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  #1  
Old 03-12-2007
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Outfitting a boat for living aboard away from the dock.

Pretty soon we will be cutting our docklines and heading out on anchor to save money. We've got a 1972 Pearson 36. So far ive started setting it up to be to be self sustaining.

Eletrical: So far ive got an AirX wind gen and a portable generator. I will be installing 4 golf cart batterys within the next week. We have a few lights in the boat, a DC tv, and some fans. We dont have an inboard motor for recharging, so its pretty much going to be the windgen and poor old Kawasaki 700watt gen. Im going to be redoing all of the wireing and replaceing the lights to a little more effecient ones. Our lights right now are some that i made that use house style 12v bulbs. I havent measured our useage yet, but will doso before leaving the dock.

Water: This is a bad area for us. Our boat had 2 30gallon tanks when it was new, but somewhere down its life one got removed. The other tank is nasty and im not into useing it. Ive got 2 11gallon plastic tanks that im going to install soon. Maybe ill clean up the 30 gallon and start to use it again. As for the head, there is a huge holding tank for it, and we are going to anchor right across from a marina with a pump out so that wont be an issue.

As for getting back and forth to the boat, ive got a 10' jon boat with a 3hp motor and ive got a 14' skiff with a 3hp motor. I live aboard with my wife, 2yo girl and 3 month old boy. We plan on dropping a mooring to hold us to the bottom. Ive got 3 brake drums off a flatbed trailer(80-90lbs each), my plan here is to bolt 2 together and wrap a chain around them then send them to to bottom.

Any input from anyone already living this life would be helpfull. We have been living on the boat for about a year now.
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Old 03-12-2007
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Electrical:

You should probably add solar to the mix... since it can help quite a bit on the sunny days. I would replace most of the bulbs you have with LED-replacement bulbs, since LEDs draw much less electricity than incandescent bulbs. I would also recommend that you get an LED-based anchor light, like the one from Orca Green Marine or Lopo Lights. Since you're going to be anchored out, it would make sense to have an anchor light that draws the least current as possible.

Water:

You don't say where you'll be anchoring most of the time, so I can't give you any really specific recommendations. I would clean up the 30 gallon tank, as it would give you 50 gallons of water. I would also try to find out about replacing the 30 gallon tank that was removed. How often were you planning on moving the boat to re-fill the water tanks and pump out the holding tank? Another thing that helps conserve water is a saltwater pump in the galley. If you are in relatively clean waters, you can often use saltwater for doing many tasks aboard, like washing the dishes.

Transportation:

A 10' jon boat isn't the most stable platform for use as a dinghy. I don't know enough about the 14' skiff to say whether it is suitable for use as a dinghy.

I've also got some serious doubts about using the brake drums as a mooring. I don't believe that they are sufficient weight for a 36' saiboat. Also, there may be some legal issues with using them as a mooring. In many states, a "permanent" mooring requires a permit of some sort, where an anchor does not.

It would help if you said where you are planning to do this, as the water conditions, bottom conditions and laws will vary...
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Old 03-12-2007
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Though I have 66 gals of water capacity on my boat, I don't use any of it for human consumption. Instead, I buy distilled water in gallon jugs for cooking and making tea. I have one 6 gallon jerry can and can carry 8 more gallons in the place I have for them. Also, the empty jugs come in handy to avoid filling the holding tank with liquid.
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Old 03-12-2007
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We will be in Charleston SC. The water is dirty salty crap that i dont even flush the head with(yet that may change). The bottom is pluff mud. As for the solar idea, its in the mix down the line a little ways. I have plans to build a hardtop for over the cockpit and plan on adding at least 2 large panels up there. The 30 gallon tanks are built into the hull and the damaged one is cut away, all that remains of it is marks on the hull from where the saw cut it away. We will probley go to pump out and fill the tanks about every 2 weeks. I dont have a problem jerry jugging some water back and forth either. Ive also thought of collecting water off the hardtop. As for my 14' skiff, its pretty stable and my wife likes it so that is going to be her dingy. Im not into inflatables, and ive got the jon boat, and 2 skiffs, one 12' and one 14'.
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PBZ-

Way too much information... at least the last sentence was...

