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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'd like some honest opinions from you experienced sailors and livers of life.

In a nutshell-
By March of 2015 I will have roughly $17,000 saved for a move from the mountains of Idaho to somewhere in the southeast. I have no debt except for a $100/ month student loan payment. I'd like to buy a 30 foot boat from the 70's to live aboard and use for coastal sailing. Also I'd like to find a friendly city with decent work opportunities and good cruising grounds for a novice sailor. I have only 3 sailing seasons under my belt on a '74 Columbia 23 on Payette Lake in McCall, ID. From what I've seen on Craigslist for cities like Annapolis, Oriental and St. Augustine etc. there seems to always be a handful of boats that would fit my $5,000 to $10,000 price range. My plan in March is to have all my possessions in a small enough heap to fit into my '94 4Runner and head to the east coast looking for my boat and the city I want to liveaboard and work in. BTW, I'm used to living a very a frugal life. Am I crazy? Do I need ALOT more money?

Thank you in advance for your time and wisdom:)

As far as job skills-
Bachelors degree with a double major in psychology and philosophy.
14 years of photojournalism and commercial photography.
1 year of woking on classic wooden boats roughly 20 hours a week.
 

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Master Mariner
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Yours seems like a good plan. Charleston SC is a surprisingly cosmopolitan town, especially for the south. It's possible to anchor in the river there or use one of several marinas around the area. It's also possible to find a cheap dock behind someone's house, too. Most likely Fla would be the best place to find a boat, but in this internet world, who knows. Buying in the north in late fall or winter can save you tons of money, though. Good luck.
 
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Deep Blue Crush
Elan Impression 394
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The plan is realistic and I will not do the "it depends" answer although it does come down to that. More exactly it depends on you. Some people could do this even with a starting capital of 5K and others wouldn't be able to do it with a starting capital of 50K. Or even if things are handed on a platter for them they would still mess up.
Buying a boat and moving aboard might be the easy steps as well but then you need a job and with your degrees unless you have a good portfolio for the photography and journalism part it will be hard to find at at first a job in this area. As I am sure you know this is a tough area to make it in especially after the explosion of digital photography and blogging. But as long as you are willing to do any honest job and willing to learn anything new to survive while you land a more steady opportunity aligned with your skills and education you will do just fine. There is always work around to keep you afloat. You just need to have the right attitude for it. I had many people telling me they cannot find jobs and giving me some long list of degrees. What I respect the most is someone doing what needs to be done with what's available and possible at any given moment and not just wait and complain meanwhile for sunnier days. You are willing to work, you have the right attitude, you have the character, then you have what it takes to make this a realistic plan short and long term.
 

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I would find the job first. Will it be a suit and tie job, or jeans and t-shirt or between? It could impact how much hanging storage, how clean and dry, etc, you need. A salary will also give you a better budget for fixed costs, like marinas or moorings.

While boats are mobile, by definition, the only exception is when they have to be moved! Find a job a couple of hundred miles from your new boat and that will be the week that weather or mechanical failures prevent the move. You should also research the availability of live aboard marinas in the area of your job search. They are sadly becoming fewer. Reportedly, you can forget living at anchor in FL these days.

Some final unsolicited advice. Don't buy a sailboat to live aboard, unless you actually plan to sail it frequently. That means, don't buy a fixer upper that you'll never get back into shape, while working all day. Keep her clean and neat and sail ready, not covered in crates of stuff that doesn't fit aboard, which your neighbors would despise. If you don't plan to leave the dock, get a houseboat, which are bigger and more comfortable.

Your goals certainly seem attainable and realistic, given your experience and assets. Much better than the crowd that wants to sail around the world on their $5,000 cruiser with no experience!

Best of luck. Stick around and let us know how you're making out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for your responses!

Learning to sail and sail safely is my number one priority. I've become obsessed with sailing over the last three years. It's all I think about over our long cold winters here. I felt like a needed a reality check from actual sailors so I than you.

In the long run, I'd like to start working toward my captains license while I'm working a job and getting time on the water. Although, I don't even know if I get seasick. Lol.

Also, I have parents living in Peachtree City near Atlanta and a sister living in DC near Annapolis so I can have a free place to stay for a little bit while I look for my job and boat.

