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Old 02-08-2017, 12:19 PM   #1
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Unasked Liveaboard Questions

There are several issues that we all seem to have dealt with yet the questions and their answers seem to largely go unasked and therefore unanswered. Maybe the reason is that some things that are obvious to the people who are doing something are not so obvious to those who are not. I am hoping that some full or part time liveaboards who are also cruisers can offer their opinions to someone who is not there yet.

As retirement nears, my wife and I are both on board with selling the big house, buying a smaller house on the Chesapeake for summer living near family and friends, buying the final trawler, first doing the great loop, and then spending the non-summer seasons exploring the ICW, Southwestern Florida, and the Bahamas. We have chartered fairly extensively. We know that we like boating with family and friends, like boating with just the two of us, like moving about, prefer anchoring, and prefer to stay in marinas only occasionally. However, limited chartering does not provide answers to all the things that a full time liveaboard will feel and encounter.

Questions would be:
· -How long does the average couple actually spend in the liveaboard and cruising lifestyle, 2 years, 6 years, 15 years, all of the above?
· -For couples who actually do this successfully for many years, is there a minimum and maximum size boat that you typically see them in? The minimalists, such as Captain John, advise “buying the absolute smallest boat that you can live with”. However, he does not boat with a spouse who also has to be happy with the accommodations, and seems to rarely have guests. On the other side, the “bigger is better crowd” advocate buying for comfort and accessibility. However, it seems that the extremists on that side often spend most of their time in marinas, actually cruise very little, may have more boat than 2 people enjoy handling, and may have difficulty finding slips when they do travel. So what size range of boat do you typically see successful liveaboard cruising couples in?
· -One stateroom or two? Does a second full sized stateroom make it more likely that family and friends will come to visit for a week or weeks, or does the second stateroom wind up being just used as extra storage space?
· -One Head or Two? Does a second head provide a worthwhile more enjoyable experience with guests, act as a good emergency head, or is it really unnecessary?
· -Is a stand up engine room worth it, especially as we age, or is putting on a pair of knee pads, opening a hatch in the floor, and climbing down a short ladder not really that bad? For stand up thinking KK44, Defever 45 aft, Great Harbor 37, 47. For less height in the engine room thinking Helmsman 38E, 44, or Swift 34, 44.
Any other things that should be considered by someone who has not yet taken the plunge from those who have? Thanks very much.
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Old 02-08-2017, 12:26 PM   #2
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The answers to each of your questions depends on the individuals involved. Anything that gets posted is an opinion based on personal experience.
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Old 02-08-2017, 12:39 PM   #3
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We did/do basically the same thing in reverse order, we spend about 5 months on the boat each year in the spring/summer.... For us having done this on a 42 with a single head, 2 srs and now the DF with 2 heads and three SRs. If you are underway 75% of the time and have guests on boards for only a few days the smaller boat worked for us. However as we have gotten older and have guests on board for longer periods of time the larger boat with 2 heads and SRs fore and aft is really nice... A stand up ER is another reason to go larger.... That said after about 4 months even the larger boat gets feeling pretty small.
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Old 02-08-2017, 12:41 PM   #4
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The answers to each of your questions depends on the individuals involved. Anything that gets posted is an opinion based on personal experience.
Yes, I accept that. However, I guess that personal opinions are what I am looking for. It seems that most boaters, myself included, form a rationalization that their own boat and lifestyle are the best. I accept that and try to look through it. However, if someone is actually doing this, then it is likely that I will feel the same way when I am in their shoes.
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Old 02-08-2017, 12:43 PM   #5
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. Just don't ask about anchors...At least, not yet. I think Mr. hmason is doing what you plan on doing but he has no shoes...
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Old 02-08-2017, 12:45 PM   #6
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We did/do basically the same thing in reverse order, we spend about 5 months on the boat each year in the spring/summer.... For us having done this on a 42 with a single head, 2 srs and now the DF with 2 heads and three SRs. If you are underway 75% of the time and have guests on boards for only a few days the smaller boat worked for us. However as we have gotten older and have guests on board for longer periods of time the larger boat with 2 heads and SRs fore and aft is really nice... A stand up ER is another reason to go larger.... That said after about 4 months even the larger boat gets feeling pretty small.

Thanks, sounds like you are leaning towards liking 2 or more staterooms and 2 heads. Long term thinking seems better, don't want to keep changing boats. Love the boat by the way. DeFevers just will never win an ugly boat contest.
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Old 02-08-2017, 12:47 PM   #7
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Yes, I accept that. However, I guess that personal opinions are what I am looking for. It seems that most boaters, myself included, form a rationalization that their own boat and lifestyle are the best. I accept that and try to look through it. However, if someone is actually doing this, then it is likely that I will feel the same way when I am in their shoes.
OK, here's your first question"
"How long does the average couple actually spend in the liveaboard and cruising lifestyle, 2 years, 6 years, 15 years, all of the above?"

