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Old 16-05-2009, 23:25   #1
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Realistic Liveaboard Boat

Howdy all. Tis my first post and i'm looking for some advice on how realistic my expectations are for my first boat.

I'm in australia/brisbane at the moment and have about $100k aus to spend on boat and refit. That's about $75k US.

What i'm looking for is a boat that i can liveaboard within about a month of purchase (so nothing that requires major refits) as the only way I can afford the boat is to have the rent from my apartment help pay off the financing. I also want it to be comfortable. Which for me means, hot showers, a good galley, at least 32f, a fridge and good seamotion for when i'm at anchor out in moreton bay (which i'll be doing on weekends).

I'm 27 right now which means that this isn't a retirement plan for me. I'll be working from the boat (I trade Forex) which also means that at some stage i'd like to be energy independent. So a boat with enough room for 5 or 6 solar panels and a good battery bank would be nice.

I'm also single and planning on staying that way for a while which means it has to be a boat i can single hand without problems.

Blue water capabilities aren't overly important though it would be nice to have the option, I do plan on doing week maybe month missions to the whitsundays once i have enough solar/wind power and i'm also hoping to get myself and the boat to the mediterranean (though i can handle shipping it there)sometime in the next few years.

There are a couple of good boats in the brisbane area right now, there is a tartan 37 (1976) listed for 81k. Which seems good but i dont' know what maintenance costs on a boat that old would be, alternatively there are some cheaper australian boats for about 60. Ie lots of roberts design and pugh sloops and some hartelys. There is also a westerly berwick but i dont' know if that has a shower or not and thats kinda a must have for me.

Basically what i'm hoping for is that some of the more knowledgable liveaboards here tell me if i'm being realistic about my plans? It seems all very doable at the moment, boat prices are within range but as I don't have alot of experince with boats (working on that though) right now i'm unsure if there is anything i've missed. I'd also like any word on the australian designed boats if anyone knows anything.

Anyways, thanks for reading and any general/boating/purchasing advice would be very much appreciated.

ps:- Marina fees/5% of boat costs in maintenance are already factored into my budget.

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Old 16-05-2009, 23:45   #2
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A lot depends on how handy you are with tools doing boat projects; if you have time for these projects etc.

I think you should favor the bigger boats for your comfort wishes and thus accepting older ones to stay in the price range. You should also hire a surveyor to determine the quality of the boat as there's no way to tell from just a brand/type (they are all build good enough when new so it depends on what previous owners did with/to them ;-)

I would not hesitate to go forward with your plans!


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Old 16-05-2009, 23:54   #3
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Howdy and thanks nick.

Unfortuantely I am extremely unhandy with tools. Also the fact that I work alot reduces hours i can spend even on the fairly simple things. I dont' mind revarnishing or painting, but would rather get someone who knows what they're doing on any major refitting work.

Will also definately get a survey before any final purchase, still in the research stage at the moment though I'm hoping to get out there within a few months.

Thanks again.

