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Old 06-11-2006, 05:15   #1
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Just how insane is this idea?

I may be contemplating craziness....

My wife and I are planning on taking our two kids on an extended cruise leaving on or about January 10th, 2011. At that point our kids will be 12 and 8. We will live aboard, home school and cruise starting on the eastern seaboard. The plan at this point is to work our way down from Maine to Florida, across the the Bahamas and down the islands to Venezuela. Then head over to Panama and either continue north to complete a caribbean circle, or if all goes well cross through the canal to begin a 5 year circumnavigation. We would want to spend a year to 18 months on the east coast and caribbean to really sort and learn the boat plus gain skills.

I grew up around boats, sailed all the time as a kid and my family had a Catalina 27 and my wife and I have done the bareboat certification thing and chartered. We also have owned larger powerboats here on Lake Lanier in GA where we live. But we are hoping to gain more experience before moving aboard.

Chartering is expensive and its not gaining experience in YOUR boat. So I have been thinking.... always a dangerous thing. Perhaps we should go ahead and buy a boat and by having a boat we will do lots more sailing get aways and thus build more experience. The sailing school we went too may also be able to put a boat we purchase into crewed sailing school service thus offsetting some of the expense.

What does anyone know about the Liberty 458? We want a solid mono-hull with 3 cabins that is seakindly, sails well, has lots of storage and is the smallest boat BIG enough for a family of 4 to live aboard with each kid having their own cabin. I have found a Liberty 458 for sale that has two forward cabins and I LOVE these boats. They are just gorgeous and apparently pretty solid boats. Anyone have experience with them? ALL ideas and opinions are welcome!

This particular boat needs some cosmetics and refit work and thats reflected in the price. Here is where my thinking may be getting truely absurd: Would I be better off paying a yard to do all the work.... or should I sail the boat to Savannah, GA and from there have it trucked to the lake where it will be 10 minutes from my home and then do all the work I can myself????

I have no frame of reference at all on what moving such a boat would cost. How big a deal is it to take down the mast? Any clues on what trucking costs would run? Is this simply stupidity and unrealistic?

I am a very handy guy, have tons of tools and generally can fix pretty much anything. I build my own racecars, and have a good bit of mechanical experience. I have trust issues when it comes to others doing work I consider critical.... I have found that just about nobody will do as good a job as I will. I also feel that if I am going to take my family on an extended cruise I want to knowthe boat upside down and backwards and I want the boat to be in truely tip-top condition. So if the boat were at my local marina 10 minutes away from my house, I could spend a year of so making it perfect and then have it moved back to the ocean. We could use it on the lake during the summer... Lanier is a big lake (over 600 miles of shoreline) and gain some easy sailing experience on her.

Then again... perhaps the smart move is to save the money and have it earning income to pile into a cruising kitty and look to buy a boat 6 months or so before were set to leave???

What are others thoughts?


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Old 06-11-2006, 05:41   #2
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Well, I have worked in several fields with my hands. I have found many people who say one thing and doing another.

Boating is a different field. You do have a good thing that you can use tools. Some people do not know that. Now is the other problem. Learning how to work Marine. Can you do the work that will hold up to storm conditions? Are you willing to risk you and your families lifes on this?

I am sure some of the work you can learn how to do. Some of it may require somebody who has done it before.

I do not know what you are looking at. If you have a good yard that you trust and can afford to pay them to the criticial work. I suggest that you do.

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Old 06-11-2006, 05:42   #3
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You've asked a lot of questions. Lets see if I can answer a few of them.

The best way to learn your boat inside and out is to do a refit yourself prior to cruising. If you pay a yard to do it, you are not going to understand the installed equipment thoroughly, you are not really going to know the quality of the installation, and you are going to spend enormous amounts of money.

To facilitate a refit the boat should be as close to your home as possible to make it easy to get some work done at almost anytime. I have put boats in my back yard so I could work on them anytime. Some people live aboard while they refit as I am doing right now.

Experience with your boat, be it mechanical or operational is the best safety measure you can have. Gain as much experience as time, money and circumstance allows.

Trucking a large boat overland is a complicated and expensive process. My last experience was a bad one, but it doesn't have to be. Just be prepared to spend a few bucks.

