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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's a quick recap of our situation. Our landlord decided to sell the property and we have about two months to move out. We have enough savings, stellar credit, I'm debt free. We've bid on a few properties, but despite offering thousands above asking price and other concessions (closing costs, as-is), we always get outbid. We started looking at renting, but rents in our target area are in the $2,000/mo range, which we can pay also, but we are also not getting selected (despite clean record, no evictions, etc.)

So my wife and I have started looking at alternatives (lot and mobile home, RVing). I recently started thinking about the possibility of buying a sailboat as a liveaboard, but I don't know anything about sailing (have been watching some YouTube videos). And that's why I'm here.

I would appreciate some advice (along with patience and kindness in your responses) with respect to:
1) purchasing a sailboat as a liveaboard (for four adults)
2) Budget up to $50,000 cash (so used)
3) We don't need luxury; we're approaching this like extended camping.
4) Would like to learn how to sail, and eventually be able to sail up and down the eastern US seaboard, and maybe the Bahamas and Caribbean; not interested in ocean crossings).
5) May be working from the boat (wifi?)
6) We live in Jacksonville, FL

How do we get started? Is this possible?

Thank you!
 

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I have done both sailboat live aboard and RV seasonal.

The sailboat thing was originally motivated by the high cost of real estate in Toronto. I lived aboard first a 30 ft sailboat alone, then a 35 with my wife, then the same 35 with wife and baby. That's where things stopped being fun. We lasted 3 months before saying forget this and rented a town house, though we kept the sailboat for a couple more years as a cottage in the Thousand Islands Canada.

The RV thing is a more recent development and it came from a combination of being bored from the pandemic and missing having a sailboat on the water. So we purchased an RV and leased waterfront on the St Lawrence to live in May- October, which is where I am writing this response from.

Comparison from my perspective;
-I would rather live in a $50 000 RV than a $50 000 sailboat. It seems, just about everything is cheaper about RVs, the vehicles the plots (RV plot costs me $2800/year, live aboard slip with sailboat was about $5k/year), maintenance etc.
  • space, our ~ 20 ft TT has a more comfortable living space than our 35 ft sailboat did. Although the fit and finish of the sailboat was much nicer. Everything was finished in tropical hard wood. Also from a space perspective, RV is parked on a 150 ft x 50 ft treed lot. The boat was parked on a 3 x 35 ft dock, shared with a neighbour, so the RV offers a huge advantage on living space. We use that space to park our Hobie Cat, sailing canoe and 4 kayaks, so we get just as much sailing in.
  • sailboat had one major advantage in that it was an off grid off road vehicle. It was a lot easier to get away from people and spend time away from people.

Personally, right now, if I had to say which was a better option for live aboard, I would say RV, by a wide margin (for me). Small sailboat goes on the roof of the RV :)
 

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bell ringer
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well you need to


  • you need to find a place to keep the boat
  • you need a boat

Before anything you need to decide if a boat that is enough for 4 adults' is doable on $50K. My wife and I live on a 41' boat and can not image having 2 more on it full time.

Personally if you are looking at cheap living that moves, a RV is a bigger/cheaper route
 

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I think the 'four adults' part is a potential deal killer to any plan to move to a sailboat affordably. Most people who do this are couples.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Most of our stuff will be in a storage unit. So it's mostly for sleeping/cooking. The problem I'm running into now with RVs is I can't find a lot/plot to put it on with a zoning code that allows RVs in our target area. Don't want to leave the wife in some remote area. The campgrounds I'm finding don't do long term.

Anyway, thank you. Something will come up sooner or later.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Why not a Trawler or similar motor boat? Costs would be similar, but you get much more square footage per dollar. The range would be less and fuel costs would be higher. Builders like Silverton Carver, Bayliner, SeaRay, Mainship and Trojan all have late '80's to late '90's boats in the 30-40 foot range that would fit your budget.
 
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Within the budget you describe, it will be difficult to get 4 adults enough space for all to be happy. As the others mentioned, you may have more space/separation/privacy on an older trawler.

While a trawler and a sailboat can have the same length - total space will go to the trawler by a wide margin. There may be more options in that market. You will still have the mechanicals/systems issues of a sailboat but again more access to repair or replace and no masts to climb.

Marinas, banks and insurers are seldom keen on liveaboards so make sure you can get those items early in the game, at a price you can live with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I didn't even know what a trawler is. The reason I suggested a sailboat is because that's all I've seen on youtube, with stories of people buying budget/project boats, and living/sailing on them as they work on them, and their extended range (wind power). I have no clue, really. I'm reaching out out of necessity to find a solution to our problem.

Thank you all for your responses.
 

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We need an expression to the effect of 'youtube is not real life'. Lots of folks do live on boats in marinas, but usually it's on houseboats, for the same cost per sq foot reasons listed above. At least here in DC, the best route to finding a situation like that is to buy a houseboat already in a liveaboard marina (e.g. Gangplank Marina in DC, home to Joe Manchin), usually much cheaper than buying a house/apt
 

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cruising all I can
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If you're interested in living aboard in Jacksonville, walk the docks at marinas in the area and find a seller, plenty of boats .
 

