The Qprofit System And Its Importance

The Qprofit System And Its Importance

The arrival of cryptocurrencies has brought with it lot of investment opportunities in the financial market. Today everyone wants to own a share of these cryptocurrencies. The benefits these currencies offer are unmatched by any other traditional currencies. Not only the cryptocurrencies are doing perfect on their own but they are also helping other financial assets like the precious metals trade well.

When it comes to trading we all need a little bit of help to understand the markets better. What else could be better than having automated trading software to guide you in this process?

In this article, we will focus on the newly designed automated trading software known as the Qprofit System. To learn more about it please refer the link.

About Qprofit System:

Qprofit System is a newly launched Forex robot. It was designed by Jerry Douglas, who has an extensive experience in trading in various financial assets. QProfit System offers investment opportunities in both big data investments and quantum technologies. Many users of Qprofit System have verified the services of this online tool and they are satisfied with its strength to return good trading results. The Creators of Qprofit System mentioned that they are happy with the feedback on this robot. This robot is helping users in trading. They promised that they will keep making continuous improvement and upgrades to the software, so it can provide better results than the current average success level. It is necessary to keep upgrading the software in order to enhance the users trading experience.

How does Qprofit System work?

Qprofit System is remarkably easy to operate. It has two modes as manual and the other with an assistant. Qprofit System is designed to use an exceptional trading algorithm that allows the experienced investors to enhance their trading skills, whereas the less experienced investors can keep getting better returns while learning more about the trading markets.

The creators of the Qprofit System has explicitly designed the computer codes to enable the quantum technology to check the markets for trading opportunities and also do the forecast calculating faster compared to other systems. The complicated big data is the important analysis principle used in Qprofit System.

Conclusion:

To conclude we can say the Qprofit system is reliable forex trading robot. It is highly effective in getting good returns. But as with any investment, it is highly recommended to do a well-structured study of the software and the investment market. Diversifying the portfolio and investing in different assets instead of depending on one is always a better option.

3 different types of trading that are famous at present

There are 3 different types of trading that are famous at present and they are Forex trading, Crypto trading and CFD trading, among these he mostly used one is forex trading and gained lots of hype in recent years. There were traditional ways of trading previously but in recent years there were many developments taken place in which the automated robots or software are evolved which are being helpful for traders to perform trades automatically without human involvement, one of the forex robot that stood in first place of all is Qprofit system which was discovered by Jerry Douglas who was experienced financier and another man involved in development of this software is Sasha Petroshenko who worked as engineer and software developer in NASA, with all their experience and knowledge they were able to create this successful automated robot which have high rate of accuracy and returns. The system can be operated in two different modes:

  • Auto-pilot mode: this is completely automated and will not require any human knowledge to complete the process
  • Manual mode: in this user need to do some partial work to complete the process of trading.

These automated systems are completely free to make sign-up but there are only limited spots of 10 available for a day so trader need to hurry up and grab their spots, the initial capital required to make investment is $250 which is strictly used for investment purpose and the amount can be withdrawn at any point of time. The system is so flexible with the friendly user interface, both the experienced and novices can use the system with ease. More than 60 assets are available with Qprofit system with which users can make profits by investing in them, usually no software is able to bring payout more than 90% but this software is able to gain payouts of 95% to enjoy this service user need to make signup immediately by giving some basic details like name, email address and telephone number which are used for verification process after verification is done user will get an external link of conformation to users inbox, when users click on the link they will be redirected to brokers page in which user need to choose broker for completion of further process, once the linking is done user need to make initial deposit of $250, turn on auto-pilot mode which will place trade and collect on behalf of trader.

Choosing a Liveaboard Boat

When I first started looking to move aboard a boat in 1998, I didn’t have a clue as to the difference between a liveaboard boat, and those primarily used for weekend cruising and short voyages.  I used the internet to start asking what makes a “liveaboard” boat, and these are some of the responses that I received:

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Usually in creature comforts like a working fridge, an internal engine (usually diesel), and a lot lower waterline.

– Doug Abbot

It depends, if you want speed or stability. Each cruiser has her particulars. Our vessel is 3/4 keel, with furling sails, making it easier to handle.

– The Lillie Family

If you truly want to live aboard a boat and also go sailing you would be better off getting two boats. Get an old roomy powerboat for office and living, and get a functional cruising sailboat for serious sailing. Cruising and living aboard dockside are totally different, what is needed for one is a detriment to the other. With a compromise boat, you end up with one that does neither very well. Old powerboats are cheap and very dockside livable, a good SAFE cruising boat, makes a horrible office and a lousy long term dockside home, and you will never go sailing because your dockside liveaboard stuff is too much trouble to get out of the way, Good Luck!

– Gary W.

 Ours can be sailed single handed, and we’re an Islander 44 (masthead sloop), but you may not think we have enough room. Islander Freeport 41 makes a nice liveaboard, but may not fill your sailing requirements. You’ve sure got some shopping to do! Best of luck.

 – Potterkat

A liveaboard boat must allow you to carry out your normal day to day living activities in a way that will not make you feel like you are camping out. These considerations include storage space for clothes, head/shower functionality, adequate interior lighting, workable galley, and comfortable sleeping arrangement. Remember, on a weekender, you are never forced to get into a routine, you don’t have to worry about groceries or hanging up working clothes or space to set up your computer and printer. Most importantly, even when the boat is “loaded down” with all of the liveaboard stuff, you still want it to be easy to sail without having to spend an excessive amount of time stowing stuff.

– Tracy Watkins

Fitting out a boat for living aboard in a marina is rather different to buying and fitting out a boat for living aboard while long-term cruising. If you are interested in the latter, you might mike to have a look at the web site I put together about my own preparations for long-term cruising, and about the trip itself. It is at http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Shores/6076. I hope this helps.

 – Phaon Reid

Biggest difference is probably the size. Most weekend cruisers are in the 20 – 30 feet range. A weekend cruiser can have all the comforts of a liveaboard or very few depends on the boat and owner.  Don’t compromise on the amenities. For example, a small shower stall will drive you nuts in about a month. Look at multihulls (catamarans). They offer a lot more living/working space. They also don’t heal very much, important if you don’t want your laser printer on the floor.

– Stuart L. Jantzen

What I decided (1998):

After carefully inspecting 20 boats or so, I began to develop a sense for what makes a boat liveable. Some of the boats we went aboard are practically “floating condominiums.” They have beautiful interiors, and all of the creature comforts of home (Island Packet is a boat that falls into this category). These boats are made to be easily maneuvered, so their keels are relatively short. These boats also tend to be considerably lighter (i.e., they displace less water) than their ocean-going counterparts. Many of them tend to have large ports that let in a lot of light (but could also, potentially, let in a lot of water in heavy seas).

Ultimately, I decided on a 38′ Hans Christian sailboat. She has everything that I need to live my daily existence, and she makes it very comfortable. There’s plenty of headroom all throughout the boat. I can stand to cook my meals, entertain my friends in the saloon, and take a piss in the head. Not having to crouch throughout the living space is a very important issue in any home! She also has a full galley (kitchen), with plenty of storage for food, a working refrigerator, hot and cold running water, an oven, and a three-range burner. There are hanging closets for my work clothes and play clothes. Plenty of drawer space for my socks and underwear. The head is spacious enough so that I can read a newspaper while doing my business, and it has a separate shower. Hell, the boat even has a separate guest cabin for the folks I don’t want to sleep with!

While she does have a lot of amenities, the Hans Christian doesn’t have a lot of room in the interior, which will take a bit of adjustment on my part. There are no wide-open spaces in which to entertain guests (even the cockpit, which is outside, is small).

Thoughts from 2000:

Now that I’ve lived aboard for nearly two years, I’ve been on a LOT of boats. There are some HUGE differences between weekend-cruisers and a boat designed for full-time living aboard (like a blue water cruiser).

I thought when I bought the boat that she was relatively small. But I was comparing her to the spacious 1,200 sq. ft. apartment I used to live in. That apartment was ridiculous in its accommodations. A huge fireplace, 16′ vaulted ceilings, a separate office, two spacious bathrooms, an island kitchen, a balcony, etc.

For those of us who can’t afford multimillion dollar yachts, our way of thinking about space has to change when we move aboard. It is true that many of my friends asked, “Gee, won’t you get claustrophobic living here?” Well, yes, I would if I were in their mind-set. They live in big houses with a lot of the amenities my apartment had. Today, I live in a space that I estimate would translate into 300 sq. ft. of a normal house. That’s 1/4 of the area I used to have!

So, some adjustments had to be made. The only “furniture” I have is what’s built into the boat. This would include couches (called “settees” aboard a boat). I have two of them. One on starboard that pulls out to make a full berth and the other wraps-around the table in the saloon. Beds are also built-in. Candide has three official beds (called “berths”). One is in the very peak of the boat, and it comfortably sleeps two (though I was fortunate enough to once sleep with two women up there…but that’s another story). Another is in the aft cabin, which also comfortably sleeps two. The third is opposite the aft cabin (though this berth offers no privacy. It’s a “quarter berth”) and only sleeps one. It’s designed for the captain while the boat’s at sea. It’s very near the instruments and close to the companionway leading up to the deck. Wardrobes are also built-in. Candide has two. They’re located in the vee-berth (the front of the boat), side by side. Generally, I keep my business suits on one side and my play clothes in the other. The boat offers several drawers, which substitute for a chest-of-drawers that might be found in a house. There are four of them in the vee-berth, and three in the aft cabin. This is where I stick jeans, socks, underwear, and t-shirts.

The separate shower in the head is a must for living aboard, in my opinion. A lot of boats don’t have separate showers. Instead, the head includes a “hose” that is used for showering. Water simply drains onto the floor, and eventually is pumped overboard. This is NOT a good design, as you’ll be standing in water all the time as you dry your hair. Read the warning label on your hair dryer sometime. This is not recommended procedure (something about grounding, bare feet, water, electricity, and being electrocuted to death). A separate shower, where the water and mildew can be maintained, is definitely a plus.

Candide has a wrap-around galley, which means that the chef stands in the middle while everything is within arm’s length. At first, one would think, “My God! That’s the smallest friggin’ kitchen I’ve ever seen!” And it is. But, when the boat is at sea, the wrap-around galley is a god-send. The cook can literally strap himself/herself to a special bar attached to the oven and not have to worry about getting knocked around as the boat rocks back and forth. Everything…from raw food, to the refrigerator, to the oven and sink, is all within a couple of feet away. A lot of weekend boats, I’ve noticed, have straight galleys…everything is “lined up.” These layouts certainly have more room in which to walk around, but this is NOT a good arrangement to have at sea.

One complaint I have about Candide as a liveaboard vessel is the amount of light available in the cabin. Quite frankly, my friends have labeled her as “the cave” because there are no large windows letting in copious amounts of light. I admit, that if there was one thing that I could change, it would be the amount of light that gets into the cabin. It’s friggin’ dark in here! It should be noted, however, that this is a life-saving feature aboard a blue-water cruiser. In heavy seas, there are no large windows to break out and let in a ton of water. For me, it’s one of those trade-off issues. I do plan on crossing an ocean one day…best not to have huge windows.

Thoughts from 2003:

It’s been several years since I moved aboard, and I now consider myself an expert on living on a boat. Candide came with tons of amenities that I simply took for granted. Having talked with several of my liveaboard companions, I’m offering a list of things (simple, though they seem) that not every boat has. These simple things, or rather the lack thereof, can cause great hardships and break up marriages…according to the people I’ve come to know. Here they are:

  • Galley Sink

    Running Water.  It seems so simple. On land, you go to the kitchen to cook a meal, turn on the faucet, and don’t give a second’s thought as to whether water will appear. When taking a shower you turn on the faucet and water just magically flows. Most of us take this totally for granted. Now, imagine living on a boat with no automatic water pressure. To cook that meal, you’re going to have to use a manual hand pump (or foot pump) to get that water you need. It’s not an easy task to hold a pot in one hand while furiously pumping with the other! About that shower…well, I personally don’t know how it’s possible to be trapped in an area the size of a small phone booth, and use a manual pump to produce the water flow. It seems to me that a combination of slippery soap, confined space, and vigorous arm movement is just an accident waiting to happen. Yet, some boats don’t have automatic running water. This causes a LOT of problems for people who live aboard full-time. Note, however, that electric pumps can usually be added to a boat that only has manual pumps. So, if you find that dream boat and discover that it only has manual water, think about maybe adding an electric water pressure pump. Guaranteed to make your life easier!

  • Water Heater

    Water Heater

    Hot Water.  So now it’s time to wash the dishes from the meal you made with magical Running Water. The VAST majority of boats don’t have dishwashers, so you’ll be scrubbing them by hand. Experience tells me that hot water is much more effective for washing dishes than cold water. To do this, of course, you’ll need a hot water heater. Afterwards, you may want to take a shower before going to bed. If you only have cold water on the boat, this may induce a certain amount of “shrinkage” in vital (male) body parts. So, you crawl into bed with the missus with a very cold body exhibiting only a fraction of your usual self. This will not make you particularly attractive that evening. So, hot water is a very convenient thing to have for washing dishes, general cleaning, and your companionship. Again, hot water heaters can be added to almost any boat. It’s certainly worth considering!

  • Toilet and Shower

    Separate Shower

    Separate Shower.  No, I don’t mean “his” and “hers.” I mean that the shower should be separate from the rest of the bathroom (head). “Well, of course the shower area is separate,” my landlubber readers may be thinking. Who ever heard of a bathroom in a house or apartment that didn’t have a separate compartment for the shower, separated from the rest of the bathroom with sliding glass doors or at least a curtain? Well, a lot of boat designers, for whatever reason, don’t feel that it’s necessary to have a separate shower area. Instead, there’s a “shower hose” connected to the sink in the head. To take a shower, one simply walks into the head, turns on the “hose” and starts to lather up. The problem is that water will wind up everywhere in the head…in the medicine cabinet, on the toilet, and on the toothbrushes that were left out the night before. In short, it will produce one very wet bathroom that becomes difficult to use. Far better to live aboard a boat that has a separate shower…separated from the rest of the bathroom with doors or curtains…just like you’d expect to find in a house. In addition, the “whole head as a shower” concept is potentially dangerous at sea. Let’s say you’re on a four-day voyage. Second day out, someone is going to want to wash the salt off of themselves. They use the “whole head as a shower” and leave puddles of soapy water all over the floor. Twenty minutes later, someone goes into the head to retrieve a Q-Tip or whatever. They encounter a very slippery floor, the boat suddenly heals in a different direction, and they slip and bang their head against the toilet. They hire Johnny Cochren, there’s a lawsuit, a big media frenzy…you get the picture. A separate shower is a big plus on a liveaboard boat. And unless you’re a very talented carpenter with a lot of extra time on your hands, the boat has to built with this feature in mind. It’s not something that can be easily added at a later date.

  • His and Her Space. Small boats, by nature, are very cramped living quarters. One of the complaints I’ve heard from couples living on very small boats (say 25 – 30′) is that there’s no way to establish individual territories. I’ve discovered that couples living on larger boats tend to find a bit of space specifically for each person. It could be simply somewhere to sit down, or even a separate cabin…but a place to escape on their own for a bit of solitude. As someone who’s only lived aboard alone, I’m not an expert on this area. All I can do is pass along what I’ve heard from others in this regard.
  • Air Conditioner / Heater

    Climate Control. This site includes a whole section on air conditioning and heating. I knew that this was an important amenity for me personally living alone on the boat, but I didn’t know what a big deal it was for folks living without it. Here in Florida, it gets very, very hot and humid during the summer. Most buildings and cars here are air-conditioned. Living on a boat in sweltering conditions can make life pure hell. Sleep is nearly impossible. Even thinking can be a real chore. In north Florida, it gets very cold during the winter. Sometimes, the temperature drops below freezing. Again, sleep is nearly impossible. During the day, these temperatures aren’t such a big deal. One can go to a library to work or maybe a Starbucks. But at night…well, that’s a different story all together. As a liveaboard, it’s my opinion that you’re going to need some sort of climate control that can handle both summer and winter. Most of my liveaboard friends agree.

