Over this howling northern wind, I can hear it calling to me. It is currently 35 degrees out but in my head I am lying on a beach in front of crystal blue water…
My imagination has been running away from me lately. Conor and I are having a blast playing the “what-if” game and researching tons of marinas down in the Caribbean. It has started to sink in that by this time next year, we will be GONE! It is both exciting and terrifying as we try to get our rears in gear. Not only are we leaving the country, but the active duty “security blanket” as well. Here is our marina wishlist so far:
U.S. territory so work visas will not be an issue that first year
reasonable liveaboard prices+pets allowed
good diving opportunities
great daysailing to other islands
dock amenities like storage and laundry
The biggest shock during our research has been the prices! I know we’ve had it pretty good at Gottschalk with $5 per foot per month, but most places down in the islands are $20 per foot per month. Ouch! But in some cases, the amenities are totally worth it. Here is our top contender right now on St. Croix USVI: http://www.tamarindreefresort.com/marina-en.html
I mean, come on! It would be a dream to stay there, we just have to find a way to make it happen. Good thing we still have 11 months to plan! We are prowling cruisers forums for other recommendations for a home base next year. If you have a marina you’d recommend, please reach out and let us know!
Conor and I met with our boat broker yesterday, and it went very, very well 🙂
Mike showed us the Bavaria 47 and the Catalina Morgan 44 that we had been eyeing for the last month (spoiler alert—they weren’t the right fit for us after all) as well as 4 other boats that fit our requirements. I don’t want to jinx the sale, so I’m going to wait to reveal the boat that we picked for our first home until after the paperwork has gone through. (Ok fine, I’ll give you a hint—we don’t need as much length as we thought we did!)
But let me tell you, SHE IS BEAUTIFUL. We are so happy, and just knew as soon as we saw her that she was the one. We put in an offer at 2:30 yesterday and less than an hour later the owners accepted it. This feels like a dream.
I was a little nervous initially on the drive over to New Bern, and wondered if we would feel overwhelmed and unprepared once we saw the boats, leaving us too doubtful to make a decision. Much to my surprise, I was able to compensate a bit for my lack of experience with all of the ‘book smart’ knowledge I learned from stalking blogs and forums. And, of course, our broker made us feel totally comfortable during the process and was very patient every step of the way.
Now that our offer has been accepted, we need to secure our financing, put a 10% down payment into escrow, and schedule our sea trial and survey. If any issues pop up with the boat, we can either re-negotiate, or walk away from the deal (not that we want to!). It will still be a few weeks (at least) until she’s all ours and we can move aboard, but we woke up this morning with butterflies of excitement and without any buyer’s regret, so I think we made the right choice.
Main requirement for our liveaboard: the boat must float.
But really, because we are so inexperienced, we are not looking for a ‘project’ boat by any stretch. We are on the hunt for a sailboat that is move-in ready, not a fixer-upper. We already feel like we are in over our heads enough without having to worry if the electric will catch fire or if the bilge pump will fail and sink us overnight.
So besides looking for a structurally sound boat, here are a couple of our ‘must-haves’ to make living on a sailboat work for us:
Center cockpit, which means a bigger aft stateroom with enough headroom for Conor
A 3-cabin configuration with aft and v-berth staterooms (basically 2 bedrooms and a main living/kitchen space). Separate cabins with doors allow a bit more privacy when you’re living in close quarters. Enough space, but not too much boat for 2 people to handle when sailing.
Fully-functioning galley with refrigeration
A SEPARATE SHOWER in the head! This is a big one for me. I am not a fan of the idea of a ‘wet head’, where my entire bathroom gets soaked and I have to sit on the toilet every time I take a shower. Gross.
Besides these four things, we can compromise and make most situations work for us. However, if we found the PERFECT boat, it would also include these ammenities:
Low-maintenance (aka no teak) deck
Enough storage space for Conor’s field gear and diving gear
Convertible settee to have extra beds for guests
Notice that these are all liveaboard aspects of the boat, and not a whole lot about thesailing aspect: sails, rigging, navigation systems, engine, etc. That’s because we honestly don’t know enough about that part yet to have a preference. Any recommendations from you experienced sailors? All of our ‘must-haves’ and ‘would-likes’ are pretty superficial, I know. I’m sure by next year I’ll look back at this list and laugh.