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Old 18-05-2012, 22:46   #1
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What do I need to know to buy a boat ?

cliff's notes:
  • 40 something couple w/adult children
  • sometimes employed, usually not
  • during unemployment, end up living on a beach & freelancing for $$$
  • HE: diesel/power generation mechanic, electrical skills, web development skills (very active when 'unemployed')
  • SHE: first aid/culinary/some boat experience
  • WE: One thought lead to the next and now considering a boat to live on/travel with. No sailing experience to speak of; but IF we were going to buy a boat to live on what things do we need to know about the purchase of a boat?
long version:


For the last eight years, I have been living a very itinerant lifestyle; working lucrative contracts for short periods of time and then living on the earnings for long periods of time. Three years ago I bought a house in Hawaii (no mortgage. my parents currently live in it, so no income either). Shortly after I bought the house, I met a girl who was also itinerant. We've been together since, enjoyed a wonderful time together, were married in Taiwan just over a year ago. We're (I am) currently on a contract in the UAE which will eventually end. During conversation several weeks ago, we came up with the idea that when this contract ends it would be really cool to find a boat somewhere in Europe that is headed to somewhere in the Caribbean and see if we could volunteer as crew to pick up some sailing skills and end up back on the beach somewhere. That thought led to..."why not just get our own boat so that we have somewhere to live that ISN'T associated with any particular piece of land, perhaps hire an experienced skipper". So...I plan on taking at least a course here to learn a little something, which should start to answer some of my questions, but I'm really wondering what I need to know to start thinking about buying a boat.
  1. What's a good (minimum) size for at least two people, but as many as five to safely cross the Atlantic and for two to pretty much live on for long stretches of time?
  2. What would you look for in navigation/communication/emergency type equipment?
  3. Sanitation/toilets...what do we look for?
  4. Fresh water? Do you just stock up or do small desal solutions exist that won't break the bank (in cost, energy use and maintenance).
  5. Design considerations? Fiberglass/wood?
  6. How does where a boat is registered affect costs? How does owner's nationality affect where the boat can be registered?
Thanks for any productive feedback!
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Old 19-05-2012, 02:52   #2
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Re: what do I need to know to buy a boat?

Squillions of threads on the same topic - well worth a search.

Quote:
Originally Posted by m0loch View Post
  1. What's a good (minimum) size for at least two people, but as many as five to safely cross the Atlantic and for two to pretty much live on for long stretches of time? 35 to 45 foot - smaller or bigger is not out of the ballpark, broadly speaking smaller is cheaper (to buy and to maintain / operate) - bigger has more room onboard. The common advice is to buy the smallest that works for you - design of boat also plays a part, some 40' foot boats can be "smaller" than a 35 footer.
  2. What would you look for in navigation/communication/emergency type equipment? Learn to Navigate (With a paper chart & a pencil!) - then get a Chartplotter (care: it is not an idiot box!), VHF Radio and after that whatever you fancy / feel comfortable with.
  3. Sanitation/toilets...what do we look for? A holding tank (already built in) would be wise, many places have a no pumping into the sea rule when in port / a Marina. Personally one toilet (head) is my choice, others disagree and like more - I prefer the space used for other things.
  4. Fresh water? Do you just stock up or do small desal solutions exist that won't break the bank (in cost, energy use and maintenance). Depends where you go (some places water costs - some places it doesn't. some places it is not available!). Decent tankage is important - even with an onboard water generator / Desal. Not cheap to install, and not always trouble free - really a matter of choice and budget.
  5. Design considerations? Fiberglass/wood? Fibreglass, if you don't already know wooden boats (and don't already love them!). Fibreglass is not "better" or 100% trouble free (nothing is) but it is far and away the most forgiving of numpty PO's (Previous Owners)
  6. How does where a boat is registered affect costs? How does owner's nationality affect where the boat can be registered? Some places more expensive than others, but if already registered the annual cost is negligible. Owners Nationality and Residence does affect where you can register, so just because the boat is registered somewhere does not automatically mean you can transfer to own name. Re-reg to somewhere you can is not really a problem (only a PITA!), however some places are more costly to do that than others. Also want to bear in mind that some countries will charge taxes if the boat is based somewhere long enough (the rules and taxes vary from country to country - loads of threads on the usual suspects - EU / US). Also the country of registration may have boat equipment and / or Skipper requirements - some do not. In some respects can sound complicated - but essentially it is not, just need to know what your nationality is!, where you are based (for tax purposes - nowhere is possible, but may bring complications, depending on where you register) and where the boat will be based / used - constantly moving brings less problems (for boat and self), don't need to be a Tax expert just have some idea of the rules to avoid shooting self in the foot - being a foreigner only gets you so far, easy to claim being a visitor (and therefore not a resident) if only stayed a week - harder if you / boat have stayed 5 years! - likely that you will be somewhere in between.
Thanks for any productive feedback!
Oh, and learning to sail is a good idea I wouldn't rule out the original idea either of going somewhere on someone else's boat - apart from the experiance will give you a good taster, it's not all sitting in sunsets sipping beer.

FWIW, although I have been around boats all my life, I have not done much by the way of extended travels by boat (not even sure I will ) - but have done a lot of sitting in faraway tropical places sipping (? ) beer, in between bouts of making money. SEA was my "stomping" ground, so I do have half a handle on where you are coming from - everything has plusses and minuses, boats and beer! included.
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Old 21-05-2012, 09:19   #3
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Re: what do I need to know to buy a boat?

