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Old 03-08-2021, 02:22 PM   #1
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Baffled newbie

Greetings! I'm very much a baby beginner in the world of boats, but I'm excited about learning.

I stumbled into this fascinating field because my family (husband, brother and myself) began recently looking seriously into what we're going to do with our lives when our kids are out of the nest, which will happen in three years or so. My husband's job is remote and therefore portable; I do work that I can find anywhere I go. So we have a pretty wide range.

We had originally intended to live full time in the Netherlands, where we have close friends. Somebody suggested we start looking at houseboats or floating homes, which are popular there, and so we did, and fell in love with the idea of living on the water. After a little while, my husband mentioned that while he's happy to spend a lot of time in the Netherlands he'd prefer to bounce around some -- a few months there, a few months in the Caribbean, a few in the northeastern United States, etc -- and so we began to consider boats that actually MOVE, so that we can take our home with us when we travel.**

We're all senior citizens or nearly so (my husband and I are in our fifties, my brother in his seventies), so we're not interested in anything too strenuous. We'll stick to power boats for sure. Beyond that, were not positive yet, so I'm trying to learn everything I can. The two biggest challenges we face are needing a boat built for accessibility (at the moment, we can all walk; we cannot assume that will be true for the duration of our life on board) and having too many people! In addition to the three of us who will be living there, we've got three young adult children who may be visiting at any time, possibly with partners, and so we're going to need something that will fit a bunch of us in a pinch. From what I can see, that means a pretty big boat.

I would love anything you can suggest in terms of resources for learning about the liveaboard life and what I'll need to know in order to evaluate, buy, and then run/live in our boat when we get it! I'm a sponge soaking up information for the moment. We know we don't want a pure floating house (the kind shaped like a building on a floating deck, that doesn't go anywhere)
-- we are looking at the range from houseboats to Dutch barges to the lower end motor yachts. Because of the accessibility issues, we may need to get our own built or refurbished for us from the hull up... I've never seen an accessible boat in any of those categories before.

In any case, I'm very happy to be here! I can't wait to learn from you all.

(**I'm not stupid enough to try and pilot *anything* across the Atlantic myself, even if we get one which is made for those distances; whatever we get, if we bring it back and forth with us across oceans we will either hire crew to sail it there or get it shipped if it's not made for blue water on its own. So please don't be alarmed that I talk about locations on opposite sides of an ocean in the same breath that I'm talking about being a novice and looking at houseboats and Dutch barges... I do know better to think that either of those, or I myself for that matter, have any business out in the middle of the Atlantic on our own.
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Old 03-08-2021, 03:58 PM   #2
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I'm not stupid enough to try and pilot *anything* across the Atlantic myself,

First you have to get to the Atlantic.... lol.

I'm not sure what the average age is in the Trawler Forum but I suspect it is higher than what you are (poll anyone?).

Before you go all over the planet on your boat, make sure to cruise a wee bit in the PNW, coastal BC and Alaska. The reality is these waters are some of the finest cruising in the world.

There are boats built to cross the ocean, Nordhavn comes to mind. For insurance purposes, they are built to a higher standard than a coastal cruiser, translation: more money.

Here is a link to a younger couple living in a Nordhavn fulltime in Seattle, its good to follow them as they will discuss their experiences living on a boat, modifications made, etc.

In this link, I take you back to September 2018 aboard MV Freedom, their vlog goes back before this date, but they put one video out a week so you will have lots to watch, see them cruise areas I believe you will like and if you watch all of the videos you will get a sense of living aboard a boat.



Here is a couple full timing it in a sailboat, he is from Victoria. They are in Norway right now and have had "challenges" living in their boat in very cold conditions. Just watch this one video, you won't understand some of it but all you need to hear is issues they have to deal with in terms of boating, very cold winter, bringing water on board, etc. So if you do get a boat and go into higher latitudes, there are issues to contend with:



I wouldn't worry to much about accessibility, assuming you are average in terms of health, you won't have to worry about mobility for a long time probably minimally 20 - 30 years. Of course life is a crap shoot so I could be wrong. Get something that suits you now, worry about the kind of boat you will need when issues arise decades down the line.

A friend who has lived on sailboats for years at many places on the planet told me early on in my boating that those who go boating with you aren't the ones you necessarily thought would go boating with you, that includes family.

The way you can boat with family and friends can vary, the obvious being they stay on your boat during their visit. But you can also come up to Desolation Sound or the Broughtons, stay at a resort that has rooms land based buy you also can moor your boat there. Your guest get a room for however long and you do day boating with them.

And as others will tell you, finding a place to moor your boat for full time living might be harder than finding the boat appropriate to your circumstances. So in your research include finding marinas the allow full time boat owners.
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Old 03-08-2021, 04:00 PM   #3
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Thank you! I really appreciate the video resources and will watch.

