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Old 07-15-2020, 09:20 AM   #1
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After living aboard a 33' houseboat in FL as a young adult in the 70s and 80s, I continued on a watery path. Moved onto land, obtained my USCG Master license and made a living as a fishing guide for many years. Always keeping my hands on other's boats as well as my own. It's been 20 years since boating and I retired to San Diego. The weather's beautiful but housing cost is sky high. A small one br condo is 400k minimum. Small boating is limited to SD Bay. Though in my early 60s, I'm missing a bigger boat. In a trawler, nothing to speak of for a day trip. Most voyages require running many hours solo. Limited marinas make it expensive to dock/moor a boat as well.So I have this desire to move back on board and do some boating in an area that offers choices of marinas as well as destinations. FL is out due to climate intolerance. The pacific nw seems to offer a lot. Popular for trawlers, fishing in Puget Sound as well as many spots to cruise to in the inland waterways and drop the hook if desired.It seems that trawlers are a great way to enjoy my retirement and reconnect with those with salt in their veins. I may even live aboard.
As I'm shopping at Yachtworld, I see many trawlers 34-36' range in WA that are under $100k with ample size to live on and well kept though 40 years old. Looking at land based living, Everett has some condos under $200k, allowing me to own both a home and cruiser. Port of Everett, on paper, looks like a good place to moor a boat as well. Giving me plenty of time to learn the area by land and sea. I'll search the forum for WA boaters and post some questions. In the meantime, any links to threads that advise on WA and living on a trawler during retirement (while I still can) would be appreciated. Sea you around!
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Old 07-15-2020, 09:28 AM   #2
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Welcome aboard, Swfla! There has been a LOT of discussion of late about the pros & cons of living aboard. Also the pros & cons of buying -- and insuring -- a boat that's over 30 years old. I think you will hit gold if you do some clever searches in the advanced search-feature of this forum. It's a very powerful and clever search engine.
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Old 07-15-2020, 10:40 AM   #3
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If you can afford a condo and are considering living aboard five or six months a year don't forget to consider the Great lakes. Wonderful in the summer and get out of town in the winter.

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Old 07-15-2020, 11:12 AM   #4
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I've been on the waters of the PNW professionally and recreation since the mid 70s. I've lived aboard off and on over the years. It is indeed a great place. Everett is a decent launching off place. Not too far to the San Juans and beyond.

If you're thinking of living aboard I will caution you to get your live aboard moorage arranged before buying a boat. Finding liveaboard status is much more challenging than finding a good boat. The Washington State Dept of Ecology seems to be on the warpath against live aboards. The vast majority of marinas limit live aboards to 10% of the slips or don't allow live aboards at all. Everett the last time I looked was one of the few that pushed back against DOE and in a sense encouraged live aboards, but still a limited number of slips. You will find that live aboard waiting lists are long, usually many years long. For that matter most marinas in the Puget Sound area have very long waiting lists. I suggest getting on the lists before boat shopping.

My most recent purchase I started paying slip rent months in advance of getting the boat in the slip. But, be careful with that. Marinas don't like it when you sit on a slip and don't use it. I kept telling management I was in the yard for work and it was taking longer than expected, which was the truth.

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After living aboard a 33' houseboat in FL as a young adult in the 70s and 80s, I continued on a watery path. Moved onto land, obtained my USCG Master license and made a living as a fishing guide for many years. Always keeping my hands on other's boats as well as my own. It's been 20 years since boating and I retired to San Diego. The weather's beautiful but housing cost is sky high. A small one br condo is 400k minimum. Small boating is limited to SD Bay. Though in my early 60s, I'm missing a bigger boat. In a trawler, nothing to speak of for a day trip. Most voyages require running many hours solo. Limited marinas make it expensive to dock/moor a boat as well.So I have this desire to move back on board and do some boating in an area that offers choices of marinas as well as destinations. FL is out due to climate intolerance. The pacific nw seems to offer a lot. Popular for trawlers, fishing in Puget Sound as well as many spots to cruise to in the inland waterways and drop the hook if desired.It seems that trawlers are a great way to enjoy my retirement and reconnect with those with salt in their veins. I may even live aboard.
As I'm shopping at Yachtworld, I see many trawlers 34-36' range in WA that are under $100k with ample size to live on and well kept though 40 years old. Looking at land based living, Everett has some condos under $200k, allowing me to own both a home and cruiser. Port of Everett, on paper, looks like a good place to moor a boat as well. Giving me plenty of time to learn the area by land and sea. I'll search the forum for WA boaters and post some questions. In the meantime, any links to threads that advise on WA and living on a trawler during retirement (while I still can) would be appreciated. Sea you around!
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Old 07-15-2020, 11:19 AM   #5
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Welcome.
I was working in San Diego living aboard my 42-foot Grand Banks when I retired, and you are right - boating in San Diego generally sucks. Wanting better boating waters and to be closer to family, I took my boat and me to NW Florida from which the cruising opportunities are ENDLESS.
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Old 07-15-2020, 11:34 AM   #6
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I've been on the waters of the PNW professionally and recreation since the mid 70s. I've lived aboard off and on over the years. It is indeed a great place. Everett is a decent launching off place. Not too far to the San Juans and beyond.

