I've seen a handful of somewhat inexperienced families in the Caribbean
who buy a mostly bare catamaran
, often straight out of charter
, start living on the boat, and then realize they want a whole lot of upgrades. Like solar panels
, more batteries, a watermaker
, and etc. I think most new cruisers go through that these days-- the technology and convenience is there, and it's hard to realize how big of an improvement they are to the lifestyle until you are living in it. Not schlepping water
in a dinghy
is so wonderful, as is unlimited electricity, and it's hard to ignore that when most of your neighbors have those conveniences.
But I think with young kids it's a bit harder, especially if that's your family's first few months of the experience. You are probably doing this to spend time with them, not park them on the couch as you run plumbing
through the bilge
. The idea of sailing is probably taking the kids to a string of beautiful rural beaches, not live in a boat yard or hang out in an unswimmable urban port waiting for some doodad to arrive for the whatever.
Every cruiser has to spend a lot of time maintaining their boat, but I think it feels a bit weird to pull your kids out of a happy (if boring) suburban life and then go straight into three or four or five months of boat maintenance
. Additionally, maintenance
is pretty stressful for some people, especially when they are new to boat projects.
More experienced families, who have cruised far before and are on their second or third boat, seem to get this and buy a boat that already had everything they want on it and is closer to ready to go. They fly in, have a short list of projects to change the boat to how they want, and then sail away and start the fun part within a few weeks or a month.
So... my main advice is to look for a boat that has already cruised far and is nearly what you want. Don't stretch your budget
to get a larger, more barren boat, since it's very time consuming to upgrade the boat. And probably not the kind of experience you want, anyways.
We try not to fetishize our boat. To view it as a tool to enable experiences. Sometimes I fail -- we spent a bit too long in St Maarten this summer, adding a ginormous solar
array and wrapping up a whole host of other improvements, that probably didn't really need to be done. The boat is much nicer now, our lives are slightly safer and more convenient. But sometimes I think -- maybe it would have been better to have seen the Bahamas