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Old 05-15-2009, 09:59 PM   #1
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I live in c-c-cold Canada and dream of owning a boat in the Caribbean, preferably the Bahamas, DR or Florida. I have travel benefits so I can fly cheap. I also have the opportunity to reduce my workload and could spend more time south. About one third to one half of my time could be spent in the southern latitudes. Reducing work would mean less money, so I have a budget.

How do people keep a boat down south? This can't be a new idea! I know of several who have beautiful new boats but they are also executives of large corporations... I am not.

Dock space, a mooring ball or haulout to the hard at a marina look like my options but I am choking on the fees! Large flashy marinas are appropriate for large flashy boats but I just want to sit, sail, live cheap and thaw out...

Does anyone know anyone who shares this dream or accomplished this task or, dare i say it, actully lives this utopian ideal?
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Old 05-15-2009, 10:13 PM   #2
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Hi Kevin,

My name is Kevin and I too live in Canada. The long story made short is that you can't really just buy a boat and leave it down there cheap. The fees are crazy down there even if, and that is a big if, the island you want has a sheltered harbour. If the pirates or the next hurricane don't get it, if you hire a local to watch, it will probably end up floating away from neglect. On the other hand, I will be living down in Dominica full-time in a couple of years. I will likely have to work something out for my boat so maybe we can do something together with a few others?

Kevin
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Old 05-16-2009, 02:05 PM   #3
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People do what you're talking about, but the successful ones seem to have their boat in charter and maintained by someone on the spot. A friend who put his boat up, out of the hurricane zone, found it lost during a hurricane that veered off course. Several I know have left their boats successfully in Ensenada, MX, driving or flying down. Ensenada doesn't have hurricanes, but it also doesn't have the lovely water of the Caribbean or Sea of Cortez.

I wouldn't want to leave Sea Venture alone for very long, just because things happen. But if you can find a caretaker, you might be able to manage it.
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Old 05-16-2009, 08:04 PM   #4
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Hi, Kevin.

If you want the security of a marina slip or dry storage, I'm afraid you're just going to have to bite the bullet and fork over the cash. Friends of mine have kept their boats in American Harbor in Red Hook, St. Thomas, a marina in Sopers Hole, Tortola, and a marina in Fat Hogs Bay, Tortola. It worked out nicely for them. They lived in the States and traveled to the Virgin Islands to sail for a few weeks at a time. Paying someone to check on the boat is a good idea.

The other islands that have relatively decent marinas are Virgin Gorda, St. Maarten, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, and Grenada. You can Google to find them and their rates. The least expensive option would be to moor or anchor securely in Simpson Lagoon on St. Maarten and find a reliable local to watch over your boat for you. The Lagoon is well protected from ocean swells.

And to the "other" Kevin... Congratulations on your planned move to Dominica--one of our favorite islands! If you're thinking about keeping a boat in the Portsmouth area, I know an absolutely reliable, trustworthy young man there who could help you out in various ways.
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:49 PM   #5
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My sister-in-law lived in Key Largo for about 15 years and through her I know people who have successfully left their boat(s) in the Florida Keys. The waters are very shallow, so not so great for sailing, IMHO, but many people have private docks and lease their dock space for reasonable fees as well as keep an eye on the boat for you while you're gone. I know of one fellow who has been leasing his dock to the same sailboat owner for over 20 years.

There are also many people who leave boats here in San Diego, CA at the local marinas or yacht clubs. Depending on the marina and the dockmaster it's not a problem but it is both more costly and more reliable than having an individual with a private dock take care of it for you.

Anyone who maintains two homes ends up with these extra expenses--whether the home is land based or a boat it's not a cheap way to go.

Good luck to you
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:13 PM   #6
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My last 7 years have been in the southern windward islands and keeping a boat here is not a major problem but it is not free. Secure storage (able to withstand mild hurricanes and persistent thieves) costs about US$0.35 (+/-) per foot of boat length. It is possible to leave your boat tucked into a mangrove swamp if the boat is rather "ugly looking" and you do not mind killing rats that work their way onboard when your return.

Leaving your boat "up-island" is an exercise in probability theory and old fashioned good luck. Mostly good luck. Statistically hurricanes hit a particular island about once per 3-5 years (very general averages - as some seasons an island gets hit multiple times then nothing for another 5 years or so). For anything less than a direct hit, your boat will probably survive if properly stored or rigged and watched by a competent person - and - other boats around you who are not properly prepared - do not collide with yours. That's a lot of "if's." Even boatyards have different success rates depending upon how "lazy" they are with securing the boats.

From Luperon, Dominican Republic - which has a very high survival rate for hurricanes - and working eastward - Puerto Rico has both an excellent survival rate and a horrible rate depending upon the particular boatyard and their techniques (and most importantly - whether Mother Nature gives them a direct hit or just a glancing blow (pun intended)). The Virgins are mixed with survival rates more about preparation than luck. St. Martin - direct hits have wiped out just about everybody - but they are quite rare. Same with all the other islands all the way down to Grenada. Grenada is in the "border zone" and gets hit less often than the islands to the north.