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Old 17-05-2009, 04:27   #4

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Plan on more like %10 of boat value for annual maintenance fees, and that's doing much of the work yourself. Many people think cruising is a life of leisure but it just aint so. When the boats not moving it seems like there's always a multiple page list of things that need to be done. Age of boat doesn't matter much , some older boats will require less than newer depending on prior owner. A five year old boat may have more issues than a 30 year old boat if it wasn't kept up. I started out with a hurricane damaged boat that was dismasted and had minor fiberglass damage. All major systems were current and well maintained. By the time boat was back in water I had spent about 12k including purchase price. 4 yrs and 25k miles later estimate I've spent double that on maintenance keeping systems up. Haul outs, canvas,pumps,finishes,upholstery,rigging, etc..... it never ends. Don't mean to discourage wouldn't trade my life for anyones. just go into it with a realistic sense of dedication involved of the money and time lifestyle requires.
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Old 17-05-2009, 05:55   #5
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I would suggest that when all the balances and compromises are tallied, living aboard will be less expensive than living ashore. You must not overlook all the maintenance and expense that is required for a house. I've never owned a house, but I have been living aboard for 38 years and my discrestional income has always been above my coworkers with the same pay. My experiences have been best in marinas with a bath house for showering. Of course, I've been living aboard with a family of four so hot water and volume of water would be a greater problem. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 17-05-2009, 06:09   #6
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Nothing wrong with the plan,my bit of advice as a boatbuilder and a guy who gets to fix boats that some poor bastard has bought after paying good money for a survey only to find major issues that the "Surveyor" had missed.
!/ do a lot of research and narrow your search down to just a few boats first
2/ If you narrow it down to a production boat such as the Tartan do a search online for an owners group,just about everything has one.Read and post questions on their forum and develop a list for the surveyor to pay particular attention to.
3/ Be present at the survey if at all possible,if the surveyor dosnt want you there find one who will.
4/ Dont be sucked in by boat owners around the dock or on forums such as this who will say that this brand or that brand are good boats,you cant go by brand name,only the individual boat you are looking at matters,I couldnt give a rats ass if its a Hinkley or a Macgregor.
5/ Make sure you get a good hull,deck rig and mechanicals, a lot of people get sold by fancy electronics and other fluff and then find they just bought a wet core and are in fore repairs that cost more than the boat is worth,ive seen it time and again and many of the boats were surveyed. You can always update electronics,sails etc as you can afford it,no skill involved.
Ok,i could go on and on and you may think im being an alarmist but ive seen a lot in 35 yrs in the industry, ive owned a Tartan ten, folks around here will tell you that "Tartan are good boats", Tartan tens as a group have major rotten core issues in the bottom from bilge water for gods sake as well as the compression post trying to drive through the bottom.This does not mean the 37 you are looking at is the same,it simply points out that you cant go by a name brand.
You need to do as much research to find a competent surveyor as the boat itself, many of them may have some letters after their name indicating they are a member of some organizing body, i dont care,i want to know what their actual experience is,if they are surveying a hull have they ever built one,do they really know how the things are put together,many of them have just read books and sat tests and paid membership dues to get some letters after their name to impress you. Look for someone who has a lot of experience as an actual boatbuilder in the medium you are looking at,even that is no guarante,we once had a 36ft Rhodes carvel planked boat in the shop where the customer has purchased it in Maine,he hired a well known wood boat surveyor who had written articles for wooden boat magazine,he found some deck issues and the buyer bought it and shipped it to us in minnesota,while we were working on the deck we looked it over and found the telltale signs of broken frames,after getting the go ahead to explore deeper we found that most of the frames through the keel area were broken.
Good luck with your search.
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Old 17-05-2009, 07:47   #7
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Ok thanks for all the replies, i've been doing alot of reading but it's always good to have some more relevant information. Some good advice which i'll definately heed.

Even at 10% maintenance costs it should work out too about what i'm paying right now combined with rent income, depending on which marina i stay at it could even be cheaper than what i'm paying now.

I had kinda figured on spending about 10-20k on a refit of any systems. My inital plan had been to buy a 50k boat and then refit anything that needed it, have since decided it might be wiser to spend a bit more on the boat at the start to ensure a good quality hull. Especially as some of the systems i will want (energy independence so i can work at anchor) can wait 3-6 months while i do minor repairs/transition to life aboard.

Couple of other questions if I may?

I understand the general fibreglass/steel/wood pros and cons. Too be honest i'm leaning towards fibreglass but steel does have it's appeals. My main problem with steel i guess is that i'm going to be buying an older boat and so I don't know wether rust is something which a surveyor can easily pick up on? Basically if rust detection on older boats isn't a problem i'll definately consider steel as I dont' mind rust maintenance, think it's something i can manage alright. But if it's hit or miss on detecting rust to begin with and general steel thickness after years in the ocean(electrolysis) i'll give it a miss.
eg there is this Boats for Sale - Yachts for Sale - Used & New Boats @ The Yacht Hub which is a Herreshoff H36 Nereia Ketch but she was made in 1979 and despite her fine lines i can't afford a "project boat".

And about how much would it cost to have a shower installed on an older boat? I've got a handful of boats in my radar right now but there are a few without showers and i need to have a ballpark figure of costs to factor into my budget.
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Old 17-05-2009, 08:45   #8
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I think for your intended use fiberglass is by far the best option. One of the advantages of steel seems to be hull strength, but that is not a primary consideration as you won't be going offshore any time soon.

However, if you can find a steel vessel that is in good shape (yes, get a specialist type surveyor to go over the boat thoroughly and the hull thickness can be measured accurately) AND priced right, meaning substantially less than a comparable fiberglass vessel.... it might be a viable option for you.

Ferro-cement is another option worth considering, but again, you need to find a surveyor who is a specialist with those kind of boats.

But it's probably safe to say that a fiberglass boat, with a solid (not cored) hull is your lowest maintenance option.

