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Old 25-02-2019, 01:12   #16
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

I guess we should not comment but will as we have a bit of different take on it.

Sailing is the easy part. Learning to live in confined space and having the patience to wait on weather, customs officials ect. We just had a world class racer/race official do an inspection on our boat so we could stay and he asked what is the most important thing a sailor needs to know? He said when he tested for certs the common answer was when to go. Wrong answer the answer is when not to go. We were sitting in a small harbor on a Greek Island and had come in for a big blow that we knew was coming. It was so bad even big ocean going ships were dropping anchor in the harbor outside the breakwater. A charter boat came in on day 1 and sat for 5 days and left early in big winds to get back as winds on the harbor wall were 40k and bigger outside. We felt sorry for them as they paid a lot for the charter and got to go to one port. But that is life.

Also we are not a big believer in buying small and then selling to get big. It is a financial and probably a time losing proposition. Boats never appreciate so if you can lose money and time it works. Perhaps a better way is to find a local sailing club and join and enjoy and learn. There are a couple here and wow they sail a lot.

Do not underestimate the cultural differences that can sometimes drive you crazy. But if you enjoy exploring the cultures you get past that and can have fun and learn how to live in another country. In some countries the language can be a bit of an issue - try reading a city map in Russian or Ukraine or Hebrew or Arabic - you work it out.

I guess a lot of it is PATIENCE.
just our thoughts and opinions
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Old 25-02-2019, 02:09   #17
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

I feel the number one skill to have is boat maintenance and repair, all of the systems on the whole boat. Even if you have the budget to hire pros to do all of this for you just finding them and getting them to do the work right is as hard as doing it yourself, at any price. Sometimes there is nobody out there to hire and if you can't get it to work yourself when stuff happens "out there" you are stuck.

Everything on the boat is going to break eventually unless you are extremely skilled at preventative maintenance. Either way you are doing it yourself.

Engine fuel systems, plumbing (especially septic unless you like composting toilets) electrical, sealant/adhesive use for through-hulls and through decks, fiberglass, rigging, and carpentry are just some of the skillsets you will need to become proficient in to survive on a budget.

Route planning and weather awareness are huge too. Getting beat up by rough weather will make your maintenance job even larger. Stuff breaks even faster when stressed.

Finally there is the interpersonal relationship thing with your partner and family/crew on board. Cruising will strain relationships. My wife and I were together and married for years and never once got into a real argument that whole time until we bought a boat and started cruising. And it was her idea and dream that started us in the lifestyle in the first place. It is just a lot harder and the stakes are much higher than living on land, which is very easy and comfortable.
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Old 25-02-2019, 03:35   #18
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

Originally Posted by Puddleduck View Post
Back to the original point.... Apart from a boat and being able to sail, what are the most important skills and traits to learn before we jump in? My time and money are limited so I guess I’m trying to prioritised what I need to do to move forward.

All help and advice is greatly appreciated!
Well you have sailed already and enjoyed it, you took some lessons, so there is some dedication.

So what is the most challenging then?

- First of all: is there a plan B? What will you do, if you cannot afford it or you find out it is not for you? Is it for a time period or for the rest of your life?

- Second: downsizing. Get rid of stuff you do not need for living and get the stuff that keeps you afloat, alive and to keep up your vessel what will be your home then.

- Third: Skills what may be useful along the journey. Will you just live in a boat or will you travel, do you speak some useful languages, are you a handyman, and can you fix things with limited resources? Do you have useful skills to offer to others in exchange for help or food or whatever that keeps you afloat?

- Forth: can you and your partner live in a rocky contained space full time without killing each other? Do you share the same dream and are you prepared to sacrifice your current lifestyle, friends, family, comfort for your dream?

- Fifth: you will be exposed to nature more then ever before, learn weather, tides, currents, avoiding squalls and hurricanes, get used to wind and waves and embrace nature... You will become a hobby-meteorologist and a navigator, and for sure you'll get wet, you will leave your comfort zone.

