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Old 27-02-2015, 12:46   #1
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Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

I think I've seen every boat on the internet, due to a cold snowy winter. We're still landlubbers planning on purchasing a boat this summer.

I'd like to ask real liveaboard couples for their input, given this criteria:
* cruising couple in 50's/60's, very occasional guests.
* cruising grounds will initially be 60% U.S. coastal, 40% Caribbean. Will plan on Central and South America, possibly Med someday.
* budget $150-250 USD.

We'd like your thoughts on boat age, length, keel depth, furling main, pilot salon versus flush deck, center versus aft cockpit, berth and galley layout, storage, tankage etc. Also, any creature comforts or features you feel important.

We have our ideas, but want to hear from those who live the life now.
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Old 27-02-2015, 13:19   #2
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

Most definitely separate hulls with a common living area connecting them…

Mark
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Old 27-02-2015, 14:41   #3
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

We *love* our Pearson 39-2. Specifically:

1) AFT HEAD at the bottom of the companion way means you can get wet stuff away from the wood quickly.
2) TWO BIG GALLEY SINKS (for a <40 foot sailboat, anyway). Our drainboard fits in the sink, so there is a safe place for dishes to drip. The previous owner left a large cutting board that fits over either sink, creating a few extra square feet of counter/work space. This also creates a U shaped galley to brace yourself in while underway.
3) LARGE, FLAT, OUTBOARD FACING NAV TABLE - this is a wonderful work surface. Large enough for big, old, paper charts, being flat means I can also set up the sewing machine to make fender covers.
4) ENGINE UNDER ONE SINK we have full access on two sides of the engine, with plenty of space to sit while you work. There are still issues - access to the oil dipstick is through the cabinet under the other sink; the transmission fluid dipstick isn't easy, either due to the exhaust tubing; all your water at the galley is warm water for awhile after you run the engine...
5) SECOND VANITY SINK in the V berth means you can brush your teeth while your guests use the head (otherwise, we usually keep it closed).
6) HUGE AFT BERTH a bit claustrophobic by land standards, but actually the berth itself is even bigger than the V berth, the floor space is just limited to about 1.5 square feet when the bed is made up. We turned the hanging locker into a broom cupboard/linen closet and switched the door to open into the galley instead of the cabin. I am pretty sure this is the only upgrade we have made so far - everything else has been maintenance.

As for "how old?" a better question is "how long since latest refit and what did it involve?" Followed by "How handy are you and how much do you enjoy doing projects?"
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Old 27-02-2015, 14:46   #4
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

Perhaps you could be a little more specific? are you considering a motor boat? if sail, mono vs. multi? center cockpit vs. aft? (Lots of threads on this forum about that) Probably, if it were me, what I would look for would probably be looking in the lower part of the available $$, because inevitably, there will be upgrades, that will consume said $$ at a scary rate.

My prejudices, for mono,
aft cockpit
cutter with inline spreaders
fin keel, skeg rudder
must have a minimum of one extremely secure sea berth, prefer two
Owners cabin and at least one guest cabin
Galley must be safe, butt belt okay
HANDHOLDS or finger rails
One head, with real door, not curtain
Plenty fuel and water tankage
Stowage -- plan ahead on this, 'cause some of your planned voyages will be long, you'll
want more, and need to carry more

Many people nowadays seem to think you need a freezer, wash machine, watermaker, and genset. We've chosen to live within our electric generation capacity by solar and wind. Heck, we know people without any refrigeration who are long term cruiser/circumnavigators. So, I suggest you consider what are needs vs. wants, 'cause everyone is different, and ultimately, only you can make those decisions. The burden will be on the more mechanically adept of the partners if you go the genset, watermaker, etc., route. You will spend more hours fixing things, hours when you are not out playing, and hours where you will be involved in your partner's project rather than your own, due to space considerations.

You asked about pilothouses. Often with them, there's nowhere outside to enjoy steering from. Now, this can be a big plus in a very cold clime, you run the boat from inside, not so much in the tropics. Lots of tradeoffs to be made in the sailboat buying.

