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strandedsooner 02-15-2013 12:09 PM

Ideas and/or guidance
Let me first say that I love this site and have spent more hours than I would like to admit gathering lots of great information. I am on my second boat and sail on a small reservoir in Kansas. I also have taken ASA courses and did a bareboat charter in the BVI a couple years ago and am planning another week in April 2013. The cruising bug has bit...HARD. However, I am 38 and have 2 kids so I need to work. I also don't really want to take a sabbatical for a cruise (although I may reconsider this as an option later if my other thought isn't possible).

I am a physician and can potentially change my practice and have 20 weeks off. I am looking to find a situation where I can cruise approx four months of the year and work the rest with a couple weeks of vacation in reserve. I also then could have the boat in charter with a good outfit on the east coast somewhere the rest of the year. That way someone is keeping up on the maintenance and it would help defray the costs. The thoughts of doing the Caribbean 1500 every year and cruising the eastern caribbean are appealing except we would be gone during the holiday season and that is the busiest time of the year in my practice. It would be an easier sell to my colleagues if I was gone January-April when it's not as busy.

Any Caribbean based boat would lose valuable "High" season charter time if I was using it during that time. So I'm not sure that is the best option. I'm thinking that a Florida based boat might be the best option? With the Bahamas nearby and potentially the eastern caribbean if the "thorny path" was taken. Also just cruising the ICW and Florida seems interesting. Another thought would be to have a southern california based boat and cruise Mexico during that time. However I know the baja haha fleet leaves at the end of October so I don't know how feasible it is to go to mexico from california in January. Both the Florida and Socal/Mexico options would leave summer/fall charter revenue streams intact.

I guess I would just love some feedback on this idea or any other ideas that might make sense given this time window Jan-April and the possibility of charter income the rest of the year. Respected charter company information would also be great. I should also mention that I would have to get a loan on the boat so any other information about how that could potentially change plans as far as insurance companies are concerned, etc. would be appreciated.

If you are still reading this I appreciate your persistence on such a long winded post and thank you so much for any ideas or information. :)


Cruisingdad 02-15-2013 01:13 PM

Re: Ideas and/or guidance

I am 41, have two kids (9 &12), live aboard and cruise. We have been doing this on and off since about 2000. Honestly, we know little other than this life. That being said, here are my opinions:

First, I would probably not do the charter business. My opinion, but I see those boats pushed hard. If you are going to try and make this work for you and your family, especially as a 4 month/year liveaboard, then set the boat up as you like it and make it your second home. Since you are taking a loan out, you will be able to write off the interest on it anyways. While you are not on the boat, just put it on the hard. However, you might also condier leaving it in the wate for long weekends/vacation time outside of your norm??

Location? Boy, the Carribean would sure be tempting. However, your costs are going to go up a lot on everything, from outfitting, slippage, insurance (which you will have to have), etc. Our insurance for 225k policy is 2800/year which includes all the gulf, bahamas, and all of the east coast. Our last quote to head to the carribean was 4800 I think.

I would conisder keeping the boat in the St Pete area. There are lots of yards, not much of a winter (which prevents having to winterize), and lots of areas to cruise. You can head to Pensacolla which has beautiful hills and blue water for the end of spring, or sail down to the TOrtugas to what is I think the most beautiful area in the US, or spend some time in the keys snorkelling off the back of your boat, or jump to the Bahamas for an even more exciting adventure. I am not knocking the Carrib, but I would personally start here (and did start on the West Coast of FL). The west coast of Fl has a lot to offer for anchorages, nice people, and reasonable rates (for FL).

Happy to answer any other questions.

Take care,


IslanderGuy 02-15-2013 01:56 PM

Re: Ideas and/or guidance
As to California, the reason the haha leaves in November is that's the end of the hurricane season in Mexico. IIRC, it starts up again around June, so your January to April time frame would work out well there. Then the rest of the year it could be chartered in California, north of the hurricane issues.

Also, I agree with Cruising Dad, seriously look at whether or not you could do this without chartering the boat out. Living on the boat 4 months a year, your going to want to be able to do little customizations to make you life easier which might not work so well on a chartered boat, and having lots of your own stuff on board all the time will make it feel more like home and less like a hotel. Not that it couldn't be done, perhaps this is the right choice for you and I'm sure others do it this way and love it, but for me I would rather buy a cheaper boat that could be all mine then a nicer boat I have to share :)

As to which is better, California or Florida, I have sailed neither yet, but Florida / Bahamas would be awfully tempting. It may also be possible to start on the east coast, then in a few years truck it to the west coast for a change of pace. (I guess that might depend on the size of the boat.) Seems like if you sailed to Texas one year and had it trucked over to the sea of Cortez, it might not be too outrageous of a price, but again, I am talking about something I know nothing about! :)

kellysails 02-15-2013 02:02 PM

Re: Ideas and/or guidance

Originally Posted by Cruisingdad (Post 990587)
First, I would probably not do the charter business. My opinion, but I see those boats pushed hard.