-Sixth: you'll learn provisioning, food storage and conservation on a new level. Your shopping habits will change, because opportunities to buy things will get very rare, you have no land vehicle any more, so you'll walk the stuff very likely to your dinghy, or hire a taxi for a large excessive shopping tour.

You will have to learn to be self-sufficient, you will have to be able to fix anything on board yourself or find a workaround, you have to be a mechanic, a plumber, electrician, doctor, nurse, fisherman, biologist, navigator, cook, sailor, diver, interpreter, purse, controller, accountant, sail maker, carpenter, painter, professional cleaner, customs expert, insurance pro... - imagine any profession, there is always something you may need to know when you are on your own and sail to foreign countries.

You will meet new people along the way, make new friends and lose contact to old friends and family, you will see new places and new cultures, different ways of life and will face challenges you never thought exist.

You will eat food you even do not know exists or consider edible. You'll learn to collect or make potable water out of available resources, and you will eventually trade stuff for fresh food in remote places.

So it is exciting and scary the same time, and it depends on what you are up to. If you just change a flat to a boat in the marina berth, it is not so much of a challenge, just keep the condo floating. If you want to circumnavigate or live in remote places, there is a lot more to consider and to learn about the next destination.
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Old 25-02-2019, 05:12   #19
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What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

I think BlackHeron has provided the most salient response.

A lot of the skills and knowledge required can only be acquired on the water, through experience, and are often combinations of others. For example, weighing anchor in a tight anchorage with a 20 knot breeze against a two knot current, in the dark. You just have to experience it to figure out how to best handle it.

That said I think the things you can do now to prepare fall into a few categories.

First, simplify your life. The less you leave behind when you go the easier (and cheaper if you can’t dump it all in a relatives garage). This also applies to the bureaucracy of life. Consolidate bill paying, accounts, etc. and get it all online. It’s easy to manage this stuff sitting at a desk with a high bandwidth connection. Not so easy in the middle of nowhere with no printer, net connection or reliable post.

Learn weather, navigation, diesel maintenance and electrical troubleshooting and repair. Again a lot of this needs practical experience but a good base of theoretical knowledge can be acquired beforehand.

Get on as many boats as possible for as long as possible, preferably out in the wilds and in use. What seem like good features and layout browsing boats on the internet are often of little importance, or just the wrong priorities, when actually living aboard.

Crew on longer trips and passages with experienced cruisers. You will learn more in a week than fumbling around on your own for a year, often stuff you’d never know was important until you see someone doing it or dealing with it.

Get in shape. If you’re overweight, fix that, if you can. Being in shape helps prevent injury and makes the active aspects of living aboard enjoyable instead of challenging.
"Having a yacht is reason for being more cheerful than most." -Kurt Vonnegut
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Old 25-02-2019, 10:11   #20
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

The most important thing is to ensure that your mate ( Crew) buys in like you do. I would not commit to big money until that is confirmed one way or another. You will spend a lot of time together and your lives depend upon each other. After that is figured out the rest is easy. Just follow Mike O and other of that ilk.
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Old 25-02-2019, 10:24   #21
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
As I’m sure you already know, there’s no one right answer. Part of the challenge with this, as with anything in life, is to know what is best for you and yours. And we all know what free advice is really worth .

You want exposure to as many different boats as you can get, and as many cruisers as possible. You want to learn what is possible. But the downside of short exposures (like chartering or using a friend’s boat) is that you never really have to deal with the nitty-gritty of constant maintenance and upkeep. You don’t face the realities of insurance, moorage and storage, and a bunch of other factors that only comes with actual boat ownership. And it probably means you don’t get to spend long periods actually out cruising. A week or two here and there is not the same as living and travelling on a boat for two, three or more months at a time.

Don’t get me wrong, any experience is good. But for me, the best lessons began once I owned my first cruising-level boat.