Ann
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Old 27-02-2015, 14:50   #5
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Most definitely separate hulls with a common living area connecting them…

Mark
Ya beat me to it!
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Old 27-02-2015, 15:06   #6
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

lol, I just posted a similar thread but I included some items I felt make a boat a good couples cruiser
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Old 27-02-2015, 16:21   #7
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

Im happy with my boat, a 39 foot Westerly Sealord, an example can be seen here WESTERLY SEALORD 39 sailing yacht for sale | De Valk Yacht broker but I wouldn't recommend to somebody as a first boat largely due to their age... youngest would be about 28yo. Marginaly larger Oceanlord would be a better bet as they are younger , examples here 1995 Westerly Oceanlord 41 Sail New and Used Boats for Sale - and here http://au.yachtworld.com/boats/1992/...United-Kingdom

Mine is set up as a cutter.
Length is ideal for a couple... good combo of good accomodation v manageable size.
Centre cockpit gives a nice size of aftdeck for stowing the dinghy, setting up scuba gear, etc etc.
Good size cockpit with 6 foot side beches.
Good aftercabin for a couple with private head.
2 good seaberths which can be opened up in port to be good sized bunks, plus there is a seperate cabin with head up frd.
Workable galley in port and at sea.
Good engine access.
Excellent stowage, probably the best out there for a boat this size.
400 litres water, 200 litres fuel.
Good heavy weather boat.

A wet locker at foot of stairs would be good but the frd head serves that purpose.
Treadmaster deck is good, have just replaced mine at 28 years. Would not have teak.
I wouldn't have an in-mast furling main in a purple fit.

Thats about it.... I live aboard for up to 6 months at a time... normally 3 months.
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Old 27-02-2015, 17:08   #8
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

Julie,
I found when I was single and cruising and living on the boat I own was OK. 36' after cabin forward head U shaped galley. I was in my early 40s. It was 3 yrs. I still have the same boat.

I like many of the accommodation features of the plan. I would think for a couple a larger plan would be better including a full stand up sleeping cabin - aft.

I've seen plenty of 40' boats which had worse plans and no more space.

The only comment I want to make... but I am more than willing to discuss individual features which I liked... again this is personal... is size.

I am not in my 60s and not as strong and robust. I don't think I would single hand to the Caribe as I did when I was 15 or 20 years young. Same boat. Same forces to deal with... older body.... less response time, weaker muscles and diminished senses... AGE. I am still in very good condition for my age. But I would not be able to as EASILY and SAFELY handle my boat...let alone a larger one in "IFFY" conditions... and you WILL encounter them. So you must have a powerful, reliable auto pilot and windlass... very reliable robust anchoring gear and TECHNIQUE... You'll probably need electric winches and furling sailing. And I would highly recommend for safety to have good crew for off shore passages. That would be prudent. Coast stuff you two should be fine.

You definitely want a lay out which is off shore / passage friendly... lots of hand holds, for example so you can move through the boat heeled over. I like the galley and the nav station close to the companionway.

And finally you want a very larger comfortable and dry (underway) cockpit. You spend most of your time in it so it needs to be comfortable for everything you do there.
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Old 27-02-2015, 17:11   #9
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

Why do people always ask which is "best"?

Which is the best city to live in? Which is the best cheese? Which is the best job? The answer to ALL of these is the same: it depends on the hominid asking.

I have the boat that is "best" for me but it would not suit you. I love everything about it (except the crushing cost of ownership) and I could go on and on why it is "best." But it isn't. It is best for me full stop. And that has nothing to do with you nor will it help you find answers to your questions.

People have preferences and even the ugliest, most unseaworthy boat in the marina has somebody who loves her.

We have a center cockpit boat. My previous boats were all aft cockpits. I could tell you center cockpit is "best." But I won't. It is just a preference.

The more boats you actually board and look around the more you will get a feeling for your own preferences.

Stop asking which (place any noun here) is "best." Visit a ton of boats and see what you like and don't like. That, I can honestly tell you, is "best."

Dhillen
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Old 27-02-2015, 17:54   #10
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

I don't think Julie expected to get the universal best... That is as you note ridiculous. What I think she is asking... what are the important things that are appropriate for a couple of their age sailing as she described in that region. There are basically only a few categories to address... ability to handle a boat of X' and weight and sail plan... for example... including sailing, anchoring and berthing... and how much real estate is enough or perhaps too much for a couple. Center cockpit, aft cockpit, mono or cat are personal preference more or less..... No?
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Old 27-02-2015, 18:25   #11
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

Hmmm,- Which is best for me? There are some changes you can make to a boat to adapt it to your preferences. There are many changes that you make with your expectations when you adapt to the boat you have.