I too am looking for this same information. Like you guys me and my mate want to live aboard and sail so we aren't locked to the land anymore. Like you we have no experience and we need to find out what we need to know to not only get the boat but the regulations to ownership and operation in both U.S. and international waters.
Does anybody have a link to sites specific for long turn live aboard laws and regulations? I've checked the U.S. Coast Guard site and found info on recreational craft federal requirements and regulations but we also need info for cruising requirements particularly for sailboats over 30'.
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Old 21-05-2012, 09:33   #4
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Re: what do I need to know to buy a boat?

Think charter.
Try various types of boats. Go with an instructor or captain and learn to sail. Get experience so that you know what you don't know.

If just going out and buying a boat, get something small (used but in good shape). Learn on it, plan on selling it later (at a loss, likely). Then use knowledge gained and decide on next boat (if still interested at that point).

Do not underestimate the value of direct experience.
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Old 04-06-2012, 05:59   #5
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Re: what do I need to know to buy a boat?

First learn to sail. then learn to sail. finally, learn to sail. seriously, if you're going to buy a boat big enough to live comfortably on you be talking bucks. my advice is don't invest until you know if that is what you want to do. check out the crew wanted ads on this site or google sailing crews . make a couple of transits and you'll know if this life is for you and you'l begin to have an idea of what size boat you need. then go learn to sail. if you are truly serious and want to become a blue water sailor - start at a local sailing school and keep going until you have a RYA Oceanmasters certificate. then you can virtually anything anywhere anytime

good luck and good wind
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:27   #6
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Re: what do I need to know to buy a boat?

Learning to sail and asking questions is a good place to start. Finding someone certified to teach sailing is challenging in this desert I live in so I make friends with people who sail regularly and learn from them.
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:48   #7
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Re: what do I need to know to buy a boat?

ye need to know EVERYTHING--like how boats are built, how they sail, what makes em go besides diesel, where they like to play--each boat is different.......and,most importantly, how to tell when a broker is fos.....

oh yes--and SAIL EVERYTHING you can find, so you know how the boats handle--every make is different.
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Old 09-06-2012, 19:49   #8
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Re: What do I need to know to buy a boat ?

Thanks for the first steps advice everybody. I have already looked into some sailing schools and have plans to get out on more boats over the next two years. I found Bluewater Sailing school and have started saving for some of their offered courses.
There is so much to know and learn but I'm not daunted the more I learn the more I want to get out there. I have been on ships in the Navy years ago but we all know that a 30' cruiser is vastly different in size, feel and handling than a 150'+ ship. Its expensive to get a boat and there are a lot of expenses to keep it sea worthy, but I feel this is something I really want and am willing to put the time and money in learning and getting the experience necessary.
Thanks again
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Old 09-06-2012, 20:08   #9
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Re: What do I need to know to buy a boat ?

I'll put in a plug for Beth Leonard's "The Voyager's Handbook".

Amazon.com: The Voyager's Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising (9780071437653): Beth Leonard: Books

A satisfyingly exhaustive discussion of boat options and other important topics for wannabe cruisers. I see Amazon now has it for the Kindle, which would be a considerable weight reduction.

Carrie
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Old 09-06-2012, 20:31   #10
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Re: What do I need to know to buy a boat ?

My advice to y'all is to walk away from this while you still can

Still here? you do realize that you are gonna end up with money into a project that you wish you had never put into it? If so, then be like a terrier and don't let go until you got it.

Don't worry about regulations too much. Worry learning to handle a boat safely. When you got that down, the rest will come natural.

Do not shy away from learning to sail a small dinghy like a Sunfish (cost effective!). If you can sail that, you can sail a 30 footer too.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:24   #11
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Re: What do I need to know to buy a boat ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Do not shy away from learning to sail a small dinghy like a Sunfish (cost effective!). If you can sail that, you can sail a 30 footer too.

cheers,
Nick.
I just bought a thistle with that thought in mind Nick.
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:28   #12
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Re: What do I need to know to buy a boat ?

Quote:
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I just bought a thistle with that thought in mind Nick.
my first boat was a Mirror Dinghy

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:36   #13
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Re: What do I need to know to buy a boat ?

Get something cheap and comfortable to sail now and get out there and start sailing. I recommend a Flying Scot for a first boat if you can find one cheap enough.
Your earning patterns will fit this lifestyle perfectly.
Do you like to carry stuff? Cruising involves a LOT of carrying stuff around strange towns but people forget to tell you that.
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:55   #14
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Re: What do I need to know to buy a boat ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sww914 View Post
SNIP
Cruising involves a LOT of carrying stuff around strange towns but people forget to tell you that.
One famous definition of cruising is repairing boats in strange and exotic locations where often no one speaks your language.
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Old 10-06-2012, 11:17   #15
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Re: What do I need to know to buy a boat ?

Agree, learn to sail on a small boat, it'll make everything later be much easier.

Look around at boats. A lot.

Talk to sailors. Most of 'em will love their boats. Why? 'Cuz they wouldn't admit to buying it even if it was a dog.

Here's some boat looking tips: Boat Inspection Trip Tips - SailboatOwners.com
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