$300K - What would you do?

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Jan 15, 2010
This is not a "What boat would you buy" thread, although that is definitely a part of it. I am looking to return to the water after being a landlocked dirt dweller for the past 30 years. My father was a captain of a small (365') passenger liner that plied the Caribbean and Mediterranean until I was 13, then lived aboard an 89' 1928 Schooner for then next 4 years. My father and the schooner are both gone - I've had enough of my landlocked existence and am preparing to get back to my roots. Trailering my 28 Nordic (the go-fast not the tug) for long weekends* on a lake is not enough for me anymore. So I am selling off all possessions and should clear about $300K maybe a bit more.* I have family in Clearwater, FL so will* eventually make that my base as we prepare to transition to being permanent livaboards. I'm a physical therapist and will be able to work temp gigs occasionally when/if money is needed but prefer to work less than I cruise and would only work in areas I can moor my boat - so would need a boat capable of traveling inland waterways, but also capable of island hopping the Caribbean and perhaps even a trip through the Panama canal and up the pacific coast, yet be small enough to keep moorage fees down and be able to single hand if need be (I know that is a lot to ask of a boat).

I'd love to hear some opions and get some advice on the best way to manage* and maximize my $ and recomendations for boats.

Would you buy outright or finance? How much would you spend? What would you do with the remaining (if any) $.

Not rushing into this and plan on spending the next 12-18 months transitioning and hoping the housing market improves a bit so I can get more out of my house.

Thanks in advance.

Also if anyone knows a stand up, trustworthy broker in the Clearwater area that they could point me to I'd appreciate it.

Theta wrote:

Would you buy outright or finance?
Everybody's financial situation is different and everybody has their own take on boat ownership and what they want out of it.* So there is no right answer, or even best answer, to your question.

Speaking only for ourselves, we do not view our boat as an investment.* We did not buy the boat with the intention of ever getting a dime back on what we put into it.* If it blew up tomorrow we would be very disappointed, but from the financial perspective we would simply shrug and say, "Well, we had a lot of fun with it while we had it."

As such, our boat is a "toy."* And I was given a piece of financial advice many, many years ago by a family friend who was extremely successful in every business venture he undertook (one of the companies he started was Telecheck).* And his advice was--- "Never finance your toys."* So we never have.* We are certainly not rich, but we have never financed anything other than our house and property we have purchased.

Marin, thanks for the reply. I agree with the advice never to finance a toy and have always paid fully for them. This however would be more than a toy, it will be our home for the foreseeable future. That being said I always prefer to pay for things as opposed to financing them but I obviously would be able to purchase much more boat if I financed but I don't want to be a slave to a payment either - I essentially am now to my house payment.
I advise newbies to finance as banks/finance and insurance companies will not let you go to far wrong.* If you want to pay loan off later you can.* I agree boats should not be viewed as an investment.* The question is how much is the loan rate vs. how much return can you get on your money.* Also depends on your cash flow, your wants and main/real reasons you want to be a live a board.* We wanted to live in down town Seattle, we could not afford a condo/house in Seattle and a boat so we bought a large boat and became a live aboard.* The boat can qualify as your principle resident for tax purposes, so you can write off the interest, taxes and maybe if you use as an office or taking out customers.* Many large/mega boats are written off for tax purposes as resident and/or business.* *

Also you cash in and out flow is a factor and what is important for you to spend your*money on.* We/I have a budget which I follow closely.* If we go over in one area then another has to be reduced.* **So it some times comes*down to what is important and takes priority in your live.* Also being a Live aboard will simplify your life as you will minimize your worldly stuff, and you will not place as high a imporatns/value on them.
What would I do with 300K, if I was you?* I would buy a small condo/house first, then use the down payment on a boat and invest in mutual funds.* The reason is I think the housing market will come back strong so the return is there and you could rent it out.* That is what we have done with our condos. **The stock market will also come back so a balance fund would give you a good return with out to much risk.* I like to diversify. *****
Now if I had 300K, I would continue to max my 401k, and buy another condo for rental property.* Might pay down the loan on the boat, to refinance and get the loan payment down.***The reason I do not pay the boat loan off is the banks will not lend on the equity of a boat but they will lend on a condo/house, and an equity loan is tax deductible.***