The answer is, "It depends." Unless you die at sea, health problems will bring you back to land. You may have 20 or more years to live on your boat or you may drop dead the first day. "Average" means nothing here, it's when you start and your health and luck that determine how many years.
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Old 02-08-2017, 12:48 PM   #8
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3rd liveaboard....11 years total.
1st 30 foot sailboat in Ft Lauderdale.
2nd 37 foot sportfish, Chesapeake and NJ.
3rd 40 foot Albin, NJ summers, FL winters, passing 12,000 miles this year.

Liveaboards I have met are generally 2 kinds. Been doing it while young and still working and older, retired folk. The younger ones have a fairly high rate of continued liveaboard for decades. Often, less fortunate, sailor types, but love life. The older couples I would say do it for less than a decade on average, often medical or family pulls them back , or after a couple years cruising or a loop plus.....they realize it was more dream than lifestyle.

The more hobbies you have, the bigger the boat. My 40 is too small for me (and I am pretty minamalist) with a companion. Just the fishing and dive gear takes up a lot of storage as does the dingy pieces and parts. Add a couple bikes, grill, personal momentos, linens for 4 (guests), long term food and then the increase for guests......and you run out of storage quickly.

Definitely a second storage area...whether ever used as a stateroom or not, if you have guests bunk in the saloon. We call the vee berth the garage till guests come...then it is a scramble to find nooks to re-stow everything up there.

Second head...well can be a PIA if the only one breaks. Plus with guests...really cuts anxiety down. Many get by with one....till they have a boat with 2 and generally they become converts. Can be used for other things when guests aren't on board.

Stand up engine room to me is less important than a well laid out one and everything is accessible. In one year, good chance you are gonna have to get to many if not all the items. My engine is so low everything in the engine room is below knee level so I cleared all around everything so I wind up laying down for much of the maintenance anyhow. Or the whole deck comes up if need be and I can stand anyway.

The smallest boat that you can make work isn't necessarily dirt free live aboard advice. It has its place, but not for people like me.

There are 2 kinds of liveaboards. Those with a dirt addresses and those without. Make sure you talk to those that are closer to your desires for many things.

But most of all...after reading as much as you can....go spend a good bit of time with someone living on a boat similar to your circumstances and in your financial situation.

2 liveaboards can be lightyears apart in so many ways...but will have an appreciation for the other type. You will also learn more in a couple hours or days than you will from books, posts, training, etc.....
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Old 02-08-2017, 01:36 PM   #9
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Well not a true 12 month liveaboard, we do spend 6 months on board each year. There are already some good recommendations on this topic. My own views are you need a fairly large boat that you can handle on your own (say 50ft+ ) in an emergency, but can easily handle with your spouse. When living on board the comfort of having more than one head and extra cabin is a must in my opinion. We move every few days, and are frequently well away from services, and have to rely solely on ourselves. We carry a large amount of tools and spares, which we can repair most things in our stand up engine room with a decent well lit 36x24" work bench. With a 3 cabin 3 head layout you would thing we would have lots of storage. Ummh! It's amazing what you carry in tools equip, diving gear, ropes, spares, before you even thing about stocking for a 4-6 week cruise period. This all has to be stored somewhere. If you want to "liveaboard" in a marina then it's a smaller side you'd aim for (cheaper berthing, don't need storage, etc). But serious cruising requires a more comfortable vessel with lots of storage and privacy for guests. A broken head at sea can put any partnership to the test! And I guess I'm to old and cranky to repair stuff on my hands and knee's any more. I need the work bench, Vise, and good lights in a full headroom engine room with decent tools and equipment. My views anyway. So your choice is to cruise or to berth and walk the marina.
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Old 02-08-2017, 02:10 PM   #10
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard. Just don't ask about anchors...At least, not yet. I think Mr. hmason is doing what you plan on doing but he has no shoes...
Thank you. No, reading this forum for some time now (lurking) I think I will avoid asking about anchors, ideal number of engines, true blue water cruisers, and preferred hull shape, at least for a while.
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Old 02-08-2017, 04:18 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Kaz View Post
We know that we like boating with family and friends, like boating with just the two of us, like moving about, prefer anchoring, and prefer to stay in marinas only occasionally.

For couples who actually do this successfully for many years, is there a minimum and maximum size boat that you typically see them in?

-One stateroom or two? Does a second full sized stateroom make it more likely that family and friends will come to visit for a week or weeks, or does the second stateroom wind up being just used as extra storage space?

