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Old 05-19-2021, 08:56 AM   #1
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Recently divorced, should I live on a boat with my kids?

Hello all,

I've searched forums and articles about liveaboard life, and I think i'd love it, if it was just me. However, most things I read are directed towards retired life or a traveling family, which I don't fit either category.

My wife and I are unfortunately separating after 15 yrs of marriage, and we have 11 yr old and 6 yr old girls, which will be with me 50% of the time.

I'm 39 and will be career minded for the next 20 yrs, so I won't be retired traveling the world or anything. I'll spend most of the time at the marina, with little weekend jaunts and swim calls with the kids and friends.

Now, I've never been able to do this because as much as I love her and she's the one asking for the divorce, my ex-wife is the 5-star hotel type, and requires a walk-in closet. I don't...

Our current living situation is the kids simply walk to school in our neighborhood (Capitol Hill) in DC. Easy move right now would be to find a small rental in the same neighborhood so the kids lives are left as stable as possible. However, i've always wanted to live on a boat, and I now have the chance. The kids would have to be driven to school when they're with me, and won't be walking to their friends houses, but they might actually love the boat life too (maybe not?)...

As for the vessel, I'm looking for a 3 stateroom, so 48-60', and under $200k. There is actually a 58' Hatteras MY for sale at the local marina right now...

So, should I make the jump now or wait until life settles out after the divorce and the kids are a bit older? I have no intensions on getting re-married or start another family...

Any and all advice is appreciated, and thank you in advance!

kind regards,
Brad
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Old 05-19-2021, 09:11 AM   #2
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In my opinion, this probably isn't the right time. It really depends on your girls. If they are really excited about the idea, you may be able to swing it but they are coming into an age where they will want their own space and even with their own stateroom, the space in a large yacht is a far cry from the amount of space in a tiny 3 bedroom apartment. Living on a boat full time in this climate isn't fun, you will probably need them to trudge back and forth from the bathhouse throughout the winter as your access to dock water and pump outs may be limited in winter. Docking in DC can be convenient for your life but in my opinion, it is not a good location for cruising, destinations are really limited without a long trip down the river. Cruising on the middle Chesapeake is much more pleasant as there are plenty of destinations within 2-6 hours cruise.

Buying a boat with 3 staterooms is no small commitment. The cost of maintenance far exceeds the maintenance costs for a land dwelling and this could easily sour the experience.

My condolences on the breakup of your marriage, focus on your girls and the right solution will come to you. Best of luck.
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Old 05-19-2021, 09:16 AM   #3
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Thank you Gdavid! I'm not too worried about mx commitments as i've always owned old historic homes both here and down on the gulf coast, which pretty much have work year round... I love tinkering also. However, your last sentence is key "focus on your girls ..." Thank you.
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Old 05-19-2021, 09:34 AM   #4
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Sorry to hear about the breakup.

I say the girls happiness comes first. After all they are innocent parties to the upcoming divorce.

You will be happier, if your girls are happy, and a stable home near their friends and school will help with that.

If finances permit, maybe a small bow rider would get you on the water with some fun time with the girls.

Best of luck,

Jim
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Old 05-19-2021, 10:01 AM   #5
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My three daughters, now much older than yours, were (and still are) very adventurous and social. The really enjoyed new places on the boat, but didn't enjoy time on the boat when tied to the same old dock. A boat is too small and isolated for most kids, in my experience, if there isn't an adventure component as the reward.

Some of the isolation can be mitigated by joining a good-fit yacht club. Ideally, one whose members have lots of kids and activities for those kids. (Junior sailing programs are really great for some kids, mine loved it and sailed through college.) From what I have seen, however, YC membership skews older and most of the kids are grandchildren making only an occasional, obligatory visit.
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Old 05-19-2021, 10:07 AM   #6
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My first marriage ended after 17 years, I was too focused on my career in mining and she found a boy friend. The girls were 14 & 16 and wanted to live with me. I tried keeping my career and hired a nanny but that was a horrible mistake and ended after 6 months. I retired from mining and relocated for a new career which permitted me to be home every night and all weekends. Remarried ( I too said never again) 3 years later to a woman with two girls (14 & 13) and a son 12, blended the family (not easy with 5 teenagers and lots of work) but those 5 kids I love dearly and all married well, became very responsible adults and I know I made the right decision retiring from a great career after 22 years and again after 18 years in my second career in manufacturing. Point is, focus, focus focus on your daughters lives. Whether you believe it or not they are hurting and need you in their lives. Second wife is a peach and I am happier then I ever thought possible. Never say never. The ex? She married the boy friend and has had a terrible marriage to a drinker and bum.
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Old 05-19-2021, 10:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWin View Post
Hello all,

I've searched forums and articles about liveaboard life, and I think i'd love it, if it was just me. However, most things I read are directed towards retired life or a traveling family, which I don't fit either category.