Anyway,* I would not invest to much money into*a boat until you know that you like being a live aboard as a live a board boat will probable be bigger than you might need being a non live aboard.***12 years and we still are not sure if we like being a live aboard?* Take a look at **http://www.livingaboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi*


-- Edited by Phil Fill on Sunday 17th of January 2010 03:02:32 PM

-- Edited by Phil Fill on Sunday 17th of January 2010 03:03:18 PM

-- Edited by Phil Fill on Sunday 17th of January 2010 03:05:59 PM

-- Edited by Phil Fill on Sunday 17th of January 2010 03:12:39 PM
Your conflict of requirements is too large.

Cheap living in a coastal cruiser , no sweat a $25K boat will do just fine.40 ft old Chris Craft (glass no wood).

Down island in the Carib , no sweat , pick your transit time and its a snap,

But from the Panama Canal up the west coast will require all $300K plus some , its a rough long ocean passage .

The "best" route is to swing towards Hawaii , about 1000 miles and come in about Seattle.

Fine in a 25+ ft sailboat with unlimited range , but it requires one heck of a power boat.

Keeping options open would be cheapest with banging around the East coast , Maine to FL and down islands in a cheap $25,000 or so boat would be safe and fun..

As you will Mostly be aground in your own coffee grounds , working , long range ability , diesel engines and huge fuel or water tanks will be more a hassle than plus.

Start with a cheap boat , and when you figure out what you need in a few years for ocean work, cheap boats are EZ to sell.

Thanks FF. "conflict of requirements" - I like that, its a succinct description. I guess that's why they say "all boats are compromises" and "there is no such thing as a perfect boat". I'm leaning towards the scenario you portrayed, however, the first mates requirements for a liveaboard preclude the option of a $25K boat. Therein lies the true conflict of requirements.
I think F/F has the right idea.* Try looking at a few sailboats. You could spend a couple hundred thousand less, get a great boat capable of going where ever you want (even across oceans) and still have a very comfortable live aboard.* Don't like sailing?* Then just motor the thing.* With a diesel, they are very economical, more so than most trawlers even.* Pay cash for the boat, then take the remaining money, invest it, and enjoy the returns.* Additionally, in times of high fuel prices, (coming again soon I fear) a sailboat should be much easier to sell when the time comes. .................
Is 300k your total budget for your boat AND living expenses???? Maybe I am reading it wrong. Obviously, if you are gonna use some of that 300k to live on then I would be extremely value conscious in getting the right boat for the lowest amount of money. I think a KK42 would fit your wants and desires very well but it would also use up at least 2/3 of the 300k. Anyway. good luck . Sounds like you have some good times ahead of you.
John, yes you are reading it correctly 300K is the initial total budget - although I will supplement it with periodic 4-6wk employment (during which my moorage will be paid). I love the KK 42 although would prefer a boat with twins. Tried to convince my wife that a motorsailer like this one below is the way to go but she is pretty hesitant.


Thanks for the input.
Hmmmm.... you know what they say about motorsailers. They don't make very good sailboats and they don't make very good powerboats. I've known a number of people who've lived on sailboats, from 30 feet on up to about 60, and in the lower size range they don't have a whole lot of "spread out" room on them. In most cases the owners were avid sailors, so a sailboat was what they wanted, cramped or not.

But while the idea of a motorsailer is certainly intriguing, the ones I've looked inside of in our marina all strike me as being less than ideal for living aboard. For long-term living, they appear to combine all the space shape and volume disadvantages of a sailboat with few or none of the advantages of a powerboat.

Plus, unless you're actually planning to sail it a lot, you've got all that baggage of the sail rig to deal with in terms of maintenance and whatnot.

And finally, most of the motorsailers I've seen try to emulate the aesthetics of a sailboat as much as possible. Which I've noticed tends to result in a a very "woody" boat. Teak decks, teak caprails and and grabrails. Teak trim on the cabins. Teak hatches and vents. Teak grates in the cockpit. And so on. This combined with the sail rig to take care of seems to make for a very labor-intensive boat.