  • Refrigerator

    Refrigeration.  Maybe your grandmother had an old-fashion ice box when she was young. Somebody would come by every few days and deliver a block of ice to put in this ancient contraption called, appropriately enough, an “ice box.” The majority of America did away with ice boxes decades ago…but not in the sailing community. Candide, launched in 1985, could store some 250 pounds of ice. This is how food was kept somewhat cool. As a liveaboard, though, who wants to bring down two or three bags of ice to throw in the box every evening during a hot summer? Certainly, not me. Fortunately, the previous owners converted the ice box into a refrigerator. There’s a compressor, evaporator, pump…the whole nine yards. This contraption keeps the old ice box at a temperature of about 36 degrees or so. By putting things directly next to the “freeze plate,” I can actually freeze food (a gallon of water will freeze in about 36 hours). A lot of boats are equipped with separate freezers, which is great but they tend to consume a LOT of electricity. But many modern boats use 100-year-old technology to keep food cool (i.e., the “ice box”). Life becomes much easier for the liveaboard when these are converted to refrigeration.

  • Hanging Lockers

    Separate Closet Space.  Generally, boat closets (called “hanging lockers” in nautical parlance), are very small places. Space within these closets is a very valuable commodity on board. As a single guy living on board, I’m quite happy with the two hanging lockers in Candide’s vee-berth. I’ve noticed an interesting trend with my fellow liveaboards who have only one closet and a wife or girlfriend on board. It seems that the closet space becomes hers, while his clothes get stuffed into a drawer somewhere. This is not a good situation if you have to wear a suit and tie on occasion (though generally, liveaboard guys hate wearing ties, much less suits. You wouldn’t believe what guys were wearing to the funeral of one of our liveaboard friends…though the deceased would not have expected the guys to wear suits and ties and in fact wasn’t wearing one when he was buried…but I digress). The solution is to find a boat with two or more hanging lockers if you intend to have a significant other on board. From what I’ve heard, it will save a few arguments.

  • Shelf Space

    Shelf Space.  I’m not an anthropologist, but I’m pretty sure it’s a human trait to collect nick-knacks. At least, it certainly is an important aspect of Western civilization. Eventually, most liveaboards will collect books, CD’s, more books, photographs, and one or two more books. Most of us want easy access to these things, without having to dig around for them at the bottom of drawers or stuffed into cabinets. So, most boats come with convenient shelves that eventually get stuffed with all sorts of items. Generally, the more shelf space a boat has, the better. Of course, these shelves should have some sort of built-in mechanism that holds items in place while under sail. Otherwise, all of your nick-knacks will wind up on the cabin sole during rough weather.

  • Gas Range (Oven Underneath)

    Gas Oven and Range.  Candide is equipped with an oven and three-burner gas stove. I’ve never paid a whole lot of attention to it. I know that it will cook frozen pizza, heat up canned soup, and allow me to make spaghetti when I need it. As a single guy who never really learned how to cook, I eat out most of the time and really never gave the oven/range a whole lot of thought. It’s always there in the rare cases I need it (though it is used extensively when we’re away from shore…but the crew generally prefers that their Captain not cook. They’re always eager to do it themselves. I’m not sure why). In any case, I’ve noticed that a lot of my fellow liveaboards have only one or two burners (with no oven) that use alcohol as a fuel source. This is often the largest complaint they have about their boats…they can’t cook a decent meal. So, if you’re a chef or wanna-be cook, I highly recommend having a gas oven with two or more burners. Gas, by the way, is preferable to alcohol. From my understanding, it burns hotter and more evenly than alcohol and is less temperamental.

  • A Bit Dark Inside…

    Ample Lighting.  Some of my friends and fellow liveaboards refer to Candide as “the cave.” The windows (called “portals”) are very small. This is very good in rough weather at sea, as it’s unlikely that rough waves will break them. Not so good at the dock, because they let in only a small amount of light. It’s true that Candide has a very large butterfly hatch in the saloon, but it’s usually covered by the dinghy which I store on deck. As the result, Candide is dark on the inside, even during the day. This is good because the darkness conceals a lot of the dirt, dust, unwashed dishes, etc., but not so good when it comes to light-dependent activities like reading. As Candide serves as both home and business office, I’d like to enjoy more natural light during the day. Hell, I might as well be stuffed in some corporate cubicle somewhere for all the natural light I enjoy during the workday. Nonetheless, the long-term goal of crossing oceans, and the safety provided by small portals, outweigh the desire for lots of daytime light in the cabin.

  • Using an AC Outlet (yes, I know the outlet’s upside-down!)

    Inverter.  When I lived in an apartment, I had a lot of different appliances that used electricity; a coffee maker, hair dryer, iron, lamps, stereo, television, microwave…you name it. When I moved on the boat, I took a lot of these things with me. I found places for them, figured out how to secure them so they wouldn’t spill onto the cabin sole while underway, and simply plugged them in. They work fine, and I’d never really given the whole process a second thought. This is because Candide is equipped with a wonderful device called an “inverter,” which converts D.C. power to A.C. D.C. power, of course, is provided by batteries. A.C. power is usually provided by an electrical utility company. An inverter allows me to bypass the electric company by converting the D.C. power stored in the boat’s eight lead-acid batteries into “normal” A.C. power that runs my television and microwave. This is very cool, because I can watch television and nuke my food even during power outages (and, unfortunately, marinas tend to experience an abnormal amount of these). There are a lot of boats that have no A.C. power whatsoever. This makes liveaboard life tough, because most appliances from the local Best Buy require A.C. power. So, if you’re looking to live aboard and want to keep your cappuccino maker, I highly recommend finding a boat with an inverter…or at least plan on installing an inverter after the fact.

  • Hot Tub.  OK, just kidding about that one. It’s something that I’ve always wanted…but simply can’t have on board Candide. If you live in the Jacksonville area and own a hot tub, I’ll take you for a sail in exchange for some time with your relaxing water jets.

Thoughts from 2012:

I have now lived on board Candide for longer than I ever lived in any single land-based domicile.  I know every inch of this boat, and I’ve been aboard dozens and dozens of other boats…both liveaboards and otherwise.  If you are looking to buy a boat to live on board, here are some general guidelines formulated after 14 years of personal experience:

  • Avoid Wood.  Water and wood do not get along.  In a fight to the finish, water will always win.  Candide has acres and acres of teak, which is certainly beautiful and even functional (provides a great amount of friction for your feet when it’s wet).  It’s also a tremendous amount of work to maintain.  The varnish above and below decks has to be sanded and re-coated on a regular basis.  Below deck, especially in cabinets and the bilge where there’s little air movement, wood rots.  And rotten wood has to be ripped out and replaced.  This can be quite expensive and/or time consuming if the rotten wood is (was) structural.  Teak decks have a life of about 25 years before they have to be replaced.  It’s about time for Candide’s decks to be replaced and I got an estimate last year for the cost…$45,000 if the work is done in the U.S. (I’ll sail her to Central America before paying those prices…labor and teak are much cheaper there!).  Keep in mind that Candide’s hull is made from fiberglass; all of the external wood is above the waterline.  I cannot imagine the amount of work involved with a wooden-hulled boat.  I strongly suggest avoiding an all-wooden boat unless you have a tremendous amount of money or a lot of time and carpentry skills!
  • Avoid “Fixer-Uppers”.  All boats require tremendous amounts of time and money to keep in good working order.  I have watched people buy a wreck of a boat (or get one for free…I even knew a guy who traded a bottle of rum for his boat!), thinking that they’ll fix it up themselves.  I’ve yet to see anyone complete such a project.  Heck, Candide was in really good shape when I bought her…and it’s just about everything I can do to keep her that way!  If you’re thinking about starting with a “clunker” and making her into a comfortable home…at least consider living on land while you’re making her inhabitable.  It’s really tough to live on a boat that is undergoing major renovations.
  • Keep Her Seaworthy.  I’ve seen many liveaboard boats that never go anywhere.  They often have too much crap lying about the decks (e.g., potted plants, bird cages, lawn furniture, patio grills, plastic pink flamingos, etc.) and are sometimes disasters down below (e.g., engines half-removed, electrical wires strung about, no running water, etc.).  This is a big peeve of mine and many of my fellow liveaboards who take pride in their vessels and marinas.  There are much cheaper ways of being “trailer trash” than living on a boat!  Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh…I guess I’m getting to be a bit of a curmudgeon in my middle years.
  • Budget for Maintenance.  Boat are expensive to maintain.  They sit in water that will attack whatever they’re made from–be it wood, metal, fiberglass or cement.  Electrical wiring will corrode, engine parts will fail, water hoses will deteriorate, sails will rip.  Every boat should be hauled out of the water every other year or so for inspection.  All of this will cost money.  It is impossible to say how much it will cost to properly maintain any given boat, but a good rule of thumb is to set aside around 10% of the boat’s purchase price, per year, for maintenance.

The Marina – Your Liveaboard Neighborhood

Once you’ve bought a boat to live aboard, you’re going to need a place to park it.  One option is to simply anchor it in a river somewhere, well away from the channel used by moving boat traffic.  Anchoring is free; you can pretty much do whatever you like while you’re “on the hook” and not pay a single dime to anyone for the privilege.

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But such isolation has major drawbacks.  How will you get electricity to power the laptop, TV, iPad, iPhone, and stereo speakers?  Sure, your new boat may have massive banks of house batteries, but they will eventually run down.  You can recharge them from the engine, wind generator, or solar panels, but engines will require you to buy fuel, wind generators only work if there’s a good amount of wind blowing, and solar panels don’t work at night.  What about getting to work every day?  If you have a job, you’re going to have to get from the boat to shore.  You can get a dinghy, of course, to ferry you back and forth between the boat and land.  But you’re going to have to find a place to park that dinghy during the day where it will be safe while you’re at work.  Once you reach land and have parked your dinghy, how will you get to work?  Most likely, you’ll need a car.  But where are you going to keep that car at night, where it will be safe while you’re sleeping at anchor on the boat?  What if you want to order a pizza?  Papa John’s doesn’t deliver on the water…

All of these problems can be instantly solved by moving into the trailer park of the boating world…the marina!  A marina will rent you a spot where you can park your boat in the water and a car in a parking lot.  They’ll have electrical outlets where you can plug in your boat and use all the electricity you like.  They also have unlimited amounts of drinkable water, which you can use to fill the boat’s fresh water tanks.  Because marinas have a street address, Papa John’s is quite happy to deliver to them.

Since I didn’t know anything about marinas before I bought the boat, I used the Internet to start posting messages and sending e-mails to those “in the know.”  Here are some of the responses that I received:

As to marina ideas, you will be constrained by what is available to choose from, and may not be able to invent the one you want. :)   So, get a Jacksonville paper, or call up a chamber of commerce, and somehow see if the people in that area have some sort of publication about marinas. Something with a grid/chart comparing the amenities and prices. And do find out about the probability of being allowed to live aboard. For reasons not agreed to by live-aboard advocates, many many many marinas and municipalities have severe limits on the percentage of live-aboard slips allowed in a marina or area. Waiting lists abound.

Most marinas have bathrooms, not all have showers. Most have sufficient parking, not all is secure parking. Laundry facilities are nice, but I know from experience that if it is routinely busy you can toss the laundry bag into your car on the way out in the morning, stop off at a laundromat on the way home, go grocery-shopping while is is being washed, and end up home with not much time spent doing the job. A coffee shop nearby would help this process, of course.

If you ever intend to actually use the boat (and you should, to get to know it better!) out on the water, you want a slip easy to get in and out of. Again, you may not have much choice, if live-aboard slips are at a premium.

I lived aboard our 46′ sailboat in San Francisco area. We had a total of 30 amps available for our entire living space. Really not a problem unless it was very very cold. We did not have a boat heater, and relied on electric space heaters. At that time, electricity at our marina was not metered, btw. Two heaters going during a particularly cold winter, and we also had an electric mid-size dorm-style refrigerator. We found out that if we used the toaster and the the ‘frig cycled on that we would blow the fuse at our dock box. This assumes the lights and the stereo were also going, of course. Can be very cold outside on the dock.

New boat, new area, and we have a diesel heater on board. Also have really good set-up with two sets of two 6 volt golf cart type batteries. Good lighting, good 12 volt refrigerator. We can sit 3-4 days at anchor and still have good amount of batteries to start the engine. This is one of the “big things” you will learn about. The ability to start the engine after sitting around on batteries. We have many friends who routinely run the engine for at least an hour a day to keep up the batteries. They have freezers, and/or a less-good battery set-up.

Learn about inverters. And regulators. We can run the computer on the inverter, plus the color printer. All at anchor, without the engine running. Knowing you can do this means you don’t have to fear a 110 power outage as much. One of the guys on the newsgroup lives aboard his boat in Norway. Uses his laptop or his Psion and a cell phone for most of his communications. Has an oil heater.

BTW, our microwave uses 65amps. So does a hair dryer, which we do not have on board, just know this because I wanted to test the inverter when we put it in. Microwave gets used sparingly when we are on battery power, but can be used as much as we want when underway with engine on. Oh, get a large alternator.

See, you may want just a floating home, but wouldn’t it be cool if you can take that home off on a weekend once in awhile?

Gee whiz, I keep thinking up things nice to have. One thing important maybe not mentioned by anyone yet… if your shower pan drains into the bildge and not into a sump area with its own pump, change it quickly. That is, if the bilge is deep, and not shallow like on our Beneteau. Deep bilges with shower water really stink. See what you are getting yourself in for?

– Anne S. Paul

 Slips should be easy to find with the amenities you wish. However, you may find this gets expensive. Sort of like owning the home, but leasing the property. You may want to equip your boat with an inverter to give you 110 out put, more like home.

– The Lillie Family

I suggest you ask yourself the following question: What do I absolutely need that requires me to be tied to land? The biggest problem is going to be finding slips where you can live aboard. Most of the *land lovers* view boaters who live aboard with less than enthusiasm. To me, the amenities are nice as long as the price remains reasonable. Check around and find the best deal for the money.

I look for slips with a good breeze, little or no wake, easy access for sailing and getting around, and a well-maintained marina. That being said, I  *far prefer* to anchor out. A proper cruising boat doesn’t need to be connected to the land by umbilical. I go to the dock once or twice a month to fill up with diesel and water then head back out onto the hook. I run the engine twice a day to chill down the fridge and freezer (I have engine driven refrigeration as well as 12V), heat the water for showers and dishes, charge batteries (although I have a wind generator and solar panels) and to keep the engine in good operating condition.

I get TV and radio on the hook. I can use my cell phone to voice and data on the hook. I can choose my perfect location on the hook. I can choose my neighbors on the hook. I can save *lots* of money by staying on the hook. If I need to go to shore there’s always the dinghy.

– Doug Abbott

I can’t stress enough to shop around before you settle on the marina you intend to make your home. We were in two before our number came up on the St. Pete waiting list. We waited from March to June. First one was great but to expensive, second on was a regular Payton Place dump, but cheap.

– Mark Fay

We’re still working – not – cruising liveaboards (kids in college), so live in a marina. Beyond all of the obvious, which you will hear from everyone, I look for other liveaboards and check the attitude of the marina.

We moved this year (after waiting for the slip for 2 years) and I simply can’t believe the difference in our life. The owners of this marina seem delighted to have us aboard — beautiful marina and a real welcome mat.

I’ve been working aboard for 7 years and find the space requirements a little tight at times, but have a land-based partner who does store some of the larger items. Last year sometime I had an article on Working Aboard published in Living Aboard. I can dig it out and send a copy if that would help. (Robert’s Note: Louise sent me a copy of the article…it’s very informative. It’s also copyrighted, so I can’t publish it here).

You’ve got a great attitude and seem willing to make changes and take a risk. Best of luck in your search for a boat!

– Louise Coulson

The most important consideration in finding a marina is liking the people and the environment there. While most marinas have showers, not all will have telephone connections (critical in your case) and many marinas are notorious for having questionable electrical supplies (another key for you). This is easy to check by asking the folks on the dock if they are happy with these services  This will also give you a flavor for the personality of the facility.

– Tracy Watkins

It is possible to find marinas with all the facilities you mention. Remember the more facilities, the more you pay. Most marinas charge by the foot so a 40 footer would cost more in the same marina than a 20 footer. With “Jantzen’s Joy” you would need 110V power and water. Washer/dryers are available at better marinas. One item you have to look for is facilities to empty you toilet holding tank otherwise you have to use on shore facilities or a porta potty. “Jantzen’s Joy” comes with both a fixed latrine system and a porta potty.

– Stuart Jantzen

What I decided (1998):

Since posting my initial questions, I have done a lot of research into liveaboard slips. Unfortunately, few marinas allow full-time liveaboards to lease slips because of local and state regulations. In fact, the State of Washington is trying to ban the lifestyle altogether. If you’re looking for a liveaboard slip, my suggestion is to get on the phone and start calling marinas in your area. They’ll point you in the right direction.

