Tartan 27' owner
Join Date: Jan 2008
Thanked 113 Times in 105 Posts
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This has been a pretty interesting thread to me
I am nearly the same age as Catalina Fan and while not in exactly the same predicament as he is (I have 3 sailboats already) and have been on hiatus from working a 'real' job for a few years. I find it touching that so many of you who have some pretty big and expensive boats have taken the time to reply to his posts with earnest and heartfelt good advice. I know I need to focus on getting back to work (either in my former field of IT which I am rusty at by now or into something different that is not confined by a cubicle in an office building and has medical and retirement benefits).
I mention the medical plan as it is my belief that some of you who keep your larger boats at slips must pay close to the same amount for your boats per month when EVERYTHING is added in to your wanting to have a sailboat in your lifestyle. Many of us do it for less but it is still a financial drain owning a keel boat that you can't keep in your barn, backyard, garage or driveway when and if it ever comes out of the water. Boats are not an investment from a financial perspective. They are a personal investment, as in you want that in your lifestyle. Very few boat owners can claim to have resold their boats after some period of years of ownership and actually made money on the resale value, which does not mean you made a profit as you had to sink money into it while you owned it. In the early part of the 20th century sailing was a sport that belonged firmly to the upper class. This is less true today but the bigger boats are generally owned by the bigger players. J. P. Morgan once said something to the effect of "if you have to ask what it costs, then you can't afford it" to a question about one of his yachts. My point is only to sing with choir (as posted here previously) that a boat is not the means to an end but and end to your means. It costs a lot of money to cruise about which is why so many world cruisers write books; to supplement their income and enjoy their hobby.
I have been reading way too many historical books on sailing ships and nautically related reading. In those days (19th century) it was actually possible to get paid for working (under harsh conditions) on those ships and going to far away places, meeting interesting people and sometimes killing them. Your best bet today is to join the US Navy or get your AB (able bodied) seaman's certificate and join the merchant marines (not the easiest life either) if you want to get paid to be on the ocean. There are other alternatives but I can't say that your prospects of becoming a delivery captain (since you are just starting your love affair with sailing) are pretty slim (as are mine, even though I have been sailing in protected waters for most of my life). Many marine related opportunities will not even afford you medical insurance (which is pretty much the cost of keeping a 35+' boat, kept at a slip at a marina, adding in all other related expenses).
You need a budget (as do I). If you want to have sailing in your lifestyle you need to:
1) sell the RV and pay off the loan (debt)
2) get a vehicle that gets much better gas mileage (preferably a used one that might be able to tow a boat)
3) decide if you could actually live aboard a small boat (30' or under)
3A) figure out what to do with your property in Texas:
- keep it and pay the taxes (I assume they have property taxes in Texas)
- decide whether to improve it (build a house) or just wait until the prices rise again (the problem here is that you need income and savings in order to improve or build there)
- do nothing and wait for the county to take it over due to tax in arrears
3B) If you can actually live on a boat and the wife and kids/pets (you haven't mentioned them yet have you?) can too then think about finding a sales job around Houston, NOLA etc. There are a few sailors who keep there boats in Kemah TX.
4) Hold on to the bulk of your savings (inheritance) and real estate until such time as it becomes reasonably profitable to sell.
5) Find a new job so you are not spending your cash cushion.
I have 2 trailer sailboats. I could live without my 27' Tartan which is not readily trailerable. My other boats are a 19' Lightning and a 14' (circa 1950s) daysailor (whose trailer is shot). The point here is that trailer sailors are waaaay cheaper than most keelboats, if you have a place to keep them when they are out of the water (which is where your own property comes into the equation). What lakes and or Gulf access is near your Texas property? What trailerable sailboats could you tow with your current vehicle (and don't tell me the RV can pull them)?
The point that I am not making is that you can have sailing in your life but with a compromise. A trailer sailor can make it work for you on a small budget that will not be a major drain on your finances. You need to stop those financial leaks as soon as possible; like getting rid of the RV and getting a job. The smaller the boat you get, the less drain on your wallet and you can have fun and save some money. Smaller boats can sometimes be even more fun than one you can live aboard.
(This is advice I am trying to sink into my own brain at the moment. It seems that I can express it but my will to put it in action is muddled in my own mid-life crisis).
Good luck Catalina Fan.
"The cure for anything is salt water~ sweat, tears, or the sea." ~Isak Denesen
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