Monthly Archives: January 2018

Could you live on a boat?

Living full time on a boat conjures up a picture of an idyllic lifestyle – cruising from one beautiful location to another. But… practically, what is it really like? Is it affordable? Is it doable?

The answer to these questions is really ‘it depends’. There are plenty of people who do live on their boats and there are plenty of great stories on the web about how liberating the lifestyle is. On the other hand you have to be prepared to live in a lot less space, with a lot less storage than you’d find in even the smallest house.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the advantages and disadvantages of a life on the ocean wave… (we’ll start with the bad news)

Disadvantages

Weather
You can’t do much about the weather, and you’re even more exposed on the water than you are on land. You do need to keep your eye on the weather and be prepared to move your vessel to a safe haven if very bad weather threatens.

Storage
As mentioned above, there’s generally very little on a boat. Catamarans have a little more than single hulled boats.

Getting wet
Nobody likes getting soaked, not even hardened boaties, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Privacy
Especially if you’re berthed in a marina, you’ve got a fair bit less privacy than in a house. Plus most people living aboard don’t have a washing machine, so the local laundromat – wherever you are – may become a regular haunt.

Value of your new home
Unfortunately your new home on water is more likely to go down in value, rather than go up – a bit different to buying property on land.

And now for the good news…

Advantages

Costs
A lot of costs which just go with the territory with a house, are much smaller (or non-existent) on a boat. These include for example power bills and council rates. There are some costs of course, such as mooring fees and/or marina fees. But if you still own your house and rent it out, the rent will generally more than cover any marina fees.

Neighbours
Although in a marina you might have the occasional boat-based party, as a rule barking dogs and the like are a rarity. Neighbours are generally pretty friendly and have the same interest in sailing/boating as you do. They can also be a great source of help and knowledge, particularly if you’re relatively new to life on the water.

Living a free lifestyle
By free, we mean, free to do what you want, when you want. If you’d like to sail to another part of the coast, or even to another country, you can do so on a whim (almost).

Maintenance
Maintenance is a double-edged sword – if you own a boat, but don’t live on it, maintenance can be a bit of a chore, but if you live on the boat you are there so maintenance is a little easier. However a boat owner needs to be reasonably ‘handy’ and having some knowledge of how engines and other devices/machines on board work is a definite advantage. You can get people in to fix things on the boat, but marine specialists generally charge more than your standard tradie.

 

In the final analysis, you have to do your sums* and work out whether you’d be happy living onboard the boat you can afford, and whether you are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices for a life on the ocean.

One of the most important pieces of advice we have seen repeated over and over is the importance of checking out the seaworthiness of any boat you like the look of – get both the hull and the motor checked over by a professional before buying any boat. It’s no good falling in love with a boat, only to find out that it has major problems. This can be a problem buying anywhere to live, but getting it wrong with a boat is a bit more serious – your new home could sink or at the very least require a lot of money spent on it to keep it shipshape. Makes sure that BOAT doesn’t stand for Better Organise Another Thousand!

*and when you’re doing your sums give us a call and we can help you with your boat loan

Image credit: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Cancun-Sail-Yacht-Yucatan-Mexico-Caribbean-2551631

A short history of park assist technology

It’s one of those manoeuvres that separates the men from the boys – or women from the girls if you prefer – the reverse park (or ‘reverse parallel park’ to be pedantic). In theory, if you have passed your driving test, you should be able to perform the manoeuvre, however not all driving tests around Australia have a compulsory reverse park as part of the test – so you may be able to get away with not mastering it – maybe.

tight parking

Given the difficulty some people have with parking in a tight space, it won’t surprise you to know that car manufacturers have been looking at ways to help people reverse park for quite a while.

Of course, now there are many vehicles for sale in Australia that feature some form of assisted parking, but it was back in 1934 that the very first car was fitted with a system to assist drivers to park. For some strange reason it didn’t catch on, although¬†perhaps it had something to do with the way it worked – the car was manually jacked up onto another set of wheels at ninety degrees to the main wheels and literally moved sideways into the parking spot.

Today’s systems, which are available on a surprisingly wide range of different brands and vehicle types, are one of two broad types – those where the car steers itself into the space but the driver must select the gear and control the accelerator, and those which are largely autonomous, that is the car controls the entire manoeuvre from start to finish. There are even some cars where you can get out of the car and instruct it to park itself, using the key… or your smartphone.

The first genuine attempt to implement self parking technology in a modern vehicle was in 1992, when VW demonstrated the Futura concept car, which had four wheel steering – using the main wheels this time – and could again move sideways into a parking spot. This feature was never incorporated into any commercial VW vehicles.

The first global manufacturer to actually sell a vehicle with park assistance was Toyota, who released their Prius hybrid model in 2003 with an automated parallel parking system called ‘Intelligent Parking Assist’. It didn’t take long for other brands to follow suit, with Lexus adding parking assistance to their LS model in 2006, and Ford and BMW coming to the party in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

As you might expect, Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar are at the forefront of the park assist technology. The Mercedes system, on board the C-Class saloon, will even scan parking bays for an empty spot as you drive slowly along. When you have decided where you want to park, the car does the rest for you. If you buy a C-Class at the SE model level or above, it comes as standard.

Both the BMW 5 Series and the Jaguar XF work in a similar fashion to the Mercedes, in as much as they will ‘hunt out’ a space for you. The Jag however has another interesting feature – it will also steer itself out of a tight space when it’s time to leave!

You can’t discuss park assist technology without mentioning the Tesla S, which has a pretty advanced parking system – all fully autonomous. It also has a feature James Bond (or maybe Johnny English) would be proud of, called ‘Summon’, where the car can drive itself out of a tight space – presumably while you watch on. The next step – promised by Tesla – is for the car to drive itself up to the front door when ‘summoned’. Chauffeur service without the chauffeur!

But don’t think you have to get a high end car to get park assist – the latest Ford Fiesta comes with a parking assistance system. Overkill, anybody?

Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Arpingstone