Listening to people who know more is essential, but only you can learn what is important for you and yours. Ask ten cruisers a question and you’ll get twelve different opinion. Listen to people, but figure out for yourself what you need.

The more actual experience you can get cruising for extended periods with your expected crew (partner, kids?), the better.
Puddle . listen to this man for he is talking great sense
To many answers for you as we all get there by different ways and means and budgets and are all different age groups and in different parts of our working life.

It seems you are younger than most with a kid, I am in the same place with an 8 year old and I will tell you as many have above, tenacity is the answer ,if you want to do it, do it, and it will happen, do not get bogged down with the perfect sailboat , or training , or how am I going to sell my furniture,
Get reading some good books, be realistic with your Budget and boat size, bigger is not best , most expensive is not best, get a cruising boat that fits around your family life , not on the many guests you think are going to visit,
Get the boat sooner than later get out on holidays and weekends until you have enough money to go , get to know this boat like you know your partner inside out , understand it, dream about this boat, in you bed, then set out on your journey and do not worry about how will I do this and do that , it will come naturally as you set into a rhythm with your family.
You will here so many different stories , on how to do things and so many books to read , but be aware they are just people as well and may not be your way,
Sailing is easy living on a boat for the next 3 to 5 years is not,make sure this is the whole family's dreams and are 100% focused and driven to get to that day you cast off . if not 3 months and you will be heading home.
Do not take no for an answer , do not let the nae sayers tell you it cant be done, do not set your goals to high were you will never achieve then , and be prepared to compromise
I wish you the best
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Old 25-02-2019, 10:32   #22
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

You need to tell us the most important key to your dream, money. How much do you have to spend on a boat, what source of income do you have, the sailing part is the easiest thing.
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Old 25-02-2019, 12:00   #23
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

You don't mention where you are now or what you do for a living. A great way to learn part of the living aboard is to buy a boat you like and live on board at a marina while you continue to work and learn. This does a few things for you. It gets you used to being on a boat for extended periods while at the same time it gives you options you wouldn't have if you jumped in with both feet.

For example, if you are living on the boat while at a marina, you can still have your car (to get stuff you didn't think you needed but do), a storage facility, etc. You can go for extended weekends and gradually get used to living away from what you were used to. You will have time to learn what you really need, what is nice but not truly essential, and what you never use. You will have time to learn how to stow provisions and to maximize your storage. You will have time to learn what you like and perhaps most importantly, what you don't like about your boat.

It is rare for someone to be able to move on the boat and be completely set up in a most efficient way. Most people I know need some time to get the boat set up in a manner they and their spouse are happy with. In many cases they need to trade in their first (second? third?) boat until they find one they truly like.

Good luck!

Good luck in your decision.
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Old 25-02-2019, 12:12   #24
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

Where in the world are you? East coast? West coast? I would suggest finding a good sound boat in the 30-35 foot range live aboard and cruise locally. The NW coast of the US and Canada will keep you busy and enchanted for a long time. If I had 60-65K I would look for a well maintained 36' Islander Freeport, or something similar. This is a Bob Perry designed boat suitable for a couple to live aboard. Your wife will love it. Then try to cruise for the summers. Come Winters work, save and learn before you take off for good. Are you still a three person family? Any must have pets? There are many boats to choose from, easier to buy than to sell. But the Freeport is a good one.

What do you do for work? Can this be done while cruising? Health insurance for you, the wife and child? A lot of thought before taking off on a long venture. Take one step at a time. But take those steps, safely. IMHO
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Old 25-02-2019, 13:00   #25
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

Learn to lower your expectations (or better yet approach things without expectations). Savor the sweet amazing moments that just pop up unannounced -- an amazing sunrise, when the weather cooperates, when a sea turtle pops up next to you, the stars on a night passage.

