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Old 09-18-2014, 06:35 PM   #1
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Boat choices for liveaboards

Ahoy!

I am a fairly experienced sailor owning a 33 ft Catalina 320 docked in San Francisco Bay. I live by myself in a 750 square foot 1 bedroom apartment. Selling my beloved Catalina, and moving from my rented apartment, I am now seriously considering buying a larger boat and become a liveabord! Unfortunately sailboats are out of the picture for liveaboards for me, I considered living aboard my sailboat but it is way too small for me, I really need a lot more space (even for a single person) to comfortably stay and work. My biggest considerations are:
  • A spacious and bright saloon/living area which I can also use as an office (I work from home most of the time, doing IT work). So I need to move my large wooden desk with all my electronics on it (several monitors, phones, docked computers etc).
  • A comfortable and large master stateroom. A big bonus if it can get some light in.
  • A comfortable shower with enough water pressure, hot water etc (this has been the major issue in all the boats I have been in, they are good for a few days but not a full time liveaboard. I like my long showers and I don't like going to the marinas or yacht club for taking shower)
  • Washing machine/dryer onboard.
  • Owning a sailboat, I well know that boats are not investments and they do deprecate in value. I accept it. But the more it can retain its value over time, obviously the better it will be for me. I would hope to be able to sell it for a reasonable price if I decide to move on to something else.
My budget is plus minus $200k and I am looking at boats at around 55 ft. Some might consider a 55 footer too big for a single person but leaving my current accommodation and current boat, I think that's what I will need to be comfortable to live and work in.


I will probably continue sailing with a club so the main purpose of the boat will be a liveaboard. I mean I am not planning to log a lot of hours taking the boat around, probably day trips in the bay once in a while.



I am reasonably experienced with sailboats but nearly clueless when it comes to motor boats. I single-hand a lot on my sailboat and I can see myself doing the same on my new boat if make that switchover. I have never been a racer and speed has never been a major concern for me. Coming from sailing world speeds and not being worried about tacks and jibes, I think any speed around 10 knots will be more than enough for me



What kind of recommendations would you have both in terms of characteristics of the boat and brands and other things? What should be the key things that I pay attention to? My initial research so far got me to trawlers, hence my post in this forum.



As an example, I have found a 55 Symbol Yachtfisher and a 56 Ocean that really look nice from their photos. They are both from early 90s. But I haven't physically seen them. I don't know how they compare in terms of brand value, perceived quality or market acceptance, I am really in the very early stages of my research. Once again, the interior and liveaboard conditions are really important for me. And if it doesn't burn hundreds of dollars an hour, it will be good as I want to move it once in a while, even in shorter distances. And right now, I move around only with the sound of wind!



Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-18-2014, 06:45 PM   #2
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You could get a nice Hatteras 53 foot motoryacht for that budget which fits all your specs, very high quality and is still supported. For a single person, a 48 might be an even better choice.
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Old 09-18-2014, 09:09 PM   #3
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Have you ever spent time on a powerboat in the 35-60' size range? If not, I'd suggest trying to do so. Perhaps chartering. You need some basis for knowing what you like and don't, what is really important to you and what isn't. You have the water and hot water part down. What about galley up or down? Do you want a flybridge? How much will you cook and how important is food storage or counter top? Will you have guests? Or will the other staterooms be primarily for storage? How do you feel about teak and the upkeep? Which is most important, inside or outside space? Helm up or down or both?

