Moorage and Living Aboard
The recent posting about living aboard and heating a boat in San Diego got me thinking. As frequent visitors to this forum we have all seen the “which boat should I buy, twin or single, and what state has the least tax liability” questions from new enthusiasts. There are some realities about buying, mooring and living aboard that are important to think about:
1. The older the boat the harder it is to find financing. Even tougher if it is a wooden boat. Same goes for insurance.
2. Very few banks or credit unions will even consider a loan when the boat is a live aboard. When we decided to live aboard we sold our house then began the look for the right boat. With no real property all of our long term financial agencies wouldn’t even consider a loan on a live aboard boat. We found out the qualification and paperwork requirements for making a loan without real property to secure the loan was too daunting for most lenders so they simply quit doing them. They said the change came about after the 2008 economic meltdown, something to do with the Dodd-Frank Act. There are some exceptions of course but the interest rates and qualification requirements are different from your average home loan.
3. Finding permanent moorage for a 40 to 50 foot boat in the Puget Sound region is becoming more and more difficult. Our local harbormaster told me there is no permanent 50’ moorage available anywhere with the possible exception of Blaine up north at the border. It would be foolish to enter into a purchase agreement for a 48’ to 50’ plus boat without already having moorage pre-arranged. There are significant waiting lists for 40’ and larger permanent moorage in Anacortes and Bellingham here in Washington State.
4. Virtually every marina in our neck of the wood has limits on the number of live aboard slips they will rent out. Most marinas have waiting lists for live aboard tenants and all marinas charge extra for live aboard tenants. In our little backwater town there are eleven parties on the wait list.
5. In the last couple of years we have seen a demographic change in the live aboard tenants in our neighborhood. It used to be single guys or older, retired couples. More recently we are seeing young couples with one or two kids living on small boats. The reality in the PNW is that the cost of housing (purchase or rent) has gone up so much that for some folks it makes a lot more sense to buy a sailboat or an older 32’ Bayliner to live on. An early 80’s 27’ Catalina can be found for $14,000 to $18,000, a lot less than buying a $400,000 house. Of course the waiting lists for live aboard moorage is still a factor.
Pacific Grace in Oak Harbor, WA