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Old 25-12-2011, 08:12   #1
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LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

I don't yet have a boat, when I do have my boat (hopefully next spring) she'll be an antique 40' wooden yacht, new enough to have a power motor, old enough to pretty much not have anything else "modern" (the guy who has her now "thinks" she was built in the 1940's but he's not sure.) My goal is to rebuild her (a huge project as she's been grounded behind a barn near on 20 years and needs a lot of work to get her sea worthy again) and than live in her for pretty much the rest of my life.

While this would be my first time living in a boat, it'll also be my biggest living space ever, as I grew up in a 16'x9'beach cabin, me 1 of a family of 7 people, 9 cats, 5 dogs, and 4 birds. Living right on the ocean on the icey cold coast of Maine where storms lash out at us every week all year long, our electric system was touch and go, and during a hurricain, blizzard, or ice storm we always lost power and could be in black out conditions for 3 or 4 months as a result. Lived there 27 years, still live there actually, except a flood took the house and for the past 6 years I've lived in a Volvo and a 4'x6' tent both parked where the house used to be.

Today it is just me, 12 cats, and 1 bird. If all goes as planned, next March will see the addition of the boat and a small motorhome. I plan to move out of the car and tent set up into the motorhome, while spending the next 3 or 4 (or more) years rebuilding the boat. Well, 6 years in a tent means this: 6 years with 100% no electricity, no running water, no toilet, no heat...now granted it's not the lifestyle for every one, I know, and most people scream hysterics at me while reminding me this is not the 1600s. If you want modern things, fine, me, I don't need them.

Okay, so I've told a lot of people about my plan, seeing as I've been wanting this boat for near on 20 years and I've finally convinced the guy to let me have her before she's rots away completly. The past few weeks several people have said the same thing to me which runs along the lines of this:

"Rebuilding the boat is a lot of work and well be expensive, especially considering you'll have to install electric systems and a GPS system..." than they lecture me on the dangers of building an electric system on my own and rants about how I'll need to put at least $10k into a GPS system. I just stare at them clueless and let them rant.

I joined this forum a few days ago, hoping I'd get info towards this project, and so far I've gotten a lot of great info, and also I have seen several posts mentioning GPS systems on boats Than, just now I was reading the thread: Preparing Yourself for a Liveaboard Lifestyle, and saw a few comments there which made off handed mentions of electricity and GPS.

Now part of the reason I want THIS specific boat, is the very fact that she DOES NOT have electric systems! If you hadn't noticed by now, I don't really need it seeing as I've never had it in my life to begin with. Electricity is an optional luxery, and has been for 36 years now. I mean, if it's there, fine, but if not, it's no big deal seeing as I rarely use it anyways.

Of course I've also been told several times that this specific boat is too big and too insane a project to begin with...uhm, yeah, part of the reason I want this particular boat is the very fact that she does need so much work, because I'm basically building a new boat with the templates all provided, and I don't know, I guess you have to be the type of person who likes to build things to understand that.

I know this is a long post, sorry, but getting to my question: see I only planned to rebuild the boat the way she already was. That means no electricity and no GPS. Later on, I plan to add sails too her, to have a "backup" option in case of fuel run out or sudden motor outage, but that's not too much of a worry considering, I'm not a travelling sort of person, I like where I am and once the boat is parked in the water, she'll likely never move away from the dock, so I may never do the whole sail thing anyways.

Anyways, I've been thinking about what folks tell me about how I need a GPS so I don't get lost and all that, and yeah, that's a good point and all, but I mean, unless a storm rips my boat off the dock and tosses me out to sea, is that REALLY something I need to worry about? I mean, it's not like I'm planning to be out there island hopping or anything. I'm where I want to be, I've lived in this tiny village for 36 years and have no intention of leaving it, and I'm not somebody who "goes vacationing" either, so no short weekend trips either.

I don't see that I'll need electricity for any reason other than a GPS system and I don't see that I'll really need that, seeing how my plan is basically to drop the boat in the water, move onboard, and never move her again, for oh I don't know the next 70 years or so. But than when I say this to people they freak out and get all "well why don't you get a house and not a boat, the whole reason for a boat is to go places and travel and see the world..."

So I guess I'm weird because I don't want to travel and I'm perfectly happy to live without electricity in a boat that never leaves the dock. But all this leaves me wondering are there others out there who do this sort of thing?

I guess my question is this: Electricity and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them? Are there other liveaboards out there who DO NOT have either onboard?

How many liveaboards are there out there who never move there boat and just live in one place for years on end?

And why do other folks live on a boat? Is it for traveling on the sea to various places or are you like me and just like to live as close to the ocean as possible and find it annoying to have to rebuild your house every time a hurricane runs off with it because you built it as close to the ocean as possible?
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Old 25-12-2011, 08:22   #2
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

Electricity will be the least of your problems. Rotten wood will be your problem....

One does not need much of an electrical system on a boat. Little battery operated lights, GPS and such can get you a long ways.
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Old 25-12-2011, 08:45   #3
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

Kerosene stove, lamps, and heater would do quite well for replacing electrical components.

