Inside information on floating your own boat

By Lorenzo Beviaqua
November 21, 2005
Inside information on floating your own boat
Lorenzo Beviaqua

Setting: Anywhere there's enough water to float your boat.You'll probably spend most of your time in yacht-friendly localesalong the East and West coasts and in the Caribbean.

Attractions: You're the master of your own ship. You canmove it wherever you're comfortable navigating.

Drawbacks: Nature rules. You'll need hands-on skills toprotect life and property, not only during severe weather but alsoin a day-to-day environment of changing tides, currents, andwinds.

Housing Options: Everything from the marine version of a"handyman's special" to a multimillion-dollar floating palace.Choices depend on the creature comforts you demand and on yourabilities as a navigator, electrician, and mechanic. Sailboatsgenerally require higher skill levels and more physical work;powerboats tend to cost more to operate and maintain.

What It Costs: Probably less than a luxury waterfront homein a prime location. A comfortable yacht, ready for the live-aboardlife, can cost less than $200,000, in the case of the 33.5-footGemini sailing catamaran, or many times that for a 60-foot powervessel such as Malcolm and Penny Farrel's yacht. But while mosthouses increase in value, boats depreciate. And you have to budgetfor everything from routine maintenance to dockage fees and fuel.Still, if you weigh live-aboard costs against the mainland expensesyou avoid―lawn and car maintenance, home security services,neighborhood association fees, etc.―the numbers may balanceout.

Your Next-door Neighbors: Weekend boaters who envy yourlife, fellow cruisers, plus dolphins, rays, and assorted othermarine life.

How You'd Spend Your Free Time: Lounging on the deck,exploring new anchorages, snorkeling, taking the dinghy into anisland bar, tying up alongside friends from other ports, andfiguring out the latest mystery malfunction in mechanical orelectrical systems.

published January 2006