My wife and I are unfortunately separating after 15 yrs of marriage, and we have 11 yr old and 6 yr old girls, which will be with me 50% of the time.

I'm 39 and will be career minded for the next 20 yrs, so I won't be retired traveling the world or anything. I'll spend most of the time at the marina, with little weekend jaunts and swim calls with the kids and friends.

Now, I've never been able to do this because as much as I love her and she's the one asking for the divorce, my ex-wife is the 5-star hotel type, and requires a walk-in closet. I don't...

Our current living situation is the kids simply walk to school in our neighborhood (Capitol Hill) in DC. Easy move right now would be to find a small rental in the same neighborhood so the kids lives are left as stable as possible. However, i've always wanted to live on a boat, and I now have the chance. The kids would have to be driven to school when they're with me, and won't be walking to their friends houses, but they might actually love the boat life too (maybe not?)...

As for the vessel, I'm looking for a 3 stateroom, so 48-60', and under $200k. There is actually a 58' Hatteras MY for sale at the local marina right now...

So, should I make the jump now or wait until life settles out after the divorce and the kids are a bit older? I have no intensions on getting re-married or start another family...

Any and all advice is appreciated, and thank you in advance!

kind regards,
Brad
Brad, I went thru something similar, and went from land based to living aboard- zero regrets.

My dock neighbors have lived onboard an Irwin 54 for 21 years, and their kids have never lived on dirt. They are excellent kids, and responsible members of society.

It's about your interaction and relationship with them- they can and will adapt to living situations.
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Old 05-19-2021, 10:33 AM   #8
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Do you think it's the right time to go "all in" to be a liveaboard?

Are you aware that 'liveaboard' families never leave the dock?


If you are interested in boating with your girls (which is a brilliant idea!), try a smaller boat you can spend the weekends on. Something in the 28-38ft range.

We (with 2 boys) started out with a 37ft boat that had a stateroom with a queen bed and a stateroom with a bunk bed. That was our weekend home for years. That boat got a lot of use and was fairly simple to 'start up' and leave the dock and only required an hour or 2 to put away on Sunday for the week.


Also , If you haven't owned a boat before, you should be aware that boat maintenance will either cost you money or time. I imagine your daughters need your time more than ever right now, so a fixer upper should not be an option for you. Remember that you want to get into boating to go boating (have fun), and not to contract yourself into indentured servitude (full time job with no pay).


Best, Scott
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Old 05-19-2021, 11:57 AM   #9
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I would like to offer a different perspective. You said you've dreamed about living on board forever, but never did it because the wife wasn't up for it. Now with your younger one being 6, it's going to be another 15-20 years before she's grown up and out of college, and then only will you be able to contemplate that dream seriously - if kids college tuitions haven't taken care of your saving account. Aren't you going to be frustrated waiting for so long? If living on board is what makes you happy, then wouldn't you be in a better position to make your girls happy this way? Kids are very adaptable, and this change of life can be a way to open to the world, this could bring more to them than a bigger room.
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Old 05-19-2021, 12:36 PM   #10
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I would like to offer a different perspective. If living on board is what makes you happy, then wouldn't you be in a better position to make your girls happy this way?
This is a different perspective, quite opposite of mine. For the past 30 years, every significant decision my wife and I made reflected our commitment to our daughters. We had dinner together virtually every Sunday night and weeknight. We vacationed as a family and in ways that would be enjoyable and enriching to our daughters. We made sure to have enough money to pay for private education, through college and grad school. We chose friends with comparable commitments to their kids. If we had talked ourselves into making ourselves happy instead of putting their development first, we would have had more fun and money along the way, but I doubt our daughters would have become the remarkable people they are now. We have absolutely no regrets.
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Old 05-19-2021, 12:44 PM   #11
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If you have to ask the question here the answer is "No". If you are not a boat person jumping in as a live aboard is a big step. Especially in cold country. Are you a tool guy? Can you keep the systems going on a boat? Water/Waste/Electrical/HVAC....... A Hatt no less....... This could be the start of a bad movie.

There will be a lot less pain if you get yourself something terrestrial for not too much money and then EASE into the boating world.
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Old 05-19-2021, 01:16 PM   #12
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MYTraveiler, I understand your opinion (I have in fact lived a very similar life), and I'm glad it worked for you the way you chose. Note that you wrote: "If we had talked ourselves into making ourselves happy *instead of* putting their development first". I'm not saying "instead of".

