.

As for picking a 27-28' boat. It's mainly because they are the most common and affordable boats Ive seen. Don't get me wrong, I'd love a nice spacious 32' boat, but they usually come with a higher price tag for something decent. I do not have many personal belongings and I've always been living in different areas, so I have everything I need packed into 4 rubbermaid containers, pretty much ready to go. I think that I could do a Cat 27 or something similar for a while, until I'm ready financially for something bigger.

I am also really considering just heading to Florida, but again I'm not sure how their registration works. I know many liveaboards go there, so I'm sure it can't be too hard to be legal. I'm really just looking on how to get registration numbers on my boat, while still legally being an out of stater. This will be my first boat purchase, and of course it would be super complicated. I'd like to be on a boat by labor day at the very latest, but I have some money saved up now, so the sooner the better.

Also, how necessary is boat insurance? If I'm living off the hook do I need it? I've read that most marinas require it, any thoughts on this?

jimgo 06-03-2013 05:10 PM

Re: What do I need to be legal?
 
PWC, I grew up not far from there, over by Glen Landing Middle School.

Each state's rules are different, but the boat will probably have to be registered in the state in which the boat is "garaged". That is, the state in which the boat resides, which isn't necessarily the state in which the owner resides. For example, I now live in PA, but my boat will be registered in NJ because, under NJ's laws, if the boat is there more than 180 consecutive days, it has to be registered there. Sure, I could try to "cheat" and go for a cruise offshore or up to NY/down to DE twice a year, but in the end it's easier to just pay the fee. :)

Some of the problems with sailing at the NJ shore include:
many of the inlets can be very difficult to navigate in a slow-moving sailboat;
most of the bays are small; and
there are LOTS of powerboats who don't understand your operational and navigational issues.

We kept our last boat in Great Egg Bay, which is behind Ocean City. We were in the back bay, and at low tide we would run aground (the back bay gets to 1-2', and sometimes less). Cape May isn't bad, but you'd be committing to sailing in Delaware Bay and the ocean. Do a little reading here and you'll see that most people (Ulladh being a possible exception) don't think too highly of Delaware Bay as a sailing destination. So, you're really left with sailing in the ocean. Probably not a big deal, but in my case I have a family with 2 kids, and the idea of sailing in a protected bay was more attractive than sailing in the ocean, especially when just starting out.

I think your best bet would be to figure out where you want to live, then buy a boat. The cost to move even a moderate-size boat several hundred miles is crazy ($3-5K easily; my move of my 25' Catalina from Toms River to Ocean City cost $500). Plus, the conditions will vary from location to location. So, a boat that works well in one place may really stink for another. For example, deep draft boats are, generally, more stable and faster than their shallow draft cousins. But a boat with a 6' draft, however, would have a heck of a time doing any sailing in most of the NJ bays. You could probably navigate the ICW (or what's left of it), but most of the rest of the bays would be off-limits. The same would be true in parts of Florida, for example. A deep-draft boat will keep you from exploring many of the inlets and other areas. By contrast, if you were to go to Maine, or the southern parts of the Chesapeake, the water is deeper there and the deep-keel boat might be just fine (unless you wanted to explore the northern Chesapeake).

As to boat insurance, the real question is why wouldn't you have it? If your boat comes loose from its dock/mooring in a bad storm and crashes into someone else's $750,000 yacht, do you really want to have to pay for the repairs out of pocket? Incidentally, that's why most marinas want it. :)

Ultimately, you said your goal is to figure out "how to get registration numbers on [your] boat, while still legally being an out of stater". Realistically, that's a piece of cake. You don't have to live in the state to register and keep the boat there. There may be hoops you have to jump through (such as getting the USCG documentation transferred into your name, if your boat is USCG documented), but it really isn't that bad.


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