For crossing big water, by which I mean the Atlantic, Pacific, etc., when weather conditions can change when you have nowhwere to run, I don't know how the stability and seaworthyness of a motorsailer compares with a true sailboat of the same size. Motorsailers all seem to have great big windows in the raised cabin or pilothouse, so you'd need shatterproof covers for them I would think.

I suppose it depends, too, on where you're going to cruise. Up here with the fickle winds during the best boating months (and nasty winds the rest of the time) and very strong tidal currents, 90 percent of the sailboats you see going from Point A to Point B are under power. Either the wind's going the wrong way, or the current is negating what the wind is doing, or both. In fact in the boating club we belong to, a major celebration among the sailboaters when we get together is that "we were able to use the sails for one of the legs."

But in places like California or maybe the Gulf where the cruising waters are more open and not subject to local 10 knot or more tidal currents, one gets more of a chance to use the sails.

If I still lived in Hawaii and wanted a cruising boat--- not that there's anywher to cruise to there--- a sailboat would probably be my choice simply for the stability and ability to deal with the water out there. But to live on..... I think it would be tough on a sailboat and not much easier on a motorsailer. My opinion, anyway.

-- Edited by Marin on Tuesday 19th of January 2010 08:38:04 PM
"the first mates requirements for a liveaboard preclude the option of a $25K boat. Therein lies the true conflict of requirements. "

and just what DESIREMENT of "She Who Must Be Obeyed" will cost so much extra?

Or require the Esso Maru to be usefull?

You can plan on needing a heating system for your use , but what else is there?

I can tell you right now, if you are a cash buyer, the market is YOURS!!!! Marin makes great points ref the motorsailor. I will add to it that I think it is way too much boat and way too much maintenance. If you are somewhat intimidated by a single on a KK42, this boat will be every bit as challenging.

I guess the question that needs to be answered is ....WHAT DO YOU WANT???!!!

There are some great trawlers of all different styles in the "under 100k" price range which will still give you a lot of boat and not burn up all your cash.

My biggest word of caution is....be realistic in how you are going to use the boat. *Almost any boat can be used in the capacity you speak of as long as weather is respected. *I have have owned both Catalina and Beneteau sailboats and it would never cease to amaze me at the people that would *criticize my boat(s) for not being "bluewater boats". *I almost went and bought a megaphone to scream into their ears that "I WASN'T GOING BLUE WATER SAILING!!!!!". *ANd I would wave as I went by in the fairway while they polished the teak on their bluewater boat. *My point here is that there is no reason to spend the extra bucks on a boat if you are not going to use it's capabilities. *While that boat you posted definitely seems to be a good value, I think there is alot of maintenance that will need to be tended to(sailing rig and teak...as Marin mentioned)...and you have to ask yuorself if it is worth it? *Are you intrigued by the fact that you can sail? *If so, you might wanna look at sailboats. *Do you like the looks of that teak? *I will say, there is nothing as beautiful as a boat all polished up with teak. *BUT, that is a lot of work. *And it is quite disheartening to watch all that work go to the dogs in just a matter of 6-12 months. *And if you "let if go" grey, your once stunningly beautiful boat doesn't look so hot anymore. *Nothing wrong with this approach, you/wife just have to be okay with it.

So, what do you think you want? *As you are finding out, there are many different opinions on here and nobody is afraid to offer them!!!...

-- Edited by Baker on Wednesday 20th of January 2010 12:35:20 PM
"I guess the question that needs to be answered is ....WHAT DO YOU WANT???!!!"
What I want doesn't fit my "conflict of requirements", but here it is:

Id like to buy it outright for 100K or less

44-49' Trawler with FL 120 or 135's - full sidedecks and cockpit - dink on the hardtop over cockpit. At least 2 staterooms with aft centerline berth + additional room for visiting kids - 2 heads. a/c, heat, updated electronics including radar, solar panels, washer/dryer, pilothouse and flybridge, minimal exterior teak, fuel polishing, large engine room with easy accesss, stabilizers, watermaker and of course lovingly cared for by her uber wealthy owner. The 44-49 Defevers are close but not in my range.

