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Old 09-27-2021, 01:16 PM   #1
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Does a weekend live aboard make sense?

My wife and I have been casually boat shopping for some time. We live in the Portland area and have been thinking about a smaller Nordic Tug or larger Ranger Tug or something within that general range of about 30 ft that would be comfortable for two people to do mainly short-term cruising in the PNW, but capable of making the trip to Alaska when we retire.

We also have two kids living and going to school in the Seattle area and have been tossing around the idea of picking up a studio apartment or similar up there for our occasional weekend trips up. Except that those now cost more than a new yacht.

The idea that is crystallizing is to get the boat we want, but moor it in Seattle rather than Portland so that we would have a convenient weekend crash pad to use every few weeks when we drive up to Seattle. Reading all the marina rules, it seems that most allow infrequent overnight stays. Typically the limit is no more than 4 days in a 2-week period. Which is not something we would ever approach.

Such a boat would function as a Seattle crash pad about 75% of the time and the rest of the time for day cruising in the Seattle area and occasional once or twice a year longer runs to the San Juans or other destinations.

That seems to make more sense than putting a boat on the Columbia where we would never stay on it over night and only use it for occasional trips up and down the Columbia.

Do others do this sort of thing and use their boat, at least in part, as a weekend home away from home where you often don’t actually leave the marina? Does what we are proposing make sense? We aren’t in a big hurry, but in this current market, Nordic Tugs and Ranger Tugs are in very scarce supply. What are some other vessels that we should be looking at for this purpose that would provide a comfortable weekend crash pad for a couple, plus be competent weekend or week-long cruisers for the Pacific Northwest and beyond?
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Old 09-27-2021, 01:33 PM   #2
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ABSOLUTELY! Lots of working folks do this, a good get away vehicle and lots of fun. A few get out all the time, and some occasionally use it as a gathering point in the marina to party.



A lot of working folks do get a faster boat so they can cover more ground in the short 2 day weekend.
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Old 09-27-2021, 01:36 PM   #3
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It does make sense and it sounds like it makes the most sense for your situation. Almost sounds like a free boat (by using the money that was going to be spent anyway on something else and fulfilling the need that that something else was going to provide). We have been doing something similar with our boat and in the five years we have owned her have only had her near the house one of those years. Although not yet fully realized our thought was to move the boat around every summer and use it as our summer home in all the different places we wished we had one. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) we have liked the places we have had her so much so far that we have only moved twice so far. Anyway, for us we really look at two big factors - where will the boat get the most use and where can we keep her that the boat will actually be of the most use for us? - ie. we were thinking about buying a Nashville condo (where my wife is from) so we could/would spend more time there. After living on the boat for two summers on Old Hickory we got our Nashville fix for the time and have moved her on to bluer pastures. We also feel by doing this it keeps the boating experience fresh for us - thereby encouraging her continued use. Good luck and cheers.
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Old 09-27-2021, 02:18 PM   #4
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Yes. One of our daughters is in the UW Husky Marching Band and so we have season tickets and usually drive up for all the UW football games and sometimes even basketball games (I’m also an alum). Unfortunately the PAC-12 in its lust for TV revenue schedules most of the football games at night so we often don’t get out until 11 pm or so, and the 2.75 hour drive home puts us home around 2 am. But all the local hotels around the UW also know which days are game days and they double or triple the room prices, so a decent hotel room within walking distance runs close to $500/night and AirB&Bs also don’t make sense for just one night either. Having a boat moored on Lake Union within walking or biking distance of UW would solve a lot of problems for us and would be tremendously cheaper than getting a crash pad on land which start at $500k for a cheapie studio in that area.

We also want a boat for actual boating. We lived in Juneau Alaska for a decade and had a series of boats up there ending with a 27’ SeaSport cabin cruiser that we used extensively in SE Alaska. Would like something a bit roomier than the SeaSport with a better galley that would be comfortable to visit on weekends and for cruising the San Juans and other local destinations. If we put it in Seattle it wouldn’t have to be trailerable. If we kept it in Portland it would need to be if we wanted to escape the Columbia without running up the outer coast. So Seattle seems to make a lot more sense on a lot of levels.
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Old 09-27-2021, 02:25 PM   #5
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Bam. Decision made. Easy Peasy.
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Old 09-27-2021, 03:06 PM   #6
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Sort of tried doing something similar with our Willard 36 when we moved from San Francisco to Florida. At the time, I traveled every week as a mgmt consultant so flying to SF instead of home was theoretically easy. In reality, we didn't spend as much time as forecast, and the boat ended up taking a lot of time so not really a 'crash pad.' I remember arriving one memorable Thursday night to find at least one rat had inhabited the boat and really caused a mess. We ended up getting a hotel room and spent the weekend cleaning up.

