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Old 10-10-2013, 12:22 AM   #1
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First Question from the New Guy (long)

OK, this is actually just one question, expressed in a REALLY long-winded way. Mea Culpa and apologies.


I'm looking ahead to some unknown point in the future when I'd like to try living aboard a boat. I'm thinking that this will probably be more than a year from now but less than ten. Maybe 3-5 years from now is a good guess, but that's all it is.


So I'm thinking, if I'm going to live aboard a boat, first I need to figure out what's "liveable".

Here is what I know...

I'll be single-handing. It's just me and the dog, and I don't trust her to man the wheel while I try to tie up. I already know this has some implications in terms of LOA, Beam, visibility, control layout, access, etc.
BUT... for the moment I'm more interested in just the LIVING aspect of it.

If I can use Nordic Tug as an example, I have had more than one person point me at a model 34.

But then I think...
Is that big enough?

Maybe a Model 39 or 42 might be a better choice?
Is a 49 too big? What makes a boat too big?
If I'm looking for a boat that is big enough to feel comfortable while I'm inside it, at what point does adding more size start to have diminishing returns?

As in, it's getting bigger but it's not adding all that much to the feeling of spaciousness but the disadvantages are mounting quickly.


I know that I want to have good access to the engine in terms of an ability to get to everything without being a contortionist and the smaller the boat is the worse the access gets.

On the flip side, the bigger the boat gets the more I spend on everything from fuel to docking fees, not to mention limiting the places the boat itself can go due to draft and clearance; so I don't want to go TOO big.

I know I want a comfortable head, both for the sittin' & readin' part and for taking a shower; but of course... I'm not going to get anything like a land based bathroom without moving into Yacht territory and barring a lucky lottery ticket; that ain't happening.

Docking other associated fees are obviously impacted by size. I'm an IT contractor and I like the idea of having the ability to look for work anywhere from Anchorage to Duluth when any given contract is up. So there is a practical upper limit for size, but I don't know what that is.





OK, so... here's the multifaceted question...



Realizing that this is ultimately something I will have to decide for myself, I figure there must be a general range of boat size that I should be looking in.

On the low end, when do I start running into constraints like not having enough elbow room, bathrooms being too small, engine(s) being hard to get to, etc?


On the high end, at what size would I start running into rapidly escalating costs, diminished access to docking facilities, problems with skinny water, etc...?


Without looking at a single boat I am guessing that I would find a boat in the low 30's too confining and one in the 70+ range to be absurd. I have a sneaking suspicion that 40-something would be right, but I have nothing to base that on besides a gut feeling.



What I'm really looking for here is the voice of experience...
Mistakes even.


Did you ever find yourself in too small a boat? What size was it and what made it too small?


Same question on the other side of the coin...


Have you ever found yourself in too big a boat and what was it that made it too big? At what point did the disadvantages start adding up a lot faster than the benefits?


OK, if I keep talking I'll be in deceased equine abuse territory, so I think I'll just hit submit and see what y'all have to say.

And thanks in advance for any thoughts on the subject, no matter how small.
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Old 10-10-2013, 02:35 AM   #2
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MC-- Sent you some things to think about.
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Old 10-10-2013, 05:24 AM   #3
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Is a 49 too big? What makes a boat too big?

When you can not safely move the boat alone.There are 25 ft boats that stink and 50 ft that are a piece of cake.
Basically you need to be able to step from the controls to a low enough deck that you can get a line from a midship cleat to the cock.

40 ish is plenty big to live aboard ,expense and complexity will depend on your location.
Size does NOT equate to a comfortable , pleasant to live in interior.
Good ventilation , good seating , easy to use -cook clean shower- good lighting and easy to move about is a start.

Air cond 24/7 or heat in the north for 4-5 months may need to be added to your purchase.

Expensive IF you can install it , REALLY expensive if a boat yard does it.

