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Old 06-05-2022, 09:30 PM   #1
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Which boat would you buy, solo liveaboard, $100k budget

I'm going to be buying a boat to live aboard in a month or so. There seem to be just tons and tons of good options in my price range, so I figure it's best if I ask for advice early in the process.

My budget isn't super firm, can make it work up to about $250k. But I'd rather go with a well found old boat that costs less than a newer, nicer boat. The nice boat is planned for 3-4 years from now, so the more I save today the nicer a boat I can get then.

Aside from power, my needs are pretty modest. I'm going to be working full time from the boat (software engineer), and listening to a generator all day every day sounds awful. So I'll need either lots of solar+lithium or to spend weekdays plugged into shore power. Solar strongly preferred, l'd much rather spend my time on anchor than in a slip. From what I've seen it looks like I'll be installing that myself, not a lot of trawlers seem to have big solar arrays, or even have the space for them without adding a hardtop.

I don't need much personal space, so I'm fine with smaller boats. I was planning to buy a sailboat and go cruising before I got this job offer, so even the smallest trawlers have loads of space compared to what I was planning for. I suppose more space is better so family can visit in more comfort, but it's a relatively low priority.

I have lots of experience on much smaller boats, but none on anything as big as a trawler. So ease of operation for a single hander is a must. I figure that makes a bow thruster a key feature, and somebody mentioned ease of access to the side decks, but otherwise I really don't know what to look for here. All my research on single handing was centered on sailboats.

I'm an avid fisherman and will try to spend every waking minute fishing if I'm not working. Probably I'll have lines in the water while I'm working. Sorry my task is late, boss, but this salmon isn't gonna land itself! I don't know if any trawler is particularly well suited to fishing, but if there is one I'd love to know.

I've been looking hardest at the Grand Banks 36 and Tollycraft 40 Tri Cabin, but I'm open to all suggestions. I'd like to split my time between the Columbia River and Inside Passage. Absolutely no project boats, I just don't have that kind of time.
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Old 06-05-2022, 10:33 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by GoodShipLollipop View Post
I'm going to be buying a boat to live aboard in a month or so. There seem to be just tons and tons of good options in my price range, so I figure it's best if I ask for advice early in the process.

My budget isn't super firm, can make it work up to about $250k. But I'd rather go with a well found old boat that costs less than a newer, nicer boat. The nice boat is planned for 3-4 years from now, so the more I save today the nicer a boat I can get then.

Aside from power, my needs are pretty modest. I'm going to be working full time from the boat (software engineer), and listening to a generator all day every day sounds awful. So I'll need either lots of solar+lithium or to spend weekdays plugged into shore power. Solar strongly preferred, l'd much rather spend my time on anchor than in a slip. From what I've seen it looks like I'll be installing that myself, not a lot of trawlers seem to have big solar arrays, or even have the space for them without adding a hardtop.

I don't need much personal space, so I'm fine with smaller boats. I was planning to buy a sailboat and go cruising before I got this job offer, so even the smallest trawlers have loads of space compared to what I was planning for. I suppose more space is better so family can visit in more comfort, but it's a relatively low priority.

I have lots of experience on much smaller boats, but none on anything as big as a trawler. So ease of operation for a single hander is a must. I figure that makes a bow thruster a key feature, and somebody mentioned ease of access to the side decks, but otherwise I really don't know what to look for here. All my research on single handing was centered on sailboats.

I'm an avid fisherman and will try to spend every waking minute fishing if I'm not working. Probably I'll have lines in the water while I'm working. Sorry my task is late, boss, but this salmon isn't gonna land itself! I don't know if any trawler is particularly well suited to fishing, but if there is one I'd love to know.

I've been looking hardest at the Grand Banks 36 and Tollycraft 40 Tri Cabin, but I'm open to all suggestions. I'd like to split my time between the Columbia River and Inside Passage. Absolutely no project boats, I just don't have that kind of time.
Some advice- research thoroughly what you are getting into. Being a liveaboard is fantastic and the dream of many, but there are many ramifications that are often not taken into account.

First- the vessel. get the best you can afford, with the equipment you want already installed. Adding solar, large battery banks, electronics and such can be done- but at a cost. Look at vessel construction, and research single vs twin configurations.

Next- the slip. Finding a liveaboard slip in Puget Sound can be akin to seeking a unicorn. Most marinas have a multiple year waiting list for slips, and double that for liveaboards.

Third- insurance. The older the vessel is, the more a challenge insurance can be- and doubly so for liveaboards. This ties into the 4th consideration:

You. Do you have the ownership skillset that underwriting is looking to offer coverage to? A trawler is a markedly different vessel from a runabout- more system/subsystems onboard, windage, weight, etc. Do you have the shiphandling skills to stay at anchor for a prolonged period of time, or to handle the emergency that will come up? Coastal navigation is another skill not to be lightly.

