Real Estate Junkie (Part 2)

…..Continued from here.


I would go back out of town to buy property.  This time I would buy single family homes.  The row-house complex was too difficult to manage for many reasons.  It was also in the absolute worst area of the city, flooded with drugs, prostitution and violence.  I didn’t want any part of that again.  It was unsafe and definitely not worth it.  This time I would buy homes in slightly better areas, attracting more desirable tenants.  I would stay in low-income neighborhoods, for the best value and return on the buck, but not extreme ghettos.  I would buy in many different areas, as not to put all my eggs in one basket, and avoid herding tenants to a condensed group, which can also be problematic.  I would buy properties that needed some work, but not too much, again this is the best value.



My plan was to pick up as many properties for short money as I could without creating too much of a time commitment for myself.  I did not not want to leave my kids 4 days a week again, like I had when I did the row-house project.  That was too much time away.  This time would be different.  My pace would be much slower.  I allotted one day of travel per week.



I would also have guys down there that would complete the renovations under a contract.  I was no longer willing to supervise a crew.  I would only turn over  2 homes at a time ensuring that I was able to adhere to my one day a week on-sight goal.  I would use that day to check progress, look at potential new purchases and rent the units.



The plan worked.  I spent the next 2 years back and forth, one day a week.  I had completed 17 homes.


At the end of 2 years I got VERY lucky and fell into a great deal.  I put my out-of-town single family rentals on hold.



Continued here…..



My Thoughts

My name is Skyla and I am the eleven year old daughter that my mom talks about.  Living on a boat seems very exciting, but I don’t want to leave my awesome teachers.  I love my teachers and I especially love my classmates.  I also love the one-hundred year old school!

I have been going to this school since pre-k and I am currently in 6th grade going into seventh.  The question is, what about school?  I have absolutely no clue, but I do know one thing. I am going to be on a boat surrounded by boys! I need girl time! That will not happen sadly,  but even though my brothers are annoying, I still love them dearly!


rainy fish


Feeling like the weather today.  Crappy.

Waiting for something to happen stinks.  Your ready to make your next move, but your held back.  House has been on the market for over 45 days now, and nothing.  Some days it feels like we will be stuck here forever.  Hmmm….What will I do to sweeten the deal, and get this puppy moving?  We are ready to Go, Go, Go.


Good news.  We have a boat showing tomorrow…

9 Lives of a Liveaboard Cat

This is a interesting cat story courtesy of my Cruisers Forum friend, Nick, from s/v Jedi.  Thanks Nick for sharing!!!


We took 3 cats with us when we moved aboard. Our biggest worry was a long intercontinental flight to get to the boat, but the cats, who stayed in the luggage compartment, were unaffected by it.

Two of the cats were big friends (male and the female kitten of the 3rd cat) and the other one was not too impressed with that friendship.  Many cats merely tolerate each other, which is fine, it’s their way.

We always let our cats roam free except when we lock up for the night.  It’s a choice, and we believe they have a better life that way, although many cats are content with staying inside.  That is the nice thing with cats, and which is never possible with dogs.  At anchor, they can just fall overboard, but normally it happens as part of their adventures, like during catching fish or squid. The male managed to stay dry for about 4 years, and then he decided to walk over the steep grade transom while it was wet, slipped, and went swimming.  He went around the boat faster than I could follow with the dinghy, and then let me put him back on the swimming platform where he stayed ready to jump again for another swim.  All very macho.  We have a knotted rope hanging overboard at the stern so they can climb out. They don’t use it of-course; the rubber flap over the engine exhaust is preferred.

One cat, the youngest, fell overboard when we were on the hard.  This happened during new years and we think it was the fireworks. She broke her back on a boat stand and died.  That is the tough side of letting cats roam about.  After that, we kept them locked up at New Years Eve.

