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Old 01-18-2010
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Oh My, job loss, lifestyle change & living aboard

Hi everyone,
I'm Karen and I'm new here and am seeking some advice. We have encountered a lifestyle change as a result of my husband being laid off from his long term job,actually the job loss has been somewhat of a blessing, we have had to reevaluate the way we live and have been downsizing and living much, much more simply, although we lived fairly simply before this. I've been a stay at home, homeschooling mom for the last 6 yrs. to our youngest son 13 yr. old Dylan.

Living on one income was a challenge to begin with, no more new cars and keeping up with the maintenance on both of our cars that have well over 200,000 miles now.

So then came the job loss, prospects are slim, but you know we are feeling strongly about not going back to a life of factory work. A "daily grind" so to speak.

We are a year out from floating our mortgage on our savings account, when the savings is done we are done.Selling our home of 16 yrs shouldn't be a problem and would give us the money to buy a boat.

In comes the sailboat idea, been reading a lot about living aboard, and it sounds like a very good solution,I'd rather live on a boat then in a cardboard box

But here is also where I am with all of this, We live in Missouri, I've been on a boat on the ocean once , deep sea fishing, years ago and man oh man did I get sick

My biggest concern is seasickness for me, for my husband and son who have never been on the ocean in a boat. But there are so many people who sail do any of them get sick and what do they do, on a rocking boat, on the ocean, docked or cruising ? I have an image of us buying a sailboat and all of us hanging over the edge barfing our guts out,Ewwwww.

And my one other concern that I can think of is being on land all his life can a 13 yr. old (almost 14) adjust to life on a boat? smaller spaces and what about when he wants to get his drivers license, job and the like?I should probably know all the answers to these questions. I haven't been able to find much information about teenagers living aboard.

I have to tell you that cruising around Florida or even the world almost makes me giddy, love tropical warm places.

For a job we would just have to stop here and there and work, somewhat nomadic I know but OK with us as long as we are together. I have 2 adult children and 4 very young grandchildren and would miss them so much.My husband and I are young yet, I'm 42 and he is 45 so physically I know we could do this and I am an adventurer myself, having grown up on a large farm here, doing edgy things was my middle name, jumping out of barn lofts , scaling large trees(my version of climbing Mt. Everest),fending off gnarly pigs and mad cows, whooooo hoooooo Oh that sounds almost exciting , well it was as a child but now I think I feel up to more adult adventures.

I'm certainly not oblivious to the fact it would take some adjustment and may not be the easiest at first but it seems like all the folks who have done this have been extremely happy they did.

And things seem to keep pointing us in that direction, I am waiting for that one last nudge, that sign, that pushes us over the edge, out of fear, and into freedom. freedom from daily life on land and trying to keep our heads above water.


Unless of course we win the lottery and I have my big, beautiful, sailboat, named "Momentum" and our gorgeous, tropical, secluded, ocean front, Island home. Now wouldn't that be the icing on the cake.


~Karen

Thank you for any and all comments or support you may have in helping us in whatever direction we decide to go.

Last edited by Monark; 01-18-2010 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 01-18-2010
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Karen

We had just settled on our boat the week before the bottom fell out of the financial markets. Within a few weeks I had lost my job, technology jobs are very hard to come by, and at my age, nigh impossible.

We immediately put the house, the lot, and the boat up for sale. Not a single offer on anything in over a year, even though we dropped prices through the floor.

We lived on the boat, as it is much cheaper utilities, most of last year and finally rented the house a month ago.

I tell my employed friends to save, cut back and save some more....all on deaf ears. You can not put the brakes on fast enough to shed the debt you will need to shed, we are still struggling. No savings, nothing left.

We are hoping to keep the boat at all costs, as we can easily live aboard and have done so.

To your point...many questions remain, and I am not sure that I could encourage your buying a boat until you answer these questions honestly and you can get your husband to do so as well.

It is not a fairy tale, and is flat hard at times.

You and your family will be living in extremely close quarters, with minimal privacy - my wife and I call it virtual privacy...

Boat systems are notoriously finicky and fail at the worst time...you will need to be very handy, learn to do without or PAY someone else to fix things.

It will still cost money to slip, live and repair the boat. In my part of the Bay, slips run about $3K a year - payable quarterly. Then you will at least pay metered electricity and a liveaboard fee..about $50 and $150 respectively, monthly.

You will still need to deal with water on board, pump outs of sewage/holding tank and other things that are just there and work silently on land.

I would not worry about being sea sick, it happens to us all at one time or another. On my Beneteau, my wife got green every time she sat below at the dock. Never when we were moving...on the Hunter we have now..not been sick.

Is it worth it? For us an unqualified yes. YOu get to see, feel and hear things others only read about. Whether it is the stars at night or a heron walking the dock 2' in front of you. It always changes. The people are and have been wonderful. The challenges are many, but the rewards immense.

