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Old 05-02-2021, 08:16 AM   #1
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Is Part Time Cruising Possible?

Hi all,

Been reading this forum for a while and soaking up all the knowledge I can.

I am in the planning/research stage of eventually purchasing a boat for cruising the ICW, Bahamas, maybe farther into the Carib, and if all goes well and we eventually have more time to dedicate, maybe even the Great Loop. And if all goes really well, perhaps beyond.

For the first several years of owning though, we (family of 4 with 2 kids) will be on board and cruising for just 1-2 months at a time. We live in the Midwest so will need to fly to where we have the boat stored. Will probably have something in the 60’ range. Really like the Fleming 58, but am also looking at Nordhavn, Selena, and a few others.

Cruising for 1-2 months at a time, maybe twice a year, and storing the boat out of state when we are at home and not able to use her. I am wondering if this is realistic to do. I know boats like to get used. Is it reasonable to expect to be able to regularly store the boat for several months at a time without damage, or systems going bad from lack of use?

Have you or others you know of done this type of ‘part-time cruising’ successfully? If so, what would I need to know going into it, and what steps or methods have others employed to make this work? Or is it a pipe dream?
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Old 05-02-2021, 08:35 AM   #2
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Welcome aboard!
Yes is is possible to be a part time cruiser. Many on this forum are, like me.

Bottom line is it just takes money or do it yourself. In the size range you are looking at you will want a capable full service yard. Doing the work yourself will eat up most of your cruising time. It takes me about 2 weeks in and out working by myself for a 36 ft trawler. Money for storage, wet or dry. Money to haul and perform bottom work like paint and zincs. Money to commission and store each season. Money to compound and wax, etc.

And one of the biggest frustrations is trusting the yard to do what you want, when you want it, at a fair price when you are not around to inspect their work.
There are plenty of horror stories of yards not performing as expected.
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Old 05-02-2021, 08:38 AM   #3
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It's definitely possible. However, I'd say that part time is easier if you leave near a decent boating area, where you can travel for a month or 2 on the boat, then come home and just use the boat on weekends until the next trip. Storing it away from home in between trips is definitely possible, but as High Wire pointed out, there's a bit more work, preparation and expense involved.
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Old 05-02-2021, 08:43 AM   #4
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We cruise as you describe, or at least close to it. We generally spend ~5-6 months of the year on the boat, but it blocks of 1-2 months. The rest of the time the boat and we are in different locations.
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Old 05-02-2021, 08:43 AM   #5
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For a family of 4 a boat in the 60' range that is used twice a year for 1-2 months at a time will be expensive.The investment of the boat, storage costs when not used whether it be at a marina or on the hard and costs to maintain it will be better spent chartering a boat for whatever time you want to vacation for. It will permit you to see more areas and help determine what kind of boat you actually like. Chartering also permits you to spend more time actually cruising rather then traveling the distances to get to your chosen cruising "grounds". You mention "cruising the ICW, Bahamas, maybe farther into the Carib", but you missed some of the worlds premier cruising in the PNW. I've spent 16 years cruising the PNW and have touched on only at best 15% of the areas. Nothing hurts a boat more then inactivity and lack of use.
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Old 05-02-2021, 08:50 AM   #6
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I agree. If you’re using it that little I would definitely recommend chartering. You can do it in 2 to 4 week increments fairly easily and that way you can pick wherever you want to be. If you want to do the Bahamas go to Bahamas, if you want to do elsewhere in the Caribbean the Pacific Northwest, etc charter there. It will be a fraction of what you would spend keeping a boat that size for a year.

You don’t mention how much experience you have, but that’s another nice thing about chartering. You can build up your resume before trying to get insurance, etc. It also allows you to figure out what you want in a boat.
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Old 05-02-2021, 09:28 AM   #7
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Sorry to say but you plan has some flaws you need to explore. A 60 foot boat has many "systems" which need to be activated and deactivated when the boat goes into storage or comes out of it. This can be expensive and time consuming. Commissioning a boat with food and beverages is also a pretty elaborate process. Then at the end of the cruise, what do you do with the canned goods, spices,staples, etc?

You will be spending close to three weeks of your two month cruise with travel, shopping, set up, cleaning, untarping , charging batteries, etc and the reverse at the end of your cruise.

I "Googled" Plainfield, there are a lot of them. Where do you live? A much better plan would be to find a location closer to you so you could enjoy your boat more often, like weekends, three day getaways, etc.