We got a new #3 cat while anchored at Isla Margerita. She became big friends with the male, but the grouchy female didn’t want anything to do with her. We taught this cat (Obi Wan Kenobi, the one that died was Yoda…) how to swim, and she would jump in and out of the dinghy, come
along for a ride, catch fish all the time but never went for voluntary swims.  I have seen cats that grow up aboard boats who do that including swimming over to other boats.

"Cat" There was a French boat with a cat named “Cat”.  He went missing in the jungle of Panama.  The owners were searching for months, put out trails of cat food from the jungle to their boat, etc. (our cats followed those trails the wrong way all the time ) In the end, they gave up and left.  Months later we were on the hard again, and the grouchy female (Pasja), went missing (we were down to 2 cats now).  This is not unusual, but we reported it to people so they knew.  The next day they came and got us because they found the cat… well, it was “Cat”, the French one (back to 3 cats).  Barely alive I might say, with wounds and a harness that was half out and grown into his skin.  We decided to try to save him, so started draining and cleaning a big abscess, cut the harness away, washed, and gave anti-biotics.

A day or so later, Pasja shows up again,( so now we have 4 cats).  But I found an cat 2 email address of the French owners, so sent an email out and
waited.  In the mean time, there were people volunteering to take “Cat” if the owners wouldn’t report.  We liked that, because we decided 4 cats was too much.  There was this one girl that really wanted it badly… but then, we got an email back from the owners… they would sail back and collect “Cat”. (We were back down to 3 cats.)  But the girl was heartbroken so we offered her a cat from us (Pasja, who didn’t like the other two so much) and she was happy with that. (We were back to 2 cats now.)

The male cat was old and sick and really at his end. We had to put him to sleep, which was the toughest thing that happened since we went
cruising.  (We were back to one cat), Obi Wan.  She was not happy alone, so we gave her to the daughter of a local guy we know here in Panama, where she is happy and catching lizards all day. So now we’re at 0 cats!

We still see Pasja and Obi Wan Kenobi now and then, and they still recognize us



Real Estate Junkie

You know that you’re a real estate junkie when:

  • You have bought and sold more properties than your age
  • You have lived in more properties than your age
  • You’re on vacation discussing the real estate where you are vacationing
  • You have re-designed the exterior of your neighbors house (in your mind)
  • You have “your” real estate broker on speed dial
  • The guy at Home Depot has you on speed dial
  • You have your broker’s MLS password
  • Your vehicle floor is covered in nails and tools
  • Your vehicle is a sh*tbox pick-up truck, and you love it
  • At night you dream about tossing your tenant’s crap out the door
  • At night you dream about tossing your tenant out the door
  • You have tossed your tenant out the door




In this post I discussed where cruisers get their money while cruising.  What will feed our kitty?  Continue on to find out.


I bought my first house when I was 23.  I worked all summer babysitting, making $540 per week, saving every nickel.  By the end of the summer, I had saved $4,000.  It was just enough for closing costs.  With a bit of finagling, I managed to qualify for a first time buyer, no money down loan.  At that time, everyone thought my mom was crazy.  They would say, “Why are you letting her buy a house, she’s going to ruin her credit, and, her life.”  My mom was the one who convinced me to buy.  She knew that I could do it, and I did.

From there, one house led to the next, until soon I was an established real estate developer/investor.  I bought 3 unit buildings, gutted them, renovated, converted to condos, and sold.  I also owned a bunch of “triple decker” rentals in crappy areas.  I capitalized for as long as I could, while watching the real estate market climb rapidly.  In 2003, 5 years after I bought my first house, I decided that I was done with Boston.  I wasn’t comfortable with the exorbitant pricing.  I sold everything that I had, and began to look for a new location.  (I was very lucky, the market plunged soon after.)

I happened upon a large apartment complex owned by HUD (Housing and Urban Development).  It was in another state, hours from where I live.  The project was comprised of blocks and blocks of dilapidated row houses,  in the worst possible area, drug plagued and violence stricken.  Decrepit homes abound, crack heads, and prostitution reigned.  It was a ghetto.  Worst than anything that I had ever experienced in my 28 years.  If all the abandoned, boarded up haunties in the area were to be razed, the place would be vacant.  I bought it.


