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View Poll Results: What boat would you buy to liveaboard and cruise?
Catalina 27 15 16.13%
Columbia 26 0 0%
Columbia 28 0 0%
Columbia 29 10 10.75%
Ericson 29 16 17.20%
Islander Bahama 26 1 1.08%
Macgregor 26 3 3.23%
Marieholm International Folkboat 26 2 2.15%
Pearson Ariel 26 7 7.53%
Shock Santana 28 2 2.15%
None 37 39.78%
Voters: 93. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-10-2013, 19:13   #46
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

Met plenty of people over the years who happily lived on 26 footers, even on on a 24 but that was seriously basic living. Hers a few ideas. Boats go by weight or volume not length so work out the volume by the formula 1/2 length x width x 6ft 3" for hull depth. Then multiply that by a form factor. This a guess but varies from about 0.8 for fat boats with straight ends that look like trawlers to about .5 for a traditional shaped shape with sloping stem and counter. Wt is also a good guide if you have two boats of similar style and age and one is twice the wt its probably a lot bigger. You would be amazed at how big some short boats can be. The remember that the ONLY reason you want a short one is to save dock fees. Cutting the ends of boats makes the sail badly but moor cheaply. None of this really matter though because you WILL buy the boat you fall in love with, all the advice is really like your parents telling which girl to go out with - means you do the opposite!!
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Old 02-10-2013, 21:09   #47
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

There is no such thing as best when talking about cruising sailboats. I have met many who will say theirs is the best boat ever for this or that, and all that tells you is that they don't know very much about boats.

I lived for four years on a 27-footer that I sailed home from Asia. It was the best boat for me at that time in my life. I came upon it without much experience, left it with heaps and will always have tons of affection for it. But I am sure there are many others which would have given me a similar experience.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:34   #48
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

Originally Posted by floridajoe View Post
It would nice to have some good water tankage, ice box would be cool, and just the usual electical gear that's on a small sailboat.
My boat's a little larger (35') but about once a month I fill my 75 gal water tank under the sole and empty my 40 gal waste tank. . . have an AC/DC icebox, few AC elect plugs, propane stove/oven, dodger/bimini, good ventilation. Those seem to be the essentials for me.

I also have 30w solar panels, solid fuel heating stove, and an AC/engine freshwater-heater, but those are niceties. I probably split 50/50 between showering onboard or using marina facilities.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:49   #49
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

The Islander 28 is a stout little boat often with inboard diesel. After looking at some of the comparables go look at one of these... certain things about them leave you with the feeling they are well built. The rudder stock and head look like it belongs on a 35 footer!
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Old 03-10-2013, 13:00   #50
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Best all round boat I can recommend is a Westerly Centaur 26... currently one for sale on excellent hull form/build quality.. 6ft headroom, amazing stowage superior to many 30ftrs... shoal draft and... just under $6000... that'll leave you 4K for add ons you may want..

Who knows what is next.
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Old 08-10-2013, 21:09   #51
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See it all comes down to what you need.

Me.. I can't live without a standing shower. And I can't make it to the marina shower without a shower.

My first liveaboard was a Pearson 365. My ex perswaded me to sell her. Should have kept the boat..

My current is a centurion 47. But many couldn't live with the poop entry small cockpit, mooring fees and loss of space to a sail locker.

What I'm saying is make a list if what you need... Be it heat.. ac.. fridge.. cooking.. shower.. tankage.. think about it.. try living with those priorities.. don't rank a fridge... Live out of a cooler for a couple of weeks.

Then when you are happy with the list.. you can apply that to your boat hunting.

You can adapt to loads. But life is so much nicer when your priorities match what you have.

