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Live Aboard Safety & Sage Advice Welcome  

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JandK
(@JandK)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 16
September 18, 2016 8:33 pm  

Thank you for welcoming us as a new members to this forum. We’ve been researching the live aboard lifestyle for a few years. Before cutting ties with the mainland, we would appreciate your seasoned experience and advice on several matters, specific to St. Croix. We are not wealthy, and are trying to avoid costly and perhaps dangerous mistakes upfront.

We are evaluating a move to STX with the goal to purchase of a 40 (apprx) foot used sailboat in good condition. We will be working and cannot easily sail away from bad storms and seasons. Also, until we are able to retire, long distance cruising is not in the plans. With that, is it feasible to live aboard fulltime, during all seasons? Do we put all our eggs in one basket (boat) or split our savings into a boat and modest home during storms? We could also try to find a hotel, as needed.

What/how do you manage storms, especially hurricanes? We’ve seen information ranging from leaving the area, securing the boat at a harbor, and getting the boat up on land. Our personal safety is our primary concern, while also, protecting our investment, our sailboat home – our only home. We would head to land, however, what is the best option to protect the boat?

Insurance appears to be an issue as well. We’ve read coverage could be questionable when the boat is on water during storms and/or named storms. What can you share on this subject?

What is a better, more realistic choice? Do you invest in staying at a marina or base at a mooring and commute to work via dinghy? Again, what is a realistic and feasible decision?

What have I failed to address? Do you see other issues, we should consider? Please feel free to share the good, bad, and ugly.

Hopefully, we’ve painted a fairly clear picture of our plans, and concerns. We are open to any questions you may have to help with advice and solutions. Thank you again, and please know how much we truly appreciate your expertise and willingness to share!


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Trixie_b
(@Trixie_b)
Advanced Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 37
September 18, 2016 8:39 pm  

May I ask what experience you've had with sailing and boat maintenance? A broom from walmart $5 - the same broom from a Chandler with the word "marine" stamped on it $40. Maintaining a boat is not inexpensive.


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JandK
(@JandK)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 16
September 18, 2016 8:57 pm  

Thank you Trixie_b for the costs reminder. Thankfully, we have found a great deal of information on costs, expenses, and maintenance. We only have experience with California cruising. Obviously, major storms are typically not an issue in that region. We are hoping to gain some solid information with the emphasis on storms and living onboard fulltime. Do you live aboard? Thank you again.


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STTsailor
(@STTsailor)
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Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 547
September 18, 2016 9:59 pm  

You can survive hurricane tied to mangroves and with several anchors out while in a hurricane hole. This is safer than on land and much safer then in a marina tied to the dock.

I am not sure if Salt river in a good place to hide on STX but it maybe the only place available there. STT and STJ have more options I belive.

Docking a boat will run $12-14K. Insurance is triple than in Annapolis, MD.


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Alana33
(@Alana33)
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Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 12234
September 18, 2016 10:03 pm  

Why STX as a live aboard choice?
The only place to sail to over a weekend is Buck Island.
STT offers many more options for weekend sailing with many other islands and cays in close proximity.

You should probably check into your mooring, docking, marina options as well what hurricane anchorages are available, (they fill up fast in the advent of a storm) and what your insurance policy will cover. Some won't cover you in the VI. Sometimes boaters have to leave the area, depending on their policy requirements, for either further down island or stateside.
If you're working ashore, you'll need a vehicle to get back and forth to work and for shopping, somewhere to park at night, if anchored or moored out, a dinghy to get back and forth and somewhere to tie up while you're at work during the day.

Check with DPNR with regard to mooring regulations and boat fees.
http://dpnr.vi.gov/contact/

You should probably do a pre-move visit to check things out.


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Alana33
(@Alana33)
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Alana33
(@Alana33)
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September 18, 2016 10:33 pm  

Culebra has a great hurricane anchorage, if you get in early enough and can get set up in the mangroves, depending on your draught.


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JandK
(@JandK)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 16
September 18, 2016 11:41 pm  

STTsailor, thank you kindly. You nailed our question and we will explore the information you provided. Great info!