I went to the HUD auction and bid against 2 others.  I paid $348, 000 at the auction for 145 units in complete and total disrepair.  I was delighted.  Compared to Boston, where you could buy 1 house for the same money, this seemed like a steal.  The local papers had reports that snipers from the roofs of my new “wonderland” would shoot at cops, as they patrolled the area. So, the cops didn’t bother patrolling anymore.  The place was a lawless war-zone.  Anything went, murder, rape, drugs, prostitution and no one gave a damn, as long as it was contained to that area.  I didn’t care.  I was on a mission.

homwood 2

I brought a crew of guys from Boston, hired a few locals and immediately began to renovate and rent the units one by one,  all low-income tenants.  I completed 84 units in 1 year.  The place was crazy, tools stolen daily, break-ins, vandalization, bullets through windows, and arson attempts in my units.  I was even threatened a few times, which led to fights, cops, and questioning.  Not to mention the nutty tenants.  Anyone looking to live in this neighborhood had to be somewhat demented.  I carried a small pistol in the front pocket of my jacket, and hoped to never have to use it.

cop 1










I was a single parent at the time to 4 young kids (ages 2-4).  I spent 4 days away, supervising my project out of town, then flew home for 3 days.  Flying in and out, every Thursday night  and Monday morning, like clockwork, to relieve my babysitter and see my kids.  By the end of the 1st year, I was completely exhausted, burnt out and beat down.  I was also in danger.  I had been arguing with the residents of the crack house across the street to keep their “visitors” off of my property.  The drug dealers were doing their best to intimidate me, and it was working.  I had also heard through the grapevine that there was talk of kidnapping me.  I know, it sounds crazy, normally I would have thought so too, but after a year in hell, I felt anything was possible, and with 4 kids, I wasn’t taking any chances.  I sold.

My layer of tough skin developed that year.  I left feeling that there was nothing that I couldn’t accomplish.

I spent the next year at home taking a break, and working on a fun historic home that I purchased.  This house was in tough shape,  everyone said that it couldn’t be restored.  “Tear it down”, they remarked.  I knew better.  Fixed that baby up, and made it shine.  The mayor of the town with the Historic Commission gave me a Preservation Award when the house was complete.  I was proud.  It was gorgeous.


woburn before

100_2824 100_2823 100_2829 100_2826 100_2825 100_2827


100_2971 100_2974 100_2975 100_2976 woburn me 2

My historic property sold and I was left with… What now?  The market was a disaster.  I wasn’t willing to risk doing anymore flips in Boston, but, I still had a family to feed, and bills to pay.  I hadn’t a clue.  I sat tight for a couple months when suddenly, one morning, as I awoke, it came to me.


Continued here.





Boat Shopping

I have been scouring for months trying to find the “perfect” boat.  These are the sights that I have used:


There are many boats to choose from.  It gets very confusing; especially when you need accommodations for 5 kids, plus adults.  Trying to sort through what’s important, and what isn’t, is difficult.  This boat will be home, not just for vacationing, so we have to get it right.  The goal is to become international cruisers.  That in itself brings a whole slew of requirements.  Comfort, safety, range, efficiency and maintenance are all considerations.


Folks have advised to walk on as many boats as you can.  Get a feel for the different styles.  I had no intention of doing that.  I figured why waste the time, unless I believe that the boat could be the “one”.  This morning I had a revelation.  One of my kids refused to taste the sweet mango slices that I had just cut.   While listening to myself tell him to” Try it, because how will you know that you don’t like it, if you don’t try it?”,  I suddenly realized that I was being foolish.


How do I really know that I don’t like Chris Craft; or that Nordhaven will be too cramped, when I had never stepped on one.  I was being silly.

I immediately jumped on Yachtworld and began my search.