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Old 08-10-2013, 21:28   #52
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

How many people as regular crew? Any kids?
Sailing experience is about zero, correct?
How handy are you?
What's your budget to buy and outfit the boat? (living and cruising costs extra.)
You are in Florida?
Where to you want to go?
Are you looking to cruise extensively or liveaboard and occasionally take several weeks or months off to nip around the Caribbean?
Any really strong preferences to start with? (full/fin keel, mono/multi, spade/skeg/attached rudder, sloop/cutter/mizzen rigged)
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Old 09-10-2013, 00:19   #53
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

I have lived on my Kettenburg 32 off and on my cruising is the San Juans and BC. It is crowded but doable with two friendly people. In the NW we get a lot of foul weather so not so nice in the winter but fine in the summer. Look for folks who just want to get rid of their boats but 10K is pretty slim. Better get owner finance and add about 20K to that for a boat in reasonable condition, sails, engine etc.
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Old 10-10-2013, 13:47   #54
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Originally Posted by floridajoe View Post

I'll just do some normal weekend cruising on the Western Florida coast. Live on the sailboat during the week while working. If I get some substantial vacation time off from my job then cruise down to the Florida Keys, Eastern Florida, the Caribbean.
I would look at a Bristol 29.9. I have lived aboard for 11 years. 2 on my Bristol 29.9 it is a great boat with nice room and plenty plenty of storage. Great for living on. Of course I have added all the comforts of home. She is an awsome sailing boat and capable of going anywhere with the right skipper.
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Old 10-10-2013, 23:15   #55
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

If you're looking for small and seaworthy yet liveable you can't go wrong with an Albin Vega. Tried and tested time and time again and never found wanting, comfortable to live on for two even for extended periods of time.
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Old 10-10-2013, 23:42   #56
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

A Lightning 19 would fit everything the OP mentioned. Throw an awning over the cockpit and you're set. Get out of MIA, raise the centerboard for shoal waters in the keys. You wanna embrace cruising, this is your boat. Fun as all get out. I lived on a Lightning 19 for 2 weeks on my lonesome and loved it. The keys would be ideal cruising grounds until you figure out what you really want. Git out of Dodge pard.

Olin Stephens designed, first launched in 1938...a proven craft. Low budget, simple rig. Carries a ton of payload. All ya need is room to stretch out full length and this one has that. No compromise.
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Old 11-10-2013, 10:41   #57
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

Well I guess a lot depends on your age and what you are used to. I am a fit male, 75 years of age and used to reasonable comfort. I drink my wine from Waterford. No way could I live on a 19 footer. I don't even think I could exist on that size boat unless I had just escaped from Shashank(sp) or some place like that. I need a head and a galley and a bed that I do not have to make up every morning. And heat. Also a bedmate. A female so that requires at least a couple more drawers and a hanging closet. So my 32' is about the min. on all fronts. I do enjoy periods of time between bedmates so solo is not unheard of, so I have to be able to handle the boat by myself. And then there is my arrowhead collection, my books, my music, and recently added a metal detector to find all that unfound gold in BC. If I find enough of the yellow stuff I can buy a bigger boat to live on .

But if you are younger and do not need to have an indoor throne and can cook out in the rain and your friend is also a minimalist, go for the 19'. Just be aware that I will steal your woman after the first snowfall .
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Old 15-10-2013, 08:43   #58
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

I've been living on a columbia 28 for 5 months now, and am in the process of upgrading to a catalina 30 with an atomic 4 for 10K. Key points for me. Interior volume (my damn schoolbooks take up half of a berth..) tankage. the columbia 28 has 12 gal gas and 18 water, which is mot much for even a weekend cruising. the catalina is 2.2 feet wider and 2.3 longer, and the water tankage is nearly double, though the gas is only 18 I think. some have holding tanks, mine did not, and shoehorning one in would cut down storage even more. If I were very minimal, and only had a few sets of clothes (and only 3 sets of shoes which is not happening !) and not in school, the columbia wold be pretty comfy. as it is tho.. kinda cramped.

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Old 20-10-2013, 06:38   #59
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

have a look at this.
Sadler 29 A World Cruiser.