I was very fortunate to find a liveaboard-friendly marina in Jacksonville, Florida. The Ortega River Boat Yard (904-387-5538) charges $8.50 per foot for liveaboards, plus $60.00 for electricity. They have showers and laundry facilities on-site.

ORBY, in fact, encourages liveaboards…they have more than 60 of us. The really cool thing is that a certain community develops within the docks. My next-hatch neighbors are from Canada and they’re here for a couple of months and then they sail off for the Caribbean. He teaches geography, and she’s a professional singer. The couple at the end of the dock built their own 51’ yacht. They rebuild houses for a living. Two boats down is a retired man from Queens, NYC. He speaks fluent French and travels whenever he gets bored with one particular place. There’s a mason worker six boats down. He’s my age (and a good drinking buddy). He’s from Whales, and lives on his boss’ boat rent-free in exchange for keeping the vessel in ship-shape. There’s also a couple from Alaska who fly down to Florida to spend their winters here.

The communal aspect of life in a marina appeals greatly to me. I enjoy watching boats being hauled from the water to have a new barrier coat applied. I’ve made friends with most of the dock workers, and I’ve learned a lot about their various trades (which, of course, will come in handy as I maintain my own boat). I also enjoy sharing a glass of wine with the true “cruisers” who only stay for a short time. We exchange stories over a drink, and they sail to every point imaginable. They’re quickly replaced by new people with new stories and new, exciting destinations.

Life with my fellow liveaboards is truly fantastic. Just today I awoke and my next hatch neighbors invited me over for coffee and muffins. They’re French, and we talked about literature and politics as we looked over a rising sun on the St. Johns River. What an experience!

Thoughts from 2000:

Last summer, I decided to leave my marina and move Candide to St. Augustine, Florida (about 50 miles to the south). I quickly learned the difference between those yards that welcome liveaboards and their lifestyle versus those who are only interested in making money.

St. Augustine, as you may know, is the nation’s oldest city. It was founded in 1521, and is a very popular area for “transient” boaters who are merely passing through the area on their way north or south. The City Docks charge by the foot for these boats on a daily basis, and they can make a TON of money by keeping boats moving through (most marinas give price breaks for boats staying for a week or a month). The City Marina allows boats to stay for a maximum of only three days!

Knowing this, I found a place around the bend (about two miles from the City Marina) called Oyster Creek Marina. I was very impressed with their all-new docks and facilities. The people seemed nice enough and I looked forward to spending several months with them.

Then the problems started. First, they were charging $10 / foot for liveaboards. I knew this in advance, and I didn’t particularly have an issue with the price. I became very irritated, though, when the management tried to convince me that Candide is 50′ long…not 38′! “You have a big bowsprit and stern pulpit,” I was told.

Had I been on a wharf, taking up 50′ of space, I would have understood their point. But Candide fit perfectly into the slip they had assigned to me…and I didn’t feel that an extra $120 per month was a fair price to pay for a bowsprit. Eventually, we settled on 42′.

The second problem followed a month later. I went to pay my rent and the management said, “We noticed that you are using an air conditioner at the marina. We have to charge you $100 for electricity.”

Well, I was flabbergasted! My parents live in a three-bedroom home in Florida and don’t spend that much to keep it cool during the summer!

Now I knew for sure that I was getting screwed by this marina. People who know me will tell you that I don’t take getting screwed lying down! I promptly called my attorney, who informed me that it was illegal, under Florida law, for the marina to make a profit on the use of electricity. His suggestion was to demand that an electric meter be installed. I was told by management that none were available.

I called Florida Power and Light to complain, and they had a brilliant suggestion. They suggested that I use the meters on my boat to estimate the electricity that I consume on a monthly basis. I could then pay the marina for the standard kilowatt hours charged by the electric company.

It was quite obvious that this marina was only interested in taking as much of my money as I’d let them. So, I did what every liveaboard has the power to do…set sail for Ortega River Boat Yard, where I knew I’d be treated more like family.

Thoughts from 2003:

For several months, I had been having some minor problems with ORBY.  The fact is, it’s a full-service marina. This means that boats are constantly getting sanded, painted, re-fiberglassed…you name it. The yard is, quite frankly, a mess even in the best of times. In many ways, living in a full-service marina can be like living next door to a factory. It can be noisy, polluted, and perhaps even dangerous at times.

I had been living in this marina off and on for over four years. I got along with most everybody and could deal with the working nature of the marina. Eventually, though, I grew tired of the whole situation. I longed for clean bathrooms, grass lawns, clean parking spaces, and docks that weren’t a hazard to walk on. So, in September of this year, I cast the dock lines from ORBY and moved up river to a new marina in Orange Park, Florida.

This new marina has everything that I wanted. There are only about fifteen people who “spend significant amounts of time aboard their boats” (a county ordinance doesn’t allow liveaboards at this marina…but the owner of the marina stays aboard her boat every single night.  Call that arrangement what you will, but it’s definitely not a liveaboard situation.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink!).

Fewer full-time people at the marina means less waiting time for the showers, and I can almost always find a convenient place to park my car (though the parking lot does tend to get full on the weekends). The owner takes great pride in the marina, and there are a ton of personal touches that makes the place a very attractive home. The grounds are kept in immaculate condition. The place is actually landscaped with various bushes, plants, trees, and even grass! At ORBY, one had to use old charcoal-fired grills to cook out. At the new marina, they supply gas grills! All it takes is the touch of a button, and there are instant flames!

There are three showers here, and each has a large vanity with…now get this…flowers! OK, so they’re fake flowers, but come on! In all my years of boating, I’ve never stayed in a marina whose owner takes enough pride in the place to spruce up the bathrooms with flowers. Another great thing about the bathrooms at this marina is that they have “reading baskets.” These are simply large wicker baskets that hold various sailing magazines, newspapers, books, etc. What more can a man ask for while spending time on the Great White Throne?

The marina sports a gazebo that serves as the center of marina life. At least twice a month, the marina hosts parties that are attended by 20-40 sailors. Usually, food and drinks are served and there’s some sort of organized talk about sailing. Perhaps folks describe a recent trip to St. Augustine…or to the Bahamas. Or, maybe there are several people who want to get together for a sail the following weekend. In any case, this community is very focused on sailing. NOT power-boating. Sailing! In fact, there are only about three power-boats in the entire marina! As a guy who lives aboard a sailboat, I truly appreciate the sailing-centric nature of this marina.

While this marina is considered “full-service,” all of the work is done behind an eight-foot privacy fence so that the boat owners never see other boats undergoing repair. This means that my car won’t get covered with over spray from boats being painted, I won’t have to dodge masts and rigging that have been left laying around the yard, and I don’t have to listen to the pounding, grinding, and sanding that takes place every day in any working marina!

I’m much happier here! I suppose the best way to summarize is to say that ORBY is like a low-rent apartment. The staff can be surly at times, the neighbors sometimes have questionable legal status, and some of the facilities are falling apart. My new marina is more like an “upscale” apartment complex. The staff are more professional, the facilities are maintained perfectly, and the marina abounds with small details that make the place “homey.”

Now mind you, I’ve had to adapt a bit to this upscale marina. At ORBY, I couldn’t care less if my dock lines were neatly arranged into a “Flemish Coil.” I often left cans of varnish on the docks (along with mixing sticks and brushes) for weeks at a time. Hell, my dinghy sat on the end of the dock for months! This was the norm at ORBY…pretty much, do whatever the hell you wanted and nobody complained because they were all doing the same thing! This results in a public-housing-like atmosphere. It’s not exactly a place where you can take pride in the appearance of the place.

Now, I carefully coil the dock lines every time I return to the slip. Nothing is ever left on the docks for more than a few hours while I’m working on the boat. I scrub the decks every two weeks. I actually put up Christmas lights this year because most of the boats at the marina had them! I never leave anything in the cockpit (at ORBY, Candide always had several empty beer bottles, a bag of trash, and maybe a bra or two in the cockpit). I’ve had to give up skinny-dipping off the boat with my friends during warm weather. No more pissing over the gunwales whenever the need arises.

I live the “clean life” aboard now. I take pride in the fact that there are many fine-looking boats at this marina that are lovingly maintained by their owners. Candide has joined their ranks. I guess this is the price to pay for living in an “upscale” marina.

Perhaps you’ve got a couple of questions about my new pad. I can only tell you that the cost of this marina is approximately $20 more per month than I was paying at ORBY. Well worth it, in my opinion! Unfortunately, I cannot divulge the name or location of this marina. As I mentioned earlier, this marina does not allow liveaboards. If I mentioned the name in a public forum (and how much more public can one get than the World Wide Web?), I’d soon find myself booted out of this place!

My advice is to find a marina that allows liveboards. Take whatever you can get! After several months, you’ll start hearing through the grapevine which marinas will accept liveaboards…regardless of their official policy (or even the law)!

Thoughts from 2012:

Now that I’ve stayed at several marinas all over the Southeast U.S., I have some pretty strong opinions on what to expect from a liveaboard marina.  In no particular order, they are:

  • Deep Slips.  Candide’s draft is just a tad over six feet.  This means that she has to have water that’s at least six feet deep in order to sail or enter/leave a slip.  My last marina in Florida (Fernandina Harbor Marina) was great when I moved in several years ago, but over time the marina has silted up.  This means that a massive amount of mud trapped Candide into her slip at low tide.  It was simply impossible to leave this slip for several hours every day.  The management understood the problem, and always let me move to a transient slip (expensive slips reserved for boats passing through for a night or two) so that I could get out the next day to go sailing.  But I always had to time my return to the marina so that I’d arrive on a high tide.  It’s not fun living in mud!
  • Working Internet Connection.  Almost every marina today advertises free WiFi for their customers.  In theory, boat owners are supposed to be able to access the marina’s internet connection from the comfort of their boats.  This is often not the case!  In general, marinas aren’t staffed with computer-savvy people to maintain the WiFi access points.  If the service goes down, it might take weeks to have it restored.  My current marina (Charleston Harbor Marina) advertises its free WiFi access, but the signal is so weak that it’s useless.  And Candide happens to be on the dock closest to the WiFi hotspot!  To get a reliable internet connection, I’ve had to subscribe to a 3G internet service offered by a wireless phone company.
  • Working Electrical Plugins.  One of the big advantages of living in a marina is that the boat can be plugged in to shore power, and the owners can enjoy an unlimited amount of electricity (which is useful for air conditioning, heating, playing on the computer, etc.).  Yet, many marinas seem to have a hard time keeping the electricity flowing down the docks.  Before selecting a marina, always ask existing tenants if the power on the docks is reliable.  If the power is out for more than a couple of days, be sure to ask for a significant discount the next time rent is due!
  • Laundry Facilities.  I have one pair of underwear, and I expect to be able to wash it on the first Tuesday of every month.  I expect the marina to maintain laundry facilities to allow me to do this.  It’s also nice for the marina to provide chairs to sit in while the wash is being done.  My current marina has rocking chairs, which are great to sit in and read my Kindle while I wait.  At this particular marina, the dryer is broken in a way that favors the customer.  The “on” light is always lit…so there’s no need to feed it coins to dry the load…just throw the clothes in and press the button!  In no way, though, does this make up for their horrible Internet service!
  • Well-Designed Bathrooms / Showers.  Generally speaking, I prefer to shower at the marina facilities.  They generally have an unlimited amount of hot water, and plenty of room to move around.  However, not all marina shower facilities are created equally.  I prefer facilities that have a private toilet, sink, and shower all in the same room.  Many marinas have toilets in one area (with sinks, of course), and showers in a completely different area.  I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable shaving at the sink with people walking in and out of the men’s room.  I like my privacy!  The shower area should have a place to sit down (useful for putting on socks and shoes), and several hooks on the wall to keep your clothes and towel from getting wet.  The Ultimate Marina Shower House, which doesn’t seem to exist anywhere, would have lockers where liveaboards could keep their own supply of shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc.  Public bathrooms, by the way, should be professionally cleaned at least once a day by the marina staff or subcontracted to a cleaning service.
  • Access to Civilization.  I prefer to stay at marinas that are within walking distance (or at least biking distance) to restaurants, shops, and bars.  My old marina in Fernandina Beach was within walking distance to 26 restaurants, and I managed over the years to try each one of them at least once.  My current marina in Mount Pleasant (Charleston), South Carolina is about 2 miles from eateries and shopping.  That’s a little too far for me to walk, but I ride my bike to that area several times a week.  It’s good exercise!
  • Functioning Dock Carts.  From time to time, you’re going to need to restock your boat’s pantry with food and snacks.  On occasion, You’ll also be hauling around heavy things like propane tanks and batteries.  It’s really nice for the marina to provide dock carts to allow you to haul stuff back and forth from your boat to the parking lot.  It seems like every marina I’ve been to has five or six such carts…but they seem to be able to keep only one or two of them in working condition.  One solution to this problem is to buy your own dock cart and keep it chained and locked when you’re not using it.
  • Floating Concrete Docks.  The better marinas have invested in concrete floating docks.  These are great, because they rise and fall with the tide…so your boat is always level with the dock.  Many marinas have fixed wooden docks.  This means that the deck of your boat might be reachable from the dock at high tide, but you might need to climb a ladder at low tide.  Floating docks are definitely more convenient!
  • BBQ Area.  Many marinas provide barbeque grills, bench seats, and a covered place to eat.  These amenities are great places to socialize with fellow liveaboards and weekend boaters.  I think that every marina should provide a place to cook out, but not all of them do!
  • Staffed Office.  Since I live on my boat at the marina, I need a place to have packages and mail delivered.  Every marina that has a regular office usually has mail slots for its liveaboard customers.  Some will label the slots by groups of letters representing the last name of the customer (A-C, D-F, G-I, etc.), while others will print individual labels to identify the mail slot of each liveaboard.  The office is also good for sending or receiving an occasional fax.  They’ll also sign for package delivery.  If you’re really lucky, the marina will have 24-hour access to the office.  This means that you can get access to your mail any time you like!
  • Well-Maintained Docks.  Marinas require a lot of maintenance.  Electric and water lines that run from shore down the docks need regular inspection (especially on floating docks).  Wooden boards that have weathered and warped over time need to be replaced.  The docks should be pressure-washed on a regular basis to keep them clean (you’ll be amazed at how many marinas let the docks get covered in bird shit).
  • Security.  I don’t expect armed guards at the marina, but it sure is nice to know that someone is keeping an eye on the place…especially at night.  Over the years, I’ve seen outboard engines stolen right off the boats in their slips, bicycles taken from the racks, and cars stolen from the parking lot.  I don’t appreciate people from the general public deciding to use my dock as a fishing platform (they tend to leave bait and fish guts that I have to walk around…this also attracts birds that, as we established earlier, shit a lot on the docks).  Plus, I don’t know if these people are really fishing, or using the activity as cover while they’re casing the place for nefarious reasons.  It’s also annoying to have the general public think they can use the docks at night on the weekend to get drunk, piss off the side of the docks, and listen to loud music with their friends.  If it was up to me, I’d shoot these people.  But it’s probably best if the visiting public is monitored and controlled by the marina.
  • Marina-Sponsored Get-Togethers.  A good marina will foster a sense of community.  Annual Christmas parties are nice, but it’s even better if the marina has a few get-togethers spread throughout the year.  This is a great way to get to know your neighbors!
  • Fuel Docks.  Virtually all boats (even sailboats) require gasoline or diesel for their engine(s).  It is very convenient if the marina you live in sells fuel at a specially designated dock.  This means that you won’t have to get fuel from another marina, where you might not know the tide situation or the staff that will be “helping” you.
  • Mobile Pump-Out Service.  If you live on board your boat and use the toilet, you’re not allowed to flush your waste water overboard.  Instead, the boat will have a special “holding tank” that will store your waste until you can have it pumped out.  Many marinas will have “pump-out stations” that are often located at the fuel dock.  However, some marinas will have pump-out equipment that they can bring directly to the boat.  This saves the trouble of having to move the boat when it’s time to empty the holding tank.
  • Oil and Fuel Disposal.  It’s a good idea to change the oil in your engine and the filters on your fuel lines on a regular basis.  However, you can’t just throw the old oil or fuel filters into the trash; they must be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.  Many marinas have a 55-gallon drum that can be used to dump oil and fuel.  It’s a lot more convenient to let the marina dispose of your oil / fuel than running around town trying to find a facility that will take it.
  • Well-Placed Trash Cans.  I usually fill up a 13-gallon “tall kitchen trash bag” every week or so with empty pizza boxes, junk mail, used napkins, etc.  At some marinas, this trash has to be taken to a dumpster in the back of the parking lot.  This can be quite a long walk from the docks (especially if the bag is heavy!).  It is better if the marina has large trash cans at the end of every dock and empties them on a daily basis.  Better still, I stayed at one marina where they had several trash cans spaced apart for every ten boats or so along the entire length of the dock.  The ultimate trash collection system has to be at Hemingway Marina in Cuba.  There, you just take your trash bag and throw it onto the dock right next to the boat.  Every few hours, someone will come by to take it away.
  • Good Dock Lighting.  Marina docks can be very dark at night.  After all, they’re placed far into the water and don’t get much light from streetlamps or building lights.  Instead, most marinas will have “lighthouses” that shine light along the length of the docks.  Lighthouses usually have electrical and water hookups as well.  Be sure that your docks are well-lit at night, and that they stay lit all night long.
  • Library.  Many marinas have a library (usually located near the laundry facilities) where boaters can borrow books and magazines.  The general rule is that you can borrow a book if you like, but if you take one to keep, you should leave one in its place.
  • Month-to-Month Slip Rental.  Some marinas require you to sign an annual contract in exchange for a reduced long-term rate.  I’ve never signed an annual contract for a slip; I prefer to pay on a monthly basis.  This way, I’m free to leave whenever I choose.

