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Thread: Talk to me about saltwater

  1. #1
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    Talk to me about saltwater

    Look I know I'm new to all this, but I'm sure I could make living on saltwater in the Florida Keys. I have researched and researched but I understand that reading is not doing. If anything Pirate you seem a little more positive then old houseboater. Not that I don't respect OHB's opinions but I've seen living on saltwater by many boats. I'm on here to understand and learn from others that could give me a heads up to what to expect. Not here that I should just move to Alabama instead of Florida, why don't I just buy a time share in a boat on Lake Powell(cuz I wanna live on my boat) no disrespect I'm just saying I want what I want and short of living on a yauht I'm pretty sure we can make it on a houseboat if I had a little backing with some support from others that have done it before!!!!!! Any SALTWATER, people that have the pros and cons of florida keys living with two people would be awesome. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Senior Member BananaTom's Avatar
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    I am a saltwater boater. I had a 36' Gibson for about 5 years here in Pensacola. I ran a Bareboat Charter with it, and used the heck out of it. It did well on "inside big water", say 4 - 5 footers, and we got caught in storms many times, once for two days of a four day motor to New Orleans.

    The boat will suffer from saltwater, and repairs will increase. I just included riser replacement on the twin 350 Crusaders, Vee Drive, as part of the same costs as fuel.

    I see you may want to exist on a mooring. I prefer a wet slip. That way you have shore power and water. Grey water goes overboard. Blackwater in the holding tank. However, many docks also have showers and bathrooms available. Which we used to cut down on using the holding tank. However, a trip out of the slip always occurred for fun, and then a stop by the free pump out station was part of it.

    I have little knowledge of the Florida Keys and Live-a-baords, but do remember reading posts by a member here who had secured a wet slip, and then was rejected when he got there with a houseboat. Many went down there to do what you want, and then ran out of money, and the boat went derlick, and marinas were stuck with them.

    However, that board member did find a wet slip, and lived happy ever after, if I remember correctly.
    Last edited by BananaTom; 04-26-2016 at 09:48 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member BananaTom's Avatar
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    Getting a houseboat down there is something I would do. Run the ICW, do a 24 hour crossing from Carabelle, Florida to New Port Richie, and then inside again until you hit Marco Island, and then another weather window crossing to the Keys.

    I know many that do it in sailboats and crusiers, and only one in a houseboat.

    One guy from Wisconsin bought a single screw, 12 foot beam houseboat and tried to go to South Florida. He had a hard time making it down the Tenn Tom with a current. It was due to his skills, and not the waterway. He stories are many, from loosing all eye glasses over board, to falling over board at the dams, to running up on sand bars and filling his engine with sand.

    When he got to Pensacola, he was so out of his element. He stayed in a marina here for about two months, and then made it to Panama City, stayed there for some months, and then gave up, sold, and drove back north.

    He trip was not the norm, and should not be used as a comparison.
    Last edited by BananaTom; 04-26-2016 at 09:54 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member BananaTom's Avatar
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    There was even a 90 footer, pontoon houseboat that came down from Tennessee, and then on to the Bahama's. They were Captains, and knew what they were doing. It does take knowledge of big water, and weather watching, with safe harbors on your float plan. I would do it in a heart beat. Many of the nay-sayers, are river / lake people, and big water scares then. You just need knowledge.

    If you need a co-captain, hit me up. My wife and I have participated in many crossings of big open water.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BananaTom's Avatar
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    There is also a member on here that are live-a-boards over on the East Coast of Florida somewhere. I ca not remember who now, as it was several years ago when we were running and hiding from the "H".

    Which is your biggest exposure. Insurance and "H" plans are huge factors to overcome, and it can be done.

    I would highly recommend you take a Florida Key Vacay, and visit very marina from Pennecamp to Key West, by auto.
    This will give you some good information on how living down there on a boat works.

    I know many that go down for the winter, and then back up here for the summer. And then some never return.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BananaTom's Avatar
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    I did go back and search for the couple living aboard in South East Florida, but that mighty have been prior to the forum changes that occurred, when the Old Forum went away, and this new platform was established, therefore, historical posts are gone.

    They might have live off the St John's River, which is such a cool river. Talk about stepping back into time on that river.

    Or maybe south of Deland.

    Steamboat Willie is down there somewhere also.

  7. #7
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    The wife and I go to florida keys every year and we have made friends with people that are live aboards, one good friend is a full time charter boat captain and his wife and he has lived in the Keys since he was 3 and he is in his late 40's now and has been a live aboard since he was 18. He lived on a floating home (Not what i would call a houseboat)in sugarloaf. We have talk quite a bit about it and the plan is to live offgrid on the hook in a covered/ small big water. There is a marina that my friend used to park his boat on sugarloaf that I would talk to owner about using also. My friend has moved to the hard now, he broke down and bought a house. I told he was going to have to start mowing his lawn and stuff now he laughed and sent me a picture he covered it with coral sand so no mowing for him.

