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Thread: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

  1. #1

    Default Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    How practical is it to own a wood sailboat you keep 2,000 miles away in another port only to use for summer cruising? The reason for this is to own a boat where I want to sail during summer vacation. I'm worried about how to make sure the boat is kept in good condition while I am not using it. What kind of annual maintenance is required for a 25-30' wood sail boat? I would keep it in a slip year around so that it is ready to sail when I want to go sailing. Locations considered are Seattle, WA area or Camden, ME. Is it practical to have a contact in the area who will watch over and maintain the boat in return for use of the boat?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    Speaking for Seattle I think it's reasonably doable out here. I know of at least one wooden boat here that is used that way now. Camden might be doable as well but it's a different story because a) my understanding is that most of the moorage in that area is on moorings rather than a dock (I stand to be corrected here) and b) boats are typically hauled out and stored on land in the winter whereas in Seattle boats are generally kept in the water year-round. Hauling out for the winter has some advantages. You have a yard caring for the boat and you don't have to worry about chafing lines and similar issues. I think it's harder on the hull but it seems to work fine for the many wooden boats in that area so maybe not.

    I'll leave aside the question of required maintenance. There are many threads on that subject here. Just Google "site:forum.woodenboat.com annual maintenance" (without the quotes). But assuming that your boat is in excellent condition to start you should either plan on spending a week or two each year to keep up the finish and perform regular maintenance or you should budget to have a yard do that for you. I'd estimate $5,000/year for finish maintenance a 30' boat if you are paying someone else to do the work. More if she's a gold plater with a ton of varnish. Plus maybe $10k every five years for more significant work.

    I will say that a powerboat kept under cover would need a lot less maintenance than a sailboat kept outside. Seattle has a lot of covered moorage in contrast to Camden where I suspect covered moorage is only comes with a large mansion and a private island.

  3. #3
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    Charleston, SC USA
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    East Coast OR West Coast? That’s interesting. Given that you are considering locations 3000 miles apart, have you considered selling the boat and chartering with a crew wherever you decide that year? That would give you the best of both worlds. Your main questions seems fit into “If you have to ask how much money it will cost then.......you probably don’t have the money for it.” At a minimum, it seems you would need to hire someone to look after the boat, pay moorage fee, taxes, insurance, then write a check each month for whatever the captain you hired says he needs. It’s your $. More power to you to help the local economy wherever you choose to locate the boat(s).

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arlc View Post
    East Coast OR West Coast? That’s interesting. Given that you are considering locations 3000 miles apart, have you considered selling the boat and chartering with a crew wherever you decide that year? That would give you the best of both worlds. Your main questions seems fit into “If you have to ask how much money it will cost then.......you probably don’t have the money for it.” At a minimum, it seems you would need to hire someone to look after the boat, pay moorage fee, taxes, insurance, then write a check each month for whatever the captain you hired says he needs. It’s your $. More power to you to help the local economy wherever you choose to locate the boat(s).
    Good point about chartering. Definitely less expensive than owning. But also requires planning in advance. Can't just fly in on a whim and go for a sail.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    Essentially many boat owners do exactly this. Usually they put the boat in to the care of a boat yard or marina with suitable abilities to match the maintenance requirements. Some people move the boat up and down the coast to match the seasons, winter in Florida, summers up north.

  6. #6
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    Charleston, SC USA
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    Quote Originally Posted by cstevens View Post
    Good point about chartering. Definitely less expensive than owning. But also requires planning in advance. Can't just fly in on a whim and go for a sail.
    Think Netjets.
    Charleston is a really nice place. I’ll look after your boat full time for the right $$ and have crew ready to go anytime you want.

  7. #7
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    Olympia, WA, USA
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    Essentially many boat owners do exactly this. Usually they put the boat in to the care of a boat yard or marina with suitable abilities to match the maintenance requirements. Some people move the boat up and down the coast to match the seasons, winter in Florida, summers up north.
    Exactly this.

    I got Bucephalus while I was still in high school, in California. I spent summers in Maine, with my father --and with Bucephalus. In the winter, Bucephalus lived in a shed at her builder's boatyard, in Southwest Harbor, ME. I would leave school for the year, have a couple days with my mom, and within a week of exams be on a wharf in Maine sanding spars. A rather pleasant sort of culture shock. In the autumn, I'd take her back to the yard, pull her spars, and depending on how the tides were running, either help haul her out for the winter or leave her on one of the yard's moorings for them to haul her out when the tides and their work schedule allowed. A week later I'd be trying to make the mental adjustments from tide tables and NOAA radio's "the forecast from Eastport to the Merrimack River and up to 25 nautical miles off shore..." to algebraic log tables and "Je suis, tu es, il / elle est..." Not so pleasant a shock.

    But that basic routine is really, really common in the Maine communities: I did all my own maintenance, but typically someone from away will summer on the coast, and in the spring the yard will get the boat ready and launch her. The yard will also often be the ones to keep an eye on the boat, on one of the yard's moorings, while the owner is out of town. In the autumn, the owner gives the word and the yard hauls, winterizes, and stores the boat.

