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Old 14-09-2015, 05:24   #1
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Absolute beginner!

So, Hi Cruiser forum and particularly you live aboard types.
I am coming into this forum with zero knowledge and quite a few questions so bear with me and my naivety.
My first question is what differentiates a cruiser usable at sea to one usable for lake,canal,river?
My intention (if feasible) is to buy a cruiser /project as a live aboard to be kept in port (winter) and moored in a protected bay ( summer) in the South of France. I will be wanting to use the craft as a fishing boat but unlikely to be travelling long distance (less than 5km from shore).
What do you feel is a minimum size for two people to live aboard relatively comfortably? I am used to travelling light and survive comfortably for months at a time in a transit size camper conversion.
I have a storage locker for a lot of non essentials.
I am looking in the UK for a vessel and then plan to tow it here on a trailer due to the massively over inflated prices locally. How tricky is it to transport a boat around 10 metres in this manner. I have a 2.5 litre Volvo 850 which I hope is powerful enough to move such a beast? Anyone had experience of this type of movement and any tips?
Next up..;what are the most important 'non obvious' points to consider when buying a second hand cruiser? Which are easy to maintain? Fiberglass? wooden?
Engines? Diesel obviously preferable I would think financially but any insider knowledge regarding type, size and advantages of petrol/diesel.
Budget! I am looking realistically at around 5-7.5K ( euros). Is this realistic for something that can be lived in and in a condition that can be maintained for the foreseeable future? If yes... then any suggestions as to which to look at and which to avoid??
A lot of questions I know but I have to start somewhere!
Thanks for your time and hopefully someone may be able to get me onto the first rung of the liveaboard ladder! J
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Old 14-09-2015, 10:38   #2
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Re: Absolute beginner!

You open a big book with your question(s). But first: Welcome in the forum... and welcome in the world of Sailing. I have my doubts, that here you find "fishing specialists" as this is another idea you are pregnant with.

So basically only some few impulses... it would need to fill 3-4 books to answer your questions correctly and fully.

So first: Boat building generally follows the requirements of...
  • use (fishing, pleasure sailing, racing/regatta, distance of routes, infrastructure (water reserves etc.), size of crew, skills of crew...)
  • water area (sea, lakes, rivers, ice regions/ice free regions, tidal waters etc. ....)
  • weather (light wind, heavy storm, steadily winds)
  • law (harbour law, river law, coastal law, high seas/offshore)
  • materials (wood, steel, epoxy, aluminium) and boat building skills
  • maritime culture and history (e.g. boat building tradition)
As we live in 21st century, that means via Internet we can find for every kind of use, for every kind of water area, for every kind of weather the adequate boat. Not overprized... as the boat market is down completly.

To give you a clear answer: For the mix of use (inshore, offshore/coastal), fishing + living on board... there does not exist the perfect boat. Impossible.

Another aspect... staying on a boat, e.g. for pleasure sailing on Sunday afternoon, day sailing, over weekend or longer trips requires first a rethinking of the required "safetyness system" of a boat. More longer you stay on a boat, e.g. living on it... more urgent is the safetyness aspect.

Safetyness on the water is not just equipment, like life rafts, life belts, marine VHF with AIS, Radar, lights, pump sytems and lots of more...

Saftyness means everything (under given law of sea); it starts from the size of crew (a tall ship needs 10, 20 people while a dinghi can be sailed solo), the required skills (e.g. high seas navigation, terrestric navigation on coast), the technical equipment for weather navigation (e.g. receiving weather datas) to routing planning (e.g. GPS, chart plotter), winch systems, different anchors for anchor grounds (sand, gras, rocks), rigg systems etc. etc. etc. etc.

There have been written books about all the different segments. For many years to read and study. Sailing is "life time sport". One never stops to learn.

Last aspect for safetyness is the so called "seaworthyness". Even on a lake you can have heavy storm with 10 beaufort... or bigger waves of 2-2.5 meters (depending on the size of the lake). Even on lakes boats capsize and people are drowned...

The rigging and sail plan are very relevant for seaworthyness... and the hull structure and design - hand in hand with the rigging - define the sea area you can go. A good hull can have a bad rig, then the boat is bad. A boat can have an excellent rig with good sails, but the hull is badly designe... then the boat is bad and a risk for everybody on board. Eventually it can be a deadly trap.

There is not just inshore and offshore... e.g. offshore has 3 areas, coastal areas (regularly within 1.5-3 nautical mile zone), coastal area which can expand to 10-12 miles as "land masses" can have heavily influence onto local weather conditions/phenomeons and high seas (e.g. crossing oceans).

As you are a very beginner, I only can suggest you: take 2-3 years time to learn all what I am talking about (Rec.: I started sailing in the 70th).

1st: Go through the sailing education which in most countries is excellently, e.g. follow the methods of RYA (Royal yacht associatoin) which offers an educational form on a very professionally level.

There is a lot to learn.... regularly one begins with dinghy sailing on lakes, rivers, bays.... to learn the basics, in theory and practially.

From there you participate in crew sailing during smaller coastal trips, e.g. first starting as normal crew member, later you overtake higher positions, e.g. Watch captain (leading a watch), navigator, co-skipper and as soon you are qualified then becoming skipper with fully responsabilty.

