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Old 01-11-2009, 09:40   #1
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Sunbridge as Liveaboard?

So I've been looking at sailboats for the past few months and it is really difficult to find one with the amenities I want that is in my price range.

My ideal boat would be in the mid-30's, under $30k, decent sized fridge/freezer, shower (preferably with its own stall and not pumped into the bilge), HC pressure water, at least one sizable berth (ideal would be walk-around queen) as well as a private berth for guests, fairly open layout so I can walk 7-10 feet without bumping into something (and same for the outside area) just seems that powerboats work better for what I'm looking for. And prices for powerboats seem to have been much harder hit than sail. Also a bit worried that a cramped older sailboat is going to for sure turn off the ladies.

I looked at flybridge gas powerboats but they seem insane to dock singlehanded, except for the old tollys which have deck doors. But still, those are big boats with tons of windage and pretty high decks to jump off of.

I looked at trawlers and there are some 34' CHBs that might be right at the edge of my price range. Seems like they would still be difficult to dock singelheandedly, especially without a bow thruster, they only have a single engine, and they often have a decent amount of wood on deck (I'm not into varnishing).

So, I always had a thing for the look of the sunbridges and thought I'd check prices. They appear to have taken a pretty hard hit with the economy? I'm seeing ~34' with all or almost all the amenities I want selling for pretty cheap.

I don't mind the cave feeling of a sunbridge and in some ways prefer it (more privacy). They should get a little bit better mileage than say a tolly and although fuel costs would be a lot more I'd just be going on short weekend trips in the foreseeable future and the speed would greatly expand the available destinations and still be cheaper than hotel rooms. With a sailboat or even a trawler I'd probably be limited to Blake Island on a two day weekend and that would get old (I'd have the boat in Bremerton or Port Orchard).

Is there a downside I'm not seeing? Are the older sunbridges crap quality? How much space are you really losing compared to a comparable trawler? Is the bow area unusable? Am I reasonable in thinking that a mid-30's sunbridge should get around 1.3nmpg at ~20 knot cruise?

Old gassers sound bad due to fuel costs and lower lifespans, but for periodic use from what I'm reading they are not a bad idea. The thought of having to rip out and replace a big diesel from a sundeck trawler is financially chilling.

Any input would be appreciated. I don't know much at all about these boats.

going on the assumption that they are easier to dock as well.
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Old 06-11-2009, 12:42   #2
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Location: Los Angeles and Maine
Boat: Olson 40
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A lot of room for the money. Any quality issues will be clearly apparent, so you will know what you are buying. Bayliner cuts a lot of corners to get the price down, but chopper-gun with plywood bulkheads and stringers is really plenty for the way most people use their boats.

You won't get 1npg at 20 knots! You will burn more than a gallon a mile any time you are on plane. My boat is relatively very fuel efficient, and I pretty much always get 1nmpg.

I suggest you get a single engine boat, preferably diesel, with an inboard engine, not I/O drives. Low HP is much better than high HP. No turbo beats turbo. The reason is that you really want the simplest possible mechanical plant. Boats are very expensive to maintain. Everything on a boat breaks and needs to be serviced, fixed, and replaced. So the less there is, the less goes wrong, the more enjoyment.

I would not be concerned about low speed restricting your cruising range. At displacement speeds, its quite easy and safe to cruise at night, so you can leave the dock after work on Friday, anchor somewhere 40-50 miles away by midnight. I do this all the time, its a lot of fun, very rewarding.

Meanwhile, 40-50 miles at planing speed will burn so much money you just won't ever want to do it. Round trip will be $500 by next summer, or the one after that. Boating is fun, but its not that fun IMHO.

So in your price range and area, I think you might find a CHB 34 or similar that you will be very happy with. The less systems, the better: avoid generator, air conditioning, built-in anything.

You don't need a bow thruster. After a little practice, you can get in and out of anywhere with a single screw inboard. Yea, might scare you a bit the first few times, but if you use the boat, and you use the same boat, its not any problem at all.

Simple is fun.

One more thing: gasoline engines are car engines, not boat engines. They really don't hold up that well. The parts are not that expensive, but you need to futz with them all the time -- really ALL the time. Low power (30HP, 60HP) diesels are nearly bullet-proof, and can last for your lifetime. Easy to fix, and you almost never have to fix anything (you do need to change fuel filters, and be able to crack the injector line furthest from the pump, but that is pretty darn easy).
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Old 06-11-2009, 14:57   #3
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Yeah I did some calculations and at 1npg that would really hurt to get someplace 50 knots away. If going power the CHB 34's are probably a better idea.

I have extremely bad night vision so don't want to move a boat at night unless I have to.
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