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Old 10-09-2018, 04:36 PM   #1
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What to do with my home/boat while away?

Hello attractive young people,

As I'm sure many of you are aware, I'm saving up to buy a boat to live aboard. I'm still probably 3 years away from ownership, but I'm on track, and working toward getting my life in order for the change.

In anticipation, I've been thinking about some logistical issues. Work takes me away from home for about a month at a time, usually five or six times per year. This means I'll be leaving my boat unattended for about half of the year. I was never terribly concerned about doing this with my old boat, since it was a much less valuable vessel, and it wasn't my home. The next one will be my home, so it bears thinking about.

My best laid plan of mice and men is to snowbird up and down the east coast. Since I'll hopefully be moving a lot of the time, and always be somewhere different, I'm wondering how easy it will be to find a place to keep my boat for about a month at a time. Do marinas offer decent deals on this sort of thing, or should I expect to pay exorbitant transient fees? Does it depend on the season? Are there people that I can hire to check in on the boat regularly? People I can trust with the keys to my home? Should I just have her hauled up onto the hard to save money, or would that be more expensive? It might make me sleep a little easier knowing that she wouldn't sink or be stolen, but it might be more of a pain getting her laid up before I leave, and fit back out again every time I come home. Would you be concerned about the frequent loading and unloading of the hull being on and off blocks several times per year?

I'll be making phone calls to marinas up and down the coast to ask them these sorts of questions, but I'm curious to know what your inclinations would be in this circumstance.

As always, thanks much for the input!
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:50 PM   #2
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Good question about finding moorage for a month, I don't know.


As far as leaving the boat at a dock for a month, I wouldn't worry about it unless there is a major storm event. There are times when it can be a month before I get down to the boat. I never fret over it. Insure the boat, leave it tide up well and plugged in. Shouldn't be a problem if you can find a marina that has a slip available for you. It may take some planning to ensure you have a spot to keep the boat.
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:51 PM   #3
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In British Columbia some of the marinas offer this type of service. People will cruise up there and need to go home for some reason. They will fly home and the marina keeps a eye on the boat while they are gone. If you can't find marinas in the area you want, just let them know you will be gone and post a sign in the boats window with your contact information in case of an emergency.
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:59 PM   #4
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Marinas, particularly in their popular season (and that is when you will be there if you snowbird N & S) will probably charge about 10 days of their transient price for a month. So if the transient price is $2.00/ft (typical for better marinas) then a month will cost $15/ft or $600 for a 40' boat for a month. This includes all live aboard fees and is a generality.

If you can find a marina that also is a boatyard, you can usually get hauled out and stay on the hard for about half of that. Then you don't have to worry about bilge leaks or theft. Going in and out of the water is very easy and not particularly hard on the boat. I suspect you will not be doing this in harsh climates (the N/S thing) so no winterization should be necessary, but I would worry about any place N of Daytona or Tampa in the middle of the winter if on the hard.

Another way is to look for a mooring field associated with typically the city marina. These are more prevalent in Florida and will cost $300-400 per month. Being on a mooring or a a slip i wouldn't worry about winterization if I was south of Charleston in the middle of the winter.


Vero Beach City Marina offers all three types of storage, see-https://www.covb.org/244/Reservations-Rates


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Old 10-09-2018, 06:40 PM   #5
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A great deal will depend on where you are. There are marinas off the beaten path that are quite reasonable. But if you're looking to be in the city, expect to pay more. There was a thread on the forum about a year ago where marinas were being discussed. Someone in the Norfolk area was saying what he paid per month. I was amazed how low the price was, but it was clearly out of the city.

When I was looking at boats a few years ago, I went to a marina on the St Johns river (well out of Jacksonville). Again, absolutely amazed at how inexpensive dockage was. The takeaway is that there are very inexpensive places to keep your boat. They will be off the beaten path and usually in rural areas. Clearly, doing your homework before getting underway should yield lots of good possibilities.

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Old 10-10-2018, 07:16 AM   #6
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On our U.S. east coast/ICW trip over last winter, we found several marinas with weekly and monthly rates that were far better than daily transient rates.

And there were "concierge" services in many of those places, too.

