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Old 08-02-2012, 02:13 PM   #1
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Champagne Trawler Taste on a Beer Budget

My wife and I would love to move and live aboard a trawler or multi-hull when I retire in 10 years. We started looking at boats based on the features we want and the type of cruising we plan to do. EVERYTHING - even the used boats are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I am just a working stiff, not some multimillionaire. I will probably have little more than my social security when I retire. No way I could afford a 3k-6k a month boat note!

How does a couple like us ever afford to buy a good boat and live the cruising dream? We are really bummed out now.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:25 PM   #2
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Don't buy "new". There are an amazing amount of deals out there on used boats. If I could unload mine I'd jump on a substantially newer, bigger, better condition boat than I currently have for about the same as I paid 5 years ago.

It's a buyer's market.
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Old 08-02-2012, 04:17 PM   #3
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard Mr. frgeorgeh. As Mr. Lurker states, look at used. Now IF you are still seeing hundreds of thousands of $$, well, reassess the "features" on your boat wish list. I think it's pretty safe to say that most if not all the members here have a boat they like and enjoy but does NOT fulfill EVERYTHING they want in a boat. ANY boat is a compromise and only you can decide how much you want to compromise to get into boating.
Personally I'd love a brand new Fleming 55 but, hahahahaaa.....THAT ain't never going to happen even in my wildest dreams, even used, even at a fire sale price!!! Heck, I've never even been on one.
Trust me, there is a boat out there with your name on it. Don't get discouraged.
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Old 08-02-2012, 04:32 PM   #4
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There are many good to decent mid-sized trawlers out there in the $50-80k range with 2 staterooms, 2 heads, twin or single diesels, etc.
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Old 08-02-2012, 04:42 PM   #5
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By all means tell us some of the features/size you want and types of boats you've been looking at. Very few of us have the kind of coin to drop a couple hundred K on a boat either. Pretty much everyone starts out with a list of wants that is unobtainable to our means and more importantly needs.
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Old 08-02-2012, 04:52 PM   #6
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There are lots of good diesel cruisers out there for less than $100k. Even for less than $50k although unless you are looking at smaller boats like Willard 30s and Tollycraft 26s, anything much less than $50k is likely to require more work to bring it up to snuff than most people are willing to put in or pay for.

And you probably want a boat you can begin to use and enjoy right away even if it needs work, as opposed to a project boat that you'll spend the next year or more working on before you can even leave the dock (or truck it out of your backyard).

A rule of thumb I've included in a number of posts to new boaters on this forum is "buy the smallest boat you can afford." This does not mean to buy a boat that's too small for what you want to do with it, but for x-amount of dollars, the smaller the boat you buy the better condition or newer it will be.

So while your budget may let you scrape together enough to buy a 42' boat, that same money will get you a lot nicer or newer or both 36' boat.

The other thing to take into account if you haven't already are operating costs. You don't want to buy a boat and then find you have to move into a box under the freeway in order to pay the ongoing costs of boat ownership. And they are ongoing. The purchase price is only the begining.

So a rough rule of thumb when figuring out a boating budget is to use the average figure of ten percent of the purchase price of the boat per year as your operating cost figure. This includes everything except finance payments. So moorage, insurance, repairs, service, upgrades, etc. Some years will be less, some more, but overall the ownership costs of a used boat tend to average out at ten percent of the purchase price per year.

If a diesel cruiser like most of us on this forum have is not in the financial cards right now it's certainly possible to get out on the water for less. There is or was a participant on this forum who's taken a 20-something foot C-Dory (I think) all over the Pacific Northwest, the BC coast, and SE Alaska. There are boats like the Tollycraft 26 that can be had in excellent condition for the mid $20k range or less.

So figure out what you want to spend on a boat, what you're willing to spend on annual ownership costs, then figure out what you actually want to do with a boat, find out what sorts of boats are available within your purchase and opererating budgets, and then make whatever compromises are necessary to match "what we want to do" with "what kind of boat we're budgeted for." Then start shopping for that type of boat.

You may need to modify your boating objectives to match financial reality--- most of us have had to do that at least to a degree---- but that doesn't mean you can't have a great time on the water no matter what kind of boat you get.
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Old 08-02-2012, 05:02 PM   #7
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Well, don’t be bummed out as you have 10 year to plan/prepare. Why not do it now or sooner? You can become of live aboard anytime if you have the right boat for you needs. The costs of living aboard are off set by the cost it would have cost to living on the dirt. If we were not a live aboard, we could not justify/afford the coat of being a live aboard or even owning the Eagle.