-One Head or Two? Does a second head provide a worthwhile more enjoyable experience with guests, act as a good emergency head, or is it really unnecessary?

-Is a stand up engine room worth it, especially as we age, or is putting on a pair of knee pads, opening a hatch in the floor, and climbing down a short ladder not really that bad?

Not a liveaboard, but I suspect it might be fair to suggest some of the "it depends" answers for questions like this depend more on your personalities than on the factoids themselves. If you're outgoing and would normally invite visitors, more stateroom/more heads. If you prefer maybe only occasional visitors, somewhere in the middle is relatively easy. If you prefer quiet and don't want no steenkin' visitors...maybe smaller is the answer.

IOW, there's a Goldilocks version out there, just for you... but the "it depends" part is very likely about you folks, not the boats themselves.

Note PSN's emphasis on storage area. I suspect that's more important for liveaboards than some of the other considerations.

We have a "crouch and crawl" engine room. It's OK for normal checks and routine maintenance. Moving fore and aft is the OK part; actually sitting on a toolbox and doing whatever work is relatively easy and can be quite comfortable. If I need to do more significant work, especially on the inboard sides of an engine, I can lift the saloon hatches. I guess my answer is "not that bad" -- and in our boat length and style, a full stand-up would be unusual (to maybe non-existent) anyway.

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Old 02-08-2017, 05:03 PM   #12
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Cristina and I have lived aboard for 8 years. The first 5 years I was still working in an office. Cristina works form the boat, and so do I now We have friends who are in year 33. As others have said, the end of the dream is often related to health issues. We are 38 feet only have one stateroom, but two heads (And a washing machine!). We cruise alat up and down the east coast. We do not miss the extra stateroom, it gives us ore living space. When family visits we pull into a marina with a hotel on site. It works out for us.
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Old 02-08-2017, 05:17 PM   #13
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I've lived aboard boats and ships most of my life, even when I had a shore job. I've seen dozens of couples come and go. Life is harder on a boat. Everyday chores like cooking or laundry are more difficult in confined spaces. Even worse if you have to haul laundry. Everything you eat, wear or use has to be hauled down a dock in whatever weather is happening and loaded on the boat. Comfort for some means a lot. Storage is another issue. Boat size does matter. If you entertain often, two heads are a must. Your guests are going to be much more comfortable in a cabin than sleeping on a couch or in the booth. It also allows time away from others.
Other than utility boats, the smallest boat I've owned was 55'. I didn't find length to be an issue when docking. But I've been handling vessels for 50+ years. My current 83' seems to fit any fuel or transit dock I choose to use.
From a old mans point of view, Happiness/longevity of couples on boats centers around comfort levels. Younger couples take the hardships better until babies come.
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Old 02-08-2017, 06:52 PM   #14
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We too were thinking of how to ask these same questions. Can't wait to see more opinions on this subject. Very helpful and thanks to all who have responded so far
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Old 02-08-2017, 07:12 PM   #15
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Questions would be:
· -How long does the average couple actually spend in the liveaboard and cruising lifestyle, 2 years, 6 years, 15 years, all of the above?

Wifey B: 4 years, 3 months, 2 days, 1 hour and 32 minutes. Really all the above. You need to ask what would make you leave? A lot leave very quickly because one spouse was dragged in, didn't jump in enthusiastically. Then others find either the work or the finances they terribly misjudged. I'd say after 4 or 5 years, most do like professional athletes and play as long as their body will hold up. Health eventually forces them away. You have a head start that you've practiced.

· -For couples who actually do this successfully for many years, is there a minimum and maximum size boat that you typically see them in? The minimalists, such as Captain John, advise “buying the absolute smallest boat that you can live with”. However, he does not boat with a spouse who also has to be happy with the accommodations, and seems to rarely have guests. On the other side, the “bigger is better crowd” advocate buying for comfort and accessibility. However, it seems that the extremists on that side often spend most of their time in marinas, actually cruise very little, may have more boat than 2 people enjoy handling, and may have difficulty finding slips when they do travel. So what size range of boat do you typically see successful liveaboard cruising couples in?

Wifey B: Oh, I love Capt John but he's an eccentric old fool too. He and his son do it. Notice no spouse involved. Read as many books by people who have done the loop as you can find. For Capt John it's the challenge to see how cheaply it can be done, but even he doesn't consider his ways normal. I think if you look around at those who have done it a long, long time 24/365 the boats have grown fairly large. A lot of 55-62 footers. Look on this site. However, you're keeping a house and that reduces it some. It depends on the type of boat, but most are going to find the living arrangements less than idea when they drop much below 40'. Above 50' the work, the handling and the costs do start increasing more rapidly. Most can handle up to 60' fine but the majority are comfortable with less so 40-50' seems to me to be the sweet spot. That's if there is one. I heard talk of a sweet spot on a golf club but I've never found one when I played.