If you're thinking of living aboard I will caution you to get your live aboard moorage arranged before buying a boat. Finding liveaboard status is much more challenging than finding a good boat. The Washington State Dept of Ecology seems to be on the warpath against live aboards. The vast majority of marinas limit live aboards to 10% of the slips or don't allow live aboards at all. Everett the last time I looked was one of the few that pushed back against DOE and in a sense encouraged live aboards, but still a limited number of slips. You will find that live aboard waiting lists are long, usually many years long. For that matter most marinas in the Puget Sound area have very long waiting lists. I suggest getting on the lists before boat shopping.

My most recent purchase I started paying slip rent months in advance of getting the boat in the slip. But, be careful with that. Marinas don't like it when you sit on a slip and don't use it. I kept telling management I was in the yard for work and it was taking longer than expected, which was the truth.
Thanks for the heads up. Either renting or buying an affordable condo/home is going to be a good way to start. I can still be a boat owner and lease a slip while waiting on the live aboard list. The slip fees seem to be manageable at Everett. All this is compared to San Diego. My search has just started. I may end up with a small trawler (under 30') that's good for 2-3 nites on the hook or transient marina stays. Best of both worlds.
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Old 07-15-2020, 12:41 PM   #7
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Welcome aboard! As one who has cruised on various boats in many different parts of the world, I can attest to the Pacific NW as being one of the finest places to explore by boat this beautiful blue ball of ours...
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Old 07-15-2020, 01:24 PM   #8
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You might consider adding Whidbey Island to your list. Moorage at Oak Harbor marina has shorter wait lists and is generally less expensive than further south. With the added benefit of a drier climate on Central Whidbey than much of the PNW.
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Old 07-15-2020, 01:38 PM   #9
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You might consider adding Whidbey Island to your list. Moorage at Oak Harbor marina has shorter wait lists and is generally less expensive than further south. With the added benefit of a drier climate on Central Whidbey than much of the PNW.

Generally lower fuel prices as well. OTOH, I've never been to Oak Harbor when it wasn't really windy...
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Old 07-15-2020, 01:42 PM   #10
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Generally lower fuel prices as well. OTOH, I've never been to Oak Harbor when it wasn't really windy...

It's not ALWAYS windy here. Seriously, mornings are the time to visit the fuel dock at Oak Harbor.
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Old 07-15-2020, 01:56 PM   #11
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Welcome aboard, Swfla! There has been a LOT of discussion of late about the pros & cons of living aboard. Also the pros & cons of buying -- and insuring -- a boat that's over 30 years old. I think you will hit gold if you do some clever searches in the advanced search-feature of this forum. It's a very powerful and clever search engine.
thanks for pointing out issues surrounding an older boat. Insurance didn't occur to me. That may be a deal breaker on a year round liveaboard. Another possibility is a small weekender type trawler along with a condo.
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Old 07-15-2020, 02:50 PM   #12
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Welcome aboard. We kept a 46’ trawler in SD for years when we lived in Arizona. Not much in the way of places to cruise to except Catalina. You can only do it so many times before it gets old. We moved to Michigan and live on a river so our boat is tied up in back of our house. Really nice. We put it in a barn for the winter but some cruise south for the winter. There is a thing here called The Great Loop, check it out. We are limited in our long distance cruising now because my mom lives with us and she just turned 100 in May so we can’t leave her alone for long. Good luck with your search.
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Old 07-18-2020, 12:02 PM   #13
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I'm not American but have spent a great deal of time along the Washington, Oregon coast with multiple trips and vacations in and around Whidby Island. Here is a recommendation I have given two friends in the past that kind of sounded like you.

One, get the older boat you can live aboard and plan on doing that for about 7 months of the year. Two, look for an area that is affordable on Whidbey Island. The more populated spaces will be more expensive, but there are more "rural" areas on the island, right on or blocks to the ocean. In that area, I'd rent an "adequate" condo to provide some land time, especially in the not fun to live on a boat months.

Camano Island may not be a bad area with, just beside Whidbey.

Google "marinas on Whidbey Island" and you will see some suggestions, I did this google but it won't paste properly for some reason.

