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Old 10-08-2016, 08:59   #1
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Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

Hello! I'm sure there are past posts on this topic, but I thought I would start a new conversation.

My husband and I, both in our 50's, are researching the liveaboard lifestyle. He has boating experience and lived in RV's over the years. I've traveled extensively, lived in a variety of environments and love boats and water, but have little boating experience.

We're actively seeing a lot of boats, trying to get a feel for what seems right for us. Our max purchase price is about $40,000. Our preference is motorboat over sailboat; fiberglass over wood. We're naturally minimalists, so reducing possessions to live on a boat isn't an overwhelming proposition. We need to maintain a shore based lifestyle and will be docked in a Marina in one of our rivers here in Portland, OR.

As you can imagine, I have plenty of questions about the pros and cons of life on a boat. And I'm asking myself if I can truly be happy on such a small space. I'm finding that Salons with big windows are a must. Obviously as much storage space as possible. I like to cook, so an ergonomic galley is a must. I've already determined that a real shower stall is also a must. And I can't imagine us sleeping comfortably on anything smaller than a Queen sized bed, so a larger Cabin. Soooo.....can these "musts" be met on a liveaboard in our price range? Anyone have success remodeling existing Cabins for more sleeping space? I'm leaving the mechanical, technical, survey and equipment questions up to my husband!

I would love input from those living the lifestyle. And any input on the right kind of boat. Be kind, please! This land-lover is truly looking for honest input and guidance. I think it would be a fantastic experience and we have thoroughly enjoyed the people who we have met in the boating community so far. Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-08-2016, 09:16   #2
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

Welcome to the forum! Lots of good info here.

I'm no expert, but my gut is saying that your list of must haves (which you are absolutely entitled to) pushes way beyond the $40K you'd like to spend.

Although it might not seem pertinent to you, many many have trod this path before and if you use the Google Custom Search, I think you'll find people who have exactly the same questions - try it, I think you'll find it interesting.

One thing you might consider is chartering a boat for a week and see how the lifestyle and space restrictions appeal to you.

Good luck in your search - it's a great life!
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Old 10-08-2016, 09:41   #3
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

One thing if your staying at a marina, the shore side marina showers will be far better then the 30"x30" shower stall on a boat. Humidity is an issue, as is the typical 6 gallon boat water heater.

Avoid wood Boats. Unless you or your other half is a master carpenter that enjoys woodwork, that is. There is a reason they cost less. Also avoid teak decks. They are lovely to look at but a maintenance nightmare.

Power boats have more room, but if you leave the dock, look at 1 to 1.5 MPG Fuel cost is HUGE. A single screw diesel trawler has good fuel economy (3-4 MPG). Sailboats that motor get 8-10 MPG. Ideally a 40-42 foot trawler with a down galley would be good to look at, but a bit more then $40K.

Storage on a boat is always an issue. Rent a storage locker somewhere for a year and then see how much you can throw out at the end of the year.

Note that any boat you purchase will need $$$ for repairs and upkeep. So you'll want at least $10K set aside for that. Look for leaking hatches and windows. A problem when it rains.

If the engine space looks like you could eat off the floor (really clean in other words), the boat is probably a keeper. A dirty engine space is not necessarily bad, but a OCD owner with a clean engine bay, generally means the boat is well cared for.

Avoid boats with the $3 rattle can tune up. This is where the DPO (dreaded previous owner) sprays a engine to cover the rust. Note: New marine engines come with everything painted. so if it's new it's ok. But a used engine with paint on the engine hose clamps and hoses is a sign of less then stellar upkeep.

A boat with a gas or diesel smell has a fuel leak ($$$). The foam in all the bedding will absorb that smell. (More $$$).

Boats have a odor about them, You'll not notice it after a few days, but your friends and co-workers will, (it permeates clothing too, Joy).

