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Old 02-05-2021, 16:09   #1
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Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

Hi all,

While I recognize there are a plethora of threads on this wiki asking for recommendations on what vessel people should buy I'm hoping you all can point me in the right direction towards some suitable models/manufacturers based on my personal situation.

A little about me: I'm an able-bodied 26 year old software engineer that is looking to make a lifestyle change and buy a used bluewater boat and live on it full time in about a year or so. I've done a decent amount of research and so far have come up with the following requirements as well as some nice to haves:

The non-negotiables:
  • Must be somewhere between 34-50 feet (need space, but also need to be able to single-hand)
  • Similar to the above note, it needs to be set up (or configurable) for single-handing, e.g. rolling furler, easily managed lines etc. Maybe I'll pick up a girl in a year or so, but for now, it is just me and the dog.
  • Must be under 100k, I will be financing some of this 100k so this is about the absolute max I think I can pull together in the next year or so. More towards the 70k range would be preferable to leave some $ for mods and the anticipated unexpected repairs.
  • Relatively large water/diesel tanks as I anticipate eventually doing some major journeys.


The nice to haves:
  • A swim platform would be great
  • Solar arch would be nice, I could roll with a different setup but the arch to put a panel, wind generator and Starlink dish would be nice. (I plan on keeping my job so getting broadband internet is crucial, thankfully Starlink is starting to get good enough that I won't have to buy a 25k Inmarsat gimbaled dish).
  • Space in a utility/engine compartment that could fit a dive compressor and watermaker would also be pretty sweet.
  • I really do love the look of teak but know that can also be a major con when it comes time to replace it.
  • A decently spacious aft cabin, I'm not entirely opposed to a V-Berth master cabin setup, but I do anticipate spending a decent amount of time at anchor and something like an actual bedroom would be nice to have.

Sorry to post yet another "what to buy?" thread, but I am eagerly awaiting your suggestions. If you find this post too vague, just let me know what it is lacking and I can fill in the blanks!
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Old 02-05-2021, 16:19   #2
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by admiralnelson94 View Post
Hi all,

While I recognize there are a plethora of threads on this wiki asking for recommendations on what vessel people should buy I'm hoping you all can point me in the right direction towards some suitable models/manufacturers based on my personal situation.

A little about me: I'm an able-bodied 26 year old software engineer that is looking to make a lifestyle change and buy a used bluewater boat and live on it full time in about a year or so. I've done a decent amount of research and so far have come up with the following requirements as well as some nice to haves:

The non-negotiables:[LIST][*] Must be somewhere between 34-50 feet (need space, but also need to be able to single-hand)
!
Sorry but i just stopped reading at this point. If you have done a “decent amount of research” and start here you haven't done enough. And before you blow me off as unhelpful, i have been on this forum 2 years longer than i have been a boater and made the transition to full time cruiser. Would like to help, but you need to make it possible.
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Old 02-05-2021, 16:47   #3
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Old 02-05-2021, 16:55   #4
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

Given your budget and I assume limited (no?) sailing experience I would go for the lower end of your range or possibly a little less (30-34). 34 to 50 ft is quite a huge range probably covers 70%+ of the cruising boats out there.

Even if you could find a 50ft boat in good condition that didn't need upgrades understand operating costs a significant especially for older boats and they grow with the size of the boat. Even mundane stuff like bottom paint. 50 foot boat is going to require3x the paint as a 30 foot boat. Even if you do it yourself and value your time at nothing it is 3x as long in the yard and 3x the paint.

It all adds up and quickly. You haven't posted your budget for this year off. That will drive a lot in terms of where to start looking but as a rule of thumb I would aim towards the lower end of your range. Really I would consider 42+ unrealistic without a larger budget and more experience on larger boats.

If you want a spacious (for the size) aft cabin look for center cockpit boats although they are relatively rare (maybe 1 in 4). Personally I like center cockpits although people either like em or hate.

Dive compressor and watermaker aren't an issue although the compressor will likely need to go into a cockpit locker on boats in the size you are considering. Still keep in mind the cost. They are two things which add non-neglible cost to your relatively small budget. Tankage can be supplemented by jerry cans. Yeah not as sleek but comes back to cost. A 20 year old well equipped 50 foot blue water boat in top condition ready to sail around the world with all your requirements and nice haves is going to be closer to $400,000 and likely have an operating budget (insurance, fuel, maintenance, repairs, fees) in the ballpark of $20K+ per year and at assumes mostly living on the hook or a mooring ball not in a marina. If you have major repair, upgrade, or grounding damage that could go up quite a lot.
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Old 02-05-2021, 17:00   #5
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

Admiral,

Do you have any experience sailing, and especially single-handing? If not, I recommend you start with a smaller boat. 34-50 feet is something that people work up to while they gain experience and knowledge, rather than a starting point for someone looking for a new lifestyle. I think you will likely be surprised at the level of effort and expense to own and maintain a boat, so if you start smaller its easy enough to work up to something bigger, while lowering the risk of getting trapped with underwater finances.
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Old 02-05-2021, 17:16   #6
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

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Originally Posted by Statistical View Post
Given your budget and I assume limited (no?) sailing experience I would go for the lower end of your range or possibly a little less (30-34). 34 to 50 ft is quite a huge range probably covers 70%+ of the cruising boats out there.

