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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My partner and I are fairly new sailors in the Washington, DC area. Recently, we've been thinking about getting a weekend home as an escape from the city on the weekends. But it recently occurred to me that we might also want to consider a boat that we could live aboard and sail around the bay on the weekends as well as looking at country properties nearby.

Is this a crazy idea or a good idea? Has anyone here tried it? I've sailed boats but never owned one, much less slept on one.[1] What factors should I consider while researching possibilites? Is this a probitively expensive plan - would boat costs, maintainance and marina fees make a country house look cheap in comparison?

And as this is the 'buy a boat' forum - what would be good candidates for a weekend home on the Chesapeake? I doubt we'd do off-shore sailing, and both of us are fairly rugged outdoorsy types - we wouldn't need something fancy to live aboard but would not like to be completely cramped.

Thanks!


[1] I am however planning to take a live-aboard cruising course this year so would be able to test how much I like living aboard well before this plan would be executed.
 

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Floating Chesapeake Home

Lot's of folks do this. My parents and various cousins all have done it or are doing it now. My parents did it on a big stink pot as currently does one of my cousins. My other cousin did it for awhile in a 34ft O'Day sailboat and now has a Sabre 402. He then bought a house on the bay and now parks his "Sabre 402 old home" at the end of his dock.

As far as boats, there are too many to list. For two people, I'd look for a boat in the 28 foot or greater range. However, to be classified as a second home for tax purposes, the boat needs to have a sleep area, galley (stove and sink), and a permanent toilet/head. Most, not all, boats under 27 ft or so, won't have a proper head or galley.

As far as what to look for in a boat, depends on really what you want to do with it. For the Chessy though, look for a boat with a shoal draft keel or a CB. Deep draft boats won't allow to go to a lot of the fun anchorages.

Dock or Mooring costs will vary all over the map. Figure $150/ft on the West Shore and maybe a little less $ on the East Shore. Tha's for a full marina. I don't know about a mooring.

DrB
 
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It can certainly be a fun way to spend weekends. We owned a Catalina 30 when My daughter was younger and we spent nearly every weekend on it for about 8 years. It was the perfect getaway.

One thing to consider however is that property for most part goes up in value, while boats, even great ones, go down. If that doesn't bother you it sure doesn't hurt to start looking! Looking's half the fun.

It took us nearly a year to find our current 'primary residence'.

You can spend hours at yachtworld.com. A good way to get a general idea of how much you're going to need to spend to get something like you want.

I personally wouldn't look at under 30'. Too many compromises below 30 feet, but that's just me.

Also need to consider where you're going to keep it. Could have a big affect on your cost. Might even be difficult to get slips in some areas. There's a sight called ActiveCaptain.com that can help you find marinas and info on them. Then a phone call or three should tell you if slip availability is an issue.
 

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As long as you are NOT going to leave the dock (even better if you leave it on the hard), I would suggest a Telstar 28.

More seriously, how much $$? It all comes down to money.

- CD
 

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I have had the same thought here in the pacific northwest. With the economy down used boats are a good deal and there are purchase opertunities for slips in condo style marinas. The boat will not increase in value, but marina spot should. If the boat is not close to home, keep maintence issues in mind. Spending a bit more for a boat in good condition and with low maintenence properties (no exterior wood, simple systems) will be worth it in vacaiton time saved.
 

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No, DON'T DO IT!! Stay away from the Chesapeake Bay, toooo many boats out there, and the people are rude and they especially hate sailors. Sometimes it feels like bumper boats out there. There are sharks too...and they eat boats for breakfast. :D :laugher ;) :)

Get an RV and go down South.
 

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We go to our Waterfront Home every weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the tips so far

Lot's of folks do this. My parents and various cousins all have done it or are doing it now. My parents did it on a big stink pot as currently does one of my cousins. My other cousin did it for awhile in a 34ft O'Day sailboat and now has a Sabre 402. He then bought a house on the bay and now parks his "Sabre 402 old home" at the end of his dock.
So I assume this means they enjoy having a boat as a weekend home? No downsides that they've complained about?

It can certainly be a fun way to spend weekends. We owned a Catalina 30 when My daughter was younger and we spent nearly every weekend on it for about 8 years. It was the perfect getaway.

