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Old 09-18-2020, 07:25 AM   #1
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Best Weather (dry) and no bugs for 6mo liveaboards

Hello All,

My wife and I are about 12 years from retirement and we're trying to figure out where to retire. Our current dream is to have a home somewhere for half the year and a boat for the other half of the year.

The most likely scenario is to live somewhere like Arizona or Colorado for the Spring/Summer/Fall, and then have a boat somewhere to spend the winter. But we could also flip this and live somewhere warmer in the winter and spend summers aboard (PNW, Maine, Northern Great Lakes.)

The most important factor for us is the weather and bugs. We have to be somewhere that it's pleasant to be outside nearly 24 hours a day. If it's too hot and sticky to enjoy sitting on the aft deck or walking into town, or the mosquitos are eating my wife up so badly that she has to stay inside, then this liveaboard dream won't last very long.

Where are some locations you've found the weather to be pleasant (basically 70-85 degrees and lower humidity) and the bugs weren't an issue? If you've ever lived in Colorado, think of that weather but on the water - I know, it's basically impossible. We currently live in the Annapolis area and, while beautiful, the summers here are getting to be too much.

From what I understand, the Bahamas are pleasant in the winter.

Northern locations like the PNW, Maine, Novia Scotia, etc, are beautiful but they all seem rather humid in the summer and I'm guessing bugs can be an issue.

Maybe my screen name should be "Searching for Utopia".

Thanks for your suggestions.
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:20 AM   #2
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I can comment on the PNW having lived, played and worked on the water here most of my life.

Humidity. Yes, if you look at the charts it's humid. But nothing like the south east. It's not the everything is damp and the air is thick and heavy kind of humidity.

Temperature. The PNW will be on the low end of your comfort range much of the time in summer and cooler / colder the rest of the year.

Bugs. It depends. Generally mosquitos on the water are not much of a problem, on land it can be different. And it depends upon what part of the PNW you are interested in, it's a big area. Puget Sound is generally pretty benign. As you get further north into BC and Ak you run into deer and horse flies. Nasty biting devils. And there is some annual variation. This year there seems to me to be a larger than normal number of yellow jackets around.

Regarding live aboards. In Washington State it's getting tougher every year. The State Dept of Ecology is strongly against liveaboards. And since much of the land under marinas is State land they have a lot to say on the issue. The result is many marinas if they allow liveabords limit the number to a low percentage of the slips, 10% is common. This leads to long wait lists and wait times, years for popular marinas. Add in the growing population in the area and demand will increase. Liveaboard is not defined as full time year round liveaboard. I recommend studying and keeping abreast of the rules for any marina you are interested in. All will define liveaboard a bit differently. In my current marina the definition is 3 days per week, and you can't back this week's 3 days up to next week's 3 days. Stay aboard 3 days then be gone 4. And yes, they keep a sharp eye on it. If the definition is days per month and you are an active cruiser that may not be a problem for you. Generally the further away from major metro areas the looser the rules.
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:51 AM   #3
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Yours is a tough requirement to meet. We have lived on both coasts- NE to Florida on the east and SoCal on the west, but never in the PNW.

The one reliable nice climate and no bug area on the water is SoCal. It is expensive, but boat ownership and marina costs are probably cheaper than owning a house there. It has been a while but I would guess that marina costs in San Diego are pushing $1,000/mo for a 40' boat. And you will have to finesse the live aboard limitations. You can live year round but lets assume doing the winter on your boat there.

Then my favorite land living place in that area is Sedona, Az. Maybe a little warm but not bad and nice cool nights. No humidity for sure.

Let me discuss a few others, just to rule them out:

SW Florida has mosquitos year round. That is why they have screened lanais. Connecticut to Maine is nice in the summer and not much bugs but you probably have to go up to the Rockport/Gloucester mass area or Maine to make it without any A/C in the summer. And in Maine the season is really mid June to mid September. You will get into the black fly season up there too.