Go look at , go aboard boats from 35 to 50 and you will soon decide how much volume is just a waste of space.
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Old 10-10-2013, 06:14 AM   #4
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You might want to step back and think about what you want/need on a boat and how you are going to use it. Decisions about whether you need a separate "office" on board for your work, size of galley and refrigeration, washing machines and other items will influence your final decisions. Since you are single handing you may want a boat controlled from a pilot house and not a flying bridge. These types of decisions will affect your decision on the size of the boat.

In your situation where you are unsure of what works best for you you may want to avoid any boat that will require you to make substantial additions / changes / repairs. These seldom pay off financially.

You may find yourself buying a boat and getting experience, determining what you really want and then buying a second boat.

Take a close look at the Nordic / American Tugs in the 34-40ft range and see if they can meet your needs. These boats, among others, meet many of the needs of a single hander, are not expensive to maintain, and might provide the space you need.

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Old 10-10-2013, 09:32 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by MC Escher View Post
OK, if I keep talking I'll be in deceased equine abuse territory, so I think I'll just hit submit and see what y'all have to say.
Well, you are an IT guy, indeed! Given your long description of exactly what you "think" you want, I've found the perfect boat!

Seriously...a 40-50' Europa style boat is a great live a board.

http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/cate...anks/42+Europa
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:40 AM   #6
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Now that's an interesting vessel! And it floats!!! It is a cat tied up to a trimaran?

Mr. Ecsher.
My recommendation at this stage is that you visit as many boat shows and trawler fests as possible. Speak with the people with boats. Visit as many marinas as possible and make friends. Visit boats as you were a potential buyer and get inside of them, sit down. pretend you're at the wheel and run to the bow/stern and see if you're fit to manage that boat on your own. As FF said, size is irrelevant
In my home town there's a guy who just made his 4th turn around the Globe solo, this time is a 65' 3 mast sailboat. He's 64 y.o.

So, as you can see, he proved that for him 65' is ok!

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Old 10-10-2013, 09:40 AM   #7
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MC Escher,

If you'll pardon the expression, "you and I are in the same boat"...I posted a similar question and received many excellent insights. I have attached a link to the thread below...the thread did sort of "drift" off into a discussion of docking techniques (which was enlightening as well)

The main "thrust" of the advice was do your research, and based on your life style requirements, comfort threshold, etc. find the smallest boat which will meet those needs, being it is a 32 footer or a 50 footer. One size does not fit all. Along with the "comfort/needs equation you need to weight the fact that bigger means more work, more expense etc. You mentioned single handing, so the layout of the boat is important as well, i.e. access to the deck from the helm etc. As I said input from the more experienced members can be found in the attached thread which discusses these points in greater detail...

Biggest Boat for Single Handing
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Old 10-10-2013, 10:37 AM   #8
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I would first talk/walk the local marinas and yards to see what marinas allow live a boards, what slips are available, and the wait time, and yards to see what is the biggest boat they can handle/lift. The marina and yard will probable decide the max size and weight. Then decide the layout and design the meets your over all needs/wants, which will eliminate a large % of boats you will be looking at. Then decide the other major factors like, single vs. twin, heating and/or AC, fuel/water/sanitation tanks, how many bedroom/bathroom, galley up or down, creature comforts. Electronics and toys should be last on your list as they can be easily added/chnaged.

My biggest advise is to make sure you bring a female along with you as they look/view boats/things differently than a male. So you might buy the greatest male cave, but a female may say no way. Also looking at boats is a great way to meet and date females. If you already have a SO make sure you let her take the lead and you follow her at first to see what her likes/dislikes. If you do not then at least tie one hand behind your back, and restrict your let movement to 2 ft. If you can not get on/off the boat then don’t expect females and children to!

I let my wife take the lead ans she bought me the Eagle! So you might be surprised with what you end up with.
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Old 10-10-2013, 12:58 PM   #9
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I think that you have to look, look and look some more to find out what suits you.

A very good live aboard cruiser friend of mine has a 45' CHB. After he removed the dinning table and bench seat, the main salon is huge. Three people can sit around and BS in club chairs and another 2-3 can fit in with folding chairs. But it feels like an intimate living room, and not so much of a boat.

But he has very little open cockpit seating area except for the flybridge up top. A fly bridge would be useful for hanging out, if you had a full bimini covering the helm and the seating area behind it.

