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Old 09-28-2009
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Working from my office...on a sailboat? Yeah!! (I want-to and need advice)...

Hi everyone! I've been reading as much as possible so I don't post a newbie question that everyone rolls there eyes at saying "why didn't he just read the THOUSAND posts about this before posting again?" - and I think I've got a some-what unique situation I'm hoping some of you can help out with:

I work from my place (yup - one of the few, the lucky - and the CHAINED TO MY #@$%#$% DESK EVERY MOMENT - WHO ALSO GETS TO WAKE UP WITH MY BOSS IN MY LIVING ROOM EVERY DAY!!!) (yeah folks - be careful what you wish for) ...

..anyway- here's the scphiel and quick run-down:

- been looking into the boat/live-aboard thing for a few years

-can pick anywhere I want to live - but...

- a couple of catches: it has to be Central or Eastern time zones (this is due to my work - hard to explain - but I need to be online earlier than the Mountain or Pacific time ...so East coast is optimal... and what else are my choices but New Orleans or Corpus Christi for Central? If folks can think of some neat "semi-urban" Central time zone places then let me know!) ...

- I MUST have reliable internet connectivity - need to have something more than dial-up (I need broadband - but it doesn't have to be gigantic pipes - I mean - 1.5 g or even 700mbps is okay - and do people use Direct TV on their boats? Or is the rocking of the boat not feasible for it? Also - are most Marina's simply going to have WIFI so this shouldn't be an issue(?) - this one's critical - so please let me know.)

- need to be near a large enough metro area (even Charleston, SC would be cool if the following can apply...)

- I need to be able to walk from the Marina to all the things I need (such as a good supermarket, eats, and some form of rail transport to get to anywhere in the urban area (one can see why certain marinas around NY would be great - but I imagine $$$$ - but i hear there are some bargains to be found - I'm all ears to anyone who knows) ..and again - gotta' be rail or access to zipcars (and bottom line - an easy way to get to the airport so i can fly to the home office every so often - or where I need to fly to).

- I'm looking to buy an older (say 70's to early 80's -but maintained) starter type 25-30' sail like a Catalina (they seem really reasonable these days - I see 'em - especially at this time of year - for anywhere from $2000 to about $10K or so...which is around the amount I want to spend - which leads me into the next bullet):

-budget for boat - around $5K or $6K (would like to go around th $2-3K really)

- would like to find a neat place around New York (yeah - right - I know) that's cheap enough on slippage etc...

- would also like to know about South Beach and Miami, or West Coast of Florida like Tampa (heard it's a really cool atmosphere) (I'm hoping that South Beach Gal who posts a lot will chime in on this ... I'll send ya' some Chicago deep-dish as a favor! ;-)

Okay - sorry for all the bullets guys - I posted something similar to a different website forum and didn't specify enough - but reading up on all your experiences - I figured I should be very detailed.

Any and all info you guys can throw in - cool places, - cheap places - high-end (but expensive) or even better - High end (but inexpensive) would be GREAT to hear about!

Note: Folks - don't take this one last thing wrong - but, I understand there are lots of opinions on what one should and shouldn't do ...but it seems like that can lead to fights ...so I'd love to hear your knowledge about all of this - but don't get into name calling - I'm just askin' for some good old fashioned advice from your experience ...if someone begs to differ - hey COOL ... I'll "triangulate" and figure out what works best for me ...and if I end up in "Davy Jones Locker" then so be it - (it's better than dying of cardiac arrest at my desk on land)... bottom line I'd like to hear as much as possible

So thanks to one and all in advance!

J.
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Old 09-28-2009
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Well, I can help a little with your techno issues, I think. I'm a self-employed real estate appraiser working out of my house for the past 17 years. My work involves inspecting homes and then ALOT of computer time writing reports and accessing the internet for data, MLS & email. I frequently work at the "Southern Command Center", my Catalina 36 and I am fully functional when working on the boat.

Internet - I use a cellular air card for my laptop which is fast enough for general web surfing, downloading and watching TV from network websites or Hulu without any lag. Most marinas still offer hardline phone lines, so you can also get DSL over the phone line. If you're lucky, your marina will have free WIFI, but don't count on it. You can also piggy-back off a dock neighbor's DSL with a wireless modem. Just make a deal & kick in some money so it's a win-win.

TV - Yes, dish TV works fine on a boat which is tied down, it doesn't move that much. Think about the distance to the satellite and you can see why. Many of my neighbors have a dish. Since I have a house, I use Slingbox to watch my home TV from the laptop, also without lag. Lately, the phone companies have come out with services like FIOS which gives you cable TV through your phone line, so that may be an option as well. I think they offer deals if you get the TV & DSL in a package. BTW, since the digital switch, I'm getting GREAT network reception form my rabbit ears.

FAX - You didn't mention it, but I love Efax. About $ 150/year and they turn your faxes into emails which you can retrieve from anywhere.

as an aside....

