Originally Posted by NewBeginings
I would like to get everyone's input on what boat size they would recommend for a single person + scruffy little dog. My current
boat is a Catalina 27, but I am afraid it would get a little claustrophobic living on it full time, and I plan on entertaining. I will be near Charlotte Hall, Maryland
. I am wondering about heating/cooling options and how that factors in with size. Also, is ventillation affected by size? I would love to hear about some experiences living in that climate year round, or if some people prefer to get an apartment for a few months a year to escape the cold.
I lived aboard a Cal
2-27, a very similar boat to yours, for about 7 years. No dog, though. The Cal
gave me standing headroom
pretty much throughout the cabin
. It is marginally more spacious than the Catalina, the vee berth is a bit wider and much more comfortable for sleeping. I am 5'7" and I sometimes slept crosswise instead of fore and aft. I had salon berths and fold down pilot berths on both sides, and a table that let down. I ditched the table and butchered the port berths to build a shower stall, and put the head
in there. The rest of the port berth/settee I used for housing the new and enlarged sewage tank. I wired it for shore power with a proper breaker panel and outlets for 120VAC throughout the boat, and USB jacks as well. Got rid of the alcohol stove
, installed a Sea Swing gimbal stove
next to the companionway
, modified to hold a Butterfly brand Primus knockoff pump
stove, burning diesel
. At the dock
I cooked mostly on an electric
induction plate and later rescued a microwave from the dumpster. I could close the forward bulkhead door and a 1000w space heater
would keep the temperature tolerable in our short New Orleans
winter, and I also had an electric
blanket and a couple of rectangular sleeping bags that unzip all the way flat. I was certainly never cold. I built a scoop mount for a window unit AC that sealed to the forehatch for summer cooling
, and rigged awning forward and built a bimini
and boom tent for aft shade, and I was usually comfortable in the heat of summer.
Staying small enables you to have low cost climate control with one or two space heaters (NEVER let them run unattended on a boat!) and a 5k to 7.5k BTU household AC unit. Get over 30 feet and these cheap
solutions don't work so well.
Keep in mind also that when you live aboard, it can be difficult to just say hey, I think I will go sailing to wherever, disconnect shore power, throw off the lines, and begone in three minutes. Doesn't happen. When you live aboard, things just don't stay secured for sea. Things need to be stowed, lashed, or removed from the boat before you go to sea with her. If you keep the boat ready to sail at the drop of a thought, then a lot of ordinary things become somewhat inconvenient.
Small is better, within reason. For me, the Cal was about as small as I was comfortable with. You might try just staying aboard your Catalina overnight a few times, then maybe a few days. Try just anchoring
out for a spell, maybe catch a few fish
or something. If you are going to get all claustro, you will do it rocking at anchor
It helps to be in a good marina with good infrastructure. In my marina we have covered main piers but not covered finger piers, and not all slips have finger piers. We have dock boxes, and a few liveaboards though there used to be more. There was a very active social scene with lots of potluck dinners and informal parties, and one dock box was used as a communal bar on our pier, unlocked, help your self, replenish on the honor system. One neighbor kept an electric chest freezer in his dock box and kept it stocked with bagged ice. Plenty of red cups and mixers, paper plates and plastic forks, so we could have a very nice cocktail hour every evening. There are toilet facilities ashore for those with no head
onboard or who just don't want to fill up their sewage and have to motor
to the pumpout station. Showers, too, though some low tech types would shower in the cockpit
with a hose. I had my stand-up shower below so I was good to go, even had a heated showerhead for a while until it burnt out on me. Our location was good, in the neighborhood with probably the lowest crime rate in New Orleans
, and numerous restaurants and a grocery and other shops were in easy walking/staggering distance. Everybody looked out for everyone else's stuff, and nothing ever got stolen even though most of us didn't lock up our boats or our dock boxes.
I have seen other marinas
where living aboard
, especially in a small boat, would be an absolute horror show. Generally speaking, the worse the marina, the more time you will spend below, and the more space you will need for your sanity. The better your marina, the more time you will spend topside or on the pier or other common spaces, leaving the boat mostly just for sleeping, and so a big boat is just a hassle and extra expense. If you have one of those "job" things you go to every day, maybe space is less important. Ditto for going to the "school" thing.