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Old 04-02-2016, 20:05   #1
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Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Hi,

I am a graduating senior who is looking to move out of my apartment and straight onto a sailboat.

I've spent some time going over my finances and am capping my budget at around $30k. My plan is to live on the boat and work for about 5 years in Boston, fixing it up during this time, then cruise (including some longer crossings) for a year or two. I am looking for a boat in roughly the 40 foot range, plus or minus 5 feet. I have been looking around at a lot of boats but figured I'd see if anyone has any suggestions on good liveaboard cruiser/racer boats. Although my plan is to cruise, I am a racer at heart, so I don't want a slug. I realize my price tag is rather low for a boat of this description so I'm expecting to put some work into whatever boat I buy.

I'm also just looking for advice about living aboard in general and specifically in Boston.

Cheers,
Will
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Old 04-02-2016, 20:31   #2
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Hi Will and welcome to the forum.

Assume you're familiar with the winter weather in Boston? It can be done with some preparation but living aboard a boat in the winter is just a little better than camping in a tent in the winter. You will need to install a serious heating system and to avoid major condensation issues on the interiors the boat should be well insulated.

Also, you need to clarify what you mean by capping the budget at $30K. Is that just for the purchase of the boat, allowing that much or possibly 2-3 times that much for overhauling the boat? Be prepared because you can very easily spend that much on an overhaul. Been there, done that, just finishing six years on my fixer upper.

$30K can get you an older, needs a lot of work boat in the 40' range. Just shop around, be patient, and be ready to pull the trigger FAST when a killer deal comes along. Just make sure you don't end up with a boat with major structural issues that cost more than the boat is worth.
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Old 04-02-2016, 20:51   #3
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Hi Skipmac,

I'm well acquainted with the "lovely" Boston weather fortunately.


As for the price, $30k is my price for the boat before repairs/upgrades. I don't have much money now (much more college debt actually) so I can't put a huge down payment down on a pristine boat. Once I am out of school though I'll have decent income to put toward repairing the boat. I realize that making a boat cruising worthy is expensive which is why I want to work for about 5 years saving up and making the necessary repairs/upgrades.
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Old 04-02-2016, 21:45   #4
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Sounds like you got to experience last winter in MA. One for the record books. My daughter (raised in FL) lives in MA and wasn't too happy with the conditions. Fortunately this year wasn't so bad.

In your situation I would look for something in better condition and be willing to settle for smaller if necessary to get the quality. I lived on a 34' with my wife and daughter for a couple of years and it was adequate.

If you want performance you can sometimes find deals on old race boats. Main thing, make sure the basic structure is good, no major rot in the core, hull/deck joint is good, bulkheads no rot and well tabbed to the hull and deck, keel firmly attached. Most other stuff is more easily (and cheaply) fixable. New rigging isn't much (although a new mast could set you back), sails can add up but you can find deals on good, used sails.

Try for a boat with a good engine. Plan B, one with a dead engine but cheap enough to cover the cost to replace the engine.

So how's your DIY skills? Plumbing, carpentry, electrical, mechanical?
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Old 04-02-2016, 22:04   #5
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Hahaha I think everyone is enjoying this winter after last year. I currently live in Worcester which is just west of Boston and we were the snowiest city in the country last year. One of my past roommates is from Florida and he did not appreciate last winter's ... generous snow fall.

My DIY skills are pretty solid. I'm a robotics engineer so I cross mechanical, electrical, and computer science. Not so much plumbing, but I am a quick learner. I'm also lucky in that the company I will be working for next year has a full machine shop and I am allowed after hours use, just have to pay for materials. I've not spent time with marine engines but I have spent a fair amount of time on car and motorcycle engines.
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Old 04-02-2016, 22:16   #6
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Welcome aboard, Will.

I'm thinking this will be doable for you. Having access to a full machine shop is very close to the best it can get!

I'd like to second what skipmac wrote, think in terms of the smallest boat you can tolerate, even though it won't be fast next to a 70 ft. raceboat, if she's well found, she'lll be able to go fast enough for fun. Learning to cope with the peculiarities of boat systems will transfer up, when the time comes. But by going small, you can increase quality, and that's always good. Boats can turn into sinkholes for money. There's a thread going on right now, on the subject of when is it time to give up on a fixer-upper.
You may have a difficult time imagining how hard it is to complete meaningful jobs while living aboard. Everything is always in the way.

Most of all, remember it is supposed to be fun.

Let us know when you've got the boat, plenty of folks here will "chat" with you along the way.

ann
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Old 04-02-2016, 22:47   #7
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Living aboard is doable. As others have said the big challenge will be winter heating and condensation. Boats generally are not insulated very well, if at all, but they are fairly water proof.

Condensation comes from several sources, heat from cooking/heating with fuel and from breathing. I find condensation challenging and I'm in a mild wimpy climate of the SF bay. Condensation grows mold, and clothes sometimes pick of that odur D'Boat.

Boston, would be fun, in that entirely un-fun way in winter. Lots of insulation, which reduces living (ok storage) space and a good vented heater or two. Other issues is how do you get water and pump out the holding tank in the winter.

It can be done, but it's not at all like a well insulated apartment. Plus the dock walks in the morning.