Even if you could find a 50ft boat in good condition that didn't need upgrades understand operating costs a significant especially for older boats and they grow with the size of the boat. Even mundane stuff like bottom paint. 50 foot boat is going to require3x the paint as a 30 foot boat. Even if you do it yourself and value your time at nothing it is 3x as long in the yard and 3x the paint.

It all adds up and quickly. You haven't posted your budget for this year off. That will drive a lot in terms of where to start looking but as a rule of thumb I would aim towards the lower end of your range. Really I would consider 42+ unrealistic without a larger budget and more experience on larger boats.

If you want a spacious (for the size) aft cabin look for center cockpit boats although they are relatively rare (maybe 1 in 4). Personally I like center cockpits although people either like em or hate.

Dive compressor and watermaker aren't an issue although the compressor will likely need to go into a cockpit locker on boats in the size you are considering. Still keep in mind the cost. They are two things which add non-neglible cost to your relatively small budget. Tankage can be supplemented by jerry cans. Yeah not as sleek but comes back to cost. A 20 year old well equipped 50 foot blue water boat in top condition ready to sail around the world with all your requirements and nice haves is going to be closer to $400,000 and likely have an operating budget (insurance, fuel, maintenance, repairs, fees) in the ballpark of $20K+ per year and at assumes mostly living on the hook or a mooring ball not in a marina. If you have major repair, upgrade, or grounding damage that could go up quite a lot.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I do have pretty limited sailing experience, I usually go out with friends maybe a dozen times a year and sailed a decent amount in high school.

As far as budget I could definitely swing somewhere in the 20-30k range a year but you do bring up a very valid point about larger boats, maybe I'll start consider something smaller. Thanks for the advice
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Old 02-05-2021, 17:23   #7
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

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Admiral,

Do you have any experience sailing, and especially single-handing?
I do have some minor experience sailing on a friend's Beneteau 28, and did sail some in high school when I lived in Maine, but a good point that I may be biting off more than I can chew with a larger boat.

It just seems like it would be hard to live/work in say a 28 footer given the space constraints.
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Old 02-05-2021, 17:38   #8
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by admiralnelson94 View Post
I do have some minor experience sailing on a friend's Beneteau 28, and did sail some in high school when I lived in Maine, but a good point that I may be biting off more than I can chew with a larger boat.

It just seems like it would be hard to live/work in say a 28 footer given the space constraints.
Agreed. Living aboard fulltime on a 28 foot boat isn't for everyone. I mean there are people who do it and even sail around the world doing it but it takes a special kind of person.

Still there is quite a huge difference between say a Island Packet 31 and a Rassy 50. I would start by browsing yacht world. Filter 28-34 feet and 50K to 100K. Start from there at least that might get you some ideas.
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Old 03-05-2021, 01:45   #9
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Admiral.
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Old 03-05-2021, 04:20   #10
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

Thanks Gord
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Old 03-05-2021, 09:40   #11
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by admiralnelson94 View Post
Hi all,

While I recognize there are a plethora of threads on this wiki asking for recommendations on what vessel people should buy I'm hoping you all can point me in the right direction towards some suitable models/manufacturers based on my personal situation.

A little about me: I'm an able-bodied 26 year old software engineer that is looking to make a lifestyle change and buy a used bluewater boat and live on it full time in about a year or so. I've done a decent amount of research and so far have come up with the following requirements as well as some nice to haves:

The non-negotiables:
  • Must be somewhere between 34-50 feet (need space, but also need to be able to single-hand)
  • Similar to the above note, it needs to be set up (or configurable) for single-handing, e.g. rolling furler, easily managed lines etc. Maybe I'll pick up a girl in a year or so, but for now, it is just me and the dog.
  • Must be under 100k, I will be financing some of this 100k so this is about the absolute max I think I can pull together in the next year or so. More towards the 70k range would be preferable to leave some $ for mods and the anticipated unexpected repairs.
  • Relatively large water/diesel tanks as I anticipate eventually doing some major journeys.


The nice to haves:
  • A swim platform would be great
  • Solar arch would be nice, I could roll with a different setup but the arch to put a panel, wind generator and Starlink dish would be nice. (I plan on keeping my job so getting broadband internet is crucial, thankfully Starlink is starting to get good enough that I won't have to buy a 25k Inmarsat gimbaled dish).
  • Space in a utility/engine compartment that could fit a dive compressor and watermaker would also be pretty sweet.
  • I really do love the look of teak but know that can also be a major con when it comes time to replace it.
  • A decently spacious aft cabin, I'm not entirely opposed to a V-Berth master cabin setup, but I do anticipate spending a decent amount of time at anchor and something like an actual bedroom would be nice to have.