This boat comes pretty close except for the price:

My wife on the other hand likes this one:

Good thing we have over a year to negotiate and compromise until* we make the leap.

-- Edited by Theta on Thursday 21st of January 2010 01:21:40 AM
Baker wrote:My point here is that there is no reason to spend the extra bucks on a boat if you are not going to use it's capabilities.
This is proabably the best and most succinct (as opposed to what I write) guideline for*buying a boat*I've ever read.

John used his sailboat example, but the same thing applies to powerboats.* Grand Banks are not passagemakers.* There's a whole bucketful of reasons why they are inappropriate or downright dangerous for extended offshore cruising.* But they're great coastal cruisers.* My wife and I have zip, zero, nada interest in ocean cruising.* For my part, it's a been there, done that thing.* For my wife, she just doesn't like big water.* So the fact that a GB is a poor choice for ocean work is irrelevant to us because we have no interest in going out there even if we had a Nordhavn.

There is a great saying*about buying a boat*I've seen phrased several ways.* I first read it in the 1960s in a story printed in Boy's Life magazine when an experienced teenage sailor said*to a new boy in town who wanted to buy a boat, "Always buy the smallest boat you can afford."

By which he meant if you have x-amount of dollars, the smaller the boat you buy the better the shape it will be in or the newer it will be, which usually amounts to the same thing.

Obviously you don't want to get a boat that is too small for what you want to do with it.* But once you figure out exactly what you want to do with the boat and what kind of boat will best do these things, buy the smallest one that will accomodate your needs.**For a given amount of money, be it*$30k or $300k, you'll end up with a better boat, which means you'll end up having a better--- and quite possibly a MUCH better--- boating experience.
Here ya go:


There are usually 5 or 6 of these on the market at any given time. There is only this one right now. As far as bang for the buck goes, hard to beat. And it is just like your Defever except a tad smaller. I have been a fan of these for awhile. Good looking boats. Well made. Deceptively "Big" for their size. They are usually Cat3208 powered although this one has Detroit 671s.

I will keep looking.
44-49' Trawler with FL 120 or 135's - full sidedecks and cockpit - dink on the hardtop over cockpit. At least 2 staterooms with aft centerline berth + additional room for visiting kids - 2 heads. a/c, heat, updated electronics including radar, solar panels, washer/dryer, pilothouse and flybridge, minimal exterior teak, fuel polishing, large engine room with easy accesss, stabilizers, watermaker and of course lovingly cared for by her uber wealthy owner. The 44-49 Defevers are close but not in my range.

And besides more mere volume , with the greater distance to fly towards a bulkhead what is here that is not in a 38-40 for 1/4 the price?

Perhaps stabelizers , but you will not have an offshore boat with the 49 either.

Dont forget dockage cost and avilibility are size related.

"updated electronics" including radar, solar panels, washer/dryer, pilothouse and flybridge,

They are "OLD' after about 2 weeks , upgrades equals installed as you buy
the boat.

FF is right reference electronics. I think you would be better off saving the money on the purchase price for a boat that is light on the electronics(or outdated) and using a little of that cash for an electronics suite that YOU want and tailored exactly to your needs.
And I will give you another cliche' relevant to your search....

There ain't no right price for the wrong boat!!!!!
"There ain't no right price for the wrong boat!!!!!"

AMEN!!!!! All offers will be contingent upon full survey, sea trial and oils analysis. I'll be posting later for recommendations of a GOOD Surveyor.

Thanks for all the opinions and advice - keep em comming.

I've looked at all the boats, except the Hat (which I do like), online and realize that may be where my compromise takes me - also the 42 Present, 44 Nova and Heritage east. Some of my concerns are based on fuel tank (and other) horror stories I've read about in Taiwanese Trawlers, and the larger engines in the MY's providing poor economy. Don't know much about the Californian - Where were they manufactured? Any known trouble area's specific to that model?

Understood re: the electronics - part of why I want to stay at 100K or less so I can have some left over for my upgrades.

FF - I get what ur saying about the size. The increased space over a 38 has a lot to do with keeping the first mate on board - She is conditioned to 5K+ square feet of luxury and has never lived aboard - although she is very willing and loves the 5-7 day trips in a 28 with just a cuddy and porta-potti, as well as a Belieze Cat Charter.

