S/V Sea Fern
The maggots wiggled amongst the stale bread and across the countertop. The stench was manageable…not retched, as I expected of a sailboat locked up for a month at Cabo. Good thing it was wintertime.
Only a few months earlier I had been posting photos on Facebook of Everette & Mitchell moving their 27′ Catalina along the coast of Vancouver Island, all bundled up, chipping away ice on deck. Because of those photos somebody from Everette’s childhood had contacted him for a favour.
Sadly, his sailing brother had been found washed up on the shores near Cabo San Lucas, and his sailboat sat under Security at the inner harbour. While the family worked out the logistics of inheriting a 51′ Spencer sailboat they didn’t want, they sought help from Everette to move it out of harbour. Somewhere cheaper than $2,000 a month!
Always looking to embrace opportunities that the Universe sends our way I suggested maybe our family could “live aboard” until the boat sold. Offer accepted, and thus began our 5 months aboard Sea Fern, travel by boat from Cabo San Lucas across the Cortez to San Carlos, Sonora.
S/V San Mateo
Having 5 months under our belts of tiny living on a sailboat we knew live aboards were now something we could add to our “Possibility List”. Not quite the same as an outright sailboat, our live aboard was a fishing boat converted (poorly) to a boat that happened to have masts and sails!
Its crucial to know the true intent of your purchase!
We purchased her specifically for living on during a Canadian winter of 2016/17, the months working up to our eldest daughters wedding. We had to travel by boat along the east coast of Vancouver Island, moving her from Deep Bay to Sooke. Then she was our home base for the little bit of travel we did from there during the winter.
It turned out to be perfect timing, and a good purchase for us. But when we were ready to sell her seven months later…boy did things move fast.
S/V Quetzal (home base)
I mention Quetzal here because it really all just started with her!
Back in October 2016 Everette and Mitchell decided that purchasing a sailboat would kill a few birds with one stone! They could have their ‘toy’, and it would provide accommodations for them when they were in Canada for work.
Its tight quarters living in a 27′ sailboat; it helps to be somewhat minimalistic so as not to trip over everything in that tiny space. But it was affordable, monthly expenses were minimal even when we were away traveling, and it was always enjoyable to take out for a sail. It was easy to lock up, have other live aboard friends keep an eye on it at a safe marina, and be there upon their return.
It gave Danaka a landing place to start out her adult life upon her return to Canada. She spent about a year living aboard Quetzal along with Mitchell who decided to stay put in Canada also. Really cheap overhead for teens starting out. Easy to manage.
Land of Broken Dreams
If you’re looking for a used boat at a good price, Europe isn’t the best place to look. The best bargains are to be found at places where dreams fade. Anywhere boats gather to start ocean crossings have collections of boats whose owners have ducked out of the ‘big trip’.
- Miami/Ft Lauderdale FL
- Annapolis/Chesapeake Bay MD
- San Diego, Marina Del Ray CA
- Seattle WA
- San Carlos, Mexico
- Panama Canal
- US Virgin Islands
- St. Maarten/St. Martin
- American Samoa
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- Canary Islands
Check It Out
Familiarize yourself with boats in the real world. Walk the marinas, talk to owners, ask questions. Then check online. Once you have a better idea of what it is you’re looking for, let your fingers do the searching on the web. The whole world is open to you!
Check out international brokers who can find you boats all around the world and can (hopefully) help with all the paperwork.
Scout out the “boneyards” for the boats that have been basically abandoned. Be careful and wise…but you can find a good deal.
There are some superb buys to be had. Like the S/V Sea Fern we were managing on the Sea of Cortez. If we had had the money it was a steal of a deal, because of a death. And that’s the situation with so many boats. A partner or family member dies, and the boat is left to somebody/ies who have no interest in boating. For them they just want to get rid of it. And there in lies the opportunity for you to get a steal of a deal.
When we were camping along the Baja we were told of the “divorce boats”. Countless couples leave the west coast of USA for their dream…but by the time they reach the Sea of Cortez they just want to get out and away from each other. That situation must play out all around the world. I’ve heard the same thing about picking up boats at the Strait of Gibraltar.
Anyways, there’s some ideas of travel by boat or using it as home base, and where you might find your boat.
We see plenty of families living years on boats, sailing around the world with their kids. It’s a fascinating culture I’d like to delve deeper into…later. For now I’ll keep tabs in the FB groups, and watch from afar.
We’ve got Our Argo to wrangle at the moment.
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