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Old 01-11-2012
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Best U.S. city for sailing on a budget

hey forum,
I will be wrapping up my college career this spring and, like most of my peers, can not realistically anticipate making any real money for at least the next decade.... So riddle me this? What is the best U.S. city to live in for sailing on a budget? Opportunities for paid and, of course, unpaid crew positions, formal ASA or us sailing training, length of sailing season, open sailing community in general, and cheap housing, public transit, are all considerations. I'm interested to know your opinions! Thanks.
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Old 01-11-2012
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If I were looking today i'd check out Florida. You could perhaps find someone that's willing to rent dock space to you on "their" canal. It's not "legal" but it's done alot there. A friend in Ft. Lauderdale has around 70 feet of dock space but doesn't rent because he doesn't want the traffic through his yard. Several houses up from him there are some liveaboards that are quite happy though!
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If I were you, I'd look into somewhere like Charleston SC or thereabouts. FL seems to get too hot in the summer, and the West Coast is too expensive...Charleston seems to do some cool stuff Charleston Raceweek 2012 | April 19-22, 2012
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You might look into Annapolis Maryland. Can be cheap if you go about it the right way- roomates renting a house. The sailing there is really big (big boats, small boats) and you can always find a crew position on a day race boat. Night life is big if you are into that kind of thing. Baltimore and Washington less than an hour away for some big city life as well as major airports and transportation. I lived there in the 80's up to late 90's (when I was young) and had a lot of fun. The place has changed a lot since then, but the sailing is still big- you should at least check it out- you might like it.

Should also point out between Annapolis, Washington and Baltimore, there may be a job that suits you.
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Old 01-11-2012
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My vote would be West Coast of Florida. What the waters lack in depth, they make up in gunkholing opportunities and somewhat sheltered sailing in large bays like Tampa, Fort Myers/Cape Coral. The Keys are a decent 1 week trip away and the Bahamas can be reached if you have more time.

I'm on the other coast of Florida - Fort Lauderdale to be specific. The challenge with sailing this coast is that its all ocean. Between Fort Lauderdale, on the outside the next "anchorage" to the north is ~30 miles of boring sailing looking at condos. To the south, there is Miami which is great...but again 30 miles to get there. Its only doable on a long weekend unless you use the engine a lot. So staying in local waters...it gets a bit boring to just daysail and then park yourself in Lake Sylvia or the Middle River. If you're ok with living in Miami/upper Keys, then Biscayne Bay is your plaground and that can be very cool...but being a protected reserve makes some activities restricted...plus you're dealing with the crowds from Miami.

West Coast of FL is blessed with lots of anchorages...but be advised to get a shoal draft vessel (5 feet or less) with a rig less than 55' to clear all the bridges on that side. That limits you to approximately a 35' vessel or slower, larger vessels.
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I'd recommend San Francisco (or anywhere in the Bay Area). There's tons of sailing and learning opportunities as well as a long season and great public transit. However, I wouldn't necessarily say it's good for a shoestring budget as housing can be outrageous. Still, if you look around I'm sure you can come up with something that works. As an added bonus, all the hoopla that comes with the America's Cup race will be at your doorstep.

I lived in SF for 5 years and can't say enough good things about my experience there. I was a grad student at the time, so I too was on a small budget but made it work.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaltersmi View Post
I'd recommend San Francisco (or anywhere in the Bay Area). There's tons of sailing and learning opportunities as well as a long season and great public transit. However, I wouldn't necessarily say it's good for a shoestring budget as housing can be outrageous. Still, if you look around I'm sure you can come up with something that works. As an added bonus, all the hoopla that comes with the America's Cup race will be at your doorstep.

I lived in SF for 5 years and can't say enough good things about my experience there. I was a grad student at the time, so I too was on a small budget but made it work.
I'm sorry, but *nothing* about San Francisco is budget or shoestring. California is high tax, high regulation, high cost and San Francisco is probably the most expensive city in the state.
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Depending on what reduced standard of living you are willing to tolerate almost anywhere can be affordable.

For a longer sailing season on the east coast, probably southern Chesapeake to Coastal Virginia and North Caroline, for short mild winters and infrequent hurricanes.
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I can be legal to rent a live aboard slip behind a house in Ft. Lauderdale with a attached pump-out hose as long as the neighborhood covenants/restrictions allow, but I agree that there's no place to sail except out the inlet. Charleston and even the Chesapeake is hotter than south Florida on summer days, though a little cooler at night. Annapolis, San Fransciso, Boston & Newport are great sailing towns, but "stupid expensive" by my judgement. The inexpensive sailing towns run from the southern Chesapeake to North Florida (Deltaville, Hampton, Norfolk, Oriental, New Bern, Georgetown, Charleston, both Beauforts, Jacksonville, Titusville) and on the Gulf Coast,- Ft. Myers, Bradenton, Tampa Bay, Tarpon Springs, Panama City, Pensacola + some Miss-Ala-La-Tex places that I'm not familiar with.
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I'm sorry, but *nothing* about San Francisco is budget or shoestring. California is high tax, high regulation, high cost and San Francisco is probably the most expensive city in the state.
Agreed (and mentioned in my original post). But, it can be done at modest prices. I did it for 5 years on a student's income and have zero regrets. There are a ton of sailing opportunities in the area.
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