I've lived aboard for 12 years now and would not have it any other way. But it's not for everyone.
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Old 10-08-2016, 15:54   #4
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Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

Start looking at boats, many boats with your must have list, that will have you cutting the list down to like to haves.
For instance my Wife and I have always had, well for the last 30 yrs anyway a King size bed, but our boat has a Pullman berth full size bed and we get by, a walk around queen size would have been much more preferable, just wasn't happening with all our other must haves and our budget.
Like the shower, we would like to have an honest to goodness shower, but our boat has two showers as part of the heads, the sink is actually a shower head too, so I installed a shower in the cockpit, as we expect to only be in warm weather it has been fine.
We use the shower in the head occasionally and it's been fine, just I think long term it wouldn't be good on the teak, and our boat is full of teak.
We find that we spend far more time that we thought living in the cockpit, big windows aren't as necessary you may think, walk around Marina's and see how many of those windows stay covered, lot of heat comes in Windows.

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Old 10-08-2016, 20:00   #5
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

Sounds like an older aft cabin trawler fits the bill.
But I second the motion 40k will buy you a boat another 25-30k might make it sea worthy, reliable and livable with all systems working.
If your handy have plenty of time and in no hurry any thing can be fixed on a budget.
Just make sure you don't get in over your head underestimating repair costs.
It is likely you'll be better off spending more money to buy something all ready rehabbed. It will cost you less in the long run and you'll have more time to enjo the life.
There is always a boat out there someone spent WAY too much money on for sale that can be a bargain.
Unfortunately I know this I've sold several of them! Stupid!!!! Me.
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Old 11-08-2016, 09:23   #6
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

We looked at this one last night...
37' Chris-Craft Catalina 372
Year: 1988
Current Price: US$ 48,499
Hull Material: Fiberglass
Engine/Fuel Type: Twin Gas

For my list of "musts," it was close. Loved the open-feeling Salon. Adequate storage. Fairly spacious main cabin with one full head and a half. On the mechanical and maintenance side of things, my husband felt positive about it, although we wouldn't make any purchase without a survey.

I suppose my lingering challenge is deciding if I truly can embrace small space living or not. Being on the water is a no-brainer, but tiny shower, small bed, minimal storage...that's a whole different thing. We'll continue our research.

I greatly appreciate everyone's input. Thanks!
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Old 11-08-2016, 09:40   #7
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

Glad you're doing your research. Maybe I can reassure you a little. As 64Pilot said so well, when living on a boat the space needed is not like on land. There is no sense of claustrophobia because you're right smack dab in the middle of nature. The only thing surrounding you is a view to the horizon, an endless sky. There is no sense of cramped once you go larger than 30' on a boat (and many would say less than that).

You will have 3 pairs of shoes instead of more, that will be enough. You will have pots and pans that do double duty but you will have enough. Clothes? If you stay near Portland you'll need some space for your off season clothes. You'll also have enough sunsets, and whales and fresh food to make you forget how much room you've given up.

For us, we think we've gotten a lot more than we've given up. Again, good luck!
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Old 11-08-2016, 09:54   #8
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

You going to travel, or stay in the Marina?
I ask as that more than anything except money dictates the boat
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Old 11-08-2016, 09:55   #9
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

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Originally Posted by redhead View Post
Glad you're doing your research. Maybe I can reassure you a little.

For us, we think we've gotten a lot more than we've given up. Again, good luck!
Thank you! That is really reassuring to hear. Did you struggle with the transition when you first started living this way?

I do think it's a matter of readjusting priorities and daily needs. We've already discussed the fact that we will have to have a storage unit to transition things around with the seasons. I've camped and backpacked a lot and I'm somewhat viewing this that way. Your learn how to do really well with less.

The peaceful connection to nature and a rather unconventional lifestyle really holds a lot of appeal.
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Old 11-08-2016, 09:58   #10
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
You going to travel, or stay in the Marina?
I ask as that more than anything except money dictates the boat
To start, we'll be in a Marina as we both work full-time jobs in the city. We'll probably start with short, weekend trips. If we embrace the lifestyle, in retirement we hope to travel much more. We're viewing this first purchase as the "starter" boat as a way to determine if this could be long-term for us. Any input on boat type/style, etc., very welcome! Thanks.
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Old 11-08-2016, 10:14   #11
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

