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Old 21-08-2015, 18:39   #1
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Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

Quick summary:

Family of five, with a sixth visiting for a week or two at a time. Looking at a houseboat. It needs to be a house first, but a boat a close second. Basically, I don't want a floating house with an 18 gallon tank for its tiny motor. It needs to actually go places. Assuming approximately 1mpg, I can't consider anything with less than a 100 gallon tank, preferably 200. That said, it would spend most if its time docked at a marina. We'd stay put for 3+ months at a time (perhaps with a few short trips during that time).

So, it's got to handle rivers. Preferably salt water in the ICW. Maybe, just maybe a quick trip to the Bahamas in calm weather (this is not a necessity, just a "like to have").

Oh, and budget is a mere $25k. Less would be great, unless it's actually more (think I'm going to pass on the $22k boat that has an engine that won't start "because of a run down battery", a generator that would work "if you can find the parts", etc.).

Here's two contenders. While I'd love "yeah, this one" or "no way, you're an idiot", I'd like to know WHY. Then maybe I can automatically dismiss the obvious bad choices without bothering you fine folks

https://www.popyachts.com/hilburn-50...ennessee-59393

That's a 1984 Hilburn 50 foot houseboat. Now, it doesn't look like any boats I've seen that cross the ocean (though I haven't been to the Bahamas, so maybe?). But, it does have several things going for it. Cruising speed of 20mph, top speed of 25. With the Bahamas about 50 miles away from Florida, that's 2, 2.5 hours away. Who cares if you need perfect weather for this boat if you only need such a short window (of course I'd want at least 3-4 hours, but you get the idea)? 200 gallon fuel tank, that should be plenty for our needs. Two bedrooms (one's a cuddy cabin), two full bathrooms, sounds like exactly what we need. Living area would be a bit cramped, kitchen so-so, outside deck looks very usable. Two foot draft, that'd be great in the rivers, no? It's also in Tennessee which is where I'm from (kinda out of the country but going back to TN this fall).

https://www.popyachts.com/sea-master...missouri-70849

1978 Sea Master 56 foot houseboat. I cannot find anything about this make. Closest I can find is Seamaster out of England, but this does not look like any I found. Not many pictures, though I did get some info from the seller (master bedroom plus a cuddy cabin, may have extra space in the living area, awaiting some pics). It "looks" better suited for a quick hop to the Bahamas due to the shape and the name (which means nothing, I know). But, 100gallon tank, cruising speed of 8mph max of 16mph. I'd need a 3.5 to 6 hour window minimum, more like 5-8 (I realize I'm not taking into account the gulf stream which will hamper this vessel even more). Looks like it's not as well suited to our main purpose either (extended marina stays on rivers and the ICW). But maybe I'm wrong and there's a million reasons I should get this? Seller says it's not suitable for the Bahamas, but I could do it if I was lucky (at least he's honest?). It's in Missouri which is a ways from Tennessee, but we could just start our adventure there.

Yeah, I know, both bust my budget, but I see some that have been reduced from $30k to $20k, so maybe a $30k one could be had for $25k?

Was told I should look at trawlers and "Holiday Mansion", but the ones I saw that were in good condition were a bit out of my price range.

Thanks for any education you can give me.
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Old 23-08-2015, 14:06   #2
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

I will just touch on a few things here. You do not sound like someone who has had very much experience boating, but I could be wrong. There is a reason why you see those big flat-bottomed houseboats primarily on freshwater lakes. It is because their hulls are not designed for larger bodies of water such as the Atlantic, the Gulf, or large sections of the ICW or Mississippi.

Now I have read about a few large houseboats doing parts of the Great Loop, but those folks had money to burn, on gasoline to power their motors, and then on truckers to haul their boats to the next leg of their journey or back to the lake. They also tended to be on large v-hulled houseboats which are very expensive. Also, you need to be aware that unless YOU are a marine mechanic and a fiberglass technician, your boat's engines and all other parts will break down. Especially on old boats. Boatyards are about 50 times more expensive than the expensive mechanics you take your car to for repairs. And as far as the steel-hulled houseboat, have you ever heard the term "electrolysis?" Do you know the purpose of zincs?