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I'm here to smash your dreams. It's a service I provide. (Just kidding.)

If $50K is your budget, that means you should be looking at (good, not beat up) boats in the $30K range, because boats need much more maintenance than houses, it tends to be critical (can't put it off), and it tends to be specialist in nature that you may or may not want to try to learn, in the dark, in the rain. It also tends to be put off by the current owner because they're selling the boat. Be prepared for important work to need to be done, right out the gate. There is a naiive feeling out there (thanks YouTube) that painting and some minor fiberglass repair will set you free. The "Sailing Triteia" YouTube channel has I think an honest representation of serious boat work and what can be required, plus he actually goes sailing and is for real, and not just a boob shaker with a paint brush.

Four adults? $50K boat budget? You need more money or fewer friends. You have no boat experience and if everyone else has the same learning curve it could get really rough. Buying a fixer upper in the 40' range (thinking living room for four adults...) will lock you into a world of expensive refurbishment that will make $50K seem like chump change. New sails, rigging, and a decent paint job will probably take most of your $50K. A new engine will be $10K+. I say this because you say you want to actually sail, and not just live at the marina. I honestly think you should have twice the purchase price on hand - the cost of the boat then that much more for all the things that will need to be repaired. Alternately, you can buy a cream puff and pay full price and have little or nothing to do, but it will cost you the same amount. Usually. There are always fairy tales and lucky chances out there, everyone has a story. But your chances of winning the boat lottery are slim.

It's a seller's market now with good boats being snapped up within hours. You need to have done all your research and have a short list and be ready to buy within days as soon as you learn about a likely boat. Because if you hesitate, someone else will not.

The cheapest marina I have found, so far, inland or on the coast, was about $7 a foot/month. The vast majority are in the $10 range or more, $15 is common. Haul outs are priced by the foot and a brief haulout will usually be $250 - 300 minimum. Putting the boat on the hard for work will still cost money. Electricity is metered usually, sometimes it's included at a flat rate. Four adults will need a pretty large solar panel array if you wish to be anything like energy independent, and refrigeration for groceries for that many will suck up a lot of juice. It's like a taxi cab - the meter's always ticking.

Moving boats by truck is expensive - it cost me $2500 to bring a lightish 30 foot boat from Deltaville to a lake in south east Tennessee, a 9 hour drive. Cross country estimates were $10000 to $14000. You live in a boat-rich area so you'll have a good selection close by.

And so on. In all seriousness, not trying to be a downer, and lots of people do move onto boats and work on them etc. but moving 4 adults onto a boat (one big enough to hold them decently), with little or no experience, may start a cascade of costs and worries far more involved than living on land. Go on some boats, talk to the sellers. Find friends that sail, go out with them. See how small they actually are inside, especially heads and gallies. They look big in the photos. Get clear cost estimates of marina fees for living aboard. Go to the closest repair yard and get price lists for hauling, painting, etc. etc. See if this is something you want to try. It won't be cheaper or easier than land, that's for certain.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Excellent, just the kind of brutally honest feedback that I need.

We have finally found a nice home to rent (it's s two-year lease). In that time I will have a chance to increase my cash on hand budget and who knows what will happen.

As for youtube, I watch Sailing Uma, and others like Project Atticus and Sam Holmes. I know most vloggers like to portray a too optimistic view of their lifestyle, but the ones I just mentioned strike me as pretty honest and balanced on their episodes.

Thank you once more!
 

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At this point, I think you should be asking yourself if you are looking for a nice comfortable home on the water for four, or are you interested in the sailing aspect of it all? If you choose to go out on your sail boat for the day, and you have even two people living there, you all are going to have to have a place for everything that moves and those things had better be in their places!
It's a bit different on a motor boat They make a much better home than a sailboat, if you live aboard on a dock. There's a great deal more space for the same length, and they don't heel no matter which tack they are on.
 

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cruising all I can
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In 06 I bought a $1000 32' sailboat at anchor in Gulfport fl.
I loaded the family and dogs and sailed the easr coast usa until 2015.
I live on less then $20,000 a year.
I laugh to myself every time I see threads like this about how you need piles of cash and years of experience and on about all the downfalls and hidden experiences.
Boating is like everything else in life, it costs what you have.
Just like eating, you can dine at a fine restaurant and oat $10 a drink and $15 for a burger.
Or you can get a 40 oz. And some ground beef and bunks at aldis for $8 and in the end your Fed.
I'm still sailing that $1000 sailboat.
And I'm doing it in the same waters and anchorage that the million dollar yachts are.
I'm just enjoying it more, for considerably less money.
 

