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  #21  
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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  #22  
Old 11-12-2012
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Re: My Escape Plan - Insights Wanted

CD, I'll keep an eye out for you. I'll buy the first couple of round's. I'm thinking Dante's, pool w/ waterfall for the kids and umbrella tables with service for the big kid's and close to the dingy dock.
Insurance, it's true I got away with it for over 20 years, but will probably buy some sort of minimal package this year (reluctantly) as I know insurance company's generally find a loop hole to not pay anyway's. At 41 and 3/4's I am now becoming a more responsable citizen ( reluctantly). as a singlehandling dude, who finds comfort in dim light, soft jazz music a good book and a bottle of rum, and as long as the rain is only falling on my feet and not dripping on my head, I am as cozy as can be. the amount of electricity I don't use would astound most cruisers. The freedom I have due to the lack of need's has been the foundation of my ability to live the life for so long. This bare bones type of adventure cruising is not for every body. I feel guilty, like I'm betraying myself when I get on the cumfy gadget yacht's that I deliver, that's just me. I think Eric the Red, (ETR) will find a nice balance and seem's to have all the right finances, training, and attitude to be quite successful as a liveaboard cruiser. best of luck to you man.
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Re: My Escape Plan - Insights Wanted

Thanks Brian and Aaron! And thanks Christina for the long and informative email about the East Coast Moody's.

Since I'll just be supporting myself and the boat (at first anyway, never know who might end up joining), I'm assuming I can cut the numbers Brian spends by at least 2/3 since he's got 4 people (figuring in some economies of scale on his side).

It's those monthly fees that turn into the real deal killers, and insurance is looking to be an issue. $5000 a year is literally half my budget! For what amounts to nothing but the protection of some weak words on paper that apparently I'll need to get into a marina? Do I need that just to moore up overnight or is that more of a long-term thing?

Will have to check into that more closely. This could really push me to working & saving a couple more years, depleting savings and expecting to need to go back to work after a few years, or needing to work while I cruise, which isn't exactly part of my current dream, but I suppose sacrifices must be made. That comment about how earning just a few grand working is the equivalent of mass quantities of saved money was an interesting one.

Clearly I need to put some more thought into how I can generate cash. I know I could rent my house, but that would add risk and take some of the interest earnings away as well.

I speak w/ my financial advisor tomorrow, and I may find tapping my 401k will be a big hit to my numbers too.
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Old 11-12-2012
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Re: My Escape Plan - Insights Wanted

For Eric:

I think you are probably fine on the $10k per year. It's not a lot. Many are on three times that amount and quite impoverished.
But if you stay in Mexico and the Caribbean it's fine. Good life and can be cheap.

I doubt you'd need $30 k to outfit a boat. Whadda ya gunna do? Put a jacuzzi on it? You would be better IMHO to pay more for a fully fledged boat... The $70k mark is good to get a vastly more modern boat... Maybe ex charter from the Carib. Start there, perhaps.

If your idea is to escape and doodle about the coast doing overnighters and gunk holing for 5 to 10 years in South America and the Caribbean you do not have to outfit for ocean passages.

I agree you don't need insurance. You wouldn't get it for solo sailing anyway.
Medical insurance is the same. As soon as you are out of the USA medical prices plummet. I got a sun cancer cut out of my back in St Martin by a proper surgeon for the price of a consultation in the USA. And if you really get sick you go to panama or Cuba, lots of cheap, GOOD, places.

The only drawbacks to your plan is its no escape. If you are running away from life you will fail as life is all around. If you are rushing to "find yourself" you can do that at home.
Also as a 40 year old intelligent, single person, you may find cruising in a sea of old people, with little mental stimulation, to be BOOOOOORING after a few years.

So make sure you have a plan (that bulltwaddle: " we have no plan and are sticking to it" is a recipe for dementia.) that's going to challange you and your intellect. It could be history, geography, whatever, but it must be something.


