First let me say that this will be a strongly biased reply (nothing like a little honesty up front, eh?).
Let me also say up front that I have owned my current
boat for 11 years and have kept her in the southern Caribbean
- hot and sunny tropical conditions. I have lived aboard 4 or 5 months each year, 99% of the time at anchor
, not in marinas
, and have had frequent friends, relatives and charter
guests on board so I am quite familiar with having numbers of people on a boat for extended periods.
When not on board I work in the maritime industry back in the states.
Some comments on earlier posts -
decks on older boats: they leak - period. If decks are cored with wood, the cores are rotted - period. Teak
decks can be removed, but it is a difficult, time consuming job as is the filling of the zillions of screw holes to make the decks sound .... that is, if they are not rotted. If the decks are rotted, write off the boat.
Most, but not all, oriental boats leak. The top end ones, like Hans Christians, are better built and are more sound, but they are also much more expensive.
Boats with wooden or wood cored structures will virtually all leak and rot
. Rotted wood can be replaced - with a lot of work and money
, and some leaks
can be stopped for a while, but the best advice, especially with planns like yours, is to simply avoid the problems in the first place by avoiding boats that are prone to these problems.
Exterior woodwork: emphasize the last syllable! It is beautiful, I agree, but take it from one who knows first hand, it is also a lot of work. There are ways to minimize this work however, such as stripping and sanding
all exterior wood surfaces and finishing them with one of the Cetol products. I've tried them all in the tropics and these seem to be the only ones that hold up and are reasonably easy to maintain.
You will need a strong, heavy boat (read: safe, comfortable ride), with a large, deep cockpit
(for the children
and pet), an aft cabin
with ensuite head
(for parental sanity/privacy), a galley
workable for two people with good access to the cockpit
so the cook does not feel left out and equipped to regularly feed numbers of people and with refrigeration
that is both large in capacity and reliable. Plenty of storage
space for food
will also be a must.
You will need LOTS of fresh water
tankage (no - 150 gallons or so is NOT enough water
for a growing family
unless you run a watermaker
every day) and tanks
that are well designed and located so the boat stays balanced as supplies are used. And you will need a water system designed to handle the needed volume while keeping you aware of usage and remaining supply.
You need two heads - to keep the kids
clean and mama happy - and a secure, private and quiet area where the kids
can sleep without being disturbed by normal activities on board after their bed
You need a large, reliable engine
(and one for which parts
are available in remote
areas) to push your way through challenging conditions and to make good headway in light or windless conditions and enough fuel
capacity to give you an extended cruising
range stored in sound tanks
You will need lots of electricity making capacity because your on board systems will require it and there are no marinas
where you can plug
in to shore power
in the areas you plan to visit. Ample battery
capacity located in an easily accessed area is also going to be a must.
You will need good, overbuilt ground tackle to keep you in place while at anchor
(which will be most of the time) and a strong windlass
to handle it. Your primary anchor should also be backed up by a large capacity, but easy to handle secondary anchor for use as a stern anchor, for kedging off and for shifting weather
You will need a sail plan that is easy to handle and flexible enough to give you various sail combinations to handle a full range of conditions - and the winch
capacity to handle them without a herd of "deck apes". And, speaking of rigs, make certain the chainplates are strongly designed and in good condition. The chainplates on any boat over 15 years of age are suspect and should be pulled
and inspected. Standing rigging
also should be robust and not over aged.
is a consideration where you are located at the moment, but once you leave that area it will be more of a liability than an asset. Throughout 99% of the Caribbean
and the rest of the world the water is plenty deep. Generally speaking, and most certainly with older designs, boats with deeper draft
will go to weather
better then shoal draft boats and they track better in all conditions and are more stable. IMHO you are better off to forgo access to a precious few areas where your draft may keep you out in order to gain the sea keeping abilities of a deeper draft boat.
A robust and reliable autopilot
will be a must - ideally supplimented with a wind steering
device for longer passages.
A safe and reliable dinghy
with a way to carry it is also a must. My personal choice was an aluminum
with hypalon tubes for UV resistance. It easily stands up to repeated beachings, is relatively light weight, handles chop cwhile keeping passengers dry and has good load-carrying capacity. It is our SUV! I chose a 2-cycle, 15 hp Yamaha outboard
for power because it has the power to get 4 or 5 people or a full load of laundry
and groceries to or from shore quickly AND parts
are readily available all over the world. It has been flawless!
A boat that is pleasing to your eye is more important than some folks seem to think. I know I take great satisfaction looking out over an anchorage filled with look-alike "chlorox bottle" boats and seeing my own boat standing out like a beacon! I can't tell you how many compliments I get on her looks ... and how good that makes you feel.
And now a short commercial
There are probably a number of boats out there that will fill most of these criteria. I looked at seemingly countless boats before buying
. I settled on a CSY
44 "Walkover" cutter
. She was in basically sound and serviceable condition with upgraded engine. I have done a wide range of upgrades and additions over the years I have owned her and she now meets nearly all my requirements (a boat is never really finished!). She has seen me through a huge variety of conditions and adventures over the years. She has the layout to provide long term comfort for more than two and the equipment
to meet the demands of living aboard
for extended periods. She is structurally overbuilt (local boat vendors in the islands often comment, "Ohhh - CSY
- Strong boat!"), is dry and stable in all but the worst conditions, is all solid glass with no cores to rot
or break down, has plenty of tankage for fuel
(100 gal) and water (400 gal), is spowered by a strong 82 hp Perkins
4-236 engine which replaced a smaller original 60 hp Perkins
, a nearlynew transmission
, large solar panels
and a high capacity wind generator
, custom aluminum davits
to carry the dinghy
still in place, swim platform, W-H commercial
- in short, everything I've found I needed.
Sadly she is for sale
- priced in the lower 1/3 of other CSYs that are listed and well below her real value: I'm asking $89,000. She's currently on St. Martin (a great jumping off place for cruising the Caribbean), but I'd be happy to move her (or help move her) to any location in the Caribbean or eastern seaboard of North America. More details and several photos are on the broker's website, littleships.com. Search there for La Nostra.
Good luck in your search - and please contact me for further info if you have an interest.