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skyreep 04-03-2012 11:55 AM

The Live aboard dream right out of college?
Hello Everybody, I just wanted to ask a couple questions.

I'm 19 years old, I live in North Carolina, I'm a Combat Medic in the North Carolina National Guard. My dream has always been a transcontinental cruise, particularly spending time in Greece, Japan, India, and South America. I joined the NCARNG so that I could begin my career as an Emergency Medical Professional, and save some money.
My questions begin in the vague planning of my time abroad. I really can't afford an eccentric plan with a yacht and 4 star restaurants on every continent, however I want to be able to do it without being miserable. So my first question is, what's the least expensive way to begin living aboard? Even if I were docked and living on a boat, I would rather be living on a boat off the coast of North Carolina than in an apartment. So is it realistic to consider calling docks about basically repossessed boats? Or would it be less expensive to consider using my time as a soldier to slowly construct my own cruiser? Perhaps just a used boat? Thank you so much for all your input!

Also, what is a good minimum size for a global cruiser for 2 occupants? 30' ?

Donna_F 04-03-2012 12:13 PM

Re: The Live aboard dream right out of college?
Welcome skyreep!

First, brace yourself for the responses. I'll say upfront, don't take them personally. That's all for now.

What is your sailing experience? That will help us answer.

skyreep 04-03-2012 12:20 PM

Re: The Live aboard dream right out of college?
Ahh well, I do have some sailing experience although there's always more to learn. I grew up spending summers in Murrells Inlet SC and took our pontoon boat out daily. As far as sailing, I took a relatively short trip to the Caribbean on a 30' (I believe) sailboat with some older friends from the Marina when I was 17 and learned some along the way. Obviously I'm far from experienced but I understand that the romanticism of sailing is nothing compared to the hardships. My questions are not "can I live on the hook" because I know it's possible and improbable. My question is, if I am going to UNC Wilmington and don't want to live in an apartment, what's the best way to go about finding a cruiser inexpensively that is capable of transcontinental?

Donna_F 04-03-2012 12:49 PM

Re: The Live aboard dream right out of college?
There are lots of variables wrapped up in your goal. It's possible, but probably not as easy as you hope. There are multiple threads in this forum from kids who want to do exactly what you want. I wish one would come back and let us know how it went, if they even followed through past posting the message.

First you'll want to identify marinas in your area that even allow liveaboards. Not all do and it's not like you can always rent a slip and then just live on your boat at the slip. Well, you could, but management will get wise to it before long. Liveaboards use the marina facilities differently than seasonal or transient slipholders.

As for the boat, my suggestion, since it sounds like funds are dear, is to purchase a coastal cruising boat. It is less expensive than an offshore boat and if you're still in school, the offshore part won't happen for a couple of years. A coastal cruising boat would allow you to sail where you are located as well as live on board. I won't get into specific brands. Others will I'm sure and it's always a contentious topic.

The size will depend on what you are comfortable sailing and how much space the two of you are comfortable living in.

You should figure out your budget. The more you can spend on a boat that is not a project boat, the better. Project boats will eat up all your spare time fixing the boat rather than sailing. They are also expensive if you can't do the repairs yourself. There will always be something you can't do yourself. In the end, you probably could have purchased a "sail away" boat.

Also included in your budget thoughts should be the cost of the marina. Depending on the economy in your area, it may or may not be less expensive than a small apartment (and the small apartment would give you more room).

Before you think more about heading off to points unknown (or up the coast for that matter), I heartily suggest that you get some sail training and classroom instruction so you can learn your legal responsibilities, required equipment, navigation, rules of the road, etc.

I've forgotten a ton of things, I'm sure, but others will fill in the gaps. And of course there will be those who only post "Just DO IT!" which is always helpful.

Good luck!

Donna_F 04-03-2012 12:56 PM

Re: The Live aboard dream right out of college?
There is some good information in this thread (and a link to another related thread)

skyreep 04-03-2012 01:02 PM

Re: The Live aboard dream right out of college?
Thank you very much, of course, I am one of those kids with big dreams but I try to be as realistic as possible. I really just prefer living as an oddball I spose. I spent my first two year out of High School in a hand built cabin experimenting with the whole "Self-sufficiency" game and although extremely self-gratifying it was a difficult one and one that's not very feasible with college, and monthly drill obligations at the other end of the state. Frankly, my plans are to (hopefully) figure out a live-aboard scenario until I finish up at stint with the military and can proceed in global endeavors.

When I was younger I had dreams of building my own cruiser but I believe that idea has set sail. I won't be jumping into anything too terribly soon as I have training until February of next year and then I would need to work on hunting down a coastal job before renting a slip.