This decision is not a place for ego to reign supreme- as a vessel owner, you have a responsibility to others on the water, as well as to your vessel.

Think carefully and move with purpose.
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Old 06-05-2022, 11:03 PM   #3
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Welcome to TF.

Good luck with your search. Boat is less important than the logistics, primarily sufficient internet to support your remote work. Plus getting insured Plus finding a live aboard slip. Plus learning the ins/outs of keeping a boat from committing suicide.

As an aside, the boat market is typically a buyers market (last couple years notwithstanding). Mistakes can jam you up for a long time and drain you pretty quickly if you're not well capitalized. Especially a boat with plenty of teak.

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Old 06-06-2022, 07:22 AM   #4
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If I were planning to do what you are, the Krogan Manatee would be at the top of my list. Huge interior and fly bridge room, but at the expense of docking- no side decks.

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Old 06-06-2022, 07:40 AM   #5
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When I say I can make up to $250k "work", what I mean is that spending up to $250k on the purchase of the boat won't affect my long term plans, not that if I spend $250k I'm broke. Just to be extra conservative my annual budget includes 30% of purchase price in maintenance and a $40k refit. Obviously I'd prefer to spend less than that, but if that's what it takes to make this work then that's what I'll spend to make this work.

And yes, I know that boats take a lot of work, both skilled and unskilled. I'm not particularly concerned about my ability to learn these new skills. Will it be hard? Yes, of course. I've done a great many very hard things in my life, including things I was told couldn't be done. I don't believe something being hard is a good reason not to try.

Insurance is something that I am actually a bit concerned about. But from what I've read I can probably satisfy the insurance companies by hiring a captain to give me so many hours of instruction on my boat. That sounds like just a good idea in general, and if it also solves the insurance problem then even better.

Liveaboard slip in Puget Sound isn't something I think I need? I don't plan to stay in any one location for especially long, much less near Seattle where the slips are the most crowded. The biggest reason I want the boat is so I can go someplace quiet, I'm very happy to spend my time hundreds of miles from Seattle in some quiet coastal town. Or better yet a nice anchorage where I can do some fishing and crabbing. As I said, I'm planning to split my time between the Columbia River and Inside Passage.

The internet connectivity issue seems reasonably well solved by Starlink. Deprioritized service, but that's unlikely to be especially disruptive. You'd think I wouldn't be able to tolerate interruptions in service due to my job, but I can actually do a lot of my work entirely offline. Unless outages are frequent and stretch for many hours at a time, they probably won't have that much impact on my productivity. I'll have cell service as a backup, assuming I'm close enough to a tower.

If anyone has thoughts or critiques on my answers to these questions, I am all ears. That's why I'm here, after all. But I really was hoping to get some boat recommendations in this thread so I can go see some of them in person before I start the new job. So if we could also answer the question I asked in parallel, I would appreciate it.

Thanks!
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Old 06-06-2022, 07:44 AM   #6
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If I were planning to do what you are, the Krogan Manatee would be at the top of my list. Huge interior and fly bridge room, but at the expense of docking- no side decks.

David
Thanks for the recommendation!



The Manatee is one I'd seen on YachtWorld but hadn't paid a lot of attention to. I'll go back and pay more attention now!
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Old 06-06-2022, 08:00 AM   #7
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For single handed operation, I would focus on something with great visibility of the bow and stern from the helm to aid is docking as well as a configuration that is easy to move around the boat particularly between the helm station(s) and cleat location. You can fish off of any boat but it is much easier with a cockpit with a deck height pretty close to the waterline, it makes landing fish much easier as well as reducing fatigue from any rocking.

A sedan configuration would be my suggestion to provide these characteristics, preferably one with a door opening to the side deck. A sedan won't have the rear cabin but for living alone your could probably get by with the space in the forward cabin(s) and salon. You mention a preference of anchoring which certainly reduces the frequency of close quarters maneuvers but you will always need to dock periodically for fuel and pump out, if you have a boat that is easy to operate, you will get underway more often.

There are a few trawler owners on here who have very successfully run larger boats in tri-cabin or pilot house configurations single handed but I would argue that they are above average in experience and confidence in boat handling.
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Old 06-06-2022, 08:07 AM   #8
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For single handed operation, I would focus on something with great visibility of the bow and stern from the helm to aid is docking as well as a configuration that is easy to move around the boat particularly between the helm station(s) and cleat location. You can fish off of any boat but it is much easier with a cockpit with a deck height pretty close to the waterline, it makes landing fish much easier as well as reducing fatigue from any rocking.