So there you have it!  Twenty things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a marina that can help make your liveaboard experience even more enjoyable.

Dealing with Boat Brokers

If you had an expensive boat and wanted to sell it, how would you go about the process?  There’s a whole lot to consider.  You will probably want to advertise the boat to potential buyers, perhaps by putting a “For Sale” sign on the vessel and maybe posting an ad on eBay or YachtWorld.  You’ll then have to field questions from people who responded to the advertisements.  If they turned out to be solid prospects, you’ll have to arrange to show them your boat in person.  If they get to the buying stage, you’ll have to deal with all the legal aspects of transferring the boat’s title, registration, and USCG Documentation.  You’ll also have to deal with buyers face-to-face with price negotiations, which makes many people uncomfortable.

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This is simply too much work for many boat sellers, so they hire a professional to do these things for them.  Such people are called “Boat Brokers,” and they’re licensed professionals.  It’s their job to market the vessels for the sellers, handle the entire sales process, and make sure that everything is done in a legal manner.  In many ways, they’re similar to realtors who manage the buying and selling of brick and mortar houses.

So if you’re looking to buy a boat, chances are you won’t be dealing directly with the seller.  Instead, you’ll be interacting with his or her agent throughout the buying process.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Since the broker makes a living by selling boats, he’s going to be highly motivated to make himself available at your convenience (days, evening, weekends, holidays).  Because he’s licensed and has sold many boats over the years, he’s going to have a tremendous amount of knowledge of boating and all of the legal issues when it comes to buying and selling boats.  He’ll also have friends who work in the boating industry; insurers, lenders, surveyors, marina managers, etc.  His network of friends can make the buying process a lot easier.

Here are a couple of e-mails from brokers who were kind enough to respond to my initial questions (online postings and individual e-mails) when I first started looking for a boat so many years ago:

Robert, your Dad came by yesterday to talk about boats and to line up some things to see on 7/27. I look forward to meeting you. The most important thing you can do to help us is to define how you plan to use the boat  “most of the time” (e.g., “live at dockside- leaving the dock two days a year”, or “live aboard cruising, never staying in one place for more than a week, living at anchor, coming into the dock only to buy fuel, etc.)  Obviously, these are two extreme examples that very few people actually do, but HOW YOU USE THE BOAT determines which boat is best – there is no perfect boat, but any boat in the marina can be the absolutely best choice you could make, and that same boat could be the absolutely worst choice you could make, depending on how you use it.  Fortunately, most boats, and people’s plans fall somewhere in the middle and work out.

Make up a list of “absolutes” – if the boat does not have “this,” I will not buy it even at a true bargain price, and/or if it does have “this” it is unacceptable, (e.g., gas vs. diesel engines, wood, steel, ferro-cement, fiberglass construction; aft-cockpit vs. center cockpit).  It is the things that can not be changed (aft cockpit or center cockpit) that should be absolutes; having or not having a radar is unimportant – (take it out and throw it overboard, or install one).

Being able to focus the search is important, as you can spend years “looking for the perfect boat” – that does not exist, except in our minds.  In any case we can help you find the “dream” boat, and look forward to doing just that!

– John Owen

I really enjoyed reading your questions and all the answers people sent by way of opinions and replies. Those who are suited to life onboard would have it no other way, and are always eager to encourage others to give it a try.  I think I have a pretty good idea of “who you are” from your excellent response to Capt. Neal. Everything onboard becomes a trade off. You are doing exactly the right thing to research this new project and get as much feedback as possible. I have lived aboard for many years, done yacht deliveries (ocean passages), refinish boats for a living, cruised with 2 kids onboard while home-schooling. I have seen the transitions from celestial navigation to GPS, from zero boats in a given anchorage to 30 plus. It ain’t like it used to be – in some ways better, in many ways worse. But nothing compares to the joy of cruising (and that includes the challenge of miserable conditions too) and therefore all the effort is still worth the result ! Since you will be entering a learning phase I would recommend living in a nice marina where you will enjoy meeting other yachties, exchanging info, and be able to conveniently carry out maintenance chores. It is also logical for phone and plug-ins, and water availability. I ONLY anchor out when cruising. It is quiet, bug-free, breezy, and peaceful. You don’t need AC. But, while living and working onboard, having AC would be a plus since you cannot “swing into” the wind as you would at anchor, and I KNOW your cabin space, clothing, and expensive computer equipment would benefit from the cool, dry air. I understand that you hope to be “free” to go long-range cruising in approx. 10 years. In that case, I rather suspect no boat you buy now will be what you ultimately take off in. Possible, but not likely. You need a comfortable home and a learning vehicle.

There were several suggestions to you that only a power boat would give you the space needed, or have one of each!!! Nonsense!! But the compromise of a motorsailor might just be the ticket for you for now. Needless to say, I have a lot of opinions, and a lot of experience with what works and what doesn’t, and I am still learning! Every boat and every trip is a new experience. Look very much forward to meeting you when you come to St Augustine/ Jax. Since I am Bruce Albros’ (the broker’s) girlfriend, currently land-based and not real happy about it, I enjoy “boat-shopping” with customers and helping out in any way I can.

– Una Kruse

What I decided (1998):

Unless you purchase your boat directly from the owner, you’ll be dealing with a yacht broker who acts as an agent for the seller. In Florida, these brokers must be licensed with the state (my understanding is that it takes two years to get a broker license in Florida). There are advantages and disadvantages to dealing with brokers.

Some of the disadvantages are:

  • Brokers work on commission, so it’s not necessarily in his or her interest to give you the best deal
  • To keep afloat (pun intended), the broker must sell a certain number of boats each month. He or she may not tell you that the under-body needs to be redone or that multiple homicides have been committed on the boat and it’s haunted by an angry poltergeist
  • The broker will always be on the side of the seller (his client)

Some of the advantages of working through a broker are:

  • The ones I dealt with are extremely knowledgeable (or very good at bullshitting)
  • Have many boats to show (a “parking lot” full)
  • Will do all of the paperwork for you (and make sure it’s all legal)
  • Will pay for the sandwiches and softdrinks when the boat is taken for the sea trial.

I strongly suggest making the broker work for YOU! I encountered a few brokers who wouldn’t even talk to me unless I had been “pre-approved” for a loan on the boat. My recommendation is to call every broker in the area (or use the Internet and start sending e-mails) and see how much time they spend with you. If they simply blow you off, you should ask yourself if this is really the type of person whom you want to work with (after all, if you buy the boat you’ll be spending a LOT of time with this person).

Here’s the letter that I sent to several different yacht brokers through e-mail. Some responded (like the ones you read above), and others didn’t. I was looking for brokers who would take some time with me:

Hello!

For quite some time, I have been harboring a dream. It started when I was a college student and joined our University’s sailing club. We spent a bit of time learning how to navigate, race, and maintain sailing vessels. After a week-long cruise in the Florida Keys, I made up my mind to one day live on a sailboat.

I’m closer to this dream than I’ve ever been before. Presently, I live in Dallas, Texas. I work from home, and I’m not tied to any particular location. Three weeks ago, I was given permission to relocate to Jacksonville, Florida – which is where I was raised.

My goal, over the next three months, is to find a suitable boat in the Florida area. I’ll be making “boat-hunting” trips to Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami during July and August. In August, I’ll be purchasing a sailboat to use it as my home and office in Jacksonville. I’m looking to spend somewhere in the $90,000 – $120,000 range (or less, if I can find a suitable vessel).

I’m not exactly sure what type of boat I need, so I thought I’d contact you. Any guidance or suggestions you’d care to share are greatly appreciated!

Since I’ll be using this boat as an office, I’ll need plenty of space to work in (I’m in the computer business, and I’ll have a laptop, fax, laser printer, etc.). Are there boats available in my price range that have office-like facilities? Any particular manufacturer I should investigate?

What size sailboat makes a comfortable home? This is my largest concern – I want a lot of space, but I also want to make sure that I can sail the boat alone.

Here is my initial wish-list:

  • The boat MUST have air conditioning
  • I’d prefer a boat with an aft cockpit
  • RO water maker would be a plus
  • Wind generator would be a plus
  • Fridge is mandatory
  • Auto-pilot would be a plus
  • Radar would be a plus

Thanks!

Thoughts from 2000:

Now that I’ve lived aboard for a while, I have neighbors and friends who are licensed boat brokers. They’ve visited this site and take offense to the statement, “The broker will always be on the side of the seller (his client).”

They know that I work in sales for a living, and one of them asked me the question, “Do you always take the side of your company?” To be honest, I don’t. A lot of times, my customers are right and I have to go to battle for them with my employer. “So,” he asked, “do you always take the side of you clients?” Well, no.  Sometimes customers can be unreasonable. In these situations, I try to convince them of my company’s perspective. There is no such concept as “the customer is always right.”

“Well put!” my broker-friend said. “So you see why your statement is unfair?”

I do. Nonetheless, keep in mind that your broker will only get a commission check if you decide to purchase the boat he’s showing. I’m sure there are some unscrupulous brokers who behave more like the proverbial “used car salesmen” than the professionals they should be.

Thoughts from 2003:

A couple of things about boat brokers…a LOT of them live on board, and a LOT of them have Internet access and have visited this website!  They’re also an opinionated bunch, and haven’t shied away from teaching me more about their profession.

Over the years, I’ve come to know several of them in person. I’ve learned from them an important aspect of their job which isn’t advertised heavily enough, in my opinion. It’s a little-known fact that if you like a particular broker, he or she can represent you on anyboat purchase you make!

When I told my house-owning friends this fact, their reaction was, “Well, duh! Real estate agents do the same thing!”  Having never purchased a house myself, I didn’t know this.  Let me give you an example of how it works.

A few months ago, a girl stumbled across this Web site. She was looking to sell her house, buy a boat, and make it her home and office. We exchanged several e-mails, and I invited her to spend a weekend with me aboard Candide. She would get a taste of liveaboard life, and we would have plenty of time to look at boats in the Jacksonville area. She flew down a week later.

On Saturday morning, I introduced her to Linda Reynolds, who sells boats at Whitney’s Marine and happens to be a friend of mine. Linda spent a lot of time interviewing my new friend and taking plenty of notes. She showed us several boats at Whitney’s, and encouraged us to look at a few more in the area.

We took her advice and visited Ortega River Boat Yard (my old marina!). While we were there, my friend found a boat that got her truly excited. It was the first time she had “the feeling” about a particular vessel. Unfortunately, the boat was listed by another broker.

My friend explained to me that she was comfortable working with Linda, and didn’t really want to deal with another broker. So, we called Linda and asked if she could show us a boat listed with another brokerage. “Of course! No problem!” was her answer.

Linda simply went to the competing brokerage office, told them that she had a client who wanted to see one of their listings, and that she needed the keys. In a short time, we were on board the boat…lifting hatches, examining the engine, poking around the galley…

So, how is this possible? Well, I found out later that brokers can serve on two sides of the fence by either representing the seller or the buyer! The brokers usually work out a split commission so that both manage to make money without it costing the buyer or seller anything extra.

Had I known about this little fact, I would have had Bruce Albro be my “buyer broker.” I really liked Bruce; he spent a lot of time with me, and I felt that I could trust him. Unfortunately, I found Candide listed with another broker and it never crossed my mind that Bruce would have been able to help me! So, I wound up buying my boat through a broker I barely knew (sorry, Bruce!).

So, if you find a broker who you really like, my suggestion is to have him or her represent you…no matter which broker has the listing!

Thoughts from 2012:

Remember what I said earlier about a boat being haunted by poltergeists and the broker not saying anything about it?  Well, this broker seems to have turned a ghastly murder-on-board into a selling point:

California Yacht Broker to Sell Boat of Murdered Couple

I followed this story for quite a while.  A liveaboard couple decided to sell their boat (presumably without a broker), and one of the potential buyers forced them to sign over the boat, tied them to an anchor, and threw them overboard.

If they’d hired a boat broker in the first place, they’d probably be alive today.

Just sayin’.

The Boat Buying Process: 9 Steps

Once you’ve decided to live on a boat, the next step is to legally acquire one.  If you don’t have a mattress stuffed full of cash, then you’ll need to get the boat financed.  The current owner might be willing to finance it for you, but this isn’t very likely.  You can ask friends and family to loan you cash, but this can cause strains on even the closest of relationships.  If you’re like most people, you’ll need to get a bank loan to finance the boat.  This was a challenging process even when banks were throwing money out the window at borrowers a few years ago.  After the recent banking crisis, I’m sure the process is even more of a challenge.

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I didn’t have a choice when I purchased Prairie Dream in 1998 (I later changed her name to Candide).  I certainly didn’t have that kind of cash laying around, and my friends and family are really tight with a buck.  I had to go the route of selling my soul to a faceless financial institution and got a mortgage complete with a significant down payment and a monthly bill.

On this page, I present my 9-step process for boat ownership (narrowed from an earlier version that contained 87-steps and seemed a bit excessive in retrospect).

Step 1: Figure Out What You Can Afford

As you start looking at boats suitable for living aboard, you’ll find that they range in price from a few thousand to millions of dollars.  When I first got the idea for buying a boat, I had absolutely no idea how much boat I would be able to afford. I knew that my credit was good, but I had never asked to borrow more than the cost of a second-hand car. I assumed that a multi-million dollar yacht was out of the question, but felt that I should be able to afford more than a row boat.

I did a quick search on the internet for “boat financing,” and sent e-mails to a few lenders.  I explained that I was in the initial phases of my quest, and that I needed some guidelines for how boat financing works.  Here is the response from one helpful lender:

Yacht financing is available in the 80 to 90% range (10-20% down).  Banks look for a +/- 40% “debt-income” ratio. No more than 40% of your income should be encumbered. Does all of your regular debt, payments for car, rent, credit, etc., equal less than 40% of your gross income?

Minimum down payment is 20% for a term of 15 years. The collateral for the loan is the sailboat, so we can finance 80% of the value of the boat.

If your credit is good to excellent, and your debt-to-income ratio is 38% or less, you have only to complete an application and provide two years of the first two pages of your 1040′s (and supporting schedules) as income verification and we can get you pre-approved. Our interest rate ranges from 9.50% to 9.75%.

Here’s a look at a monthly payment based upon buying a boat for $80,000. Financing $64,000 for 15 years at 9.75% leaves a monthly payment of $677.99.  Our loans offer no prepayment penalty, and no loan fees.  Sales tax and coast guard documentation are your only closing costs.

Many banks will not finance liveaboards. Do not mention it in your initial applications.

I’ll be glad to fax or mail an application to you…no strings attached.  No application fees either.  Looking forward to serving you!

-Mary McCoid

That seemed straight-forward enough, and I started getting my financial data together.  I figured out my debt/income ratio, located my last few tax returns, got a copy of my credit report, and looked under every seat cushion in my apartment to find loose change to add to a down payment. Based on my findings, I calculated that a boat somewhere in the range of $80,000 – $100,000 was not out of the question.

