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Old 23-03-2009, 06:59   #1
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Is a Searunner 31' a Good Liveaboard for a Small Family?

Hi- We have a CSY 33' mono now and with the little one getting bigger (and the possibility of a 4th crew member in the future) I've started looking for cats or tri's for long term cruising. Unfortunately, in the this economic climate- we're pretty broke. An OLD prout, OLD fixer upper Gemini, and maybe a decent Searunner is in our potential budget.

Catalacs are scarce and expensive. Iriquios scarce.

I will also admit before folks comment on mono's being cheaper- I think if I want my wife to continue being my wife with two little ones on board I need the stability of 2-3 hulls. When our little one gets seasick all over mom, Mom seriously reconsiders a cardboard box under a bridge.

How about the Searunner 31' for a growing family of 3-4?
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Old 23-03-2009, 09:19   #2
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hey JC,

I'm not much help, but I just wanted to say you've got a new reader and fan for your blog. I'm just in the process of moving onto my Searunner, and it sounds like we're in similar straits.
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Old 23-03-2009, 09:47   #3
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No. Simply and clearly. There is a big difference between living aboard and cruising. Cruising is, in a number of ways, easier. Storage space is at a premium on a small boat. The 31 is pretty small. Two small children need space: room for toys, room for diapers and other special supplies, room to be apart when napping coincides with what the folks might be doing. Mom needs space to get away from kids and Dad, even just to read a magazine (forget about time for whole books for a couple years). If Dad is working, he needs space for work outfits, tools (computers, reference books, wrenches, whatever). Mom probably already will have her full-time occupation spelled out (but, you never know), yet will still need some special clothing or other personal things. The nooks and crannies gradually (or quickly) fill up, and you find yourself having to clear a bunk to put down the basket of laundry or groceries, or change the kids. Spend a weekend on a 31 at a dock or at anchor and you will grasp the immediacy of the problem. Then, imagine the vessel underway. Trimarans are stable, but that is a relative term. If Mom gets seasick, everyone gets seasick, regardless of the location, weather, time of day, etc. The problem is that the kids go to Mom because Dad is either at the helm or at work. End result, Mom gets burned out, Dad is frustrated because there seems nothing he can do to make the walls and hulls wider and more capacious, and the kids simply get cranky from not being able to crawl about the place.

Either think about a bigger boat or stay ashore a bit longer until the kids are more independent. If you want a boat and are going to stay in a marina for awhile, buy the equivalent of a houseboat, i.e., an old powerboat that has frozen engines, a big refrigerator, and floor space for the kids to crawl and throw their toys around. As they grow, get them a sailing dinghy. Send Mom out for the occasional pedicure, alone. Then, when everyone is more adjusted to the lifestyle, move up to a cruising multihull. Jim Brown went cruising with his family on a 31, but the kids were older and didn't depend on Mom and Dad as acutely as small ones will. I have had friends try to do what you are dreaming of. Some were actually successful, going from San Diego, through the Canal and ending up in England, all still living together as a family unit. But it is really challenging. Is that what you are really looking for? Both of you?
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Old 23-03-2009, 10:11   #4
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Originally Posted by jcmcdowell View Post
How about the Searunner 31' for a growing family of 3-4?
1. Children are going to throw up regardless. Itís endemic to the species just like how children donít show signs and symptoms of shock until just before they crash. So as much as I would like to see you on a Searunner, it won't be a 100% cure for vomiting by any means.

2. A couple can definitely live aboard a 31í as was the case for TimeMachine. But for a family, I think that really depends on you. No doubt you've noticed the trend towards bigger and bigger homes and cars. The same true for boats overall. That said, Jim Brown, the designer of the Searunner line took his family from California through the Panama Canal to the East Coast on a 31. But we really arenít talking about him, we are talking about you. Do keep in mind the living space on a tri is a bit less than a mono of the same length. So if you could live on say a 25í or 27í mono comfortably you are good. Some people canít imagine living on anything less than a 38 footer; for others 60 feet is still too small. For others the QE II is a still a bit wee.