My boat is the best for me because I've been on it for thirty years and I've evolved into a different person than I was thirty years ago.

Could the best question be which boat will cause me to become the person I want to be? Am I a slow gunkholer because I've been on a low performace, big living space, shoal draft boat for 42 years? Would I be a different type of cruiser if I had kept a boat like my high performace fin keel Sparkman & Stephens that I bought in 1971?

What kind of livaboard couple do you want your boat to cause you to become?

'just playing with this question, but I think there's some validity here.
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Old 27-02-2015, 19:48   #12
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

Quote:
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I don't think Julie expected to get the universal best... That is as you note ridiculous. What I think she is asking... what are the important things that are appropriate for a couple of their age sailing as she described in that region. There are basically only a few categories to address... ability to handle a boat of X' and weight and sail plan... for example... including sailing, anchoring and berthing... and how much real estate is enough or perhaps too much for a couple. Center cockpit, aft cockpit, mono or cat are personal preference more or less..... No?
Yes, thank you. That is where I was going. And yes, this will be a sailboat.

We are looking at 42-48' mono sailboats. Leaning towards cruisers, not racers and probably not racer cruisers. We believe in build quality, even if we will be buying a smaller boat. Newer in construction and refit by the prior owner is ideal, of course.

My intent is to have people identify, in their own boats, the features that they feel are important for a liveaboard lifestyle. I hope to gain some wisdom and insights from those who have gone before us, especially so with those of similar age and cruising grounds.
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Old 27-02-2015, 19:51   #13
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Most definitely separate hulls with a common living area connecting them…

Mark
Separate sleeping and living quarters? Makes for a longer and better marriage!
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Old 27-02-2015, 20:01   #14
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

My wife and I are not live-aboards, but I can answer some of your questions.I'm talking monohull. No experience with catamarans.


I recommend a center cockpit. That gives you at once a three cabin layout—a large aft cabin for the owner(s), the central salon-galley area, and a forward berth with head for guests or storage. If you have guests, that gives you space between you and the guests, hence privacy for both. It is a bit steep on the companionway steps, an inherent vice in a center cockpit boat, but well-worth it in my opinion. And we are on the north side of 60.

With a boat between 40-50, you will get two heads—one en-suite in the aft-owner cabin, and the other up front for guests and day time use. If the boat is greater than 45' long, you will also probably get a third stateroom—usually bunk beds—up front. Good for storage and children. Our cats sail with us, so the bunk room becomes the storage and cat room.

What I urge is to look carefully at the salon layout. We once had a lovely 38’ boat with a wonderful layout except that the salon table was a drop leaf table in the center of the boat. One could not walk around it without bumping into it. A poor location. And that was with the leafs down. Our current 46’ boat has a U-shape table (that seats several and can expand for more) to port as one comes down the companionway. The center area of the salon leading to the front stateroom, the bunk room, and the forward head is not restricted. To starboard, we have two seats separated by a table (under which is the wine cabinet). The seats look like arm chairs but the cushions can be lifted out of the frame and taken over to the salon table as ottoman seats. They have castors for feet. Clever. At anchor, one can sit in either of those two seats and read the newspaper or a book in a very comfortable manner-just like home. Makes a long wait at anchor or in port for weather very endurable. The galley is U-shape and to starboard behind the companionway. Stove, work areas, and storage outside along the hull; frig and freezer on an aft bulkhead, and inside under the companionway are work areas and a double sink and microwave.

The nav station and wet locker are to port as one comes down the companionway—aft of the U-shape eating area, and behind them is the passageway to the aft cabin. There is a pilot berth on the port side along the hull in the passageway going to the aft cabin with lockers underneath. I have seen people use that area for a watermaker. Opposite the pilot berth is access (two doors) to the engine room. It is a real engine room under the cockpit. Access from three sides. The generator and battery charger are there as well. I do not have an inverter, but there is room there for one. Aft is a queen-berth and on the starboard side of the boat, opposite where the passageway is on port, is the aft head with a separate shower stall.

