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JDRichlen 03-05-2012 11:04 AM

How to live aboard? possible?
Ok, So I know this question has been asked thousands of times here. However, I would like to get into the community and participate in the forum so I will ask it anyways. I recently (3-4 months ago) discovered the possibility of living aboard a small sailboat, and fell in love with the idea. Now what I want to know is if people in the community think that its a possibility for me.

I have been cruising the forums for the past couple months and reading everything possible that i think would apply, and reading alot of these "can I live aboard" posts. So I will give you some background information and what I'm hoping to achieve living aboard. Please keep in mind that I have absolutely no sailing experience. This is another challenge. If anybody could tell me how to get some experience sailing I would greatly appreciate it. I have posted ads at the local marina's offering a hand and to split expenses to anybody that is willing to let me tag along and learn the ropes. I am a navy veteran and have a fair bit of nautical knowledge, just no sailing knowledge.

So these are my basic ideas and parameters. All of which are flexible. Im just getting into this and taking everything slow as I feel I would really enjoy this lifesyle if i can get into it correctly. Im not trying to jump into anything and get over my head.

- I am a single 25yo male
- living in daytona beach, fl and will remain here for a while
- I would plan on getting a slip at one of the local marina's for the convenience of going to school and work.
- I would like to get a boat to live aboard, but also do weekend trips and day sails.
- I would like something that I could sail solo.
- My initial budget for a boat is roughly $10k
- while at the dock I would use shore power and water
- I seem to favor the sloop design for its simplicity over other setups
- initial thoughts are that i would like something between 25-35 ft.
- slip fees in the area seem to be around 8-10$/ft and 50$/month for utilities. which is far less than what I'm paying in rent.

So please any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Anything you can offer about getting experience, finding a boat in my budget, if you think i can find a boat in my budget, if you think its possible to learn or grow my knowledge on a 30ish foot sloop, or any advice you can think of. The plan is to, if possible, get experience and find a boat by september of this year. Is this realistic? or do i just have a huge pipe dream?

And thank you so much to anybody that replies.

killarney_sailor 03-05-2012 11:27 AM

Re: How to live aboard? possible?
I think that it is entirely doable within the parameters you suggest. I would think you would be best off looking for a smallish boat that has standing headroom. Probably in the 26 to 28' range. This makes your dockage costs lower and is easier to handle when you are learning. The boat you get now will not be the one you keep indefinitely so look for what you can get by with. Don't spend all your capital on the boat - there will be lots of upgrades/fixes needed. Check Craigslist, and ask around at marinas to find the best bargains. These should be lots of very cheap (less than $5k) boats that would do it for you.

Also, you need to learn how to fix everything on your boat or it will get very expensive very quickly. Nigel Calder's book on electrical and mechanical systems is worth its weight in gold. If you don't them, be prepared to buy quite a few tools.

JDRichlen 03-05-2012 11:38 AM

Re: How to live aboard? possible?
The maintenance of the boat is a big deal and I know this. However I am a licensed aircraft mechanic and was a sonar technician on a naval destroyer. So the maintenance im not really afraid of. I have a general working knowledge of most the systems and the confidence that I could do most any repair. Also I have my FCC "GROL" and electronics technician certificate. Im not afraid of maintenance, but also not looking to jumping into a boat i have to rebuild before I can liveaboard

Donna_F 03-05-2012 11:46 AM

Re: How to live aboard? possible?
I agree with Killarney.

Unless you get really, REALLY lucky, just about any boat in your price range will be a project boat. You need to factor in whether you're going to do most of the work yourself (learning along the way if you don't already know how to do something) or spend the money for someone else to do it. Your new boat may not immediately be sailable.

That said, initially at least, owning and living on a boat may not be less expensive than living on land, especially once you add to the slip fee the potential repairs, replacement costs, insurance, etc.

You might want to narrow down your boat size, start getting catalogues (or look online) and spend some time randomly picking common items that need replacing and note the cost. A 25 foot boat is going to be immensely less expensive than the 35 foot boat at your high end. A 35 foot boat is going to even be much more expensive than one that is 30 feet. You'll be surprised how much the cost of stuff goes up with only one more foot of boat. And if you're considering an older boat? Even more because sometimes right when the new owner buys the boat, stuff that has worked fine for 20 or 30 years decides to stop running or breaks. Ask me how I know.

Also, I would suggest under 30 foot as a boat to learn how to sail on unless you really want the extra living space. If you want the larger boat, you might consider taking classes on a smaller boat or crewing on other people's boat for the learn how to sail part of your plan.

Good luck with whatever choices you make.

Donna_F 03-05-2012 11:49 AM

Re: How to live aboard? possible?

Originally Posted by JDRichlen (Post 840436)
Im not afraid of maintenance, but also not looking to jumping into a boat i have to rebuild before I can liveaboard

Then you might want to add an additional 10K (20K for the 35 footers) to what you are willing to pay or buy a boat within the 26-28 foot range.

JDRichlen 03-05-2012 12:02 PM

Re: How to live aboard? possible?
Well at the moment I have the 10k saved for the specific purpose of acquiring a boat and doing anything i need to to atleast get it seaworthy. after that i could slowly continue work on it until its the beauty i dream of. So you think my starting fund of 10k is a little bit of a pipe dream or am i not to far off target? I will also have an estate sale once i find my boat in order to get rid of all my crap thats collected over the years. The profits of this wont be large but they will all go towards making the boat more livable.

night0wl 03-05-2012 01:03 PM

Re: How to live aboard? possible?
The first post from this thread is always where I point people evaluating living aboard to save money:

killarney_sailor 03-05-2012 01:09 PM

Re: How to live aboard? possible?
I suggested a smaller boat (26-28) with your budget. A $10k 35' boat almost has to be crappier than a $10k 27 footer - and if you cut back a bit to save for 'incidentals' to say $6k then even more so.

You are used to working with your hands and brain so that will be a big plus. The systems on the boat are not complex, but they will be old and are subject to a difficult environment.

Faster 03-05-2012 01:16 PM

Re: How to live aboard? possible?
Have you confirmed the 'legality and availability' of actual live-aboard slips in your area? It seems these days live aboard friendly marinas are far and few between, at least in our neck of the woods...

Lots of people do tend to 'sneak aboard' but that can backfire on you eventually.

Agree your budget is tight for anything truly liveable over 25 feet, esp if 10K includes 'making it seaworthy and liveable'... At least in FL you won't be too concerned about cabin heat, thats a big plus on the liveaboard equation.

Good luck.. keep us posted.

JDRichlen 03-05-2012 02:12 PM

Re: How to live aboard? possible?
Im not trying to liveaboard in order to save money or live cheaply. I just want to get out from under this feeling of being tied down by my material goods. I just posted 25-35 foot to indicate that i know i have a tight budget and that I know I wont be able to single hand anything larger. especially with little to no experience. In reality i believe i would be very well suited in something around 28ft. And there is a liveaboard marina right in town here that seems like a very nice location and well protected from wind and wakes.

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