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Old 05-02-2021, 09:44 AM   #8
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I think that is how most Cruisers do it.. Very viable
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Old 05-02-2021, 10:48 AM   #9
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Many very viable ways to do this. I'm going to assume December and January and June and July as cruising months. Then add in 4 weekends a year. Something like mid March, late April, Mid September and late October. Just flying in and back out. In on Friday night, back out Monday night.

Method 1-Charter, don't own. Allows each of two month cruises to start somewhere different. Might at least be a viable way to start.

Method 2-Cruise and operate with no full time crew. Station the boat in one area and use a yacht management company there. Boat will be ready to go when you are. If boat was in South Florida, this would allow you to cover on your two month cruises, the Bahamas, all of FL including the Gulf Coast, up to the Chesapeake. If you wanted to cruise in New England, you could use the yacht management company and it's captain to relocated the boat back from there.

Method 3-Same at #2 but no permanent location. Only key would be getting it back to warm climate for cold weather. Still might require delivery captain for those times. Keep boat while not using at places where yacht management and oversight is available. For instance, South Florida, Newport, Chesapeake. Now you could store boat for winter in cold climate, just not my choice.

Method 4-Hire one crew member full time. They would attend to maintenance wherever the boat was plus to relocation of boat when needed. They would be given time off throughout the year.

It's all workable, but you'll just have to figure out what fits your desired lifestyle and your finances. One note I'd make is that if you intend when cruising to cover large areas, then need at least semi-planing to gain the speed. For instance, the Fleming could fit but not the Nordhavn.

You come up with your own plan. I'd encourage some chartering first to get more insight into your desires.

A lot of possibilities. For instance from South Florida you could cruise north for three weeks, spend three weeks in New England, then return south in three. Or have boat moved to New England, cruise there a month, then cruise the coast back to FL for a month. Similar to the Caribbean. About the same distance. Or just cruise the Bahamas one time, to the Chesapeake the next, to the Gulf Coast the next.

You could spend the summer cruise time on the Chesapeake but then use a weekend to cruise to NC and another to cruise to FL. Or you could have someone else relocate it to NC and then you cruise from NC to SC.

Just figure out what is right for you. A million variation.
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Old 05-02-2021, 11:07 AM   #10
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Is Part Time Cruising Possible?

Wife and I have been doing that for the past 5 years, and I would not really recommend it. We live in Texas and our boat is currently in Florida. Kids in college in Texas and extended family here so can’t really move yet. We started off with the boat in Texas, but the cruising where we live is pretty limited IMO (or I just got bored), so we moved the boat to Florida for a change of pace. We started out using the boat about once a month or so, and we’ve been able to take a couple of fun Bahamas trips, but our usage has dwindled over the years. This last year’s usage was especially bad due to covid for us (for various reasons), and the boat sat unused for 10 months. We did use the boat recently and it was pretty depressing and time consuming getting it back in order inside (lots of mildew) and mechanically. We were kind of worn out by the time we set off for our shorted two day cruise due to weather, and when we got back and cleaned on the boat for another day I questioned how much fun I actually had.

We have a small, relatively cheap boat, but still all the expenses and thought required to keep her in decent condition while away are beginning to take a toll on my brain, and regret for not using it enough is starting to weigh on me. I can’t imagine trying to do the long distance boat thing with an expensive boat like you are thinking about, but I guess it’s all relative to how much money you have, how excited you are, etc.

I told my wife recently maybe we should just sell the boat and go on to something else, but she’s not quite ready to do that. I’m not sure I am either.

These are just my thoughts and experiences, and your mileage will vary obviously.
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Old 05-02-2021, 11:37 AM   #11
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Pretty much true in life....the more difficult something is, the quicker it falls out of favor.

Charter for now or make dang sure the time, money and mostly energy is available for the plan.

Its easy to say all good....but I have seen boaters come and go from newbies to old salts for a long time....it takes a LOT of effort to cruise even when you live aboard.

