Originally Posted by Rich and Helen
You folks are so helpful. I just can't thank you enough.
We're not horribly price- restricted so only the handling of a large boat by an older couple (first time I've ever written/admitted THAT) and what I've heard about mooring/marina restrictions re. length would keep us from a 55'-65' boat. If the ditch is primarily our route, do many moorings restrict size? If so, what tends to be the max length/displacement?
I hope that thrusters would make large-boat couple-handling possible. And as I've looked at larger boats they seem to have lots of potentially "private" spaces; raised pilot houses, extra staterooms that serve as offices, enclosed stern spaces etc.
Helen wants a bath tub. So that's on the "must" list. The larger Selene's seem to have them as do some Hatteras?
Re. slips - I envision us as a bit "nomadic" once we move aboard. While we may have the boat for a while while we stay in Ft Lauderdale and tie up loose ends, once we "shove off" I have thought that we might vary our winter/summer spots depending on where one or both of us find work. That remains to be seen. We may get into a pattern.
We were somewhat in your position and you can see what we ended up with. The boat that is right for YOU is a very personal decision. We had the advantage of having chartered a variety of boats over the years. This taught us what we wanted in operating and maintenance ergonomics (priority one for us), and living arrangements. It is very important that you buy the boat as a team. We have met quite a few not so happy couples where the guy ramrodded the buying decision based on what he thought they should have.
Believe it or not, I do believe that Skipper Bob's dictum "Buy the smallest boat YOU can be comfortable in, not the biggest boat you can afford" is a great piece of advice. It just so happens that we came from living in big houses and like having our "space" and a variety of options thereof. We needed something that would serve as a great boat to cruise and also be a great home. So boats that we loved for a week or two of vacation cruising were definitely "out". We made a great choice for us as attested by 6 years of happy cruising and on-board living all up and down the eastern seaboard and adjoining waters.
So on to a few of your questions:
Yes, as we have learned, 60 feet is one of the "demarcation lines" when it comes to slips and moorings. The bigger you go from there, the more you restrict your options. If you can be comfortable on a 50 foot boat, you have even more options. We are a few inches over 60 LOA so have always gotten away with it. Beam can also be a restriction, we are at 18'2" and I can recall a few times when there was no room at the inn for us. Typically though, in the transient mode, we get put on a T dock. Draft is also a limiting factor. There have been a few times when I wished I could crank up our 5 foot keel to something like 3 or four.
We are a not particularly adept middle aged couple, clumsy, somewhat large, mildly dyslexic with a fair amount of ADD. First, there is no way we could have done this on our own without prior charters and taking formal on the water lessons. Second, that is why ergonomics are particularly critical to us: 360 degree visibility from helm, doors to walk around decks on either side of the helm, straight walk back from the helm to the stern, stairs, not a ladder to the flying bridge, walk in, walk around stand up engine rooms. And so on. More adept people can get away with compromising many of these things.
Yes, thrusters help, we have a bow thruster. I learned to run a boat without them, and even today I often forget to use it. I rate it as a very "nice to have" but not a "need" to have. It would be nice to have a stern thruster too but I would personally not spend extra money on one. We are poster children for the saying "don't approach anything faster than you'd like to hit it".
The bath tub is nice, but in our case we have never used it. Makes for a very nice shower though.