Is your idea insane? No. In fact it seems you have thought well and hard about what you want and will eventually come up with a plan that suits you well. Good luck.

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Old 06-11-2006, 05:56   #4
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I have worked on larger Sea Ray powerboats we have owned doing all the required maintenance and repairs. I have also done extensive fiberglass work on racecars. I figure that having built racecars and then put my life on the line driving them at 10/10ths I know a little bit about evaluating and completing safety critical projects. If I was not 100% comfortable that I could properly do a project, I would get a yard to do it. I am pretty sure that refinishing woodwork or wiring up electrical items isnt rocket science.

Richard.... your thoughts nail down what I have been thinking. I really want to know my boat upside down and backwards. When something goes wrong, I want to have a clear mental image of exactly where the problem could be, how that system is installed and works and what likely corrective measures would be. It would seem the best way to accomplish that would to be refitting a boat yourself and becoming as intimately familiar with all the system as possible.

Then again.... I have no frame of reference when it comes to having a boat moved. Un-stepping the mast and rigging for transport? Is that $500 or $50K? Moving a boat by truck for 300 miles or more.... is it $25 per mile or $25K per mile? I have no clue.

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Old 06-11-2006, 07:01   #5
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I have stepped/unstepped masts for as little as $75 by doing all of the rigging and cradling myself and only having to pay for crane time at an understanding yard. On the other hand, a full service yard doing everything is likely to cost over $300 and possibly over $500 depending on where you have the work done.

My last move cost over $1000 in lift fees/yard charges in Boston just to put the boat on a truck and I did the work on removing the flybride. Add to that air travel, hotels and meals and that was another $1000.

For trucking, there is a pickup charge, different for each firm. A mileage charge, somewhere around .15c per mile but that is an old figure. A per diem and then permits and chase vehicles depending upon height and width. All these items get added up and the trucking company gives you a bid for the move. Not surprisingly all the bids seem to come out within one or two hundred dollars of each other. There are several companies that give estimates right online so you can get an idea of what the move will cost. Try and for starters. They have trucking companies listed.

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Old 06-11-2006, 07:41   #6
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The critical decision on working on the boat yourself, or using a yard, is whether you can earn more money working at your day job than it costs for the yard to work on your boat. This will be an easier calculation when you also have to take transport a long distance (both there and back) into account. It then becomes a trade off between buy now and pay for fix, or work a bit more and by something that doesnt need the fixing.
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Old 06-11-2006, 10:08   #7
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Hi Terry:

I also have a family of four and am going cruisng for an extended time. I have bought my boat and am at a point where I am debating having the yard do the work or do the work myself. For one thing the complexity of the boat may decide what you do. I look at the systems on my boat -- watermaker, radar, SSB, among others. I need to understand my boat and while I am handy it is mostly with building houses. If you have a need to work on the boat and understand the systems then I think that you have answered your own question. You can get answers from this forum and from books (I like Caulder's books). YOu can weigh the financial end of it -- does it make more economic sense to have the boat close by. But there is also the emotional side of it -- I want to have the family boat close by. (BTW my boat is 18 hours away) Remeber you will get more use out of it and be able to supervise any work thatis done.

There is another alternative. You can make a list of the things that you want done and then divide that into those that you want to do and those that you want the yard to do and then (if you can find the right yard) those that you want to help the yard do. Although there is a major expense in owning a boat it will be good to have the boat close by for two reasons: 1) you and your family can create a bond with the boat AND 2)even if you want the yard to do the work you have to know what you want done and in order to do that you need sail the boat.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 06-11-2006, 10:51   #8
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Aloha Terry,
I am doing what you are intending to do except you had a plan and I didn't when I started out. After all the years and money I've expended on this dream which was interrupted by building a home, rebuilding other boats and starting a yacht club I would do things differently.
I now find boats complete and in sailing condition for the same price and expense which I have paid for a derelict plus all the parts and pieces not including the time I have put into it. I say to myself, "I certainly wish I would have put that money in an account so I could go down to the dock and buy any boat there." The other side of the debate is that I will know every inch of a wonderful boat when I am finished (maybe next year?).
I don't want to talk you out of your dream because I know how important it is to have a tangible portion of the dream at hand but that's just my story for what it is worth.
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Old 06-11-2006, 10:59   #9
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2011 is five years away. What about buy a much smaller( cheaper )boat and take your family on shorter cruises, while squirrelling away money for the big one. When that time comes we'll all give you lots of advice on what to do next.
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Old 06-11-2006, 15:22   #10
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There is nothing insane about your idea. I would suggest going sooner if possible. While I understand not wanting to take a 3 year old out to sea, if you wait too long your eldest will be a teenager - and it seems few people relish the thought of being confined on a boat with a moody teen. Of course you know your kids best. Good luck.