There are a lot of choices that might be great for you, but other than knowing the sailboat doesn't have enough space, you need to know other things. You'll be amazed at the odd small things that you may find are big to you.
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Old 09-18-2014, 10:00 PM   #4
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You could get a nice Hatteras 53 foot motoryacht for that budget which fits all your specs, very high quality and is still supported. For a single person, a 48 might be an even better choice.
I agree. Excellent value and famous layouts for full time live-aboards. The only others I might add are the big Bayliners, 4588 and 4788 Perhaps not as rich in the interiors, but great spaces and great values.
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Old 09-18-2014, 10:58 PM   #5
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You could get a nice Hatteras 53 foot motoryacht for that budget which fits all your specs, very high quality and is still supported. For a single person, a 48 might be an even better choice.
Good suggestions for OP's scenario. They really do have a lot of space aboard, and the big old DD's wont be too much of issue if you aren't often going anywhere. Eventually you could get rid of them, and install a 300HP single and just cruise at displacement speeds. In the process you would liberate a heap of space for a workshop/man cave.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:24 AM   #6
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You might discover that your going to be limited in choices out there solely by which boats available allow you to keep using the slip or allow liveaboards. This is especially true if you want to be in a good area that's warm, and has parking. Been there-tried to do that.
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Old 09-19-2014, 09:13 AM   #7
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You could get a nice Hatteras 53 foot motoryacht for that budget which fits all your specs, very high quality and is still supported. For a single person, a 48 might be an even better choice.

Yep, I'd think the older 48-58' Hatteras MYs and yachtfishers and so forth would all be good candidates in that price range.

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Old 09-19-2014, 11:18 AM   #8
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You might discover that your going to be limited in choices out there solely by which boats available allow you to keep using the slip or allow liveaboards. This is especially true if you want to be in a good area that's warm, and has parking. Been there-tried to do that.

A very good point not to be overlooked prior to a purchase commitment. I've read tales of woe on a couple of Bay Area boaters purchasing their liveaboard dream only to find out they couldn't be aboard more than 3 days per week.

There are some ways around it,sneak aboards, quasi transients and such but thinking about getting away with it on pier 39 is not practical. Delta marinas tend to have more options but are hardly anything like SF proper.
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:29 AM   #9
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Thanks BandB. I haven't spent any meaningful time on a powerboat and I agree I should find a way to do so before any purchase. I don't know how though, not sure what rental options are out there.

Beyond that, I almost never cook and the kitchen and food storage are not really important to me. I have lived in quite many places (this is actually the third continent I live in) so I think I nailed the critical components for me to feel comfortable in an accommodation: Spacious and bright living area/office; A good bed which doesn't make me claustrophobic after a few days and a relaxing shower. With those three, I am happy. If I can accommodate a couple as guests, it would be great but it is not a must. In my 1 bedroom apartment, I don't have that option. When I have guests, I give them my Catalina ;-)

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Have you ever spent time on a powerboat in the 35-60' size range? If not, I'd suggest trying to do so. Perhaps chartering. You need some basis for knowing what you like and don't, what is really important to you and what isn't. You have the water and hot water part down. What about galley up or down? Do you want a flybridge? How much will you cook and how important is food storage or counter top? Will you have guests? Or will the other staterooms be primarily for storage? How do you feel about teak and the upkeep? Which is most important, inside or outside space? Helm up or down or both?

There are a lot of choices that might be great for you, but other than knowing the sailboat doesn't have enough space, you need to know other things. You'll be amazed at the odd small things that you may find are big to you.
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:31 AM   #10
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Thank you. This is indeed the case in SF Bay marinas as they are obliged to limit liveaboards to 10% of available slips.

That said, I have already identified a marina that has liveaboard permit for a 55 footer (permits are based on slip sizes). I have been their tenant with my Catalina and I have a good reputation with them, also one of the best looking boats in my dock, so they want to retain me as a liveaboard

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A very good point not to be overlooked prior to a purchase commitment. I've read tales of woe on a couple of Bay Area boaters purchasing their liveaboard dream only to find out they couldn't be aboard more than 3 days per week.

There are some ways around it,sneak aboards, quasi transients and such but thinking about getting away with it on pier 39 is not practical. Delta marinas tend to have more options but are hardly anything like SF proper.
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:38 AM   #11
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Boat choices for liveaboards

That's great news but I would try to nail that down in writing. Taking the slip and paying for it in advance of the purchase if needed.

We have considered buying a boat in Santa Cruz we really don't like just for a slip in the harbor. Some areas are crazy around here.

