Could use a little guidance

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Dyzfunktionall

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Joined
Jun 21, 2021
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1
Location
California
INTRO;
Hello there, I am new to this forum, but I wanted to throw my hat into the ring and get a consensus on a choice that I am in the middle of making. I am 32, (be 33 in a week and some change), disabled vet (meaning my income is paid by the VA), and since I am now finally financially unburdened from my younger mistakes and prior marriages, and the VA has finally worked out suitable care/health management, I want to begin the process of uprooting from the shackles of normalcy. I currently reside in California, though I am a native of Tennessee. Anyone who has lived in Ca undoubtedly knows how insane the Cost-of-Living is in this state, versus almost every other state. However, simply returning home to the south just does not really pique my interest anymore either.
It has been a long-time dream of mine to live free’er or I should say more mobile. I do enjoy some of the qualities of life that being rooted provides, like decent internet, reliable hot showers, and good Chinese delivery. That said, the crossroads I am currently facing is the choice between a liveabord sailboat or an RV (mainly a truck and 5th wheel rig). I grew up in a single-wide, lived in the barracks/deployment hooches, and have since rented rooms or small studios, so I am fairly used to compact living or not having large spaces for lots of belongings. The need or ability to live small is not a new idea to me, nor does it scare me off. Where I am torn is between my comfortability and love of the land, and my insatiable curiosity of the sea.

EXPERIENCE/HISTORY;
Sailing - I took my ASA 101, 103, 104, 105/106, 113, & 118 out of Santa Cruz back in 2017, and have since then (health provided) been able to sail with friends of family to stay somewhat current on the common practice and principles.

RVing – I have an old camper and have stayed in it for a few months out of the summer up in the Shasta mountains during them blistering summer heat waves/fires. Used to drive a tow truck after the service and enjoyed long hauls and road trips.

MY UNDERSTANDING;
What draws me to the idea of a liveaboard sailboat is the freedom to go virtually anywhere in the world, the ability to make said sailboat self-sufficient (solar, desalinator, fishing, etc..), and the ability to leave the U.S. freely, and be totally unhooked from the world or people I should say. That being said, I do realize how costly a boat can be. First the purchase, old mechanic proverb “Good is never cheap, Cheap is never good”, pretty much translatable into anything in this world. I know a good liveaboard will cost me a pretty dollar upfront and then there’s upkeep which is a bit more costly than say, an RV rig. Getting the boat into a self-sufficient stage if it isn’t already there, and then cost of things breaking down or needing to be replaced. All those things do not scare me, simply due to the ability to check out from society and just sail off whenever I’m feeling like it (so long as the boat is fit haha). The drawback I face is the physical aspect, how demanding it can be, and how often will I actually set sail for new lands being that it is just me onboard?

What draws me to the idea of an RV rig, is the comfortableness level I possess. I have towed trailers 45ft.+, behind a flatbed Pete with the owner’s dually loaded on the back, across the country. I have more experience turning wrenches on trucks/autos, engines, and my own old camper, that nothing is really new to me in that area. Being able to take my rig and home on the road and boondock it out in the middle of the desert is just as appealing. The drawbacks though are a little more mental and financial, rather than physical. I would be forced to remain in the states9or Canada/Mexico), paying outlandishly stupid insurance and fuel costs (unless of course I kept the bulk of my travels in the southern states). While the trailer could be made fairly self-sufficient, the truck could not operate on wind and solar to keep me going, which further limits my escape. There are plenty of parks and federal lands to camp, but not a single piece of land isn't owned in this country, unlike the sea. Physically I have no concerns about being able to handle this lifestyle.

CLOSING;
My end goal for this is to seek knowledge and advice from those seasoned above me, who care to share their wisdom and experience. I've heard there’s some form of rivalry between the RV’ers and Boaters of the world, but the idea of being able to stake my claim to a home of my own and take it with me is a love I think both sides share and can hopefully offer me insight on which I may be better suited towards.

Thank y’all.
 

viceprice

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Posts
274
Location
Maine
You might enjoy the YouTube channel called "Gone with the Wynns." They started on land and are currently at sea.
 

SpencerPJ

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Joined
Nov 1, 2017
Posts
3,389
Location
Midwest
Thank you for your service! Land will generally be more safe than water. For me, if I were single, water would be a whole lot more isolation and I need some interaction. Good luck on your choice.
 

Dreamsend

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Posts
582
It's wonderful you are chasing your dreams. I don't think I have a lot of wisdom, but maybe a few practical thoughts.