Oh, and money....and a very very handy husband/Captain who can fix most things given time, tools, and
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Old 25-02-2019, 13:39   #26
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

Learn how to trouble shoot and repair electrical and plumbing!
Don't think I have been on my boat a whole day without a multi-meter or some plumbing fitting in my hand since purchase. Then learn why your engine isn't getting diesel fuel.
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Old 25-02-2019, 16:11   #27
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

I feel the number one skill to have is boat maintenance and repair, all of the systems on the whole boat. Even if you have the budget to hire pros to do all of this for you just finding them and getting them to do the work right is as hard as doing it yourself, at any price. Sometimes there is nobody out there to hire and if you can't get it to work yourself when stuff happens "out there" you are stuck.
Pretty much agree with this.

For example, you hear the water pump cycling at night while everyone is in their berth.... Means you have a water leak, at a faucet, diverter valve, hose clamp, etc. Finding it can be PITA, paying someone else to find it, well, that's a whole lot of check writing.

Diesel motor making strange noises or lots of smoke. Find/fix it or be willing to write more checks.

Diesel motor RPM's drop occasionally, your fuel filter is clogged, time to replace it.

And in our last venture, we had our inverter chirping about low voltage. Initially thought maybe our batteries are getting weak......... Nope, a loose connection at the inverter was causing resistance and therefore voltage drop and heat. Not something to be taken lightly.

You will need to know how to fix things. The rest is the pay-off.
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Old 26-02-2019, 03:57   #28
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

Wow so much food for thought, thanks for all chipping in!

There really seems to be a gap in the market for cruiser mentoring or ‘try before you buy’ for wanna be cruisers going on extended “taster trips”. Is there anyone out there who fancies taking a couple with a 2 year old kid out cruising for a month or two? Preferably on a mid to late 80’s 35”-38” cat, nothing too new or shiny to raise any expectations

Or anyone selling a boat who’s interested in a longgggg sea sale, no refundable deposit

Understand the need to get out there and get experience it’s just not the easiest thing to do to get meaningful experience, especially when the whole family needs to be involved!
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Old 26-02-2019, 04:12   #29
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

I work for a company that trains and mentors, etc. PM me and not just about my employer.

Visit the site: as she, Annie Dike, has some interesting offerings.
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Old 26-02-2019, 04:38   #30
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Re: What does it take to become a liveaboard cruiser?

Im use to problem solving and improvising solutions, was a large part of my job for over 10 years. So hopefully those skills will be transferable to a degree.

My wife and I have previously lived in a small caravan for 3 years while building our home (while also in unrelated full time employment). Remember one winters night going to bed and my wife asked if it’s possible to die of hyperthermia in your sleep? Of coarse I told her no next morning the water next to our bed had frozen well as the water in the hot water heat exchanger which had split. Quickly worked out how to fix it as no hot water at -10 C isn’t much fun.

Lived in our new home for a few years before realising the big house was nice but excessive. We’d managed quite well in the caravan and at first was strange waking up in a home with double glazing and central heating. Didn’t know what the weather was like until you opened the curtain in the morning. You couldn’t hear or feel the outside world until you opened the window!

So after we sold up to go boat shopping....then became parent we decided to down size our house to a kind of half way house somewhere between the dream home we built and had sold and the small boat we were going to live on

As luck (or hard Work) would have it, we’ve managed to buy our current home mortgage free with the option of renting it out to help offset the cruising kitty. We’ve also saved enough capital to get things going, at least for a while. I’ve also converted an old outbuilding in our garden into a self contained annex with the idea of storing our stuff while we’re away (3-5 years ish) with the option of coming back and living in it at short notice if needed. I’ve also budgeted a kind of ‘re-integration’ fund for when we finish and have to check back into the rat race.

I don’t really want to buy a boat until we’re nearly ready to go as it’s expensive to have it laying around till we need it. The plan is to buy something ‘usable’ at the start of the UK sailing season, sail it over the summer close to home and for a couple of extended trips (there are also moorings half an hour from home) then refit over winter ready to leave the following year..... well that the plan. Sometimes my problem is overthinking things
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