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· Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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David and I currently live in the UK (Damp foggy little island near France) we will turn 50 next year and are retiring. We will have a modest income which will enable us not to have to work. Our plans are to buy a yacht around 40ft and spend the next few years as liveaboards. The questions are, what sort of yacht, health care, where to buy the yacht, advantages and disadvantages? Any advice would be more than welcome unless it's negative and advising us to stay on this damp ,foggy little island.
It would help to know a bit more. Where do you anticipate going for one and what sort of budget are you looking at? For now, a comment about health care. If you are thinking about the next 10 years or so and you are in good health, you probably can self-insure and be ahead of the game with one obvious exception. If you are planning to spend any time in the US you will need insurance there since the health care costs are astronomical. We found that costs were quite small overall. A visit to the 'private hospital' in Suva, Fiji was $12 for example. An hour+ in the emergency room of the fancy new hospital in Papeete was around $80.

I assume that there are some bargains in yachts to be had in Europe now with the weak economy but it used to be pricey there. Prices are very good in the US now and probably a bit better in the Caribbean. Before you buy a foreign boat se what the requirements are if you want to import into the UK (and EU). They have a lot of rules there I think. Also, if you buy a North American boat it will have a 110v shore power system rather than 220v which complicates things a bit.

Good luck with your enquiries.
 
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· Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Some good questions
The Jeanneau would be fine for the Caribbean, if you decided you wanted to go throughout the Canal to points unknown westward it would not be my first choice, so try to figure out what your future plans might be - of course, when we went to the Caribbean the first time we did not have a clue that we might end up sailing around the world so who am I to offer advice on this.

Almost everyone cruising in the Caribbean anchors and on mainly islands there are no marinas. For hurricane season you want to be either in Grenada or Trinidad if you are leaving the boat. This is almost always with the boat on the hard. Our boat is out of the water and a big marina that can take a couple boats on the hard and has two or three crabby docks ashore. You can google marina with Grenada and Trinidad and they have rate sheets you can check.

If you are planning to stay on the boat it is just like non-hurricane season except you stay far enough south that you can escape if something threatening starts to come your way. It will be very hot though.

As for safety, things do change so what someone says now may not be the case when you get there. Right now, Venezuela is a definite no and most of Trinidad is also a no. St Vincent has a baddish rep and there have been issues elsewhere. You just keep your ears to the ground. Some people in the Caribbean are a bit paranoid about the whole topic, but you do need to be careful in places.
 
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· Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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There are lots of boats that are better for really extended cruising. On the flip side they are likely not to be as comfortable for Eastern Caribbean cruising - smaller cockpits for example. Also budget comes into the discussion sooner than later.

If you are going to the Caribbean or southern US to shop you need to be prepared to wait if you do not find the boat you want - this means hotel and travel costs. Also, buying in the US gives you a huge selection of boats and good prices, but remember that getting to the Eastern Caribbean from the Chesapeake or Florida is not a trivial undertaking, especially with a boat that is new to you. Might make a lot of sense to make the first winter trip to the Bahamas. Then you can return easily to Florida to do the upgrades and changes you realize you need. You will be ready for the Caribbean next year.
 
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