For us, the simple life is great, and when we get the kid through two more years of college, I think we will even make it.

What will it take...
sell the house at what you can, and never look back or revisit the decision again...many can not do this and the blame eats them up for ever.
no eating out, we have had two meals out since last Thanksgiving (both while visiting the families over the holidays) learn to cook now, and plan to while on the boat. You will need to learn to live with a very small refridge/freezer no matter what boat you decide on.

This is too long now, so think about this and what the others will post. It is a lifestyle change ...and one that is well worth it.


Settling for the boat you NEED, not the one you want.
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Old 01-18-2010
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Karen,

Welcome to Sailnet!

Re: Seasickness -- Sailboats are generally speaking more forgiving on the stomach than powerboats. So there may be hope for you. Also, in addition to the lessening of symptoms that usually comes from acclimation, there are medicinal remedies as well. But everyone is different, so there's no predicting whether you or your family members will be afflicted at all or to what extent. You'll have to find out.

A much bigger concern in your case is that you are considering a huge lifestyle change without knowing much or anything about sailing. Sailing is a wonderful pursuit, but it is not one that provides instant gratification to novices. In other words, it's not entirely realistic to think that someone can just sell their house, go buy a boat, and sail away into the the yonder. That could be the recipe for a very unhappy outcome.

I would suggest that you take some baby steps first, to see whether this is for you. Some sailing lessons in daysailers on a local lake would be a good place to start. From there, you can work up to larger boats, and perhaps charter a cruising boat for a family vacation. That would give you a good taste of the lifestyle and what it entails, before jumping in with two feet. Maybe it will be everything you hoped and dreamed for -- here's hoping that's the case. But, if not, you might just avoid a costly mistake.

Best of luck!
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Old 01-18-2010
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Hi Karen,

You have already received some great replies (esp. kd3pc), so I will keep mine short.

These are hard times, and you're not alone in wondering about the future. See the Market Crash - are we there yet thread for more on the situation, and inciteful replies to where we're heading.

You mention that you are up to the challenge of living aboard. How does your husband feel? How about your 13 year old son? Realize that living on a sailboat will make you all much more, uh, "intimate". You all have to be committed to the decision, and the lifestyle, in order to make it work.

Assuming that you actually want to sail somewhere, while I admire your spirit, but the risks that you mention have been all your own (jump out of a loft - break your leg, fall from a tree - break your arm, caught by a bull - you get gored, [forgive my ignorance, but what can a pig do to you?]). Assuming that you are in North America or Europe, there is always help readily available and nearby. Cruising on a boat requires that everyone know how to operate the vessel, and appreciate the risks and consequences of their actions and inactions. To relate it back to your examples; caught unprepared in a storm - ALL hands lost. You can't call for an ambulance when you're 10 miles from shore. When you do call for help, it's going to take time to get there.

Jumping in to a new lifestyle would be hard enough. Adding to the stress; the need to acquire new skills, your propensity toward seasickness, and the substantial outlay on a new-to-you vessel, (maintenance, insurance, etc., etc.) would be, IMHO, irresponsible.

Also, I've been out of work for over a year, and keep looking, but have no prospects at this time. Good luck to all of us, and may 2010 be better than 2009!
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Old 01-18-2010
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Can you do it? Sure.
Should you do it? maybe.
NOW is the time to have a family meeting and figure out if everyone is on board. If everyone is enthusiastic, then NOW is the time to create a plan, and put that plan into action. Unemployment can either be devastating, or an opportunity, depending upon your point of view and your plan.
so, IF everyone is on board, and IF everyone is enthusiastic, and IF everyone wants to get hull wet, right now you still only have a dream that everyone has bought into. You have to turn that dream into a goal.
What is the difference between a dream and a goal?
A goal is a dream with a timetable and a budget.
Determine when you want to set sail. An exact date. Day, month, year. Make it realistic, attainable with a bit of pressure. "Tomorrow" is unattainable. "June 12, 2020" has no urgency- you will never make it happen because there is no unrgency to do so. Write that "set sail" date on the fridge door, in permanent marker. NOW it is REAL.
okay, so you have a date, now how about a budget? We can help, but this is something that you and your family are going to have to get together on. Once you have a solid figure, double it. NOW you have a REAL figure.
Take that REAL figure, divide it by the number of weeks until your set-sail date, and that is how much you have to save, make, or find each day. Write this on your fridge door in permanent marker. NOW it is ALL REAL.

Are you hesitant to permanently deface your fridge? Then you aren't ready to set sail yet. Your fridge is more important than your dream.


If you have had the family meeting, if you have come up with the numbers to inscribe on your fridge, then you have taken your first steps. The rest is just momentum.