I've been working 7 days a week (photography and wood boats) for almost a year now saving up money for this adventure. I'll keep you all updated as much as I can.

In the next few months my savings will hopefully accelerate after my 14 yr old Golden Retriever passes. I love my dog and am staying in our own house with a nice yard until he goes. Then I'll rent a room from a friend for the rest of the winter, much cheaper.

Thank you again for letting me know I'm not crazy!! Off to work again...
 

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Sailboat Reboot
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Yes I think you can do this.

What I want to caution you about is winter. Living on a sailboat in winter can get very cold. Most sailboats - and certainly the ones you would be looking at - are not insulated. That means that the interior surfaces of the hull will be the same temperature as the water outside. It is, in my experience, much harder to keep a boat warm in winter than cool in summer. A poor metaphor is sitting on a lawn chair with a space heater while being surrounded by an ice cube.

This suggests that for year round live aboard status in one place (where you have a job) you want to limit your choices on the East Coast to South Carolina and Georgia. North Carolina is possible but iffy, last year in the Neuse River the water temperature got to 33 degrees for most of January and February. Florida is up in the air. Getting hull insurance in Florida is very expensive in hurricane season. If you can afford to risk of going liability insurance only (something that is going to be required in most marinas) then Florida goes back into the possible column.

On another subject: If you are going to purchase a cheap boat (say an old Catalina 30 for $5,000) don't invest in it! You can expect an almost zero return on investment. It never ceases to amaze me that people will repower a $5,000 boat for $7,000. When they are done they have a $5,000 boat that will sell faster because it has a new engine.

In the used boat market the most important attribute is the engine. Particularly if you are handy you can fix almost anything on a boat. But unless you are very skilled rebuilding an engine should not be in the cards. You can purchase used sails, etc. inexpensively if you do your research and your motivation is to just get out and cruise. Now having said that of course the boat has to be sound - no delamination in the hull, etc. But engines are the killer to budgets.

Fair winds and following seas :)
 

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...... I don't even know if I get seasick. Lol.....
Of course you do. Everyone does sooner or later.

The most likely time you'll get seasick is on your early ocean voyages. Your nerves will be a little on edge, you're already thinking about it. That's half the recipe right there. Don't get discouraged, if you find you suffer at first.
 

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You might want to get a quickie bar tending certificate. With majors in philosophy and psychology you should be able to get a bartending job at any tiki bar on the coast.:D

BTW, I don't think the water in the Neuse got below 58 last Winter. The air maybe once or twice, but not the water. I would have noticed that.
 

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Anything is doable if you want it enough. To my ear, your budget sounds like a small fortune for a young single guy.

Personally, I'd cruise the coast by car and check out some of the marinas. Since you sound pretty open, decide on the one or two you like the best (and which look most affordable - slip prices vary quite a bit) and go from there. I also liked Charleston, but pretty much every port on both coasts have healthy sailing communities. And yacht brokers, and for-sale-by-owner boats, and liveaboard 'situations' - legal or not-so-much. If you're willing to do pretty much anything, you will find work - I can see those boat woodworking skills integrating you into the boating community pretty quickly. And getting you rides on other people's boats, and perhaps them on yours. All of which will build your skills, knowledge and confidence.

Sailors, as a whole, are the nicest, most helpful and most willing to help people on earth. If you're cut from the same cloth, you won't have any major problems. And seasickness does go away when you stop rocking and rolling.
 

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Check out Wilmington NC May some boats available that meet your needs. Live aboard friendly marinas available. Less expensive than larger metro areas but work available dockage rates as low as 8/ft / mo available. Southport also but less work available there.
 

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That Drunk Guy
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Wow, all the nay-sayers must be sleeping in today. Yes you have enough money, yes you can do it, and yes it will be awesome. At least it was for me, and I did it in a colder environment with a LOT less money. :D
 

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Deep Blue Crush
Elan Impression 394
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Wow, all the nay-sayers must be sleeping in today. Yes you have enough money, yes you can do it, and yes it will be awesome. At least it was for me, and I did it in a colder environment with a LOT less money. :D
So much nicer and warmer and productive for people overall to simply be a little optimistic and encouraging rather than belittling someone's hopes and dreams. :) And even better when that's combined with some good advise, facts, data, guidance. In the end, nothing is impossible. He is now still in early stages, and I can relate to how he feels, every now and then we all need a little encouraging and support.
 