Personally I think a 34 might be a better call because the solid wings will help cut down on spray and, of course, the space.

I think youíll like the design of the series in general though. The cockpit is deep and flanked by living spaces. The main is accessible from the cockpit so no need to go out onto a pitching deck in a storm. The cockpit has a massive drain. This is a very well thought out design.

By the way, I really do recommend you look at the link. It describes the Searunner 31í perfectly; itís funny and they have a relatively recent entry on sailing with their infant daughter.
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Old 23-03-2009, 10:58   #5
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Having been on several searunners, a 31 would be too small for me. Look at the number one thing, what is your budget?
Mooring fees, don't get caught supporting two boats, sell the mono first, then buy get the cat or tri.
If your budget is 50k then you should be able to find a few good 20 year old cats out there.
most tris have less room than the same length mono. Look at TriStar if you want a tri, lots of room for the length, but still less than a same length bridge-deck cat.
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Old 23-03-2009, 11:56   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcmcdowell View Post
Hi- We have a CSY 33' mono now and with the little one getting bigger (and the possibility of a 4th crew member in the future) I've started looking for cats or tri's for long term cruising. Unfortunately, in the this economic climate- we're pretty broke. An OLD prout, OLD fixer upper Gemini, and maybe a decent Searunner is in our potential budget.

Catalacs are scarce and expensive. Iriquios scarce.

I will also admit before folks comment on mono's being cheaper- I think if I want my wife to continue being my wife with two little ones on board I need the stability of 2-3 hulls. When our little one gets seasick all over mom, Mom seriously reconsiders a cardboard box under a bridge.

How about the Searunner 31' for a growing family of 3-4?
You hit the nail with the OLD Gemini thought. The most space for the $$, and well thought-out too. Very livable.

They are good sailers, available, and have 3 cabins; a big one for you, and 1 each for the small ones.

I didn't buy one because I didn't like the forward visibility, they are less rugged than what I wanted, and they pound a bit in heavy chop. I also blew way through my original budget. If I had held to the lower number, I would have a Gemini 3400, I believe.

Watch out for the oldest 3000s; some have blisters you wouldn't believe. The newer ones use different resin and a barrier coat and have been doing much better.

I think there is a site, "gemini gems", where owners can tell you far more.
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Old 23-03-2009, 12:11   #7
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No. Simply and clearly. There is a big difference between living aboard and cruising. Cruising is, in a number of ways, easier. Storage space is at a premium on a small boat. The 31 is pretty small. Two small children need space: room for toys, room for diapers and other special supplies, room to be apart when napping coincides with what the folks might be doing...

...Spend a weekend on a 31 at a dock or at anchor and you will grasp the immediacy of the problem. Then, imagine the vessel underway. Trimarans are stable, but that is a relative term. If Mom gets seasick, everyone gets seasick, regardless of the location, weather, time of day, etc. The problem is that the kids go to Mom because Dad is either at the helm or at work. End result, Mom gets burned out, Dad is frustrated because there seems nothing he can do to make the walls and hulls wider and more capacious, and the kids simply get cranky from not being able to crawl about the place.

...Either think about a bigger boat or stay ashore a bit longer until the kids are more independent. If you want a boat and are going to stay in a marina for awhile, buy the equivalent of a houseboat, i.e., an old powerboat that has frozen engines, a big refrigerator, and floor space for the kids to crawl and throw their toys around.
We live aboard/cruise on our CSY 33 pilothouse right now. Admittedly- it is very spacious with the same salon as a 40'er and 6'5" headroom. We also have a family home in Georgia that I maintain and we visit for a month at a time twice a year, so we have storage there (mostly tools and things that probably should be tossed). We've actually commented that the three of us could actually live on a smaller boat after being on the water for 3 months now. Simpler systems, easier maintenance, cheaper to operate. But looking ahead a few years and the possibility of a 4th crewmember, a little more square footage may make it pleasant versus bareable.