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In 06 I bought a $1000 32' sailboat at anchor in Gulfport fl.
I loaded the family and dogs and sailed the easr coast usa until 2015.
I live on less then $20,000 a year.
I laugh to myself every time I see threads like this about how you need piles of cash and years of experience and on about all the downfalls and hidden experiences.
Boating is like everything else in life, it costs what you have.
Just like eating, you can dine at a fine restaurant and oat $10 a drink and $15 for a burger.
Or you can get a 40 oz. And some ground beef and bunks at aldis for $8 and in the end your Fed.
I'm still sailing that $1000 sailboat.
And I'm doing it in the same waters and anchorage that dollar yachtthe millions are.
I'm just enjoying it more, for considerably less money.
I sure appreciated those multi-million dollar yachts when we were in the Tobago Cays. With no cell phone connection or internet, when the weather started to deteriorate, I hopped in the dinghy and zipped over to Twizzle and handed a deck hand a jump drive and a note with my weather web sites.
When I returned the jump drive was full to the brim with all the wx info one could ever want.
 

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cruising all I can
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I sure appreciated those multi-million dollar yachts when we were in the Tobago Cays. With no cell phone connection or internet, when the weather started to deteriorate, I hopped in the dinghy and zipped over to Twizzle and handed a deck hand a jump drive and a note with my weather web sites.
When I returned the jump drive was full to the brim with all the wx info one could ever want.
I sailed for years with outdated paper charts a compass and a bit of patience for the tides and weather.
Now it seems, it's unheard of to cast off without $10,000 worth of satellite guidance ais, and locator beacons.
 

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I sailed for years with outdated paper charts a compass and a bit of patience for the tides and weather.
Now it seems, it's unheard of to cast off without $10,000 worth of satellite guidance ais, and locator beacons.
Gee, thanks for the history lesson. Satellite navigation and weather, and even radars on small vessels wasn't available for the first 30 years of my career at sea. A circumnavigation under sail, numerous transAts both ways and a great deal of other voyages without anything more than a sextant, taffrail log, a couple of stop watches and an RDF.
I still won't have AIS aboard, but there are plenty of electronic aids to navigation that make my life easier and allow me many more hours of sleep each day. Hell, a watermaker allows me to take a hot shower any time I please, even at sea, and that is a huge step for sailing kind. Are any of these things necessary? Of course not, but I'm way beyond camping out aboard any boat, thank you. After 60 years or so on the water, I prefer a comfortable home on the water.
Out dated charts are great until someone builds a 2km breakwater across what the chart shows as the harbor entrance, and you are arriving at 23:00! Why haven't you used the notices to mariners to keep your charts up to date? By the way, when was the last time you had your compass swung and updated your deviation card? If these are the things you are using to navigate, then isn't it worth the time to make sure they are correct?
 

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cruising all I can
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Gee, thanks for the history lesson. Satellite navigation and weather, and even radars on small vessels wasn't available for the first 30 years of my career at sea. A circumnavigation under sail, numerous transAts both ways and a great deal of other voyages without anything more than a sextant, taffrail log, a couple of stop watches and an RDF.
I still won't have AIS aboard, but there are plenty of electronic aids to navigation that make my life easier and allow me many more hours of sleep each day. Hell, a watermaker allows me to take a hot shower any time I please, even at sea, and that is a huge step for sailing kind. Are any of these things necessary? Of course not, but I'm way beyond camping out aboard any boat, thank you. After 60 years or so on the water, I prefer a comfortable home on the water.
Out dated charts are great until someone builds a 2km breakwater across what the chart shows as the harbor entrance, and you are arriving at 23:00! Why haven't you used the notices to mariners to keep your charts up to date? By the way, when was the last time you had your compass swung and updated your deviation card? If these are the things you are using to navigate, then isn't it worth the time to make sure they are correct?
Really?
I'm amused at how people attempt to present simple activities in a setting to make them appear mire complex than they actually are.
People have been travelling the waters of this planet on literal rafts for centuries.
Suddenly it's untenable without cartography and satellite navigation?
Hardly.
 

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Everyone has a story about buying a really inexpensive boat and sailing away to low budget bliss, but if you're bringing a large group onto a boat to live full time the cost and complexity will increase exponentially unless you're all hippies and like living out of each other pockets. Nothing wrong with that - don't get me wrong. I'm all for that. But someone with no boating experience who wants to house 4 people on a sailboat, and sail it places, needs to think long and hard about the safety and integrity of the boat and whatever systems are on board as well as the bare minimum living arrangements that can be tolerated.

All you HAVE to have is an intact hull, rig, and sails. Paper charts and a pocket GPS. A skillet and a bucket and some dog bowls to eat slop out of. That's all you HAVE to have. Anything more than that and it gets weird really fast. If the OP buys a typical 35' - 45' tired cruising boat (the kind he will be able to afford) it will be loaded with stuff that will either need to be repaired, or ripped out and done away with. You absolutely can go minimalist - you can go engineless (if the marina allows it - many absolutely do not) with no electronics other than a handheld VHF. It's perfectly possible to play Swallows and Amazons but working adults get tired of it after a week or so.
 
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