Have you mapped out a budget for each choice? You may find that fuel costs aren't beyond your means. Don't just estimate in your head, but write down all items and add to it as you think about your everyday lifestyle and needs for each choice.

I don't think you'll find a VA out on the seas. How quickly and conveniently can you get to medical treatment if required? I've been told that sometimes vets can seek care outside an official VA, but I'm not familiar with this. How easy is it to get into a marina/dock for supplies etc?

You mention the desert and mountains. Free public lands now have limits on a length of stay in any one location - like FS is mostly 14 days then go at least 25 miles elsewhere. BLM is less picky - limits not always enforced, but I sure wouldn't want to be anywhere near the trash trailer/tent set-ups I've seen in a few places.

Although it sounds as if chilling is your goal, you're experienced enough to know that there will be required "chores" associated with each. Make another list of these things for each choice - dumping tanks, getting water, fuel for cooking/heat, discarding trash, groceries, getting/sending mail, laundry, repair parts and supplies, (no Amazon delivery at sea - yet!), getting a tool you end up needing but don't have, any prescriptions to get? Try to track your daily lifestyle and note what comes up and write it down and add these items to the practicalities of living on the boat or in the RV. Hopefully you may gain some insight as to which seems more appealing.

What about living in the RV, but renting a boat for a month or two each year as a break that satisfies your sea legs? Or other way around if renting an RV and docking the boat is a better deal.

You're putting in the work so likely whichever you choose first (you can always switch eh?) will likely work out for you.

And . . .WELCOME to the Forum.

Linda
 

donn

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Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Posts
4,493
More to consider. Big RVs should never get off pavement. There are a bunchmof youtube videos of idiota taking their monster toy haulers off the road and either desteoying them in the ocean or needing a big rig to tow them out of soft sand.
Boats? NEver owned a big one, but lone sailing around the Carabian trying to avoid huricanes is not my idea of fun. Stick with dry land, you have hundreds of thousands of dry land to travel to to keep warm.
 

Oldgator73

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Dec 28, 2017
Posts
3,327
Our son is a 100% disabled unemployable Iraq war veteran. I am retired AF and 70% disabled. We know something about the VA and getting care. We have unrestricted property in SW Virginia where our son lives, until recently, off grid. He has to travel two hours to Tennessee for his VA appointments. He can go to Galax, VA which is about an hour for emergency care at the hospital. The emergent care facility does not accept VA. If it were me i would live near a university or college and use my VA education benefits. They pay tuition, a stipend, housing allowance, book allowance and in some cases purchase you a computer. Housing allowances are based on the cost of living where you reside Which could be as much as $3,000 a month. You are entitled to these benefits for up to 15 years from your last date of active duty and you receive them for 36 months of schooling. Another benefit you should apply for right away is SSI. You could receive as much as $1,000 per month. The application is online on the Social Security site.
 

Rene T

Site Team
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May 20, 2011
Posts
17,649
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Farmington NH
I think your son could get care someplace close to where he lives. Have him contact Community Care at the VA and explain the situation. He may also be reimbursed for mileage.
I get care for my eyes from a optometrist just down the street instead of having to drive 50 miles the the VA hospital which is where I use to go. The optometrist sends a report to the VA and they get the glasses made and I just have to go and pick them up. As far as my eyes, I’m getting cataracts removed this Wednesday from one of the best surgeons in the area 5 miles away from me even when a doctor at the VA hospital can do it. The VA will pay for the basic plan but I’m upgrading the surgery to a more expensive plan but the VA will still pay the basic plan amount and I’m paying the rest out of pocket.
I get all my dental work done at a private dentist 5 miles away. I use to travel the the VA hospital for that care but no more.
 

Oldgator73

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Dec 28, 2017
Posts
3,327
think your son could get care someplace close to where he lives. Have him contact Community Care at the VA and explain the situation.
He conducts some of his appointments via phone but he has to have a dental implant which, it seems, needs to be done at the VA. I refuse to use the VA but we have Medicare and Tricare For Life.
pour son does get reimbursed for travel and he was told if the appointment is before a certain time in the morning his hotel will also be reimnursed.
 

