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  #1  
Old 02-09-2008
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General Route Planning

Here is my rough plan. I'm finishing my degree in Eng, after deciding that I didn't enjoy my initial career as much as I had hoped. Due to a lucky combination of thriftyness and employer education reimbursement, I expect to have about 15,000 in cash plus a good credit score and no debt at the conclusion of my degree. Since I'll have to change jobs anyway, I intend to take a year off and do a coastal cruise. I'm in Texas, and so I need to sail out of Houston, since on that budget I need to minimize my non- sailing travel expenses. I've crewed on a cruising boat and I have a small learner boat for the lakes around here, as well as an spot as crew for a bigger race boat so I'm expecting to be fairly competent in the mechanics of sailing and boat repair by the time I leave.
Here's my questions:
When you are doing the long term planning for a cruise, how do you determine the general direction and time of year that is most appropriate? In theory I'd like to leave from houston in midsummer and go west around the gulf of mexico into the caribean then back up the islands to florida and finally back to houston. Is that too much for one year/ 18months?
How much boat is needed for that? I'm single and I don't think that the intended plan is considered blue water so my intention is to buy on finance a 27-30 foot used production boat and make payments out of the 15k budget, then when i'm running low, come back to the states and start my new career.
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Old 02-09-2008
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Simon,

Not to be a downer, but most banks will require that you have steady income before they will loan you money. The interest or investments proceeds from $15K normally would not amount to much and wouldn't qualify as steady income. If you presently have a job with steady income, make sure you get that loan before you resign.

Even if they would loan you the money, you would burn through that $15K pretty fast between acquisition costs (survey, etc), down payment, loan payments, insurance (required whenever a loan is involved), fitting out the boat, and general living expenses. So plan carefully, and maybe adjust your expectation about heading out for a full year.

I'm sure you'll get some good itinerary advice from folks who know those waters. Good luck to you...
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Old 02-09-2008
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My job now is pretty good compared to my spending habits, so the purchase of the boat and the outfitting is going to take place while I finish my degree. I work full time and go to school 1/2 time so I have two calendar years to finish my final "year" of my degree. My budget for the boat is ~ $10,000, financed before I leave my job with a 5 year term, and with about $3000 cash for fitting it out. That plan would leave me with the $15,000 in the bank at the time that I sail. From that point the $300 or so a month to keep up the boat loan would need to come out of the 15,000 cruising money.
I'm 30 now and have worked for Texas Instruments for 10 years so the initial finances are not too daunting but the ongoing finances will need to be pretty carefully planned. I've never not had steady income so that alone is a little nerve racking. Is $10,000 for year of barebones cruising with 5000 for making the boat payments, insurance, maintenance unlikely to work out?

Last edited by Simon123; 02-09-2008 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 02-09-2008
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Actually, now that you've fleshed out the details a bit, it might be do-able in a bare-bones way, given your circumstances. The one hesitation I have is that it can be tricky getting a loan on older boats, and 27-30 foot boat at $10-15K is going to be a 20+ year old boat, and not necessarily a pristine one either.

I think most folks in your shoes would be looking to make an outright purchase (rather than borrowing), which will limit your financing and insurance costs. Yes, you can deduct the interest on the loan for tax purposes, but if you don't have any income that won't help you.

At this stage, rather than focussing on your itinerary, I would suggest you begin by identifying a boat. Then inquire with your lender whether you can even get a loan on that particular model given its age, and finally study the financial feasibility of your plan carefully and adjust where necessary. Then pull out the charts and plan your route...