In writing this piece I have put my personal ideas. These ideas have come from sailing several different sizes of yachts in all the oceans of the world. 60% solo and 40% with crew as a delivery skipper and on my own yachts. My experience in boating comes from 40 years as both a boat builder and running a marine consultancy which I do now FREE to encourage both the young and old to go to sea and enjoy it safely.
I do not profess to know it all and am the first to admit my failings, I continually ask for help in my search to learn more. If you don't agree with my opinions please be kind in your response and guide me in the right direction with the help of your knowledge and experiences.

The Sadler 29 deep fin keel is in my opinion the perfect yacht of its size for 1 or 2 people. It is built with an inner molding which has all the lockers in it and attached to the hull. The void between the hull and inner molding is then filled with a closed cell foam. This makes the yacht both ridged and strong, it also makes the inside condensation free and very quiet when under way. A bonus for the off watch crew when trying to sleep.

The Sadler 29 also with the Sadler 26 and 34 are because of the twin hull and foam insulation unsinkable even if holed. This was borne out by a test when a Sadler 26 was flooded by removing the hoses from the through hull fittings and then sailed with 3 people aboard. This safety factor in a cruising yacht will surely give the crew peace of mind in the fact that should it be damaged they will still be on a yacht and not in a life raft.

The Sadler 29 as in all yachts have points that need to be addressed by the owner if he is to have a yacht that he is perfectly happy with. These are not many and not insurmountable if addressed in a sound boat building approach and with the best materials available. Hereafter I will make suggestions that in my view and based on the experience I have put in the prologue would make the Sadler 29 a first class ocean cruiser. None of these suggestions are intended to be derogatory to the Sadler brand or their builders but my opinions based on my personal knowledge and experience.


Remove the mast and boom, also all running and standing rigging. I would beef up the goose neck as this in my opinion is a little lightly built for offshore sailing. Fit all new standing rigging in dyform7mm using swagged terminals at the top and Sta-lok at the bottom. The reason behind this is that in my research I have found that of all rigging failures it is predominantly the bottom swagged terminal that fails because of water ingress causing it to fail. With the Sta-lok terminal this is not the case because of the way they fit the cable and allow the water to pass through the fitting and cause no harm. Also I would carry a few spares of the Sta-lok fittings and a length of dyform so as to be able to effect any repairs that might come up. These repairs with the Sta-lok fittings would be a permanent repair and not just temporary. All you need are some simple hand tools to carry out the repair.

Head sail furling systems today are varied in quality and complexity and are fitted on thousands of yachts with no problems arising but I have personally seen on a few yacht in strong winds what happens when the foresail decides to come out from the furler at a high speed. The furling line gets knotted up on the drum and is impossible to remove without a person on the foredeck in bad weather and a knife trying to cut it all off and reeve another line. I have experience with a single line system supplied from Sailspars Ltd and have used this system in really bad weather and have been happy that at ALL times I was in control of it and it NEVER jammed or faltered.


As to sails I prefer a 140% Genoa with a foam luff and a fully battened mainsail with 3 reef points. The mainsail of the Sadler 29 is already quite small but with the third reef you can still sail in the higher winds which means that you stay in control rather than be controlled. The mainsail reefing should be kept outside of the boom where any re repairs can be achieved simply and with the minimum of trouble. All lines led aft to jammers. Topping lifts are nice as a spare halyard but I have seen too many wear through in bad weather and are more trouble than you need. I would keep it as a spare halyard but fit a boom strut from Barton's P/N BK 1250
(44035) thus preventing a falling boom at the wrong moment.