The cost of the boat is dependant on the size, capability, and year of the boat which is in directly relationship to the area, climate and water you plan on living and/or cruising. So the first thing is determine the area/climate/water. In general the colder the climate and larger/rougher the water the bigger and more capable the boat. Once the area, climate, water, size and capability of the boat then your preferred layout/design, and the creature comforts required.

Of course you have to prepare a budget and/or how much you can afford for a boat, which will determine the year of the boat and the condition of the boat. The condition, lay out and creature comforts of the boat can be equal/more important then the year and/or band name. So if you plan/prepare, know the size and capability of the boat, then its a matter of finding actual THE BOAT that meets your budget.

If you can give some idea of what you have in mind, it would help.

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Old 08-02-2012, 05:08 PM   #8
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I sure appreciate all the replies. Yes, I have done some searching after reading the replies and have found some decent priced used machines.

Since we will live aboard I could not see owning anything less than 38' but would like to keep it below 50'. From what I have seen, mooring and upkeep go up astronomically if you go over the magic 50' mark. We have children and grandchildren so it would be nice to have alittle extra room for them now and then.

Also, My daughter in law is from Guatemala so an extended trip to Rio Dulce would be in the cards. If so, the boat needs to be in good shape or able to be made seaworthy without too much $$.

Again, I appreciate the feedback. We have a few years to get things lined up so, we are in a good place; just chomping at the bit to get under way!

Love the forum. Have been a lurker for a long time. I guess I have to stay out of that Passagemaker magazine@!!!! Fair winds to all of you.
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Old 08-02-2012, 05:14 PM   #9
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Oh, and to answer you Phil as to why we do not move aboard now? The wife really isn't ready to make the leap yet. I am leading her gently along. Besides, My poldest son, his wife, and 2 children just had to move back in with us so now is not the time. If it were up to me I'd go tomorrow and take my chances. I hate waiting!
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Old 08-02-2012, 06:11 PM   #10
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I guess I have to stay out of that Passagemaker magazine@!!!!
That would be a very wise move! being in Tx doesn't put you in the best place to see lots of different boats however...........You may want to look into converting a double-rigger shrimp boat or perhaps an old lugger! Big, very seaworthy, lots of room to customize. Just a thought
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Old 08-02-2012, 06:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by frgeorgeh
My wife and I would love to move and live aboard a trawler or multi-hull when I retire in 10 years...

...The wife really isn't ready to make the leap yet. I am leading her gently along...

We are really bummed out now.
Am I the only one who's hearing warning bells? I saw this identical situation with my dad "gently leading" my mom along on a multi-year project to build an Ingrid 38 that "they" wanted to sail around the world. It was not a mutual endeavor...
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Old 08-02-2012, 07:04 PM   #12
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I dunno my wife was hesitant about living aboard as her families' boating consisted of a 20'ish fourwinns cuddy/ski boat. I slowly introduced her to progressively bigger boats and now that we have the Mainship she's quicker to want to head out than I am! I think that by going in steps (we also were fulltime RVers for nearly 4 yrs) she has come to feel more comfortable in smaller dwellings and with fewer of life's accumulations than if I had bought a 44' Marine Trader and told her what ever doesn't fit aboard is sold or trashed, you don't get to keep it. Thankfully she has a very adventurish soul, and has come to trust some of my irrationality. I think when it comes our time to do the Loop or some other extended cruising I'm likely going to have a harder time leaving my stuff than her! Also by going in steps she has been educated to now have valid input on what she wants and what she needs in a boat. In fact after our last trip she finally said those words we all long to hear. "Next trip out I'm bringing a note book and I want to know everything you are doing and why, so that if I need to I can get us home!" Hell, my heart wuz grinnin', I was so happy that she is comfortable enough to want to learn more than just what I needed her to do.

You have 10 yrs?, use them productively to gauge her enthusiasm. For your marriage's sake you may have to settle for a nice weekender boat and move residence to an area that affords lots of cruising destinations.
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Old 08-03-2012, 11:13 AM   #13
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I am not sure what your experience is with boats and most of the people on this forum know a heck of a lot more than me, but from what I have seen starting smaller is much better. Your mistakes will cost you a lot less on a smaller boat. Maybe you should look into getting a smaller "weekend" type boat now so that you and your wife can see what it's like for shorter periods of time first.
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Old 08-03-2012, 11:32 AM   #14
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There is or was a participant on this forum who's taken a 20-something foot C-Dory (I think) all over the Pacific Northwest, the BC coast, and SE Alaska.
There are many CBrats who haul their CD22s alll over the country - there's an annual rendezvous at Lake Powell, and CBGT (CBrat Get Togethers) on both coasts. One ("Dr". Bob Austin - CBrat "thataway") is probably familiar to long-time trawler folks.

