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Old 19-08-2011, 06:56   #1
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I Want to Learn From Your Experience

Didnít know exactly where to put this, Iím new here and new to sailing. I have spent the last several hours going through some very informative threads in the liveaboard section and other, but still have some questions.

Some quick (hopefully) background;
44 years old, Air Force pilot living in Birmingham, Al. Very handy with construction, elec wiring, plumbing. Etc. Never done anything with fiberglass. Very comfortable on the water , SCUBA, ski boats, etc. Two weeks trial and error with a sunfish in Guam, 1 week instruction on 22í Catalina in Diego Garcia. Love small space living, lived in 27í RV for 6 months, spend lots of time in 10x10 rooms for months with the military (like right now). Separated for the past two years with 4 kids.

I have always thought Iíd like to live on a boat. Recently we hired a female pilot from the Huston area who lived on a sailboat for 6 years (not much cruising, just local and liveaboard). She has reignited the desire to work out a boat option. I made an uninformed impulse buy on the RV (older & cheep, but leaked), and donít wish to repeat that experience. Not being an RVír I didnít even know what questions to ask or what to look for.

For the near term I would like to shift the $600 a month Iím flushing for a crappy apartment into something that is at least mine. I could keep the boat in Smith Lake near Birmingham as a liveaboard, with access to the Gulf via the lock & dam system for when the opportunity arises to travel. Long term I would like boat that is bluewater worthy enough for a world sail, when my skills have risen to the challenge. Retirement options in Guam, Australia, Thailand, Iíve not ruled out any options.

I have learned the value of getting quality up front to avoid having to upgrade in a short time, also I would like to keep something I have invested sweat equity into long enough to enjoy it.

I started in the <30í/ 10k range and have quickly come to the conclusion that in order to get the BW capability down the road, a more realistic range is mid 30ís and more around the 20-25k range.

My question are "what are the things I should look for as ďmust haveĒ or ďstay away fromĒ when selecting a boat". I assume I should plan on a new survey for structural issues, but specifically Iím looking for things like brand, rig type, wheel or tiller, alcohol/propane/butane, radar, autopilot, Y valve (I donít even know what that is, but I can guess), AC, frige, generator vs. wind turbine, all sheets to cockpit, etc.

I know that anything can be changed with enough $$, but Iím hoping to start with a shell I can live on for the next 5 to 10 years and grow it into something I could retire on and sail the world.

Sorry for the length, and thank you for your inputs.
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Old 19-08-2011, 07:48   #2
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

Welcome Phil

It does look like you would be comfortable on a boat.. a good fit given the data you provided.

For the money your talking about it will be a Monohull that might even still float..... I live in Kemah, there are plenty hurricane damaged boats along the Gulf Coast that are big enough to do what you want.

I'd say look at tonnage and design. There are lots of thin hulled coastal cruisers available in that length, that's not what you want if your eventually striking out for the wild blue. I'd like to see you in a 34 to 38'er.

I know where there is a peach of a boat for sale (a buddy of mine) s/v Kaleo Ľ Kaleo Is For Sale it's more than twice what you quoted, but it's ready to go and quite nice inside and out. She's in Annapolis. I sailed beside her many months in the Bahamas this year, she's tried and true with fresh upgrades.

When you buy a boat and stretch her legs for the first time you find out the weak spots, Kaleo's got the kinks all worked out, shes truly ready to go.

Good luck, the boat you want is out there.... but I recommend buying one that still has her a mast... lol. If your budget is set where you say, don't be thwarted in your search though, there IS that option.

SYL
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Old 19-08-2011, 07:56   #3
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

I suggest that you get a copy of "The Voyager's Handbook" by Beth Leonard. In my opinion it does a good job of laying out the considerations for choosing a blue water boat and outfitting it. It would help you go through the thought processes for most of the areas you are asking about, and also help you figure out the characteristics in a boat that you really want, as well as which compromises you are willing to live with.
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Old 19-08-2011, 08:04   #4
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

Welcome! Another good read is Nigel Calder's Cruising Handbook. It has a long and detailed section on boat selections, pluses and minuses.
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Old 19-08-2011, 08:21   #5
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

Even before you get involved in looking for a boat as a "live-aboard" find out whether you can put a boat into that lake and live-aboard it legally. Each State and locality in the USA is progressively restricting and banning "live-aboards" by using such techniques as anti-pollution regulations and restrictions on marinas that had in the past or might still be allowing live-aboards.
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Old 19-08-2011, 19:24   #6
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

Welcome Aboard Cruisers Forum
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Old 20-08-2011, 11:51   #7
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

I just bought a project boat. The project grew a lot as they all do. Buy something complete or you'll spend twice as much money as you planned, many weeks, and a thousand trips to the hardware store. I am so sick of the hardware store.
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Old 20-08-2011, 13:35   #8
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

Thank you'll for the welcome and the advice. I've ordered a few books, and I'm looking into the Alabama liveaboard regs.

Surely there are some things that could help me narrow the field. I know it's all very objective, but thatís what I'm looking for. I've seen all variations of boats available, mostly on yatchworld, and I just want to be able to take some off the list.

SWW914, I hear what youíre saying. After dumping thousands more into the "good deal" RV, it was not such a good deal after all.

