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Old 04-23-2018, 02:17 AM   #1
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How do you keep a boat in Florida?

Me: Stuck in Las Vegas for the foreseeable future and I love the ocean. I currently trailer a big boat back and forth to Southern California and over to Catalina. The big truck, diesel, boat gas, storage, trailer, etc is so expensive I could likely buy a Nordhavn.

I've decided I'm ready to own a boat in Florida. A lot to explore and I love the area. Also, you only live once and although this may be a BAD idea, I'm going to do it and love it. I will be able to spend 4 days every month on the boat and probably a 3 week trip twice a year. I'll be flying in and renting a car / uber depending on what situation I get into.

Now I don't know much about owning a boat in Florida. I would prefer to be on the east side for easier trips to the Keys, Bimini, Abacos, etc. I may be swayed to the other coast.

The likely boat: Camano 31. Not set in stone. But I'd like to leave the boat choice out of this unless their is some specific reasons to debate it.

I don't know how to do this. Here's what I very preliminary planned:

1. Rent an in water slip from a homeowner in Fort Lauderdale. I've seen these from $250 to $500 a month.
2. Pay a diver to bottom clean every month or do it myself when I visit (likely pay)
3. Hurricane plan: Setup an arrangement with a marina like Indiantown Marina inland where I can move the boat to the hard during a hurricane. This would involve me flying in and moving the boat. I do not know if this is feasible. Flights in and out during a hurricane coming? traffic? Will I have enough notice? I just don't know...
4. I will of course have insurance.

Now I have a ton of questions.. would a marina be a better option?
Is my hurricane plan in the realm of reality or is their something else which would be substantially better?
Is their something major I am not considering?

I'm hoping some of you with some Florida knowledge would be willing in impart it on me.

This got really long.. thank you very much if you took the time to read it. John.
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Old 04-23-2018, 07:09 AM   #2
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I am an absentee owner keeping my boat in Florida. A hurricane plan is good, and if your boat is insured in Florida the company will require it. Most insurers will also require that you have someone who is a licensed captain to look after the boat. He can also be the one designated to move the boat if needed. You will also have to register the boat in Florida. I keep my boat in a marina where there is a possibility of more eyes for security and catching something wrong.
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Old 04-23-2018, 07:47 AM   #3
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Greetings,
Mr. TL. Welcome aboard. Our boat has been in FLL for the past 3 or 4 years. We are occupying a live aboard slip behind a building in the canals. $1K/month. I expect storage only will be less as we have researched alternate accommodations in the past. Our problem is that when we visit it may be for a week or longer and may or may not decide to leave the dock and the storage only places stipulate you cannot stay aboard any longer than a day or overnight.

Yup, monthly diver time. Best to keep on top of the maintenance. Just a note in passing... Bottom painting appears to be atrociously expensive in FLL so that may determine your ultimate FL location. You might consider the west coast. Perhaps the Ft. Meyers area. Close to the Keys and close to the trans FL canal system via Lake Okeechobee that would put you within striking distance of the Bahamas without going around the end of the state. Takes 2 days to transit, as I recall. Keep in mind, the water IS skinnier on the west side.

Insurance? Sorry, can't help ya there...
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:38 AM   #4
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Keeping in theme of original OP's post, Moonstruck, do you find it difficult finding someone to look after the boat, do you also have on-board systems for monitoring? Thanks, interesting thread.

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I am an absentee owner keeping my boat in Florida. A hurricane plan is good, and if your boat is insured in Florida the company will require it. Most insurers will also require that you have someone who is a licensed captain to look after the boat. He can also be the one designated to move the boat if needed. You will also have to register the boat in Florida. I keep my boat in a marina where there is a possibility of more eyes for security and catching something wrong.
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Old 04-23-2018, 10:25 AM   #5
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Yes, expect to have a diver clean your bottom once a month minimum throughout the year. My diver charges $2 per foot. I can't always clean my boat's bottom regularly--hard growth will appear quickly in the summer months!
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Old 04-23-2018, 11:17 AM   #6
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Here is another thought:

Keep your boat on the hard at one of the storage yards along the Okeechobee, either in La Belle near Ft Myers- Glades Boat Storage and River Forest Yachting Center or near Stuart on the east coast- River Forest.