"JamesTXSD" hauls his boat from Texas to the PNW most summers - his thread "The Cruising Adventures of Wild Blue and crew" had post 2565 yesterday.

The point that I believe Marin was making is that there are folks who pursue something close to the "trawlering lifestyle" with trailerable boats. The NMPG of the most fuel-efficient trawler pales next to the mileage when hauled on a trailer - and avoiding moorage fees for 9 (or more!) months of the year saves significantly on expenses.
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Old 08-03-2012, 11:55 AM   #15
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Your wife might surprise you, as my wife found and bought the Eagle. We move aboard and our daughter and two grandchildren live with us for two years. For the last 14 years during the summer our children and grandchildren stay with us.

Before my wife met me, she was on a boat a couple of times, so we started with a 19 ft run about on lakes to fish/water sports and some day trips on the Puget Sound, bought a 28 ft for longer week end cruises. . Between the run about and the 28 ft we were on the water during the summer most days. One a warm, summer day we were across the Strait and got caught in some rough water, when she exclaimed, wide eye and white knuckled, “We need a bigger boat!”

So we decided to buy a boat 40 to 50 ft to be a dock side condo, and a more capable boat. At the same time, we started having grand children, which sort of changed her focus, to be big enough and comfortable enough for HER GRAND CHILDREN. Wehn she wnet on the our 58 ft said, "This is THE BOAT1" as it felt right to her.

So best to let her take the lead, and do not force her out of her comfort zone. As already said before, start small, get some boating experience/knowledge, and move up in size over time. We still have the run about moored along side the 58 ft which we use most summer days. During the summer we have adult children/grandchildren stay with us.
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:08 PM   #16
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Don't do what I did in waiting too long to retire before buying a boat and then find out you probably don't have near the years to enjoy your boat that you would like. Also, each year it gets harder to crawl around in tight places and do repairs. Like this moring after spending the last three days replacing my sanitation sytem on a 44' Tollycraft. Taking a lot of asprin today.
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:01 PM   #17
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My wife and I would love to move and live aboard a trawler or multi-hull when I retire in 10 years. We started looking at boats based on the features we want and the type of cruising we plan to do. EVERYTHING - even the used boats are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I am just a working stiff, not some multimillionaire. I will probably have little more than my social security when I retire. No way I could afford a 3k-6k a month boat note!

How does a couple like us ever afford to buy a good boat and live the cruising dream? We are really bummed out now.
If you're going to live on the trawler, sell the house and use the proceeds to buy (and maintain/operate) the boat.

If you don't own a house, well you're going to have to do some serious saving in the next few years.

It's not easy to own both a home and a large boat (or a second home). For those of use who work or worked for someone else, it's a matter of priorities. My wife and I didn't go on expensive vacations, trade our cars in every year, or spend a lot on entertainment or expensive restaurants. We lived in a decent home in a decent neighborhood, but nothing fancy. We put money into retirement plans. We did our own maintenance and repairs.

When we retired, we had enough money to retire to a better boating location and buy a nice used trawler. And enough to operate and maintain it.

You may have to adjust your lifestyle a bit but you can do it if you really want to.
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:18 PM   #18
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You may have to adjust your lifestyle a bit but you can do it if you really want to.
And that is what everything comes down to. Priorities #1. Planning #2.
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:54 PM   #19
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........... So a rough rule of thumb when figuring out a boating budget is to use the average figure of ten percent of the purchase price of the boat per year as your operating cost figure. This includes everything except finance payments. So moorage, insurance, repairs, service, upgrades, etc. Some years will be less, some more, but overall the ownership costs of a used boat tend to average out at ten percent of the purchase price per year..
I've seen this figure put out there many times, but I don't think it's anywhere close to reality.

The slip or mooring cost is the same for a brand new $300K boat as it is for a thirty year old $30K boat. You can expect the repair cost of a brand new boat to be zero (because it's under warrantee), but at thirty years, you could be looking at an expensive rebuild or repower. So, maintenance costs can be expected to increase with the age of the boat.

Some boat owners are able to do some, most, or all the maintenance themselves, while others have to hire sombody to change a lightbulb.

My costs have never been 10% of the purchase price of my boat (yet).
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:42 PM   #20
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When we retired, we had enough money to retire to a better boating location and buy a nice used trawler. And enough to operate and maintain it.

That's my plan. I'm looking at the Carolinas for retirement. COL in waterfront areas is something like 70% - 75% of what it is here. That just may be doable.
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