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Old 10-10-2018, 08:56 AM   #7
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Thanks gang! This is all good information. Like Ted said, I suppose it will all depend on where I am. If I can get a reasonable rate on a slip with some staff around to keep an eye on the farm, that will be option number one. Especially in the middle of winter. If that's not an option for whatever reason, I'll have her hauled out.

I don't mind being in the sticks, as long as i'm close enough to an airport that I can still get a ride home without it costing a billion dollars.

I'm kinda hoping to avoid peak season rates by travelling south late in the fall, and going north early in the spring. I don't like winter in New York, but I love fall and spring here. I'll stay up north until just before snow flies if I can, and I'd like to be about halfway back up the coast before I go back to work in April. That should have the added effect of keeping me well clear of the hurricane season and the insurance box, as well.

Man, I can't wait. I want to go now.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:13 AM   #8
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Most marinas will also have some people who provide a "boat watching" service. You tell them how often and what you want checked and pay them a fee.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:25 AM   #9
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My approach to the security issue in a marina has always been to tip very generously, get to know the folks that work there, bring them donuts and coffee, that sort of thing. They then become the very best security that you can buy.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
My approach to the security issue in a marina has always been to tip very generously, get to know the folks that work there, bring them donuts and coffee, that sort of thing. They then become the very best security that you can buy.
I whole heartedly agree with you. Security is a big issue, probably things like electrical loss or a line loose or something easy to check rather than theft.

Get references... there are good and bad marinas. i MUCH prefer a small Mom and Pop when I can get to know the owners and bring them some value, gift or something to make friends and make their life better so they would pay attention to my boat.

Being on the hard may or may not work as one would have to be sure the fridge were plugged in (if you keep perishables there), but you could get rid of all the perishables pretty easy and the hard may be a good option and better with a storm coming.

Another thought if you leave the boat for sometime in one place, like FL for the winter, find a good friend/partner that has owned boats and wouldn't mind using the boat occasionally for taking care of it. You'd have to find someone trustworthy, but I'd place my bet on most anyone active on this forum or AGLCA or similar. I did that with my smaller Sundance, and couldn't be happier. I also did that with an airplane... a bit more risk, but just didn't want it sitting for a year, and also working out great. But the wrong partner would be a mess.... and don't make them a partner, make it a "joint venture" where each brings some value to the table.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:02 PM   #11
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More excellent advice. If there's an option for a boat sitter, that will be a huge plus, and may be a deciding factor for where I end up. I was planning to make friends with as many people along the way as possible, so tipping well, and being extra friendly with the marina staff/owners is far from an inconvenience. I agree with Seevee, there is a long list of regular TF members that I would trust with the safe keeping of my boat.

I wouldn't be too worried about the boat having power while I'm away. I'm already in the habit of removing the perishables before I leave anyway, so I'll just continue with that. As long as the battery banks are happy, I'll be happy.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:37 PM   #12
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We recently set up a What`s App group for the marina. We`ve some liveaboards, some frequent attenders,etc. Early days but if someone notices something,they post it, others see it. Recently someone thought they left a window open, posted it,someone checked, resolved.
Some solar will keep the batts happy without leaving the power on, but if you need heat you probably need the power connected
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:56 PM   #13
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Our marina has 24/7 harbor patrol.
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Old 10-11-2018, 05:20 AM   #14
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What to do with my home/boat while away?

I was gone from the boat for months at a time this summer. There are some physiological effects on me having the boat in Florida and me in Texas. I catch myself worrying about the boat pretty often, and when it gets too bad I just go physically check on the boat.

My power cord failed one time so when I showed up the battery charger had not been running for I donít know how long. I donít leave anything DC running on the boat when Iím gone so the batteries were not super low, but now I have a worry of losing AC power again and ruining the battery bank if left too long. I recently installed a little portable solar panel to hopefully keep the batteries topped off in case of a power outage, so I think that worry is taken care of!