Glades charges $4.50/ft per month for storage or about $140/mo for your boat. That is about 1/3 of marina costs on either coast, particularly the east coast. They can splash your boat in the morning with prior arrangements and you can be going within an hour. The haulout and launch cycle is $5.00 per foot. So your total cost each month assuming you use the boat is about $300, half if you don't.

You don't need to worry about a hurricane plan or paying someone to look after your boat. I would be very leery about flying into an area that was under the threat of a hurricane in order to move the boat myself.

The La Belle storage yards are about 50 miles from Ft Myers beach which will take you the rest of the day to get there. There are lots of interesting cruising spots to go to from there: Cayo Costa, Boca Grande, The Pine Island Sound area.

The Stuart area is much closer to the ICW, but the cruising isn't as nice in that area IMO.

Think about it. Lot's of out of state boaters do it this way.

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Old 04-23-2018, 12:28 PM   #7
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I’ve lived all my life in South Florida and been through many hurricanes.

In your situation I’d put the boat well up one of the canals in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. Half an hour up a canal or river and you’re pretty well protected.

My docklines would be a little heavier and better chafe protected than you normally would. Each time you leave the boat in hurricane season, prepare it as if a hurricane is on the way. With your normal heavy docklines this probably isn’t a lot of extra work. Canvas is the big issue. If you leave it up it will be destroyed and may do other damage as well. Figure a way to make it easy to remove and replace.

You don’t want to rely on someone else to prepare your boat. Everybody is busy preparing they’re own stuff when a hurricane is on the way.

Hire someone to check the boat weekly. Maybe your diver would do this as well as clean the bottom. Have them check the bilge pumps and batteries. Set up a bilge alarm system that will call you if it goes off.

I know you didn’t want to talk about the boat choice but you will really love the big flying bridge on the Camano. That might be my choice for a South Florida boat. I look forward to my boat ride when you get here.
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Old 04-23-2018, 01:05 PM   #8
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You also have to worry about venting so as to retard the growth of mold. Once started very difficult to eliminate.
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Old 04-23-2018, 01:23 PM   #9
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At 31' you can fit into a marina well up one of the rivers like New River or up the Dania area to the cut off. The behind home is also an option. Many of these areas provide good hurricane protection if your boat is adequately secured.

Flying in to move the boat for a hurricane is not an idea I'd consider. I just don't believe in putting oneself at risk over property. Hurricane plans don't mean you have to move the boat. Many different ways. Ours says what we may consider doing but then also makes it clear we may do nothing but leave it where it always is.

Although an added expense, engaging a yacht manager to check on the boat and to arrange service when needed might be worth the cost. They would also make sure the bottom cleaning and any other routine maintenance was done as you required. Do not try to clean the bottom less frequently as it will backfire on you.

Hopcar mentioned canvas and it's not just a hurricane issue. From sun to wind to storms, canvas can take a beating. There are not a lot of covered slips but they're nice to have.

Now with all that said, with a 31' boat, I'd look at dry storage. Harbourtowne, the Port, Marina One, Boathouse, etc. This would have your boat inside a building, no bottom cleaning or exposure maintenance, and ready for you when you fly in. The one negative is you don't have an in-water slip so will probably do any overnighting somewhere as a transient or anchored. Dry storage could be perfect for your needs and keep you right in the middle of things and close to the keys and Bahamas.
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Old 04-23-2018, 02:12 PM   #10
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I could argue to get a partner that lives by the boat, or do a joint venture, rent, options.
But with that little use and being absent, there's lots of downsides.

