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Old 01-26-2020, 02:54 PM   #1
City: Heppner
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Pros and cons

Looking for advice....researching boats for a live-aboard and traveling. Can anyone, WHO HAS LIVED ON ONE, give me pro’s & con’s to a 60’ yacht as a retirement home vs a 40’?

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Old 01-26-2020, 03:28 PM   #2
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City: Little River, SC
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Vessel Name: Memory Lane
Vessel Model: Pacemaker 40 Motor Yacht
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We lived on our 40 foot Pacemaker flush deck MY from 1985 - 1995, during that time we had a renter in our house, therefore the incoming monthly rent was great cruising money. Back to your question. 20 extra feet would increase the costs of everything. Sometimes it is difficult to find a slip or anchorage for a larger boat, especially on holidays. On the positive side the larger the boat the less it responds to wakes and wind, therefore a smoother experience both underway and at anchor. If I had to choose I think I would choose the 40 again. We never thought it was too small.

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Old 01-26-2020, 03:49 PM   #3
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We've not lived aboard for very long but after selling our house lived on our 40' PH trawler briefly before buying and moving aboard our current 54' PH trawler.

A few observations from a "home" perspective:
  • Living and storage space increases dramatically with each LAO foot and especially each foot of beam.
  • You'll find more three stateroom boats than one or two. Important if you have family returning for holidays' or friends and family occasionally cruising with you.
  • Outdoor spaces go from small and multi-functional to large and dedicated (cockpit, boat deck, etc)
  • Two people can prep, prepare wash in the gallery vs one.

From a "boat" perspective:
  • Systems are generally the same (engine, genny, sanitation, water, fuel, etc.)
  • Some systems get more complex or there will be more than one (2 heads vs 1)
  • Moorage is harder to find
  • Costs by the foot increase (haul outs, etc)
  • If you are a DIYer, there is just more boat to wash, repair, clean.
  • Running the boat isn't too different, although for us, our larger boat is a single and the smaller boat was a twin which represents most of the difference for us when docking or locking.
  • You see more stairs between levels than ladders which is nice on old joints. At our age this is nicer for our parents when they are with us than us, but that day will come soon enough.

We're an active couple with two large dogs and three kids (all either on their own or in college). 40' wouldn't work for that, 54' works very well. We looked at a few boats over 60, mostly flush decks which are like the split entry ranch of boats, and felt they were almost apartments. For us they seemed too large for two people 90% of the time but certainly had nice accommodations for family and guests the other 10% of the time.

Complexity of systems seemed to jump up over 60' as well, mostly in electrical, HVAC, etc.
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Old 01-26-2020, 05:37 PM   #4
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This is a very personal decision. What was right for us is very likely irrelevant to you.
We (a middle aged couple) lived and cruised full time on a Hatteras 56MY (around 61' LOA) for several years. We loved it, and the more we had it the more we were so glad we bought it. So what? It would probably be a bad choice for a lot of people. Is this going to be a docked boat or a cruising boat? If the latter, what waters? How many people? Age? Infirmities? Boating experience? What boat design, layout and ergonomics exactly? Two 60 footers can be completely different in overall size and liveability.

One of the great truisms in boating, coined by the late Skipper Bob, is "buy the smallest boat YOU can be comfortable on, not the biggest boat YOU can afford". We'ven know folks who lived on and cruised very happily (including Bob and spouse) on 36 footers.

"There's the Right Way, the Wrong Way, and what some guy says he's gotten away with"
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:35 PM   #5
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While we have not lived aboard for extended times, you are talking about 2 different classes of boats between a 40’ and a 60’. There is such a difference between the two that it almost isn’t the same discussion. What I would suggest is to define what you need and then what you want. Pick a boat that fits that criteria not just a size. Don’t get hung up on what size the boat is, rather look at what features the boat has and do they meet your needs and wants. Part of that is what the boat costs, not just price but ongoing maintenance and upkeep. A 40’ boat will have relatively smaller systems that are easily maintained by a DIY owner. A 60’ boat will have much more complex systems that may need paid workers instead of DIY, or a whole lot more DIY than the 40’.
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:41 PM   #6
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When comparing a 40' and a 60' you're really comparing extremes a bit. It makes sense for your pros and cons question. However, don't delude yourself to thinking a 60' is 50% larger than a 40'. It's closer to double the size. Measure volume, measure usable space and that's how it turns out. That said, there are many boats between those two sizes and if one finds 40' isn't enough, then 45 may be or 50.