    One of the big adjustments I needed to make when I moved to WA was how everyone here keeps their boat in the water year round. In ME, the vast majority of the pleasure boats (even locally owned) are hauled out. The reasoning behind the difference is as basic as the difference in the two climates during the winter. Not too many people want to go cruising in ME in the winter, while here in WA it's both the best time to be sure of having any wind and mild enough you've got at least a passing chance of not freezing to death while you try and enjoy it. I still haul Bucephalus out every winter, both because I don't use her enough then to justify the cost of moorage for those six months and because winter storms are less unsettling when your boat's safely in a yard, but I've bought a trailer and learned to do the entire job myself, and she now lives at home with me instead of in a yard's boatshed.

    The big corrolary to this difference in seasonal patterns that I quickly discovered is that there are boatyards and haul-outs with storage facilities *everywhere* in ME, while here in WA it can be quite a job finding a yard with the facilities and skill to do a haul-out --or it at least demands a fair bit of travel, where in ME there's a yard in almost every harbor. By that same fact, while I do all my own maintenance, finding a professional both skilled and inclined to do full annual maintenance on a wooden boat in WA is tough where in ME it's easy --or at least used to be. In WA, you're looking at Port Townsend (maybe Anacortes?) as the only place where you can be confident you can find that service without a major word-of-mouth search. Also, finding a yard to keep an eye on your boat while you're away is no big deal in ME; you'll pay for it, but it's a basic service in the area. In WA, that service doesn't seem to exist because the yards don't exist; the best option is a secure marina and a boat-savvy friend with enough time to check your boat now and again.

    Do some research on moorage availability, too. Don't get bit the way I did when I moved to Santa Cruz for a year and discovered there was a 17 to 22 *year* waiting list to get a slip in the one and only marina. I left Maine in '96, when marinas were just starting to sprout in a few of the busiest harbors. Until then, everyone was on a mooring, and if there wasn't one empty it was a $10 permit to sink one, plus the cost of the mooring itself, and there was always a local willing and skilled enough to assemble and place a good one. It might be a longer row than you'd prefer, out to the middle of the harbor instead of 25 yards off the town dock, but the grumbling would keep your face warm while you're rowing. I'm not sure how it is now. Here in WA, moorings are rare and virtually impossible to get permitted if you want a new one, and marinas are the overwhelming norm. In Seattle, my understanding is that it can be tough finding an opening in a good marina --or even any marina (Chris, you know the area better than I do; chime in)-- especially for some sizes of boats. Here in Olympia, it's definitely tight for anything over 24', especially in a marina with decent security; during the summer months (which means any time after May 1st) even 24' slips can be hard to find. Most places don't let you overhang your slip: you can't berth a 26' boat in a 24' slip, and they look at LOA, so the bowsprit counts in the boat's length. In Camden, the harbor was always tight on space, and I doubt that has changed for the better, so you might consider looking up or down the coast to Rockland or Rockport.

    If you're going to be out cruising whenever you're in the area, rather than sitting on the mooring or at the dock, you might look for less populous, out of the way (sometimes cheaper, sometimes more sheltered, sometimes with marinas with more open slips) places to keep the boat while you're away. Instead of Seattle, keep the boat in Poulsbo; instead of touristy Camden, keep the boat in... Searsport, maybe, or a serious boatyard town like Manset. It'll be a hike to and from the airport when you arrive and depart, but it may be worth it, and if you'll be out cruising anyway, it hardly matters where your berth is.

    I hope this helps.

    Alex
    Last edited by Pitsligo; 07-26-2018 at 11:34 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    Regarding moorage in Seattle. I think that open moorage is readily available in the size range that George is considering. Shilshole lists a 2-3 month wait for a 30' slip right now.

    https://www.portseattle.org/page/shi...nd-information

    And I would expect it to be similar inside the locks as well. While you do have to hunt a little bit and be persistent sometimes, I've never been unable to find a spot.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    And there are the more out of the way marinas. Bremerton, for instance, upgraded their facilities to first rate a couple of years ago. I heard via the grapevine, that they were offering fantastic deals to boat owners because the place had room to spare. Bremerton would be a hassle for anyone who lived in Seattle, but an owner looking to park a boat long term, with little use, might find it a good choice.

    Jeff

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    Hmmm, ..... I think Wizbang (Bruce) can speak a bit to this.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    It doesn't seem to me that it would make sense to keep a boat in Seattle if the person didn't live there. Some place not to far away perhaps like Everet or Port Orchard, but someplace that has room.

  12. #12
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    Default

    I live an hour from my boat and that's too far. We did for a while keep the boat in Tasmania while we lived in Papua New Guinea and then in South Australia. Big distances. 2 or 3 flights. It kind of worked but it was hard to find someone who would look after the boat and communicate adequately and frequently. Often when we got to the boat we ended up doing boat work rather than going sailing. And the issue of having to have and store all the tools you need was a bit of a thing too.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  13. #13
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    Jun 2012
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    Ipswich, MA
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    When we lived in Massachusetts we kept our glass 32' Bristol in the marina at NAS Patuxent River. It was around a 400 mile drive down, then 400 back. Way too far. Never had any big issues (it was glass though) but never really got good usage out of the boat. It turned out to be expensive and frustrating, and we finally sold it. I would recommend against doing that sort of thing, especially at 2000 miles away, flying in or not!
    NedH

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Long distance boat ownership - Practicality?

    The real issue is whether a persons financial situation will allow for the logistics evolved. For some folks it's a mere drop in the bucket, if your building a boat in your garage it probably isn't included in your plans.

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