As for flying into a hurricane area, by commercial airlines it doesn't work well. Private plane works great, and you can sneak out just before things get nasty. BUT, I'd much rather have someone there that had an interest in the boat take care of hurricanes.
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Old 04-23-2018, 02:38 PM   #11
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I could argue to get a partner that lives by the boat, or do a joint venture, rent, options.
But with that little use and being absent, there's lots of downsides.

As for flying into a hurricane area, by commercial airlines it doesn't work well. Private plane works great, and you can sneak out just before things get nasty. BUT, I'd much rather have someone there that had an interest in the boat take care of hurricanes.
You can leave the boat tied for hurricanes every time you leave it so your hurricane preparation is already done.
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Old 04-23-2018, 03:50 PM   #12
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You can leave the boat tied for hurricanes every time you leave it so your hurricane preparation is already done.
Ok, let's talk about hurricane protection in the Miami/Ft Lauderdale area

Unless you dock at one of the few marinas with floating docks (and that will cost you a bundle) you will be in a fixed pier dock and if in a backyard canal front dock, it will only be a side tie.

The latter dockage will beat your boat to death in a serious hurricane. The only way to deal with the wind/surge other than move to a better place is to tie the boat across the canal to keep it off the dock. I have some experience doing this in some of the canal front docks in NC where we used to live, but have no idea if it is done in that part of Florida. It can be very effective because the long cross tie lines give plenty of up/down leeway.

But unless you do that, the surge will pull your lines up tight, maybe too tight, your fenders will be worthless and your boat will be beat against the dock. That is why Florida hull insurance is so expensive.

In my mind you either spend the money up front to be in a floating dock in a protected marina or you keep your insurance up to date, don't bother with any extraordinary hurricane protection and deal with the consequences.

And as an aside, here in Punta Gorda, Fl the canals are wide and most docks are perpendicular to the sea wall and are boat lifts. Even 40' trawlers are on lifts, sailboats not so much. Boats will start to float off those lifts in about a 5' surge and when that happens, they are probably toast. There is no way to protect those boats in advance of a hurricane other than to move them, but where?

Fortunately the last two big hurricanes, Charlie in 2004 and Irma last year were not big surge events and most boats here came through ok.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.

David
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Old 04-23-2018, 03:53 PM   #13
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You can leave the boat tied for hurricanes every time you leave it so your hurricane preparation is already done.
That's a great point, but this situation sure spells partner or joint venture. I'd be the perfect person for that if I wasn't on the Loop and lived in Ft. Lauderdale.

When I finish my loop, I'll be looking for some kind of boat sharing... probably do charter.

Already share a small Sundancer with my buddy and works PERFECT. He likes the weekends, and I could care less, so I typically use it during the week for a short lunch, dinner or sandbar run. Occasionally we take it together. Never had a conflict or issue going into the third year. We both have the philosophy that we keep it really nice and will pay more than our fair share, but end up with a boat much less cost and better maintenance than going solo.

Normally, I don't like partnerships, but prefer a "joint venture" where one owns the boat, and the other has a percentage, option or interest with a parting agreement spelled out so either party could bail at any time. My current guy is a true partner, but we've done many deals together and not a problem.

Just food for thought.....
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Old 04-23-2018, 04:06 PM   #14
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Why own at all? For the extra money and hassle, why not just charter wherever and whenever you want and drop off the keys when you are done? Let someone else have the worry......
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Old 04-23-2018, 04:18 PM   #15
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Ok, let's talk about hurricane protection in the Miami/Ft Lauderdale area

Unless you dock at one of the few marinas with floating docks (and that will cost you a bundle) you will be in a fixed pier dock and if in a backyard canal front dock, it will only be a side tie.

The latter dockage will beat your boat to death in a serious hurricane. The only way to deal with the wind/surge other than move to a better place is to tie the boat across the canal to keep it off the dock. I have some experience doing this in some of the canal front docks in NC where we used to live, but have no idea if it is done in that part of Florida. It can be very effective because the long cross tie lines give plenty of up/down leeway.