And if you want to check climate data yourself, go to weatherspark.com and plug in your town or city. It gives everything- temps, humidity, rain, snow, cloud cover, you name it month by month.

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Old 09-18-2020, 09:33 AM   #4
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The problem is that any place that has reasonably warm winters, and is close to the water, is going to have bugs. The reason that Colorado does not have very many bugs is the cold winters and the altitude. Combination of those things kills them off.

Here in Tampa, winters are warm so the bugs survive. Result is that you have to learn to live with them.

Good luck, but I do think you are chasing the impossible dream.
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Old 09-18-2020, 10:01 AM   #5
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I live on the Maine coast. While we do have some humid days they fall into two groups. Hot humid days and cool humid days. Hot on the Maine coast is 80 degrees. This summer we had a long hot spell that was also humid. During that week we had two days when it hit 80 and the maximum temperature was 82. When it is hot and humid you can ALWAYS get away from it by going out on the water. Out on the water it seldom hits 70. Cool humid days mean foggy days. Those days are typically in the 60-70 degree range.


Bugs are not an issue on the water except in a few locations where they come out for an hour or so around dusk. On land it depends on where you are. This year has been a very low bug year on Mount Desert Island. I have not seen a single mosquito, but I am sure there are places where you can find some if you want. Black flys are not a problem on the coast, but you will definitely encounter then inland, but only in areas with running water. Living aboard in the summer (mid-May through September) is not an issue although north of Portland there are not a lot of marinas and there are none east of Mount Desert Island. Marinas are expensive here $3+ per foot per night because they are seasonal.
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Old 09-18-2020, 10:10 AM   #6
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We live in a house on Whidbey Island in Washington for 6 months (May - October) and San Diego aboard a Mainship 41' for the winter. No bugs and great weather in San Diego! It wasn't too hard to find a marina that would take us as a part-time live-aboard. We did discover that mornings in San Diego are colder on a boat so we turn on the diesel heater for a while in the early morning.
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Old 09-18-2020, 11:53 AM   #7
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If you don't like it real hot I'd suggest you avoid AZ in the summer months. We have a place near Phoenix and had to be down there for a week in August a few years ago. It hit 122*. The thing I don't like about summers in AZ is that it never cools down at night when it gets hot. Night time temps near 100* is not my idea of comfortable.

Summers in the PNW are pretty nice, and the boating is PHENOMINAL. Many places to cruise to and if you're north of Seattle (Anacortes would be my choice) the destinations are close by.
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Old 09-18-2020, 12:10 PM   #8
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New England Summer is fairly close, as long as you're in the anchorages and not the marina. The Marinas will be hot, but the anchorage is usually very comfortable, though there will be a few cool, humid days. Very few bugs in the anchorage unless you anchor very close to shore.

If you're looking for cool, dry and bug free 100% of the time, then maybe southern california. PNW has a lot of rain.
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Old 09-18-2020, 12:26 PM   #9
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For us, perfect is mountains of Colorado in summer (Mid-May through early October). Florida/Cruising in Winter. Climate at 8500 ft in Colorado is mid-70's daytime, mid-50's at night. Occasionally 80-degrees. Sometimes a cold snap. Rarely need heat; almost never need A/C. Fortunately, that pretty much describes Central/South Florida from October through May. Florida in winter is not humid, so bugs are also reduced. But if you have a version of arachnophobia, well, better stay out west.

Good luck on achieving your dreams!