For example I've seen a few boats that don't seem to have a pressurized water system. I'm sure it could be converted, but I don't know how big a deal it really is. Or like the question of a tiller vs. a wheel. Wheel seems more common, but I've seen a few nice boats with tiller. If someone could just offer some sage advice like "stay away from the tiller" or "it's not a big deal, you can always convert down the line relatively easily".

I know I have lists in my head for all my long term hobbies like camping, climbing, SCUBA gear, even baby gear. I can tell someone that a thing called a "mighty-tight" to crank down a car seat is the best $25 they can spend on baby stuff and I would consider it a must have. Or even though a two man backpack tent that is not free standing may be $100 cheaper, you will regret it the first time you put it up. Go ahead and spend the extra.

I'm trying to avoid the learning curve on the equipment side of this purchase. I don't want to be the only guy with a butane stove only to realize you canít get butane anywhere in the world.

Thanks again, I look forward to learning.
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Old 20-08-2011, 13:41   #9
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

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Originally Posted by phillims View Post
For example I've seen a few boats that don't seem to have a pressurized water system. I'm sure it could be converted, but I don't know how big a deal it really is. Or like the question of a tiller vs. a wheel. Wheel seems more common, but I've seen a few nice boats with tiller. If someone could just offer some sage advice like "stay away from the tiller" or "it's not a big deal, you can always convert down the line relatively easily".
Both are fine. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Tillers are simpler creatures and easy to inspect and fix. Wheel steering clears up some space in the cockpit but takes a bit more to maintain. Both are common. Both work. I wouldn't worry too much over this one. Just make sure if it is a wheel that the system is in good condition and it has an emergency tiller onboard that does work.

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I'm trying to avoid the learning curve on the equipment side of this purchase. I don't want to be the only guy with a butane stove only to realize you can’t get butane anywhere in the world.
Get a propane stove if possible. Its the most common world wide. The only other real option in my opinion is an alcohol stove, but if you get one with that, make sure its the non-pressurized sort. But like I said, propane is everywhere. People know how to work it, fix it, replace it, use it, etc.
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Old 20-08-2011, 17:17   #10
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

Visit a few marinas and check the bulletin boards for boats for sale and or walk the docks. Sometimes you'll find a gem. OK lots will be in poor condition, but you might get lucky too. Most older boats will need lots of love to bring up to snuff.

I would aim for mid 30 foot range, as you'll have more stuff as a liveaboard (though not that much more)

When I found my 34 foot sailboat, it had been neglected, The hull and rigging were sound and it had a very low hours yanmar. All the inside systems were shot. But if your handy, then plumbing and even 12V/ 120V rewiring is not that hard to fix and you can repair / replace it over time.

Pretty much the biggies are a strong sturdy hull and a young engine (younger the better) and good standing rigging.

Sounds like you'll do great as a liveaboarder
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Old 20-08-2011, 17:53   #11
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

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... For example I've seen a few boats that don't seem to have a pressurized water system. I'm sure it could be converted, but I don't know how big a deal it really is. ...
You don't need much more than the two black objects in the middle of the photo. (Tank and gauge to the right are for the air horn and the objects to the left are for a fuel polishing system.)

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Old 20-08-2011, 17:59   #12
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

And you can skip the accumulator tank if you use a Variable Speed Demand potable water pump.
- - But on a small vessel (budget cruiser) why bother with electric pumps and stuff. Install foot diaphragm pump(s) at the sink(s) and avoid all that wiring and plumbing problems. Not to mention potable water loss if a spigot or valve leaks.
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Old 20-08-2011, 18:05   #13
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

Phil,
You're in my neck of the woods. I've spent many hours on Smith Lake. Have a brother who lives there and I sail a Hobie18 there as well.

So, I just wanted to let you know Smith Lake doesn't connect to the waterway system of the Black Warrier and Tombigbee Rivers. It's a common mistake.

Smith Lake is created by a Alabama Power Company dam on Sipsey River (I think) that flows into the Warrier downstream of the dam. This is a very tall earthen dam with no lock to downriver. No access via locks and dams to Mobile or the Ten-Tom waterway.

There might be a live-aboard option on the Black Warrier itself, south of Smith lake, that would work for you. This would be in the Birmingport area, somewhere south of the Gorgas Steam Plant. There is a "lake" on the river that I can't think of the name right now. I can find out.

Right now, I'm on the water in Orange Beach, AL on the Gulf coast. Been traveling from St. Pete, FL for three months now and just found my new home here yesterday. I'm loving life on water, and hope you do as well.
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Old 20-08-2011, 18:09   #14
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

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... why bother with electric pumps and stuff. Install foot diaphragm pump(s) at the sink(s) and avoid all that wiring and plumbing problems. Not to mention potable water loss if a spigot or valve leaks.
Some of us can't walk and chew gum without falling or bumping into objects let alone pump with one foot while using hands to wash dishes.
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Old 20-08-2011, 22:03   #15
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Re: I Want to Learn From Your Experience

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You don't need much more than the two black objects in the middle of the photo. (Tank and gauge to the right are for the air horn and the objects to the left are for a fuel polishing system.)

That sure is a pretty install.
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