Could not agree more. My wife and I chartered boats world wide for a good 15 years. While we were careful with the charter boats we saw so much abuse by others towards the boats that I would never EVER put a boat in charter. The tax laws have changed so much to the disadvantage of the charter boat owner, not worth it. My CPA said I would certainly be a huge target for the IRS if I tried any "business" write-offs on the charter boat. Just not worth it in many regards.


Originally Posted by Cruisingdad (Post 990587)
Location? Boy, the Carribean would sure be tempting. However, your costs are going to go up a lot on everything, from outfitting, slippage, insurance (which you will have to have), etc. Our insurance for 225k policy is 2800/year which includes all the gulf, bahamas, and all of the east coast. Our last quote to head to the carribean was 4800 I think.

Caribbean, $4800, ouch, I had no idea it was so expensive for insurance while operating down there, crazy! Dang!

caberg 02-15-2013 02:51 PM

Re: Ideas and/or guidance
That would be a great opportunity to have. Personally, I'd save, save, save until I could buy a boat for cash, spend 4 months/year on it, and keep it on the hard the remainder of the year.

As for location, I'd probably do Florida for reasons mentioned above. It might be worth checking out some options in Puerto Rico. We've stayed in and sailed from Fajardo. San Juan was sorta sketchy, but Fajardo and the nearby islands are amazing.

johnnyquest37 02-15-2013 03:04 PM

Re: Ideas and/or guidance
Could you move closer to the water? If you lived and worked in Virginia, Florida, Washington, Great Lakes region; you could sail weekends, beer can races, and vacation cruises. One of the best things about sailing is puttering around on the boat. If the boat is a plane ride away, you'll not have that aspect.

I was "trapped" in Kansas for a while for professional reasons. Scrached my sailing itch with a few offshore races and chartering until I could back near the water.

caberg 02-15-2013 04:31 PM

Re: Ideas and/or guidance
I don't know, I'm pretty sure I'd jump in heartbeat at 20 continuous weeks on board vs. being a weekend warrior year round.

sparrowe 02-15-2013 06:55 PM

Re: Ideas and/or guidance
Eric, in your situation I might look for a partner with complementary flexibility in their annual schedule. Or, you might find someone willing to 'share' his/her boat on a non-equity basis. I keep an eye on on Craigslist for these kind of options - and what I see runs the gamut from a 16' Hobie Cat in Lincoln, Nebraska to something as nice as a newer Freedom 36' based at the San Francisco Yacht Club in Tiburon. In some cases, a person advertises for partners intending to decide together on what to buy.

Yes, there are all kinds of potential problems involved with partnerships. But the same is true of putting one's boat in charter service. Plus, you might find yourself in a more interesting boat that you can tailor a bit to your own preferences, rather than buying what is popular for charters - like a Jeanneateau with a roller furling main. (Hey, I lease-shared a Jeanneau 40 for a season and it was an enjoyable boat, but if it were my money I'd go for something like a Tartan.)

strandedsooner 02-15-2013 06:59 PM

Re: Ideas and/or guidance
Thanks for all the responses they are greatly appreciated. It sounds like almost everyone says to avoid chartering if possible which seems reasonable. Might be better to go smaller/older on the boat to keep the price down. Then I can just keep it on the hard the rest of the time. The place I did my sailing courses (San Diego Sailing Academy) might be the one place I would trust a boat to charter. Those guys kept those boats looking awesome and took care of the little things that invariably pop up on a boat. However you are still at the mercy of the charterers in the end.

I'm thinking I need to get hard numbers on the associated costs of insurance, dry storage, etc for various locations and then see what makes the most sense. If I'm not going to charter the boat then I could check into keeping the boat in the Caribbean somewhere and then just fly in/fly out. I met a cool group on my last trip to the BVI that were doing a circumnavigation in stages that way. They would cruise and do a leg then leave the boat on the hard until they had more time. That was at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour so I'll check into some arrangements like that. However, I also loved sailing in Florida when we picked up our Seaward a couple years ago so that would be an awesome option and probably half the cost.

As to johnnyquest37 question about could I move somewhere closer to the water, that is definitely something that I have seriously considered. I actually just turned down a coastal position for numerous reasons. The thing about my current position is I could take more time off for the same amount of $$$. Unfortunately physicians get paid less in prime coastal areas. Not to mention my cost of living in Kansas is super cheap in comparison to California, Washington, Florida, and some other places I've checked out. This plan seems to make the most sense to me. As far as boat projects and the "putter" factor I still will have my 26rk to mess around on when I'm back in the mud puddle.

Thanks again for all the responses and keep them coming. Be brutally honest too if there is something really stupid about this idea also. I have thick skin :D


strandedsooner 02-15-2013 07:03 PM

Re: Ideas and/or guidance

Thats an intriguing thought about the co-ownership possibility. That could actually be perfect in the right setting with the right partner/s. Thanks for that input. I'll check out craigslist. Maybe even Latitude 38 or other similar magazine might have something as well.

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