One thing to consider however is that property for most part goes up in value, while boats, even great ones, go down. If that doesn't bother you it sure doesn't hurt to start looking! Looking's half the fun.
Something like a Catalina 30 was exactly what I was thinking of, so I'm glad you weighed in. And yes, a boat is definitely more like a car than an house in terms of investment value. And the tax treatment will likely be different also. These are drawbacks, as right now I am in a high tax bracket with no deductions whatsoever (I don't have any children or own my apartment) and a fairly undiversified portfolio (just stocks and bonds). But they are drawbacks that would be off-set by having a weekend 'getaway' that I could go exploring in, and also exploits one of the best outdoor resources in the area - the beautiful Chesapeake.

More seriously, how much $$? It all comes down to money.
I don't have a budget yet. This is a plan I would need to save for, which is why I'm trying to assess how enjoyable it would be and how much boat and budget I would need to make it happen.

One more question - I don't think I would much care to spend a great deal of time in the marina, but would like to explore more remote areas on the weekends. Does that make a difference in the ideal boat and docking situation?
 

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Chef,

You forgot the nettles! You know, the little sob's that sting you everytime you jump in the water to cool off.

EM,

Seriously, a boat makes a great second home and the loan interest is tax-deductible!

When I couldn't find a piece of property I could afford on Lake George, NY, my wife convinced me to buy a boat. We lived on that boat every weekend, from May-October, and had a fantastic time. It was also nice knowing that for $18K, we got to swim and play in the same water that the rich folks did. It was the release valve needed for all the stress we accumulated during the week. I'm still boating 22 years later.

As far as the Chesapeake goes, it's a great cruising ground. I think of it as a Thomas' english muffin, with all sorts of nooks and crannies to explore. Practice your anchoring skills and the Bay will become your personal playground.

As far as boat choices go, sail if you plan on taking long cruises, sail or power if you don't.

Sail pros-Less expensiive to purchase and maintain, use less fuel, peace and quiet, hold their value, and you'll get immediate acceptance into the sailing community.

Sail cons- Deeper draft, longer operational learning curve, more work involved, and slow speed.

Power pros- Fairly shallow draft (for example my 35' Mainship only drew 3.5 ft.), can get you where you want to go quickly, easier to operate, shorter learning curve, and usually offers more creature comforts.

Power cons- More expensive to operate and maintain, high noise level when operating, bigger depreciation, and sailboaters will generally hate you.

Whatever you decide, a boat makes a great second home and if both of you enjoy "camping on the water" you'll never regret your decision.
 

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No, DON'T DO IT!! Stay away from the Chesapeake Bay, toooo many boats out there, and the people are rude and they especially hate sailors. Sometimes it feels like bumper boats out there. There are sharks too...and they eat boats for breakfast.

Get an RV and go down South.
This sounds like Brer Rabbitt saying, "Don't throw me in the briar patch!". We've been living aboard since 1972 with a few of those years in the Chesapeake. Look at some of the marinas in Solomons, Galeville or Deltaville. These are good "liveaboard" areas. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Exactly the encouragement I was hoping for

Seriously, a boat makes a great second home and the loan interest is tax-deductible!

When I couldn't find a piece of property I could afford on Lake George, NY, my wife convinced me to buy a boat. We lived on that boat every weekend, from May-October, and had a fantastic time. It was also nice knowing that for $18K, we got to swim and play in the same water that the rich folks did. It was the release valve needed for all the stress we accumulated during the week. I'm still boating 22 years later.

As far as the Chesapeake goes, it's a great cruising ground. I think of it as a Thomas' english muffin, with all sorts of nooks and crannies to explore. Practice your anchoring skills and the Bay will become your personal playground.
Exactly the encouragement I was hoping for. (I was half-expecting that mostly I would get warnings about the drawbacks of boat ownership and marina life.) The more I think about it, the better I like the idea. In the years it takes me to save up for the boat and slip, I can work on my cruising and docking skills (and on turning my dog into a sailor).

If you are still in the Adirondacks, I envy you. I love that area and try to visit every year. Beautiful lakes, wonderful hiking - it's a wonderful area.
 