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Old 09-18-2020, 01:40 PM   #10
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We lived in mid Utah for a few years and always felt it was the best weather I have lived or visited and if you enjoy outdoor activities its a paradise..
Dry warm summers - reaches 90s but with lo humidity it is very pleasant and cools at nite. Winters are rather mild in the valleys (which are still 3500 ft elev +/-) what snow we got in the valleys is gone in a couple days. If you enjoy winter sports some of the best skiing in the US is a short drive to many world class areas.
In the spring Mar - Apr you can literally ski in the AM in the mtns and golf in the afternoon at home in the valleys. Numerous national parks are within a days drive.
Some might pick a motor home for the off season which would allow travel to experience many areas in search of the perfect place to settle down?
Food for thought.
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Old 09-18-2020, 04:42 PM   #11
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Best weather

Have lived in NC, SC and both NorCal and SoCal. Certainly best weather and no bugs is San Diego. Slips run $18-22/ft so a 40 footer is about $750-$850. Very hard to find liveaboard.
In NorCal perhaps the Sacramento Delta area would be possible for a live aboard but not really the most beautiful or exciting area.
South and North Carolina would be good spots for much of the year but hot and humid in the summer and bug spray required.
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Old 09-18-2020, 04:46 PM   #12
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:58 PM   #13
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MVWeebles, you're living my dream. We would do Colorado again in a heartbeat. Unfortunately we've gotten priced out of most anywhere we'd like to buy a home there. This is why we're looking at Flagstaff, or Utah, or even places like Couer d'Alene, ID or Montana. We have to have that sun in the Winter like you have in CO though.

My real question is about where to cruise in the winter though. It sounds like you've found Florida to be comfortable? And if you live in CO you'd definitely recognize the humidity if it was bad. I'm thinking possibly keep the boat somewhere like Beaufort, NC for the summer. Move aboard in the late fall, work our way down the east coast and into FL, then cross over to the Bahamas. I know it may be a little chilly starting out in NC in the late fall but for the rest of the winter would that be comfortable outdoors weather? Not too hot/humid/buggy?
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Old 09-18-2020, 09:03 PM   #14
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And if you want to check climate data yourself, go to weatherspark.com and plug in your town or city. It gives everything- temps, humidity, rain, snow, cloud cover, you name it month by month.

David
Weatherspark is great. I've spent a lot of time on there lately. It's always good to hear from people's actual experience vs just reading the numbers.
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Old 09-18-2020, 09:38 PM   #15
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The Dory: I love NC but you have to consider the risk of hurricanes. Keeping a boat in the water for months at a time without being there is highly problematic. You will need to have a paid caretaker at least.
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Old 09-18-2020, 10:05 PM   #16
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My real question is about where to cruise in the winter though. It sounds like you've found Florida to be comfortable? ...Move aboard in the late fall, work our way down the east coast and into FL, then cross over to the Bahamas. I know it may be a little chilly starting out in NC in the late fall but for the rest of the winter would that be comfortable outdoors weather? Not too hot/humid/buggy?
This may not bother you at all, but just something to mention. Also a caveat is that I have not boated in Florida in winter, but have made many diving trips there at that time which do involve some boating, and take note of weather conditions for other reasons.

Growing up up north, I remember the first time I went to Florida in December. It was like paradise! We swam, boated, wore shorts.

BUT, what I discovered when I started diving is that winter in Florida (imagine same in Bahamas) has a downside: There is basically a series of "northers" that come through on the regular and bring a lot of wind, clouds, and cold temps. That's not to say you can't "boat around them" (obviously thousands do, and very much enjoy it), but just something you might want to take into consideration, vs. having it be a surprise.

If you are there all winter and have a nice marina spot, then it may be no big thing. Just hunker down a bit, then take the boat out when it's nice. For us when doing 1- or 2-week diving trips, having one coincide with a Norther was a bummer: Wind, waves, clouds, and bad viz.

As a diver I found May to be nicest in Florida. Or September/October in between tropical storms. But those aren't very practical times to be there in a non-trailerable boat. At least I haven't figured out a way. I like the idea of being there in May for the great diving, but then see myself slogging my way north fighting heat and humidity (long way north in a trawler, unless you are offshore capable).

Not trying to be a downer here at all. Just replying in context to your wanting nice weather 24/7, and looking for where best to find it.