Mark
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Last edited by MarkofSeaLife; 11-12-2012 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 11-12-2012
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Re: My Escape Plan - Insights Wanted

CruisingDad hit the nail on the head with his last comment about buying the boat in South Fla. We have a surplus of seaworthy used boats selling for a song. Don't get all caught up on a specific boat brand, rather look for a specific design. Blue water, reasonable draft,5 feetish or so. And the Caribbean is our back yard. It's true marinas in Fla. generally want insurance, but not down south. Liability is kind of an American thing. Mexicans don't sue eachother like we due. Central and south Americans shrug their shoulders at disaster and move on. Anchor out anyway's and you won't need the insurance, don't let that be a deal breaker dude.
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Old 11-12-2012
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Re: My Escape Plan - Insights Wanted

One more comment. $5000 a year for insurance is *RIDICULOUS*...that amount is likely for an agreed value yacht insurance policy with a low deductible. I have a $126k agreed value policy with liability/indemnity for *FLORIDA* with navigation up to the Northeast and out to the Turks/Caicos and it costs me $1700 a year for a 34-35' sailboat docked behind my house. Older boats, of course, will pay more...but then you dont need a full agreed value policy on an old boat because they're just not worth that much and you're better of "self insuring".

For you, who would likely just get indemnity/liability coverage in case you hit someone, or you case some kind of environmental disaster with your fuel spill. Liability insurance with a good umbrella policy of $1MM should be much much much less. I got a quote for a umbrella policy for $1mm coverage for $300 today from Geico...just required my yacht liability policy to have a $300k minimum coverage.

Now, you could also play all sorts of asset protection tricks. The worst that would happen then would be that you lose the boat in case of an accident. IE, form a Florida LLC ($125 up front + $138 a year) and put the boat title in the LLC name. Now, if you're willing to lose the boat (which if you have liability only, would happen anyway)...you're pretty much scott free except your PERSONAL liability for causing damage (again get a good umbrella policy to protect you there).

There are ways for those that are savvy to deal with the liability bugaboo...doctors are really good at this.

Its the rest of your budget that concerns me.

Also, *DO NOT* withdraw from your 401k early. If you do, you'll get whacked with a 10% penalty and pay taxes on the withdrawl. If you can, take "DISTRIBUTIONS* from your 401k. There is a subtle difference. Distributions of "substantially equal periodic payments" are not hit by the 10% penalty...just ordinary income. And if you're taking less than $15k a year, well, you'll pay some taxes, but likely get it back in credits. Welcome to being one of the "47%" Basically, you need to "annuitize" your 401k

See this from IRS site on retirement plans here: http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/...iodic-Payments


Is there an exception to the tax for distributions in substantially equal periodic payments?
Yes. If distributions are made as part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments over your life expectancy or the life expectancies of you and your designated beneficiary, the §72(t) tax does not apply. If these distributions are from a qualified plan, not an IRA, you must separate from service with the employer maintaining the plan before the payments begin for this exception to apply. If the series of substantially equal periodic payments is subsequently modified (other than by reason of death or disability) within 5 years of the date of the first payment, or, if later, age 59˝, the exception to the 10% tax does not apply. In that case, your tax for the modification year is increased by the amount that would have been imposed (but for the exception), plus interest for the deferral period.
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Old 11-12-2012
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Re: My Escape Plan - Insights Wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt.aaron View Post
CD, I'll keep an eye out for you. I'll buy the first couple of round's. I'm thinking Dante's, pool w/ waterfall for the kids and umbrella tables with service for the big kid's and close to the dingy dock.
Insurance, it's true I got away with it for over 20 years, but will probably buy some sort of minimal package this year (reluctantly) as I know insurance company's generally find a loop hole to not pay anyway's. At 41 and 3/4's I am now becoming a more responsable citizen ( reluctantly). as a singlehandling dude, who finds comfort in dim light, soft jazz music a good book and a bottle of rum, and as long as the rain is only falling on my feet and not dripping on my head, I am as cozy as can be. the amount of electricity I don't use would astound most cruisers. The freedom I have due to the lack of need's has been the foundation of my ability to live the life for so long. This bare bones type of adventure cruising is not for every body. I feel guilty, like I'm betraying myself when I get on the cumfy gadget yacht's that I deliver, that's just me. I think Eric the Red, (ETR) will find a nice balance and seem's to have all the right finances, training, and attitude to be quite successful as a liveaboard cruiser. best of luck to you man.
Cant wait to meet you. There are actually several cruisers I look forward to meeting. Do love St Pete though. Ever been here? Wow... I was wrong to miss it for so many years. Great, great people, lots to do, most everything is bikeable, reasonable costs, etc.