The layout works well for two and company. Four people can easily eat at the table in our cockpit—6 down below in the salon. The cockpit in any center cockpit boat will be small but only compared to an aft-cockpit boat, but be sure the tallest in your company can layout and snooze. Otherwise I'm not sure you need more area.


Ours is a shoal draft keel (5’3”) with a skeg mounted rudder, which works well in the Chesapeake Bay, our cruising grounds. I’m sure there is a small speed or sailing penalty compared to the full fin keel of 6’, but I have never noticed it. If you are even thinking the Bay and the Bahamas, go shoal keel.

On deck, we do not have a pilot house, but I do have a hard dodger and a full cockpit enclosure, which in effect is the same as a pilot house. The nice part about the cockpit enclosure and hard dodger is that in nice weather we can roll up the canvas sides, and in the evening, roll down the screens to keep the bugs out while leaving the isinglass up and letting air blow through. In a blow, the hard dodger is like a pilot house--mine even has windshield wipers! Two people can easily sail the boat.

Tankage is 200 gal of water; 100 fuel. We have furling sails all around—main, staysail and yankee. Yes, roller furling can jam and that is a concern, but once up in the spring, they are up! One can get around this by having a power winch on the mast. The roller furling means one does not have to go forward in crummy conditions, a good thing when short-handed or in the dark. It makes it easy to reef whether in a blow or just for a night sail. I have power primary winches (not a mast one, alas), and while nice, I do not use them that much except to send someone up the mast. Power windlass and a bowthruster—both a must. We have a/c as well—again, a must in the Bay in the summer. The chart plotter is at the helm and the navigation instruments over the companionway. One drives the boat at the helm—the instruments need to be visible there. On my previous boat, there was a repeater chart plotter at the nav station—I never used it. Waste of money. The radios (VHF and HF) are below at the nav station, but I have a ram mic for the VHF at the helm. Radio should be at the helm or have a RAM mic there. Running below to send or receive a radio message is time-consuming and unnecessary.

We have davits for the dinghy. Towing a dinghy runs the risk of losing it w/o being aware until too late, plus drag. Davits are easier than stowing it on deck. We have two folding bikes we bring along, and I lash them to the pushpit. I keep them in bags—does wonders for limiting corrosion.



Ours is a heavy, stiff boat--15 tons. Cutter rigged. Don't fly the staysail for speed--too much trouble. I use it when the wind gets over 25 knots, dropping the yankee. Straightens the boat, no loss of speed.


Be happy to send photos or discuss more via PM.
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Old 27-02-2015, 20:05   #15
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Re: Which boat layout is best for liveaboard couple?

We went through a similar exercise. We looked at more than 125 boats across the globe.

After 18 months we found a Liberty 458 in great condition and well equipped that we have been living aboard for nearly 18 months now. We sail regularly and also work from the boat. We are cruisers not racers.

Some of the key attributes were:
1) comfortable, well lit and well ventilated interior
2) Lots of storage (110+ lockers)
3) in a sufficiently good condition. Once a boat deteriorates below a certain point you'll never be able to maintain it in good condition
4) Island queen (implies a center cockpit)
5) No v berth (useless layout) we have a fwd stateroom with an office on one side and a dble berth on the other. Fwd head in the v gives good head height and good access to the sail locker
6) 6'+ head height throughout
7) good mechanicals with good access
8) a spacious aft deck for fitness, working, sewing sails, etc and dining in comfort.
9) ability to walk around the boat. Gunwale and no silly skinny pathways
10) a well laid out galley with good freezer and fridge space. We cook extensively.
11) a good two person shower and seperate head.
12) lots of fuel andnwater storage
13) dual gas locker
14) a good transom arch for fitness and mounting stuff
15) dedicated workshop
16) dedicated chart table
17) lots of handholds. They also make good clothes drying rails.
18) rugged cruising rig and sails
19) heater. We have a diesel forced air blower. Maybe ac for some but not us.
20) a good dodger / bimini

The only thing we didn't get was a washer drier. I'm currently designing and building a custom 12v solution. Laundromats are expensive and a pain in the butt.


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