I’m not suggesting that this $80-100K figure in any way reflects the cost of a “liveable” boat.  Many of my friends live on boats that cost far less.  Some live on boats that cost a lot more.  Like cars and houses, boats come in all sorts of price ranges.  But whether you finance a $10,000 boat, or one that costs $1,000,000, you’re still going to follow the steps outlined on this page.

With a target dollar amount in mind, the next step is to contact a few financial institutions and start filling out loan applications.  Every potential lender will ask for details on the boat for which they’re loaning money.  At this stage, I simply didn’t know what type of boat I might eventually choose.  When I explained this to the banks, some of them were more than happy to “make up” a boat that perfectly matched my target spending cap. Not all finance companies will do this, so it pays to shop around.

Much to my surprise, I soon started receiving rejection letters from banks that had been so eager to talk to me.  I was flabbergasted!  My credit score was good, my debt/income ratio was well within guidelines, and I had a solid 20% down payment!  What the hell was wrong with these banks?!?!

After the second or third rejection, I contacted a loan officer at one of the banks and politely asked for an explanation.  He confirmed that my credit was good, income was solid, etc.  In fact, he told me that if I was already $100,000 in debt with a house, his bank would be happy to loan me another $100,000 to buy a boat!  But as it stood, I was a 27 year-old punk who had never borrowed anywhere near this kind of money.  I had no assets that could be used as collateral.  I was asking for them to finance a loan on an extremelymobile home.  I could decide to avoid my financial obligations and simply sail off into the sunset.  The bank would then have to hire a boat repossession company (yes, they exist…click here), and things could get nasty.  I was simply too great a risk what with my pirate ways and all…

This particular loan officer did give me a bit of good advice.  He explained that every time I applied for a loan, especially if that loan was eventually rejected, my credit score would be adversely affected.  So just by the act of applying for a loan, my credit score was going down.  Not good!

He suggested that I explain my situation up front (including the previous loan rejections), and find a loan officer who would be honest about my chances before submitting a formal application.

So, that’s exactly what I did.  I was surprised that nearly every loan officer I spoke to was helpful.  Even if they felt their bank wouldn’t make the loan, they provided names of other banks that might be willing to do so.  Eventually, I found one that did!  It just took a bit of perseverance and a lot of sweet-talking on the phone.  Fortunately, I work in sales for a living and I know how to kiss some ass on the phone!

Anyway, The CIT Group (Peace Be Upon Them), agreed to finance my loan!  I still didn’t know the exact type of boat I wanted, but at least I had a target price range and could begin some serious boat-hunting.  I was now a “pre-approved buyer,” and this distinction opens a lot of doors at marinas and boat brokers.

Step 2: Start Shopping

Now with a spending target, it’s time to start look at boats in a serious way. The internet, of course, is a great place to get started.  Take a look at this site:

www.YachtWorld.com

This is probably the world’s premier website for selling and buying new and used boats.  They’ve been around for quite a while, and they’ve got thousands and thousands of listings.  You can define search parameters like price, type of boat, location, manufacturer, etc.  It’s the perfect place to get started!

Another thing to consider is contacting a professional boat broker and describing what you’re looking for in a liveaboard boat.  When I was looking for my boat, I contacted a dozen or so brokers in Florida, my home state (they’re easy to find; just Google “Florida Boat Broker”). I sent them an e-mail explaining my situation and asking for assistance in finding a boat that would meet my needs and price range. Some responded favorably; others didn’t. I wanted to find a broker who would answer my questions and was willing to take time with me. If the broker didn’t show some enthusiasm towards my endeavor, he or she was quickly crossed off my list.

My goal was to arrange for brokers to take me aboard several boats so that I could experience them in person.  No matter how many pictures or videos you view on YachtWorld, nothing can substitute for visiting boats in person.  Its the job of the yacht broker to arrange this for you.

Step 3: Visit a Lot of Boats

The broker’s job is to show you several boats and hopefully get you “hooked” on a particular vessel. The process is fairly simple. First, you’ll meet with the broker in his or her office. You’ll be offered coffee and exchange pleasantries. He’ll ask questions about the type of boat you’re interested in buying, how much you want to spend, etc.
Chances are he’ll then load you into his car and drive you to various marinas to see four or five boats.

When you go aboard these vessels, don’t hesitate to look in every nook and cranny. Lift the floorboards to see if there’s a lot of water in the bilge (if there is, ask why). Check the hoses.  If they’re cracked or hard as rocks, they’ll need to be replaced soon. Flush the head (the marine toilet). Turn on every light to make sure they work (don’t forget the exterior spreader lights on the mast, the anchor light, and navigation lights). There should be an electric bilge pump – turn it on to make sure it operates. If there are electrical outlets, plug something in and turn it on. Turn on the refrigerator to make sure it’s operating properly (nothing worse than living on a boat and having to drink warm beer). Open and close every hatch – make sure that the seals are tight and the hinges work properly. Turn on the shower. Ask the broker to run the engine for a few minutes. Turn on every faucet to make sure they’re doing their job. Lay down in the berths to make sure they have enough room for you to get a good night’s sleep. If you have a significant other, make sure there’s enough room for him / her, too!  Make sure there’s enough room for both of you…together… without bumping your heads…if you know what I mean (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)!  Test the depth sounder, radar, GPS, and wind indicator.

Ask lots of questions about the boat. The most important things to know are the length over all (LOA), displacement (weight), draft (how deep the boat sits in the water), age of the vessel, number and types of sails on board, and price. Also be sure to ask if there’s any equipment that is presently on the boat that will be removed by the owner prior to the sale. For example, some owners will remove electronics like televisions, GPS systems, and even radios.

I spent approximately 90 minutes aboard the boats that interested me. Do NOT be afraid to spend as much time as you feel necessary aboard any boat you’re visiting. You are NOT wasting the broker’s time…this is part of his job! If you feel rushed by the broker, let this be a red flag!

You may find that the boats you visit will start to blend together in your mind. The more boats you see, the harder it will be to remember the particulars of each. The solution to this problem is quite simple – bring a video camera with you to record your visits! It is important to record the broker’s “sales pitch” while he is explaining the various features of the boat. The camera will help to keep him honest, and it will help you to remember all the various features that you’ll see.

By the way, if you happen to find the boat of your dreams that happens to be far from where you’d like to live on board, don’t panic.  After all, boats are designed to be mobile.  Once the boat has been purchased, you can always sail her to a different location.  If you lack boating experience, you can hire a delivery captain to move her for you (click here).  It’s also possible to hire professional boat moving companies that operate specially built 18-wheel trailer rigs.  They’ll put your boat on a flatbed and drive her over the highways to wherever you’d like her delivered.  Be sure to include the cost of relocating the boat in your financial planning.

When I purchased my boat, she was located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  But I wanted to live on board in Jacksonville…which is about 330 miles away.  Since I didn’t know how to sail at the time, I hired a delivery captain who was recommended by the broker.  I explained that I wanted to be on the vessel for the entire journey (some delivery captains don’t want the owners on board).  I also asked if he would be willing to teach me a bit about sailing as we moved up the coast of Florida.  Not only did he agree to this, but he was a great teacher!  I learned an awful lot about sailing, and my boat in particular, as we were relocating her.  Not every delivery captain will be willing to do this, so it pays to check around.

Step 4: Make an Offer

Once you’ve seen a lot of boats, you’ll know which one is right for you. It is precisely like falling in love…you’ll simply “know,” through some primordial sense, which boat is the perfect match for you. For me, this happened as soon as I set foot on Prairie Dream, a 38′ Hans Christian Traditional. What sexy lines she has! A hull so sleek and firm that she made my knees weak. When I saw her interior-and gazed into all that polished brass-I knew I was hopelessly lost. Trust me, you’ll know when it happens to you. If it doesn’t happen, my advice is to keep looking. DON’T JUST “SETTLE.”

The next step is to make an offer on the boat. In my situation, the asking price was about 30% more than had been approved by the bank in Step 1. So, I made a call to the finance company and asked for a larger loan. In a half hour (which seemed like three weeks), I was approved for the extra amount.

Now comes the bargaining stage. Fortunately, I work in sales for a living and understand how this game works. Call the broker and tell him that you’ve narrowed your decision down to three boats (So this is a white lie!  Welcome to the bargaining table!). Give him some made-up details about the other two boats, and what a great deal the other brokers have already made. Explain that you really like the particular boat he’s offering, but that you’re concerned about her price. At this point, he’ll most likely ask you to make a formal offer. Remember that the price of the boat is simply “made up” by the seller (usually with some help from the broker). EVERYTHING is negotiable!!!  Offer 80% of the original asking price.

Interestingly enough, there probably will not be a reaction from the broker. It is not his place to accept or reject your offer. It is his job to tell the seller that an offer has been made and the amount of that offer. The broker will instruct you to send a check for 10% of this amount, which will be kept in an escrow account.

Now it’s time for you to “put up or shut up.” You should have at least 10% of the asking price in your bank account. You’re about to launch a huge process, and the people involved (including the seller, broker, and financial institution) want to make sure that you’re not pulling their legs. Write the check or have the amount wired to the broker’s account. Don’t worry…the money still belongs to YOU, and it is fairly easy to get it back.

The largest check I’ve ever penned was for the 10% cost of my Hans Christian. Just to be on the safe side, I hired a lawyer to review the document that I was asked to sign when I made the offer and submitted my check. The lawyer charged a total of $150 to review the document and make suggestions. The most important thing he did was include a penalty clause in the offer contract. Basically, this clause stated that a penalty of $500 per day would be paid by the broker if for any reason the money in the escrow account was not returned to me if the deal was not completed by a certain date.

Once the broker has received your check and signed contract, he will relay your offer to the owner who will have a heart attack and screaming fit. Fortunately, you won’t have to listen to this. By this time, the broker will have figured out a few things for himself. He will tell the seller, “Gee, I think we can get 95% out of this guy.” The seller will say, “Make it so!”

The broker will call you back and relay the message. My suggestion is to counter-offer with 85% of the original asking price. The broker will call the seller, and this process will ping-pong back and forth until a mutually-agreed upon price is reached.

How did I do? Well, I managed to work the seller to 93% of the original asking price. Not necessarily a fantastic deal, but this is only the FIRST round of negotiations! Read on…

Step 5: Choose a Surveyor

Before any financial institution will write a check to the seller, they will demand that a certified marine surveyor inspect the boat from bow to stern. Do NOT let the broker choose the surveyor – it is in your best interest to find one on your own!

Finding a surveyor should not be too difficult. Simply call any marina in the area, be polite, and explain that you’re looking for a reputable marine surveyor. They’ll give you a list of names.

Call a few surveyors and explain your situation. Ask how much they charge (they’ll charge by the length of the boat; I paid $11.00 per foot). Also ask if they’ll climb the mast (an important part of the process that many surveyors won’t do). Ask if they’ll send you a sample survey report that they’ve prepared for another buyer – after all, it’s this report that you’re actually paying for. You probably shouldn’t hire an illiterate surveyor – his report will be extremely important to your finance company and insurer.

Step 6: Take the Boat for a Sail

The broker, surveyor, and you will agree to a certain date on which the boat will be taken out to sea. The seller will most likely not be present. You’ll meet early in the morning, and the boat will be hauled out of the water for inspection. This is a pretty neat process to witness. They use a special machine with huge straps that literally lift the boat clean out of the water!

The surveyor will use a rubber mallet to “tap” along the hull. He’s checking for weak spots under the water line (as he taps with the mallet, any such spots will make a different type of sound). He’ll hit the boat about a zillion times with the hammer. Eventually, the monotonous tapping will begin to annoy you…but it’s an important part of the process. He’ll also check for blistering (pockets of water under the paint) on the hull.

When the boat is hauled, the workers will pressure-wash the bottom to remove barnacles and other growths. They might also replace the sacrificial zinc anode around the propeller shaft. Through a process of pure magic, this zinc ring dissipates electricity into the water – and wears down over time (sacrifices itself, in fact!). You’ll be expected to pay for hauling out the boat, spraying the bottom, and replacing the zinc anode if necessary. This money goes directly to the marina and has nothing to do with the broker or seller. I paid $3.50 per foot to have Prairie Dream hauled out, plus $13.50 for the sacrificial zinc anode. I must admit that I was a bit miffed to be paying for parts on a boat that wasn’t even mine! Nonetheless, this is the way things work – and I soon learned that $13.50 is absolutely NOTHING to pay for boat parts!  If you’re going to gripe about a $13.50 boat part, then you really shouldn’t waste your time with any of this process…

When the surveyor is finished banging on the hull, the boat will be lowered back into the water. Now the fun begins! The broker will sail the boat towards open water. YOU should be below decks with the surveyor, watching his every move and paying attention to every comment. The surveyor will typically start in the forward cabin. He’ll remove every cushion, open every drawer and floor plate, examine every wire and hose, check every seam between the bulkheads and hull, etc. He’ll also go above deck to examine the sails, rudder, GPS, radar, and every other part of the boat!  A good surveyor will spend at least an hour with the engine-verifying the propeller shaft RPM’s, checking the temperature of different engine components, examining the wires to make sure they’re in good shape. He’ll check the water systems, holding tanks, and fuel tanks. Basically, the surveyor will go over every square inch of the boat…and you should be right there with him as he works! Offer to take notes for him!  Help him move those floor plates and hold the flashlight so he can see!  It’s in your best interest to make sure he does the most thorough job possible.

Eventually, you’ll return to port.  Walk the surveyor to his car…without the broker being around.  Ask him for an honest opinion about the condition of the boat.  Don’t hesitate to tell him how much you’ve offered to pay for the vessel.  He’s on your side and will be honest in his appraisal.

Finally, be prepared to pay the surveyor for the work he’s done…right there on the spot. This is the custom!

Step 7: Re-negotiate the price

Within a few days, the surveyor will return a type-written report to you that describes all the things that need to be fixed. In my case, there were two significant repairs that were required. The boat had significant blisters under the waterline and will have to have a new barrier coat applied, and the chainplates which attach the shrouds to the hull have been pulled slightly out of position. Of course, there were a multitude of relatively minor repairs that were also recommended (e.g., loose wiring that needs to be secured, old hoses that need to be replaced, etc.). Click here to read Prairie Dream’s survey.

It is expected, after the survey, that the buyer will re-negotiate the price based on repairs that must be made. I chose to concentrate on the big-ticket items at the bargaining table. Some of my friends told me that I should have made sure that the boat was in perfect condition before I agreed to purchase it. This is bullshit. A second-hand boat will NEVER be in perfect condition…so my advice is to identify the things that will cost the most to repair, and make a counter-offer.

In my case, the boat had several thousand dollars’ worth of significant repairs. I called the broker and gave him a heart-felt speech about how much I liked the boat, but that these repairs…gosh darn it…just weren’t in my budget. Would the seller be willing to make the repairs himself, or reduce the sale price?

An hour later, the broker had contacted the seller who had agreed to meet me half-way. It was a done deal!

Step 8: Find Insurance

Even though you don’t own the boat, you will be required to purchase insurance for it immediately after final price negotiations. This is primarily for the benefit of your finance company. Most finance companies won’t write a check until the buyer (you) can show proof of insurance.

My broker was helpful in suggesting possible insurance agencies, but none of them paid off. I was hindered by two facts. First, I was a first-time boat owner. Many insurance companies wouldn’t even consider me because of this. The second thing that insurers don’t like is liveaboards – i.e., people who intend to live aboard their boats. They reason that it’s a higher risk because a liveaboard is likely to use the gas oven more often than someone who simply sails the boat on the weekends. They also know that a liveaboard will have more guests on board, which increases the insurer’s liability.

If you’re looking to insure a boat, I highly recommend contacting BoatUS.  Boat Owner’s Association of the United States (BoatUS) has been around since 1966.  They offer financial services including boat loans, a nation-wide towing service if you run aground (or run out of fuel, get hit by lightning, or otherwise become disabled on the water), and they underwrite marine insurance policies.  They’re very knowledgeable, and everybody who works there seems to be active in the boating community.  They certainly know their stuff!