Location - Think warm, why kill yourself if you don't have to. A 27-30 ft boat gets awfully small when you are snowed in for weeks at a time. Why do that?

Boat Budget - Sounds low to me, even for a Catalina. Consider the total cost after all repairs & deferred maintenance are covered. If you can swing the payments, consider a later model/better condition boat. Catalinas hold their value well if well-maintained. Example: I paid $ 75,000 for my 1991 36 in 1999 and was recently offered $ 65,000. Not bad after 10 years. Just a thought, and the loan is deductible as a primary residence.

Working on the boat is completely doable....and FUN! Enjoy,

Mike
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Old 09-28-2009
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Mike - thanks for all the GREAT info! This is like, 90% of what i needed to know - the entire feasibility of literally getting work done when it MUST be done, connectivity, etc. Yup - agree Efax is great (generally I figured i could get one form of fax online or another - but hinged on how good my net connection was).

Re: location: true about the cold ...but I live in Chicago so I'm fairly used to that stuff! lol ...but yeah - I get what you mean: here's my issue with researching a lot of the southern, more "spread out" cities/locations: You still seem to need a car. What I like about the northeast is, you can get to most place by walking or by some form of rail (be it a light rail, a commuter rail - or connection via one of these to a subway).... 'see, if I were to take on a boat payment (or just dealing with all the fees and such) I don't want to deal with a car payment also. (and insurance and taxes and tags and yadda', yadda' yadda) ...it's not that I couldn't afford it - I probably could - but it's the idea of leading a simple, control-able lifestyle with your main (and really, only) possession being your boat.

Re: Budget too low: Hmmm... this is definitely not good - I just don't like the idea of (again) payments... I really woudln't mind getting a 30+ to 40-something' boat - but I'm still brand new to this - and I've heard, time-and-again that one should by a good smaller boat to get the hang of it -so I'm thinking the smallest that I could by to live-aboard - and then maybe saving up for something a year or so down the road. Also - looking on Craigslist - I've seen a ton of older Catalina's in the range I was thinking of (usually 1970's) ...but with lots of updates. 'Course, it could all be b.s. - but I figure a survey should take care of most of my questions.

Either way - thanks again for all the great info!

J.
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Old 09-28-2009
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xort has a spectacular aura about xort has a spectacular aura about xort has a spectacular aura about
Jacksonville, Fl, Vero Beach, St Augustine, Stuart would seem like good places to look. Oriental, NC., Savannah, Ga. Annapolis, Md. Most of these places have some sort of transportation system. many marinas also have a courtesy car of some kind.

Verizon has very good internet access. you can buy an external antenna if you are in a fringe area. Most marinas have wifi, some include it with slip fee and some charge extra. Some charge a 'livaboard' fee. Some charge extra for electricity.
If you are in Florida in the summer you will need A/C for sure.

I'd bump up the boat budget some.
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Old 09-28-2009
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Clear Lake/Houston TX will fit a bill as well. Very nice marinas with pools, WiFi, near all. Occasional hurricane and insufferable heat and humidity are a downside.

There are plenty of cheap boats, it seems like the place absorbs old boats. Most marinas run auctions of abounded boats once or twice a year where you can get older 27-30 footer for a song.
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Old 09-29-2009
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Just make sure you can stand up in the boat.
Get a dehumidifier into boat to keep your bedsheets and laptop dry.
There are sometimes boats with keel damage that make them unsafe to sail any distance - these are perfect liveaboards, so ask the docks for those.
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Old 09-29-2009
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Check out Baltimore. All of the inner harbor marinas meet your criteria for central location and transportation. Reasonable air transportation from BWI to most anywhere. Inner Harbor :: Baltimore.org
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Old 09-29-2009
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I lived aboard for close to 20 years at a marina in Solomons, MD which met most of if not all of your requirements. Plus it was a lot cheaper than Annapolis. I had Dish networks with the dish installed on a piling, access to cable if needed, a hard line phone line which gave access to internet. I usually travelled out of BWI which was an hour and a half drive. One way car rental was available with pick up at boat to get to airport. I think now there is a shuttle available from some of the local motels, but the client paid for transportation so cost was not an issue in getting to the airport. I could walk to post office, grocery store and laundry even though there was a machine at the marina. Miss living aboard now, but the boat is close by and I do go out sailing every week. Most liveaboards just stayed put at the dock, but I always had the boat ready to sail with everything put away so I actually sailed more while living aboard than I do now. One other benefit of living aboard is the world cruisers that you get to know.
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Old 09-29-2009
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Quote:
Jacksonville, Fl, Vero Beach, St Augustine, Stuart would seem like good places to look. Oriental, NC., Savannah, Ga. Annapolis, Md. Most of these places have some sort of transportation system. many marinas also have a courtesy car of some kind.
Good stuff Xort...lots to choose from - (didn't know Jacksonville was that hoppin - I've heard some negatives about it) ... had no idea about the courtesy car (neat stuff - I bet some are doing this zip car thing too since it's taken off)...