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OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
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Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 6523
September 19, 2016 9:36 am  

Have you ever lived aboard before? If you haven't, it might be a good idea to find a liveaboard you can rent for a while to see how it suits you. Storms notwithstanding, it's way different from living on terra firma. It may turn out a better option to be land-based while you're still working and buy a smaller boat for recreational use. Good luck!


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IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 929
September 19, 2016 1:12 pm  

If you are working regular jobs then being at a full-service marina is optimal. I lived aboard at Green Cay Marina for a few years. Having showers/toilets, water, electric, parking, all in a safe community was pretty nice. It does come at a price though. For storms - this was one of the best places to be. Easy enough to rig extra lines and fenders for those occasions.

That being said there are many folks who do it cheaper, either at Salt River Marina, or on a mooring. But that dingy ride in the rain, and a lack of safe parking, will weigh on you in the long run.

Yes STT does have many more options for close places to sail to, but it's tourist city in comparison to our laid back country lifestyle here on STX.


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JandK
(@JandK)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 16
September 19, 2016 2:16 pm  

Thanks so much IslandHops for the information. Did you secure and leave the boat during storms? Preplans appear to be key. Also, did you have insurance coverage for storm damage? Thanks again!


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OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
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Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 6523
September 19, 2016 2:23 pm  

Yes STT does have many more options for close places to sail to, but it's tourist city in comparison to our laid back country lifestyle here on STX.

Have you spent any (what I call) "real" time on STT?


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JandK
(@JandK)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 16
September 19, 2016 2:44 pm  

Thank you Alana33 for the great information.


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JandK
(@JandK)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 16
September 19, 2016 2:45 pm  

Culebra has a great hurricane anchorage, if you get in early enough and can get set up in the mangroves, depending on your draught.


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JandK
(@JandK)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 16
September 19, 2016 2:49 pm  

Have you ever lived aboard before? If you haven't, it might be a good idea to find a liveaboard you can rent for a while to see how it suits you. Storms notwithstanding, it's way different from living on terra firma. It may turn out a better option to be land-based while you're still working and buy a smaller boat for recreational use. Good luck!

This is definitely a consideration. Thanks for the sage advice OldTart.


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Gator's Mom
(@gators_mom)
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Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 1062
September 19, 2016 3:28 pm  

Another consideration is if you have pets.

One of my cats is a rescue from a live aboard. Folks got him as a tiny kitten but he never adjusted to their boat. The boat was docked in a marina BTW.

I had a dog that was seasick - even at the dock. He was going to be our sailing companion LOL.

Never know 'til you try.


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Trixie_b
(@Trixie_b)
Advanced Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 37
September 19, 2016 4:01 pm  

I can't speak for STX, but I also lived aboard (and sailed around a bit) Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Australia, Pacific isles - having a home base in a marina is optimal for plain living. Bathrooms and showers on site, access to electricity, getting of the boat, socializing, laundry, victualling etc.

I remember being at one place at anchor (on a little island called Lord Howe Island off the coast of Australia if you're interested) when the wind shifted and the tides were high and having huge swells to deal with. It was literally nauseating for days. I took the tender ashore and slept on the floor of a public restroom for respite, the male crew shacked up with hotel staff. As a single woman, it's got to be pretty awful to sleep on the floor of a toilet.
I've had other nights where I've hovered 6 inches above the mattress in my bunk because of waves, and somewhere around is a picture of me asleep on the chart table bench with legs akimbo braced on the walls getting the best and most comfortable sleep I'd had for 4 days.

The fact is, it was some of the best years of my life 🙂 but don't jump into a full time live aboard without having an escape plan. A 40ft boat means you're only ever 40ft away from someone who's irritating you, unless you can bounce down the quayside, when you're tired and grumpy, and need your own space, but have to go to work.

Someone else here mentioned it...... rent for year, see what suits you before making the financial commitment. Certainly watch Chris Hanley's video of the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo - watch the full hour, the yacht club scenes broke my heart, never mind the devastation of the island.