Step 9: Get the Documents in Order

Finally, the boat is nearly yours!  All you have to do now is sign your life away…in blood.  I was truly amazed by the amount of paperwork involved in this process.  As you’ll see, there are two sets of documents.  The first is for the broker, and the second is for the bank.  If you’re interested in the details of these documents, I’ve scanned them for your reading enjoyment.  Simply click on the names of the documents below to read them:

Broker Documents

  • Purchase and Sale Agreement: Defines the name of the vessel, agreed upon amount, and terms of the agreement.  I’ve apparently lost part of this document, as it abruptly ends in the middle of Paragraph 14.  God!  I hope they can’t repossess my boat because of this!  Keep in mind that the vessel was still named Prairie Dream at the time; I didn’t change the name to Candide until later.  2 Pages.
  • Conditional Acceptance of Vessel: States that I’m buying the boat “as is.”  Note that it describes a $3,000 reduction in the price of the vessel to fix the “survey defects” that the marine surveyor described in his report.  1 Page.
  • Closing Statement: A financial summary of the deal.  Note that the broker’s commission is listed at $12,000, which was 10% of the purchase price.  1 Page.

Bank Mortgage Documents

  • Preferred Ship Mortgage: Oooooh!  I’m buying a “ship” now!  This is the most important document and it describes my obligations to the bank in 42 numbered sections.  In preparing this document for scanning just now, I happened to notice that I failed to comply with Paragraph 10 in that I never “post[ed] a notice in the cabin identifying the owner of the Boat and the Mortgagee as such.”  Oops.  8 Pages.
  • Truth-In-Lending Disclosure: Describes the number of payments I’ll have to make, the amount of each payment, and the combined total of these payments reflecting the interest charges (nearly a friggin’ quarter of a million bucks!).  Holy shit.  2 Pages.
  • Agreement to Furnish Insurance.  States that I’ll keep the boat insured.  1 Page.
  • Affidavit As To Good Faith: Proudly states that I’m an honest guy, and not trying to defraud the good people at the mortgage company.  1 Page.
  • Limited Power of Attorney: Says that they can take my boat and sell it if I default on the loan.  1 Page.
  • Compliance Agreement.  States that if the mortgage company made a mistake anywhere in these dozens of pages of documents, that I’ll agree to any changes they make to correct their mistake(s).  1 Page.
  • Borrower’s Acceptance Certificate: States that I’ve accepted the boat in good working order.  Note that it also says the boat “[will not be] used as the principal dwelling of the undersigned or anyone else.”  The whole idea for buying the boat was to use it for my “principal dwelling!”  When I pointed this out to the loan officer, he told me to simply scratch out that part and initial it.  Who knew?  1 Page.
  • Consumer Note and Security Agreement: More or less a rehash of all the other documents in one location.  6 Pages.

As you review these documents, you may notice that the mortgage company required my boat to be a “Documented Vessel” with the U.S. Coast Guard.  The reason for this is quite simple; it makes the boat a U.S.-registered vessel (flying a U.S. flag).  This makes the boat a lot easier to repossess in foreign countries, should the owner default on the loan and try to hide the boat overseas.  Prairie Dream was already a Documented Vessel, so I just needed for the Coast Guard to update their records to show my name.  I hired a company that specializes in these procedures, and it was at this time that I changed the name of the boat to Candide.

By the way, changing the name of a vessel is no big deal from a legal standpoint.  In fact, my boat has had three names by three owners; Silver SkatesPrairie Dream, and now Candide.  Just be sure to get the title and documents updated correctly.

The difficult part of changing a boat’s name is finding a virgin to sacrifice across the bow.  Virgins are hard to find these days.  Fortunately for me, a couple of Mormon missionaries happened to ride their bikes past my marina at just the right time…

Lastly, you may have noticed that I paid 7% Florida sales tax on the purchase price of the boat.  I tried everything to avoid this tax, but it simply can’t be done (at least, not legally).  I heard about all kinds of schemes to avoid paying Uncle Mickey (Florida’s rodent version of Uncle Sam) – register the boat in Delaware, take delivery of the boat in the Bahamas,  keep the boat constantly moving between two or more states for the first six months, declare the boat an independent country (seriously?) – but all of these are bogus.  I verified this with the same attorney I’d hired to review the purchasing agreements.  You’ll either pay taxes in the state where you purchased the boat, or you’ll pay them in your home state.

That’s it!  Congratulations!  You may now take delivery of your boat and move aboard!

Bonus Step: Burn the Mortgage

One of the happiest days of my life was when I finally paid off Candide’s mortgage.  Even though I had taken out a 20-year loan on the boat, I managed to get her paid off early.  It took exactly 12 years, 9 months, and 3 days.  You may click here to view the final document I will ever get from the mortgage company (note that Vericrest Financial bought my mortgage from The CIT Group several years ago).

I decided to celebrate with friends and family with an old-style “mortgage burning” party.  More than one person pointed out how ironic it would be if I accidentally set fire to my just-paid-for boat with my flaming mortgage…but it was worth the risk!

At long last, Candide is truly mine!  Enjoy the video…

Liveaboard Size

Question:  What size sailboat makes a comfortable home? This is my largest concern—I want a lot of space, but I also want to make sure that I can sail the boat alone. 


Hudson Harrison wrote:

There are a lot of boats out there, and you should be able to get something that will do what you want in an older boat in that price range, such as a Whitby 42. One post won’t cover all you need. Books are good, and even Liveaboard Magazine has a web page www.liveaboardmagazine.com, or something. Power Boats have more room, and a trawler has plenty, but I wouldn’t take one of those things far out…it takes lots of fuel, and if the engine goes, well, you got no sail.

The Lillie Family wrote:

Whitby is a good choice. It allows a lot of headroom. We recently purchased one and are preparing to leave this summer on an extended cruising with a teenage son. We are all looking forward to this. Make sure you have plenty of headroom, you don’t want to be bent over the rest of your life!

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Doug Abbott wrote:

You’re thinking like a landowner. The bigger the space the more *stuff* you’ll stuff into it. Just what do you have that requires so much space? Rear projection TV and 5-channel digital sound? Acres of closet space for the suits and clothes you’ll never wear? Closets to store things you’ve probably never touched or can’t remember the last time you used? The need to roast whole oxen? What?

Contrary to TV and commercials – less is more. Tip: Look hard at the *stuff* you own and if you can’t remember the last time you used it, discard it. If you use it once a year, discard it. If you think you might use it, discard it. Need assurance? Move into a small efficiency for a few months before moving aboard. If you feel insecure, rent as many storage units as you need to dump this important *stuff*, the same *stuff* that’s holding you back from your dream, and try living without it. Think hard about what you _really_ need, not what someone tells you you need. Listen to you, not them.

Stuart Jantzen wrote:

41′ makes a nice size. With experience, a 41 footer can be sailed single handed but until you have that experience it would be best to have someone helping you. If you are coming from a house or apartment of house any size boat will seem very small. It is something you have to get used too.

Tracy Watkins wrote:

The size of the boat depends primarily on the design. I live on a 36 footer and am very happy. However, I have seen other 36’s that would not be acceptable. As a general rule, I would say 34-41 feet are in the acceptable range. I single hand my boat all the time, the newer boats make it easy to do this with a large boats. I would say that a modern designed boat in the 36-38 range is most likely to meet your needs.

What I decided (1998):

Size DOES matter! I visited plenty of boats that appeared to be fairly large from the specification sheets, but in reality were quite cramped. I went aboard a 36′ Benetau, for example, that barely has enough room to house a hamster…much less my 6’4″ frame!

I found that the CSY models offer a lot of room on the inside…especially since the decking goes clear out to the hull. Unfortunately, these boats are pretty ugly (in my humble opinion).  Plus, the company went out of business a few years ago, so getting parts will probably be pretty difficult.

The Hans Christian that I chose is, of course, the most beautifully crafted vessel ever to set sail! (Ok, perhaps I’m a bit prejudiced, but what with all the teak and holly interior—I mean, come on! She’s gorgeous!). I think that Doug Abbott has it right…most of my stuff is in storage. My 6’ leather couch and matching chair…in a shed. My Harmon Kardon stereo with 4’ tall Infinity speakers…resting in a shack. My hand-crafted Italian bed and intricately carved chest-of-drawers keeps them company (did I mention that these things are for sale?). I honestly don’t miss them. The boat has plenty of places to sit and rest, and tons of storage! I can hang my business suits in the on-board closets, there are plenty of drawers for my underwear, and (get this)…I have built-in cabinets that are totally EMPTY!!! I simply haven’t found any junk to put in them! Room for “stuff” is not really an issue.

As far as my 6’4″ frame, I find that the Hans Christian offers plenty of room. I haven’t hit my head yet! I can even stand up in the head to do my business. I walk around the salon with total comfort. This 38’ home is small by most people’s standards, but it works just fine for me! And, of course, my home is nearly completely self-sufficient. I can move it at any time. If I don’t like my neighbors, I can simply release the lines and sail somewhere else. If the climate turns too cold for my taste, I can be in the tropics in a few days.

In short, I have EVERYTHING I need aboard this boat. It’s a great feeling of freedom that one can’t possibly imaging until it’s experienced first-hand!

Thoughts from 2000:

The stuff in storage is no longer for sale. I got rid of it all in December, 1999. I sold most of it to people who have boats at the yard, but also maintain houses. My leather couch and matching chair? At Tom Holland’s new apartment. He does the painting and rigging at Ortega River Boat Yard. My hand-crafted Italian bed and chest-of-drawers? My best friend and First Mate, Bill Hoffman, is enjoying them in his home.

But that Harman/Kardon stereo? Well, I found a way to get that aboard! It’s playing right now (I’m listening to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack). The trick was to give up my large Infinity speakers and buy those little “cube” Bose speakers. I cannot even begin to tell you how GOOD my stereo sounds aboard this teak-lined enclosure! The sound simply reverberates off the wood. Five Bose speakers and a sub-woofer…WOW!

I also broke down and bought a 12″ television/VCR unit. It’s nice to be able to run to Blockbuster’s to rent a movie and watch it aboard. Several of my neighbors have satellite dishes to receive channels. Personally, I don’t care much for the T.V., but I definitely like to watch rented movies.

Everything else, though, is gone! I no longer maintain a storage unit. There’s a certain liberating feeling that I got when my land-based possessions were sold. Now, EVERYTHING that I own is either on Candide or in the trunk of my ’92 Grand Am.

There’s a story behind using the trunk of my car for storage. When I bought Candide and hired a captain to help sail her to Jacksonville, I helped him move some things from his car. He popped his trunk and it was absolutely full of…junk! He noticed my amusement and said to me, “I’ll give you one year of living aboard before YOUR trunk is just as cluttered!”

Well, he was right. I used to keep an immaculate car. No more…it’s now full of extra clothes, computer equipment, miscellaneous boat parts, a few books, and possibly a dead cat (I’m sure that smell has to be coming from something that once lived). Anyway, if you plan on living aboard and having a car, I’ll bet your friends will soon start to make snotty comments about the things you manage to stuff in the trunk! 😉

Thoughts from 2003:

I have two very good friends who’ve been living together as a couple for several years with their fairly large dog.  He’d always dreamed of living on a sailboat, so he bought a 27′ and moved the missus and mutt on board.  27′ makes for a very small boat!  Their boat has a vee-berth that’s actually quite large.  She has a head, but it is cramped to say the least.  There’s no separate shower, so any water they use to bathe winds up on the bathroom floor.  The saloon is very small, perhaps 8′ across and maybe 10′ long.  The galley consists of a sink and a burner that is actually part of the saloon.  Now, I don’t want it to sound like I’m knocking these folks, because I’m not…they’re very good friends of mine.  It’s just my opinion that their boat would be better suited for a single person…who lives without a large dog.  They’ve been doing it for well over a year now, and seem to get along just fine.  

My friends are somewhat the exception by choosing to live as a couple aboard such a small boat.  Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that liveaboards gravitate towards a certain boat size, depending on their circumstances.  Note that all of these are simply my personal observation; there are certainly no dead-set rules for the “proper” size of a liveaboard boat:

bullet Single – Many people without significant others are quite content living on very small vessels in the 27′ – 35′ range.  In fact, a lot of them consider this to be the ideal size for a single person.  They point out that it’s easier to maintain a smaller boat if you’re living alone, and it’s certainly easier to sail them single-handed than larger boats.  Not only are smaller boats less expensive to initially purchase, but they’re cheaper to keep at the dock (because most marinas charge rent by the length of the boat), and cheaper to have the bottom painted every year.  Boats of this size will typically have a small vee-berth, a head, a saloon with one or two settees, a fold-down dining table, and a galley towards the aft.  Generally, there is no division between the saloon and galley on these smaller boats.
bullet Couple – Those folks who live with a loved one generally prefer larger boats in the 37′ – 45′ range.  Boats of this size are somewhat like an efficiency apartment.  They usually have at least two berths, a generous head (often with a partitioned shower, which is highly desirable for most liveaboards), a full galley (with oven, burners, refrigerator, dual sinks, plenty of food locker space, and ample food preparation areas), and generally a LOT more room to store “stuff” than smaller vessels.  Candide has a 38′ deck, which is larger than most of my single liveaboard friends.  Eventually, I’m hoping to upgrade my personal life to the “couple” stage, but I’ve lived alone since owning her.  If I knew for sure that I would be living alone on a permanent basis, I would rather own a Hans Christian 33′ Traditional.  It has all the space a single guy like me could need, and is a lot easier to handle alone under sail.
bullet Family – Yes, there are plenty of liveaboards (though they are usually full-time cruisers) who are raising kids aboard their boats.  I’ve met several of these families through the years as they pass through Jacksonville.  Their boats are, so far without exception, within the same size range that I described for liveaboard couples (i.e., 37′ – 45′ deck length).  How do they manage?  Well, most boats in that size range have at least two cabins…sometimes three or even four.  Mom and Dad sleep together in one cabin, while the kids sleep in the others.  I met one family who had a very large aft cabin.  They also had a boy and a girl, one year apart in age.  Before the kids reached their teens, the father divided the cabin in two with marine plywood and teak finish.  Instant privacy for both kids!  The father told me a humorous story about his daughter (the oldest of the two).  She had lived aboard a boat her entire life.  When she went away to college, she couldn’t comfortably sleep in the dormitory because there was “too much space.”  Her solution?  She built a tent-like area around her bed to simulate the close confines in which she grew up!

Bottom Job

“Bottom Jobs” have to be done at least once every two years.  Every single year, if you listen to the folks who do the work!  Candide gets hauled out of the water about every 18 months so that a new coat of toxic paint can be applied under the waterline.  The paint is toxic enough to kill certain varmints (like barnacles and other growth) that interfere with the boat’s performance.  This page will explain exactly what’s involved with a bottom job.  Pay attention, because if you live aboard and ever plan on taking your boat out of the marina for a Sunday afternoon cruise, you’ll wind up doing this ever so often…

 

These guys (Paul and Geoff) are working hard to break loose a stubborn turnbuckle.
bullet Step 1: Remove the Stuff in the Way.  I imagine that yard workers much prefer to deal with powerboats.  To get a stink pot on the lift, all that has to be done is to move the boat to the travel lift, move the straps under it, and lift it out of the water.  Not so with a blow boat.  Candide has not just one, but two (jib and stay) “wires” that must be removed so that the boat can fit under the travel lift to be hauled out of the water.  Unfortunately, Candide’s forward stay had completely frozen since the last time she had a bottom job. Get More Information about forex robots on top 10 binary options demo as the website will have complete information about various forex robots and time taken for signing up with these robots is just 2 minutes, this system can be used by both novices and experienced people as they are very flexible.