Perhaps others will opine....
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Old 02-09-2008
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Simon...I think you need more bucks. Could you buy the boat and live aboard while you continue to work and pay the loan down and build up the cruising kitty a bit?
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Old 02-09-2008
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I would have to agree you need to concentrate on the boat first. My own experience is that it will cost you more than you plan on, no matter how well you plan. And taking off to foreign waters without any real cushion can be troublesome. Not, that it can't be done, but it certainly won't be easy. Good luck with your plans, none-the-less.
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My work is in Dallas so I can't live aboard here without incurring significant trucking charges to get the boat to the nearest part of the gulf. I don't have a specific boat in mind but I was considering older production boats, things like catalina, pearsons, or hunters. I'm going on the assumption that I won't be able to afford something that is appropriate for an ocean crossing, and on the idea that I will be roughing it for a year and then move back on land to more comfortable housing. I'm from AK and grew up in a semi subsistence lifestyle so I know I'm comfortable in a very minimal lifestyle (and I'm single which in itself allows for a lower standard of living)
What I could do is stay at my current job after I graduate and build up some cash that way. I could perhaps wangle a room in one of my buddies houses to cut down living costs.
I have perhaps $50,000 (I track it quarterly so the market bounces don't stress me out) reserves that I keep as my end of the world money. So if it's a matter of getting out of a Mexican prison I have that but if it's a matter of having to take a 3 week bus trip up from south america to get home after the boat sank, I'd just use a credit card and pay it off later.
I'll go talk to my credit union this week and find out about boat loans, I didn't know they were different than a car note. How long should I try to own the boat before I sail? What's the ideal balance between spending the kitty on marina and maintenance for a boat you aren't ready to use heavily and sailing off on an unknown boat for a year.
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Simon...I think you can buy a boat that is suitable for single handed coastal cruising for the budget you have laid out. My focus would be a sound hull, rig, sails AND most importantly, inboard engine in GOOD working order. I wouldn't worry too much about the brand...condition will be everything. A boat in need of extensive refitting will cost you more than you can afford so a survey and engine test by a diesel guy will be money you should allocate...figure $500-1000.
You can cruise coastally with not much more than a GPS,Depth Sounder, Compass and VHF radio so there is no need to invest in lot of electronics.
You will need some safety gear starting with a GREAT anchor and rode that will keep you safe in any blow. Since you will be at anchor most of the time...you will need some way to charge your batteries and provide some auxillary power to charge cell phones etc. so I suggest a small A/C portable generator.
You can do all this with your $13k budget...especially if you like to do scut work like sanding the bottom, rebuilding the heads, etc. yourself. Marina UNSKILLED labor at $50-75 bucks an hour eats through a budget very quickly.
Now...you say you will have $15k in the bank but need to make $300 buck a month payments...so effectively you have $11,400 to work with.
That is a bit less than $1000 bucks a month to pay for:
Diesel fuel, boat repairs underway (figure at LEAST $1000), customs and entry fees, moorings and the occasional marina slip, and personal expenses for food, medical,clothes, internet connectivity, showers, water, alchohol etc.
A very tight budget but if you can live frugally you might be able to do it just cruising around the Florida Keys and crossing to the Bahamas...but you also need to consider what you will do during hurricane season...You can take your chances and be prepared to lose everything or you can head north on the ICW or coastally...but this will be hard on your budget.
Even another $5k in the bank would really make your ability to do this for a year more likely.
Good luck with the decision making.
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Old 02-09-2008
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There are people trying to sail alone on 200K boats who need crew for broader ranging adventures. You dont have commitments and could have the time. Sure having your own boat is good and there are compatibility issues but if you were actually available for a substantial haul, rather than skimping you could save your money and do more.
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Old 02-10-2008
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Camraderie - I do enjoy working with my hands, as a side business I buy and restore condos that have been trashed. The general consensus I'm hearing is that I need to have the boat taken care of in addition to the $15000 for cruising. I have to go back through my budget but that shouldn't be impossible. I've been following the anchoring discussions, on my stint crewing, I got to experience the joy of motoring backward through an anchorage while trying to pull in 150 feet of chain on a broken windlass. It made the holding/resetting power of an anchor a much more interesting subject.
Chris - I genuinely never thought about that. My first crewing experience was a friend of a friend type setup and it never occurred to me to look for a crew spot. That's a great contingency plan if I have the time but not the money.
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