Two thing you need to consider carefully when purchasing a vessel. One is maintenance cost. All boats, even new ones, require high maintenance. Figure at least a cost of 25% of value per annum (in your case about $10,000 per). If an inspection/survey suggests more, best to walk away. If you can't afford the required maintenance, don't bother buying a boat! Second, check out the marina and areas surrounding where you think you want to keep it. If you plan on moving into the neighborhood, does it fit? Are you comfortable there and well received? Does it have suitable amenities, access to nearby transportation, stores and areas for entertainment (remember, you are suggesting a life style change of major impact here). Don't want to rain on your parade or burst any bubbles but having traveled that road, I suggest any errors are to the side of caution. I and my wife are pushing 70. I am a partner in a service that buys, refurbishes and resells boats ( mostly smaller sailboats). Can't tell you how many pipe dreamers I have dealt with but I too have made my share of wishfully thought purchases when it comes to refurbishing. Underestimating the cost of fitting or refitting a boat is easy and can be expensive. That being said, it can also be a great source of joy and personal satisfaction. Go in with your eyes wide open and make sure a survey tells a real story of what you are getting. I buy and sell a lot of boats for under $10,000 and will take a chance after thourough inspection. When spending over $15,000 a survey is a must! It is better to pay $300 to$500 for a survey to find the value isn't there than to pay $40,000 plus for a POS. that may cost that much again to have what you thought you were buying. By the way, my wife and I will be living aboard a 30' Ericson sailboat and setting out on our latest two year planned sailing adventure. It's all a matter of putting it into what you want. We paid just over $10,000 for our dream and have plans to spend about 1/2 as much again to make her "ours". Good luck with your planned adventure. Bruce V
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Old 11-08-2016, 10:27   #12
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

$40k isn't much to work with. Your wants don't match your wallet, doesn't seem like you've budgeted for eventual mechanical problems inherent in an older boat. You might find some wooden boats in your price range, but good luck finding a marina that wants an old wooden tub parked in one of their slips.

You'll need to think this through a little more. A forty foot power something or rather 30-40 years old can be found, but don't expect it to be in any kind of shape for weekend excursions.
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Old 11-08-2016, 10:39   #13
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

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$40k isn't much to work with. You might find some wooden boats in your price range.
Hmmm... interesting. I wonder if it depends on where you're located, because we have found a good selection in our general price range, and not fixers or wooden. I completely hear you about budgeting for repairs, etc. Input appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 11-08-2016, 10:48   #14
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

Bruce v's post hit a chord with me. Maintenance costs, slip fee, survey, everything. I recently purchased my little pocket cruiser and intend on living aboard for most of next year for reasons that are too involved to explain here. I have lived in Egypt for 19 years and it's time to come home.

I have lived out of an old 1986 LandCruiser with my desert dog (His name is "Dog" BTW since he never told me his name) in Egypt's Eastern Desert and the Great Sand Sea (Eastern Sahara) on and off for the past 3 years doing archaeological work but have had regular employment working on boats and yachts as well. Owned boats years ago (power and sail), lived aboard for a while, retired USN as well. And I was raised in Louisiana in modest means (Brother and I had to hunt or fish for dinner twice a week so that we didn't forget how). So by nature I am a minimalist. I spent months searching for the boat that "spoke" to me....and found it. OK, It was a $6K 35 year old boat. Had a survey done and it came out "Good" across the board with some recommendations. Will probably take another $5K to outfit in order to make it a "home" for me when I repatriate next year.

Lots of boats for sale out there....go and look at them. One might just jump out you and you will say "That's the one!". Patience is definitely a virtue when shopping for a used boat to liveaboard. And survey, survey, survey!

And last, my litte pocket cruiser is 27-ft length. One must consider three things here: Maintenance costs, slip fees, and most important (at least to me) is the ability to single-hand the boat at the age of 55...ain't as young and spry as I use to be.
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Old 11-08-2016, 11:05   #15
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Re: Considering Liveaboard Lifestyle - Input requested

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I have lived out of an old 1986 LandCruiser with my desert dog

Lots of boats for sale out there....go and look at them. One might just jump out you and you will say "That's the one!". Patience is definitely a virtue when shopping for a used boat to liveaboard. And survey, survey, survey!
Ah, I owned an '86 Landcruiser for years. Loved that rig!!

Thanks so much for the input. Very helpful. I agree that one must take their time, with due diligence. I do feel that we can find the right thing in our price range, understanding fully that a budget for expenses and maintenance is a must. Sounds like you are enjoying life, and that's the way it should be. We aren't as young as we used to be either! Cheers!
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