Sorry to post yet another "what to buy?" thread, but I am eagerly awaiting your suggestions. If you find this post too vague, just let me know what it is lacking and I can fill in the blanks!
It would be helpful to understand where you are or want to be if you're thinking about a live aboard. Around here, that's about a 20 year waiting list. If your ideal budget is $70k then you'll be lucky to find something decent in the 34' to 40' range. Forget about anything larger - if you found one, it would need more work than you can afford. For casual coastal cruising, you can find some good deals on Benteaus and Bavarias which are not considered world cruisers but tend to be set up nicely for live aboard purposes. If you feel you must have a blue water boat - save your money.
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Old 03-05-2021, 10:03   #12
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

HI AN94,
Lots of good advice here,

You don't say where you are. If you are now near a boating spot - go out and look at a bunch of boats; perhaps join a club and do some racing. Great way to get more experience without owning your own boat for now.

My wife and I took sailing lessons and then joined a club; making the foresighted decision (mistake?) of buying a boat and putting it into the club on charter when we joined. We thought it would be less expensive.

It was 34 ft and was a handful for us at first. Learning everything on the boat maintenance wise, as well as improving sailing skills was a steep curve. When I got it, I could not imagine single handing it.

We sold that one after about 3 years of ownership, along with our house about 4-1/2 years ago and moved aboard our new boat. It is still a learning curve, but we have gained a lot of experience in those 4-1/2 years.

The new boat is 40 ft which is good for us. I can single hand it fine, and up until the middle of last year, my wife worked remotely from the boat both in the PNW and in Alaska.

I would avoid spending all of your funds until you determine if you like being on a boat all the time. Get one that is a little smaller - like 30 ft or so - and see how that goes for a while. If you get one that needs some work, then you can do it while you still have a land based domicile and not while you are living on it, which is easier especially at first.

All things being equal (and they almost never are), if you are spending x amount of $$ - like 40 - 50K for now, you can get a smaller boat like 30 ft that is in better shape than say a 50 footer. Yes you will have to put time and money into it, no matter the size, and you will not get back all the $$ spent when you sell, but you will get a better sense of what it takes to take care of one, as well as really what size might work for you.

Good luck.

Cheers,
Ron
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Old 03-05-2021, 10:06   #13
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

Great plan you have there. I wish I had your focus when I was 26.

Question: are you sure you'll enjoy bluewater cruising? Some folks don't mind the uncertainty of severe weather or an emergency without being able to duck into port. Others come to mind it very much.

Also, if you're financing part of the boat, the bank may require hull insurance. Be sure you're insurer will cover you for blue-water cruising at least up to the loan amount.

Maybe see if you can crew to Bermuda or a long haul in the islands before you commit to bluewater cruising and the extra gear you'll need to do it safely and comfortably.

As for boats, there are so many. There's many books out there about cruising and many, many blogs and webpages about cruising.

If you can narrow your choices down to a few boats, maybe join the owners groups for the builders you like. These groups can offer you voluminous, in-depth advice on just about any issue that may arise with your boat. You'll meet many bluewater cruisers who can advise on the pros/cons of the particular model you're considering. I believe the Catalina group has over 20,000 members.

Maybe consider the smallest boat that will meet your needs. Besides rapidly escalating costs per foot, stuff like sails and ground tackle can get quite heavy and harder to muscle around alone. If you injure your back offshore, getting home will be a challenge (trust me on this one).

Instead of a solar arch, maybe consider stern davits with some solar on top. You'll soon love the convenience for launching your dinghy.

Enjoy the process. There's nothing quite like the experience of your first cruising boat. Once you buy her and fit her out, she'll gladly carry the weight of all your hopes and dreams for seeing the world in a very intimate and special way.


Best of Luck.
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Old 03-05-2021, 10:13   #14
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

Hi,
My Brewer Pilothouse 40 might fit your wants and needs. I have had it listed on this sites “Boats For Sale” for a couple weeks. I had a couple low ball offers that were declined and a couple more that hit financing problems.
I have lived aboard this boat for the last 5 years with my girlfriend. Great boat located in the West Palm Beach area if your interested search the boat for sale section or PM me and I’ll send you pics and info.
Best of luck otherwise in your adventure!
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Old 03-05-2021, 10:34   #15
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Re: Suggestions for a hopeful liveaboard

The biggest piece of feedback I will give having just gone from not sailing at all to buying a BIG boat in less than 12 months... Get more sailing experience, document it, and then research how you will insure your boat. Insurance and finding a slip are the two hardest to find items right now IMO.
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