Sundeck trawlers seem to give the best outdoor seating area with their big aft cockpit.

My full time cruising boat was a 35' sailing catamaran. It had decent room down below but not a wide open feeling like the CHB. But I spent most of my time in the cockpit. It was wide (hey it was a cat) and comfortable. It was protected by a dodger and integrated bimini that provided protection from sun and rain. And I just liked spending time outside where I could take in the view. That kind of environment is available on Europa style trawlers. And also consider the sundeck style referenced above.

So, like they say, whatever floats your boat. Only you can decide.

David
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Old 10-10-2013, 01:05 PM   #10
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Howdy!... err "Ahoy"!! Welcome aboard TF...

I recommend that you "Get Your Feet Wet"... ASAP... with a fairly inexpensive boat (actually, soon as you know a bit more and feel at least somewhat ready to buy). Try out the lifestyle! You sound as though you'll love it!! Then, in a few years when you know more about boating and are really ready to live aboard... you may want to sell your first (inexpensive) boat... and purchase the boat that can truly suit your needs for years to come.

I think most of the important items to your questions have been tended to via experienced boaters' posts on this thread. One you asked/mentioned is usually glossed over and not too well discussed.

I.e. engine room/compartment access and its “working area” head and elbow room. Very important topic to me, 61 yrs, 6’ 1”, 245 +/- lb lifelong weight lifter... who appreciates “room” to function and who really enjoys personally keeping all my mechanical items in top shape! J):

1. No matter the size of boat... its engine compartment/room layouts can either be a Bitch – or – a Joy to function in.

2. No matter the type or number of engines / fuel tank proximities / gen-set area... as well as other under deck paraphernalia – Some boats are sweet, others are a prune!

3. Very important (to me) is being able to often (if not always) stand up straight as well as to have ample light and the engines/tanks etc being in positions so that all (at very least nearly all) portions are relatively easily attainable – at the drop of a hat!

There are a myriad of reputable builders’ “classic” (in other word “well aged”) boats “floating around” on the pleasure craft “for sale” marine market. Start looking carefully by actually visiting aboard boats that are for sale and start getting the “feel of the deal”. Personally, for live aboard as well as cruising comfort I recommend tri cabin boats in the size range you seem to fit, i.e. 34’ to 48’. Tollycraft, Hatteras, Chris Craft, Bertram, Sea Ray, Bayliner, Carver are a few makes you might like to look into/own. Used boat market is still pretty much a buyer’s market, deals can be made! Condition of an older boat is pretty much dependent on the care given by the previous owner(s) as much or more than the good build-out from its manufacturer (although junk is junk – no matter how well taken care of).

I also recommend you begin to REALLY deeply search into all the several facets of Yachtworld’s many thousands of ads. The descriptions and photos/videos as well as the equipment lists will give you a virtual reality tour into boat types and their accommodations. Important point – Be very careful of any wood on any boat, and, be sure to have a reputable marine surveyor and marine engine mechanic fully check out any boat before you purchase.

Your boat-learning curve is currently pointing straight up. I believe that if you attack your “need to learn” with ample gusto that within a year or two your learning curve will begin to settle toward a less steep angle that eventually reaches a more standard 5 to 10 degree up-curve... then, just like all boaters need to (should) do – Ya simply keep on learnen mo bout boats!

Happy Boating Daze! - Art
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Old 10-10-2013, 02:12 PM   #11
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...a few considerations...

Space is the number one consideration for most live aboards. That said, do you want to live inside the boat, or is outside deck space important to you. If it's the latter, you need to decide if a trunk cabin, a tug, or a sedan/Europa really cut it in that regard. A sundeck gets you the best compromise of inside and outside space, but will increase stairs and ladders.

Where will you be boating? If it's the Pacific Northwest, you'll be living inside the boat much of the time. If you're spending summers on the Great lakes and heading south for the winter, then you will treasure that outside deck space.