SVDS-

I think you'll probably have to make water runs more often than every two weeks, and if you're going to go to the marina, you might as well pump out each time you do it. With two adults, even a largish holding tank is going to have trouble holding out for two weeks. Add a toddler and an infant to the mix, you'll probably want to be making trash runs more often than that anyways.... diapers reek.

Flushing the head with fresh water is one good way to help keep the smells in the head system down.

The bottom doesn't sound like it is very good holding ground... and the shape of the brake drums makes it very unlikely that they'll hold well in it.

It sounds like the saltwater pump for the galley is a non-starter, given the description of the water conditions there.

I agree with PBZ about using the fresh water tank water for non-potable purposes, and using bottled water for cooking, drinking, etc.

If you're going to be jerry jugging it... I recommend that you get the 2-1/2 or 3 gallon jerry cans, rather than the five gallon ones, since they're a good deal more managable. They're also a bit easier to store. Don't store them on deck, as that will tend to degrade the jugs, since the UV attacks the Polyethylene.
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Telstar 28
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 03-12-2007
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I will be cutting the docklines myself later this year. From reading what you said, it seems to me, you are trying to do this ultra cheap and have not given it a lot of thought. Things are not just going to fall into place. Let's look at the water issue alone, do you plan on drinking rain water from your cabin roof ? How are you going wash it down and how are you planning on keeping it clean. Do you have a filtering system in place ? Where is that water going ? You said you don't have a problem jerry jugging water. Where is that water coming from ? How do you plan on bathing ? You have plans for any hot water, it does get cold in Charleston. You may want to look into a flexable water tank for the area you use to have a tank in. You also state you will fill your water tank every 2 weeks. 30 gallons of water does not go far. I think you have a few i's to dot and t's the cross.
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This isnt something im jumping into with no thought at all. Ive been planning this for the last year now. Im building a hardtop for the cockpit and considering collecting rainwater off it. As it is now, we dont drink from our water system anyway, i get filtered water from my grandparents house. Im redoing the water system soon and will be adding a filter. As for hot water, ive got a 6gallon 120v heater that i may or maynot keep once on anchor. We also have one of those portable camping propane powered instant heaters. I can stick it on the cabin roof with a tank hooked to it and run the hose into the head via the hatch. We have anchored out before, but the boat wasnt any where near ready for it. Ive got so much to do in the next month its not even funny. Im going to be removing loads of gear that dont need to be there so i can add more tankage for water if needed. As i said before ive got no inboard, so the former home of its fuel tank and other gear can become homes for tanks. Ive already built shelves where the motor should be and the former fuel tank home is going to be home to the 4 golf cart batterys. Ive also got a motorhome ive been picking parts from for other projects, kinda wondering about the water tank from it now.

The area where i will anchoring has so many boats with no anchor lights, im not even going to bother with it for the time being since getting it working will require wire up the mast and a new masthead light. My boat has had bad owners for the last few years that let everything go on it. Yes i will admit im doing things on the cheaper side of life, but i wont skimp out on important stuff.
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SVDistantStar-

I hate to say this, but you're beginning to sound like one of those boats that caused Florida to pass all these really nasty anti-anchoring laws about... I'm not saying that you are... but you have a boat that is in poor shape, from your description, with no inboard, and you will be living aboard it, with three brake-drums as a mooring anchor...

I really hope this is not the case. Those particular types of boaters have caused enough grief for those of us who want to enjoy the water...

If you're going to think of using a propane-powered water heater, I highly recommend that you install propane fume and carbon monoxide detectors. This is particularly of importance, because toddlers and infants are more susceptible to CO poisoning.
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Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 03-12-2007
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Its not like ive got no motor at all, ive had a 40hp evinrude mounted on the transom since last year. As for that propane heater, its going to be on deck, never inside since it scares the h*** out of me. I plan on added the dectors since ive got a propane stove already. My boat really isnt in as bad a condition as i make it sound, but its not new. She looks a little rough on the outside, but shes a seaworthy craft and once the topsides and deck are painted, she'll look good again. The anchorage where im heading has boats that look alot worse than mine.

As for the mooring, that was a future idea and for now it will probley be either the 22# danforth or the 25# claw ive got. Ive still got alot to do in the next month, but it shouldn't be too hard.
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