I came up with a few boats in my area.


70′ Broward   $298,000



60′ Chris- Craft  180,000



80′ 1985 Hatteras $649,000–1556301/Portsmouth/NH/United-States





This boat is probably waaaayyyyy out of my league.  It is 90 FEET!!!!!  Holy Crap, it’s AMAZING!!!!!.  Plus, it has sails.  This is a MUST see.  Wow, the interior wood is beautiful.  It has the perfect amount of cabins.  Plenty of space.  Ocean-Crossing. 6000 nm range.  Only drawback;  I wouldn’t be able to move an inch without crew…Booooo….

Can’t wait to see her.

90′ North Sea Expedition Trawler—12-Pack%2C-Jones-Act-Exempt%2C-All-US-Waters-2611404/Belfast-/ME/United-States




I have e-mailed the brokers of these boats to set up showings.  Let the shopping begin.



2nd Attempt

The 1st attempt at telling my kids about the plan did NOT go well.  I waited, then tried again.


About 3 months passed before I brought it up.  I sat them all down one day and said, “So, have you guys thought about what we have talked about?  Selling the house and taking off in a boat to go see the world”, I said, with the utmost enthusiasm.  I explained that it would mean not going to high school where we live, but rather participating in an online high school curriculum.  I also told them that they wouldn’t be in school for 6 hours a day as they are now.  They could customize their own schedule, doing a few hours every morning, to allow for more free time throughout the day.  I explained that they will still have friends, other kids that are living the same lifestyle, and their buddies from home could visit the boat.  I passionately listed all the wonderful aspects of cruising:  We can go where ever we want. Stay as long or short as we choose.  Explore new places!  Meet new friends!  Try new foods!  Experience different cultures!

They were excited.  They began asking questions, again, but this time it was much more organized.  Everyone was listening attentively to each other talk, allowing me to finish my sentences, and interested in the responses.  It went VERY well.  They were all on board, and, looking forward to the great adventure.

Accept… of course… for the one kid, there’s ALWAYS, that, one kid.  This time, it’s my oldest son,  he still wants nothing to do with it.  I can’t say I blame him, after all, he’s 13.  He has just gotten a taste of freedom.  And… he’s an “Extreme-Social Butterfly.”  Has been since kindergarten.  This kid would get so many “play-date” requests, I joked that he needed his own secretary to schedule, and chauffeur to take him.  He was invited to play with kids he barely knew and got an invite to every party.  Nothing has changed now that he is older.  He is still in high demand.  His social calendar is on overload and sometimes I have to tell him, “No”, that he can’t go 3 places in one day, because he will run himself ragged, and has at times.  He is proud that he has so many ‘friends’, and enjoys them all.  His whole world right now revolves around his social interactions.  Luckily, he is a great judge of character for his age and he chooses to be ‘friends’ with nice kids.  He has no tolerance for mean,  and avoids kids that don’t behave appropriately.  Hopefully, his good judgement won’t be influenced negatively when he gets to High School.  I say, “when” he goes, rather than “if” he goes, because I know that there is nothing short of a miracle, that is going to convince this kid to come with us cruising.  Unfortunate, but true, because I would never force him.  Which brings me back to Plan A or Plan B.

I have to make a choice.  Go without him, in which case I would have to leave him with my brother to finish high school, or stay here until he finishes high school, then take off.  Unless…I can figure out a way to show him that he will love cruising, then hope he does.  This would definitely need to entail frequent contact with other liveaboard kids his age.  Not sure if it’s even possible.  I’ll have to research this further, but I know that we will go out our way, and plan our travel routes around the location of other teens and kids.


At this point, I have 4 out of 5 kids ready, and excited to go.  Not bad.  I just have to figure out what to do about that one kid…


Ways to Make Money While Cruising…Truth B Told

Cruisers:  Cruisers are those who travel while living aboard.  Some cruisers are underway daily, and some will anchor or dock at a location for extended intervals, a week, month or longer.  Cruisers are frequent travelers, always on the go.  Cruisers are always liveaboards, but liveaboards arn’t always cruisers.

