Feb 092014

20140208-135045.jpgIt was rather exciting and satisfying yesterday to actually hoist the sails on the Spirit.   They look in good shape and appear to be usable for racing with the wind.  That was a big step in the ongoing saga of getting this boat into some sort of seaworthy condition.  I also managed to get the rudder blade fixed so it is now down in the water, and as soon as I score a tiller, I can steer.  Next big step is to break out the motor and see how it runs.  Beyond that, the battery and solar needs to get done but are not a big priority.  From here on out it will mainly be cosmetics, cleaning up, something I am extremely bad at, and whatever happens to break or need replaced on an ongoing basis.

This project came in well under budget thanks to some great deals, a well timed gift card, and a little scavenging now and then.  The hull and bottom still need scraped and painted, and the centerboard needs repaired, but I can move and hopefully sail the boat without having to get that done for now.  The Spirit may not be the prettiest boat around, but it is now functional.

Unlike a land based domicile, putting money into a boat, short of a full restoration will rarely increase the value of it.  Should I decide to sell the boat at some point I won’t get much more than what I have into it.  With so many boats out there, few people are going to want to spend much for a little 23′ as a live aboard unless I am able to include the slip, wherever that may be, as a perk.  Advertising this boat with an available and affordable live aboard slip will command more money than if it was sitting on land or a mooring ball.  Not that it matters for right now as there are no affordable places here at the moment.

As always, I am constantly looking for more better and minimal living arrangements.  I scan the ads daily for apartments, rooms, rv’s, other boats, and the occasional refrigerator box.  It’s still winter, according to the news, so rates are obscenely high, even by Key West standards.  What the landlords are asking and what you are getting is ridiculous.  Crappy apartments that would not pass code, rooms with sub standard living arrangements, overbearing leases, no cats, it’s a bit disheartening.  I dedicated a large portion of my ebook, Moving To The Florida Keys to this problem.  It’s getting worse down here as us po’ folk are getting squeezed out more and more to make room for you rich people who have things like jobs and stuff.  Even the alternatives are becoming scarce.  You know the situation with living aboard.  But I recently did a scan of rv lots here in Key West.  How does $1500 to $2300 a month for a rv lot sound?  Not too mention that, according to a friend in the rv lot industry, many of the Key’s rv parks are shying away from long term rentals in favor of the weekend warriors and short term.  Reason?  They can command higher rents.

Many places demand first/last/security deposits just to move in.  At $1500 a month you are talking $4500 just to move into some place. Plus you might get tied into a long lease only to find out that your neighbors like to party, make noise, and do illegal things all the time.  This island is getting hard to live on.

On a different note, I had a long conversation with the landlords regarding the bath house fee.  As you know, the HOA, has instituted a $125 a month bath house fee if you use said bath house more than 10 times a month.  I expressed my displeasure to the landlords and they sympathize, as they have to pay it too.  When I mentioned I was going to turn in my bath house card at 9 swipes, they called me back later and said not to.  They then said to not worry about paying the fee.  They believe that the fee may be under some question as to the legality, and may not be enforceable.  They also said that as far as they were concerned, the slip owner was responsible, not the renter.

Just to give you the full situation of my slip, my landlords, a very nice couple from Canada handle the rent for my slip for the slip owner, who is a widow up north someplace.  She seems to not be concerned with the goings on at the marina, as long as the rent checks come in.  I have a damn good relation with the landlords, and yes, I did inform them of my intentions to move out, and they understand, but they like me because I pay my rent on time.  I don’t make waves, other then here on the Fritter, and everything is good.  In fact, were it not for the greedy asshole who bought the marina and is trying to kick us out, the ass kissing HOA who is going to nickel and dime us to death, the drunk neighbors who like to play loud music all the time, the location of the marina so far from downtown, and the fact I have to walk a mile through a neighborhood of crack whores and bums just to get to the bus stop, I could stay here a lot longer.

Anyways, the landlords said I was to go ahead and continue to use the bath house as before and not worry about the fee.  While this all sounds good, it still can come back and bite me in the ass.  The fee, I assume will be with the electric/water bill.  And said bill is in my name.  That means I am responsible for it.  If it don’t get paid, I am to blame.  The landlord says don’t worry.  I’m still gonna worry.  I understand what they are saying and I know they would prefer I didn’t leave, but I have the feeling this bathhouse fee is just the start.  The comment that, “More changes are coming.”, from the marina manager has me on edge.  I probably shouldn’t worry but I’m gonna worry.

For now, it will be what I have been doing.  Limited bath house usage, taking advantage of my own toilet, maybe using the crack house laundromat up the street.  And see what happens.  I will still move if the other slip comes up.  I have to get the tax bill settled by April, otherwise I will have free housing for a long time.  Once all this mess is settled, I hopefully will be able to settle in and enjoy the rest of the year in peace.

And maybe go out sailing now and then.

Capt. Fritter

  5 Responses to “Living Aboard: Don’t Worry, Be Happy…”

  1. I am moving next year, and I spend a lot of time looking at the apartment/real estate ads down your way. It is insanity to think that a place the size of my current eat-in kitchen and family room gets $1500/ month in the keys. I see lots of listings for mobile homes/trailers with land on Big Pine & points south, but from everything I can find out, no bank will lend on a single-wide mobile or manufactured. It’s hard enough to convince myself to pay that kind of money for a dumpy place, and I’m not the kind of guy who has $150k just sitting there in cash to blow.

    Your book nails it, And the idea of signing up for a big lease only to find out the hard way about lousy neighbors, or worse, is some scary stuff when you are laying a big portion of income on housing you can’t walk away from any time soon.

    • I don’t advocate ownership of any kind anymore when it comes to property. The risks are too great, the returns are an illusion, and you can lose your little slice of heaven way too easily. And now with the new flood insurance laws coming into play, if you are right on the edge of being able to afford to buy down here, the insurance premiums will make it unaffordable.
      However, if ownership is something you aspire too in the Keys, probably the best deal is a bare rv lot. Someplace like Venture Out on Cudjoe or Breezy Pines on Big Pine have lots that you can purchase like a condominium, and then park an rv unit on them. No insurance requirements as there is no structure to worry about. You still have property taxes, a HOA to deal with, and such, but it’s the closest thing to affordable housing if you want to own. And you can rent out the lot if you don’t want to stay all year round.
      C. F.

      • What’s the deal with Meridian West apartments on Stock Island? Rent is much cheaper than anywhere else close. The company pictures make the place look mighty nice. They have it listed as low-income housing, but it sure doesn’t look like any projects I’ve ever seen here in the mid-Atlantic cities. Gated entry and listed as Section 8? Wow. Any opinion on that one? I’m still a year away from moving, but trying to get a bead on feasibility before I go get too excited. Thanks Capt!

        • It is a nice complex for Stock Island. There are several boat yards around it, a park across the street and the busses come right by it. The place seems to kept clean but I have no idea of who lives there. Being sect. 8 I would be wary. And I suspect the requirements to qualify are complicated. No doubt the waiting list is long. Still might be worth an inquiry.
          C. F.

  2. Great picture of the Spirit! Glad to see the mainsail is in good shape!

    As far as the bath house fees – I don’t blame you one bit for feeling uneasy about “not worrying” about it. It sounds like the marina is going to hell and the HOA is crooked, just like the new owner.