Do you understand how costly it is to stay overnight at a marina, which charges dockage fees based on the length of your vessel?

You wrote "Living area would be a bit cramped" about a 50-foot houseboat. Living area is what you will have to give up for a boat that can go the places you want to go on your budget. If you and your family are not willing to do that, well, then perhaps you might want to rethink this.

Now, that all said, I LOVE that you have this dream of vacationing with your family on a houseboat for months at a time, and the additional dream of going to the Bahamas. However, I would strongly suggest that you do much more research on hull shapes, take some boating safety classes, and perhaps then rent a houseboat (on the St. John's river in Florida, for example) for two weeks. I understand that renting will dig into your meagre budget, but you might find that you and your spouse love it but the children do not.

Most people who move up to a larger motorized cruising vessel do so after years of pleasure boating, and that is, in my opinion, the best way to do it. The learning/experience curve is steep for novices, and you have to love messing around in boats to live on one. Even sailors, who dominate this forum, learn about sailboats and how to sail, how to make minor repairs, how to change a fuel filter, etc., before they take on a larger sailboat and extended cruising. But you sound like someone who feels the strong pull of the blue sea, the salt air, and the exhilaration of cruising.

I think that's great. I just want you and your family to be safe, to be well informed of the expenses, and to come away from your experience with a desire to get back on the water as soon as you can. I would not purchase either of those boats for ICW or Bahamas cruising for a family of five. I also would not buy either of those boats, because they are old. IF I were taking a five person group for 3 months ICW cruising and over to the Bahamas, the used boat I would buy is about 10 times more expensive. And that's a used catamaran, such as a PDQ or Lagoon Power 43 from around 2000-2004. I have friends who have bought cheap-brand boats that are over 25 years old and they have all been extremely disappointed with the maintenance issues that prevented them from enjoying their time on the water. There are exceptions to the "don't buy an old boat" rule (the brands that come to mind are Hatteras and Grand Banks) but not within your stated budget.

If you live near a big lake or a wide river, start small with a 17-24 foot pleasure craft, and learn boat handling. You will need a place to store your trailer boat when it is not in use. Be sure to take the boating safety classes. Study hull designs, and the purpose of the different types of hulls. Take your family on a two-week rented houseboat vacation. Take your family on another vacation where you go deep-sea fishing, both on a charter boat and a head boat. Talk to other boaters. I have a feeling your dream will come true someday.
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Old 23-08-2015, 14:34   #3
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

Your price range makes it tough to find something with enough space for 6 that is capable of open ocean crossings.


I think you would be better off giving up on the Bahamas. A boat that can comfortably hold that many people and safely cross in anything but extreme calms is likely outside your budget.


I would say you are fine on the rivers and the ICW with a houseboat. On some of the larger bays, you may have to wait for a weather window but much more realistic plan. We've come across a few houseboats doing the loop and they didn't express any significant issues.


I would recommend paying for a survey on any boat your are ready to put money down on (make an offer contingent on a survey). An older boat on the cheap is likely to have issues. You want to make sure they aren't fatal issues.
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Old 23-08-2015, 14:59   #4
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

Hello NumberJohnny5,

You have already gotten some very good advice up above. So my comments will be very brief.

There was a "houseboat like" boat sinking within the last year off the Gulf Coast of Florida (in relatively shallow waters, but not far offshore, a few miles off Sarasota or Tampa as I recall) that was in the news and their rescue by the USCG was discussed in a thread here on CF too.

The type of boat is a brand called "Bluewater." As you search the net looking for houseboats you will probably see one of this brand of boats. It looks sorta like a houseboat, but has a front end (bow) that looks similar to some trawlers. They look something like a "hybrid" of a Houseboat and a Trawler. They come in various sizes (some longer than 50 feet). The stern of the boat is low and there is usually a large "sliding glass door" across the back end of the boat (typical for houseboats). That big and low door is a dangerous thing to have in the ocean.