Going from 40' to 60' is like going from a 600 sq ft apartment to a 1200 sq ft one. Now following that analogy, the 1200 sq ft would have a larger kitchen but is that important to you, a larger living area but do you need it, and a second or even third bedroom but do you have a use for them. A second bathroom but do you need it.

Also, no two boats of the same size are the same.

You need to experience some boats, not necessarily the ones you'll end up with but to really figure out what size works for you. That's why many of us recommend chartering. You will find what you like, but most importantly what you don't like, what doesn't work for you.

Keep in mind what works for you on land. Do you have more house than you need but have it all filled up? Does downsizing feel good or like deprivation? Do you live as a private couple with few visitors or do you always seem to have people over? Do you take trips alone or with others? You really need to examine yourselves, know yourselves, and, most of all, be honest with yourselves. I know I'm spoiled, my wife is spoiled, and we're not willing to give that up but it comes at a price. It requires space. Could we live happily in a 32' boat? If that's all we could have, we could. But would we choose to? No. Right or wrong, too many things we've grown accustomed to.
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Old 01-26-2020, 07:01 PM   #7
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My current boat is 83' and the smallest private boat I owned was 65'. I rarely stay at marinas so have no comment on finding marina space. However, I have always found a private or commercial dock I could stay at with power and water. I have a private dock now where I stay in the winter. Summer cruising I only stop at commercial fuel docks, otherwise I anchor and use a 16' Bayliner to make shore trips. If I'm going to be in an area for some time I may rent space for the Bayliner, but usually just pay a transit fee for it.

The big difference in having a big boat is storage and comfort. My galley has a dishwasher and I have a washer/dryer. Each cabin or main cabin areas have a thermostat controlling a hydronic forced air heater. They would also work for chilled water AC, but I avoid hot places. I have a hot water heater that will serve several people. I have toilets about the size and height of house toilets. And they're not inside a closet. I've debated about a hot tub.
Because of the size, I have a lot of options in heating, wood stove, pellet stove, diesel stove and boiler. I like remote place and having room for spares, lots of food storage and extra things I carry I may or may not need.
A walk in engineroom makes maintenance easier. And then there's safety in size. I get a better ocean ride, cross bars others are afraid of, and so on...

I haven't spent a night ashore in years.
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Old 01-26-2020, 10:27 PM   #8
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BandB really said it well. I have lived aboard for 30 years. Lived on a 34’, 42’ and a 54’ boat. Each boat was perfect for a different time in my life. The increase in cost between each boat length is exponential. Increased docking skills are required with each jump in size but this more a convenience issue than a deterrent.

Live ability changes, 34’ works for one but is difficult for 2, 42’ works for 2 but difficult to entertain long term guests, 54’ works for 4 and up to 6 for short periods. These are general statements and individual tastes will skew these numbers.

I really believe in the statement “buy the smallest boat that does the job”.

IMHO, 42’ was a bit small for full time living but the best size for cruising, 54’ is the best size for living but a bit large for cruising.

