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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > Living Aboard
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Old 09-17-2008
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beginners questions

i'm doing all the research that i can now so that i may make the decision of weather or not i should live on a boat or in an apartment next year. so i have a few questions that still remain after all the research that i have been able to do on here, and i thought i'd put them in one thread just to keep my thoughts together.

first off, the only number that i've gotten for rent as a live aboard is around $450 per month total. that sounds high to me, seeing as i could live in an apartment for that. any ideas on talking him down? is this a rip off in the norfolk area?

secondly, if i'm going to be paying that much for the rent and utilities, what might i expect to pay for the gas that i may be using to cook with? i would guess i may be heating one large pot in the morning to shower with most days in the winter at least, and maybe two small pots each evening. possibly worth using an electric hot pot? i believe the stoves on catalina 27s are alcohol? is this expensive?

i may add more questions to this thread as i think of them, but i thank you all in advance for any advise you may be able to give in general. i've got a pretty good grasp on the hardships of living aboard, but to have the ability to go for a sail with notice, and live anywhere that i don't have room mates makes it worth it.
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Old 09-17-2008
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First, I am guessing that you don't own a boat yet. If that is the case, then you might seriously want to reconsider living aboard. The cost of living aboard is dependent on the boat you're doing it on... the bigger the boat, the more it will cost.

As for propane costs, the rough rule of thumb is one pound of propane, per person per week. It goes up slightly for a single person, and down if there are more people, since the usage isn't really linear. A 20 lb. tank should last you a bit over three months or more, if you're using for just cooking. If you're also using it to heat hot water and such, it will last a shorter period of time.

I wouldn't use an alcohol stove for a liveaboard. It is more expensive and less convenient than propane.

I would ask how much experience on boats and sailing do you have? Many people aren't well suited to living aboard since they're prone to seasickness.

Also, you might want to clarify what area of the country you're in. Norfolk could be Connecticut or Virginia, or probably a half dozen other places. I would guess Virginia, but that might not be the case.

I would also HIGHLY recommend you read the post in my signature, since it will help you get the most out of sailnet.
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Old 09-17-2008
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$450 a month for a 27 foot boat is $16 a month per foot. That is 2 bucks more a foot than annual rates here in rural north carolina so it is NOT a ripoff for Norfolk.
Get a boat with a propane stove. A bar-b-que size cylinder will last you 2-3 months. Get a boat with BUILT in A/C power so you can easily heat the boat and use normal electric devices.
Make sure the marina has good bathrooms open all year and a pump out service open all year! Don't even think about a porta potti equipped boat!
Be careful of hidden costs like PERSONAL property tax which is assessed ANNUALLY in some TIDEWATER locations...I know Portsmouth reinstated theirs but not sure about Norfolk or Hampton or VaBeach current situation. Be sure you know what insurance is required by the marina and how much it will cost you.
You will pay sales tax on the boat in any event.
Good luck!
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Old 09-17-2008
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thanks much for the advise guys.

sailingdog: i've read the post in your sig. thanks
i've been sailing every bit that i can for about 7 years. i haven't ever been sick on a sail boat.
thanks for the figure on gas, that is much less usage then i would have expected, so that is good news for me.
sorry about the lack of clarification. i am in norfolk, virginia.

camaraderie: thank you for all your advise.
it's disappointing to hear that i shouldn't be expecting to find cheaper slip rent, but i've been talking to the guy that i hope to rent from and he may be able to employ me enough to take care of the rent, so that would be a good deal.
i'll look into those extra charges. thanks for pointing that out.
i'll surely be looking for a boat with built in AC power. i believe it has been mentioned that the boat i am looking at now is equipped, but i'll have to check on that. if there is any area i am weak in, it is electronics.
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Old 09-17-2008
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$450 a month is equal to $200 per foot annually for 27 ft boat. It is rather high.

I believe you should be able to find a slip under $300/month for 27 footer.

Marinas normally have a shower and laundry room.

If you just looking for a boat, search for one with hot water system installed,
over wise DIY installation will run over $1000 in parts only.

You want to avoid pressurized alcohol stove, unpressurized stove is OK. You can buy alcohol cheaply in hardware stores
Another solution is to buy camping stove running on small disposable propane cans. Just store the cans outside. I did it as temporary solution. I used about 3 cans ($2.5 each at wallmart) in two weeks , 6-7 cans in a month, $30/month for cooking.
Electric bill. IT can be flat, something like $30-50/month or actual reading, depending on marina.
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well that's some good news. the marina i'm looking at wants to charge on actual reading, so i've heard $30 as an estimate. the camping stove sounds like a good temporary solution until i have gotten the stove in the boat switched over to a propane one. i don't know if all 27s had alcohol, or if some did and that includes the one that i have looked at so far.

for hot water, i plan to use one of those "sun showers". i've seen in a past thread on here that many live aboards like them. so for the days in the winter that i happen to have to get up early, i can just put a pot of hot water in there to give it a boost.

i'm going to keep looking around for marinas, and try to find one in a reasonable distance that is under $350. that's the goal price that makes this about break even with living in an apartment around here.
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If your marina doesn't have shower and bathroom facilities...you're really paying way too much... A marina should have those as the minimum facilities, especially if you're living aboard. Using a shower on the boat is a good way to get a lot of mold/mildew problems on it.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 09-17-2008
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the guy that i'm talking to now said that there is a shower at this marina. so i would be using that most of the time. i actually forgot about that haha. but i'll still need a shower on the boat for the occasional summer cruise, and the times that i may be anchored outside of my house whenever i have a break from school. but thanks for bringing that up. i can surely deprioritize my research on the shower with that in mind.

but on that note, he said the bathroom is one of those portable johns and that there is only one shower. other prices i've seen for marinas in other places are charging 450 a month to stay at a marina with very nice facilities. so i guess i'll use this to try to talk him down.

Last edited by KasbeKZ; 09-17-2008 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 09-17-2008
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Count on paying a bit more for other things in life too - bottled water, cleaning gear, ropes, general maintenance on the boat; also count on more time spent cleaning than you would think. The marine environment doesn't creep up on you, it assaults you full in the face. Things break and must be fixed (especially things related to safety, but also that head which was not designed for heavy daily usage).
Live aboard insurance is going to cost you a bit more than normal 'weekend type' sailing insurance (about 400 a year). Lying to the insurance company and getting caught is a good way to get de nada if and when.
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Kazbe...check out Tidewater Yacht Agency for rates. Nice marina...with full facilities which is what you should get for that money.
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