My point?
It sank in mild weather and low seas due to water coming over the stern. It quickly filled up with water and down she went, with the crew/family having to jump in the water and tread water until the Coast Guard arrived. The sea conditions (waves) looked "almost calm" and nothing like what might be encountered if that boat had tried to go to the Bahamas.

In short, to do the Bahamas trips, you would be safer in a boat that is more seaworthy. Some boats are fine for canals and lakes, but are definitely OUT of their element or intended use if taken on the ocean.

Perhaps another member here can post a link to that earlier thread so you can read about that sinking and see what I mean.

I will attach two photos of a Bluewater 48 to show you the type and size of boat that sank in that incident.

Good luck on your boat decision.
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Old 23-08-2015, 15:40   #5
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

Steady,

The cause of the sinking was actually never figured out. But it didn't have anything to do with water coming in over the transom. Best guess was an internal fitting failure that lead to water ingress, and finally overtopping of the transom.

The Bluewater Yachts are intended to be a crossover between riverboats (traditional houseboats) and offshore yachts. They pay for this in a lot of ways, and our rule is to never be more than two hours from a protected anchorage, but we have had ours out in 5' seas with no issue. It may be uncomfortable, but it isn't unsafe.

That being said, my real concern with the OP's question is one of budget. Any boat this size is going to cost a lot to operate. With a purchase price of $25,000 it makes me worry about being able to afford the fuel bill. Excluding the generator we burn about a gallon a mile at displacement speeds, and while running at cruising speed will burn 500 gallons of diesel a day or so.

Large power boats are a very expensive way to move around, and this needs to be accounted for. As well as dockage costs. Which for a transient is easily $1/day/foot around here, or for a 40' boat $1,200/month.
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Old 23-08-2015, 16:10   #6
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

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Steady,

The cause of the sinking was actually never figured out. But it didn't have anything to do with water coming in over the transom. Best guess was an internal fitting failure that lead to water ingress, and finally overtopping of the transom.

The Bluewater Yachts are intended to be a crossover between riverboats (traditional houseboats) and offshore yachts. They pay for this in a lot of ways, and our rule is to never be more than two hours from a protected anchorage, but we have had ours out in 5' seas with no issue. It may be uncomfortable, but it isn't unsafe.

That being said, my real concern with the OP's question is one of budget. Any boat this size is going to cost a lot to operate. With a purchase price of $25,000 it makes me worry about being able to afford the fuel bill. Excluding the generator we burn about a gallon a mile at displacement speeds, and while running at cruising speed will burn 500 gallons of diesel a day or so.

Large power boats are a very expensive way to move around, and this needs to be accounted for. As well as dockage costs. Which for a transient is easily $1/day/foot around here, or for a 40' boat $1,200/month.
Hi Greg,

Thanks for adding to the discussion.
I remembered you own a Bluewater boat, and almost wrote a reference to that earlier. I defer to your experience as an owner of the boat.

You do recall that incident I mentioned. Pleas post a link to that thread here in this one, if you have it or recall the place or date.

Thanks for posting the fuel consumption info on your boat too.

The Bluewater boat looks appealing for the river canal or lake use, but I personally would not want to consume so much fuel, prefer to sail if possible, and plan on long distance voyaging, so that type of boat is not for me. I am not slamming it, just "horses for courses."

Respectfully,
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Old 23-08-2015, 16:46   #7
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

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Originally Posted by Miz Pea View Post
I will just touch on a few things here. You do not sound like someone who has had very much experience boating,
Well that's just not true at all. I have taken an inflatable boat out on a lake at least a half dozen times. Ok, that may be exaggerating a bit, but at least four times (three of which I was captain).

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Originally Posted by Miz Pea View Post
Also, you need to be aware that unless YOU are a marine mechanic and a fiberglass technician, your boat's engines and all other parts will break down.
I did use some fiberglass to build a Dalek once, does that count? I can do basic maintenance on cars (more than just change oil, though that's probably the number one preventative maintenance one can do).

