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Old 14-02-2009, 17:46   #1
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Wanted: inexpensive liveaboard for family

I realize this is a long shot, but hey, nothing ventured nothing gained. Mods, please tell me if this is an inappropriate posting and I'll remove it.

I am looking for a liveaboard in insurable condition that is either dirt cheap or can be owner financed (with a balloon payment once the credit crisis eases). The boat needs to be fairly large--there are four of us, so we need three separate sleeping areas that can all be closed off from the main salon. I'm thinking we need a boat that is 40', minimum, and I'd prefer not to go over 55'. My husband would like a sailboat, but beggars can't be choosers. The boat needs to be on the east coast of the US, sound and capable of moving under its own power.

We are a Navy family. My husband is currently deployed in a combat zone. Military pay doesn't make saving up for a down payment easy and VA loans don't cover boats; however, we are willing to provide Chain of Command information as security on a loan. While I am willing to do some repairs, I have two pre-teen children, so the boat needs to be a safe place for them while the repairs are ongoing.

Like I said, I realize this is a long shot. Hopefully someone who is fed up on paying dock fees on a large boat they don't use will be willing to work with us. Please PM me if you know of a boat that would fit the bill. Thank you!

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -- Groucho Marx
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Old 14-02-2009, 20:14   #2
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To get any realistic answer you need to put some number on what you mean by dirt cheap. Dirt cheap means quite different things depending on whether you look at my bank account or Bill Gates'.

Owner financing on a sailboat is unlikely, not impossible but very unlikely. Unlike owner financing a house which can be repo'ed an owner financed sailboat might disappear. Not to imply in the least that you would ever consider this but you have to look at the issue from the point of view of the seller.

If you have any equity in a house the cheapest thing to do is take out a home equity line of credit. But understand you are putting your home up as collateral and risk losing it if your finances hit the fan.

So give us some range of available capital and I'm sure you will get plenty of responses of boats to buy or advise to revise your plans. You might want to consider a smaller boat. Years ago when cruising the Caribbean I met four Germans, two couples that were living on a 27' sailboat that they sailed from Europe. If sailing is your dream maybe consider some compromises to get there.

The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
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Old 20-02-2009, 06:04   #3
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Insurable? 4 cabins?

I've recently seen boats as cheap as $5,000 that 'looked' serviceable but insurable? Check craigslist- people are giving away sailboats (not in great shape).

It'll cost you $1,000+ every year to insure a boat depending on where you live.

Go cheap, go small- Look at Dave and Jaja Martin. A family of 5 on a 30 foot boat and before that they had a 27 (?) foot boat.

We live on a 33' boat right now with our infant daughter.
We are new to living on a sailboat- we really just started before Christmas. This first several months have really been about learning what is important on a boat and how to function (including where to put all the stuff).

One thing we've learned so far. There will always be things you'll need to do the boat to make it safer and there will always be a long list of maintenance- regardless if it's a $5,000 used boat or a $500,000 new boat.

Another great maxim- "You don't know what you don't know, until you know."

We've owned our boat for about 4 years before moving aboard, we thought we understood what was important and everything there was to know about the boat. But priorities change once your actually on the boat. Unless you have a ton of experience, why not buy a cheaper, smaller boat that is easier to handle and you won't have a coronary when you run aground (and you will) or scratch the gel coat.

Everything is cheaper on a smaller boat- fuel costs, sail costs, haul outs, bottom jobs. Consider the 'whole life' cost of the boat before you break the bank to buy a 50 footer.

We own our boat outright. In todays market our boat is worth about 25-30k. So we picked up liability insurance and bought a bigger anchor.

I really think you could find a classic late 70's to early 80's fiberglass boat in the 30ish foot range for cheap and with two quarter berths and the salon- there would be enough bedding for the whole crew.

Best of Luck
1993 Gemini 3400 Catamaran
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Old 20-02-2009, 07:23   #4
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I realize this is a long shot, but hey, nothing ventured nothing gained. Mods, please tell me if this is an inappropriate posting and I'll remove it.
It's not inappropriate at all and you can't remove it yourself. You only have short window to remove posts. If it should be required you can PM any staff member here.

In any case you have a problem since there was a time when living on a boat was actually cheap housing. With housing prices soaring, the cheap boats with places to stay cheap are gone or at least here one moment and gone the next. If you forget about ever going any place there are a lot of people trying to find cheap housing. The boat idea comes up more often than you might think and it comes up here too. You are not the first one. It's not impossible but it isn't easy.

Purchasing a boat in your size range is not all that cheap and financing a boat really is more of a problem. Sellers don't usually finance for you like a house would be. Setting it up with a balloon is begging for disaster. You'll spend a lot up front and never get it back. Boat prices are not like real estate. They tend to be the other way around.