Hopefully there wont be any "Flying towards bulkheads"

I'll be in Clearwater in a month or so and plan to go through as many boats as I can while I'm there

-- Edited by Theta on Thursday 21st of January 2010 08:16:45 AM
Californians are American made and don't have the window leaking issues that many of Asian boats do. You may be able to run economically on one engine at displacement speed on the faster boats...
I've written this response before on this Forum so I apologize to those who might be sick of reading it.

After buying 8 boats since 1995, I finally learned to be brutally honest with the boats realistic mission. This meant I had to admit that I'm not taking the boat to the Baja, or living aboard for months at at time, or entering all the tournaments on the Bill Fish circuit, etc. If you plan to overnight or weekend or even take a week or two cruise, then you don't need a 50-60' boat to do that. If you plan on just cruising one of America's great bays and not venture out on big water, there's certainly nothing wrong with that. The above does not require a watermaker, 1000 gallons of fuel, sonar, washer dryer, 2 heads, etc. As Eastwood said in a Dirty Harry movie, "A man's got to know his limitations." Good luck in your search!

(The boat on the bottom is our present boat)

-- Edited by SeaHorse II on Thursday 21st of January 2010 10:35:26 AM


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Walt thanks for the advice and congrats on 8 successful transactions in 15 years - love your current boat. I've actually gone through 7 boats in the same period and enjoyed every last one of them (25 - 32' single engine trailer boats). This next boat will be my home for a number of years and needs to be safe and comfortable for my wife - we will not have a land based residence other than mom and sisters guest bedrooms in Florida. I will be moving the boat around to various cities on the east coast and the midwest/great lakes areas for intermittent (4-12wks) work, during which my moorage is paid for. Months in the keys and Bahamas are planned. I would also like the capability to hit the BVI's and visit friends living in Costa Rica and Belize. Possibly in a few years do the Panama Canal, Sea of Cortez then up the left coast to the inside passage - that will require a different boat. Perhaps plans will change, who knows - just like to be as prepared as possible and don't want to be in a position where I don't have "enough" boat.
She is conditioned to 5K+ square feet of luxury and has never lived aboard -

So take her on a charter on the erie canal in a steel canal boat.

No navigation, free dockage really easy days with resturants and Wi Fi where ever you stop.

Loads of museums to visit for some "culture".

All in a 40 ft boat 8 ft wide that is comfortable .

When she loves this trip and you take her on a 36 ft TT she will think its heaven,

5000 or 50,000 sq ft doesn't matter, she needs to be trained that volume and comfort are not the same..

Living standards aboard are far more controlled by lack of fear , comfort (dry, warm, and not hanging grimly on) than by a grand vista of useless volume.

Silent refrigeration and a heating plant that works 24/7 with zero electric limitations is loads more fun than a salon that echoes.

Since she will be your partner aboard , show her how easily the small boat docks , and let her do the helming , you handle the lines.

She may be less interested in 100T of volume if she is docking it.

-- Edited by FF on Wednesday 27th of January 2010 10:16:01 AM
Theta, has you wife/So actually been on boats with the idea of living on on for long term?* I thought you were at $300K now you are at 100K for a boat that you can live on and coastal cruise thru Panama and up the left coast?****Even 300K is pushing it.** There ain't no right price for the wrong boat!!!!!
Phil Fill wrote:

Theta, has you wife/So actually been on boats with the idea of living on on for long term?I thought you were at $300K now you are at 100K for a boat that you can live on and coastal cruise thru Panama and up the left coast?*Even 300K is pushing it.There ain't no right price for the wrong boat!!!!!

Phil - yes my wife has been on and around boats all her life, but only for short periods of time - 2 wks Charter was the longest. She has stated she wants to downsize, simplify and live-aboard. Yes I have 300K available but would prefer not to blow it all at once.* I'm realizing my budget and aspirations don't match unless I go with a sailboat. I'm thinking a nice stabilized 44 Defever might be a good compromise that would work for coastal and island hopping down to the BVI's and back.

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