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Old 09-27-2021, 03:54 PM   #7
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My boat works well for us as a couple. Really not much room for more than 2 overnight unless a couple small kids or people you really want to get cozy with. My boat is a Mainship pilot 355 (aka Pilot 31). We couldn't deal with something any smaller, but we can spend a week or more aboard with no problem assuming we re-supply at times, especially water. Good couple's boat and fairly sturdy.
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Old 09-27-2021, 04:06 PM   #8
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Although not commuting as far as you are contemplating, my boat kind of worked in the same manner serving as a cottage in a great location. I lived in North Vancouver and right beside it is West Vancouver, the wealthiest community in Canada. Two million will buy you a nice fixer upper in West Van. I kept my Catalina sailboat in Horseshoe Bay which is part of West Vancouver. I would joke with my friends that I had the cheapest cottage in all of greater Vancouver with a West Vancouver water front view and location.
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Old 09-27-2021, 04:13 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
Sort of tried doing something similar with our Willard 36 when we moved from San Francisco to Florida. At the time, I traveled every week as a mgmt consultant so flying to SF instead of home was theoretically easy. In reality, we didn't spend as much time as forecast, and the boat ended up taking a lot of time so not really a 'crash pad.' I remember arriving one memorable Thursday night to find at least one rat had inhabited the boat and really caused a mess. We ended up getting a hotel room and spent the weekend cleaning up.

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Old 09-27-2021, 04:17 PM   #10
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My wife and I do something similar with our boat. We live near Tallahassee, Fl but I cover the entire state for business. We have quite a bit of work in the South Florida area, but have zero desire to live there. Since Miami is an 8 hour drive from our home I was spending quite a bit of time in hotels. So we moved the boat to a slip in Stuart, and use it as sort of a South Florida base.



It only takes a few hotel nights to cover our slip costs, but that obviously is only a small part of the price of boat ownership. It works only works out from a dollars and cents standpoint if you want to own the boat anyway. But it does help me justify owning the boat.



I spend about 6 nights a month onboard. Plus we do a nice long (3 weeks to a month) Bahamas cruise once or twice a year and a few local trips. I think it is a good compromise.



Downside is that boats don't like to sit alone for any length of time, so you can't stay away too long. I always try to have scheduled cleaning and maintenance days in every trip. And yes, despite a pristine boat, I too had a rat problem a few months back. South Florida is full of the vile things. Luckily, I got them before they damaged anything other than making a mess.


I'd say go for it.
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Old 09-27-2021, 04:24 PM   #11
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People do it all the time and lot of people from Oregen keep their boat up in Seattle or near the SJIs. I think 20% of the boats in Lake Union are setup as crash pad/condos with water views.
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Old 09-27-2021, 05:04 PM   #12
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Cam, just don't tell your friends of your location nor plans. If you do, you may have "friends" knocking on your boat begging to be included.
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Old 09-27-2021, 05:21 PM   #13
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We just about live on our boat in Yankton every weekend in the late spring, summer and early fall. About an hour and a half away. 37 footer, two sleeping cabins, two adults and two kids 11 and 13. Very comfortable. Works very well for us. We tell our friends at church, we kind of disappear in the summers and we'll see you again in October. Depreciating asset I know, we could make more money long term with recreational property in the same area, but of course with a trucker and a pile of money we can move that boat just about anywhere in the future. Someday we'll have it trucked to Duluth into Lake Superior and sail off into the wider world, but for now it's our weekend retreat and second home. I really haven't regretted a boat instead of say a cabin or lodge for our "recreational property" at all. Both take a pile of maintenance and upkeep expenses.
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Old 09-27-2021, 05:22 PM   #14
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Finding moorage will be harder than finding a boat.
Maybe shop for one that has transferable moorage.

And keep in mind the time limit for boats registered out of state, should you wind up with such a boat.
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Old 09-27-2021, 05:44 PM   #15
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Finding moorage will be harder than finding a boat.
Maybe shop for one that has transferable moorage.

Comasonian, as you can see, your proposed usage is quite common, and it is exactly how we Oregonians used to visit our daughter at UPS in Tacoma and for a couple subsequent years as she lived in Seattle.



As gonefarrell points out, you will need to find a boat with transferable slip. As it happens, I know just where such a boat exists.
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Old 09-27-2021, 07:47 PM   #16
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No one will give you any trouble for weekending on your boat. You could do it every weekend and they still won't give you any trouble. 30' moorage is fairly easy to find especially going into winter. The thing I will caution you about is Black Water. Make sure there is pump out service available to the marina that you choose.
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Old 09-28-2021, 12:46 AM   #17
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Comasonian, as you can see, your proposed usage is quite common, and it is exactly how we Oregonians used to visit our daughter at UPS in Tacoma and for a couple subsequent years as she lived in Seattle.



As gonefarrell points out, you will need to find a boat with transferable slip. As it happens, I know just where such a boat exists.
If only our daughter was at UPS instead of UW! The idea is to be able to walk or bike back to the boat, not fight football traffic to get to Tacoma after the games. At that rate we might as well just continue driving home to Camas!

Last time I did some research it didn’t seem like moorage was that hard to find in Seattle. I didn’t look on Lake Union, but there was moorage on Elliott Bay available. Which is more convenient for weekend boating but also saltwater and also farther from UW.
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Old 09-28-2021, 02:28 AM   #18
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Weekending is what we do until retirement allows us to spend more time on the boat.
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Old 09-28-2021, 05:28 AM   #19
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IF you live in an area where the boat can be left cold and un winterized visiting as desired would be grand.
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Old 09-28-2021, 10:01 PM   #20
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From this point forward I would not use the term liveaboard. It could cause you some problems if you do. As you can see, what you propose is fairly common practice. Your best bet is to find a boat with moorage that you can take over.
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