The big feature gains from my 42’ to 54’ were

1) king Bed master
2) walk around guest Queen
3) bigger dinning room table
4) bigger Saloon
5) bigger flybridge
6) 3rd guest room
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Old 01-26-2020, 10:36 PM   #9
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Doesn't a sixty-foot yacht need a professional crew? Like a chef, a captain, and a couple of hands to handle the chores?
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Old 01-27-2020, 12:26 AM   #10
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We live onboard full time and as were Irish were sociable kinda folk and don't anchor out as that leads to a hermits life and we love our comfort too much, in fact the anchor locker's been converted to a wine store.
On a serious note, our 42' single engine cruiser does everything we ask of it economically, from gentle canal cruising to much longer sea crossings, if its rough wait till its calm (it saves divorce solicitors fees).We don't need the hassle, we've nothing to prove we've done it all before and got the T shirt, besides were retired now so what the hecks the rush !
Ask yourself do you really need all that clutter that house folk gather up ? Less is more.
Running costs are very reasonable and we do all our own maintenance and once you go above 45' handling warps & moorings start to become a problem with price and availability.
Advancing age must also be taken into account, sleeping (nice big double bed) access, rope handling, manoeuvrability etc. Buy the boat for your own comfort, I used to cater for visitors and lost everyday useable space, if they visit fine then they either 'muck in' and take it how it is or get a hotel onshore.
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:47 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
Doesn't a sixty-foot yacht need a professional crew? Like a chef, a captain, and a couple of hands to handle the chores?
No, sir- most going into that size of vessel are stepping up from smaller vessels. Up to about 70’, most insurers are OK with owner-operator situations.
Peter- Marine Insurance Guru & tuna fishing addict!

1989 52' PT Overseas yachtfisher
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Old 03-18-2020, 08:16 AM   #12
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What a great question. I enjoyed reading everyone's answers. I've had 42, 49 and 60' live-aboards. All were delightful. Boat volume goes roughly with CUBE of length so 60' is (6/4)^3 = 3.4x as big as a 40 footer, in terms of volume. You could get in a discussion about square feet of living space, but either way, that's a main benefit. I was alone much of the time, and the 42' Defever was very comfortable but with inadequate space. Luckily we had a house too to swallow all the personal stuff I couldn't throw away. The 49 footer added a diesel heater, real cruising range, dual engines, and critical infrastructure like laundry generator and legit heads. Spoiled as I am, I would never go back below that bar. Next boat has 2.5 bedrooms which will accommodate family, plus legitimate cold weather capability with hydronic heat. I think the bigger boat is mostly just a luxury, so that we are not stepping on each other when we have visitors, but whatever the size, the minimum equipment list is really critical and you should aim for it, for sure. With this list I would be happy aboard my (old fashioned) 49 or even a more modern 42. (Newer boats cram more space / sqft, at the cost of some style). Here's the list: fiberglass. central diesel heat. laundry. twin screws. radar. davits or crane. autopilot.vacuflush.propane stove, generator. I'd add bow thruster if > 50' but depends on your piloting skill.
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Old 03-18-2020, 10:06 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by tiltrider1 View Post
I really believe in the statement “buy the smallest boat that does the job”.

IMHO, 42’ was a bit small for full time living but the best size for cruising, 54’ is the best size for living but a bit large for cruising.
I'm 79 years old and have owned my share of boats since 1995. I started with a 48 Offshore, went down to a 29 foot Express, then all the way up to a 54' Sport fisher, etc. Presently I'm on the best boat for us, 42' Ocean Alexander, and totally endorse Tiltrider's statements. "By the smallest boat that does the job."
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Old 03-18-2020, 10:35 AM   #14
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I am not a live aboard, so sorry if I don't fill that requirement. But, the Admiral and I spend almost live aboard time on our 36.

If there are just two of you, or only one. Or even if you occasionally grow to four or more. I can't see any need to go over 40 feet.

Don't get me wrong. I would love to be able to afford a 60 footer but I doubt if I would own one even if I could. Everything is so much more expensive, so much more complicated. From cruising to berthing to storing, to cleaning, to fueling, EVERYTHING.

I guess I can't wrap my mind around being able to hire all those things done, it is so far out of my realm.

But , it's still a personal choice. If it were me, I would stay around 40 feet.

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Old 03-19-2020, 08:21 PM   #15
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Wifey B: "Smallest that does the job." What does that tell us? What job? Whose job? That's the whole issue.