Can you see out the side windows when you're sitting in the main salon? Many boats have side windows that are positioned so high you have to stand to see outside. Looking at the four walls, let alone the wall of fiberglass parked next to you gets tiresome if you're stuck inside a lot of the time.

Can you and your significant other find private space inside the boat....and I'm not talkin' about one sitting in the salon and the other in the head. Is there space for one to watch a movie and the other read a book?

As for slip size...40-50's are fairly common on the Great Lakes. Bigger not so much.

We live aboard a 44 sundeck (40' plus 4' cockpit)...during the summer. Wouldn't want anything smaller. The cockpit is important for launching the dink, floating docks, line handling, and dog access.
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Old 10-10-2013, 05:28 PM   #12
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My attention span won't let me read every last word of every post, but...

  1. make a long list of what you think you want on an excel spreadsheet.
  2. Then give each item a 1,2, or 3 with 3 being the most-preferred and 1 being "meh".
  3. Now go visit marina after marina and in-water boat shows and trawlerfests.
  4. Be bold, accost owners you see with the question "how do you like your boat?" Many cases you'll get a tour.
  5. Then revisit your list.
  6. Repeat until boat purchase.
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:16 PM   #13
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Thanks y'all...

I appreciate all the replies, as well as the private messages.

Right now I'm at the asking questions stage and I can easily spend a year here.

I did notice how often people mentioned boats in the 45 foot range, so I've got to figure that would be a good place to start "trying them on".
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:49 PM   #14
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What is your idea of camping?

A. A tarp, a sawed off toothbrush, and eating berries you collect.
B. A tent, a backpack full of freeze dried food.
C. A car, a 3 room tent and a cooler.
D. A camper van and a 12v TV set, and fridge.
E. Diesel pusher RV, matching paint job car behind, and a yappy dog.
F. Banff Springs Hotel

Same question goes for boating. How it is defined depends more on the person than the equipment.
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Old 10-10-2013, 10:04 PM   #15
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to me...living aboard is a two part thought process...

The first is pretty easy...how much space can you live in and will anyone else be using it....I wound up with a good size dog in addition to a girlfriend...wish I had 2 more feet of boat just for the dog. Along with the space you require is how many hotel creature comforts do you want and how pretty does it have to be. As I said...that's the easy part.

Now for the tough one...if you cruise it and all you ever do is read a book a bit, walk around town and row your dingy...not much extra boat is necessary over part one.

But if you like to or think you will bicycle, fish, SCUBA, do major repairs requiring an onboard workshop, carry lot's of memorabilia, etc...etc...then adding 2 feet here and there for all your interests/hobbies will be necessary to store that stuff.

Those that have never lived aboard really often forget all the little things that they have at HOME that they would never live without...but will tell new boat buyers..."oh...go the smallest you think you can live with"...yet the reality is...often what you really want/need is gonna be cutoff by your budget anyhow...so the "other" expression is buy as big as you can afford to get/run...but remember that's ONLY for liveaboards and almost full timers as the rest never would really get their money's worth out of the bigger boat.

I've lived aboard 3 boats...30' sail in Ft Lauderdale - 3 years (much younger), 37 Sportfish in Annapolis/NJ for 3 years...and now my 40 Albin going on 3 years.
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Old 10-10-2013, 10:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
to me...living aboard is a two part thought process...

The first is pretty easy...how much space can you live in and will anyone else be using it....I wound up with a good size dog in addition to a girlfriend...wish I had 2 more feet of boat just for the dog. Along with the space you require is how many hotel creature comforts do you want and how pretty does it have to be. As I said...that's the easy part.

Now for the tough one...if you cruise it and all you ever do is read a book a bit, walk around town and row your dingy...not much extra boat is necessary over part one.

But if you like to or think you will bicycle, fish, SCUBA, do major repairs requiring an onboard workshop, carry lot's of memorabilia, etc...etc...then adding 2 feet here and there for all your interests/hobbies will be necessary to store that stuff.

Those that have never lived aboard really often forget all the little things that they have at HOME that they would never live without...but will tell new boat buyers..."oh...go the smallest you think you can live with"...yet the reality is...often what you really want/need is gonna be cutoff by your budget anyhow...so the "other" expression is buy as big as you can afford to get/run...but remember that's ONLY for liveaboards and almost full timers as the rest never would really get their money's worth out of the bigger boat.