Anchor Points

All anchor points for the rig should be very carefully checked as the rig security is so important to the safety of the yacht. If any show signs of wear or failing these should be backed up with 6mm aluminum plates and bonded to the yacht. As none of us like to have leaks of any sort I would suggest going all over the boat with a pressure washer to find any lurking drips and address them with the appropriate cure. As the fore hatch is normally fitted with self tapping screws I would change them for through bolts backed with penny washers, therefore making it alot safer.
The cockpit sole locker is a really handy place to keep the dinghy but has one failing and that is that it isn't fixed down. I have heard of suggestions to screw it down when at sea. I have tried another approach where I have had success. I have made two flat bars of 6mm x 50mm stainless steel and used them as hold downs on the cockpit locker top. After we had fitted a rubber seal on the locker edges we found that we could fill the cockpit with water and none found its way below. They are also easier to remove when you want the dinghy.
Another point in the cockpit is the drains which are two outlets 1-1/2" in diameter thus giving a total area of 3.07" square to drain a large cockpit of water. I would suggest cutting a rectangle in the transom of 2" x 12" and finishing with GRP. thus giving a total area of 24" square to drain the cockpit 8 times as fast. In this case you would be safer if you were ever pooped as it would eliminate the quantity of water in the cockpit before another wave did the same.
The companion way wash boards do not totally seal the entrance but with a little work could be rectified.
On anchor points I like to have many in all sort of places and strong but more of this a little later.

Spray hood

You either love them or hate them. In reality they do not slow down the yacht to any degree and afford the crew a safe haven when things really start to get wet and windy. I once saw a spray hood hit by a big wave collapse onto a member of the crew going below and was surprised at the injuries he sustained he was lucky we were within range of a helicopter so he could be medivaced. This is why even though it could be costly I would go for either a GRP or aluminium one.

Below decks

If you have ever been knocked down or done a 360 in a yacht this section will be of particular interest to you.
I use the principal that if it can move, lift,slide,fall or hurt when coming in contact with you the best thing to do is make sure that none of that happens. All lockers, floor traps and under bunk lockers should have a system that holds them down even if they are full should the boat go over. This would achieve two important things.
Firstly everything will stay where you put it and secondly below decks stays a dry warm and safe place to be in. Cushions should be held in place with Velcro so as o keep them in place as well.
In the sea berth lea cloths should be used not only to keep the occupant in his or her berth but it also makes you feel really cozy. I use a simple system. A piece of 3 strand rope with a Witched clip at each end to these I attach a piece of 4mm 3 strand with a monkeys fist so that they can be released very quick if the need arises.
As to the cooker pan holders on a fine day are OK but when things get really hairy they are useless. You need a system to hold down anything on the cooker which goes over the pan or kettle. Imagine a full 6 Lt pressure cooker flying at you at speed and you can imagine the damage it would cause.


The food of live. We can go without food for a long time but not without water. This is a very complicated subject as we all have different needs. Some of us like our daily shower, some of us like 2 a day and wash and rinse the dishes with fresh water. Then there is the laundry. First let me just tell you from where I get the following information from. I was in the Royal Marines for 10 years and spent 3 years as a survival instructor so I have had some experience with this subject. To stay in good health we need to drink a minimum of 2 Lt's of water a day and twice as much in hotter climes. This being said I would allow 5 Lt's a day per person for drinking and personal hygiene. this would allow you the necessary to drink and a little to brush your teeth and wash with. The truth is we can wash with salt water and rinse with just a flannel soaked in fresh water and therefore save about 2 Lt's a day. Therefore we could get by on 3 Lt's a day. Taking this as the bare minimum for 2 crew aboard 220 Lt's would effectively give you 36 days supply of water. On a yacht of the size of the Sadler 29 220 Lt's of water would be like carrying around another 2 crew and slow down the yacht therefore making passage times longer so needing more water. As you can see this is a situation that can only get worse. My suggestion would be to carry 100 Lt's of water and a PURSURVIVOR 35 Manual water maker with spares.
At £1350 with spares it may sound expensive but think about it for a second. For 1 hrs exercise you get 5 Lt's of drinking quality water and in the event that you should find yourselves in a distress situation you have the means to make water that will keep you alive. As to washing yourselves, the dishes or the laundry. I was dishes and my self in salt water and rinse with just a little fresh. The laundry I usually keep for wet days and catch rail or if necessary wash in salt water with liquid soap and then rinse with fresh.
All faucets should be either hand or foot pumped. Not only does this alleviate the necessity for more electric but saves on water. A charcoal silver impregnated water filter is a must for health protection and there are many on the market. A sea water faucet in the galley goes without saying.