If you are working regular jobs then being at a full-service marina is optimal. I lived aboard at Green Cay Marina for a few years. Having showers/toilets, water, electric, parking, all in a safe community was pretty nice. It does come at a price though. For storms - this was one of the best places to be. Easy enough to rig extra lines and fenders for those occasions.

That being said there are many folks who do it cheaper, either at Salt River Marina, or on a mooring. But that dingy ride in the rain, and a lack of safe parking, will weigh on you in the long run.

Yes STT does have many more options for close places to sail to, but it's tourist city in comparison to our laid back country lifestyle here on STX.


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stxsailor
(@stxsailor)
Trusted Member
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 611
September 19, 2016 4:03 pm  

i second Green Cay Marina, I keep my boat there and it is a very nice marina and it has lots of amenities. My insurance company considers it a "safe Harbor" so I am not required to move it our haul it out if a named storm approaches. There are many live aboard there, and it is a small community. There is also a boaters lounge with TV and couches, we even have Wednesday gatherings there.. Even though we love our boats its nice to sit in a recliner and watch TV. I don't live aboard but spend alot of time on the boat.


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JandK
(@JandK)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 16
September 19, 2016 5:15 pm  

I can't speak for STX, but I also lived aboard (and sailed around a bit) Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Australia, Pacific isles - having a home base in a marina is optimal for plain living. Bathrooms and showers on site, access to electricity, getting of the boat, socializing, laundry, victualling etc.

I remember being at one place at anchor (on a little island called Lord Howe Island off the coast of Australia if you're interested) when the wind shifted and the tides were high and having huge swells to deal with. It was literally nauseating for days. I took the tender ashore and slept on the floor of a public restroom for respite, the male crew shacked up with hotel staff. As a single woman, it's got to be pretty awful to sleep on the floor of a toilet.
I've had other nights where I've hovered 6 inches above the mattress in my bunk because of waves, and somewhere around is a picture of me asleep on the chart table bench with legs akimbo braced on the walls getting the best and most comfortable sleep I'd had for 4 days.

The fact is, it was some of the best years of my life 🙂 but don't jump into a full time live aboard without having an escape plan. A 40ft boat means you're only ever 40ft away from someone who's irritating you, unless you can bounce down the quayside, when you're tired and grumpy, and need your own space, but have to go to work.

Someone else here mentioned it...... rent for year, see what suits you before making the financial commitment. Certainly watch Chris Hanley's video of the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo - watch the full hour, the yacht club scenes broke my heart, never mind the devastation of the island.

If you are working regular jobs then being at a full-service marina is optimal. I lived aboard at Green Cay Marina for a few years. Having showers/toilets, water, electric, parking, all in a safe community was pretty nice. It does come at a price though. For storms - this was one of the best places to be. Easy enough to rig extra lines and fenders for those occasions.

That being said there are many folks who do it cheaper, either at Salt River Marina, or on a mooring. But that dingy ride in the rain, and a lack of safe parking, will weigh on you in the long run.

Yes STT does have many more options for close places to sail to, but it's tourist city in comparison to our laid back country lifestyle here on STX.

Thank you for all the wonderful information Trixie_b. Without doubt, you've had some adventures. I do appreciate the need for an escape plan ~ the bathroom floor must be memorable. I watched Chris Hanley's video with respect and chills.


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IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
Trusted Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 929
September 19, 2016 8:15 pm  

Thanks so much IslandHops for the information. Did you secure and leave the boat during storms? Preplans appear to be key. Also, did you have insurance coverage for storm damage? Thanks again!

Yes, I had insurance.
During the few tropical storms that occurred while I had the boat there I stripped everything (including all sails, solar panels, bimini, etc. etc.) and tied her down with extra lines, chafe guard, extra fenders (old tires), and so on. Never had a problem.

I wasn't here, but according to anecdotal mutterings, during Hugo Green Cay was considered one of the safest places to have had a boat. I think only 3 were lost there and given the ferocious nature of that particular event, 3 would have been considered a miracle.


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IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
Trusted Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 929
September 19, 2016 8:27 pm  

Yes STT does have many more options for close places to sail to, but it's tourist city in comparison to our laid back country lifestyle here on STX.

Have you spent any (what I call) "real" time on STT?

