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Old 27-02-2013, 10:07   #1
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Liveaboard Boat for PNW Inquiry

My wife and I have been thinking about the sailing dream for a number of years - typical newbie romanticization, but you have to start somewhere. We live in Victoria, BC, have a little sailing experience and some friends with boats. We also have a 6 month old baby girl.

Our long term dream (of course) is to sail in warm places, explore tropical islands, etc. For a start, however, we would like to buy a boat that we can live aboard at a marina in Victoria and build our skills sailing the inside areas of Vancouver Island. So, we are working on choosing a boat to buy with the goal of pulling the trigger around September, and between now and then taking as many opportunities to go sailing as we can.

We are hoping to spend less than $40000 on a 34-37' boat. I was recently given the advice to buy a production boat (maybe a more expensive one) so that we can get a feel for what we are getting ourselves into, and if we decide we don't like it it would be easier to sell.

A few questions:

1. Any suggestions on what to look for in a liveaboard for the PNW winter?
2. Is it true that a production boat is easier to sell? Would an older one be just as easy to sail?
3. How does a production boat compare for winter living? - (compared to what, I'm not sure)

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Old 27-02-2013, 10:18   #2
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Re: Liveaboard boat for PNW inquiry

Welcome to the forum, a production boat is a more known commodity to the general public and as far as resale goes the more popular the make, the easier to sell. That does not assure quality of build. Older vessels have their own quirks. I prefer them, I believe they have more character, that doesn't mean they are easier to sail, usually they have a crop of issues that need resolved, in the resolving of them you can become more familiar with them, of course they say familiarity can breed contempt and children. There are some very fine builders in the PNW that offer features that address the winter living here and would give you better accommodation than a southern built boat. Half the fun is in the search.

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Old 27-02-2013, 11:11   #3
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Re: Liveaboard boat for PNW inquiry

For the live aboard in the PNW part of the plan, I would seek something with larger windows and a raised saloon or pilot house. I personally would go nuts living down below in a normal sailboat (small port holes only) during our winters. You need to let as much natural light in as possible as there is precious little of it even on the outside!

Good luck,

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Old 27-02-2013, 12:14   #4
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Re: Liveaboard boat for PNW inquiry

Thank you for the replies. I am drawn to the PNW pilothouse models, like the Cooper Seabird Pilothouse, I just wonder how easy it would be to turn it over if I wanted/needed to after a year or two.
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Old 27-02-2013, 12:32   #5
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Re: Liveaboard boat for PNW inquiry

Like real estate: insulation, insulation, insulation. And a darned good diesel heater.
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Old 27-02-2013, 12:38   #6
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Re: Liveaboard boat for PNW inquiry

Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
Like rela estate: insulation, insulation, insulation. And a darned good diesel heater.
Boy, I sure agree with that! As one who lived aboard in Seattle (Lake Union), condensation was a real issue. I checked out a Cape George while there and it was well insulated. They are made in Port Townsend...I think.
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Old 27-02-2013, 19:25   #7
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Re: Liveaboard Boat for PNW Inquiry

Hello Ben
I have been living aboard sailboats in Nanaimo for almost 10 years and I have been sailing/followed sailing for 30 years. Here is my 2 cents.

A well known production boat is likely to be easier to sell for several reasons:
1. The builder, C&C, CS, Hunter, Beneteau, Catalina has a reputation for generally good quality and good sailing characteristics
2. Each of these designs has a user group forum where the buyer can go to for advice or to just share stories. With an uknown boat the owner is left to himself to figure out where the wiring goes, how to remove the rudder, etc.
3. Yacht brokers will be more familiar with the boat and possibly more able to market it.

The flip side of this is that you may be able to buy a boat of essentially unknown design at a much lower price. Will it be hard to sell at that low, or lower, price in the future? Unknown. You might also be able to find a very nice one design boat at a lower price than a production boat. Right now it is a buyers market so I think good deals are out there in production boats. To sail around here in the summer you don't need any particular kind of boat so your choice would mainly be on liveability. If you like sailing you might later get a boat with more performance in mind.