It should be possible to find a older 30-35 foot liveaboard sailboat for $20K ish and have $10K for minimum fixing and a good heater ($$$). Mind you a power boat will have more space, though fuel costs to run it unless it's a displacement trawler, would be very high, least compared to a sailboat.

I'll copy everyone else and say get the smallest boat you can live with. It will be less expensive to fix and to heat. I've lived on a older "read smaller" 34 sailboat for 9 years now, with maybe 150 SF of living space including all storage. Makes a tiny home look pretty big. The back yard though is to die for. Sure beats a Mc mortgage.
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Old 04-02-2016, 23:10   #8
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

40 foot plus/minus 5 feet is a huge range. A 45 foot boat is probably more than twice the displacement of a 35 foot boat. Given your price range and that you'll presumably be living alone, I would suggest looking in the 35' to 40' range.

Start with improvements that make living aboard easier. Worry about improvements to sailing or motoring later. Of course, remaining afloat and not on fire is important and urgent.
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Old 04-02-2016, 23:44   #9
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Thanks for the replies everyone!

Ann: Its interesting you mention it being hard to get work done on a liveaboard. I was assuming somewhat the opposite, thinking that since you dont have to drive an hour+ to the yard you'd be inclined to work on it more. I'd not considered that the boat will be packed with stuff unlike in the yard. Thank you for this advise.

SailorChic: The condensation problem is something I had not thought much about. In summer its easy enough to just open up the boat and let the wind take care of it. Probably not a great choice in winter. Is a dehumidifier a reasonable solution? And yes, definitely better than (in my case) wasting rent on some tiny apartment, I know rent in SF is just as bad as Boston.

Mcarling: Regarding my loa range, yeah its a very big range, and in my mind a 37-38' would be ideal but I don't want to reject a boat because it's a bit smaller or bigger. I will be living on the boat alone for now, though depending on where a friend of mine lands a job he may move in with me to cut slip fees (he is also a sailor so he has no misconceptions about how small a boat really is). And if I'm lucky, in time I'll find a girl who's crazy enough to join me.
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Old 05-02-2016, 00:28   #10
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Quote:
Originally Posted by wsbarnard View Post
Hi,

I am a graduating senior who is looking to move out of my apartment and straight onto a sailboat.

I've spent some time going over my finances and am capping my budget at around $30k. My plan is to live on the boat and work for about 5 years in Boston, fixing it up during this time, then cruise (including some longer crossings) for a year or two. I am looking for a boat in roughly the 40 foot range, plus or minus 5 feet. I have been looking around at a lot of boats but figured I'd see if anyone has any suggestions on good liveaboard cruiser/racer boats. Although my plan is to cruise, I am a racer at heart, so I don't want a slug. I realize my price tag is rather low for a boat of this description so I'm expecting to put some work into whatever boat I buy.

I'm also just looking for advice about living aboard in general and specifically in Boston.

Cheers,
Will
You're unlikely to get anything decent for that price. You might eventually get a bargain but that can take time to find.

A racer and good liveaboard are somewhat incompatible.


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Old 05-02-2016, 00:48   #11
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Best of luck and agree with the others in saying your plan sounds like a good one. Envious of the machine shop for sure!

I lived aboard and cruised a 39' boat with 2 other buddies out of school, Hudson river to Key West and back over the course of a couple years. Got back and started looking for my own boat. I like Ann's comments about thinking small and linking it with quality. There's a ton of great boats out there around your budget if you stick to the small side of your range. There's also a huge difference between one 35' and another depending on their design purpose.

Regardless, it's a great way to live. Cool community of people and places you'd absolutely never see any other way. Have found nothing that beats it yet.
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Old 05-02-2016, 05:05   #12
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

I would suggest going and talking to the marinas you are considering and seeing what services exist in winter. Some close the bathrooms, some provide bubblers, some have long waits for a liveaboard slip.

Condensation will be a huge issue (along with the mold that it brings) so start looking at systems now. Hydronic heat is probably your best bet.

There is a guy named Mark Fittapaldi who lived aboard in Boston and wrote a book called "Living Aboard A Boat". Check out the book and maybe get in contact with him (he had a website). The more prepared you are before winter, the better.
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:35   #13
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

I can't imagine being in Boston in the winter, but we have enjoyed summer visits with the live aboard community at the Constitution Marina. Be sure to look at Charlestown.
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Old 05-02-2016, 07:04   #14
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

Quote:
Originally Posted by vjm View Post
... There is a guy named Mark Fittapaldi who lived aboard in Boston and wrote a book called "Living Aboard A Boat" ...
Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Will.

“The Art of Living Aboard a Boat” ~ by Lisa & Al Fittipaldi
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Old 05-02-2016, 07:12   #15
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Re: Graduating college, want to liveaboard in Boston

I think it is doable but would be more inclined to look in the 33 to 35 range than something much larger (and 40' is much larger). You will be able to get a much better boat for the same dollars and a well-chosen boat is more than enough for living aboard and cruising. We met several younger cruisers in South Africa, from Europe and the US, and their boats ranged from 27 to 33' and they were mostly done a circumnavigation.
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