I just want to draw attention to the OP that, making the sacrifice of what one really wants is not necessarily a guarantee for success. When listening to the security briefing in a plane, they say to put your own O2 mask first before helping others. Likewise, can you make others happy if you're not yourself happy? I don't have your answer, but I think the question is worth pondering.
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Old 05-19-2021, 01:22 PM   #13
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Dont do a thing until after the divorce is final.
If she finds out you bought a boat (while married), she may throw that in the pot with the house, car etc.
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Old 05-19-2021, 01:39 PM   #14
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Slumber Parties

For now, the girls need to be able to walk to friends' houses. They will want friends to come over. So dirt house near their school would be ideal. They are at age where friends and sleepovers with friends are important. Where are you going to put all friends on boat? And do you want bunch of girls using the boat's head. (No!!)

Start with weekend boat trips then work up to liveaboard boat.

You will get your dream, just not quite yet.
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Old 05-19-2021, 03:17 PM   #15
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ABSOLUTELY a resounding YES... move them on board. There's tons of kids that do this and overall, they end up much better than their land lubber counterparts.



Go for it!
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Old 05-19-2021, 03:37 PM   #16
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It will have to be a BIG boat. Everyone will want their own space-room.
Kids turn into teens, and they start pulling away from always wanting to be in the family all the time.
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Old 05-19-2021, 03:44 PM   #17
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ABSOLUTELY a resounding YES... move them on board. There's tons of kids that do this and overall, they end up much better than their land lubber counterparts.



Go for it!
Alas, they will bring all their friends for cruise. (Daddy has a big boat.)
Get the kids involved with navigating, boat handling and line handling.
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Old 05-19-2021, 04:48 PM   #18
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There's tons of kids that do this and overall, they end up much better than their land lubber counterparts.

I can attest that this is not always true.
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Old 05-19-2021, 06:23 PM   #19
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I find kids pretty adaptable. My life as a child went through dramatic changes every 4 years. Big changes in climate, language, housing size and type. We adapted. We did well because of the time my parents invested in us.

What is not being discussed is the practicality of living aboard in Washington DC. If you were in Seattle I could give you advise. What I can do is give you some questions that you need to investigate to see if living on a boat is practical.

1. Can you find a marina that has a slip and will let you live in it?
2. How will you deal with you sewage?
3. Where will you park your car?
4. Is there adequate electrical service to run the boat?
5. Can the boat be kept warm enough in winter to live on it?
6. Can you get water in the winter?
7. Can you get adequate internet/TV?
8. Is the neighborhood child friendly or are you in some Industrial section of town?
9. Where will you store things like bikes, camping gear, sports equipment?
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Old 05-19-2021, 06:36 PM   #20
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Wifey B: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

If it was just you, I might be borderline, but it's not. You're all four going through a lot. Don't risk making it worse. You all need counseling too and don't think for a moment that the kids don't, that they're doing fine. They're not about to express their anger to the parents they love. Whatever, they do share, you can bet they're only sharing a very small part of their feelings and you and your wife are also feeling things you're hiding for now. Get a one year rental convenient for all. Work on co-parenting with your wife. Make the change as easy as you can. Then after a year or so if the thought of living on the boat is still there, ask the girls their thoughts but make no more moves without them having their say in the decision. You don't get to decide just based on what is best for you. They need their friends so right now. They might love a smaller boat for occasional use, but no one knows right now and you can't buy cures to all that ails the four of you. Take small steps. Even for you, your life suddenly became complicated and you don't need to make it more so. Do you really need to deal with a boat toilet which would have you inwardly cursing the wife and the house toilet? Do you need to hear a teenage daughter scream at you over no hot water and she can't go to school with her hair like it is?

You have a year of mourning at least as to the three of them. You can't shortcut it. You can jump to the future. You have to deal in the present and make it work first. I feel so bad for all of you, all four. Even the one requesting the divorce is in pain. It's not just the loss of each other, it's the loss of that ideal of the happy marriage and happy family and the cute yard and picket fence. It's paradise lost, even if it had deteriorated long ago. Don't pretend you're all doing fine as none of you are. You may think of being strong for your kids and partly you need to but they also need to know you're in pain as they are. They don't need parents pretending all if perfect when they know it isn't. You're all confused as well, over what has happened and what the future will be like. For all of you for right now, the future needs to be simple and as little change as possible.

I do hope it works out well for all of you and you all find a good life that is awaiting you.
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