But unless you do that, the surge will pull your lines up tight, maybe too tight, your fenders will be worthless and your boat will be beat against the dock. That is why Florida hull insurance is so expensive.

In my mind you either spend the money up front to be in a floating dock in a protected marina or you keep your insurance up to date, don't bother with any extraordinary hurricane protection and deal with the consequences.

And as an aside, here in Punta Gorda, Fl the canals are wide and most docks are perpendicular to the sea wall and are boat lifts. Even 40' trawlers are on lifts, sailboats not so much. Boats will start to float off those lifts in about a 5' surge and when that happens, they are probably toast. There is no way to protect those boats in advance of a hurricane other than to move them, but where?

Fortunately the last two big hurricanes, Charlie in 2004 and Irma last year were not big surge events and most boats here came through ok.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.

David
Let's talk specifically Fort Lauderdale. Plenty of floating docks and, yes, some would say expensive. Fort Lauderdale does not have major surge. We're well protected by the outlying islands. Records and hundred year maximums in most areas of the city are less than 6'. None of the 10-15' surges encountered elsewhere.

Side ties to fixed docks is a challenge but with adequate tying and protection and tall enough piles and docks so you don't float over, then they can work very well. Those in my neighborhood primarily side tie to fixed and come through without damage.

My solution of dry indoor storage solves this whole issue, by the way, and could be an excellent option for the OP. Similarly the chartering or renting suggested by someone else could be.
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Old 04-23-2018, 07:12 PM   #16
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Me: Stuck in Las Vegas for the foreseeable future and I love the ocean. I currently trailer a big boat back and forth to Southern California and over to Catalina. The big truck, diesel, boat gas, storage, trailer, etc is so expensive I could likely buy a Nordhavn.

I've decided I'm ready to own a boat in Florida. A lot to explore and I love the area. Also, you only live once and although this may be a BAD idea, I'm going to do it and love it. I will be able to spend 4 days every month on the boat and probably a 3 week trip twice a year. I'll be flying in and renting a car / uber depending on what situation I get into.

Now I don't know much about owning a boat in Florida. I would prefer to be on the east side for easier trips to the Keys, Bimini, Abacos, etc. I may be swayed to the other coast.

The likely boat: Camano 31. Not set in stone. But I'd like to leave the boat choice out of this unless their is some specific reasons to debate it.

I don't know how to do this. Here's what I very preliminary planned:

1. Rent an in water slip from a homeowner in Fort Lauderdale. I've seen these from $250 to $500 a month.
2. Pay a diver to bottom clean every month or do it myself when I visit (likely pay)
3. Hurricane plan: Setup an arrangement with a marina like Indiantown Marina inland where I can move the boat to the hard during a hurricane. This would involve me flying in and moving the boat. I do not know if this is feasible. Flights in and out during a hurricane coming? traffic? Will I have enough notice? I just don't know...
4. I will of course have insurance.

Now I have a ton of questions.. would a marina be a better option?
Is my hurricane plan in the realm of reality or is their something else which would be substantially better?
Is their something major I am not considering?

I'm hoping some of you with some Florida knowledge would be willing in impart it on me.

This got really long.. thank you very much if you took the time to read it. John.


John, we’re partial to the West/Best coast of Florida, it sounds like your limited time would be better spent on the West coast, with more areas available for short jaunts.

As for hurricanes, we’re in Florida, it’s a yearly crapshoot, but if you insure with Boat/US, they’ll often pay to pull your boat out of the water. We’re in Punta Gorda, and while we suffered a massive failure of sea walls, there are a lot of docks that are “un-boated”, so there may be some available to rent.

If you want, email me if you have any questions.
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:42 PM   #17
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I know the perfect place here in FLL to do what you want to do.

It’s up the N fork of the New River at a church.

My 50’ boat rode out this last hurricane season with zero problems thanks to the pastors good work of moving the boats at his dock to the middle of the river for the blow.