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Old 06-11-2006, 15:52   #11
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Skipr john makes great points....

I have a Porsche RSR racecar scattered all over my garage, its not like projects are something thats lacking in my life! Perhaps expecting to take on another is just a tad bit absurd. I may in fact be better off just paying a reputable yard to do the work. Considering that much of the work the boat I am interested in needs is apparently cosmetic (revarnishing...) its not as if I would learn a ton anyhow.

Still much to learn about this particular boat and I am far from making any offer but it is intriguing!

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Old 06-11-2006, 17:02   #12

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How sane

It would be insane not to go.
Most conscienscous home builders do a far more thorough job than any so called profesionals, having far more at stake and a realistic understanding of what the boat will be used for. Professionally built can mean built by someone with years of experience in cutting corners and working on the edge of what will suffice. An ounce of materal saved here and there can add up to a lot of monety to someone doing it full time , but is peasnuts to someone doing one boat for his own use. The experience you gain is something that a profesional wont give you and can be invaluable out on the cruising grounds. Get you kids involved in the proccess as well. It will also be invaluable to them, something they won't likely get in school. it will give both them and you a self reliance you probably wouldn't get any other way.
People tend to head out cruising as former employees . Most when they return are self employed , something they often never would have done had they not gone cruising and gained the confidence and self reliance it gave them. This is also often true of kids on cruising boats.
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Old 06-11-2006, 17:15   #13
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Terry, Good for you! and it's not a crazy idea. I am in the middle of the same sort of thing with a few differences. And here is what I think; I disagree with those that counsel having a yard do the work. I firmly beleive that if your lives or boat are at stake in a difficult situation then you should know that boat and it's systems inside and out. I believe the only real way to do that is to do the work yourself. You will know every wire, connection plumbing joint repair, etc etc. This will pay huge dividends when it comes time to fix something underway in tall seas and bad weather. Furthermore a fair amount of research will get you the information about "marine" systems and the best practices for fixing, installing etc. (I too am a fan of Nigel Calder's books) and any person with moderate mechanical and electrical skills can repair anything on a boat, even the diesel engine. Another advantage to doing the work yourself is that it will help you set the right kinds of priorities for what you really need vs what all the glossy publications want you to believe you need.

In a boat of that vintage I think you will find that it probably could use a total rewiring, new electricals, new plumbing, thru hulls and a million other things that paying a boatyard to do would be prohibitively expensive. Your other projects will sort themselves out and soon fall by the wayside if you are serious about cruising.

As for the boat, the Liberty 458 I think is a great boat. There is an article in the November issue of Lattitudes and Attitudes magazine about one.

As for the time line. Well everyone has a different idea of what works but many folks are doing what I plan to do which is save up a bit, cruise for six months, leave the boat in a well chosen and secure marina and either fly home to work or if possible work along the way to fund the next leg. This is becoming very much more common and is being done regularly by quite a number of cruisers. This has several advantages; it doesn't commit you to a "circumnavigation" only to find once out that one or more of your party really wants to go home; it is more manageable and can be done way sooner because you don't have to have the boat paid for.

You don't necessarily have to return to your regular job, in fact if you are like most people you have several skills that are marketable. We sat down and made a list of everything we knew how to do and tried to match those skills to a job. We were surprised how many came up. Also if you can work in the tourist industry there are many seasonal jobs around the world that pay very well. As an example; Alaska in the summer, ski resorts in the winter (all around the world) I realize that children complicate this but they certainly do not make it impossible.