So, I would recommend some solar. Iíve also thought about installing a wireless camera so I could log in and see the boat when I need to. I need to do that. Will put it on the list!
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:52 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceK View Post
We recently set up a What`s App group for the marina. We`ve some liveaboards, some frequent attenders,etc. Early days but if someone notices something,they post it, others see it. Recently someone thought they left a window open, posted it,someone checked, resolved.
Some solar will keep the batts happy without leaving the power on, but if you need heat you probably need the power connected

That is a great idea...
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Old 10-11-2018, 12:08 PM   #16
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So, I would recommend some solar. Iíve also thought about installing a wireless camera so I could log in and see the boat when I need to. I need to do that. Will put it on the list!
I don't blame you for being anxious about your boat being so far away. I don't even own mine yet and I'm thinking about it... lol. Solar is definitely on my wish list. I was also considering a few wireless cameras for the same purpose. Having one or two in the engine compartment could also be useful even when I'm aboard and underway. I'd be able to glance into the engine room from the flybridge, which would be handy.

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That is a great idea...
It is a great idea. Good thinking Bruce. With my old boat, and with my current house, I made sure my neighbors have my number, and know where the spare key is, just in case.
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Old 10-11-2018, 12:45 PM   #17
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I honestly think you're worrying unnecessarily. most people have their boats in the water for extended periods of time. Even in New England, my boat is in the water 6 months out of the year. I'm working during the week. Even if my boat started sinking on a Tue. there would be little I could do about it. By the time someone noticed and notified me. I don't see how I could be down there in time.

If you're gone for a month at a time, you're probably going to empty the fridge of perishables. If you happen to lose power, you'll need to replace ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles, relish, olives, jelly. who cares.

Take a small plastic cup, fill it with water, then put it in your freezer. Once it's frozen put a penny on top. When you come back from an extended trip, check the cup. If the penny isn't on the top of the ice, dump the fridge and freezer contents.

Close all seacocks before you leave and arrange to pay a dock/yard hand to check on your boat in the morning when he arrives and at night before he leaves. Those guys will always be happy to take cash for an easy task.

As for 'theft/security', it's no different than a terrestrial residence. Even if someone were watching it, short of living on the boat, they will only serve to tell you after the fact that it occurred. It won't prevent it.
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:07 PM   #18
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I think your forward thinking is great. Studying now will relieve worry and stress later.

I also like all the answers given. Plenty of excellent marina choices, nearly all have reduced monthly rates, you can find well manned marinas with people who will check on your boat for a small payment.

I would add one thing though and this is for Cardude too. I would worry too much leaving a boat. I'm a worrier. So, I'm a believer in alarms, and security, and cameras. Alarms that will message you if power is out, water is in the bilge and other things. Even alarms for movement on entry onto the boat. Then cameras so you can get the comfort of seeing the boat. That to me is tremendous relief and the cost is down so much from what it was. Having what I've described will allow you to see issues and to quickly speak to someone there and have them check things out.

You can put as much or as little into a system, depending on your wallet and your worry quotient. The key to me though is that in today's world, you can check on your boat as often as you want from wherever you are.
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:31 PM   #19
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BandB makes a good point. A lot depends on your worry quotient. I am NOT a worrier. My wife is. My business partner is. I'm not. What would work for me would definitely not for a worrier.
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:33 PM   #20
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Overall, I would say I'm not much of a worrier. My father is a worrier and he drives me crazy with it. Now that I think about it, I don't generally think much about my house when I'm gone, much less worry about it. I rarely thought about my old boat either, really. I know that my neighbors are keeping half an eye on things, and my parents live about a mile away. They check in on things regularly while I'm gone.

With the boat, I won't have family around, but it sounds like I'll be able to find someone that I can pay to be my friend, and to keep an eye on things. I guess I'm not all that worried about security. That's not to say that I don't think my boat could be stolen or vandalized or something. It's absolutely possible. I just don't worry about it.

I think the only thing I come close to worrying about is my own potential incompetence. I worry that I'll miss something, or defer some bit of maintenance too long without knowing any better, and before I know it, a hose bursts and sinks the boat. When I have a crazy boat dream, as happens somewhat regularly, the disaster at hand is usually a result of my screwing up somehow. Some kind of navigation error usually. This sort if insecurity is what keeps me vigilant though, so it's not all bad. As BandB said, alarms and notifications can go a long way toward soothing my furrowed brow.

I suppose the main thing I was hoping to learn from this thread is how easy it is to find a place to stick a boat for a month, and whether it would break the bank or not. So far it sounds like something else to not worry about, which I'm very okay with.
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