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Originally Posted by Miz Pea View Post
And as far as the steel-hulled houseboat, have you ever heard the term "electrolysis?" Do you know the purpose of zincs?
I do understand the scientific concept. Understand about anodes, and why you want them, especially with an aluminum hull with steel attached. And that you don't want too many (or specifically, to much total anode, I know I'm not wording that right)


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Do you understand how costly it is to stay overnight at a marina, which charges dockage fees based on the length of your vessel?
Looks to range around $1.50 to $2 per foot. Price wise, looks to be very similar to staying in an RV. You can pay a monthly fee with metered electric, a daily (or maybe weekly) fee that's nearly the same as a motel stay, or you can boondock (Walmart parking lot vs anchoring) for "free".

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Originally Posted by Miz Pea View Post
Living area is what you will have to give up for a boat that can go the places you want to go on your budget. If you and your family are not willing to do that, well, then perhaps you might want to rethink this.
Four of us (plus four cats) were in an RV that was 8' by 25' usable space (plus the washer/dryer, which was installed in the passenger seat area). 12'-14' by 40-ish (inside usable space) would have quite a bit more space (might be a bit under 40, but you have the outside deck, plus maybe a cuddy cabin underneath the main deck).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miz Pea View Post
However, I would strongly suggest that you do much more research on hull shapes, take some boating safety classes, and perhaps then rent a houseboat (on the St. John's river in Florida, for example) for two weeks. I understand that renting will dig into your meagre budget,
Yeah, renting would definitely cut into our budget, especially if we want to experience the same size. I'm definitely going to look into safety classes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miz Pea View Post
IF I were taking a five person group for 3 months ICW cruising and over to the Bahamas, the used boat I would buy is about 10 times more expensive.
Yeah, that's not going to happen. In 5+ years we MIGHT be in a position to pay half that for something to sail around the world. For that money, I could buy nine old boats and hope one turned out to not be a dud, AND have plenty left over for a few cruises to the Bahamas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miz Pea View Post
There are exceptions to the "don't buy an old boat" rule (the brands that come to mind are Hatteras and Grand Banks) but not within your stated budget.
I know that steel hulls at that age should generally be avoided. What about fiberglass and aluminum? I've also read that "cored hulls" of that age are a concern, is that something I'd need to worry about if it's aluminum? Just trying to figure out exactly what sets apart a good and bad boat just from a quick glance. For example, if looking at a bus, if it has virtually any diesel engine coupled with an Allison transmission, it's probably built good (there are Allison transmissions that are better than others, but even the worst are still good).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miz Pea View Post
If you live near a big lake or a wide river, start small with a 17-24 foot pleasure craft, and learn boat handling. You will need a place to store your trailer boat when it is not in use. Be sure to take the boating safety classes. Study hull designs, and the purpose of the different types of hulls. Take your family on a two-week rented houseboat vacation. Take your family on another vacation where you go deep-sea fishing, both on a charter boat and a head boat. Talk to other boaters. I have a feeling your dream will come true someday.
All good advice. Some isn't quite practical for what I have in mind. To get a pleasure craft that's not docked all the time, I would need a truck. We're not into deep sea fishing, but have been on a catamaran in the ocean (trip to the Great Barrier reef, ocean was not calm and we did get a bit sick that time). Houseboat vacation not a bad idea. Definitely need to study on hull designs and take a safety class.

Many thanks for your reply.
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Old 23-08-2015, 16:57   #8
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

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Steady,
The Bluewater Yachts are intended to be a crossover between riverboats (traditional houseboats) and offshore yachts. They pay for this in a lot of ways, and our rule is to never be more than two hours from a protected anchorage, but we have had ours out in 5' seas with no issue. It may be uncomfortable, but it isn't unsafe.
Bit out of my price range. BUT...

For a moment, let's say I'm limiting my usage to rivers and calm areas of the ICW.