Cruisers are a ‘tough’ bunch.  Traveling from place to place, the gypsy way.  There is always the concern of how one will survive while enjoying a life where your view changes every day, week, month.  This nomadic existence is reserved for the select few who are able to thrive without being completely strapped to a physical land commitment (a daily job).


Where DOES a cruisers money come from?


Passive Income, also know as residual income, is money that you receive without having to do very much.  There are many retired cruisers out there, and for a good reason.  Many live off passive income.  Some examples are social security income, pension, annuity, and 401k.  Passive income requires no maintenance.  Meaning little to no effort to continue the flow.  The check just comes in the mail every month, without having to do anything to generate it.  This type of passive income generally takes years of working and tax paying.  You cannot create this income over night.  Some will never be entitled.  Those who do will usually have to wait until retirement age of at least 62 to receive it.


What about the rest of us who want to go cruising now?  I have done some research on this topic.  These are some of the most frequently discussed and unrealistic ways of generating passive income for cruisers.


  • Write a book and get royalties – Easier said than done.  Your book better be a great seller.  It takes time to write a great book and many are just not that skilled.
  • Invest in stocks that pay dividends– Seriously? The first problem with this one is that you have to have money, to make money. The second problem is that it’s extremely risky.  If you don’t know what your doing, you could really loose big here and fast.
  • Bank and CD interest from savings – What interest? Banks interest rates are at an all time low in this economy.  To make a decent return, you have to put your money into foreign entities and that is risky.
  • Become a silent partner in a business – This one isn’t half bad.  However, if your going this route, you had better know the business is solid, and that you can trust your partner(s).  These perfect storms are few and far.


Not-So-Passive income There are plenty of other ways to generate income while cruising.  They require some or all of the following: time, knowledge, skill, maintenance and money.  All are realistic.


  1. Consultant -This requires knowledge.  No one is going to pay for your services if you’re not an expert in your field, but if you are, it’s a great way to generate income as a cruiser because you can consult via phone and web, right from your boat.
  2. Business (brick-and-mortar) – This one is very tricky.  You can make great money owning a business, but, someone has to run it (while your out cruising).  You can hire someone, but they better be good.  Also, this takes time, money and skill to be successful.
  3. Website Business (informational) – This requires skill and time.  But, if you have great content that others are willing to pay for, could be very lucrative.
  4. Internet Sales – This could be a great one, especially if you are able to network with a distribution company to ship product.  Don’t stuff your cockpit with neckties and coffee mugs 🙂
  5. Work- From- Home(boat) – All of the following can be excellent sources of income if you have the skill and time. They are also liveaboard friendly.  But, some do require a reliable internet connection, which can be challenging at times for cruisers.
    • Web Design
    • Software Design
    • Medical Transcription
    • Freelance Writing
    • Editing
    • Translation
    • Virtual Customer Service
    • Virtual Tech Support
    • Accounting Services
  6. Real Estate Investment – My personal choice.  This requires some knowledge and money.  There is also a time and travel commitment, unless you are going to be completely hands-off, by way of a management company.  If so, better be sure that the company that you hire is a good one.


Savings – Some folks, usually retirees, live off savings, sold homes with lots of equity and sold businesses.


Charter -There are cruisers that charter their boats while cruising.  This is an awesome way to get paid, while doing what you love.


Boat Delivery/Captain/Crewing– Another great way to make money while doing what you love.


Land Jobs – Couldn’t end without acknowledging that many cruisers pick up work as they travel from place to place.  They stay a while, feed the kitty, and keep it moving.  Some cruisers also pick up work from the dock from other cruisers; mechanical work, diving jobs, hair cuts and other services.


Our crew will travel on property investment income.  Perfect for cruisers 😉



Coming soon….Real Estate JUNKIE”