You're probably right about my husband and me being young enough not to worry about mobility; I'm not so sure about my brother. He's in good health but 74 already.
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Old 03-08-2021, 04:06 PM   #4
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Welcome aboard. First take a couple of boating classes so you will be able to know a bit about what you should be looking for. Then maybe charter a boat, with or without a captain, and see if you do like it or not. But whatever, have fune in the search. Good luck.
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Old 03-09-2021, 03:43 PM   #5
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Welcome. Probably impossible within a realistic budget to have a fully accessible boat. Some will be better than others but unless you are considering a huge yacht with an elevator some mobility would be required. But you can find boats with multiple levels that have stairs and not ladders.

I don't think you mentioned budget and that will be important before various boat models could be suggested. But based upon the info you provided I suspect the minimum size would be around 45 feet. Enough to have 2 decent full time cabins and some indoor and outdoor living space. If you go up to 50-60 you can get 3-4 cabins.

Power cats might be another option but finding marina slips may be more challenging due to their broad beams.

Soon physical boat shows may resume so the 3 of you should plan a trip. That is the best way to see many boats and start narrowing your choices. You may also want to charter or just get to know folks at your nearby yacht club. Boaters love to talk about boats!
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Old 03-09-2021, 04:06 PM   #6
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Welcome!

You may already know this, but with boats it really pays to narrow down your focus if you can. All-arounders (can do everything) will either be really expensive, and/or still not so suitable for "all around."

Just for a couple of random examples:

1) A person wants to live aboard and will stay in relatively sheltered waters. That person can get a really nice, big, livable house boat for less money and fewer compromises than if the boat needed to go near coastal or offshore.

2) A person buys one of the best bluewater boats (let's use a Nordhavn for this example). If you are on a budget, it will be killer. But beyond that, it would actually be a negative for say, lake or river cruising. Why? It will be deeper draft, will have fewer opening windows, will have a lot of air draft, and will have redundant systems (that you have to pay for but will not need). It may also have a lot less outdoor lounging space (as compared to our houseboat or coastal cruiser).

One can cruise an area on a boat meant for something else. I did a longish sheltered water trip on a bluewater sailboat, for example. Why? Because we were more often doing offshore sailing so we needed it. On the other hand it was much more cramped than a coastal cruiser, had little comfortable outside space, and many $ spent for things not needed in sheltered waters. The trip was fantastic! The boat did fine but was not what I would have chosen for that trip.

In summary, my opinion is that the more you can narrow down your use (in other words, ditch "I might want to somedays" in favor of "I know I will do"), the better suited your boat will be for those uses. It may also be easier on the budget (not sure if that is a concern).

But even if you have $3 million to spend, there really isn't an "all purpose" boat. Most boats are best at what they are focussed on. They may be able to do other things and they may not (depends).
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Old 03-09-2021, 04:09 PM   #7
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Welcome Naomi!

There is a wealth of knowledge on this site. You might not always like the advice, but it is usually grounded in years of experience.

Being that you are new to boating, your goals are aggressive to say the least. If you have a near unlimited budget, I'm sure you can buy an ocean-crossing boat and the crew to take you there. Many of us are life-time boaters and still wouldn't consider buying that type of boat and plan that type of an adventure. I'm not trying to discourage you if that is truly what you want to do. But as others suggested, if you live in Seattle, you already have some of the best cruising waters at your doorstep. You could spend years cruising the area and learn a lot about boating and see some great places you never have before. More importantly, you might learn how much you like or don't like living on a boat and all that goes with it. I would suggest starting small and not planning to cross oceans any time soon. Take classes and get on the water and learn by doing in something 40' or less. If you don't have the skill or knowledge or desire to do repairs and maintenance, buy something fairly new. Regardless, someone will need to have some basic knowledge of the boat systems (and there are many) and and how they work.

It won't take long to figure out if this is truly the life for you. There is also plenty of coastal cruising to take you to different and interesting places without crossing the Atlantic. If you are not familiar with the Great Loop, that may be a worthwhile goal. Much more safe and less strenuous. Family members can come and go from hundreds of ports along the way. Plenty of places to stop for physical or medical reasons and/or boat repairs.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents for now, but again welcome to the forum and I hope you find what you are looking for.
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Old 03-09-2021, 04:25 PM   #8
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You are talking about a VERY expensive boat. Very expensive like in the neighborhood of a million or two, especially if you want to get involved in the design and construction.

Have you considered a nice boat to suit you needs at present and then when you are ready to cross the pond and do the Loop, buy a boat over here. You can either be a two boat owner or sell one. Either way, I think it will be a lot cheaper than buying a passage maker or shipping a boat.

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Old 03-09-2021, 06:05 PM   #9
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Thank you!

I want to thank everyone for the initial suggestions. I also should clarify some pieces of what we're trying to do, because I think I screwed up in how I said a lot of it. You never know what you're assuming is part of background until you realize what people don't hear!

1) We don't want to live in the Northwest, or even most of the time in the United States. We'll be moving out of the Northwest at exactly the same time that we'll be buying our boat. I know there's some good cruising water around here, but we've been here for twelve years, I never liked it (at least on land), and it just doesn't make sense to buy our boat *here*, for exactly the reason several people have pointed out -- it would mean getting the damn thing halfway around the world, through very ambitious ocean crossings, when all we really want is a nice little riverboat that'll take us around Europe on inland waterways. It is impossible to buy a boat that makes sense for both, so it's not a good idea for us to buy here. We will wait, and buy IN Europe, FOR Europe.

