| When my husband was transferred in 1993 -- from land-locked Dallas, Texas
to coastal Vancouver, British Columbia -- we decided to live on a boat. It
wasnt a huge step for us -- we had long planned to sail off into the
sunset. Thats the one with palm trees and pelicans mind you, but Vancouver
looked like a good chance to hone up our boating skills.
The idea of living aboard was so romantic, so unconventional, so
Jimmy Buffett, that it almost made up for leaving Texas. We particularly
liked the notion that whenever the mood struck, we could slip our ropes and
not even the bosses would be able to track us down.
Plus we arent
normal people. You need a certain screw loose to live on a boat and I say
that with the utmost respect for my fellow liveaboards. Were writers and I
daresay that qualifies us.
Before we set foot in a prospective boat, we made up a check list. 34
pages. From engine and tank specifications to placement of electric
sockets. We narrowed our search in the local boat trading magazines with
inquisitive phone calls. Only eight boats seemed
to meet our criteria. We got some looks when we came aboard with the list,
particularly from boat brokers (go figure, theyre trying to sell it and
were dissecting it). But it was invaluable in helping us rate the boats
later, and in remembering them during the process.
There was one boat, the third we saw, that we both fell for. She had
classic lines (Grand Mariner design), good karma and even better yet, was
priced right. Being new in town we were relying heavily on boat broker
advice regarding financing. He put us onto a bank (one of "The Big Five" in
Canada) who wanted nothing to do with boat mortgages in the center of the
countrys boating capital. The broker was useless when we relayed this to
So, pressed for time (we had a week to prearrange our new life prior
to moving), we moved onto the next five boats. That broker lost an easy
commission. To this day I wonder off and on about that boat. If youre
in this position, pick up the phone. We snagged a mortgage in a heartbeat,
on a boat worth twice the Grand Mariners price, later that week with a
different bank. Why? Because another broker worked the sale.
Once we had found the boat we wanted and received a commitment, in
principle, for financing -- we hired a surveyor. This is crucial for your
own protection and a prerequisite for financing.
Make sure it is a reliable
surveyor -- call the local boating associations and get references. Have an
out-of-water survey done. You will have to pay the boat haul charges and
survey fees (combined total, in British Columbia, of about $500 and worth
every penny). Do not use a surveyor recommended by the broker! In fact,
keep the following in mind about boat brokers: In most locations, they are
not licensed (thats scary). They earn more than real estate agents (10%
commission compared to 6%) and there is little recourse for you if you have
been misled. Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) applies in spades.
So, now we had a boat. All we needed was a place to put it. Easier said
than done. Surprising in a coastal city Vancouvers size but frankly, its
an unfriendly boat city. Extremely unfriendly to liveaboards. Check your
options for moorage before you buy -- dont assume anything. In fact, check
your options before you even think about buying -- and put it on your check
Moorage is not cheap and of course it varies around the world. From
about $200 per month in Hong Kong to $1100 per month in Boston. In
downtown Vancouver, we pay $10 CND per foot, per month, plus tax ($547.20 CND) --
plus hydro, plus telephone, plus parking.
Back to the Top / Back to the Sideroad
If you want to moor in one of the
citys glitzy marinas (read: access to cable TV, ISDN lines, and
Laundromats), youll pay $15 CND per foot, per month (plus, plus, plus). This
has nothing to do with your mortgage. It is merely a rental charge for
attaching your boat to the dock (think of it as a parking fee for your R.V.)
Nothing about boating is cheap. If youre considering this lifestyle,
you probably already know that. If you dont, I strongly suggest your first
step be to buy a weekend boat and learn the ropes. It certainly has its
rewards. If youre convinced its the life you want, then you should do it.
But trust me. It really helps to have a screw loose.
Troubled Waters. . .
About the Author
Beverley Wood is a writer and marketing consultant who worked for 12
years with Maclean's magazine (as Operations Manager). She has published
articles with Maclean's, The Globe and Mail (Destinations), Tribute, Kid's
Tribute, Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim News Syndication Service (Far
East dailies). She also writes screenplays, and provides clients in
Vancouver with writing, editing and public relations services. She is
currently working on the screenplay for
DogStar. . . a new fiction novel
written with her husband, Chris Wood (Canadian pub date: Nov/97; USA pub
date: March/98). In 1993, Chris convinced her to leave a sprawling Texas
ranch and move onto a 48-foot boat in Vancouver's Burrard Inlet. She has
never been the same since.
Click here to e-mail Beverley.
Originally posted Feb. 2, 1998. Text copyright Beverley Wood, 1998.
Part of the original Sideroad.
The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at www.sideroad.com.