Again I don't really think you need any particular boat in terms of staying warm. It really depends on how much you want to spend on electricity, diesel, or propane to heat the boat and how warm you need it. I guess with a little one you will want to keep it pretty warm. I just put on a sweater. My first boat was a C&C 37 with no insulation. I used an oil filled radiator type electric heater and that worked OK. I did have condensation/drips in the lockers from the deck until I glued half inch closed cell foam on the surfaces. My current boat, a Valiant 40, has half inch foam glued on the hull. I assume this makes it easier to keep warm but don't really know. Again I use the oil filled electric heater and that costs me 40 to 60 dollars per month in electricity. I also have a Dickinson Newport propane heater that I fire up if it goes below freezing, an infrequent occurence this winter. Propane is fairly cheap.

As for living aboard, if you have to stay near Victoria you might look into Canoe Cove marina as I know there are liveaboards there and I think it may be more reasonable than some other marinas. Cowichan Bay might be another reasonable option.
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Old 28-02-2013, 20:57   #8
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I'm also in the pnw - seattle

Several things .. Light and cold damp humidity are big issues.
The boat for now is not necessarily the boat for later. So you could buy a great liveaboard now and a bwc for later.

Pilot house boats and things like hunters have great big windows if you are sensitive to lack of sun and spend a lot of time below on the boat.

Also understand what you want. For example ..
Don't underestimate the important of comforts. Comforts are personal.. I berth next to a man who has a 42" TV in his boat... Cos he has to watch baseball.
Me I have to have a shower on board but no TV.

Oh and in the pnw. You have to have a heater. The cold isn't so numerically cold.. But it will run through your bones. I really don't count electric radiators as heaters.

And when you do have the boat. Ventilation!

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Old 01-03-2013, 10:17   #9
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Re: Liveaboard Boat for PNW Inquiry

we live aboard in Portland, OR. I know everyone says to ventilate, ventilate, ventilate to avoid moisture. But it runs contrary to the advice to heat as well.. every time you ventilate you have to start the heating all over. Our answer is a Solusair dehumidifier. Works wonders (it does put out cool air when dehumidifying, then warm air when the desired point is reached, but the cool air is still warmer than outside). That combined with a simple West Marine heater and we are set.

We are only 2 people on a 30' Catalina, but when one or more grandchildren spend the night, it does get a bit tight in here.... with an infant it would not be such an issue, but as they get older I would suggest at least 32' to 42' ....
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:45   #10
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pirate Re: Liveaboard Boat for PNW Inquiry

If I was buying to live aboard up N it would have to be wood.. good solid planks.. no composite crap.. 40ft minimum and depending on the layout (ketch w/aft) at least one Taylors diesel heater..

I do not exist to impress the world.
I exist to live my life in a way that will make me happy.

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Old 01-03-2013, 11:44   #11
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Re: Liveaboard Boat for PNW Inquiry

Stu/Angel/Gordon - will keep in mind insulation and will check out the Cape George

mub - thanks for the tips on the windows on hunters. I hadn't realized that. I may find one that has been winterized.

tmiller - dehumidifier... great idea.

boatman - while I would love to have wood I am very afraid of the maintenance. Time is an issue for me.

Thanks for all the input.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:25   #12
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Re: Liveaboard Boat for PNW Inquiry

We first started living aboard in Everet, WA, and actually bought our boat up in N. Vancouver. We moved aboard when our son was not quite 1 1/2 years old, daughter 3 years old, and spent two years in the PNW before moving the the Chesapeake Bay area. Loved it, wouldn't have moved except for work.

Some basic recommendations- +1 on a good heat source. For us we picked a boat with a diesel hydronic heater, which is a nice backup if the power goes out, or on chilly nights at anchor. One factor that sometimes isn't taken into consideration is that summertime in the PNW has mostly light airs (except for afternoons for an hour or so). You might want to look for a boat that can sail in those conditions. I wouldn't necessarily limit yourself to production boats with your budget and size limitations, but agree with others that it is generally less of a resale risk and more frequently available parts. Finally as a newbie I'd recommend getting a boat with mostly all functional systems. There will be plenty enough to learn while living aboard without having to rebuild a system from the get-go. Oh, and definitely don't try to get a fixer-upper and then liveaboard on it while trying to fix it up- almost never works.

Have fun!!!! It is exciting to go boat shopping, don't get discouraged and you'll find the one that is right for you.


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