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Sailboat Reboot
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BTW, I don't think the water in the Neuse got below 58 last Winter. The air maybe once or twice, but not the water. I would have noticed that.
Well I was sitting in New Bern with a thermometer in the water. And a thin crust of ice around the boat. Not exactly the Neuse, that started 100 feet away on the other side of the Cunningham Bridge. :)
 

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Check out Craigslist for cheap dockage.

A 100 watt solar panel will give you evening lecky PROVIDING you do not run a fridge and have LED lights and a tablet.

In Florida make sure you can pass inspection by the 'potty' police.
 

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Swab
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I am surprised no one has chimed in to tell you that it cannot be done because everyone knows that you need a forty footer with full electronics, sat phone, insurance and $10K a month to go cruising.

Seriously though, I have met several young people (Even some not so young) who have done it on less than you are starting with; in some cases a lot less. There are serviceable boats out there for less than $5K and a little sweat equity and discipline will take you a lot of sea miles.

Go for it.
 

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Deep Blue Crush
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Ahh vega1860, I was looking earlier today at your wife's photographs. They are wonderful, please tell her so from me. And so surprising to read she still does film photography. I love my digital cameras, but its a totally different ball game when I shoot analog and develop in my own darkroom. Its becoming more and more a lost art. But hopefully not totally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Thank you all for your responses! Very Kind! It's good to hear that what I want to do is within reason.

When I originally posted this I figured I would get mocked for asking a such a "newbie" question.

I now have a ton of "googling" to do. Wilmington does indeed seem nice. And, I had never really thought about Charleston before. So much to learn about...

Cheers!
 

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Sherwood,
Take it from a guy that lived out of a backpack traveling to all 4 corners of the USA for 6 years and lived out of 5 different cars to do it. I then bought a stupid cheap Coronado 25 and lived in it for 2 years in Saint Pete Beach marina before sailing western Florida for 1 year working the tourist seasons. Incidentally, I entered and left each state with around 100 dollars in my pocket.

It's doable if you have the balls to do it. You live frugally. This is a good skill. You'll be needing that.

You have two options that I can see because I've been there, done that.

Option 1, If you line up a job beforehand like Minnewaska suggests, you're actually running a dangerous game because you haven't both bought the boat and don't have a place for it. With your skills, you'll find something , so I wouldn't advise it. I understand his idea, but don't agree.
Option 2 is to pack your truck and your 17K (which by the way is a small fortune) and head southeast, but not before a lot of research. It needn't be a year of it. Just a good solid idea of what lies ahead with the realization that it will be a running plan subject to change. Check out noonsite.com. Start from Va. to Georgia. Why not check out the panhandle too? Personally, I'd check out Georgia because of the winters. Flexibility is paramount. Research live aboard marinas and boats that fall in line with your wishes for it or like the other posters suggest, basically one that doesn't drag you down financially, but frees you enough to move where you might need to move it. Buying the boat and needing to take it to a live aboard marina might be in two different states. That is where your previous research comes into play. After buying your boat, you'll figure it out. Where will your marina be you wonder? You'll figure it out. Where will I work? What will I do? You'll figure it out. Remember your skills. Flexibility is your watch word when you walk out your front door. Quite frankly, having been in your shoes with a whole lot less, THAT step - walking out your front door- is the hardest one of all.

I'm glad to read you've read no naysayers, but you'll come acrossed them. Ignore them. I don't regret a single day of my on the road days 23 years ago. They are strong memories for me. I am now live aboard in Norway and am dealing with what cold is, not the piddly spring chill of early posted whining, sorry guys.

Make your moves count and I wish you all the best ones, so, yes, Sherwood, it is possible if you got the balls to do it.

Good Luck,

Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks Andrew,
I like option 2. :) There's a part of me that wants to find a boat that is structurally in tact but needs some bright work or what not. Things seem to feel more your own when you can look around and see the work you've done. Of course I'd also like to save $$$ and not necessarily find a job in the first month. Hopefully I'll have a little to time to explore wherever I end up. And yes, flexibility. I'll let the wind blow me where it may.
 
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