I've spent enough time to know it's not for me. While STT's location in relation to the many varied sailing destinations is not in dispute, to live there with the increased traffic and tourism, condensed living, and higher costs, would raise the relative stress of a day-to-day working life. I suspect you have probably spent at least some time on STX and would probably admit that in comparison we are the 'country' to STT's 'city' life. Now if one was retired, or fiscally independent, and could pick and choose their schedule and lifestyle STT, and STJ, are fine choices. But speaking only for myself I find my level of serenity to be more at peace on STX than I could imagine it being elsewhere.

Yet this is off topic so if you want to compare islands further I'd suggest a separate topic be raised - back to living abord...


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OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 6523
September 19, 2016 9:23 pm  

While STT's location in relation to the many varied sailing destinations is not in dispute, to live there with the increased traffic and tourism, condensed living, and higher costs, would raise the relative stress of a day-to-day working life. I suspect you have probably spent at least some time on STX and would probably admit that in comparison we are the 'country' to STT's 'city' life.

Your perception of STT is what I expected and exactly why I asked the question as it's a very faulty perception shared by many who've seen very little of the island outside the main drag. I've never disputed that STX is overall more rural than STT but to describe STT as stressful "city life" in comparison is simply unjustified. I appreciate, understand and laud the differences between all three main islands.

And it does have relevance where living aboard and sailing in general is concerned. There surely can be no dispute at all that, just from a logistical standpoint, the sailing adventures and opportunities on STT/STJ are infinitely more varied than those available on STX.

Nor do I agree with you that living on STX is less expensive overall than living on STT. Rents and RE are just a little less expensive on STX but goods and services cost the same on both islands.

You say, " Now if one was retired, or fiscally independent, and could pick and choose their schedule and lifestyle STT, and STJ, are fine choices." Over STX? I disagree. Living on a basic retirement income is a really hard nut to crack on any of the islands which is one of the reasons many locals and longtime residents relocate to the mainland when they reach that stage in life. Their income goes way further there than here. Being "fiscally independent" is completely different. With no fiscal restraints the world is your oyster and, if you're more comfortable living under the US flag than outside it, the USVI in general is certainly a viable option. The choice of island is totally subjective.

Cheers!


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IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 929
September 20, 2016 2:21 pm  

Population density on STT is twice that of STX. Combine that with hilly roads, increased tourist traffic, and a day job, and I believe it's going to be more stressful. I feel STT also has more of a party/tourist vibe - it feels more 'on'.

If you consider cost of comparable housing STT is much more expensive for what you get. A nice 3br/2ba with some land in a peaceful neighborhood will cost considerably more. In these terms it all adds to being more stressful in my book for non-retiree, day-to-day living. STX is the laid back, red-headed stepchild to STT's power base.

As previously stated, it is without disputer that STT has superior options for many, varied, very close, boating destinations. STX is an extra 40nm+/- from STT/STJ/BVI - but on beam reach! Pick your conditions and STJ presents a great weekend sailing getaway.

STT and STX are different. People are different and have different needs and tastes. This is why individuals need to check it out for themselves and make their own choices and not be subject to the whimsical musings of forum participants.


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Alana33
(@Alana33)
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Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 12234
September 20, 2016 3:46 pm  

Actually, STT population isn't twice that of STX.
It's almost the same but STX is twice as large.

I'm rarely impacted by any of the hustle and bustle in season.
I live in an extremely quiet location, with great ocean views, easy accessibility to whatever I need or want to do without driving vast distances to do so.

Sailing is great with lots of islands, cays and beaches to explore with STJ and the BVI right in our backyard.
Much easier to catch flights back stateside.
STT has a lot going for it.

If STX had the harbor STT does, they'd be welcoming the hustle and bustle, options and opportunities that brings with it.


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OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
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Joined: 8 years ago
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September 20, 2016 3:48 pm  

STT and STX are different. People are different and have different needs and tastes. This is why individuals need to check it out for themselves and make their own choices and not be subject to the whimsical musings of forum participants.

Yes, of course they should check out the options for themselves - and not be swayed by false perceptions of those who live on one island and have not a clue about the others.


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