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Deep Blue Crush
Elan Impression 394
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

Lately, I have been pondering more and more the prospect of buying a sailboat and liveaboard. The reality is I couldn't be more clueless about what it means to liveaboard.
I didn't grow up and lived next to the sea. The idea of living on a sailboat is not driven by some life long dream to sail around the world, although if I ever get experienced enough that's surely something I would go for. I love exploring the land through trekking and have done solo long distance trekking. But the water is a different ball game.
I had a sailing course last year and few day sails. And the week before I started the course I was on a sail boat for the first time. That's it as my sailing experience so far.
One first aspect that I had to consider with this was: can I still do my job from a sailboat? I just need good internet to do it and I am not location bound apart from occasional meetings. After some research I think I answered that question. Although I still wonder if I wouldn't get seasick staring at my laptop for hours with the sailboat rocking on a windy day and if I wouldn't feel claustrophobic.
So my questions are: what would be the major obstacles and challenges for a woman alone to live on a sailboat, and sail a boat. Yes, I would do the necessary education and practice and experience, so this is not something I jump into overnight. Learning about diesel engines, electronics, navigation, charting, sailboat maintenance and repair, solar panels, weather, climate, currents, sailing certificates, etc. All these are possible, these do not scare me. But I don't think its as simple as that.
What would you see as serious obstacles and challenges?
So, (in theory) I would live on a sailboat, the first years I would mostly stay put in marinas with the evening/weekend trips out for gaining experience, and sail as well from marina to marina. In future, venture to further locations once I am confident enough.
Am I missing something here? I am a 44 year old woman and also know sailing a boat does require strength and stamina.
I am not looking for a "go for it!" , "you can do it!" , I am looking for a reality check. I will step into this gradually. I want to prepare and learn as much as I can in order to make this experience actually enjoyable. Ignorance and naivety does the opposite.
Thank you!
 

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You are missing living in a 8' x 10' x 6' high room that contains your stove, icebox, sink, living room, toilet, and shower. How do you empty the sewage from your holding tank? Taking your laundry in the rain, heat, or snow to the Laundromat. Filling your icebox or water tanks also in the elements. Were do you take a shower? Aboard? Then you use more water. Denise30 has a discussion on going to the bathroom while handling her boat by herself.
Annie Hill, Lin and Larry Pardey are only a few of the many people that lived on a boat. Click on any web site or blog to read some accounts of current live aboards.
Dot and John
 

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Dirt Free
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Don't worry about reading the Pardey's stuff, it has nothing to do with what you are talking about. There is a learning curve to living aboard but how steep depends a great deal on where and your own expectations and comfort level. So first question ..... where would you like to do this.

PS. Anybody with an independent mindset and minimal mechanical aptitude can do it.
 

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Welcome Pakea, I think you can probably do anything you set your mind to do.
While there may be some gender related challenges..safety/security come to mind? But these are no different than a living alone on dirt. No?

Most of the challenges are logistical in nature.

What is your motivation to live on a sailboat at this time?

In order for the members here to give you their best advice it would be helpful if you provided a little more info. For instance, You don't say where on planet earth you're thinking of doing this. At Anchor, Mooring, or in a Marina?

That's going to be a key factor in how easy, difficult, or cost effective it would be. And I think it will help members give you some pointers.

For instance...Are you somewhere that has winter?
 

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One of None
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If I were actually living aboard I'd be a Dock Dolly. if there was no honey dipper boat service at times when the boat can't move. LOL I'd get a porta pottie Most marinas have laundry facilities or one could find a pick up and drop off service. But I see nothing wrong with hanging panties on the rigging! (so long as the colors are nautical)
 

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Consider the Salish sea. (Curve of Time ,Singe woman, six kids explore the coast) Many women live aboard and sail here. Some even build their own vessels Affordable marinas .sheltered anchorage all over. WiFi is common in the south at least. Winter harshness is overblown to keep the hoards away and Mexico is a few weeks downhill when you're ready for more adventure. Lots of good older boats for sale by lots of good older sailors passing the belaying pin and moving to Arizona.
 

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My boat was next to a guy who had moved up from a 25 to 30' boat. He and his fiancé were planning on living aboard. They lived in an apartment so over the winter they marked out their kitchen and used no more than what they would have on the boat for eating and cooking.
They moved into one small room for all living, sleeping and storage. They survived the winter so they figured they were ready for live aboard life. Sounds like a good way to learn if you can live in small quarters.
 

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Ms. O30 , whats a Dock Dolly ? Paikea it would help if you told us where you plan to live aboard . Just off hand to start with IMO do not get a pet of any kind . One thing to think of some marinas have the foot rule, my marina's min. is 30' , also when you sing up for the slip you need to tell them you plan to liveaborad , it will be extra $ but then you will be leagle. Good luck .
 