Neither my wife or I have any desire to spend much time in a marina unless we're working (a inevitable reality) and then only to stay seasonally at best.

Bigger may be better, but I haven't found anything close to what I can sell our mono for (probably reasonably 25-30k) without going into debt.

Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 23-03-2009, 12:20   #8
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You hit the nail with the OLD Gemini thought. The most space for the $$, and well thought-out too. Very livable.

They are good sailers, available, and have 3 cabins; a big one for you, and 1 each for the small ones.

I didn't buy one because I didn't like the forward visibility, they are less rugged than what I wanted, and they pound a bit in heavy chop. I also blew way through my original budget. If I had held to the lower number, I would have a Gemini 3400, I believe.

Watch out for the oldest 3000s; some have blisters you wouldn't believe. The newer ones use different resin and a barrier coat and have been doing much better.

I think there is a site, "gemini gems", where owners can tell you far more.
I've found some as low as 20k to 65k ranging from 1986 to 1996 models. Of course, I can only afford the fixer upper at the bottom end of the spectrum.

We 'primarily' (which means today) are coastal cruisers anyways. But I hope to hit the Bahamas and maybe farther south. I think the Gemini would be fine.
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Old 23-03-2009, 12:38   #9
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I would think the limiting parameter is displacement even more than space. I don't see how a 31' tri will be able to float enough stuff for a small family. A 33' mono can float enough displacement, depending on design, but space is still an issue.
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Old 28-03-2009, 08:09   #10
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I would think the limiting parameter is displacement even more than space. I don't see how a 31' tri will be able to float enough stuff for a small family. A 33' mono can float enough displacement, depending on design, but space is still an issue.
As a Searunner 31 owner I agree with all of the above. Good for lots of things, a couple, even 3 adults for extended cruising. Liveaboard with kids - no way!

Anyway guys - please see my ad in classified. Selling my 31 A-frame. Pass the word!

Jim
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Old 17-04-2009, 13:39   #11
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All this thread has good info, and I back it up by saying the 31 is much too small, kids need space, and even a well balanced couple need their own 'stuff'. Generally tris do not suffer loads well, and a 31 specially needs to be light to be safe. Small is beautiful, but gets cramped after a while. The 37 is noticably smaller than the 40There are bigger browns out there. I just googled Searunner sale and found lots of 37s and a couple of 40's. Maxolar is up for $68,000 OBO and had no offers yet, so try with your lowest bid ! Go to searunner/multiply.com
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Old 17-04-2009, 15:56   #12
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Hi- We have a CSY 33' mono now and with the little one getting bigger (and the possibility of a 4th crew member in the future) I've started looking for cats or tri's for long term cruising. Unfortunately, in the this economic climate- we're pretty broke. An OLD prout, OLD fixer upper Gemini, and maybe a decent Searunner is in our potential budget.

Catalacs are scarce and expensive. Iriquios scarce.

I will also admit before folks comment on mono's being cheaper- I think if I want my wife to continue being my wife with two little ones on board I need the stability of 2-3 hulls. When our little one gets seasick all over mom, Mom seriously reconsiders a cardboard box under a bridge.

How about the Searunner 31' for a growing family of 3-4?
I looked at your site and your CSY36 looks nicely equipped and spacious. It is a much more comfortable boat for a live-aboard than any 31' tri. IMHO you should keep the CSY and find a more sheltered anchorage. I'm serious.

You'll be squeezing into smaller space unless you get at least a 34' cruising cat, and for the $30k you're asking for the CSY you'll find nothing in that size but wrecks needing total refit.
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Old 17-04-2009, 17:30   #13
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We're still looking. We have all but ruled out the 31' Searunner as being too small. My big concern with the bigger searunners is the beam. At 22' or bigger can you even get close to a marina?