The last I checked (about two years ago) it was more than a dollar a mile to transport the boat (think about what it takes to operate that truck and this is not a huge amount) as for hauling and splashing and the rigging that will all be local costs and I don';t know them for your area.

The debate about whether to buy now or buy later is a perennial one that has vociferous adherents on both sides. There are certainly good arguments for both. I think alot depends on you and your temperment. For me, on balance, I think it may be better to get the boat sooner than later. Here I disagree with Beth Leonard who advocates the opposite and whose book you should read. Your choice of boat seems to me well thought out for what you want to do and seems attainable. Having the boat earlier rather than later allows you to become intimate with it and it's systems and sailing characteristics...sail it as often as possible in every kind of weather. This will increase your confidence in your boat which is very important and let you find things that might need repair that a yard would miss totally and that a few months of use might not show up.

Lastly read everything you can get your hands on about boat maintenance and refit esp. Calder, this will give you a much better idea of what you are facing with respect to the refit and repair stuff.

Good luck!

Alan Perry
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Seattle WA
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Old 06-11-2006, 18:10   #14
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Alan, Louis, Kevin, Charlie...everyone...

Thanks for all the replies, lots of good info to think about.

I am self employed owning a mortgage company. Or it owns me. Sometimes its hard to tell. No body has ever grown up dreaming of someday being in the mortgage biz. I have a degree in history and almost went to law school but it dawned on me at the last minute that if I did that when done I would have to be a lawyer. Yuck (at least to me) While much of what is involved in my business pretty much stinks (tons of paperwork, tons of Govt. regulation) it does have some advantages. I have a very good employee whom I am grooming to take over management when we go. I also have an extensive database of prior clients and referrals from which I get a pretty steady stream of business. I can work from anywhere I have phone and internet so at least while cruising the east coast I can still earn enough to pay our way with minimal effort. Heck, I could probably do some business from anywhere.

I have several of Calders books and have read/reread them... I love doing mechanical stuff as its a total departure from my "real job". As I am sure is typical I have tons of other cruising books and get all the magazines and such.... I absolutely believe that the job a competent owner will do on his own boat will generally be better than what most professionals will produce (though it may take the owner 10 times as long). Its much the same with racecars. The difference between "good enough" and absolutely perfect is often big amounts of time making achieving such results from a professional cost prohibitive. Some guys show up at races with giant tractor trailer trucks and several mechanics on retainer. That doesnt mean they cannot be beat!

There is much to consider when it comes to buy now or buy later. We recently sold our powerboat and I do want another boat on the lake here for next summer. I had been planning on buying a smaller used ski-boat and a smaller sailboat for daysailing and such but perhaps a larger sailboat to fit out and later move to the ocean is a good idea. Then again there is that time issue. If I used the time to work could I make enough money to pay for all the refit? Without question. But then I would be working even more and I am already sick of it!

Another issue is that my father may be interested in going in on a boat with me. He is retired, has more sailing experience and has read every sailing book every written at least twice. If would be great to spend time sailing with him, but he certainly isnt interested in a sailboat on the lake!

Another issue is that I am still learning about various boats. Until the Lats and Atts article, I had never heard of the Liberty. Ive done lots of research over the past few weeks and they seem like great boats, but what other great boats are out there that would fit our needs that I have never heard of as yet?

Anyhow.... certainly lots to think about and I am taking it slow. I may let the situation resolve itself: Make an absurdly low offer, and its accepted and the survey turns out good then it was meant to be. Otherwise.... no hurry.

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Old 06-11-2006, 23:41   #15
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How old is the boat, how good are available trades people?

You have not told us how old the boat is.
It can be quite difficult to restore/renovate/upgrade an old boat in the water. Arranging for the boat to be on dry land with proper scaffolding arround it and the mast properly arranged next to it you could turn a difficult job into an easy one.
In the water levels are never constant and an idiot in a speedboat can generate a wave that will roll the fun out of your day. Just the moment to moment movement of nautical life can be unpleasant.
Even the best on water access can be difficult at times.
I understand that fibreglass needs to dry out totally before it can be worked on.
I have found that it is very hard to find good tradespersons. Most seem to be in Queensland or Western Australia making their fortune with the mining boom. Check out who is available and what their reputation is.
I am currently completing my boat in the water.

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