If you never leave the dock then there's certainly no reason to have GPS or any other type navigation assistance. There are tradionalist sailing around with leadlines, taffrail logs, and sextants, so it's certainly doable, but they are actually sailing...
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Old 25-12-2011, 08:48   #4
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pirate Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

In fact you won't need anymore than you will to run your motorhome..
if your aiming for sophistication...
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Old 25-12-2011, 09:21   #5
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

You do not NEED an electrical system or GPS or any other electronics or modern conveniences. I navigated just fine before I ever had Loran or GPS. It was more challenging and more fun! Nervewracking when listening for a bell bouy in the fog hoping my dead reckoning was correct! GRIN Today's sailors who rely ONLY on GPS and chartplotters and radar often are unable to navigate when they fail. It is not unusual to hear them call Miami Coast Guard when they are within sight if Miami and say the are lost!

Having one deep cell battery to power running lights would be a nice convenience so you might consider that. Read Lin and Larry Pardey's books and go simple. Also read "Sensible Cruising: A Thoreau Approach", I think it will resonate with you given your background.

I use a handheld GPS, a chartplotter app on my iPhone, and have solar powered electrical system on my boat but don't rely on them or assume they will work and consider them backup info for my paper charts, navigation and piloting skills, compass, and, yes, my leadline!! :-)
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Old 25-12-2011, 09:44   #6
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

I agree you will not need to worry about anything except wood repair Maybe you can talk to some old timer at your marina to get a sense of what is really required to maintain a old wood boat There are many projects for sale out there If you plan to put a lot of blood and sweat into a project why not start with something that will have some value when you are done just mho
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Old 25-12-2011, 09:55   #7
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

Neither is must-have. Both are very-nice-to-have. Very.

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Old 25-12-2011, 10:12   #8
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EelKat View Post
are you like me and just like to live as close to the ocean as possible and find it annoying to have to rebuild your house every time a hurricane runs off with it because you built it as close to the ocean as possible?
Of course if you live in a Hurricane zone all that for a house is replaced by the possibility that the boat will end up inland......and with boats that don't end well either.

To my ears the plan sounds a bit bizarre, especially going for a yacht - a motorboat would provide far more living space, and if never going anywhere the fuel costs not a worry - nor the engine(s) being kaput.......but nothing wrong with being different .

In regard to electricity and GPS, you don't need either - whether you want them is another matter. FWIW can pick up a s/h handheld GPS (no chartplotter) for around USD100, add another $50 for a few more of the basic navigation tools (including a pencil ) and you could navigate pretty much anywhere........upside is that you would need to learn to Navigate instead of simply () becoming a Satnav Sailor.

First thing I would do is make sure of where you could moor and liveaboard her (ashore or afloat)....and how much (both to stay and get her there - by road or water).
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Old 25-12-2011, 10:15   #9
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

You mentioned an engine. You'll be hard pressed to find an engine with a hand crank anymore, especially a diesel.
If you do chose an engine I can't see much harm in having one battery, one small solar panel, and a couple of gauges to monitor the engine. You might even choose to untie once or twice and putt around. Most folks around here think that boating is quite nice and you might as well.
As far as GPS, one, if you don't go far there is no need for it, and two, I got my si-tex 10" GPS for $250.00 used and it works perfectly. It isn't color but the ocean doesn't care if my display is in color.
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Old 25-12-2011, 10:25   #10
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

As others have stated you only need 12 volt power if you want to run electrical lights and need it to start your engine. Lots of other options available. Coal oil lanterns for navigation and lighting for an example. You can have a hand start diesel or no engine at all. As for a GPS, I navigated most of the inlets on the BC coast for 30 years before I got one. Wooden boat projects can be very rewarding. Enjoy
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Old 25-12-2011, 11:34   #11
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

Why not just move into the boat as it is ..has got to be better than a tent or not much different..why would you need a gps if you dont move?why not build a hobbit hole?..good luck what ever you do ..marry christmas..DVC
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Old 25-12-2011, 15:35   #12
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

Having electricity for an automatic bilge pump can come in extremely handy if your boat decides to spring a leak while you're away.
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Old 25-12-2011, 18:34   #13
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

I would not even think about GPS or electrical 3-4 years in advance?>?..Make her float first, cause there is nothing exterior about the electrical except maybe the Grounding plate, But even that is think wayyyyy far ahead..even if...even if....after you get the boat floating....then you can worry about electrical.. all wires can be run as a afterthought..and i would bet you 1 dollar that someone will give you a GPS within the next 3-4 years..so again...no worries focus on the floating part...that's the hardest..You got a dream go with it man!! I gots me some big dreams myself that i'm working on...so good luck and happy new year....!!
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Old 25-12-2011, 18:45   #14
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

I think you've already answered your questions. If you know where you are now and you don't plan on moving; then, you don't need a GPS. If you are satisfied living in a tent and a Volvo without electricity; then, you won't need electricity on your boat.
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Old 29-12-2011, 12:10   #15
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Re: LiveAboards, Electricity, and GPS Systems - Do I REALLY need them?

You can get a small hand held GPS off of ebay for 30-50 bucks and it'll work just fine. A hand held VHF costs about 80-100 brand new.

You'll need electric for navigation lights, anchor light and so on. Frankly building out a small 12v house system(led lighting, circuit panel) is a trivial task. You could install a composting head(or build your own), electric water/bilge pumps, lighting, radio, and so on in a week if you'd never done those kinds of things before. These systems are all extremely simple.

It's restoring all the rotten wood of the boat that'll take years and make you eventually go broke and give up.
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