Edit: There's a couple of older fiberglass 50ish foot Chris Crafts in the area that may work well for both your needs and budget.
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:57 AM   #12
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My vote is for the Hatt as well. Timeless design and quality (in the right maintained yacht) IMHO.
The 61MY has been on my shortlist for when I make the jump. Has to be the teak interior version though.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:01 PM   #13
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Some bigger and older (upper 40' and up) Chris Crafts made of fiberglass make a great affordable live aboard, really anything large that floats works, this whole equation changes when you would like to travel often or travel great distances.
Your washer/drier requirement might require you installing them as that is not the most common feature on boats.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:13 PM   #14
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Thanks Mike. Doing some quick lookups on yachworld Chris Crafts look good inside.

If I consider doing one 1000nm trip every year, how would this affect your recommendation? Am I right to interpret that Chris Crafts should be less desirable if I intend to take the boat out in the ocean even once in a while?

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Some bigger and older (upper 40' and up) Chris Crafts made of fiberglass make a great affordable live aboard, really anything large that floats works, this whole equation changes when you would like to travel often or travel great distances.
Your washer/drier requirement might require you installing them as that is not the most common feature on boats.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:19 PM   #15
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That changes the equation for any boat you will look at, and that is, where in it's life cycle is it, how was it maintained before and are there service records that show it was well cared for in the engine room. This also effects the price of the boat as well. Traditionally when I hear live-aboard it means the boat doesn't move, why, well its your house, you have $hit everywhere, to stow everything and untie all the lines, water and electric is considerable effort, this is when you see a smaller boat along side they jump in for rides.
Again just my personal observation, but I'm sure there are people that live on and travel around, but then you are getting into another class of boat.
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Old 09-19-2014, 01:12 PM   #16
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First let me address the 1,000 mile trip question. Presumably you would go north to the PNW and BC or maybe south to Baja. Either are possible with a 50' motor yacht. But you are probanly going to have to develop a lot more seamanship experience or find someone to go with you who already has it.

The Detroit Diesels that were referenced for the Hatteras will make that kind of trip just fine if they are in good shape. But they are noisy, smelly and leak oil.

Also consider Defevers.

I am impressed that you have a line on a liveaboard slip in SF. I thought that would be impossible.

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Old 09-19-2014, 01:23 PM   #17
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Let's see ....1000 miles at 1 nm/gallon is 1000 gallons at $5/gallon is $5,000

1000 miles at 4 nm/gallon is 250 gallons at $5/gallon is $1000

Can you absorb $4000/year for fuel to buy a boat that's possibly $50,000 less than other alternatives????

Sure there's endless possibilities...my example is just one I had to decide for myself...no one else can possibly say it could be better or worse without pages of possible responses.

As far as liveaboard...NEVER listen to someone that isn't or hasn't for many years. I have lived aboard 3 different boats for over a decade now and everyone could be gotten underway in less than an hour...to survive a hurricane???...maybe not but gotten underway to move from port to port in reasonable weather.

It just depends on what your attitude and seamanship skills are.
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Old 09-19-2014, 01:28 PM   #18
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Noticed two different concepts raised in this thread. The live aboard in one marina with the boat used as a substitute for a house with occasional use as boat to travel, and the cruising boat on which the owner(s) live for months at a time (perhaps full time) and travel to different places.

The needs of the liveaboard and the cruiser are different. An excellent boat in one situation may not work well in the other. For example to live aboard in a marina may not require an efficient diesel engine, whereas it maybe a requirement for a cruising boat. Same with battery, 12, radar etc.
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Old 09-19-2014, 01:33 PM   #19
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250 gallons at $5/gallon is $1000
Hmmm....sounds like Chinese math!
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Old 09-19-2014, 01:35 PM   #20
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While I agree there's a laundry list that many cruisers "want"..it is not necessarily a "necessary" list. Usually there is a difference between a dock condo and a long distance cruiser..but there's definitely a gray area that if you color in the lines...clouds most arguments.

Many long distance cruisers (loopers) do it with gas engines, no radar, no laundry, not even a decent fridge...if one thinks through THEIR PARTICULAR situation...there are many possibilities.
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