This is my first post (of probably many) to a forum that has been a wealth of information. Sorry for it being so long or covering something previously discussed. I am going through the research and planning stage of chasing a dream I have had for a few years now ever since I first went sailing aboard a 42' ketch in Lake Huron.
After trying the whole "American Dream" of owning a home with a white picket fence and all that crap, I want out!!
I'm only 24 years old, single guy, no dependants, have a fairly solid income, and want a different experience out of life. I bought a fixer-upper house in Warren, MI and, well, it's not working out. Short version: I can't do the addition I wanted to do, don't even have much furniture or "stuff" in it, it's WAY more house than I need, and I feel like it's preventing me from getting away and having fun with life.
So, I'm working on just finishing the house and trying to sell it so I can buy a sailboat and live aboard (timeline: approx. 1 yr unless someone wants to buy a 1/2 finished house... haha). I'm okay with not owning "stuff", I am already an avid camper, and I enjoy the water and would love to just decide I want to spend a weekend on the hook in the North Channel and go. I have little sailing experience (although survived a severe 'white squall' on that 42' ketch) but know I should probably get formal lessons before buying my floating home. I have a high mechanical aptitude and am a do-it-yourselfer.
Most of the posts on this forum seem directed toward east or west coast ocean live aboards, and moving is not an option with my job(s). I am looking for a little help from some GL liveaboards.
So, what differences should I expect with Great Lakes living aboard (besides owning an ice eater for the winter)? Do you have any ship suggestions or things I need to be looking for with fresh water, single-handed, sailboats? Since I have a job to tie me to shore in the Metro-Detroit area, are there marinas along Lake St Clair or Anchor Bay that are known to be live aboard friendly? Are there boat brokers and surveyors that come recommended? Local recommendations for sailing lessons? How does the cost of living compare to other coasts in terms of slip rent, maintenance, insurance, etc.? Probably $25k+/yr of my income goes to my house (note, taxes, maintenance, utilities), should I expect the same or less if I were living aboard on a 30-37 footer? Do you have any other advice for a beginner with the will to live aboard?
Here is what I have come up with for my "dream boat", let me know if I'm dreaming a little too much:
Price: $60,000 or less
30’-37’ LOA (small enough to single-hand, large enough to cruise with some friends)
Fiberglass mono hull
Less than 6’ draft for those shallower/tricky marinas in the GL's (i.e. Blind River)
Rigging run aft or able to be run aft
Radio at the helm and navigation station
Fore and aft berths (6’+ length)
Roomy saloon and plenty of storage
L or U shape kitchen
Shower separate from Head
Minimal bright work ("low" maintenance)
Large port holes and hatches
Aluminum toe rail
Bilge pump w/ backup
Thank you for any help!