I've lived aboard 3 boats...30' sail in Ft Lauderdale - 3 years (much younger), 37 Sportfish in Annapolis/NJ for 3 years...and now my 40 Albin going on 3 years.
Good post with lots o' reality included. So, to assist the decisions of a new to boating, eventual wannabe live aboard... Did you then and do you still love it!?!?

Inquiring minds wana kno!
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Old 10-11-2013, 06:48 AM   #17
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Have always loved living aboard and never really been able to afford both a big boat and a place ashore....so when my lifestyle has allowed it...I have lived aboard.

While I hate the ties of having any dirt dwelling items.... many times having storage , a place to work/do repairs and a place to go in emergencies/large scale boat work sure would be nice. Then once on the road cruising...that place and things stored just are something that may require your attention or money and just become a distraction.

So the ideal liveaboard has so much storage space you never fill it up, has staterooms at either end so while projects are going on they can be done in peace and not impact living aboard and are inexpensive enough that moving ashore temporarily while in the yard is not a burden on your budget.

You definitely have to have either the right mind set to live aboard and full time cruise....even part time cruise like I am for a couple more years...or enough money that ultimate flexibility is at your fingertips.
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:56 PM   #18
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Best advice I ever got was like what Irdiverdan posted: Don't buy the biggest boat you can afford, buy the smallest you can live on. We did that and ended up with our 36' Gulfstar. Are things cozy? Yup. Have we adapted? Yup. Do we enjoy being on the boat? Most definitely!!!! Make your wants and needs list, then take a REAL hard look at each item. Most folks think they need far more than they really do. KISS is the way to go. If you have the bucks, go for the gold. If you have a budget, you can do with less and get on the water sooner. Your mechanical ability and time to work the boat play a big part also.
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Old 10-12-2013, 01:30 AM   #19
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I skimmed this only since this question is common so I may have missed this suggestion.

CHARTER
a few times. You will need to get an operators card and some experience from a hands on teacher. They are out there.

Talk to a few charter companies and find out what they require from you. Then try a few charters and find out how you like it and what you like about a few different vessels. You may not find all the boats that are similar to what you think you want but you will still be way ahead in the game of decisions, learning something practical to apply to your dream.
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:57 AM   #20
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I skimmed this too. Saw recommendations for Europas from Walt and I believe others. And it looks like he's looking for a live aboard. Walk around side decks for a live aboard???? That's just nuts.

I agree w the poster that a sundeck for a live aboard either makes sense or is close to the only excellent choice. Most all are beamy boats that would make the most space aboard for the moorage. And the porch on top closed in would make a wonderful place to have tea w a good book in the evening.

As a boat I don't care for them at all but as a live aboard boat they seem perfect. I've seen live aboard boats in Alaska built up from fishing boats that basically built a 2 story house onto the big aft deck. In profile they looked much like a sundeck. On a sundeck one could build up a nice big room on the sundeck itself and get even more great space.

I know little about living aboard a boat and have no desires to that end but there must be many other things like plumbing, insulation and heating, condensation and many other things that could ruin a live aboard boat choice that could otherwise seem perfect. Beyond the obvious of space for a given amount of moorage I'm sure there are many other very important elements of what's best for a live aboard boat.

I may not ever have entered the live aboard thread but a good objective discussion of what's best may make for a good discussion. Just posting the name of your favorite boat won't be interesting OR productive for the OP or anybody else that has a need or interest.

It may be a little like anchoring in that it's easy to forget that the bottom of the sea floor is the most important element of anchoring and the moorage place or site may be the most important element of living aboard. Moorage is so cheap in AK living aboard is common but there are big downsides to living aboard in AK. Eighty knot winds and the high cost of everything else come to mind. Moorage is cheap because of huge injections of money from down south pays for most everything.

Perhaps the best advice to the OP is or would be to read the archives in the live aboard thread. I might learn something there myself.
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