A sedan configuration would be my suggestion to provide these characteristics, preferably one with a door opening to the side deck. A sedan won't have the rear cabin but for living alone your could probably get by with the space in the forward cabin(s) and salon. You mention a preference of anchoring which certainly reduces the frequency of close quarters maneuvers but you will always need to dock periodically for fuel and pump out, if you have a boat that is easy to operate, you will get underway more often.

There are a few trawler owners on here who have very successfully run larger boats in tri-cabin or pilot house configurations single handed but I would argue that they are above average in experience and confidence in boat handling.
Thanks, this is exactly the kind of info I need!
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Old 06-06-2022, 08:11 AM   #9
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Your original question is super-vague. Akin to "what kind of car should I buy?" Or "what kind of mate should I marry?" Wafting along the Columbia and Alaska as a full-time work-aboard/anchor-out cruiser learning all the ins/outs of maintaining a boat sounds incredibly romantic but it's naive. Frankly, it's not all that hard, but it does take a lot of time and trial-and-error.

If your only question is "What kind of boat should I buy?" there is a lot you don't know, and don't know that you don't know (harder to write than to
say). You are more worried about solar panels (useless for much of the winter in PNW) than about having an accessible dinghy. Whats your plan for getting to a grocery store from time to time?

Sorry to sound a bit harsh, but sounds like you've fallen in love with a GB36. Great little boat. Personally, I'd go with something with better access to outside space like the Europa suggested up-thread; or a KK42; or a Convertible/Sportfisher. But in the end, the boat will have relatively little bearing on whether your idea is a dream or a nightmare.

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Old 06-06-2022, 08:22 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Gdavid View Post
For single handed operation, I would focus on something with great visibility of the bow and stern from the helm to aid is docking as well as a configuration that is easy to move around the boat particularly between the helm station(s) and cleat location. You can fish off of any boat but it is much easier with a cockpit with a deck height pretty close to the waterline, it makes landing fish much easier as well as reducing fatigue from any rocking.

A sedan configuration would be my suggestion to provide these characteristics, preferably one with a door opening to the side deck. A sedan won't have the rear cabin but for living alone your could probably get by with the space in the forward cabin(s) and salon. You mention a preference of anchoring which certainly reduces the frequency of close quarters maneuvers but you will always need to dock periodically for fuel and pump out, if you have a boat that is easy to operate, you will get underway more often.

There are a few trawler owners on here who have very successfully run larger boats in tri-cabin or pilot house configurations single handed but I would argue that they are above average in experience and confidence in boat handling.
I prefer sedans because I find the space more usable - I really like a covered aft-deck; and I find a flybridge a bit detached from the living space. I find most tri-cabins are pretty easy to dock by simply reaching through the side window where the helm is. Sure, I'm a decent helmsman, but this isn't a tricky technique. Besides, the OP doesn't plan on spending much time at marinas anyway.

By far the most difficult for me to dock solo is an aft-cabin motoryacht style with a full-width aft cabin. Provides a great living space for outdoors. The Defever 44 is an example - and the problem is greatly reduced by the additional 5-foot cockpit (44+5 model vs the Defever 49 which is a Pilothouse model). Hatteras also has some of these types of cockpit-stretched models. Another mitigation is a Yachtmaster-style remote control if you're comfortable with them (and can afford the hefty price of system).

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Old 06-06-2022, 08:31 AM   #11
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Your original question is super-vague. Akin to "what kind of car should I buy?" Or "what kind of mate should I marry?" Wafting along the Columbia and Alaska as a full-time work-aboard/anchor-out cruiser learning all the ins/outs of maintaining a boat sounds incredibly romantic but it's naive. Frankly, it's not all that hard, but it does take a lot of time and trial-and-error.

If your only question is "What kind of boat should I buy?" there is a lot you don't know, and don't know that you don't know (harder to write than to
say). You are more worried about solar panels (useless for much of the winter in PNW) than about having an accessible dinghy. Whats your plan for getting to a grocery store from time to time?

Sorry to sound a bit harsh, but sounds like you've fallen in love with a GB36. Great little boat. Personally, I'd go with something with better access to outside space like the Europa suggested up-thread; or a KK42; or a Convertible/Sportfisher. But in the end, the boat will have relatively little bearing on whether your idea is a dream or a nightmare.

Peter
This seems kind of unnecessarily hostile? And is making a lot of assumptions? Have I offended you somehow?