Next, let's say that I'm looking between a 50' 1973 Bluewater Coastal Islander for just under $50k vs the Hilburn I posted above for $25k (the numbers would probably be more like $45k to $30k). Is the 73 Bluewater on average going to be in better shape than the Hilburn, requiring less maintenance? Is it worth 50-100% more for rivers and ICW usage (no open ocean, no Great Lakes)? Or am I going to have roughly the same maintenance costs, higher insurance, and no real additional utility out of the more expensive vessel?

I know, I know, I'm asking for hypotheticals and guesstimates. Trying to take a crash course in how to make these quick decisions. Not so I can buy one on the spot, but so I can pester you fine folks about 2-3 real contenders vs a few dozen obviously horrible deals. I don't want you guys to get aggravated with me quite so soon, hopefully it'll be a few months before you're tired of me
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Old 23-08-2015, 17:15   #9
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

Thought a quick "why is he even considering this?" explanation may be in order, since I have a feeling I'm about to get asked.

Lest you think I'm crazy, let me assure you, I am. My crazy ideas tend to pan out. I do research, I make sure I can (probably) make it happen, make sure the risk (personal and financial) is acceptable, and then jump all in.

I had never been in a motorhome, let alone drove one, before I bought a bookmobile and converted it to an RV. First year we took it from Tennessee to Texas, back to Tennessee, then to Alaska (where I drove it as far north as Prudhoe Bay). All that within about a year of "I think I'd like to..."

Decided I'd like to live in Australia for a bit. Now, it took a bit longer due to lots and lots and lots of paperwork and bureaucracy, but here we are. The first time we ever set foot in Australia was as permanent residents.

So, yeah, I'm a bit crazy for thinking I can jump right into this. I also know that if I really want to, I'll be able to.

Finances: We won't spend anything we can't afford to lose. We could not afford to lose $300k or even $100k. Losing $50k would be a big blow. $30k, that wouldn't be great, but we'd recover. We won't take out loans. The houseboat should pay for itself, let me elaborate.

We'd sell our house (mobile home), should get $25k, could be less. That's most of the cost of the houseboat.

Wife is a travel nurse. She gets a housing stipend. It's not a "we'll reimburse you up to X", it's "we'll pay you X, we don't care if you end up paying more or less than that." So if an apartment costs $1k a month to rent, and it'd cost $500 a month to dock a boat, that's $500 in "profit". Now, maintenance might eat up most or all of that (or even more), but saving hundreds (even a thousand) per month for 6-9 months of the year will go a long way to paying for maintenance.

There's the whole adventure side of it too. I can't see how it'd be detrimental to the kids to spend time living on the water. Broaden horizons and all that.

Lastly, I have a high school reunion coming up. Yeah, I GUESS I could go there and only brag about driving the Alaska highway, living in Alaska for a while (we went back the next two years, but stayed in a proper apartment), and becoming Australian citizens. Adding in "yeah, living on a houseboat, in fact it's right over there (last reunion was on Kentucky Lake) would seal the deal. Go big or go home, right?
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Old 23-08-2015, 18:17   #10
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

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Hello NumberJohnny5,

You have already gotten some very good advice up above. So my comments will be very brief.

There was a "houseboat like" boat sinking within the last year off the Gulf Coast of Florida (in relatively shallow waters, but not far offshore, a few miles off Sarasota or Tampa as I recall) that was in the news and their rescue by the USCG was discussed in a thread here on CF too.

The type of boat is a brand called "Bluewater." As you search the net looking for houseboats you will probably see one of this brand of boats. It looks sorta like a houseboat, but has a front end (bow) that looks similar to some trawlers. They look something like a "hybrid" of a Houseboat and a Trawler. They come in various sizes (some longer than 50 feet). The stern of the boat is low and there is usually a large "sliding glass door" across the back end of the boat (typical for houseboats). That big and low door is a dangerous thing to have in the ocean.

My point?
It sank in mild weather and low seas due to water coming over the stern. It quickly filled up with water and down she went, with the crew/family having to jump in the water and tread water until the Coast Guard arrived. The sea conditions (waves) looked "almost calm" and nothing like what might be encountered if that boat had tried to go to the Bahamas.