Clearly there is one aspect on boats: You participate - even on a pleasure yacht - within the commercial shipping business/traffic.. under the strict eyes of (Inter-)National Sea Law. There is no mercy only because you are sailing a 10 meter boat as hobby fisher. Generally same rules as for a captain of a 8000 Container big Cargo vessel.

Learn traditional seamanship, first... from A to Z... and step by step you expand into bigger sea areas, bigger boats, complexe riggs with demanding sail plans. It needs time you digest all... intellectually and emotionally... as you need to know all later instinctively (e.g. sailing during night).

I think, you can wait to answer your question for now... take 2-3 years... become member in a sailing club. There they have different boats, good sail instructors (on my own I am certified sail instructor of a National Sailing Associatoin)... and go through a good qualification.

Collecting first experiences gives you the chance to find out the way of life style on a boat... a boat is not just a boat (see top differenciation). Over the time you will learn to maintain an engine, repair electrics, sails, rigg too... which is urgent to survive on your own boat.

And you will need to be a good economist. Boat equipments (not only the boat itself) are expensive toys.... after buying a boat, you can calculate another 100% at least of the sales prize over next 10 years to keep your boat in top shape (same to guarantee your surviving on sea).

Meanwhile - while learning sailng from A-Z - you can do your "fishing job" on other fishing boats... captains mostly need good "decks hands" so you can volunteer and learn from the experienced ones, same on "fisher boats" (under sails9 and on pure sailing boats (for living). So I like to suggest you.

There is a lot to learn you wont become a dangerous threat for other boats... sadly we have seen (and nearby weekly we see) too many skippers with low experiences lost their boats, and their lifes.

The sea can be brutal not showing any mercy with an abolsute beginner !

Good luck ! Happy & Safe Sailing !
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Old 14-09-2015, 10:52   #3
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Different ways to begin...

Naturally humans are different...

In my first post I explained the very safe way... but some purely beginners are keen enough (or shall we call them "mad" ?) buy a boat as "greenhorn", take a street map (I dont advice you to follow)... set the sails and go off and come back after 2 years having circumnavigated the world successfully (or better to say "survived luckily")... and then write a book about their adventures and become a national hero and sailing legend.

All is possible, all happened already...

If you are a care taker, e.g. you overtake responsability for others who want stay on your boat, then go the small steps.

Yes, you can buy a boat, trailable for 5-7,000... e.g. the FOLKE boat (originally from Denmark) is an excellent boat, for coastal sailing, for staying 2-3 weeks with fully accomodation...

Beautiful boats... sportive, safe... good for small crews... or even single handed...

More infos: Folkboats in UK

If you buy such a boat, take an instructor, visit the sailing club, learn from others, do your formal qualifications.... so you already can train on your own boat, but under the guidance of well experienced sailors.

The sea is not a place for risk taking... only extreme sailors (who can have an earning by sponsors) might go that step. But we have seen and we still see such experts not coming back from their adventures.

Watch this video.... it is a good example, how a small boat (at the prize of 5-7000 and 40-50 years of age) can be equipped... and you can do lots of nice coastal sailing. :-)
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Old 15-09-2015, 05:07   #4
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Re: Absolute beginner!

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Justin.
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"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 16-09-2015, 20:47   #5
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Re: Absolute beginner!

Before you buy, take some lessons, sailing, navigation, boat handling. Then rent some boats about the size you want. Figure out bathing, garbage and sewage within your local laws.
Read books that increase your nautical knowledge. Take it easy on the "man against the sea" books. The ones I've seen are mostly bs and tend to push new people into things they're not ready for.
I come from a maritime family and I first went to sea 60 years ago. That doesn't make me an expert on anything, but I've seen a lot. Including people that abandon their boats because the ocean isn't like sailing on a lake. I've been in a shipwreck and seen sinkings and accidents that shouldn't have happened. On the US West Coast I see news about boats in the Pacific, lost or found capsized w/o crew all too often. Especially cats.
Make sure you know what you're doing and the boats around also know what they're doing.
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Old 18-09-2015, 16:21   #6
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Re: Absolute beginner!

Boating is a Compromise. Just like life we NEVER get exactly what we want.
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Old 05-10-2015, 07:59   #7
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Re: Absolute beginner!

Get a Catalac 9meter which has a step down mast. With inboard diesels. You will never look back.
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Old 05-10-2015, 14:29   #8
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Re: Absolute beginner!

What makes a boat a cruiser suitable for the sea? Two things:

1. Equipment levels.
2. Expertise of the crew.

Just read a great book by Cap'n Fatty Goodlander that answers a lot of detailed questions for a person starting out, especially on a budget. It's called "How to Inexpensively and Safely Buy, Outfit and Sail a Small Vessel Around the World."

Great reading. Kindle edition is $7.28 at Amazon.
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Old 05-10-2015, 15:14   #9
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Re: Absolute beginner!

Since you are in Europe, there is a man from GB that has a site called "" who could probably help you out with some of your questions about those things, and boats, specific to Europe.
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