Isaac-1

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Dec 3, 2016
Posts
4,700
Location
SW Louisiana
Let me preface this to say that I bought a small 28 ft live aboard sailboat when I was just a couple of years older than you are now, and due to working way too many hours at the time, never really got to enjoy it all that much. Though I can tell you the reality of it being cheap is very different from the dream of it being cheap. Boat parts cost much more than their automotive or RV equivalents, salt water eats through everything, maintenance is constant, and not cheap even if you are a DIY'er. Then comes all that cost to travel, unless you are anchoring out somewhere transient dock space at marinas adds up, then you have transportation costs, how do you get to a grocery store to get resupplied, ...

All things considered RV's are easier, though gas does cost money. You also don't have to worry about them sinking (most of the time), another thing with sailboats you really need multiple people onboard to do it safely, to have someone on watch, and unless you are going to stick to sheltered waters, coastal cruising, etc. there is the real risk of being plowed down by a freighter that will never even see you, so having someone on watch on deck 24 hours per day during a passage is important.

In the end I can't tell you which is right for you, just be aware that both ways reality will tend to be different than the dream or the expectations.
 

Ex-Calif

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May 15, 2020
Posts
1,546
First my resume - Ex-Californian. 3rd generation grew up in 60's/70's. Escaped high prices and max population growth and high prices. Basically love my home state but don't want to have to afford moving back. Lifelong sun baby. Florida is cool!

Lived aboard boats and did ocean racing and international crossings. Nothing like trans-Atlantic or Trans-Pacific but enough to know how to comment.

Recently retired into a 31 foot RV. Working to place the RV on land that I own. Currently residing in an RV park that is 80% single retirees. Couple of vets.

Boat or RV - It can be a cheap "existence" - all the folks here do not have the budget to travel in their RVs and view it as cheap living. It can be a cheap existence. Rent is like $400 a month. Some have paid for RVs some are making payments.

Both a boat and an RV require continual maintenance. So far - after initial purchase and fit out - I would guess $300 a month is a good maintenance reserve for either if you can do a lot of the work yourself. The older you get the harder it will be to do the maintenance. A boat will need to be hauled out for bottom work on a periodic basis, which depends on how aggressive bottom growth is on the boat. During that time you need a place to live, some boatyards may allow one to liveaboard while doing the work but all yards will charge you "rent" while in the yard.

Boat - Living 100% "on the hook" is possible. I suggest to join "CruisersForum.com" and lurk for a while - there are plenty of threads accurately and precisely describing the costs of a liveaboard lifestyle. Most of the US seaboard has property developed on the shoreline. There are very few places that welcome and encourage "free anchoring" - many municipalities require permits etc. Long term liveaboard dockaage can be hard to get and you are again paying rent.

My initial plan was to get a boat and live in Colombia or Costa Rica - Far enough west to hide out during hurricane season. Then cruise the Caribbean during the good season. If you live on the hook (totally doable) you may be very far from assistance and medical treatment - Like days away...

If your plan is to "see America" you really get to see "coastal" America. And if you live on the west side there isn't much to see and sailing up and down the coast is really not that easy. If you then want to see the east coast you are transporting the boat by road or making a panama canal passage - Also not easy.

In terms of "type" of boat - I strongly recommend a MotorSailer or PilotHouse boat. These will have naturally large tankage for diesel and water - reducing need to make water and making it easy to hit the engine button and motor-sail. You'll need a boat with nice options like power sails unless you can haul 100 pounds or so of sail up 40 feet in the air.

Sailing a boat solo is doable but it is a lonely existence and can be dangerous if you get hurt or something.

RV - Here I would strongly recommend starting with a 24-ish foot trailer. You have a vehicle to get around in when you dump your living space somewhere. By selecting the right tow vehicle up front, it is easier to upgrade to a bigger trailer later. Ultimately the RV may need replacing. It's easier to replace a trailer than a whole Class A RV.

Travel - On the plus side a ton more of the country opens up to wandering. The idea of "boondocking" full time is a bit romantic and carries some very inconvenient realities.

At the risk of using a superlative - The idea that living on a boat or living in an RV is "the cheapest way to live" is an absolute myth.
 

JudyJB

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Joined
Jul 6, 2010
Posts
1,665
You can go anywhere you want in a boat, as long as it is in water. Can't go to very many national parks, forests, deserts, or interesting towns that way, however.

If I were you, I would not get too big of a 5th wheel or trailer that it becomes too cumbersome to pull. Try being a little more compact and more agile, at least at first. And do not go too old, either. Going older than 10 years or so will likely mean a lot of initial expenses. And as others have pointed out, RVing is not a cheap way to live, so you need to plan financially on repairs.
 

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