I will try to keep this section brief but still do it justice:
To get electricity is very expensive. To store electricity is very expensive. To buy electrical equipment is very expensive and when any of it goes wrong..........Well we have all heard the electrician suck in his breath and say, this is going to be expensive. Why does he say that, because he knows that you cant repair it yourself so therefore you are at his mercy.
The expression that copper wire and salt water makes green gunge, well remember that. I sail because I like the atmosphere, the quiet and the peace that it brings me so why make it more expensive and noisy than necessary. Save the money for that romantic dinner or that new sail you want.
We all like to see exactly where we are going when entering a new port or anchorage on our new chart plotter but do we really need one that would look good on the bridge of a warship. No! The Gamin Oregon 550 is a hand held chart plotter GPS that you can read in the cockpit where you need it when entering a new spot and it will run for about 20 hrs on the new high powered batteries.
So that covers 20 new places. A Garmin 72 GPS at the chart table also runs for about 6 months when used for the daily position fix. They can of course both be run from the ships battery supply as they burn Milli amps no big deal here. Rather than radar I use a system called C.A.R.D, Collision Avoidance Radar Detection. and have never been hit by a ship or other yacht (yet). This system again uses Milli amps. these 3 items would cost you in the region of £700 and cost very little to run. On the other hand we get into the solar panel or panels each at about £400 or more and the the wind turbine an item that makes you more enemies than Friends in either an anchorage or marina about £1000 then all the batteries and if you go for the best about £350 each for the small ones. We use a 35 watt flexi sola panel that gives 1.9 amps and is sufficient to meet all our needs, LED nav light and anchor light have a 100 amp Lifeline battery and oil lamps below decks. With this system we even run an 18lt WAECO fridge freezer.Our shore power charging is done by a CETK M300 one of the best chargers on the market. The Nav equipment has never given problems, the LED's last longer than I expect to live and we can start the 2 cylinder engine by hand, Simple, I can fix most of the equipment onboard. The savings allow me to have wine every day and I don't annoy anyone in the anchorages or marinas we visit.


On the side of safety I hate gas. We use an Origo 3000 Meths or alcohol cooker. Total cost 40 Lt's a year at £55. This allows for evaporation as well. We cook twice a day and use the pressure cooker alot. But this depends of course on the supply of the type of fuel available to you in the area you cruise.

Hull maintenance

No anti fouling. Instead apply Copper coat. 14 years weed free and at the cost of 3 years anti fouling. More saving.
We polish the hull with Starbrite Teflon polish 3 coats applied with a week between each coat and it lasts about 4 years.

Steering Gear

The only self steering gear worth entertaining is a servo pendulum system. After many years of research and talking to many many offshore cruisers This is without doubt the best system.
All the people that I have spoken to said that this system is the best for the following reasons.
Doest eat. Doesn't use electric. Doesn't moan when working none stop for weeks on end in all weathers. But most of all the harder it blows the harder it works. I have used a few namely the Navic, atoms, Neptune, a Hydro-vane and a Wind pilot pacific light. Of all of them I would go fro the Wind pilot because I have found it to be very easy to set up build quality is second to none and the price is right.

Personal security

My Maxim is NEVER fall overboard! Once in the water its very hard to get you back on the yacht and if you are sailing solo you have had it. My approach to this is, anchor points, anchor points every where. Fore and aft in the cockpit with an anchor point that allows me to be attached even when I go below and attached before I get into the cockpit. I don't like the basic idea that all yacht builders have in as much fitting 2 life lines on the deck. For one they put you at risk of falling overboard and being dragged by the boat with the possibility of drowning in the bow wave. I have anchor points that are fitted in the coach roof as near to the centre of the yacht as possible. My harness has 2 strops with Gibb locking hooks and they are just long enough for me to be able to work on the sails or deck gear but not long enough for me to fall over the stanchion wires. After 50 years of sailing in all weathers I have never gone overboard nor has any of my crew, a fact I am proud of.