The only way to free the turnbuckle was to literally destroy it with a huge crowbar.  Eventually, the guys got it free…and I had to order a new turnbuckle to the tune of $130.00!  Such is the first step…

Candide emerges from the water.
bullet Step 2: Haul the Boat from the Water.  Here we see the awesome sight of Candide being lifted clear out of the water.  Awesome because she weighs nearly 30,000 pounds!  All of that weight is supported by two straps.  Yep, two straps!   Trust me when I tell you that it’s nerve-racking to watch your love and joy be hauled clear out of the water with only two nylon straps supporting the entire vessel!  Nonetheless, this procedure has been done thousands and thousands of time on boats much heavier than Candide.  Never once have I heard about a boat slipping during a haul out!  Knowing this, though, doesn’t necessarily help when you’re standing there watching it being done…
Fouled propeller!
bullet Step 3: Inspect the Varmints.  The picture to the left is absolutely shameful.  Candide’s propeller is so fouled that it can barely churn the water.  It’s disgusting, gross, and pitiful even.  This propeller was so useless, in fact, that it took nearly six hours to move to my new marina…a trip that should have taken only two!  As you can see from the picture, there’s an impressive build-up of those cursed creatures called “barnacles” that have attached themselves completely around the propeller.  This action seriously inhibits the forward “thrust” that the propeller normally provides.  Considering that the entire bottom is covered with the same critters, it doesn’t matter whether the engine is used or not.  Even under sail, as fouled as it was, wouldn’t have made my six-hour trip any shorter!
Sprayed down!
bullet Step 4: Water Jet and Scrape.  Water at a billion p.s.i. can do some wonderful things for removing the growth under your boat’s waterline.  Here, we see a yard worker using a high-pressure hose to remove the barnacles and other growth from Candide’s hull.  Note that the boat is still on the travel lift.  In fact, she’s only a few feet away from the “service slip” from which she was hauled.  For environmental reasons, this is standard practice the the U.S.  All of those barnacles, weeds, slime, etc., will be carefully removed and properly disposed of from this particular location.  Maintaining a “Clean Marina” is very important to most service yards! 
On the hard!
bullet Step 5: Block up the Boat.  Now the boat is put “on the hard.”  The yard workers will place heavy blocks of wood on the ground and lower the boat on top of them.  These blocks will support the vast majority of the boat’s weight.  They’ll use metal stands to hold the boat in an upright position.  When everything’s all set, the straps will be removed and the travel lift will be moved.  When you click the picture on the left, you’ll see in detail how much better the hull looks after being pressure sprayed.  While it’s a bit hard to tell from this photo, the gunwhales (the wooden trim around the hull) is some 10 feet above the ground!  This means that you’ll have to use a fairly tall ladder to get onto the boat.  Believe me when I say that it’s a bit nerve-wracking to step onto the deck when you’re thinking that the entire boat is supported by a few flimsy metal stands! 
If you forget something, you’ll have to be creative in how you remove it from the boat!
bullet Step 6: Adjusting to Life on the Hard.  Trying to live aboard a boat that’s out of the water can be very difficult.  First, you’ll have to climb a ladder to board the vessel.  In the picture to the left (click to enlarge), you can see the top of an eight-foot ladder!  As you can see, it doesn’t reach to the gunwhales…you’ll have to step down about two feet to reach the top step (the one that has warnings that read, “This is NOT a step!  Do NOT use this as a step unless you have balance like the performers in Cirque del Sol.  Danger!  Warning Will Rogers!  Danger!”).  Because Candide’s A/C uses river water to cool itself, it can’t be used when the boat is on the hard.  This means that it gets very hot down below.  To top it all off, you’ll have to be very creative when moving heavy object on or off the boat.  This picture shows me lowering a suitcase full of business clothes down to the ground (I had an out of town trip that week).  It would have been a LOT easier if I had removed the suitcase while the boat was still in the water!
This worker is wearing a “moon suit” for protection as he sands the old bottom paint from Candide’s hull.
bullet Step 7: Sanding.  In this picture, you see a yard worker wearing a “moon suit.”  He’s covered from head to toe in a protective, disposable costume.  He’s also wearing gloves and a respirator.  No doubt he’s sweating profusely under all this garb and can’t wait until the job is done (I don’t think he can go to the bathroom wearing that stuff).  All of these protections are designed to keep the worker safe from the highly toxic paint that he’s sanding off in preparation for a new coat.  You definitely don’t want to breath that old paint or get it on your skin!  By the way, a lot of liveaboards do their own “bottom jobs.”  Virtually every marina in this country will require them to wear similar outfits, which costs about $300 or so.  The outfits can be used for several years, but they’ll have to find a place to store it on board.  At this point in my life, I’d rather pay someone to do this nasty job for me.
Apply the new paint!
bullet Step 8: Apply the New Paint.  It’s now time to start painting.  As you can see, there’s no need to wear an uncomfortable “moon suit” to do this job.  Simply grab a roller and start applying the stuff!  I chose to have Trinidad Bottom Paint applied to Candide.  The stuff costs about $160 per gallon and comes in a variety of colors…red, green, blue, or black.  Unfortunately, my marina was out of green…so I had them apply black rather than wait for a shipment of green.  It should also be noted that some marinas will only apply a single coat with their basic “bottom job,” while others will apply two.  At my current marina, they apply two coats as standard fare.  It definitely pays to shop around for you bottom job…two coats are always better than one!
Ready to go back into the water!
bullet Step 9: Splash Back into the Water.  Finally, the boat is ready to go back into the water.  Here, we see that the travel lift has been moved into place.  The hull under the waterline is jet black with brand-new bottom paint and a new sacrificial zinc anode has been placed around the propeller shaft.  “So what’s the big deal?” you may be asking.  Well, it took over five hours to sail Candide 11 miles from her old marina to the new one.  Today, I sailed her from the new marina to the old one…and it took only two hours!  Keeping the bottom clean and freshly painted is extremely important when it comes to the speed of your boat! 

Temperature Control

Question:  How do on-board air-conditioners / heaters work? Should I be on the lookout for anything in particular when looking for a boat with air conditioning? 


The Lillie Family wrote: 

Why on earth would you want air conditioning when you have all that fresh air? Make ‘wind tunnels’ that capture the air/breezes and funnel them below deck.

Doug Abbott wrote:

Very_ poorly, very_ expensively, and very_ noisily! You need lots of amps to run the AC. Most boat AC’s only run when the generator or engine is on. Kind of kills the peace and quiet and beauty of an anchorage, doesn’t it?

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You won’t need it; you only think you will. Sure, there will be days when it’s popcorn hot. You just do something else – go to the pool, go snorkeling or diving, go work on your tan, go do nothing, go sailing and work on your technique, go to the mall, go to the movies, go somewhere where you can cool off. You’ll acclimate quickly and learn to do things in the early morning and late afternoon or at night.

Buy lots of 12V fans. Those will be used far more than the AC.

Tracy Watkins wrote:

Built in A/C units work essentially the same way your heat pump does at home. The main difference being that the marine system picks up raw water and circulates it through a heat exchanger to reduce temp.

Stuart Jantzen wrote:

There are on board ac units that work off an inverter (110V converted from 12 V). They can be very effective. We have a regular window air conditioning unit (110V) that I have installed in the forward hatch. While at the dock, it works great!


What I decided (1998):


The last weekend in July, I visited approximately 30 boats spread all over the eastern coast of Florida. Every boat we visited was absolutely stifling hot! There is NO WAY I’d live on one of these boats without air conditioning–for fear I might drown in my own sweat! So, I’ve decided that air conditioning is an absolute must.

I did learn there are two types of marine air conditioners…window (hatch) units, and central units. I was advised by several people that the hatch units won’t efficiently cool a large boat, so I decided on a central unit.

(22,000 BTU) was about $1,600, and it cost $1,400 to have it installed. It works absolutely great! In fact, I let it run all night on full-speed just to see how cold it would get. Imagine my surprise when I woke at 4:00 in the morning, shivering, because the temperature inside the boat had dropped to 62 degrees (this is practically freezing by Florida standards)! Even during the day, the unit keeps the boat nice and cool.


Thoughts from 2000:

There are three ways to keep a boat cool in the Florida sun. The first is to create an awning, which is a fabric covering that is installed over the top of the boat. Typically, these awnings allow about 3′ of space between the covering and the deck. They have to be custom-made, are relatively expensive, and certainly hamper the sailing experience!

The second way is to install a “hatch unit” air conditioner. The problem with these units is that they allow a lot of the cold air to “escape” because they’re notoriously difficult to seal. Some people (insane, mostly), install these units in their companionway hatch. This makes it VERY difficult to enter / exit the boat!

The third way is to do what I did…have central air professionally installed. Quite frankly, having central air on a liveaboard boat in Florida is an absolute dream! I don’t have to worry about awnings. The system has a computer that is identical to the control units that one might purchase at Home Depot for central air. It’s smart enough to know what day it is and how cool I want things in the morning versus afternoon.

Perhaps the wisest purchase I’ve made since moving aboard is this central air conditioner. It does not interfere at all with my sailing activities (i.e, I don’t have to take apart an awning or remove a hatch unit), and it keeps the boat very, VERY cool during the summer. In fact, one of my liveaboard friends recently referred to Candide as a “meat locker” because of its climate controlled nature.

Central air is a great investment!

Thoughts from 2003:

One thing I failed to mention in the past five years is that the A/C unit aboard Candide is reverse-cycle.  That is, it produces both cold air during the summer and hot air during the winter.  I think I’ve already made the case for having cold air during the summer, but it’s winter now and I’m enjoying hot air to heat the cabin.  Last night, in fact, it dipped into the mid-30’s.  Quite cold for Florida this time of year!  Quite frankly, I didn’t know that the temperature had dropped so low until this morning when my fellow liveaboards were complaining about how cold they’d been aboard their boats!  During the winter, while Candide is docked (I have to draw shore power to run the heater), she stays quite warm.  The trick to keeping warm is three-fold:

bullet Reverse-cycle air conditioner.  If you’re going to purchase an air conditioner to keep your boat cool during the summer, it’s my opinion that you should spend a few extra bucks to buy one that can also produce heat during the winter.  Aboard Candide, it’s a simple task to throw a switch (“heat” and “cool,” they’re labeled on the thermostat) twice a year to keep the boat at a comfortable temperature year-round.  22,000 BTU’s of heat is a LOT of warmth!
bullet Ceramic space heater.  When it gets really cold in the dead of winter, I use a $30 ceramic space heater that I purchased from Wal-Mart.  It’s a simple device that plugs into a normal 120V outlet.  During the day, it keeps the saloon nice and cozy warm.  At night, I put it on the floor in the vee-berth to keep that cabin nice and toasty.  
bullet Electric blanket.  I don’t know why more of my liveaboard friends haven’t thought of this one.  They usually act surprised when I tell them that I have an electric blanket in the vee-berth.  I usually turn it on an hour before I go to bed.  When I crawl under those sheets, it reminds me of my college days when I had a waterbed with a built-in heater.  It’s so…warm!  The heat usually puts me to sleep in just a few minutes.  

“Why does one need so many sources of heat while living in Florida?” you may be asking.  Well, the primary culprit is the water temperature of the St. John’s River.  As we all learned in Thermodynamics 101, a dense, cold body of water will suck heat right out of the air.  Immerse a boat (filled with air) into cold water, and you’ll soon discover that that the water is stealing your warmth!  Hell, just in the past two weeks I’ve noticed that the boat’s tap water is much, much colder than it is during the summer!  The St. Johns is even sucking the warmth from the water tanks (not that I’m complaining…I like to drink cold water throughout the day…only now, I don’t have to put a jug of it in the refrigerator…it’s quite cold enough directly from the faucet)!

Perhaps now you’re thinking, “Well, gee, isn’t it expensive to pay for the electricity to keep a boat well-heated during the winter?”  The answer is (the environmentalists will hate this)…I pay the same amount for electricity no matter how much or how little of it I use!  There’s simply no incentive for me to “conserve” electricity because the marina charges $35 per month regardless of how much juice I consume!  So, my attitude is that if I’m paying one rate, no matter what, well…I might as well be warm during the winter!  Aboard Candide, you’ll find a primary heater, a space heater, and an electric blanket…all running at the same time during freezing weather!  This is one of the huge advantages of living in a marina that doesn’t meter the electricity consumed by each boat!

 

Seaworthiness

Question:  What type of things make a sailboat capable of long sea voyages? I’d like to have the option one day of sailing to Europe or perhaps beyond (this dream is YEARS away). What things should I look for NOW in a boat so that when I am ready, my boat will be, too?

Doug Abbott wrote:

The answer to that is two words: blue-water. A blue-water designed or constructed sailboat is many things. Most of all it is strong and conservatively rigged. No carbon fiber masts. No paper thin hull. No water ballast. No trick rigging. A blue water boat will seldom sail as fast as a weekend or coastal cruiser. Look for a sail plan and control that makes it easy to trim and control the boat. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

Did I mention simplify? The more the masts, the more the rigging and the more sails you have to carry. The thinner the hull, the poorer the deck to hull joining, the cheaper the hatches and ports, the more *stuff* that isn’t necessary, the less reliable the boat is. Fact: The greater the number of systems you have on a boat, the greater the chance (exponentially) of something important breaking.

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Time to cruise the docks, attend boating/sailing meetings, join SSCA, talk to boaters, and do some homework. You’ll get an idea pretty quickly as to what is considered a blue water boat. Fact: The overwhelming number of boats you’ll look at are not blue water designed and make no pretense of being so.

Tracy Watkins wrote:

Modern construction techniques and materials make for boats that are extremely seaworthy. This is and always will be a controversial subject. All of the new boats we sell meet the European Certification Standards for unlimited offshore cruising. This subject is complex and something that is better discussed in person or on the phone, as I am sure you will have a number of questions.

Stuart L. Jantzen wrote:

A well built boat is like a well built car. It will serve you for years if properly maintained. I suggest you read magazines like “Cruising” and “Sail”. Read what others have to say about what makes a good boat. The more information you gather the better decision you will make when the time comes. “Jantzen’s Joy” is a Dickerson. Dickerson is rated as one of the world finest sailboats in a book titled “World Finest Sailboats”.

What I decided (1998):

I think that Stuart is quite right; boats are built like cars. If you want to purchase a Rolls-Royce boat, buy a Hinkley. It’s built like a tank! The shrouds, for example, are solid steel–rather than the braided type found on most sailboats. Not unlike Rolls-Royce automobiles, Hinkleys are very, very expensive. It is not uncommon for used ones, built in the early 1980’s, to fetch a quarter of a million dollars.

So Hinkley is not for me. Yet at the same time, I want a boat that is well made and is as beautiful as a well-designed car. The fist time I laid eyes on the Hans Christian, I knew I had found my boat!

I suppose that the Hans Christian could be equated to a Mercedes. She’s solidly built, proud of her engineering, and has a certain regal, classic design (think “Marilyn Monroe;” a bit overweight by today’s standards, but a true classic beauty!). The deck of the boat is “dipped” in the middle–rather than having straight lines that are found on other boats. It is my understanding that this design encourages large waves to wash over the deck. The decks, by the way, are all teak–difficult to properly maintain, but they provide sure footing on a rough sea. The portals are solid brass, and the glass is three plates thick. The hull is exceptionally thick—from under the waterline to the top of the deck. She displaces 26,500 pounds with a 38’ LOA and 12’6″ beam. Quite heavy for a boat of her size. She’s equipped with RADAR and GPS. I wouldn’t be surprised to find SONAR somewhere below! The point is, this boat is made to sail anywhere in the world I might wish to go—and she’ll look damn sexy doing it!

The Hans Christian also has a teak deck. Not only does it look really cool, but it also provides unparalleled traction (much better than a fiberglass deck). This is important for me…as I will be sailing alone quite a bit and would like to remain ON the boat.

The Hans Christian doesn’t have a lot of room in the interior, which will take a bit of adjustment on my part. She does have an average amount of hanging closet space and tons of drawers. Unfortunately, the head and shower area is very small.


Thoughts from 2000: 

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been living aboard for nearly two years. I wrote “What I Decided” when I had first purchased the vessel and was used to large living spaces. When I re-read what I originally wrote, I had to laugh that I actually thought, “doesn’t have a lot of room in the interior.”

Quite frankly, I am the envy of many liveaboards at my marina. I have TONS of space on Candide! Sure, there’s no room for a 52″ television, walk-in refrigerator, or Jacuzzi. But, my God! I’m not living in a house! I live on a sailboat!

To quote Hamlet, “I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count my self a King of infinite space.” Quite frankly, I still have drawer space that is completely…now get this…completely EMPTY! I just don’t have enough stuff to put in them!

No…I have PLENTY of room on Candide. Lots of cabin space to put things. Lots of overhead space so that I don’t bang my head on the ceiling. A big salon that can comfortably accommodate 4-6 friends. Enough food locker room to store 4-5 weeks’ worth of groceries. What more do I need?