Don't freak out when you first google places to rent on Whidby, its a tourist spot so some stupid prices. If it twere I, I'd go and get the boat and a place to keep it, at least for a few months or more. And I would start touring the area by car and begin your search for a smaller, livable condo mid-Island (lowest prices) and go from there. Living there initially on your boat will bring you into contact with locals and they will help you out with suggestions.

The whole Whidbey area is a dream location, I consider it Vancouver Island downsized and Americanized. And you are close to all the great cruising areas. And when the plague is over you can come up into BC and experience God's cruising grounds.
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Old 07-18-2020, 01:02 PM   #14
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Thanks for the Whidbey option. At a quick glance of condos and live aboard marinas, it looks good. The whole timeline you suggest appeals to me as well.
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Old 07-18-2020, 01:34 PM   #15
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Ill second the Oak Harbor Marina also, may also be easier to get live aboard slip, Whidbey Island is a great place to live.
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Old 07-18-2020, 03:01 PM   #16
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In response to Crusty's comment and in addition to my earlier posts. Whidbey Island is a great place to call home. Oak Harbor Marina is a good marina. But do be realistic about wait list times.

Oak Harbor Wait List

And be aware of their definition of live aboard. Taken from the liveaboard application form at the bottom of this page A Liveaboard is defined as any person who sleeps aboard a vessel more than 3 days out of a 7-day period while the vessel is moored at the Marina.

I'm relatively new to Oak Harbor Marina but I get the sense that staff used to look the other way as long as you weren't a problem. But no more. Most likely in response to Washington State's Dept of Ecology war on liveaboards.

When you google Whidbey Island Marina in addition to Oak Harbor you'll get South Whidbey Langley which is very small with a very long wait list, and Coupeville which is not a marina but a transient use dock for visting the town of Coupeville.

I'm not trying to scare you away from Whidbey just suggesting you are realistic. On the good side, wait lists further south are longer, usually much longer.

The problem is in the Puget Sound area thare are lots of people with lots of money so the pressure on resources is pretty high.

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Ill second the Oak Harbor Marina also, may also be easier to get live aboard slip, Whidbey Island is a great place to live.
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Old 07-18-2020, 03:13 PM   #17
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I'm getting a sense that it's not a simple process. A comfortable but modest apartment, eventually buying is a better way to go. I'm reading that there's a few months in winter that live aboard is a challenge with fresh water and the cold. I'm hearty but not foolhardy.
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Old 07-18-2020, 03:34 PM   #18
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I'm getting a sense that it's not a simple process. A comfortable but modest apartment, eventually buying is a better way to go. I'm reading that there's a few months in winter that live aboard is a challenge with fresh water and the cold. I'm hearty but not foolhardy.
I've lived aboard through lots of PNW winters. Here's what helps get through:
  • A good heating system. On a 40 ft boat something on the order of 30,000 to 40,000 BTU.
  • Back up heat because yacht duty heaters crap out from time to time. They are built for occasional cruises in cold weather, not fiull time living.
  • Good ventilation, goes along with good heating. Showering and cooking put a lot of moisture in the air and if you don't get rid of it you'll have a mold problem.
  • Something missing from almost all boats is a vent fan in the head to get rid of shower moisture. I have got around to installing one but would open the window for a while and crank the heat after showering.
  • Hydronic heat is comfy. Forced air can be ducted to pull in some outside air to reduce humidity.
  • A big potable water tank, most marinas will shut off the water supply in freezing weather.
  • A good shower for those cold nasty days when you don't want to hike up the dock to the marina shower. Big enough you don't bang your elbows and knees and has a dedicated stall so you don't soak the entire space.
  • A good sized refer and freezer so you don't have to go to the store too often.
  • 50 AMP service if you can get it.
  • A big holding tank, enough to go two weeks. You can't treat and dump in marinas.
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Old 07-18-2020, 03:56 PM   #19
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Thanks for the first hand knowledge. Every bit of knowledge guides me as I look for the right boat. I'd say most critical is the waste tank size. One can always sponge bathe in a warm cabin to conserve water. I love my mattress heater in the winter. Alternative heat source sounds crucial as well.
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Old 07-18-2020, 06:24 PM   #20
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I have a smaller boat compared to most here on TF. When in refit, I had a shower thingy installed in the cockpit. I have a completely covered cockpit with bimini and soft roll down walls. These walls are kept rolled down during the rainy season. BUT..... below is what I bought to give me some privacy when taking my shower, its a shower tent for camping. The shower head and hose is 6 feet long so I can be in my tent shower, standing and have privacy.

https://www.lightinthebox.com/en/p/m...Xl4RUFMd193Y0I.

This unit in the cockpit keeps moisture out of the saloon and birth/galley area.
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