Is the idea of finding an impounded boat for a couple thousand feasible? The savings are good to go, with more than enough, and Basic and AIT will give me $9,000 ish. But of course, I'd rather not spend all of that.

Donna_F 04-03-2012 01:15 PM

Re: The Live aboard dream right out of college?
Here on the Chesapeake decent, sail-away condition boats are auctioned each year at the maritime museums. You might try googling maritime museums, charitable boating organizations in your area. Often boats are donated to those places so they can sell the boats and keep the proceeds. I remember last year someone posting that a Hunter 30 was auctioned for a couple thousand dollars.

Very infrequently, some boats can be found here: Bone Yard Boats

But you'll be getting a project boat for sure. I guess if you were into building your own boat at one time, something from here would be a step up.

jrd22 04-03-2012 01:29 PM

Re: The Live aboard dream right out of college?
Welcome to SN Sky.
DR's advice above is good and I'm sure people from your area will add advice about marinas that allow liveaboards.
The only thing I would suggest is that you are describing two different boats; a cheap live aboard for a few years and a blue water/ocean crossing sailboat. The former is relatively easy to find and in this economy there are lot's of cheap boats available. Since you want to get some experience sailing as well as living aboard I would look for something that is in basically good shape with decent sails. Even if it is a bit of a project boat, but basically sound, you will benefit from learning some of the basics of boat repair and maintenance which you will need to know if you go offshore. When you are ready to go you will have a better understanding of what type of boat you want for extended cruising, and if you've made some improvements to the live aboard you might even make a few bucks on it (but don't count on it:-)). Good luck with your plans.

peterchech 04-03-2012 01:38 PM

Re: The Live aboard dream right out of college?
It seems to me that every boat is a project boat, even new boats right out of the factory ;)

Check out craigslist.

A old Hunter 27 can be bought up here in the NE for about 7 grand, in livable condition.

If you can stand an old 25 footer (less headroom but with a boom tent and an open hatch it's not that bad, esp in the South), there are lots and lots and lots for about 3-4K, again in livable condition.

If you look around, such boats can be found even cheaper than that, but buyer beware...

Try to find something that the PO was good with maintenance on. Sails and rigging ideally should be in good shape (if not, take that fact into consideration when negotiating price)

There are some great threads here on finding a cheap, solid boat so I won't go into that

Pretty much all older boats in that price category (and many in a much higher price category) are going to have leaks and such. I bought an old (1981) 25 footer that was in decent shape, but leaked under the rails when it rained. This year I took it out of the water and did, basically, a refit. If you have time but very little money this may be the way to go. It will cost under $1K, including haul out cost, if you are careful (and if you don't have to replace sails/rigging), and will take about a solid week of work.

Take off and re-bed the toe rail, and all other deck hardware. Re-bed and inspect all chainplates. Check under any large cracks in the gelcoat for leaks and rotting or else wet core. Rough up the old bottom paint, and check for blisters (they will be there). Fill those blisters and re-paint the bottom. Check the rudder for play, and fix if possible. Check all the rigging, and consider replacing. Check the wiring, if severely corroded consider replacing that too. Service the engine or outboard. (online you can find out how to do all of these things if you are unsure). Check any through-hulls while the boat is out as well. Most likely the original plastic ports will be glazed and leaky, mine had leaked into the core and rotted it for inches around the ports. For $100 get a sheet of tinted lexan and make new screw-on ports.

Buy Don Casey's book, "This Old Boat", used if possible.

Coastal cruiser is the way to go for now, because even an "offshore" boat will likely require lots and lots of mods ($$$) to make it offshore ready. And you don't even know what you will be doing and what you will need at this moment so...

However, very old Pearson Tritons, Cape Dory 25's, and certain Alberg Vegas can be found for under 5K if you really look around, and all are offshore capable with some mods...

Over time you will spend mucho dinero on things you never thought you wanted or needed, and the list of things to do will NEVER be completely done. NEVER. Did I mention, NEVER? Yes, NEVER be completely done, but through this first boat you will learn what is actually important in a boat and the next one will be chosen wisely and with plenty of time and hopefully a more significant budget.

Chadfunk48 04-03-2012 01:43 PM

Re: The Live aboard dream right out of college?
It is definetly worth going to and calling around to local marinas and seeing what they have. 2 years ago my Brother in law found a Hunter 27 for $1500, needed a new diesel and sails. So it came out to be about $7,000 total to get a usable boat. Most marinas will have some boats that owners have just abandoned and the marina takes possesion, or owners who throw a 'for sale' on their boat and stop paying the yard fees etc. Anyway, to answer your question, it is totally worth it look at marinas and see what they have laying around.

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