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Old 17-08-2015, 20:50   #1
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Family looking for a new adventure

We're a family of five looking for a new adventure. I think a houseboat would do the trick.

I've never lived on a boat (unless a cruise ship counts?). Never piloted one. Don't worry, I've done lots of crazy things without having any idea what I was getting myself into.

Wife is a travel nurse. We used to have an RV (well, a bookmobile I converted to an RV, told you I've done crazy things) and drove it to various assignments from Texas to Alaska. That was when we just had two kids, that third kid is really demanding more space.

What I'd REALLY like is an ocean faring vessel, 40 foot or more, for $25k or less. I know, probably not gonna happen. So I'll settle for a houseboat for now (preferably under $20k).

Assuming we're limited to houseboats that aren't seaworthy, I'd want something in the Eastern part of the US (we have a house near the Tennessee River, so that would work out nice). My wife would take travel nurse contracts for 6-9 months out of the year (contracts run 3+ months each). So an example, she could work in Nashville for three months, we take a couple weeks or more and work our way to Myrtle Beach, work there for three months, then head south to Florida for another three months (and then take the holidays off...Disney Annual Passes here we come!).

I'd love to read a "Buying a Houseboat for Dummies" book, but haven't found one yet. I know just enough to ignore ads with "minor hull leak" in them, but that's about it!

Currently in Australia (see, "crazy stuff" above), coming back to TN in the fall. Fingers crossed I don't make a poor purchase.

Oh, almost forgot. Son says there absolutely has to be a slide on the boat, that's a deal breaker for him. If all else fails, a trip to Walmart to buy a slide and a water hose should take care of that, right?
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Old 17-08-2015, 21:11   #2
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Re: Family looking for a new adventure

I'm not sure how many of our members live on houseboats, but my suspicion is very, very few. Our liveaboards tend to have ocean going boats, or at the very least, coastal boats.

Your budget certainly restricts the suggestion of a catamaran, which is seaworthy. A house boat never will be, and needs to be restricted to inland waters. They are a totally different creature, and although they have amenities, they would not be able to sustain in oceans, even coastal, trips at all.

You may want to look at an older trawler, although I doubt your going to find one that can berth 5 in your price range. Ensure you get it surveyed, as boat maintenance can get expensive, and you don't want to pay for the surprises.

You can find listings at yachtworld.com or if you decide your interested in more information, our sister site, Trawler Forum
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Old 17-08-2015, 21:29   #3
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Re: Family looking for a new adventure

Thanks. I'm not sure there's a perfect forum for us yet (partially due to the whole "don't have a boat yet"). A catamaran would be great. If my wife had a contract somewhere on the southern end of Florida (perhaps even the Keys?), it'd be nice to take a long weekend down to the Bahamas (if she times it right, she can have up to 8 days off in a row without missing a week of work). I'm hoping I'm wrong about not being able to afford an ocean faring vessel.

All the research I'm doing seems to keep pointing me to two resources. This forum and another site that's all about houseboats (not sure if I can post links, but the site's name is probably pretty obvious).

Besides, if a plain houseboat is indeed what we end up with, it'll just be practice for something better later. Wife doesn't want to be in the open ocean just yet. After a couple years on a houseboat, I'll be like "See honey? I told you the kids wouldn't fall overboard that often, and if little Billy could outswim that gator back to the boat, I'm sure he could outswim a shark. Also, the only problem I keep having is running aground. There's not a lot of 'aground' in the open ocean. We can totally do this!"

Edit: When you say a houseboat would not be able to sustain in coastal trips at all...am I correct that you mean actual coast i.e. the ocean? I was planning on making judicial use of the intracoastal waterway. Maybe hug the coast in the Gulf, but definitely not in the Atlantic.
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Old 17-08-2015, 23:16   #4
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Re: Family looking for a new adventure

You may be able to transit the ICW in most areas, however if you are in some of the parts where there is exposure to open waves and surf such as waters in parts of the Gulf off Florida, the house boat just is not built to take that twisting and turning. You would have to pick very calm weather windows and ensure that you have reliable wave and surf reports for that time frame.

I'm not sure how houseboat will give you practice for something that is capable of costal or ocean travel later on, because the only commonality is that they float in water. Your navigational skills are totally different.