You have to figure out the need based on yourselves and your history. Are you spending 365/24/7 on it or part of the year? Do you still travel a bunch on land or know back when that was legal and all? How active are you? Where are you and what is the climate? I can make a nice trip from home to the marina at a resort in a small boat, where we have a great bed in the bow, no bridge, but get out and go play tennis and explore when there but no way in h could I live full time on that boat. We could have years ago lived just the two of us on a small one but now we have such an extended family we need much more space.

I grew up in a house that was maybe 600 sq ft, you could feel outside air coming through the walls, no a/c, but I've been spoiled now for over 20 years and no way I could do that.

Now the bit about 60' being crew and all that. 40' can be and 80' doesn't have to be, it's what you're comfy with.

Size costs initially and ongoing. Size provides space and luxury. Size brings work with it, if you're all DIY. You gotta try some out. Now, handling, docking, those things, I really don't see any difference between 40 and 60.

Also, it's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of the ocean. Well, something like that. Don't believe for a second size doesn't matter. But don't believe for a second that just because they're a certain size means they perform better. It's also how they use the size.
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:58 PM   #16
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I live and travel on an 83' boat. The size gives room for storage and comfort. Not only space to live but real comfort and safety on the ocean. I've always had bigger boats, smallest private boat was 65'. It allows room for all the usual house appliances like washer & drier, dishwasher, big hot water tank, and so on...
Finding a marina spot can be harder for a bigger boat, but I always seem to get mail offering a slip from regional marinas. I have a private dock. I time my haul outs to slow times for shipyards and get a good price and fast service.
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Old 03-25-2020, 05:28 AM   #17
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"three kids (all either on their own or in college). 40' wouldn't work for that,"

Does it make sense to provide year round cabins for folks that probably will not be onboard but a couple of days a year.?
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Old 03-25-2020, 06:41 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
Doesn't a sixty-foot yacht need a professional crew? Like a chef, a captain, and a couple of hands to handle the chores?
I watched an Australian expertly dock his 130 foot boat in Nassau one night on the outside pier at Hurricane Hole Marina (and, the current can rip through there) with no docking crew but his teenage daughter and son. They politely declined my offer of assistance, and they didn’t need it. I was impressed.
"It's the tides. They can work for you, and they work against you. And, confidentially, I've had this problem with the tides before." Captain Ron
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Old 03-25-2020, 06:51 AM   #19
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FWIW, I tend to take the "smallest you can stand" and "largest you can afford" arguments with a grain or two of salt. Instead, I prefer to focus on features a given boat offers relative to features we actually need/want/would appreciate... IOW, we draw up a list of requirements, and then we look to see what boats offer all (or at least most) of those features, including the "gotta haves."

Another FWIW, we don't live aboard full time, don't want to do that, but... we're coming up on 5 months aboard as our Florida winter vacation is winding down (faster than planned/expected, due to the COVID-19 response). In these 5 months, we've gradually come to decide our 42' sportfish configuration -- 2 staterooms (one being comfortable for sleeping but otherwise marginal) -- is right on the edge of liveaboard-hood-ness. (?)

OTOH, a different configuration in the same length might be better for many; an aft cabin motor yacht of the same size, for example, may well have at least two good staterooms, a couple heads, better cooking/dining spaces, etc.

Anyway, most of my point is that OAL isn't the best or only tool to compare requirements to candidates.

South River, Chesapeake Bay
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Old 03-25-2020, 09:09 AM   #20
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A great example (much of the time) look and see how much "stuff" on a liveaboard is stored out in the open, lashed down, in the way, etc...etc.

If it exceeds your comfort zone...then think how you might deal with "stuff" you can't cruise without and where will it be stored.

I am frugal, carry a reasonable amount of consumables and stores, like fishing and looking also at a kayak beyond the dingy....and my 40 Albin (small for its designation compared to a 42 KK) is really smaller than I really want in a full time liveaboard with no dirt storage.

I had a companion aboard for 7 years...and that made it way too small...but we managed. It wasn't the room that crimped our style, that was was storing stuff out of the way and not 5 layers deep.

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