In short, to do the Bahamas trips, you would be safer in a boat that is more seaworthy. Some boats are fine for canals and lakes, but are definitely OUT of their element or intended use if taken on the ocean.

Perhaps another member here can post a link to that earlier thread so you can read about that sinking and see what I mean.

I will attach two photos of a Bluewater 48 to show you the type and size of boat that sank in that incident.

Good luck on your boat decision.

The boat in question was slipped next to mine and sank about 5 miles off of Crystal River. The owners have now bought a houseboat to live on and are in the same slip. The cause for the sinking was a failure of one of the exhaust hoses. It was cracked and water came in through the exhaust while they were having dinner on the hook. By the time they realized it the water had overcome the bilge pumps and there was not much they could do.


As for the OP's questions. $25,000 for a seaworthy boat is not going to get you something that large.

A quick hop to the Bahamas has killed more than a few people over the years. We just got back from a 16 day trip to the Bahamas and what started out as smooth seas built into a 5-6' beam sea in the Gulf Stream.

For what it's worth that trip was right on budget until we got back to Florida and did some damage thanks to an unseen shoal. That delay cost us just shy of $4500 (just shy of 20% of your budget on one trip!)
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Old 23-08-2015, 18:21   #11
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

Honestly, a 50' boat you pay $25,000 for, you probably won't like for very long. The maintenance will be quite time consuming and costly. Both of those linked boat would be beat to death, even just on the ICW. The first hot-shot in a 60' sportfish or power cruiser throwing a 3' breaking wake will swamp those low-freeboard boats.

I am not saying it CAN'T be done and I don't discount your passion for it, but there are reasons those boats are designed the way they are and the boats on the ICW are designed the way THEY are... The hundreds of years of boat design evolution lead us to it.

If you planned on parking one of these behind your waterfront house on a river or lake... It would be perfect for day cruises or calm nights out, but to have 6+ people onboard for weeks in waters the boat was not designed for could lead to disappointment or disaster. If it was just you and your spouse or a family of three, your budget COULD work, but 6+ people has likely put that dream a little out of reach.

I really don't want to pee in your Corn Flakes, but from where I sit, that's the reality. Good luck... Keep trying... but KEEP LEARNING what you need to know FIRST before doing something that you might regret.
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Old 23-08-2015, 18:37   #12
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

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If you planned on parking one of these behind your waterfront house on a river or lake... It would be perfect for day cruises or calm nights out, but to have 6+ people onboard for weeks in waters the boat was not designed for could lead to disappointment or disaster. If it was just you and your spouse or a family of three, your budget COULD work, but 6+ people has likely put that dream a little out of reach.
Don't have a waterfront house yet...heck...why would I if I had a house directly on the water? A piece of land to call "home" with a dock wouldn't be a bad idea at all.

Most of the time in the houseboat would be spent at a covered slip (I would do uncovered if that's all there was, but I really don't want the boat aging in dog years). Most weekend trips would just be to explore what's nearby. Every 3-6 months or so might see a big repositioning trip where we travel hundreds of miles to the next place (if we really like an area, we could easily stay for a year or more). Since we'd spend most/all of our time actually living in it, the "house" part of houseboat would be the most important consideration. Since we don't want it to sink and do need it to actually get us from point A to point B occasionally, the "boat" part of houseboat is nearly as important. So no floating platform with a trailer put on top and a tiny outboard motor so it's "technically" a houseboat (seriously, an 18 gallon capacity for a huge boat?). And while a quick excursion to the Bahamas would be nice, it's certainly not a requirement.

I am curious though, how did all those houseboats get to the Bahamas in the first place? Transported on a barge? Built there? Crossed fingers and lots of luck?

Thanks all.
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Old 23-08-2015, 21:41   #13
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

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Bit out of my price range. BUT...

For a moment, let's say I'm limiting my usage to rivers and calm areas of the ICW.