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One of None
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oh the boat I mean would be a dock dolly. Kinda like a car that sits on a trailer at car show.. a trailer dolly. sits and looks pretty but doesn't really get used.
 

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Deep Blue Crush
Elan Impression 394
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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you all.

@Scallywag2 - You bring up good points indeed and certainly something I am taking into consideration.

@boatpoker - My first idea is East Coast. Might not be a bad idea to get some experience before facing winters. Its not something I have yet mapped. I am planning to hop from marina to marina in the East Coast shortly and educate myself a little.

@Captainmeme - Thank you for the links. Great links!

@Tempest - The motivation comes from desire to simplify life, to minimalize in every aspect, the freedom, the challenges, the experiences, the options to learn on so many levels and fronts. I have done the comfy city life. Doesn't work for me. Will living on a sailboat work for me? I don't know, and only one way to find out. Will it be hard if not very hard at times? Of course and that's what I need to identify, what and how much its too hard to become a deal breaker. The only times when I truly felt alive was trekking. And that was hard too, one doesn't shower or sees a proper bathroom in weeks, the backpack contains everything from food to minimum necessities and survival equipment, walking in mountains in average 20K a day with average 20 kg on your back, in rain, or wind, or mud up to the ankles, doesn't sound that much fun, or in heat with thousands of mosquitos around and snakes, or sleep with all sort of rodents crawling all over, no, that doesn't sound like fun either. And I would curse myself at times for putting myself through all that, and yet, I never felt more alive. So I wonder if a sailboat wouldn't give me some similar but yet different experiences. With more comfort actually on the most part.
As to location, I haven't decided yet, it needs to be East Coast though at this point. Work keeps me between US East Coast and Europe. So while in the US, I am thinking to live and work from a sailboat. A sailboat that I can literally learn to sail out of the marina short trips and then longer trips. Due to the fact that I would be working I will mostly stay put in a marina apart from short trips, but then in years from now I would also have gained enough experience to start longer trips and put work on hold at times.
Anchor, mooring, marina? I would say marina to start with, but at this point I might have a wrong idea of what these three mean in exact practical terms.

@deniseO30 - now I have to give up the black panties? :) I shall read your posts, you certainly seem to know what you are doing.

@Capt Len - thank you. I shall find indeed the ladies that do these and try to learn from them. I wouldn't go as far as building my own sailboat, I will be more than happy to end up knowing what's going on with the engine and fixing it myself and so on.

Thank you all!
 

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One of None
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paikea, on the forums list here you will find "hersailnet" Lots of great ladies there.
shoot zeehag an email she's a live aboard lady that will give you the straight scoop.
welcome aboard!
 

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A bunch of people live on their boats in a marina. That is, perhaps, the most comfortable arrangements. A little research will help figure out which marinas are lie aboard friendly and which aren't. It makes a difference. Shower ashore and facilities for pump out are important.

Are you in an area where there's winter? Do they shovel the walks? Boats can get cold and dangerous coming and going. Ice takes on a new meaning.

Lots of things to consider!

Tod
 

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A couple of things to consider:
It is rare in the PNW to find a "good" internet connection via wifi. I have no clue what it's like in the east. That might mean you do your work in a STarbucks or McDOnalds or wherever wifi is free. If you just need to send emails that is normally not much of a problem.
If the water freezes more than a little wherever you are then the boat has to be hauled out for the winter. I can't imagine winter on a boat with snow outside ... it's bad enough out here but you don't have to shovel rain :)
Given time to learn (and you seem to have that covered) and the treking experience (that I would never do because it's too primitive for me), I think you got most things covered.
Talk to some local live-aboards if you can.
Good luck !
 

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I bought a boat, refit it and now live on it having never set foot on a sailboat before and I love it. I'd say go for it.

Having some mechanical/electrical inclination helps a ton... although you will pick it up soon enough (I hate plumbing with a passion however)
 

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Your concern over being a woman should be much less than your concern over singlehanding. Do your research in that area. Not impossible at all but it is tricky when you have no deck hand to help drop or raise anchor or dock. No relief at the helm while you make lunch or pee. Etc etc etc.

Most marinas advertise having wifi. What they dont tell you is how crappy it is! Some are great but most are minimal. Consider a 4g data plan instead. Costs more but more reliable. The only places we found crappy 4g has been NC and Maine.
 

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Sailboat Reboot
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I will leave all the issues to others with the exception of the Internet.


Getting decent (that means you can actually do work) Internet while sailing is very hard. Most marinas, even those with Internet on the docks (very rare, unfortunately) have miserable backbone connections. When two other boats decide to stream Netflix your Internet response will be gone.