The last two years we have not had any hits there and only one close call. How your luck is in -say Las Vegas - will determine whether you can do an in-water storage there. Further south Trinidad gets a hurricane about once every 100-200 years - last one was in 1895. So storage there in a boat yard is quite safe. However there really is not any in-water (unattended) storage areas there. But the boat yard rates are reasonable (the US$.30 to .35 per foot per day mentioned above).

I know many people who have successfully stored their boats in all the islands from the Bahamas to Trinidad for many seasons without losing the boat - but then I also know those who have - after many years of no problems - lost the boat to a storm. Although the most common factor has been other improperly prepared boats colliding and sinking their boat.

So it is all about probabilities, preparation and luck. The situation is not static and changes all the time as people move from one island to another looking for the best survival locations.

Good Luck.
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Old 05-19-2009, 03:34 AM   #7
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Just a newbie thought.

might it not be possible to dock the Boat at home up north and sail it down every winter down the ICW

i dont know how practical it is to do so. but isnt that the essential point in keeping a boat is the flexibility of going places. besides, you wud be able to keep an eye on it year around and also winterize it for those winters when u'll stay up north. ( i've read posts of people in canada who actually live aboard the boat in winter) so maintenance wudnt be an issue.

other options might include chartering it out down south or finding someone with a slip in their home who might let u use the slip in exchange for using the boat. ( i wudnt want my boat being used by someone else...maybe its just me)
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Old 05-19-2009, 04:41 AM   #8
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I have the luck of haveing a dock waiting for me on the ICW in SC.... hum I'm thinking if I could find someone that wanted to leave there boat there that I could use maybe a few times it would be great.

I can dream...lol
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Old 05-19-2009, 09:07 AM   #9
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I have the luck of haveing a dock waiting for me on the ICW in SC.... hum I'm thinking if I could find someone that wanted to leave there boat there that I could use maybe a few times it would be great.

I can dream...lol
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Old 05-19-2009, 01:17 PM   #10
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Many Canadians have discovered a cheap way to have a Florida "home" for the winter - buy an old boat, be it sail or power, and live on it on a mooring in Florida for the winter, put it up on the hard for the summer hurricane season, and go back up north for the summer. * There seem to be quite a few marinas in Florida and the Carolinas that do this. *However, boats that I've seen used this way don't seem to be particularly seaworthy. *We've met a few Canadians who bring their boat north for the summer, and back south for the winter. *I don't see how that can work if one is still employed, though. *Boats really should be used, they deteriorate when just sitting someplace.

I don't think there's any boat that I could afford that I'd consider living aboard up north in the winter. *The first winter after buying sv Watermelon we kept her in the water at a dock for the winter in Massachusetts so that Peter could work on her during the weekends to get her ready for cruising. *It was a cold, dark, and sometimes uncomfortable way to work, but he could stand it for two days a week for that one season. *We had two electric heaters that kept the boat reasonably warm when Peter was on the boat, but of course they couldn't be run when there was nobody there.

We were on our way the following July.
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Old 05-19-2009, 09:13 PM   #11
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You know, there are many ways to enjoy winter seasons in the south without having an expensive boat. I know of folks who use pocket cruisers (small trailer-able boats) very successfully for winter season use. Storing a boat on the hard that is meant to be trailered isn't nearly as difficult as storing a larger boat which is meant to be in the water.

Many years ago, in the mid-1980's, I read a lovely story about a Canadian couple who, like us, loved to canoe and to sail--both. They had the best of both worlds, in their opinion. They used their home and canoed in Canada during the summer and then they flew south to the Caribbean where they had a canoe set up with sail and outrigger which they used extensively canoe-camping quite enjoyably as well. They managed to hitch a few rides with cruisers to get to various parts of the islands that they wished to see and they, with such shallow draft of mere inches, were able to sail in very shallow waters where other boats couldn't follow. It all worked out quite nicely for them and they had little problem storing their canoe until the following season. No, they weren't on the water all the time during their travels and they were often roughing it a bit...but they had wonderful travel experiences.

An adventure is what you make it
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Old 05-20-2009, 05:05 AM   #12
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they flew south to the Caribbean where they had a canoe set up with sail and outrigger which they used extensively canoe-camping quite enjoyably as well.
man... and here i thought a 25' coronado that i might get would be roughing it out.
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:49 AM   #13
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Just a newbie thought.

might it not be possible to dock the Boat at home up north and sail it down every winter down the ICW

i dont know how practical it is to do so. but isnt that the essential point in keeping a boat is the flexibility of going places. besides, you wud be able to keep an eye on it year around and also winterize it for those winters when u'll stay up north. ( i've read posts of people in canada who actually live aboard the boat in winter) so maintenance wudnt be an issue.

other options might include chartering it out down south or finding someone with a slip in their home who might let u use the slip in exchange for using the boat. ( i wudnt want my boat being used by someone else...maybe its just me)
ICW is fine but the Caribbean after that is to wind. Not something you want to do every year. We keep our boat in St. Davids grenada, it's reasonable, airfare is reliable and if you sail 6 months like we do, it isn't that expensive. In 5 seasons we've used a slip less than 5 times a season. Oh, we live in Canada too. email us if you have questions.

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