Next, let's say that I'm looking between a 50' 1973 Bluewater Coastal Islander for just under $50k vs the Hilburn I posted above for $25k (the numbers would probably be more like $45k to $30k). Is the 73 Bluewater on average going to be in better shape than the Hilburn, requiring less maintenance? Is it worth 50-100% more for rivers and ICW usage (no open ocean, no Great Lakes)? Or am I going to have roughly the same maintenance costs, higher insurance, and no real additional utility out of the more expensive vessel?

I know, I know, I'm asking for hypotheticals and guesstimates. Trying to take a crash course in how to make these quick decisions. Not so I can buy one on the spot, but so I can pester you fine folks about 2-3 real contenders vs a few dozen obviously horrible deals. I don't want you guys to get aggravated with me quite so soon, hopefully it'll be a few months before you're tired of me
There are a lot of questions here some of which you may not even realize, so let me try to unpack age them a little...

1) Bluewater were built better than traditional houseboats. Honestly much better. On ours hardware is mounted with substantial backing plates, the engines are high end Catapillars, the fuel tank was above minimum spec, ext. But on vessels this old there is no general rule. You would have to inspect each of them to really know for sure what state they are in. But on average I would bet the Bluewater is in better condition, they were more expensive, built better, and used better components when new.

2) The Bluewater's additional freeboard and raised bow buys you a lot of seakeeping capability. On dead calm waters it doesn't really matter, even an inflatable raft is fine. But in almost any chop houseboats struggle. They are designed for dead flat water and at this they are the cheapest boat possible, but there isn't much reserve. If all i was doing is protected water I would consider them, but even large bodies of protected water may be pushing it.

3) Maintenance/insurance is very hard to predict, but I generally assume it will run 10% the purchase price of the boat to keep in the same condition. Some years more, some years less. Again when dealing with boats of this age its a bit of a crap shoot. One may have been lovingly babied by a diesel mechanic the other may have been owned by someone who never changed the oil. The only way to know is to dig into the history of the specific boat.

On average I would guess they will require about the same, the more expensive boat will cost more to insure. The larger more to dock and in fuel...

4) One of the major hits when buying older boats is deferred maintenance. It can run the gamut from outdated electronics, to blown engines, and again you just have to look at the specifics. One of the advantages to the Bluewater as I see it is that the quality of the initially installed equipment was better, and likely will have a longer lifespan.


Finally I should be clear, while I am obviously an advocate of the Bluewaters (we own one after all) they are not a panacea. Compared to other motor yachts their size they are far less seaworthy. The build quality doesn't compare to a Hatteras or Hinkley, and some of the choices about gear was driven more by price than seaworthiness. These are not ocean going boats, but they do work very well as coastal cruising.
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Old 23-08-2015, 21:44   #14
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberJohnny5 View Post
I am curious though, how did all those houseboats get to the Bahamas in the first place? Transported on a barge? Built there? Crossed fingers and lots of luck?

Thanks all.
Some by barge, others by being very careful of when they go. Its only 25 miles or so from Florida to the Cut, and if you are willing to wait for a day when the Atlantic is glass calm you can make it across in a few hours. But there is no telling when those days will occur.
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Old 24-08-2015, 05:47   #15
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Re: Best all around boat for rivers and possible Bahamas

We split time between our boat and our RV, so we have a good idea of the similarities and the differences.

With a 34' boat suitable for a couple (maybe a famly of 4 if the kids are under 10), you can probably figure boating will be double the cost and quadruple the complications of an RV.

Bump it up to a 50' boat suitable for open water and you are probably quadruple the costs. Any $25k 50' boat meeting these needs is likely to be a cluster needing a huge amount of work.

Seriously consider dropping back to a more sedate plan of playing on the ICW if you go the cheap 30yr old houseboat plan.

I would also be concerned with your wife's job. If you need to be 1000 miles away for a new job post, a week allows for a leisurely trip. On the other hand 300miles away and you may be looking at a month by slow boat if you have to larger bays to cross and the weather turns snotty. That kind of pressure gets people out in conditions they shouldn't be.
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