We are in te Tortugas Nov 26-1st week of December. If youa re free and open for a sail, look for Sea Mist IV. You come, I buy the first round! Well go snorkel the windjammer together.

BTW, your attitude is exactly what I love. Does it all work for me? No. So what!?? It works for you and that is all that matters. It is also great for other cruisers or would-be cruisers to hear it. Some will be more like you, some more like me, and some off what I consider the deep end (lots of money and never leave the docks). I see them all. You do too.

Take care CA! Look forward to meeting you.

Brian
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  #28  
Old 11-12-2012
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Re: My Escape Plan - Insights Wanted

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Originally Posted by eric-the-red View Post
Thanks Brian and Aaron! And thanks Christina for the long and informative email about the East Coast Moody's.

Since I'll just be supporting myself and the boat (at first anyway, never know who might end up joining), I'm assuming I can cut the numbers Brian spends by at least 2/3 since he's got 4 people (figuring in some economies of scale on his side).

It's those monthly fees that turn into the real deal killers, and insurance is looking to be an issue. $5000 a year is literally half my budget! For what amounts to nothing but the protection of some weak words on paper that apparently I'll need to get into a marina? Do I need that just to moore up overnight or is that more of a long-term thing?

Will have to check into that more closely. This could really push me to working & saving a couple more years, depleting savings and expecting to need to go back to work after a few years, or needing to work while I cruise, which isn't exactly part of my current dream, but I suppose sacrifices must be made. That comment about how earning just a few grand working is the equivalent of mass quantities of saved money was an interesting one.

Clearly I need to put some more thought into how I can generate cash. I know I could rent my house, but that would add risk and take some of the interest earnings away as well.

I speak w/ my financial advisor tomorrow, and I may find tapping my 401k will be a big hit to my numbers too.
If you cruise like I do, you will not cut your numbers by 2/3. That is just food. THe only other exception is Live Aboard fees. If you sign a L/T contract (non-transient), they generally hit you for $50 the first person, then $25 each person thereafter. That is per month. THis is more prevalant down south (Ft. Myers Beach and Keys) than further north. In Pensacola they couldn't give a crap and it was a lot cheaper. But up north, you get a "winter" (not to be confused with a real "winter"... snicker).

ANyways, the killers are the insurance. However, My boat values at 225ish (maybe 250, I cannot remember exact). So, you could see your insurance costs less. However, the couple I am quoting was for a trawler of 125-150 value. They were Canadian, so maybe that effected it? Also, was a trawler. However, they were very experienced boaters.

Now, some good news. We are also part owners (my pops boat) of a Tayana 42 Vancouver. Insurance coverage is 150kish. He pays 1400ish/year for PNW. Because I have been patron with BoatUS, they wrote him under me (and since I own part of boat... so yours might be more). However, the point is that the cost for PNW is quite a bit less than down south. I do not know your rates in Mexico or S Ca. Other might help. However, even in the PNW (Olympia - Swanstown Marina), he had to provide insurance. I think the days of avoiding insurance are coming to an end in the US unless you really anchor out all the time. Was not that way IIRC 10 years ago. They couldn't care less. Problem with the PNW is that you really only get about 4-5 months max for sailing unless you are a harbor seal. Even they head south for the winter. Also, when you get to the Baha, there simply isn't a lot to spend money on. Food (if you will buy it) is reasonable. People are super friendly. This last part is hear-say from friends of ours that spent 5 years there.

What is going to kill your budget is the marinas and breakage. They go about hand-in-hand. Major breakage is a marina or a yard. For example, our neighbor across the slip had to replace his lifelines on a Crealok 37. THey were aluminum and he changed to SS. That was $5,000. Would have been a month in the yard too. Just one of those will screw your budget for the year.