Thoughts from 2003:

Well, now that I’ve got over four years’ experience playing around on boats, I’ve come to learn what separates a well-founded ocean-going sailboat from a coastal-cruising weekend boat.  Besides a difference in habitat amenities (as described on the Types of Boats page), there are some things that any true blue-water sailing vessel should have as standard equipment and features that will typically be lacking on a coastal cruiser.   Some of these include:

Candide is a heavy displacement vessel at nearly 30,000 lbs with a 33′ waterline.
bullet Heavy Displacement.  The “displacement” of a vessel is a fancy way to refer to her “weight.”  It has been my experience that blue-water cruisers are generally much, much heavier than their coastal counter-parts.  Consider that most coastal boats at my marina that are actually longer than Candide often have less than half of the weight my boat has.   What difference does this make?  Well, in rough weather (like on my recent trip to Cuba), Candide managed to stay relatively comfortable compared to some acquaintances who found religion in making the same crossing aboard their 40′ Hunter.  The crew actually said, “We thought we were going to die!  Everybody except the captain was seasick, and we could feel the hull flexing in the waves!”  Basically, they bobbed around like a cork for over twenty hours, while Candide remained relatively more stable.  In general, heavier is better for an ocean-going boat.
This is a fin keel.  It is a little, tiny bit of metal that doesn’t provide enough weight for an ocean-crossing vessel.
bullet Full Keel.  The keel is the part of a sailboat that is filled with ballast (weight, usually from iron or lead) to counteract the forces on the sails.  Some boats have keels that are more or less bolted onto the bottom of the hull.  This is fine for coastal cruisers, but not the safest arrangement for heavy-weather sailing.  These keels have been known to literally fall off after striking floating objects at sea or getting caught in very rough weather.  A better alternative for off-shore cruising is a “full keel.”  These keels are built into the hull of the boat.  In fact, on Candide, it’s difficult to determine where the hull ends and the keel begins…as both are constructed from the same continuous mass of fiberglass.  The downsides of having a full keel are that the boat will generally be a bit slower, and the boat may not sail as well into the wind.  A huge advantage is that full keel boats will generally be much more stable at sea.  
 
bullet Thick Skin.  The amount of fiberglass used to form the hull greatly affects its strength.  Generally, the thicker the glass, the stronger the boat.  Back in the 1960’s and 70’s, engineers weren’t quite sure how much fiberglass would be required to keep a hull together.  Boats from this era are often way overbuilt (a good thing!) as a result.  If I had a limited budget, and wanted a blue-water cruiser, I would seriously consider buying an older boat built during this time rather than a more modern one.  Because, eventually, you see, those engineers got “smart.”  As time went on, they were able to figure out exactly how much fiberglass was needed to keep a boat somewhat safe.  This resulted in boat manufacturers using a lot less of the stuff to make their vessels.  So, a lot of modern coastal cruisers have a minimum hull thickness…which is not good if you should run aground on rocks or coral.  Nor is it good if you don’t want to “feel the hull flexing in the waves” as described by our friends above when experiencing rough weather.  
The standing rigging on Candide is 5/8″ stainless steel.  My God!  I’m developing a David Letterman hairstyle!  Ughhh!
bullet Oversized Rigging.  Imaging being at sea in 40 knots of wind.  By this point, you should have already “reefed the sails” by making them smaller.  This reduces pressure on the mast and the rigging.  Nonetheless, there will still be tons and tons of pressure on this vital equipment.  One of the last things you want to happen in these conditions is to break a shroud (i.e., one of the cables supporting the mast).  Should one break, then the pressure on the others will increase.  If another breaks, then you have a potentially life-threatening situation on your hands as you are in great danger of being dismasted.  Blue-water sailing boats will often have extra-thick shrouds (Candide’s are 5/8″ thick), while coastal cruisers will often have considerably thinner shrouds (Hunters often use 3/8″ on boats considerably larger than Candide).
 
bullet Lifeboat.  It surprises me how many coastal cruisers are willing to go to sea, even for just a few miles, with no lifeboat on board.  If you’re thinking of blue-water sailing, a lifeboat should be mandatory!  
The Icom 706MKIIG.  This is the ham radio that I chose to install aboard Candide. 
bullet Ham Radio.  VFH radios (similar to C.B. radios used by truckers), are a fantastic communications tool.  Unfortunately, they only work “in line of sight.”  This means that if you have an antenna at the top of your mast, you’ll only be able to broadcast for several miles away from your intended audience.  Ham radio, which I installed aboard Candide (Icom 706 MK II) can extend your communication range world-wide.  It also allows a lot of functionality not possible with VHF radios.  For example, it’s possible to be several hundred miles off shore (or on some desert island in the Caribbean), and yet be able to make phone calls to the United States for free!  This is possible if you’re able to find a fellow ham operator who is willing to make a telephone patch for you.  This is a LOT cheaper than using satellite phones or calling directly from the islands!  Ham radios also allow you to receive marine weather faxes…which can be downloaded to your laptop or printed directly to paper.  Having access to current weather faxes away from shore can help the captain make critical navigation decisions.  Modern ham technology also allows boats to send and receive e-mail; from virtually anywhere in the world!  Last, but certainly not least, ham radios allow you to talk to folks from all walks of life 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  So let’s say you take the missus to sea and the two of you have a big falling out.  She’s not talking to you.  That’s OK, though!  You can get on that ham radio and have conversations with sympathetic guys from all over the globe!  Of course, using a ham radio requires a license.  You can learn all about the legal requirements, available equipment, etc., by visiting The National Association for Amateur Radio.  Oh, and before any of you send me an e-mail asking the question…no, I do not yet have a call sign.  I only recently got my equipment installed, and I’d be tinkering around with it right now if I weren’t busy updating this website.  Give me a couple of months!
bullet Radar.  Radar is one of the coolest technologies to emerge from WWII.  It tracks Japanese Zero’s, German Focke Wolf’s, as well as destroyers and aircraft carriers.  On a cruising boat, it’s generally used for less exciting activities…like “seeing” though the fog while navigating an unfamiliar channel.  There are few things scarier aboard a boat than trying to enter an unfamiliar inlet in heavy fog at night.  With a radar, though, it becomes somewhat easier as the device will “show” you where the channel markers and shore are located relative to your boat.  It can definitely make you feel more comfortable with the situation!  Plus, you’ll be able to see any pesky Messerschmitt’s before he’s able to see you (that is, assuming he doesn’t have radar).
A passive radar reflector.
bullet Radar Reflector.  Perhaps even more important than having a radar is owning a properly-configured radar reflector.  Radar reflectors help other radar operators to see you more clearly on their screens.  These devices are specifically designed to make your vessel look larger (or at least show up more clearly) on a radar scan!  A standard sailboat mast might appear as a pin-prick on the radar screen of a large ship.  The helmsman of that ship might not pay any attention to just a “blip” on the radar.  But if that blip is big enough (or bright enough), it might get his attention so he can change course or slow down before running you over in the middle of the night!  Most radar reflectors are simple passive devices.  Some are merely aluminum “balls” that are hung from a shroud or halyard.  More expensive “active” reflectors use electronics to sense incoming radar waves.  Through pure magic, they’re able to send that radar an amplified signal…perhaps making that helmsman think he’s about to run into the Saratoga.  In any case, Candide uses a passive reflector and I know it works because I’ve been contacted by ships at sea who were about to run me down.  😉
Candide has small portals by design.  They’re made to withstand violent seas.
bullet Small Portals.  I know I’ve mentioned this in other places on this site, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to have solidly build (preferably small) portals if you plan on extensive ocean cruising.  Huge “windows” that are glued to the hull on weekend cruisers are not acceptable in rough weather at sea.  Small portals good; big portals bad.  If a boat has large portals, there’s a greater chance of them breaking and letting in water during rough weather.  Understand, though, that this is a big trade-off for a liveaboard person.  One thing I don’t like about Candide as a liveaboard boat is that she’s dark on the inside (my friends call her “The Cave.”).  Nonetheless, I can buy extra interior lights and bask in the knowledge that my portals will remain safe in most sea conditions.
A sea anchor may or may not make bad weather more endurable.
bullet Sea Anchors.  A “sea anchor” is a device used to slow down and stabilize your vessel in rough weather.  Most of them look like WWII parachutes made from thick nylon webbing.  Generally, they’re deployed over the bow of the boat when conditions are very rough.  They help keep the bow (the strongest point of the boat) facing into the waves.  This produces a more comfortable, and safer, ride for the crew.  At least, that’s what I’ve heard.  A lot of experienced sailors claim that sea anchors are more trouble (and indeed, more dangerous) than other methods (like heaving to) employed during storms at sea.  Candide doesn’t have a sea anchor, and probably never will.  Nonetheless, you may form the opinion that this is vital survival gear for your boat.  This is one of those things that everybody has an opinion about.
This is Candide’s sextant.  I bought it before I bought the boat as a type of motivation.  It sat on my bookcase for six months before I moved aboard.  It took Charlie Bengal (two time circumnavigator and New Jersey curmudgeon) three weeks to teach me how to use the thing! 
bullet Sextant.  I expect to get some e-mails about listing this as vital blue-water cruising gear!  😉  A sextant is a mechanical navigation device that allows the navigator to use celestial bodies to compute his position.  The sextant has been around for hundreds of years and allowed Columbus to discover the New World (or, to be politically correct, allowed Columbus to spread the evils of Western Civilization to the hapless, go-lucky, peaceful, virtuous and innocent natives who occupied what we now call North and South America).  In this age of the Global Positioning System (GPS), I’m sure that many of my readers are wondering why this old optical device should be considered important equipment.  Well, GPS works only because of electronics.  We all know that electronics are prone to failure (ever had your computer crash?  Spilled salt water on your cell phone?).  A single lightening strike can do a lot towards destroying electrical devices like GPS’s.  Even hand-held GPS’s are subject to battery failure, salt water, being dropped, etc.  To arm myself with as much navigation knowledge as possible, I bought an Astrolab IIIb sextant…and found an old salt who taught me how to use it!  By taking two sun sights (I’m not good enough yet to take star sights on a pitching and rolling deck), I can determine my position to within one nautical mile.  I simply feel better knowing that if GPS should fail while I’m far out to sea, I can grab my sextant and have an idea as to where I’m located.  Plus, it’s a lot of fun to learn the math and cosmology behind the sextant.  Finally, should I ever need to use my life raft, you can bet that I’ll try to grab my Astrolab and sight reduction tables before I abandon ship!
 
bullet Metal Through-hulls.  Most boats have several holes in the hull.  These holes allow the engine to suck up cool ocean water, the toilet to draw in water to flush the bowl clean, and the air conditioner to cool itself.  I’ve noticed that on most modern coastal-cruisers, the through-hulls are made from plastic (oh, I’m sure they’re made from some high-tech polymer with a fancy name, but they’re still basically…plastic).  Candide’s through-hulls are made of either brass or bronze (I’ve never been able to tell the difference).  In any case, they’re metal.  Plastic through-hulls, after exposure to time and the elements, can fail relatively quickly compared to their metal counterparts.  If the through-hull fails, water may enter the boat at an alarming rate…perhaps more so than can be forced over the side by the bilge pumps.  This can result in a sinking feeling, to say the least!  It is my opinion that any through-hull below the water line should be made of metal.  Others may disagree, but that’s OK.  I’m writing about what I personally find safe at sea.   
bullet Spare Sails.  On Candide’s second major trip to sea (Jacksonville to the Bahamas), I was raising the main without first having removed the ties holding the sail to the boom.  I must have really put my back into the job, because I ripped my main in half with the force of the winch!  Well, OK, not in half exactly.  But there was a 12′ hole in the middle of the sail.  This caused us to motor into the next available inlet to hunt down a sail maker who could fix the damage.  Had I had an extra main, I could have deployed it and kept on sailing.  Should I ever cross the Great Pond, you can safely bet that I’ll carry a complete set of extra sails (plus a sewing machine and extra sail cloth to make my own repairs).  The picture to the left shows a typical sailbag.
 
bullet Autopilot.  Does your car have cruise control?  Isn’t that a wonderful invention?  Once you engage cruise control, all you have to do is steer.  It makes long road trips a lot more enjoyable, doesn’t it?  Well, boats can be equipped with the equivalent of cruise control by installing a device called an “autopilot.”  An autopilot does one thing…it steers the boat.  The helmsman tells that autopilot a certain heading, and the device (either belt-driven, hydraulic, or mechanical) moves the ship’s wheel back and forth to make the boat head in that direction.  This means that the helmsman doesn’t have to manually steer the boat for hours on end.  Instead, he or she can sit in the cockpit and read a book while on occasion scanning the horizon for possible danger (e.g., other boats, the shoreline, etc.).  Unlike a car, it’s not possible to “pull over” a boat at sea to take a siesta.  Once the boat is underway, it’s a 24-hour, non-stop commitment.  Even if there are extra crew on board, somebody must steer that boat at all times.  It can be an exhausting experience…unless you install an autopilot.  A year ago, I had a Brooks and Gatehouse hydraulic autopilot installed on Candide (only because my crew threatened mutiny on the way to Cuba if I didn’t).  Until then, I thought that steering the boat was part of the fun…a challenge…traditional, even.  Well, I was an idiot!  It’s a hell of a lot of work to constantly man the helm for days and days on end!  Now, the helmsman aboard Candide simply presses a few buttons and the boat steers herself!  This frees up the crew to read books, cook elaborate meals, and actually get some rest while on watch!  The autopilot is worth its weight in gold!  
Candide has a hard-shelled sailing dinghy which stores very nicely on top of the butterfly hatch, beneath the mainsail boom (along with oars and mast).  Generally, my crew hates this dinghy because she’s so “tender” (i.e., she wobbles around a lot in the water).  Fortunately, I have good balance!  Plus, this dinghy is very easy to row or sail (try doing either one of those in an inflatable dinghy)!
bullet Dinghy.  A “dinghy” is a small boat (often inflatable) that is carried around on a bigger boat.  It is used when the big boat is at anchor, and the crew would like to go ashore.  As Candide is a very traditional boat, I decided on a very traditional dinghy.  No inflatable for me!  I wanted a hard-body dinghy (with matching paint job) that could be sailed or rowed back and forth between the dock and Candide at anchor.  My crew (who somehow wound up doing most of the rowing), eventually convinced me to invest in a small gasoline-powered outboard engine for the “dink.”  My God!  What a difference that little 2.5 h.p. Mercury makes!  I can anchor out a mile or two away from shore.  The crew and I simply hop aboard the dinghy and can be ashore in a matter of minutes!  Because we’re anchored out, I’m not paying any dock fees for the evening when we’re cruising (which, in Florida, would cost between $60 – $90 per night).  The dinghy allows tremendous freedom.  Anchor out, dinghy in.  It’s free!  I tell you, this crew of mine definitely has good ideas every now and then.  Personally, I think that a “tender” is required equipment for any cruising boat.  The cost-savings alone (by not having to stay at a marina) will quickly justify the price of the dinghy and the motor.  As to the hard-dinghy vs. inflatable debate (and there certainly is one), all I can say is that my dinghy is very tender (i.e., if you move around too much, you’ll fill the dink with water).  On the other hand, I don’t have to worry about holes in the hull like I would if I owned an inflatable.  Plus, my dinghy rows very, very easily compared to an inflatable (which is a consideration, if the engine should quit).  
bullet Handrails.  At sea, even in calm weather, Candide moves around a lot.  In rougher weather, she moves around so much that it’s impossible to walk down below without having something to grab a hold on to stabilize your movements (unless, of course, you’re fond of big bruises and/or broken bones).  Secure handrails down below (and above) make movement around the cabin at sea a lot easier.  In my opinion, the more handrails…the better.  In the picture on the left, I can find at least seven handrails.  How many can you spot?  Hint: Click on the picture to enlarge.
Plastic wine “glasses” hold the elixir of the gods just as well as their evil glass counterparts!
bullet Plastic Tableware.  When I first moved aboard Candide, I took my prized ceramic dishes and crystal wine glasses with me.  This mistake wound up costing me dearly.  One evening, some newlywed friends came over, and I poured them some Champaign into my leaded flute glasses.  And then I poured a bit more Champaign…followed by another round.  Eventually, one of the flute glasses fell onto the cabin sole and shattered into a gazillion pieces.  Oh, sure, I pulled out the vacuum cleaner and thought that every last piece was removed from the floor.  The next morning, I rose from my berth and walked towards the campanionway when suddenly, I felt the most excruciating pain in the sole of my right foot.  I couldn’t walk anywhere!  I had stepped on a small piece of broken glass. Every time I tried to dig out the glass with a pair of tweezers, I winced in the most painful expression ever to beset a sailor!  I couldn’t get anywhere near the glass, as the shard had gone clear to the bone and wedged itself directly against a major nerve in the bottom of my foot!  I managed to get help in stepping off the boat, and drove myself (barefoot) to a podiatrist.  Two hours later, and $600 poorer, the glass shard was removed.  Today, there’s a simply policy aboard Candide…NO GLASS, NO CERAMIC.  Period.  I drink my wine from plastic cups.  And you know what?  I really can’t tell the difference in the taste.  Glass is evil on board a cruising boat!