    I have a lot to learn a boat the ocean. The lakes I have covered been on the lake my whole life. I guess if I needed some ocean practice I could hit Lake of the Ozarks on memorial day weekend it gets a little ocean like LOL. But seriously the tenn-Tom is what seems to scares me the most. I assume the locks cost money? But I would defiantly be down with the idea of having a experienced saltwater person my trip. I also will have my scuba cert. before long and I think that will help with some of my maintenence scraping creatures off the bottom of the boat once in the ocean/bay. I think that if you plan on living at a marina in the Keys you have to purchase the slip and then pay the slip transfer fee to Monroe County and that's like $25,000. Either way I'm interested in boats like the Gibson that you mentioned, with v-drives and was planning on a composting toilet so no black water. Just gray.

    Insurance ill have to figure out but yes I have though about H's that's why a houseboat sounds better to me then a trailer and such. I could get out of dodge anyway I want, not just HWY1 with its single lane in and out. Plus all my stuff comes with me.
    Last edited by FinsToTheRight; 04-27-2016 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Thought of more to add

  8. #8
    Senior Member BananaTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FinsToTheRight View Post
    But seriously the tenn-Tom is what seems to scares me the most. I assume the locks cost money? But I would defiantly be down with the idea of having a experienced saltwater person my trip.
    The Tenn-Tom is no big deal. The locks are Free, and the lock masters do a great job. The Locks on the Tenn-Tom, also are known as the "Dirty Dozen". I left Lake Pickwick with a new purchase and hit the first lock. It was intimidating. The winds inside the lock got a hold of me, and we bounced around pretty good.

    When we got tied to Bollards, and the lock master starting pumping down the 85 foot drop, he came out on a 4 wheeler. My deck hands, wife and another lady stated this was our first Lock. He replied, I would have never guessed with a big grin. The he said, "As long as y'all are upright, it is a successful lock down".

    After that lock, it got easy. Then as we would leave one lock, the lock master would ask if we going through the next one, and he would call ahead for us, and the doors would be open and waiting for us when we got there.

    However, on the second day, we started to not working so hard on navigating. Took it easy, and just ran the channel markers to the next lock, and as we locked down, we would then look at the charts to determine the next lock distance.

    Well, as we were going down, we noticed the next lock was 100 miles away. We were at the Tom Bevill Lock, Pickensville, AL. I did NOT have enough fuel to run the 100 miles and noted there was a Marina at the top of the lock, the north side of the lock.

    As the lock master opened the doors after locking down, I asked by radio where the next fuel was located at, (I already knew). He confirmed "100 miles". I responded stating I needed to lock back up to take on fuel. He said allot of words, that weren't nice, and reluctantly instructed us to re-enter, and he would lock us back up, and did so.

    When pulled into the Marina, and the Lady who later became known as "Star" meet us at the fuel dock, and asked if we were the (My Last Name)? Confused, we responded in the affirmative. Thinking that lock master had researched who we were by Vessel Identification and had alerted the Marina that fools were arriving, hahaha.

    Well, that was not the case. It was Pirates Marina, and I had told him we were coming by his place. It was early afternoon and had plenty of time to take on fuel, and make many more miles. But since we had such a warm reception, in a friendly place, we decided to not venture further an encounter that lock master again.

    The ladies took Pirates Courtesy Car to the store and purchased some provisions that really were not needed, and we stayed the night.

    Pirate was not at this Marina at the time, he was at another making ready to sell it.

    The next morning, after bidding Star Good Bye, we called the lock master, and advised that we were headed that way. And to our relief, a friendly voice returned, open and ready. The lock master from yesterday was not on duty.

    Down the Tenn Tom we continued towards Pensacola.

    So we did not encounter 12 locks on the Tenn Tom, but instead encountered 14 locks, and we got real familiar with the Tom Bevill three times.
    Last edited by BananaTom; 05-02-2016 at 11:22 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member BananaTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FinsToTheRight View Post
    I also will have my scuba cert. before long and I think that will help with some of my maintenence scraping creatures off the bottom of the boat once in the ocean/bay.
    Cleaning the bottom is a monthly chore. I had it done about every three months as we used the boat often. But if you are mainly gonna stay on the hook/mooring, you will want to scrub the bottom often and change diodes/zincs often. I always had many more than needed to collect the electrolysis.

  10. #10
    Senior Member BananaTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FinsToTheRight View Post
    I guess if I needed some ocean practice I could hit Lake of the Ozarks on memorial day weekend it gets a little ocean like LOL. .
    The Lake of the Ozarks is not comparable, as it is "Confused Water".

    Waves / wakes coming from every direction for passing vessels to bouncing off the rock walls. I have been on that lake, as my wife and I got married in Osage Beach. We had a boat to use, and it was wicked water to motor on.

    The Gulf can be flat as a mirror on a good weather window. Many hold up in Carrabelle, Florida, waiting for a nice 24 hour window to cross during.

    The ICW, from Mobile Bay to Carrabelle has some large bays to cross. Mobile Bay, and Destin and Panama City areas. Just got to watch the weather.

    The ICW around Pensacola can get big during a thunderstorm. If from the North, just get on the north side, and know the water depths, by charts, and electronics.

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