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Em,
This is exactly how we use our boat sailing out of Long Beach Island NJ. It's our weekend getaway-shorehouse-day sailer-long weekend sailer. It also happens to be a Catalina 30, and after a lot of looking we felt it was the best boat for this kind of use. We have the shoal draft wing keel, which is what you want on the bay. We love our boat and it's been perfect for us.

That said the perfect boat for us may not be the perfect boat for you.
Definitely spend time on yachtworld.com prowling the listings. But the only way to really find the right boat for you is to spend time crawling around different boats and really spend time sitting on them. Spend time in the cockpit and spend time below. After ten minutes you’ll notice a lot of things you’ll never see on a quick walk through.

Marinas come in a lot of different flavors and personalities as well, and even within a marina you'll find different docks have different personalities. Do you want every weekend to be animal house or do you prefer a quiet setting? Just ask around the marina and you’ll find out pretty quick. You’ll also see a huge variation in slip prices on the bay ranging from $3000/yr to $6000/yr for a 30 footer.

The good news is you’re right in the middle of some of the best sailing on the East Coast. Annapolis is ground zero for the sailing world, and on the western shore you’ll find everything from old time marinas to marinas that are mini-resorts.

Don’t stress, enjoy the search, finding the right boat can be a lot of fun.

Good luck,
Jim
 

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BITE ME BBQ BOY, damn bastardo sujo *******.
As long as you are NOT going to leave the dock (even better if you leave it on the hard), I would suggest a Telstar 28.

More seriously, how much $$? It all comes down to money.

- CD
 
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I don't think I would much care to spend a great deal of time in the marina, but would like to explore more remote areas on the weekends. Does that make a difference in the ideal boat and docking situation?
You'll want to have your boat where you can get places w/o spending half the weekend getting there. And avoid a 2-3 hour down river trip to the bay as the r/t will eat up a chunk of a daysail. And you should avoid long drives with potentially backed up traffic.

Although I like Baltimore you'd have a trek down the Patapsco. That's time you could be using to get across the bay from other locations.

Much though I like Annapolis, in the summer the traffic on Rt 50 can back up approaching the bridge, and that messes things up well to the west. But you could look into going out Central Avenue and getting to the South River.

A liitle south of that the Edgewater, Mayo, Galesville region is a very good place. Nice sheltered waters with a short trip to bay. And from there you can find good sailing in any direction with nearby landfalls for day trips, and many places to explore on weekends. You could also consider Deale.

I would avoid going down to Solomons as the drive would be a killer. Much better to have a place you can get to in half the time. (After a long weekend of sailing that loooong drive back up to DC feels twice as long).

I will stay away from mentioning guns, religion, the international fascist - or is it socialist (I forget) - conspiracy and the patriotism of paying taxes, but will bravely and gingerly risk advising you to have a draft no deeper than 4 feet. Especially considering you are both new to sailing and new to sailing on the Chesapeake. If you can get less draft that's even better.

Don't spend a ton of money on your first boat.
 

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Don't spend a ton of money on your first boat.
I don't want to hijack this thread with another topic, so I'll just say there are two schools of thought.

One is buy cheap and old for your first boat because you'll want to buy something else after a year or so anyway when you figure out what you really want.

The downside is a cheap old boat will require a lot of time spent fixing things and when it comes time to sell you probably won't get back all the money you put in.

I looked at that equation, and my limited time, and bought a boat that was in really good condition as my first boat.

I still spent time working on it, that goes with any boat, but I was able to spend more time sailing. When it came time to sell it was a lot easier to sell a boat in great condition.

Neither approach is the "right" approach. You need to figure out which one is right for you. That's part of the fun, looking at all the different options, discussing them with your wife/girlfriend, and figuring out what your dream looks like.

Jim
 

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Not spending a ton of money (new boats in the 30ft range can cost a few hundred thousand dollars), and buying "a cheap, old boat that will require a lot of time spent fixing things" are not the same thing.

And no matter how much you spend, "when it comes time to sell you probably won't get back all the money you put in" is almost true. Fact is, no matter how much you spend, you will not get back all the money you put in.

I respect the difference of opinion, but given the staggering cost of new vs used boats today I have strong opinions. For a couple new to sailing, I do not advise spending big on the way in. There are many well cared for used boats out there, boats modified by people during years of experience with their boat, that are available for a fraction of the cost of new. And there are a number of boats that have been carefuly groomed and modified with hi quality components for retirement living and cruising that instead, in advance of the planned use, are sadly up "for sale for health reasons." I could make a long list of such that I saw during the first years of the Millenium when I was looking.