I understand the appeal of a houseboat, and in the budget that you're looking at it may be this thing going to get you on the water, but don't look at it being a stepping stone because it's not. If you are going to be on a sailboat, or a catamaran, or a trawler you will be in much more confined areas then you will be in a houseboat. Your infrastructure will be different and your maintenance items that you have to be aware of will be different.

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Old 18-08-2015, 00:37   #5
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Re: Family looking for a new adventure

I think it would be a stepping stone, but perhaps for a different reason. Navigational and maintenance issues aside, it would tell us several things.

Can our kids get along in a confined space? If they can't get along in a houseboat a few miles from shore, ain't no way they'll get along in a catamaran a few hundred miles from shore.

Can our kids help with basic maintenance? The maintenance may be different, but again. If they can't help with the basics needed to maintain a houseboat, I doubt they'll magically be able to help hoist the sails on a different boat.

Will one of us get deathly seasick from the calm waters of the ICW and the Gulf?

Plus, my wife said "no" to a houseboat on inland waterways, and "oh HELL no" to a boat in the open ocean. The houseboat has already been upgraded to "the look", so it might actually get permission
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Old 18-08-2015, 04:39   #6
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Re: Family looking for a new adventure

One last post before I call it a night.

What ballpark price would I be looking at for something seaworthy for the aforementioned family of 5? Something ready to take out on the seas that might need some regular maintenance in the next few years, but no known mechanical issues. Not "wow you got that for a steal" price, but "that's a pretty good deal" price.

It's possible I was looking at the wrong type of boats, or on the wrong site, or who knows. Prices I saw were close to the $100k mark. If I can get something decent for under 1/2 that, might be worth waiting an extra year or two (though I'd still be tempted to buy a houseboat now and hope I could recoup the cost when I was ready to buy a seaworthy vessel).

Many thanks for the help. Have a lot to think about.
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Old 18-08-2015, 05:35   #7
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Re: Family looking for a new adventure

Like Abv, I'm not really a houseboat guy but for a very specific type of exploring and liveaboard they fit the bill quite nicely.

I own a stout seaworthy 35' sailboat which I find ideal for the Coastal Cruising that I did when I bought her.

However, now I'm in the nexus of several very large. Rivers. Without visiting open water I could travel 100's of km north through historic canals to Ottawa, east up river to the Trent Severn canal which would take me hundreds of kilometers through Canadian shield to Georgian Bay or south through Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks to New York City. IF I had a house boat. As it stands, I can only go left or right on my sailboat towards open water.

You should be able to have some grand cruising adventures in a houseboat, provided you chose inland destinations. Even the great lakes are generally considered to be well beyond the capabilities of a houseboat though.

A boaty houseboat like a Bayliner would greatly increase your coastal ability. That might stretch your budget a bit though.

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Old 18-08-2015, 06:29   #8
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Re: Family looking for a new adventure

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, NumberJohnny5.

Check out Holiday Mansion.
http://www.boattrader.com/browse/hou...oliday-mansion
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Old 19-08-2015, 03:08   #9
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Re: Family looking for a new adventure

Holiday Mansion looks like a good boat, none quite in my price range at the moment (unless I want one in the middle of refurbishment, lol). Looks like something I could take to the Bahamas if I were a bit crazy (vs having to be bat&^#@ insane to take a regular houseboat). Read where they had one go all the way to England (with a helper boat to refill fuel, so obviously it was just proving the ruggedness and not the practicality). Nice.

So I don't clutter up the forum with stupid questions (just yet), what about this one?

Used 1983 Hilburn 50 X 14, Soddy Daisy, Tn - 37379 - BoatTrader.com

Bit taller than I'd like, I'm assuming when it says "max bridge clearance" is 16 feet, it's including the bimini? I don't think I'd have any problems to be honest.

When it says freshwater use only, can I again assume that it means it's only been used in freshwater? Of course I'll ask the seller, but it'd be nice to know exactly what they mean (for future ads I see).

Two foot draft sounds great.

Two bathrooms and two bedrooms (one's a cuddy cabin) sounds just right for a family of five.

Any reason I shouldn't put in an insultingly low offer? Contingent on a survey, of course. Anyone near Chattanooga/Soddy Daisy?
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