The cost of installing a shower? Depends on whether or not there is space available. If the head is large enough, you'll need pressure water and a hot water heater and some plumbing, which are not terribly expensive... maybe $2,000 US installed? But if you'll be at a marina, chances are you can use the marina showers..... not that it's as convenient as your own shower in the boat, but it's an option.
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Old 17-05-2009, 10:07   #9
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There are some good ferro made boats around my area, seems like there is alot of custom made boats, ferro/steel especially but i've read that ferro is generally the weakest of the possible boat materials. As i'm planning on heading out to the whitsundays and the great barrier reef I was a little unsure wether ferro would be best suited to queensland (reef) conditions?

I do plan on staying at a marina for the first few months at least but the aim is to get the boat to a stage where i can go anchor out in moreton bay for days/weeks at a time. With enough electricty generation and mobile internet I should be able to keep working even when i'm not in a marina which would eventually lead to trips up to the whitsundays and then the med and maybe even the tradewinds.

ps:- thanks once again, good to know i'm on the right track.
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Old 25-05-2009, 17:59   #10
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Ferro boats are fine, but are increasingly difficult to insure. Many marina will not let you berth without insurance.

Fibreglass is the way to go.
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Old 25-05-2009, 19:17   #11
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does the kind of trading you do require a reliable, low latentcy net connnection. have you researched that part yet?

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Old 30-05-2009, 08:14   #12
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Yep, my trading does require a reliable net access though latency isn't a huge concern. Wireless internet (3g) is also pretty good in aus judging by reports on wow connections should only be a few 100ms slower than cable for long distance communication (my broker is in london). There are also reports of signals out on oil rigs multiple kms out to sea and as i'll be cruising near the coasts it should be fine.

Sacriligeously though I think I may have decided to go the multihull route. At least i'm certainly considering it at the moment, i went to look at a couple of boats last week, one mono (33 ft) and a multi (37) even accounting for the 4 ft difference the multi had acres more space.

Looking specifically at some of the older trimaran designs, with cabins that spread out to the amas.

My only concern is weight allowances but there are a couple of decentish tri's in my area for about my price range. A cross 34 and a searunner 38.

Still planning on looking at a few mono's but... i like the the fact taht an older design tri will hell alot less (20 degrees or so) there seem to have been a few circumnavigations with both searunner and cross designs and as they're in my price range i can't really think of why not to go a multihull even if only for more living space?
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Old 30-05-2009, 09:29   #13
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Clockwork Orange offers some great advice. It's a bit of a conundrum.... wanting to live aboard and not being handy with tools or wanting to be a long range cruiser. In that situation I wold advise you to buy a boat that is popular and will hold it's resale value. An old Ferrocement boat or some unknown boat will be very hard to get rid of should you change your mind. For your purposes I would think a production boat without a lot of exterior wood and with a simple, comfortable to live in, interior would be good. A Beneteau, Jeanneau, Catalina etc. The boats that are popular down under may be differnt. Finding someone to do boat work, do it right, not make a mess, reasonable price and do it when scheduled is never easy....
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Old 30-05-2009, 12:50   #14
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Cheechako makes a very valid point, here. Suppose you find that, for whatever reason, the liveaboard life is not for you. In that case, a boat that offers an easy resale should be considered. I'd recommend chatting with the liveaboards in your area, as they have the local knowledge to tell you which boats would not be adviseable. I highly recommend taking your time on this purchase, as the market should improve for buyers.
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Old 30-05-2009, 13:26   #15
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Aye, i'm definately trying to keep my resale options open, for one like Cheechako said about discovering liveaboard ain't for me and for two finding out that it is and then possibly upgrading to a more blue water capable boat.

I am planning on getting to the mediterranean at some stage but I know i've got a long way to go to get from where I am (in sailing knowledge as well as actual kilometeres) so I had hoped to either get something blue water capable now (but unlikely with my price range) or get something that is good for aussie east coast cruising with potential to resell further down the track so I can buy a boat in the med perhaps.

All three of the boats you mentioned are popular down here but I think not as much as overseas, plus their a tad more expensive down here. The beneua's and jen's are out of my price range and only catalina i recall seeing listed down here was already sold.

I'm definately going to be doing alot of local research before I hire someone to do the work on the boat and definately taking my time on the actual boat purchase, will probaby still make a few mistakes along the way. But you gotta start somewhere and i am rather set on this crazy new idea i have of escaping the rat race for a life. Figure i can spend 16 hrs a day working, looking out my window at a brick wall or spend 16 hrs a day working on top of my boat looking out across some deserted beach. ^^

ps:- I don't suppose anyone knows what sort of displacement one of the older designed tri's (specifically a cross 34 markII) has? I figure i'm going to need to be able to add about 1000kgs or assorted gear that i'll need for living aboard and working aboard.

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