When I think back on the cost of new vs good used when I got into sailing 30 yrs ago (when I bought new) compared to now, the spread is orders of magnitude greater now. The difference easily in 6 figures. I think the loss in value after several years of owning a new boat is far steeper than a well fitted used boat after the same number of years. It is simply staggering what new boats coast these days.

A well cared for and fitted out used boat that has a good survey can be a safe buy. We all agree you do not want to get a used fixer-upper. A good survey is an absolute essential.

Several years ago I saw boats in the $32-44,000 range, 33-37ft, that were in excellent condition, very well equipped, that would be ideal for a couple new to sailing, who would be in the Chesapeake and tributaries, which would be comfy as a weekend home. For new multiply by 5 to 10 times. And if you double the potential spending amount for used you can find a great number of used boats in good conidtion to choose from.
 

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Trekka,
It's one of those examples of how easy it is to misunderstand a posting. Obviously I misunderstood you post to mean "buy cheap". And I think from your response you thought I was advocating buying new. Actually I think we agree on this. Last year I bought a 95 Catalina 30 in the upper end of the price range you mentioned. She needs some work (all boats do) but is basically in very good condition. And I think it would be foolish to purchase without getting a survey.

As for the cost to value ratio of new boats, well that's a whole other thread...

Jim
 

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Em,
I decided I wanted a boat after my seperation last summer. Call it a mid-life crisis, but I'd always wanted my own boat after sailing my friend's boat for years. I drove around to different marinas and looked at many boats.

I finally found a Columbia 26MKII for 2k and bought it. It was on the hard in Deltaville but I wasn't planning on keeping it there for the next season. I spent weekends working on her over the winter and finally got her in the water in April.

My boat is a full keel and draws 4'6". I quickly learned what these guys have been saying about shoal draft vs. full keel! I ran aground 3 times on the way to Gloucester, but I learned a lot on that trip! Expect the unexpected!!

I found out that getting towed off a soft grounding can coat upwards of $800. I also found out what it's like to take on water while in the middle of the bay and trying to figure out where it was coming from. I realized I had failed to check the scupper drain hoses under the cockpit sole and had one that was dry rotted. I fixed it with some plastic bags and duck tape on the fly.

The other gentleman are correct, get a survey on the boat you choose and address all of the issues. I was a newbie and learned the hard way. I will say it was quite an adventure and I learned a lot about my boat in the process!

As far as marinas go, I looked long and hard before deciding on mine. Deltaville will cost you double from what others are charging. It's also a bit stuffy in my opinion but I'm a poor guy so that's said tongue-in-cheek! I found a great marina in Hayes Va for $1200 a year. This includes all amenities like pool, showers, water and shore power. Great deal for me since I'm on a tight budget.

Since my boat is a 1970, I spend a lot of time working on her but can still sail her too. I'm a handy type, so I don't mind dragging my tools down there and getting dirty. It's a work in progress but it's mine and I love that boat! It's my first and I already know I want to go bigger. It's perfect for a beginner and the learning curve wasn't too bad.

Expect to spend some money if you buy old. Gear isn't cheap but you can find good deals online verses West Marine. It's been fun learning how to fix/replace things myself and fellow sailors are always willing to lend you a hand or give advice.

Good luck in your search and I hope you take the plunge!

Lee
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I thought I'd update this older thread for anyone else searching the archives.*

I've had my sailboat for over a year now, and my original question seems almost ridiculously funny to me now. Today I would ask: why on earth doesn't everyone have a sailboat as a weekend waterfront cottage? Particularly here in the northeast, where even the most remote summer camp will cost you $250,000-$500,000 - much more if it's on the water. Whereas for $20,000 and the cost of my slip I have a little waterfront cottage that can be sailed all over the Chesapeake for other adventures. I even find I like marina living more than I thought.

So thanks Sailnet for telling me not to listen to the landlubbers and naysayers who were trying to talk me out of getting a sailboat.

E.

*I always search the archives before posting a thread, and one of the most frustrating things is you almost never find out what the OP did and how it turned out.
 
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