(San Diego is probably closest weather-wise, but hard to find liveaboard slip, and, at least for me, there was not as much destination variety for boating as I would have liked. But the weather is sublime. Of course everyone else knows that too...
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Old 09-19-2020, 03:18 AM   #17
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MVWeebles, you're living my dream. We would do Colorado again in a heartbeat. Unfortunately we've gotten priced out of most anywhere we'd like to buy a home there. This is why we're looking at Flagstaff, or Utah, or even places like Couer d'Alene, ID or Montana. We have to have that sun in the Winter like you have in CO though.

My real question is about where to cruise in the winter though. It sounds like you've found Florida to be comfortable? And if you live in CO you'd definitely recognize the humidity if it was bad. I'm thinking possibly keep the boat somewhere like Beaufort, NC for the summer. Move aboard in the late fall, work our way down the east coast and into FL, then cross over to the Bahamas. I know it may be a little chilly starting out in NC in the late fall but for the rest of the winter would that be comfortable outdoors weather? Not too hot/humid/buggy?
I've been very fortunate over the years. I love being outside - always have: motorcycles, skiing, horses, boats, golf, whatever. I must have been a Golden Retriever in a prior life.

My place in Colorado is really modest - literally a cabin built in the 1920s on forest service property that I bought 30 years ago. I grew up in SLC Utah and have lived in Denver and Colo Springs. My first set of wheels was a motorcycle that I rode all over the Intermountain West - even spent a little time in Coeur d'Alene. Years ago I caught the sailing bug by crewing on Star Boats on Lake Dillon near Breckenridge. There was a pretty competitive class fleet there.

In my opinion, the west is mostly comfortable in summer but not always. The only places I've lived that needed no AC was San Francisco and my cabin (8500 ft elevation). Denver often reaches 100 with low humidity, my neck of Florida reaches 94 plus humidity, though I admit Denver cools off at night vs Florida where temps do not drop below 80 in July/Aug - ever.

Colorado has always been a bit pricey. We don't have kids and our tastes run pretty modest anyway so we can always find a niche that works. I really like the mountains west of Colorado Springs as the access to airports is good. But there are other area - outside of Steamboat - Kremling area is beautiful.

I've had a really twisted career path and have lived a lot of places, some via corporate apts. NYC, LA, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Charlotte NC, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and a few others that don't deserve mention (Detroit). When we decided to move from San Francisco in 2005, I could live anywhere I wanted as long as I could get on a plane every Monday morning and return every Thursday evening. We looked all over. Austin TX was a close runner-up but too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Jacksonville FL was a bit cold in winter too. So for us, NC was out - no reason to leave SF. I like NC a lot - Charlotte is probably my favorite Big City (defined as a having a hub airport). We looked at other parts of Florida and decided on the Gulf Coast as its a bit more laid back than the East Coast.

To my thinking, Florida is really three climates. North Florida is no cooler in summer, but colder and cloudier in winter. While temps are important, sunshine is as important to us. When you watch the macro winter storm patterns as they march eastward across the country, you realize that Florida often escapes - the further south in Florida you go, the fewer cloudy days. Houston, Charlotte, and Atlanta all have moderate climates, but can go for days in winter with gray skies.

Southern Florida is subtropical and is sometimes described as having two seasons: rainy, and dry. The rainy season will wrap up in the next few weeks, and the fever (humidity) will break shortly after. After that, it's mostly nice weather through April, with the occasional storm that Frosty mentioned. Pleasant days are beginning - yesterday was in the upper 80's with relatively low humidity. By mid-October, our AC will get used only sporadically through April (at least). When you live in these climates, you learn to live with bugs. I still shriek when I see a giant Palmetto Bugs. And I cite mosquitos as reason to question the existence of a Higher Power. But after a while, you realize mosquitos have a lifecycle - they are active in the hour around sun-down and if you're lucky, bats and dragon flies will appear to defend you. But you cannot be outdoors defenseless in late evening (in all fairness, I was in the mountains of Wyoming last summer and was chased-out by mosquitos there too). The drier, lower humidity climate of winter definitely reduces the bug problem.

