Brand New To Sailing
Well, we have two things more or less in common. I also live in Atlanta and was a pilot (CFI) in a previous life. I’m sort of in your “boat”, no pun intended, in that I’m looking to buy a boat in a year or two in anticipation of retirement. Let me pass on some things I’ve learned about the process.
Learning to sail – it’s something you have to do, but it’s easy. There is a set of rules and skills you must have to keep from buying the farm, but it’s nowhere near as tough as getting an instrument rating. Plus it’s fun.
I think it would be very possible to live on a boat and commute to your airline domicile. My brother and I are checking out Marinas and we’ve run across places that provide mooring, mail service, washing machines, etc. Cities like JAX, TPA, Pncla, Savanah, etc. would work fine. I’m contemplating buying something and keeping it in one of those cities to use on weekends until I retire fully.
RE room, it’s hard to get a handle on what’s real. The brochures just don’t give you a sense of reality. My brother and I met (he lives in Fla) a couple of weekends back at a sail show in St. Pete. They had a +lot+ of boats in the water, ranging from 22 ft to 50ft plus. We wandered through many of them (mostly 30 feet and up). What struck me was that interior room seems to go up exponentially with length. A 47 is huge compared to a 38 which is huge compared to a 30. Unfortunately price goes up accordingly, also!
RE utilities, I think you can easily find marinas that provide shore power, cable TV, phone hookups (although a cell phone will take care of that). How water and sewer are handled is less clear to me.
A boat can be your home for tax purposes. It can even be your second home, and the interest expense can be deducted accordingly.
Buying one isn’t that tough either. If you are a USAA member, give them a call, and they’ve got some brochures on the subject. Financing is typically 15 to 20 years, and a survey is required. Insurance is cheap. The one thing I can’t get a handle on is maintenance costs – bottom scraping and painting, rigging, sails, etc.. Some people have given me figures like 5 to 10 pct of value, but it doesn’t seem very accurate to me. If you find a book on that subject let me know.
Speaking of books, let me suggest “Choosing a cruising sailboat”, by Roger Marshall.
Hope this helps. (and if anyone else can contribute anything, please jump in)