One last thing. make sure your son's decision is HIS, uninfluenced. There is nothing of greater help on a boat than an enthusiastic teenager having the adventure of a lifetime, and nothing will make a cruise more miserable than an unhappy resentful adolescent.
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Old 01-18-2010
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OK you've "been on a boat once" and your biggest concern is seasickness? Not your ability to sail or maintain the boat? This is not a well thought out plan.

It sounds like you're just looking for the easiest solution to a difficult situation. Doing something because it seems to be the easiest solution is usually not the right solution.

You need to be passionate about wanting a cruising lifestyle. You can do it, but you will have to work hard at it BEFORE you start looking for a boat. Sailing can put your life and your family's life at risk if you don't know what you are doing.
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Old 01-18-2010
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Nah, the sea sickness is not a big deal to probably 99.999% of people. I would not worry about it. Crap, I might even get sick on one of those stink pot volmit (I mean fishing) expeditions!

The boating lifestyle is awesome, hard, expensive, and free all in one! You get to pick which one you want to focus on. I seem to do a bit of al of them. We have two kids on board, 6 (now) and 9. It is easy with them as the age is right. However, they have been on boats most of their lives. I am not sure how a teenager would make the transition. Everyone here will give you an opinino on that, but only you know your child and their temperment. I will say that if they are engrained in friends, it could be hard.

There is a great book by Tom Neale called 'All in the Same Boat'. Get it. It is cheap and a grea read. I am a huge proponent of his thoughts and they mirror mine. At the very least, it will give you a feel for what to expect. He raised two girls on the boat.

If I can help answer any questions, let me know. However, my viewpoint is tainted as I recently sold everything to do this and make it happen. And my little sailors take sailing seriously, see....



HEHE!

Take care,

Brian
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Old 01-18-2010
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First, some very sage advice given by my peers... I'd point out that many people who get seasick on powerboats do not get seasick on sailboats for some reason, and that there is a very big difference between monohull sailboats and multihull sailboats, and some are much better for some people than others... One of my good friends, who is now on her boat awaiting a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream, used to get violently seasick on a monohull sailboat....any monohull sailboat. She tried a catamaran and the issue has become much less of a problem—it hasn't gone away entirely, but it is now a reasonable thing to deal with.

Yes, a teenager can get adapted to a cruising sailboat lifestyle, provided he actually has an interest in doing so. One who gets violently seasick and doesn't care at all for sailing probably wouldn't do well....but if he loves to sail and loves spending time on a boat, then the adaptation is relatively simple.

I would highly recommend that you and your husband take at least a basic ASA 101 course—preferably separately—and get all three of you out on sailboats in varying conditions. Getting some time on sailboats is key to figuring out whether this is doable for you and your family.

Ed's points about you and your husband both being able to handle the boat single-handedly is a very key one. Cruising couples, even with a 13 year old son along, are often effectively doing just that.

If, after you get some time in sailing, and you and your family decide to make the leap.... start off with a reasonably sized boat that you can singlehand if necessary and start by day sailing and then weekending, and work your way up to longer and more challenging passages. Not only will this allow you to build experience, but it will also let you learn about your boat and its quirks.

You should also do as much of your own maintenance and repair work as possible, since these are skills that will save you money and possibly save you and your family in the future.

BTW, this is highly doable. My friend, who I mentioned above, never sailed before the last two years or so AFAIK. Yet, this past year, she, her husband and son, have bought a boat, spent much of the spring and summer learning how to sail her, and are now on their way to the Caribbean. Needless to say, I'm damn proud of the three of them.

I'd point out that a boat that is capable of doing this is not necessarily a huge expense. Another friend of mine recently bought a 30' catamaran that would be pretty good for a family of three to go cruising on. The boat was relatively inexpensive, and with a bit of sweat equity, some upgrades for cruising and a new set of sails, they could easily be cruising for less than $35,000 all told.
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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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Last edited by sailingdog; 01-18-2010 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 01-18-2010
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I notice that, although they don't all agree, all those above have very good advice. We're sort of Missouri sailors. My wife's family is from Shelbyville and mine from Springfield, but we've been living on the sailboat since 1972,- mostly in Florida. I would only add that it's far more realistic to expect to economically survive living aboard with a job secured in one location and staying at a home port with ocasional cruises. It's far less likely to be able to remain mobile and continually "pick up" work at new ports. You will have a better chance of adapting to life aboard if you don't start with fulltime cruising. Also, the best slip rates and availability will bein the SE from the Chesapeake to the Texas Coast, with the exception of the "resort" marinas.
'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 01-18-2010
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I'd point out, that while slips are very convenient, a properly outfitted cruising sailboat can sit on a mooring for far less money. With a marina launch service or a dinghy, access is not much worse.
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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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