You can live and work on your boat legally here thanks to the churches zoning. Unlike most homes. And the rates are reasonable.

If you’re interested PM me and I can put you in touch with the pastor so you can look into slip availability and get the details.
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Old 04-24-2018, 02:13 PM   #18
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Everyone thank you so much for taking time to respond. I really appreciate it. This forum is amazing. I've got a lot of information here to consider now. But from your responses I am going to rule out / add a couple things from my original post.

1. I won't consider trying to fly in and move the boat as part of a hurricane plan. I wasn't sure but you guys convinced me that it's likely difficult and dangerous. I'm not going to consider that any longer. So as some of you said,I'll keep the boat where it can be during Hurricane season and when I leave, during the season, will prep as if one is coming so I don't have to worry. Well, I'll worry less.

2. West coast of Florida. The more I read and a few of you said this works for me, is nicer, more affordable, etc. I am not 100% sold yet but now I'm looking. And honestly I do like what I see so far. I do think this may be the best option for me.

Here's a quick question and I'll be back for more. Say I store my boat at one of the boat yard places along the Okeechobee. The marine yards with the travel lifts. They charge about $125 for a launch and then a haul the boat from the hard. Do they mind doing this once a month? I always considered this type of storage more long term. I suppose I am paying them and why would it matter. But is this something people do?

I'll be back and I'll be sending out a few PM's as well. John
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Old 04-24-2018, 04:59 PM   #19
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Both coasts of Florida are fun. Why not stay a year or two on the east coast to explore the Bahamas, Biscayne Bay and the Keys. Then move to the west coast for a couple of years.


I wouldn't want to keep my boat at one of the storage yards on the Okeechobee. They are too far from either coast for a quick boat ride to any place interesting.
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Old 04-24-2018, 07:03 PM   #20
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Those land based storage yards will be happy to launch your boat every month or so.

In response to the PP, the west coast boat yard on the Okeechobee- Glades Boat Storage is a little far, about 50 miles from Ft Myers Beach. You could easily fly in the night before to Ft Myers airport, launch in the morning and then grab a mooring at Ft Myers Beach by late afternoon. Hang out there for the night and then continue your cruising north (more than likely) or south.

To the north of Ft Myers beach there are lots of interesting places to hang out. Like I said in my first post Cayo Costa State Park and Boca Grande are two of my favorites. Cayo Costa is a big anchorage that surrounds a state park on the Gulf barrier island. Boca Grande has a little pocket anchorage where you drop your anchor in the middle and them back down and stern tie to the mangroves. There is a dinghy dock within a 100 yards of the anchorage where you can then walk to the upscale little town of Boca Grande.

Other interesting places to drop the hook are Useppa Island, or grab a slip at Cabbage Key where they are one of a hundred joints that claim to be the inspiration for Buffet's Cheesburger in Paradise song.

You can leave any of the places to the north and get back to Glades Boat Storage by closing time if you leave early and hoof it. Or you can leave your boat in a slip for them to haul you out in the morning if you get there late.

For a week or more vacation you can stop at Ft Myers Beach the first night, Marco the second and then push hard the next direct to Key West or stop at Little Shark River and then to Marathon or Key West.

I don't know the east coast as well, but the River Forest Yachting Center is close to Stuart, about ten miles. They will launch you once a month like Glades, but because they are on the east coast and close to Stuart they will be more expensive.

I have cruised that coast a few times and from my perspective, it is more of a city experience than the west coast which is an anchor out experience. From Stuart you can go north to Ft Pierce, Vero Beach, Melbourne. Or to the south to West Palm Beach, Ft Lauderdale and Miami Beach.

For a week plus vacation, the upper keys just south of Miami have some nice places: No Name Key on Key Biscayne, Coconut Grove across the bay, Key Largo and Islamorada. You can make it to Marathon and Key West if you want to, but that is more easily reached from the west coast.

David
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