Quote:
Clear Lake/Houston TX will fit a bill as well. Very nice marinas with pools, WiFi, near all. Occasional hurricane and insufferable heat and humidity are a downside.

There are plenty of cheap boats, it seems like the place absorbs old boats. Most marinas run auctions of abounded boats once or twice a year where you can get older 27-30 footer for a song.
Interesting - and I didn't know about auctions (it's so hard to know what auctions are legit and what are scams these days ...imagine calling a bunch of marinas would probably be the best bet)

Quote:
Just make sure you can stand up in the boat.
Get a dehumidifier into boat to keep your bedsheets and laptop dry.
There are sometimes boats with keel damage that make them unsafe to sail any distance - these are perfect liveaboards, so ask the docks for those.
That's going to be a tough one for me Emagin - I'm 6'2 ... I don't think there are going to be ANY sailboats that work for me (no matter what the price) ..so I already figured I'd be knockin' my head about here and there ... the thing with the unsafe to sail variety is - I actually WANT to sail (that's another reason I'm thinking gulf or east coast - I want to do the Carribean someday) ...thanks though...

Quote:
Check out Baltimore. All of the inner harbor marinas meet your criteria for central location and transportation. Reasonable air transportation from BWI to most anywhere. Inner Harbor :: Baltimore.org
Quote:
I lived aboard for close to 20 years at a marina in Solomons, MD which met most of if not all of your requirements. Plus it was a lot cheaper than Annapolis. I actually sailed more while living aboard than I do now. One other benefit of living aboard is the world cruisers that you get to know.
Baltimore/MD guys - I actually lived there for a few years! (that's what got me turned onto all this) ...another long story - but have to focus on North of MD and South of Virginia (in other words - can't do Mid-Atlantic) ...Baltimore is pretty ideal though in terms of the basics I listed... agreed though Lance - I want to sail - not JUST live aboard. To me this isn't just a form of housing - but it's killing 2 birds with one stone - my love of anything "marine" and also - a nice way of NOT having to deal with being tied down to one location for a year or more.

Hey thanks to all ...lotsa' great stuff here....

J.

Last edited by Jonnie101; 09-29-2009 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 09-29-2009
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Jonnie,
I work from the boat a couple of days a week. I'm in the process of switching marinas right now and had to evaluate marinas around DC last year as part of looking at a contract. Here's what I've learned (sometimes the hard way).

WiFi - don't assume the marina will have it. If they do don't assume you'll be able to access it. What a lot of marinas around here call "free WiFi" is a cheapie wireless router in the club house -- and a weak or non-existant signal on your boat. In my current marina I built a wireless repeater using DD-WRT and a cheap wireless router. It takes a signal too weak for my laptop to even see and boosts it to five bars with no external antenna to reg/de-rig when you sail. Good solution, but only if you're a bit of a geek.

A simpler solution, and what I'll be using in my new marina, which has no WiFi, is the Nokia E71x. It's Nokia's version of the Black Berry with one important exception - it has a wireless router built in. With a Black Berry I'd have to buy a $65/month tethering option, with the Nokia I only have to buy a $15/month data option + a one time $89 fee for a phone upgrade.

Other options are FIOS or a Cable modem. Just about every marina has a cable hookup for their slips. They may not let Verizon run FIOS out on their dock, especially if they no longer have phone hookups at the slips, and many don't. With cell phones why bother?

You've already discovered eFax so you're covered there.

As for boat size. If you're 6'2 a Catalina 30 would be preferable to a 27. Nothing is worse than always hitting your head, not to mention bunk and v-berth sizes.

Now everyone's different, but I would find it hard to be a liveaboard on my Catalina 30. In a boat you're VERY limited for storage space, and you'll need a workable galley, room to stretch out and watch TV, have friends over etc. If you want to sail everything that isn't strapped down needs to be stowed in a locker. Weigh that against the fact that everything about boats is priced by the foot. Bigger = more expensive.

An alternative might be a storage bin on shore for things you don't use every day.

Now I know you said you're from Chicago, but I stop spending weekends on my boat when the temperature drops below 50 degrees at night. Boats have no insulation. You can see daylight between hatchboards. One, even two electric space heaters will only keep a boat so warm when it's sitting in 40 degree water and the air temp is in the 20's. And remember, when you crawl out from under that comforter you still have to walk down that cold, windy dock to the showers.

If you're going to do this I'd think southern climates, but as someone else mentioned you'll have to deal with humidity.

Also check with the marina as to their policies on live aboards. Many marinas forbid it.

Get any boat surveyed before you buy, and be careful of auctions. That bargain boat may not be a bargain after you add up what you needed to make it liveable. To see what I mean check out "Chip Ahoy" - The cost for my own hole in the ocean. This is one man's cost to fully restore a Catalina 22. I bought a later model of the same boat that was complete and needed little work for $7,000. Fixer-uppers are not always bargains, even if you're doing the work yourself.

All that said, good luck and welcome! Just curious, what kind of work do you do?

Jim
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