Winter is perfect anything-outdoors weather in Florida. I have a small shop that is nothing but a carport covering a work area; and I'm slowly remodeling my kitchen so have been using our outdoor cooking area (not really a kitchen) 100% for a few months. Even in summer and even with this dang COVID thing, we've had a great time and spend several hours outside every day doing something.

Right now, my cruising is limited to hitching a ride on friends' boats, and I can tell you that the cruising isn't tremendously varied - Florida is pretty flat. But you could easily spend many seasons poking around the state (Keys) and over to the Bahamas. Even the Bahamas is a bit monochromatic - I have dozens of pictures of deserted beaches with gin-clear water that all look the same. Not complaining - we like anchoring and reading books. Just saying it's not like the Caribbean where each Island has a ton of diversity.

Our boat is being restored/refit in Mexico so will be shipped to Florida this winter. I have sights set a bit further afield to Yucatan (Rio Dulce). A friend wants to head to the BVI so maybe into the Eastern Caribbean.

In short, if you want to do the snowbird thing on a boat, you can either start in Florida or cruise to Florida. But in this country in wintertime, boat-based exploration means Florida/Bahamas. The humidity is manageable, the temps are comfortable, and there is an abundance of sunshine. Remove the boat from the equation and there are many options including the desert SW. But then I'd include Mexico. The Yucatan is not exactly beautiful, and it is humid sometimes, but is varied and culturally interesting and easy to get to via Cancun.

Find a way to spend some time in Florida during winter. I think you will be surprised at the weather. The summer isn't nearly what most think either, but winter is pretty nice.

Good luck. Don't wait too long to make a decision. Time passes very quickly. "The days are long but the years are short"

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Old 09-19-2020, 04:28 AM   #18
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OP: This is probably obvious, but you should weight the advice of Weebles (or other Floridians) much more than mine. I may have overestimated the effect of Northers on winter boating there.

Also, I don't know if the (south) Florida gulf coast might differ? I was in the Keys, but since you had mentioned The Bahamas, I guess I had Florida east coast/Keys in my head.

Anyway, don't count FL out based solely on my account.
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Old 09-19-2020, 07:17 AM   #19
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Thanks all for your excellent information. Although we're still about 11-12 years out, this time will fly by and as MVWeebles said, we can't wait too long to decide.

I know it may seem silly to make the mosquito population a big part of our decision metric but my wife is Lebanese/Italian and there is something about her and all of our friends with similar nationalities...the mosquitos just eat them up. She simply opens the door to let the dog out and comes in with 5 new welts. Meanwhile, I'm sitting outside reading a book without an issue. It's sad because it's really affected her ability to enjoy the outside here on the Chesapeake. And we moved here from Colorado where we basically lived outside. So we're trying to recreate, as much as possible, the dryer climate and fewer bugs that we had in CO, with some time on the water.

Thanks again for the all the info.
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Old 09-19-2020, 07:27 AM   #20
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Thanks all for your excellent information. Although we're still about 11-12 years out, this time will fly by and as MVWeebles said, we can't wait too long to decide.

I know it may seem silly to make the mosquito population a big part of our decision metric but my wife is Lebanese/Italian and there is something about her and all of our friends with similar nationalities...the mosquitos just eat them up. She simply opens the door to let the dog out and comes in with 5 new welts. Meanwhile, I'm sitting outside reading a book without an issue. It's sad because it's really affected her ability to enjoy the outside here on the Chesapeake. And we moved here from Colorado where we basically lived outside. So we're trying to recreate, as much as possible, the dryer climate and fewer bugs that we had in CO, with some time on the water.

Thanks again for the all the info.
Have you considered cruising Lake Powell?
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