Just because I didn't mention the dingy you think I don't think it's important? You say I've fallen in love with the GB36 because I said I was leaning that way based on my initial research? The whole point of this thread is asking for suggestions on boat, I don't see how you can come away from that thinking I've already made up my mind on the boat.

I appreciate the input, but maybe there's a less antagonistic way to do this?
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Old 06-06-2022, 08:58 AM   #12
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I believe you are off to a good start and asking the right questions. Look at as many boats as possible, ask owners what they like about their boats, what they don't like about them and how they use them. Most boat owners love to pontificate about their hobby and current and past boats and you will be pleasantly surprised how accommodating they will be, opinionated and generous with pontifications but you can easily sift out the B.S. Walk any docks that you can access and ask around, compliment the looks of his or her boat, and most boaters are glad to talk.

Focus on features you like rather than brand a model otherwise you may overlook some great options. Relative to the number of recreational boats sold, "trawlers are a niche" and is easy for shoppers to get tunnel vision focused on one or two brands or models. There is limited value in having a popular boat (aside from resale) as the builders don't provide much support in the way of replacement parts but they frequently use common parts from the limited number of marine hardware vendors, such as electrical components, mechanical components, hatches, etc.

Yachtworld seems to have dumbed down their advanced search so you can't search by configuration as easily but I believe boats.com still allows searching by configuration.
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Old 06-06-2022, 09:13 AM   #13
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Get up to Anacortes and walk through a bunch of boats at Banannabeltboats. This will give you a good sense of the space/layout of various boats and what you get for what you pay, this would take just a day. This cannot be done on the internet, you have to be in the various different boat spaces/interiors as this is where you will spend the majority of your time.

Have you ever brought a boat around the outside solo? If you haven't, suggest you find a crewing spot on something going north or south. That one trip will tell you if your desired lifestyle is something you really want to pursue. The North Pacific can be a cruel teacher/mother, and school out there runs 24/7 nonstop.

Ima flybridge sedan guy like Weebles, good layout for my needs. And...if you think his little poke is antagonistic, just wait until you take on the North Pacific at night to like maybe change out a raw water pump impeller or deal with crossing seas. Whatever you are not good at, the ocean finds a way to poke at that relentlessly, its not about stuff being hard.

Good luck on your search and change in lifestyle.
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Old 06-06-2022, 09:13 AM   #14
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I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I'm usually a really nice guy, especially with newbies. The idea of crowd-sourcing a decision from scratch just seemed like it needed a dose of reality versus "how did you feel when you boarded a GB36?" Good questions would have been "I looked at XYZ and ABC boats and like this-or-that about them. Here's what I intend to do with them. Any feedback?"

That said, I love these little Roughwater 37s. Would be my choice over a GB36 but mostly because I've developed an alergy to teak decks; and as mentioned, I like sedan layouts. Classic Ed Monk design. Fiberglass (vs the 36s were wood topsides). Single engine gives a verys serviceable engine room. Dining table would provide a decent office-space.

https://www.yachtworld.com/yacht/198...sedan-8231113/

Traditional style, new Cummins.

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Old 06-06-2022, 09:43 AM   #15
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Get up to Anacortes and walk through a bunch of boats at Banannabeltboats. This will give you a good sense of the space/layout of various boats and what you get for what you pay, this would take just a day. This cannot be done on the internet, you have to be in the various different boat spaces/interiors as this is where you will spend the majority of your time.
Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check them out.


Quote:
Have you ever brought a boat around the outside solo? If you haven't, suggest you find a crewing spot on something going north or south. That one trip will tell you if your desired lifestyle is something you really want to pursue. The North Pacific can be a cruel teacher/mother, and school out there runs 24/7 nonstop.
Nope, never done it. All my boating experience has been in the Gulf of Mexico or inland waters (Mississippi river and its tributaries, mostly). Unfortunately joining a crew isn't something I have time for, new job starts a week from today. Moving the boat down to the Columbia won't happen for quite some time, and I'll probably take on crew for the trip, at least the first time.



Quote:
Ima flybridge sedan guy like Weebles, good layout for my needs. And...if you think his little poke is antagonistic, just wait until you take on the North Pacific at night to like maybe change out a raw water pump impeller or deal with crossing seas. Whatever you are not good at, the ocean finds a way to poke at that relentlessly, its not about stuff being hard.
The comment on being antagonistic isn't about me being thin skinned. It's that I don't think criticizing somebody based on your assumptions is very useful. If somebody wants to criticize my actual plan, even very harshly, then I'm happy for your input. But if your input is that I'm being closed minded about which boat to buy and my plan to waft around without an accessible dinghy is naive, then that doesn't help me because that's not my plan and I'm not at all decided on which boat to buy yet.
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Old 06-06-2022, 09:50 AM   #16
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Some advice- research thoroughly what you are getting into. Being a liveaboard is fantastic and the dream of many, but there are many ramifications that are often not taken into account.