· -One stateroom or two? Does a second full sized stateroom make it more likely that family and friends will come to visit for a week or weeks, or does the second stateroom wind up being just used as extra storage space?

Wifey B: Two. It's your home. The one on land is it going to be one bedroom? I didn't think so. Only if you don't anticipate family or friends. However, I sure wouldn't want to discourage family because I didn't have a place for them to sleep. 222222222.


· -One Head or Two? Does a second head provide a worthwhile more enjoyable experience with guests, act as a good emergency head, or is it really unnecessary?

Wifey B: Second verse, same as the first. Not just emergency as that is important, but have you and spouse not ever had the urge at the same time or needed something? And then with guests. Even more imperative than land since heads are not the size of land bathrooms.

· -Is a stand up engine room worth it, especially as we age, or is putting on a pair of knee pads, opening a hatch in the floor, and climbing down a short ladder not really that bad? For stand up thinking KK44, Defever 45 aft, Great Harbor 37, 47. For less height in the engine room thinking Helmsman 38E, 44, or Swift 34, 44.
Any other things that should be considered by someone who has not yet taken the plunge from those who have? Thanks very much.

Wifey B: A comfy engine room. Might not be full stand up height. Depends on your height. You could shrink a bit and more would be. It's not just the ceiling height but ever aspect of it. Can you get outside the engine? Can you get to the generator? What about the batteries. Oh, yeah....especially the batteries. Those suckers are freaking heavy you know. Think of all aspect of service. What about replacing fuel tanks? Replacing generators? Servicing the holding tank? Adding a freezer or watermaker? It's the totality and if it feels unworkable, it's not going to get better.
Wifey B: All good questions.
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Old 02-08-2017, 07:38 PM   #16
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Greetings,
Mr. K. Wonderful questions! We do NOT live aboard yet and may or may not in the future but given the fact we have a vessel (in the 45' range) WE think would be suitable I offer my comments.
2nd stateroom? Most definitely. Emptying out the v-berth or setting up the table for sleeping in the saloon gets old VERY fast. In spite of the fact I think we're running out of room, our 2nd stateroom stays pretty neat and orderly and it only takes minutes to ready it for company. Of course, the "stuff" ends up in the v-berth but that's another story.
The "stuff" issue brings up another item that's already been mentioned-storage. I have spares and tools stored in various nooks and crannies throughout the boat and it bugs me to no end. In MY case I wish I had just one extra locker (4'x4'x6'H) in which to consolidate everything. Alas, it is not to be...If the Admiral buys one more folding chair I think I'll....again, another story.
1 or 2 heads? 2. NO question.
Stand up ER. Well, even with a stand up ER there are STILL tasks that require one to pretzel-ize themselves but far, far fewer than with just a crawl space.
In spite of the fact The Admiral and I have been getting along well (I think) for the last 47+ years or so, it's still nice to be able to have extra space to relax and have some "me" time.
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Old 02-08-2017, 08:32 PM   #17
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We have lived aboard for 6 years now. First 1 1/2 years on a 25' sailboat, 4 years on a 36' trawler, the last few months on a 29' power boat. We just bought a 38' power boat with 2 SRs and 2 heads.

We have found a few things to be of more importance than the length over all.

Our short list of must haves:
Comfortable place for each of us to sit.
Comfortable place for each of us to sleep.
An adequate galley.
Two separate areas. So she can crochet and watch her shows and I can listen to music or just do my own thing.
Two heads, at least one has to have a separate shower stall.
Two state rooms so our kids can come visit us comfortably.
A place to install a small washing machine. (don't need a dryer)

We found all of these on a 36 and 38 foot boat.
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:19 PM   #18
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We have been living aboard for 6 years. It started as a 6 month experiment on a 36' trawler. We decided we loved the lifestyle after 2 months and knew we needed more space. We bought our present 46' trawler and would be happy with even another few feet.

Two heads are a must for us as is a second stateroom. We also find a washer/dryer a must have convenience. Our engine room is "almost" stand up and is a great convenience for working below. The "almost" part is where one bumps their cranium.

The last item that is a must is a strong steel reinforced safe for my dwindling pairs of shoes.
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:27 PM   #19
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Is there room on a boat for a model railroad?

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Old 02-08-2017, 09:35 PM   #20
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Greetings,
"Is there room on a boat for a model railroad?" Sure Mr. mp. Put it on your fly bridge...wait, what? Nice work. You do that yourself?
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