2) I'm sorry I implied that we would be trying to do crossings at all. We don't intend to. We will either keep the boat in Europe and live on it most of the time, while occasionally leaving it moored and flying off to other parts of the world; or else if we really feel we need to bring our home with us (say, if we intend to remain a year or more in another area), we will have the thing shipped to us by a professional shipping company. That way, we can focus on buying a boat that is clearly not intended for blue water, and not try to use it where it isn't made for. We're looking for something that'll be best on rivers and maybe lakes. If it can do a little bit of coastal cruising when pressed, that's wonderful. But the focus is the rivers and canals. All I was trying to say when I talked about getting the boat across oceans is that on very rare occasions, it might be necessary to get our boat sent on after us by shipping professionals because we are planning to stay in a different place for long enough that it's cost-effective to do that. And yes, I'm aware that it would take a lot to make it cost effective. Most likely, wherever we might go, the boat will stay in Europe and we'll live on it while we're there, which will be most of the time.

3) Thank you for the boat show suggestion! We will definitely do that, when they happen live again and it's safe to go there. I did the most recent online Seattle boat show; it was nice but didn't show me much more than looking at boats online otherwise does, because I still couldn't see them in person or walk around inside them. But I definitely plan to do that, with the rest of our little crew, as soon as possible.

4) To whomever suggested not worrying in the short term about mobility (I can't see the messages I'm responding to while I write; my apologies) -- you're almost certainly right. I've been trying to think in terms of buying ONE boat for our whole future, and that only makes sense if we get it built from scratch for us. If we're buying used, we're almost certainly better off assuming that our first boat will not be our last boat, and getting something that will be fine for us for the next few years. Thanks for correcting my lens... I just didn't think in those terms, and now I see that I should; it will be better for us.

I appreciate the advice from all of you. Thank you so much!
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Old 03-09-2021, 06:08 PM   #10
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Frosty: you're right about narrowing down our search. I fantasize about the coastal cruisers and ocean-going boats because they're beautiful, but it's not how we're going to live. We'll be staying in sheltered waters and we should be looking for the houseboat or riverboat range of craft. I can daydream about the rest but it's not what we ought to be trying to buy.
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Old 03-09-2021, 06:19 PM   #11
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Great to have more info.

If you don't carry any European passports, you may want to look at some Expat related sites. (Not that there aren't knowledgeable people here; but there are also specialty sites.)

For example, if you are going to spend a lot of time on your boat in Europe, you may want to look into Schengen Agreement rules. They can influence your plans (along with the usual weather and seasons).
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Old 03-09-2021, 06:26 PM   #12
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Great to have more info.

If you don't carry any European passports, you may want to look at some Expat related sites. (Not that there aren't knowledgeable people here; but there are also specialty sites.
Yeah, we've been doing that research since long before we started thinking about living on a boat! We had first planned to move to the Netherlands, where a close friend of mine already emigrated a few years ago, and only after a year of looking into that process did we think, "Hey, there are a lot of people living on the canals in the Netherlands and they even go places on their boat homes, and boy does that look like fun!"

We do intend to become Dutch citizens after the required residency, and I know we'll need to be careful before that about how much time we spend in the Netherlands to make sure we continue to qualify for residency and earn time toward being allowed to apply for citizenship. The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty (appropriately for us nicknamed DAFT) allows self-employed Americans who want to start small business in the Netherlands to immigrate with fairly low entry requirements and that's well suited to the type of work I do anyhow (massage therapy), so we'll probably try to use that as our way to gain initial residency and work from there. We know we aren't experts yet in how to do this, but at least we've got a general plan and know what we're looking for in a lawyer to help us do the paperwork for it. 🙂
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Old 03-19-2021, 01:38 PM   #13
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On option that you might consider would be renting to test your thoughts on what works or doesn't work for you. One outfit I'm aware of... le Boat... rents in Canada and many locations in Europe, including the Netherlands. The Canadian location is a pleasant protected lake & canal area. Their boats look like they would be rather easy access compared to more typical cruisers or trawlers.
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Old 03-19-2021, 01:58 PM   #14
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On option that you might consider would be renting to test your thoughts on what works or doesn't work for you. One outfit I'm aware of... le Boat... rents in Canada and many locations in Europe, including the Netherlands. The Canadian location is a pleasant protected lake & canal area. Their boats look like they would be rather easy access compared to more typical cruisers or trawlers.

Thanks, that's a really good idea! It sounds like it would both help me think about what matters to me in a boat and get me some practice in handling boats in general, so when I buy I have some clue what I'm doing.

When my husband and I first investigated tiny homes -- which were our first plan before we decided to go aquatic -- we made a point of spending three nights in a tiny house hotel. We came out confident that we could comfortably live in one of those, but also very much aware of a list of specific features that we definitely needed or wanted in our own tiny home if we got one! I'm sure that renting a boat for a while would have a similar effect.
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