The trick to all of this is learning to do things yourself. Aaron has mastered that, but has grown up with it. Those that have not have a steep learning curve. Yeah, any moron can duct tape something together, but when you get offshore, that is when your duct tape will be tested - not the marina. SO learn to do things right, the first time. THere is a reason sailors do things the way they do and have done for hundreds of hears. The newer boats have a lot more systems and things to break, but the lesson is the same: Learn your boat and your systems yourself. Money has less to do with it than the reality that in some places, it is only you to fix it.

Now you may be thinking a lot of negatives. I hope I have not provided them. I am giving you my perspective on things. THere are a million things to learn about being a Mobile Live Aboard. That is what we all are. But I wake up to the sea and gorgeous sunrises. I am with my kids all day. I am in an atmosphere of people that will do anything for you. I have control over my own life. It really is what you are talking about - a great life and wonderful reminder of what living is all about. The only real caution is that once you come here, it is hard to ever go back to where you left.

Let me know if I can help with anything.

Brian
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Re: My Escape Plan - Insights Wanted

Thanks Mark and Aaron, you guys are giving me hope that next fall could work!

I alluded to this before, but to be clear, I have a pretty great life right now. Great friends, good job, lots of activities that I'm passionate about, and the money to pursue them. So, escaping was perhaps a poor choice of words. But after working in cubeland for 15 years or so, I'm ready for a life change. I'd be escaping a perfectly fine "normal" life for something more exotic. And I'm not looking to find myself...I know who I am. I love exploring. I love challenging myself. And I love sailing. And I love not working. Actually, sometimes I love my work too, but the idea of having the freedom to go where I want, stay as long as I want, and explore ot to my heart's content is very appealing.

A "sea of old people" is both hilarious and enlightening. I imagine many have some fascinating tales to tell, and that I'll find some younger interesting people exploring local towns.

And if I do find I don't like it, I can always sell the boat and go back to normal life, right? I do get that simply stepping back into where I was is not likely to happen. I'm ok with this.

I've read that you typically need to put in about 30% of the cost of a boat to equip it for extended cruising. Thinking I'll need a pretty good solar power system, watermaker, maybe wind gen, and great nav electronics and a powerful and super reliable engine - not neccessarily repower, but have a mech go through everything. I can see all that running 25-30k. But you're right, I can probably find most of that on a used cruiser.

Hadn't thought about buying in Fla, but maybe I'll start looking there as well. No reason I couldn't just live in a tent while checking out boats for a couple weeks. I'm not really planning on ocean transits. Maybe after a few years try to get to Europe. Maybe. Primarily coastal cruising. I guess "gunkholing", which is a new term to me. That's when you just find a spot to anchor that's not a port or harbor? If so, yeah, that's the plan. Writing, reading, photography, windsurfing and snorkling will all be done in mass quantities. Add to that biking and busing to explore inland.

So, couple questions about "the life".

When you're outside the US, do small towns and small ports typically have anchorage spots to throw down for free or do they charge? If they have moorage bouys, what do those cost typically? What about tying up for a few days down in the Carribbean and S. America? How much is that usually?

Also, what do you guys do during hurricanes? Outrun them? Ride them out in a protected anchorage? Anchor and get a hotel? Put the boat on the hard?
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Re: My Escape Plan - Insights Wanted

DIDO.I delivered a columbia 38 from passe-a -grille to K.W. last Feb. and fell in love with the place as well. I get off the tug on the 21'st and go back on the 4th so yes indeed I'll be around. I don't know where you are staying in Key west but my charter boat is at Safe Harbour Marina on stock island. Nice funky little marina 4 miles from down town and close to the reef. Probably a little cheaper than down town. Cool bar and rest. at the dock, the Hog Fish. It's like what the key's used to be.
I'm just glad there is a bunch of us out there catch'n some wind and going places. Weather it's around the bay or around the world. On a yacth or in a dory. Would I rather cruise on 50 foot Cat with a big budget? ofcourse. I wasn't going to let lack of oppulance and funds stop me is all. I'll P.M you my phone # when I get to land. Looking forward to hang'n out.
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