First- the vessel. get the best you can afford, with the equipment you want already installed. Adding solar, large battery banks, electronics and such can be done- but at a cost. Look at vessel construction, and research single vs twin configurations.

Next- the slip. Finding a liveaboard slip in Puget Sound can be akin to seeking a unicorn. Most marinas have a multiple year waiting list for slips, and double that for liveaboards.

Third- insurance. The older the vessel is, the more a challenge insurance can be- and doubly so for liveaboards. This ties into the 4th consideration:

You. Do you have the ownership skillset that underwriting is looking to offer coverage to? A trawler is a markedly different vessel from a runabout- more system/subsystems onboard, windage, weight, etc. Do you have the shiphandling skills to stay at anchor for a prolonged period of time, or to handle the emergency that will come up? Coastal navigation is another skill not to be lightly.

This decision is not a place for ego to reign supreme- as a vessel owner, you have a responsibility to others on the water, as well as to your vessel.

Think carefully and move with purpose.
"Dreamers" need to read and re-read this post.

I really like liveaboard life, but it is not for everyone.
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Old 06-06-2022, 09:53 AM   #17
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Get up to Anacortes and walk through a bunch of boats at Banannabeltboats. This will give you a good sense of the space/layout of various boats and what you get for what you pay, this would take just a day. This cannot be done on the internet, you have to be in the various different boat spaces/interiors as this is where you will spend the majority of your time.
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Old 06-06-2022, 09:56 AM   #18
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I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I'm usually a really nice guy, especially with newbies.
No hurt feelings, just mistaken assumptions that I'd prefer not to spend time batting back. My day job involves me submitting all my work to a team of people to tell me everything I did wrong, with my boss in the audience. You're not going to hurt my feelings by pointing out my mistakes or errors in judgment, trust me.



Quote:
The idea of crowd-sourcing a decision from scratch just seemed like it needed a dose of reality versus "how did you feel when you boarded a GB36?" Good questions would have been "I looked at XYZ and ABC boats and like this-or-that about them. Here's what I intend to do with them. Any feedback?
Noted, thanks for the advice.


I could have been clearer about this in the original post, but from what I've looked at, virtually every boat in my price range seems to tick most every box I know to put on my checklist. That's why I made the post, so I could learn from you guys the things that should be on my list but aren't.



Quote:
That said, I love these little Roughwater 37s. Would be my choice over a GB36 but mostly because I've developed an alergy to teak decks; and as mentioned, I like sedan layouts. Classic Ed Monk design. Fiberglass (vs the 36s were wood topsides). Single engine gives a verys serviceable engine room. Dining table would provide a decent office-space.

https://www.yachtworld.com/yacht/198...sedan-8231113/

Traditional style, new Cummins.

Peter
Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check them out.
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Old 06-06-2022, 10:04 AM   #19
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Naaah, I don't think you're closed minded, or you wouldn't still be here! There is a helluva a lot of valuable experience here from so many good people, its been invaluable for me, you have just scratched the surface. And the internet is not always the easiest way to comm, meanings/interpretations get screwed up and then have to get sorted out.

Think about freezer/fridge space, what you eat/how you cook. "Boat" groceries always seem to cost more and are more hassle to get to the galley than land lubber lifestyle. Doing dingy runs in the rain can be annoying (or fun!) I tripled the freezer/fridge space on my boat to extend my stays at anchor, flex solar panels bring the battery bank up on sunny days, but I have had to spin the genny a couple times in summer when cloudy weather reduced solar. And I keep a folding Dahon bike on board in a bag, that helps in some ports of call.

If you will have a dirt home addy, that simplifies where your boat is registered too.
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Old 06-06-2022, 10:08 AM   #20
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If it’s a lifestyle that appeals to you, then for sure try it. I think finding a slip where you can plug in, have water, etc would make for a better transition though. My father lived on his sailboats in the harsher east coast for years and loved it. I was thinking I could easily live on my 60’ trawler, but as much as I like anchoring out, being on a dock is so much easier and frankly more social, if it was to be full time. Then I’d cruise from there. I was reading about people who got heavily discounted live aboard slips in front of the Empress hotel area in Victoria for the winter months and that might be ideal.

You need to decide the trade off of beamier inside versus walk around decks. I chose the covered euro style side decks.

Insurance won’t be hard in the size you are talking about provided you don’t go wood hull or too old. I’m not sure about how insurance companies feel about live aboard though. Your driving and credit records will be an important factor for them.
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