Doing it while distant from the boat...will be challenging to say the least.
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Old 05-02-2021, 12:31 PM   #12
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We handled it as follows. Eastern Caribbean in the winter and Rhode Island as a home base in the summer.
This allowed long breaks from the boat during the summer (and late spring/early fall) so we could do family stuff and air and land travel. Also never needed to store in the hurricane zone so significant insurance savings.
Wife said I’d follow you anywhere and do anything but I always must have a dirt dwelling to come home to. Of course that’s what we did so also left the boat and came home for a long break for Xmas. She was right as it also meant someplace to live for Covid and now that we briefly have thrown up the anchor as we’re between boats.
Having the boat an hour commute from the land house is key when you’re not living on it 24/7. When north both are stocked and ready to go.
You’re in a different position. My opinion is you either need very deep pockets to allow hiring a good boat management program. ( we have done that on occasion and it bleeds you quickly) charter the boat in your absence (very hard on your darling unless fully hired captain and crew) or charter yourself. In short you need to fish or cut bait.
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Old 05-02-2021, 02:23 PM   #13
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I would add after reading Hippocampus and psneeld, that doing it part time remotely is not at all conducive to DIY. You must pay for maintenance to have enjoyment from such a schedule or you just become people who maintain a boat rather than enjoy cruising it.
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Old 05-02-2021, 03:36 PM   #14
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Actually Pete Meisinger said it pretty well....

But as anything....people can be paid to make your arrival (soup to nuts) no more complicated than turning the key(s)and leaving.


That takes money like it's available to burn.


Chartering is really the cheap way of doing it.
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Old 05-02-2021, 03:41 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
Actually Pete Meisinger said it pretty well....

But as anything....people can be paid to make your arrival (soup to nuts) no more complicated than turning the key(s)and leaving.
However, there are a lot of people who do it that way. A very sizable percentage of boats in South Florida are that way with a lot of people using yacht management companies.
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Old 05-02-2021, 04:56 PM   #16
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Your right if you are discussing a crowd where some of the people are thinking of million dollar boats to buy to use just a bit of the year.
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:55 PM   #17
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Your right if you are discussing a crowd where some of the people are thinking of million dollar boats to buy to use just a bit of the year.
Not only million dollar boats. Every type boat. However, note the OP did mention a Fleming 58 so definitely in the price range you mention.

This forum has a lot of members who are retired. That means time to be DIY'ers. However, many boaters are still working and some have very limited time. The OP has kids and obligations and limited time for boating. When your time for boating is limited, you just have to have others do some, if not all, of the work.

Most boaters start as weekend boaters and they're very dependent on yards.

Then they may become occasional vacationers with more time but still too limited to depend on DIY.

Then finally they may retire and have a choice.

There are two elements that play into the equation and the choices. One is money and one is time.
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Old 05-02-2021, 09:33 PM   #18
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“ There are two elements that play into the equation and the choices. One is money and one is time” (B&B)

Much truth to this statement. As they say “time is money “. This works in both directions.

Only thing I’d add is for many there’s satisfaction gained from learning a new skill allowing you to do a job well done. Have seen mega yacht owners with skinned knuckles and sore backs from boat yoga as happy as a clam. Being a credit card captain you lose that pleasure and intimate relationship with your boat. Even if you have the wherewithal to just write a check having that prior experience is a great help in seeing that things are done correctly and Bristol fashion.
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Old 05-02-2021, 10:53 PM   #19
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Only thing I’d add is for many there’s satisfaction gained from learning a new skill allowing you to do a job well done. Have seen mega yacht owners with skinned knuckles and sore backs from boat yoga as happy as a clam. Being a credit card captain you lose that pleasure and intimate relationship with your boat. Even if you have the wherewithal to just write a check having that prior experience is a great help in seeing that things are done correctly and Bristol fashion.
Well, I've never tried to have an intimate relationship with any inanimate object including my boat. I also have great experience in managing and getting things done properly and don't appreciate terms like "credit card captain." In fact, I'm quite proud of my captain's license as is my wife of hers. We simply choose to do other things rather than boat maintenance. I manage manufacturing of apparel but don't sew.

Our boats are for recreation. I can work all I want and be very productive, but when I choose to take leisure time I don't choose to do boat maintenance. If that's something you enjoy then I applaud you doing it, but time is limited in quantity and that's now how I choose to use mine.

I don't criticize you for your choice in how to do things so don't broadly label and criticize those who choose to do things differently than you.
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Old 05-02-2021, 11:18 PM   #20
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If you can afford a Fleming 58 then you can afford to have a yard take care of the boat. I say try it and see if you like it. Nothing wrong with the plan as long as you have the finances to see it through. If after a few years you don’t like it then sell the boat. But give it a couple of years to find out if you really like it or not. 2020 was an anomaly, don’t count it as an example. Good luck and if you do buy one, we will need photos.
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