You will also need a fair amount of money in cash to fix the boat up. The loan won't include the extra money you need. Something you can afford won't be easy to live on and afford the costs of repair. Just getting basic utilities working might take a bit. Electrical, water, and sewage sort of are requirements you can't live long without. having a family aboard will identify all the problems in dramatic ways in a short period of time. Fixing them often means tearing the boat up. The practicalities of living aboard at the same time adds a lot of complexity.

If you don't have much experience you really get squeezed hard. Raising the family and dealing with all those requirements takes a lot of time but working on a boat is like 3 extra children. They cost a lot and demand a lot of time and nothing happens quickly.

You really need to do the math financially. The hard part is predicting what it will take to fix a boat you don't own up so you can live on it at the same time as work on it. Annual expenses mount quickly with boats.
Paul Blais
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Old 20-02-2009, 10:01   #5
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Best of luck to you. Your chances of finding something suitable will increase exponentially if you allow yourself to look under 40'. A beamy 35'ish with a large V and twin quarterberths may be up your alley.
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Old 20-02-2009, 10:17   #6
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Go smaller. A boat is not a condo. Met a number of families out cruising with youngsters on less than 35' boats. These boats had quarter berths that were the kids private bedrooms. Worked out well as the kids could store their toys and actually play with their friends in the quarter berth. If you can find a boat with twin quarter berths, they can be separated by curtains from the main living area quite cheaply. You and hubby can have the forepeak. If your husband has a locker(s) at work, he can store his uniforms there which will cut down on the storage needs. Buy a no window van and set it up for storage. Just too many clothing requirements for boat living if you have to hold down a job without dockside storage. A bigger boat with separate staterooms won't give a lot more room but will give you a lot more expense and headaches.

Good luck with your venture. There are boats out there. You need to find a broker that will work with you and scour all the want ad sources within a 1,000 miles of your intended location. Of course, you have to find a slip. Check with the base. Many of them have marinas or mooring fields as part of their recreation programs.

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Old 20-02-2009, 13:09   #7
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#1 question How much are you wanting to spend on a boat max?
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Old 12-03-2009, 20:12   #8
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I own a Columbia 41. It cost me $25k only because the previous owner was getting pressure at home to sell it. There was a Morgan 41 next to my boat on the hard stand. The asking price for that boat was $35k. I would advise you to go to local yards next Spring and see what was not put back in the water. You may find a boat in the 40 foot range for not so much money.

Be prepared to pay for a marine survey no matter what the owenr says about its condition. And make sure the engine, transmission and alternator are in good servicable condition--good oil pressure--no over heating, etc.

Stay with fiberglas as it is a forgiving material and working with it is an easy skill to learn. It requires only inexpensive hand and power tools. Steel hulls demand more specialized metal working skills. Ferro boats - well, I don't want to get into that.

Also, you should be prepared to pay cash for the boat. It is almost impossible to get conventional financing on any boat over 10 years old.

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Old 13-03-2009, 19:13   #9
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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
...A boat is not a condo. ..
Peter O.
Pearson 35
I think this is a very good point and brings up a question, that if you answered, I did not see and that is:

Do you just want to live aboard a boat at the dock or go cruising?

I think the answer to this will greatly influence what you need in a boat, what is comfortable whether or not it even makes sense.

A boat may be cheaper than a condo, but even a good sized one is smaller and has many costs not associated with a condo including slip fees, insurance and maintenance. Having owned both, I can tell you, the cost of these things foot for foot is astronomically more with a boat. Boats will certainly depreciate in value. If living at the dock, relying on public facilities and having other boats only yards away may get old. If you are living a normal land-based life, you may require more items, such as nice clothing, sports equipment for the kids, etc, that people who cruise may be happy without. You also can't follow the weather.

If your intent is to do more cruising on and off, your boat may have different requirements.

Some of the older 70s boats were very well made and actually have less blister problems than many of the more modern boats. Made before the rocketing gas prices, many were over built.

I'm not real familiar with most older boats in the 40+ range, but the Morgan Out Island is one that comes to mind that is often on the market on the east coast. Albegs and Persons also come to mind. I once sailed a Gibsea 44, that while more than the above mentioned boats, sold for under 75K that would have been a great family boat. - two aft staterooms and two bunk rooms up front with separate heads for each.
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Old 14-03-2009, 06:56   #10
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Originally Posted by nautical62 View Post
A boat may be cheaper than a condo, but even a good sized one is smaller and has many costs not associated with a condo including slip fees, insurance and maintenance. Having owned both, I can tell you, the cost of these things foot for foot is astronomically more with a boat.
I recently got a quote from Limehouse Marina in London, UK. Converted to US, it came to $600 per month. This is about the same as is charged live aboards at Gangplank Marina in Washington DC. However, shore side accomodation in London is more than in New York, NY. I think it depends where you are living wheather it makes sense living on your boat.

The cost of maintenance is high if you have to pay someone to do it. In DC I have been quoted $110 per hour. But the big problem with service is just having someone show up and do the work at any price. If you plan to own a cruise capable boat and you do not have very deep pockets you need to be able to trouble shoot, maintain and repair every system on your boat. That is a lot to learn.

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