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Old 07-12-2016, 11:34 AM   #1
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I have owned 6 boats, I swear this will be my last one!

I have been boating and dreaming about cruising for almost 30 years now. My wife and I, started with a 24’ Maxxum that was great for weekend camping & kept behind our floating home in Seattle (the dock where they filmed “Sleepless in Seattle”). We loved living on the water! I dreamt of cruising to distant places with warm water, once we could afford the time and money. My wife humored me and I dragged her along on many boat shopping expeditions as well as charters and courses. Along the way, we bought and sold a 40’ Schucker motorsailor and these past 4 years had a partnership in a 2004 Mainship 400T. Both of these boats where located in Florida and we cruised much of the ICW and the Bahamas with both of them. We also had a 28 foot sedan cruiser in the San Juan Islands and cruised Puget Sound and beautiful British Columbia. & occasionally we were fortunate enough to join our good friends Larry and Lena as they traveled the world in a KK42. We just sold our Mainship 400T as our partners no longer had time for boating. We still own an 18’ Key West center console we towed behind the Mainship that is stored at a friend’s house near Jacksonville, Florida.
We have learned a lot from these experiences, which includes that boating takes a significant effort at times because of weather and maintenance. But the plus side is wintering in some beautiful locations, living on the water, and enjoying the social aspects of being part of a community. It does have some drawbacks from my wife’s perspective, not the least of which is third class accommodations at first class prices!
We live in the San Juan Islands, but we prefer to “winter” in sunny places. I still dream of cruising, so I keep looking for the right combination of location and boat that will make us both happy. We can afford a boat in the $250,000 range.
What am I looking for in a boat?
The Shucker had a nice single stateroom layout with awesome storage and a commodious head. but no flybridge. (Although there are Shucker trawlers that do have a large flybrdge) The Mainship was more livable than the Schucker by incorporating an exceptional flybridge into the total living space. Here are some general thoughts based on our previous boats:
1. Coastal cruiser, we are not crossing oceans and we can wait for the right weather windows
2. We prefer to have the galley separate from the salon
3. A larger second stateroom than the Mainship 40 (or none at all to increase the rest of the spaces)
4. A large flybridge or a pilot house as a second living area
5. A place to add a small freezer
6. Good engine access
7. A fresh water head
8. In addition, I think I would prefer a twin engine boat that can cruise at 14 knots and a boat that has stabilizers for rough seas.
9. As an alternate to all of the above, a trailerable fast cat that can be camped on and is capable of crossing to the Bahamas
With that in mind, here are 3 options we are thinking about for the next 7 to 10 years.
#1 – Buy a boat in Europe and cruise there for 2 years, then ship back to Florida
Admittedly, this is a big idea that requires a lot more thought and research. Friends of us did this and can give us some guidance. The plus side is spending a couple of years in Europe with all it has to offer. We could cruise from the Adriatic down the coast of Italy to the Med, over to France and Spain one year and spend several months in each country/location for inland exploration. Then winter over in southern Spain or Portugal. Cruise back up the French canals to the English Channel and cross over to England & Ireland the following year. Then when we were ready, ship the boat back to Florida for Option 2. Before pulling the trigger on any purchase we plan to charter there. The Canal du Midi in southern France consistently gets recommended in boating blogs I follow.
Major considerations to implementing this option are the obvious language challenges, along with finding the right “Americanized” boat (e.g. 110 Volt) that could be brought back here. Boats right now are 25% cheaper than in the US but this savings would likely be chewed up in the transaction costs of finding the right boat in another country and shipping the boat back to the US when we were done. So I consider this option a wash in terms of purchase costs vs Option 2. Its only worth doing if we want to experience Europe for more than a short vacation. We are thinking about it & will likely charter next year to see how this fits.
#2 – Buy a comfortable Live aboard we can use for wintering and cruising parts of the Great Loop
So this is pretty much what we were doing the last 4 years with the Mainship, but includes living on the boat full time so we complete a couple of summer trips over the next five years. I envision picking 2 locations each winter in Florida or the Bahamas where we would spend 2 to 3 months each. We would store the boat near Brunswick Georgia and pay to have someone look in on it when we leave it for the summer. So we would start the season in November in Georgia and then return it there in May. In addition, we may choose to take it up to Montreal one year during the summer months and another year take it up to Nashville to see those parts of the country.
Since we might be spending a full year on the boat in certain years, we would look for a larger and more comfortable boat than the Mainship 40 we had. One option is a twin engine Mainship 43, which is similar to the 40 but has a better layout. I prefer the 2 stateroom model with the large flybridge.
The other option would be a DeFever 49 or 44.Ideally we would purchase them in a location we also want to cruise in (like the NE or Tennessee), so we could spend some time in that area before returning to the wintering grounds. The downside of this option is the storage, but many do it and I think we could find a safe location near some of our friends
#3 – Rent a condo for 5 months each year in the Keys or the Bahamas and purchase a fast catamaran for camping and crossing
We will be trying a variant of this this year in the Bahamas, with the exception of the cat. If we were going to do this for the long term, I think we will want a cat like the Glacier Bay 26 or 27, so we can go out on the ocean to cross to the Bahamas or just get out on the reef in local water near the Keys. The catamaran could also be towed in the summer (with a ¾ ton truck) to some cool locations like the Tennessee River, Columbia River, etc. even back to be used in the San Juan’s. But I don’t see us hauling it back and forth from the west coast to Florida every year.
The upside of this is better accommodations than a boat with still good water access. The downside of this option is less of a connection to the cruiser community, as well as finding a long term rental each year. We might stick with one or 2 locations, so it’s easier to secure a place for the following year and where we develop relationships like the ones we did while cruising
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Old 07-12-2016, 12:02 PM   #2
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Wow, that is a fantastic set of options. Some observations:

1. I am surprised that European boats are 25% cheaper than US ones. Are you sure that you are speaking of VAT paid boats. You will need that to cruise in Europe for two years.

2. You can easily spend $40-50,000 shipping a 40'+ boat to the US from Europe.

3. Renting a condo in the Keys in the winter will cost $4000/month or, more in the Bahamas.

So how about buying a relatively inexpensive French canal boat, of Freycinet dimensions, so you can cruise all of the canals. Should be able to find a 40'er for Euro 100K or so. Then get the European experience out of your system that way. Leave the boat and come back to the US in the winter and rent your Keys or Bahamas condo. Or hole up in southern France. Buy a largish center console to use to get around in the Keys or Bahamas and to blast over to the Bahamas in. Or even the Glacier Bay cat that you can sleep on at times.

Yes, there is no cruiser community experience with this plan except for the canal cruisers and I suspect that is nothing like we know of. And BTW, I am on my 7th boat now, or is it the 8th.
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Old 07-12-2016, 12:06 PM   #3
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All I know is I think I want to be you. Lol
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Old 07-12-2016, 01:38 PM   #4
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All I know is I think I want to be you. Lol
+1

Although where he lives now is almost paradise (if you don't mind wet weather, cloudy skies, short winter days, and very cold water).
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Old 07-12-2016, 01:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
Wow, that is a fantastic set of options. Some observations:

1. I am surprised that European boats are 25% cheaper than US ones. Are you sure that you are speaking of VAT paid boats. You will need that to cruise in Europe for two years.

2. You can easily spend $40-50,000 shipping a 40'+ boat to the US from Europe.

3. Renting a condo in the Keys in the winter will cost $4000/month or, more in the Bahamas.

So how about buying a relatively inexpensive French canal boat, of Freycinet dimensions, so you can cruise all of the canals. Should be able to find a 40'er for Euro 100K or so. Then get the European experience out of your system that way. Leave the boat and come back to the US in the winter and rent your Keys or Bahamas condo. Or hole up in southern France. Buy a largish center console to use to get around in the Keys or Bahamas and to blast over to the Bahamas in. Or even the Glacier Bay cat that you can sleep on at times.

Yes, there is no cruiser community experience with this plan except for the canal cruisers and I suspect that is nothing like we know of. And BTW, I am on my 7th boat now, or is it the 8th.
Good ideas! Thanks David. We really want to try the canal boat experience, so I am eager to hear from others that have chartered. Which companies and locations do you suggest.
I may be wrong about the price of Euro boats but just doing some simple Yachtworld searches led me to that conclusion. It does make some sense as the Euro is down by 25% from its high against the $$. I saw a few posts in the past by people that had shipped on Dockwise for about $25K during the off season, but I have not received a quote from them and you may be correct that it is a lot more these days. Anyone do this recently with a 40+ foot boat?
You are correct that $4k a month is around the going rate for a nice place in the keys or the Bahamas. That is what we are paying at Great Harbour next season. But $20k/year is about what it would cost to have a boat in South Florida, so 5 month condo vs year round boat looks like about the same to us. We were paying almost $4K /year for insurance, $10+K for marinas and storage, and there was always another $3k to $5K to maintain/replace/repair something. And that doesn't include depreciation.
I think 10 boats is a nice even number
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Old 07-12-2016, 02:46 PM   #6
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Buying now in Europe make sense, Euro still low, UK Pound fall extremely and last but not least the prices off boats are still an all time low.

As far as transport you can consider own bottom with a delivery crew, lot more affordable.
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Old 07-12-2016, 02:46 PM   #7
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I would buy the French boat, not rent. Unless it is very different from the US (and it may be) you can't rent a boat long term as all of the charterers are set up for 1-2 week charters. But buy one, use it for x years and then sell it. Here is a good brokerage firm, H20france, located in Saint Jean de Losne on the Saone River-http://www.h2ofrance.com/p_list-boats-for-sale.php.


David


As best I can tell, buying through a broker isn't complicated, although you have to be open minded to steel boats, although there are a few newer frp ones available.


David
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