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Snookcatcher 04-02-2007 12:30 PM

Live Aboard Marinas in Florida
My husband and I would like to retire and fullfill a life long dream of buying a sailboat and living aboard. We are unsure where to begin with locating a marina in Florida that allows live aboards. Any suggestions?

Cruisingdad 04-02-2007 01:28 PM

What part of Florida, what type of sailboat?

If you are thinking about living aborad in SE Fl, dream on unless you have a lot of money to buy a house and stick your boat behind it. There are some marinas, but there are not a lot.

On the SW side of Florida, it is better - but not a whole lot better. There are several marinas you can liveaboard, but the fees are quite high (I think it averages around $17/foot/month), and you will be restricted by mast height and how much you draw. The bridges on SW Fl ICW are 55'.

I have not liveaboard or cruised NE or NW Florida, but understand Pensacola is quite nice from friends of ours that did.

You might really consider spending most of your time on the hook. Marinas are over rated, expensive, and unneccesary in many areas.

Give me some thoughts and what you want to do (specifics), I will give you some ideas on how to go about it.

- CD

sailingdog 04-02-2007 02:10 PM

I'd second spending most of your time on the hook. If the boat is properly outfitted, you really won't need much in the way of shore power, water or the other amenities that you get with a marina slip except on the occasional basis.

You can setup a boat to be self-sufficient in terms of electrical power, without requiring that you run the engine or a generator all the time.

You can sail out pass the three-mile limit once a week to empty the holding tank if you have the tank setup properly.

That only leaves food and hygiene requirements. Food is pretty doable, with a weekly or bi-monthly grocery store run, especially if you have a refrigerator on-board. Showering can be done using a solar shower.

Be aware that living aboard is heavily restricted in many parts of Florida, and if you're anywhere near one of those areas, you'll be bullied by the local law enforcement more likely than not.

Snookcatcher 04-02-2007 02:45 PM

Thanks for the information. At this point, we have just begun to look for places to check the price of living aboard. We currently have a 24' fishing boat that we house at a marina at Placida, Florida. However, we are within a year of retirement and are beginning to think of buying a sailboat. They do not allow live aboards at this marina. We would like to sail about 6 months out of the year. At times, we might like to live aboard in a marina. We think we want about a 40' catamaran but would welcome pros and cons about these types of sailing vessels. As we have never owned one before, we need all the advice we can get.

Freesail99 04-02-2007 02:52 PM

May I suggest a week or two cruise on a sailboat, to see if this is something you really want to do.

Snookcatcher 04-02-2007 03:01 PM

My husband has done that before and has actually taken sailing lessons. I have grown up on the water but have never sailed. Love being on the water though.

Cruisingdad 04-02-2007 03:09 PM

Ok Snook,

I will give you my advice. That is all it is, advice.

Living Aboard, FL

Contrary to the many negative comments you will hear me (and others) say about living aboard in Fl, the state does promote boating and cruising. It is a nice place to live aboard. THere are a lot of state parks and lots of places that have not and will not be developed. The wildlife is great and you are at the gateway to most of the world (including the Bahamas, which is an easy run). One of these days Castro will kick over, and I would imagine our govt's policy towards them will change (if his brother is not worse, which he could be). Regardless, it is a nice place to boat... honestly.

Now, there are many hurdles. Finding a place to put your boat is the biggest. The regulations and difficulty of developing more land for boat use (in addition to the large number of boaters) as really made slips difficult to find and expensive. In addition, many parts are inaccessible to large boats and the water is very shallow. Insurance is the most expensive of anywhere in the country (to the best of my knowledge). The area is hurricane prone and there are storms every day it seems in the summer.

The Boat:

I like catamarans a lot (don't let SD hear me say that). THey are roomy and I think they are safe. They have a shallow draft which opens up many areas that are not open to others. However, I do not think they are a good choice if you are primaarily going to be around Fl. As I said before, finding a place to put any boat is tough (esp liveaboard), now restrict it further with that floating condo, and you will really be limited. Fl is not the best place for Cats. It is not the boat, it is the area.

Since you are primarily cruising the US coast and islands, you should look into a production type of boat, like a Catalina 350 and up... that is what they were built for. It will serve you well anywhere in this hemisphere from Canada to Brazil. They are comfortable and will allow many amenities. As far as where to put it, if you are not F/T Fl, why not park it in NC or Texas where the slippage is vastly less expensive? Also realize that many insurance companies will not allow you to keep the boat in FL during hurricane season unnattended.

If you have some more questions, let me know... I will answer them as best as I can.

- CD

PS THere are other boats besides Catalina to consider... I was just naming them off the top of my head.

jamiemiller 04-02-2007 03:12 PM

Our dream is also to retire "on the water". We were just in Luperon D.R. There is a protected bay where many sailboats and the other kind are mooring. The cost for the month is $15 USD. The cost of living is extremely low there too. There are yachts for sale there also. See Luperon Boat Yacht and Property Sales - Caribbean Yachts - Dominican Republic Check out my pictures at Picasa Web Albums - Jamie Miller - :Luperon 2007
I am not saying this is the best place but it is one of many.

sailingdog 04-02-2007 03:19 PM


Originally Posted by Cruisingdad
I like catamarans a lot (don't let SD hear me say that).

Well said CD... and I heard the part about the cats.. ;) You will fall to the dark side... oh...wait that's what catalinas are...

Dock space for catamarans, especially larger ones can be very difficult. The smaller cats, like the MaineCat 30 and the Gemini 105, aren't as bad, since these boats only have a beam of 14' or so... and will fit in a larger single slip.

A lot of companies dropped Florida as a state they would cover...and the companies that remain active in the state are pretty expensive.

CD's suggestion of NC or Texas (like Clear Lake) is a good one.

One advantage that CD didn't point out about multihulls, is the fact that during a hurricane, you have a lot more places you can put the boat due to the shallow draft. I know several cat owners who have gone up small creeks and effectively hidden from the hurricane in the smaller creek, which wasn't a possibility for deeper draft boats.

Another big advantage of the multihull is you're not spending vast amounts of time at a tilt... The angle of heel on a multihull, even under sail, is generally less than 10˚. That means you can put your drink down on a table, and ten minutes later, it will still be where you left it. This is especially important as one gets older, since it means you're less likely to slip and fall and get injured.

If you have questions about multihulls, let me know... If you're interested in them at all, you will probably want to get Chris White's The Cruising Multihull and Thomas Firth Jones's Multihull Voyaging. White's book is an excellent overview of the pros and cons of a multihull boat, and goes a bit more in-depth into the construction and design of the boat, as Chris is a boat designer. Both books are a bit dated at this point, being written about twenty years ago.

Also, a lot of the charter companies have gone to having catamarans in their fleets as they are very good boats for cruising the islands.

Snookcatcher 04-02-2007 03:25 PM

Thanks for all of the info. I am sure I will be in touch as we get closer to our dream.

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