If you want serious Internet almost anywhere in the world including underway the solution is KVH. Figure on about $25,000 - $30,000 one time equipment charge and about $1,000 per month for unlimited access. Add that you will need to fuel a generator (purchase included in my price estimate) because this sucker uses a lot of power.

I have been in about 20 countries and 50 marinas in the last 5 years. About 99.44% of the time (the same as Ivory soap purity) the Internet connection is terrible.

Now, about those black panties...

Fair winds and following seas :)
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Getting decent (that means you can actually do work) Internet while sailing is very hard. Most marinas, even those with Internet on the docks (very rare, unfortunately) have miserable backbone connections. When two other boats decide to stream Netflix your Internet response will be gone.
Internet access isn't quite that dismal.

In my experience, people who work on board end up with a combination of Internet access mechanisms.

The options include:

DSL or cable at the dock (often with the modem and a WiFi router in a dock box)

Community or marina WiFi

Cellular access either tethering an existing cell phone or using a data or "air" card

Satellite access

DSL or cable works just as well on a boat as it does ashore. The issues are the logistics of getting the wires or cable to the boat. Marinas may not be willing to allow you to do this. Even with cable outlets at the slip facility infrastructure may not let Internet through. When you go sailing you leave Internet behind and need some other access. When DSL or cable makes sense I'm a big fan of putting the modem and a WiFi router in a dock box - it's one less thing to disconnect/connect when you go sailing.

Community or marina WiFi is very variable, and as noted above is very dependent on backhaul capacity. Even if your laptop has a strong high-speed signal you and all the other users are sharing the WiFi system connection to the Internet. That could be as slow as 1.5 Mbps. Consumer expectations are driving marinas and public access to higher speeds and better performance. In addition you can get WiFi range extenders that greatly improve the reliability of the WiFi connection between your computer and the shore access point (AP).

Cellular access is readily available. Make sure that there is a good cellular signal from the service provider you choose in the areas you frequent the most. Costs are reasonable and some service providers offer free access to WiFi hotspots; for example, AT&T has attwifi hotspots in McDonalds and many other locations including some hotels. In the US, Verizon has the best coverage although AT&T is faster where there is a signal. The differences are relatively minor.

Satellite access gives you Internet anywhere you can see the sky. Hardware, in addition to being expensive, can be sizeable. There are a number of sources of equipment including KVH as noted above (disclaimer: I am a KVH certified installer and maintainer). There is also an interesting much less expensive alternative called Track-It. Track-It works pretty well with residential grade equipment and functions very well in a slip and pretty well at anchor or on a mooring.

On Auspicious I use a number of mechanisms for Internet. I use a Ubiquiti Bullet from Island Time PC as a WiFi range extender with a Linksys WiFi router inside the boat. I also carry an Alfa USB WiFi device in my laptop bag to improve signals when I am out and about. I have an AT&T data card for Internet when WiFi isn't available or isn't fast enough. In one marina with poor WiFi and bad cellular signals I befriended someone in an overlooking apartment building who let me put a WiFi router on his cable in exchange for computer support. *grin*

As far as living and working aboard is concerned the biggest issues are usually logistic. Where do you keep your good clothes? Where do you shower and dress? How much longer will that take than you are used to? For some women and a few men, just how much "stuff" are you going to need to drag around?

Take a close look at the appliances you use regularly and think about how they transition to a boat. The more you can avoid 120VAC (wall power) the more portable you will be. In my case I gave up my microwave and switched coffee from an electric drip coffeemaker to a percolator. All my kitchen appliances "turned into" a stick blender that I run as needed from an inverter unless I'm plugged into shore power. Hair dryers aboard are problematic when you are not plugged into shower power or using shore-side facilities.

The two biggest issues in winter are heat (and related condensation) and water. Of the two, water is the bigger issue. Some marinas have winter water (water distribution either sunk or wrapped with heat tape). Others have "water parties" where people get together periodically and string hoses together to get water to the various boats. Sometimes you just have to use jugs. If you are jugging it is good to carry a jug of water every time you get on the boat. It is much easier to keep up than to catch up.

In the opposite direction, don't leave the boat without taking trash and recycling--especially paper--off.

Heat and condensation are important. I recommend Roger McAfee's "The Warm Dry Boat." I have found that keeping the boat really warm keeps the metal bits around hatches and ports warm enough to minimize condensation. Ventilation is critical.

If you are the sort of person who sits down and just works you should be fine on a boat. If you get up and down and move around a lot you may find yourself feeling cramped. Files are often a problem. I scan just about everything.

Good luck.
 

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One of None
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svzephyr44, Surely you are saying that is what the host marina should be spending? Or are you intentionally trying to send our new girl packing?
 
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