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Old 08-09-2012, 17:32   #1
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Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

I'm thinking of buying something like a 1980's 50-55' Trawler and/or a 44' Cat probably an early 2000's model. Does anyone have one now or ever have a big ole' boat? I would love to know how much you spent on average yearly maintenance? Not talking about slip fees and insurance, but just upkeep. How much and what did you do yourself and how often did you have to do it?

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Old 10-09-2012, 06:06   #2
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Re: Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

If I paid the yard for maintenance, I'd probably be averaging about 7% (per year) of the cost of our boat. That's 42', twin diesel, genset, etc. Actual cost will vary with boat, number of systems, etc.

Since semi-retiring, I try to do most the maintenance myself, only having the yard do stuff that's either beyond my knowledge or too hard. Often that last includes an "access to the work" problem, and they've got a really skinny guy. Yard fee is $95/hour for skilled techs (engine guys) and somewhat less for basic tard work ('glass, etc.).

Sometimes I've amortized maintenance costs over several years. For example, adding an electric windlass was a fair chunk of change... but that's not just a "today" benefit. OTOH, engine maintenence is an always thing, with periodic servicing mandatory. Not rocket science with diesels, especially older naturally-aspirated models, but ya gotta do it.


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Old 11-09-2012, 13:47   #3
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Re: Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

We have a 1979 48' trawler that we bought in 2005. We cruise about 6 months per year. Except for bottom jobs, I do all the maintenace work myself. Not knowing the condition and make of the boat you intend to buy, its hard to compare expenses. Intitially, we spent a lot to get her outfitted and provisioned to our satisfaction. This included chart plotters, VHF radio, SSB radio, autopilot, a second generator, a watermaker. dinghy, etc.
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
—Jacques Yves Costeau
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Old 15-09-2012, 18:42   #4
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Re: Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

I have a restored Chris Craft 42 Commander, in Southern Cal, CA. Maintenance for liveaboard is around $200/month plus slip, include water, power, parking and garbage disposal. Slip is $1,200.
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Old 15-09-2012, 18:44   #5
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Re: Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

And have a sailboat in the Caribbean where maintenance is lower, anchor in a bay, not fee, only $200/year decal. The S/V is 32'.
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Old 15-09-2012, 20:53   #6
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Re: Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

I've only had my 1981 50 footer for six months, but am now just about caught up on deferred maintenance and updating systems. Its been much more expensive than I expected, and I only committed to the major cost items once I had lived aboard for a while and confirmed that I really did like the boat and want to live-aboard for a long time. I've done part myself, but have been in a hurry so have had others do stuff as well. One limitation for doing it yourself is knowing the best practice / standards to follow. Always best to do it properly, and hopefully only have to do it once.

If you buy something this age, allow plenty of $$$ for getting it setup the way you want it. I'm currently in the process of spending a lot on the electrics. Mostly everything works, but I want to minimize fire risk. 30 years of various people fiddling and adding stuff, including a PO who knew enough to be dangerous, resulted in a complicated mess for both AC and DC. I am simplifying and making safe in addition to adding modern inverter/charger that wont fry the batteries and a bunch of other stuff.

But loving it. These big old teak lined boats have great ambiance, and room enough for everyone to find some space when they want to.
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Old 16-09-2012, 08:04   #7
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Re: Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

We bought our 1973 46' sailboat in 2008. She is a beautiful cold molded boat - but there was quite a bit of deferred maintenance. We have learned a great deal over the last few years and can do many maintenance and repair tasks ourselves. I would say, though, that we probably spent 30 to 40k getting her in her current condition. One big problem escaped the survey and it cost me thousands of dollars in diesel repairs - a small leak in our fule tank (integral to the keel) which allowed water into the fuel. Finally spent 7k on getting the tanks repaired (ouch).

Our maintenance costs have dropped in proportion to the work we've done. Now we have the usual stuff - clean bottom, change zincs, upkeep on bright work and paint, the never ending 12v electrical repairs. Our SSB died - not sure when we can replace that.

My advice is - that annual maintenance will be more than you expect. If you have a source of income you can probably manage it. I still think it was worth the expense!
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Old 16-09-2012, 08:31   #8
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Re: Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

It is extremely hard to know what your maintenance expenses will be because much depends on the condition and age of the boat you buy as well as how many people will be using the systems.
You plan to have seven people on board full time and that will be a much larger use on the plumbing and electrical systems.

How often you take the boat out and how far you plan to travel as well as where you travel will affect the engine(s) and electronics. Maintaining all the safety equipment needs to be factored in because much of it like life rafts, inflatable vests, radios etc. will need periodic maint. Outside woodwork is affected by salt water and can require more maint if you take the boat out often. The bigger the boat the more maintenance there is.

Basically on a boat many things can go wrong....tanks can leak, fittings can rust, etc. so you have to constantly be checking everything and replacing things as they wear...because if they wear out the cost can really skyrocket.

There is no easy way to predict what can go wrong so having a hefty emergency fund is your best insurance.
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:36   #9
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I have a 50' coastal cruiser. Slip in norcal is $520 a month. My budget on maintenance is $1000 a month and that is still not enough. I now wish I would have gotten a smaller boat.
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:56   #10
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Re: Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

For this type of thread, probably best to ask: "if I buy this XXX boat, and it needs nothing done to start with, what would my maintenance costs be..." Then you can add on anything you decide you need above that. Otherwise, as noted, it's all about condition.....
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 05-10-2012, 18:04   #11
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Re: Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

I bought a 1974 Columbia 41 sailboat four years ago. The boat had been on the hard stand for most of its life. Even so, I did a lot of preventative maintenance. That included pulling the mast and replacing all the running rigging (Westmarine rigging shop), installed additional Raycor fuel filter unit, changed all the keel bolts. I also filled and faired the rudder and drained and filled with epoxy all the deck voids I could find. There was lots of interior upgrades done but you don't want to hear about all that. In short, if you live aboard you will find the fix ups less costly than if you buy an old house.
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Old 05-10-2012, 18:29   #12
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Re: Anyone have/had a BIG OLD live aboard???

How long is a piece of line?

I have seen folks waste $$$ on systems for boats that never go anywhere....

And others sailing on rigs that did not seem like they could reliably hold the stick up at the dock....

What you need to spend really does depend more on what you are really going to do and where you are going to go with the boat.

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