I've got a furniture and carpentry background- how hard is it to repair the fiberglass over plywood on the searunners?

We still have our eye on an older Gemini with 3 berths for the little ones- at least for the first few years. With luck a few years will coincide with a few bucks to upgrade to a bigger boat as the kids grow.

I'm not opposed to a refit- if it's a true bargain. I'm talking a TRUE BARGAIN, otherwise a spit and polish is all I can afford.

I'm getting good attention on my CSY 33 for $30k- maybe It's a little too good of a bargain? By the same token, I've found boats people were willing to sell below their note to get out from under. So I live by the sword and die by the sword in this economy.

The older prouts don't seem to have much headroom. I've seen some 34' and 35' prouts in my range. The Heavenly Twins are rare. The Catalacs are pricey. The Iroquis are old and scarce. All the other Cats are too expensive for us.

In the meantime, our CSY 33 is in Jacksonville Beach, Florida where we are showing it to a few potential buyers. I'm not in a tremendous rush to sell at a discount if there's nothing to buy. I have faith that something will show up. Seems to have worked so far....
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Old 18-04-2009, 18:17   #14
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Is building practical?

Have you evaluated building a catamaran? It may ultimately be quicker, cheaper and more satisfying than taking on someone's old project.

You state that you have cabinet/carpentry skills and I also seem to recall a reference to a house that sounded like it might have boat building room.

The easy cats look to be fairly quick and economical to build and very nice sailers when complete.

Easy Cat website
Easy Cruising website
Mike Waller website

I have never owned a catamaran and have no first hand experience of them. I have no connection with either of the designers referred to.
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Old 19-04-2009, 08:46   #15
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Searunner 31 as longtime cruiser?

Though I do agree that two "little ones" would be difficult on the 31 my opinion is that two little ones wold be difficult on ANY smaller cruiser - 37 or 40.

But I wouldn't sell the 31 short as it seems that DaveM does. A sailboat can't be all things. There certainly are disadvantages with larger tris. Single handling, dockage, hauling, even many mooriing fields could be a problem the way they crowd the fields today. Of course sitting at anchor the bigger the better.

Didn't Jim Brown cruise extensively with wife and at least one child? In fact, I was told that the builder of my 31 in France built a 37 but thought it too big for his small family (wife and teenage son) to cruise on so he built my 31 and cruised the West Indies and Great Lakes.

When under sail the 31 has plenty of space for the "crew" to help, cook, sleep, whatever. It's hard for me to think about cruising toddlers but older children? What's to do while cruising anyway except prepare for your watch, eat and stay rested. While at anchor it would be real nice to have the room a 37 has. But a truly enclosed, out of the weather cockpit makes a great addition to the 31. Literally adds another room and enables the whole boat to be opened up. This reminds me that 17 years ago when my son was 10 and with me in the BVI on a Catalina. Give him the dinghy with a 5 hp motor and he was in heaven! Cruising along under a beautiful sky - yawn, he got bored quick!

Suffering loads? Pound for pound a 31 can take as much relative load as a bigger tri. But all Searunners have lots of storage (for light stuff). I was on a Cross 34 the other day. Nice boat but the 31 has way more storage, for clothes and such and even better privacy among other amenitites.

So I guess like Dick Newick once said (paraphrase); you can't have cheap, fast, and commodius - you got to pick 2.

Just my two cents and plug for the 31 as to not play second fiddle to a larger cruising tri.

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All this thread has good info, and I back it up by saying the 31 is much too small, kids need space, and even a well balanced couple need their own 'stuff'. Generally tris do not suffer loads well, and a 31 specially needs to be light to be safe. Small is beautiful, but gets cramped after a while. The 37 is noticably smaller than the 40There are bigger browns out there. I just googled Searunner sale and found lots of 37s and a couple of 40's. Maxolar is up for $68,000 OBO and had no offers yet, so try with your lowest bid ! Go to searunner/multiply.com
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