Emergency Equipment

As in all things preparation is the best way to go. As the old saying goes, Prepare for the worst and pray for the best.
A big safety point for the Sadler 29 is its unsinkability but you might face fire or other perils. As to fire my rule is NOBODY smokes below and we have fire extinguisher both manual and automatic in all the cabins.
In the event you find yourself in the position of calling for help I have researched the equipment available with a few thoughts I would like to share. First are the E.P.I.R.B's. A wonderful invention that has saved many many lives. For those of us that sail either solo or with crew they have one short coming. They will notify the rescue people but the people that love you ashore will know nothing of your plight of condition. I have recently come across a piece of equipment called SPOT. I know little of this as yet but do know that it has the capability to send a message that you are in distress also what the distress is and send a message to your shore contacts that you are ok and help is on the way.
I am sure I have simplified this too much but you get the idea. If anyone knows of this equipment I would be very interested to hear from you.

Personal Comfort & Protection

I determine comfort in three areas.
First is feeling safe. Second Well fed. Third Warm and dry.
In the first feeling safe I believe that the Sadler 29 if prepared as I have described before is possibly one of the safest yachts of its size in the world. In my opinion she meets all the main points for a cruising yacht for 1 or 2 people. Namely she is, unsinkable,dry,warm,fast and comfortable.
Second well fed. In this we all have our own choices. The Sadler 29 has a good galley and is easily used at sea in almost all weathers.
As to storage of food. If the cool box is made into a fridge it can carry fresh food enough for about 2 weeks. Obviously depending on what fresh food you like to carry. Overall the storage areas in the Sadler 29 are sufficient to carry food for 2 people for 90 days.
Third Warm and Dry.Because of the Sadler 29's double hull and insulation I have never had a problem with condensation and have found that the interior stays cool in summer and takes little heat in the winter to be comfortable.
As to personal warmth and safety. I must point out that we sail in the northern climes and it is never very hot but there again the winters are not very cold. I recommend a one piece flotation suit. The type the Royal Lifeboat Institution use is a proper flotation suit that is very comfortable to wear either on its own with just shorts and a T shirt under or with a thermal layer in the winter. This with a 250N life jacket and harness will give you the best protection and safety you can get.
On our person we carry a H/H GPS, waterproof VHF and small mini flare pack. In the event of going overboard you will be in the position to call your yacht give them your position and when you see the mast let off a flare. I have personally tested this system with friends with a rescue boat at hand and it worked very well. Of course this only applies if you are sailing with a crew. I hope this little piece has been helpful and if anybody reading it has any comments please contact me so we may discuss any points you may have.
Lets ALL sail safer,warmer and happier.
PS Gallienne

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Old 12-09-2014, 06:22   #60
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Re: What is the best small sailboat to live on and cruise?

Originally Posted by floridajoe View Post
My idea of a small sailboat would be 26 to 29 feet. The budget is roughly $10K.
I have lived on a few small boats starting with a late 60's era WIB Crealock designed Ericson 26 back in the 80's. The Finch designed Yankee 28 was one of my favorite small liveaboards and it sailed extremely well.

First rule of living aboard for 9-5 working types is comfort, but still have the ability to untie the house and go for a weekend cruise.

You want to be able to keep enough pressed clothes on board folded and hanging up for work, have a large enough head to shower once in a while, and standing headroom is a pretty big deal unless you want to become like me and hunch when you walk normally.

Also, a boat that you and everything you own stays dry. Nothing worse than a wet bunk, or wet clothes when your little shelter leaks.

Smell is also important. If you live on a Cheoy Lee Offshore 26, for example, chances are the boat has picked up the smell of teak soaked in diesel and bilge water over the years. Your office mates will notice your new cologne as you and everything you own will smell like the boat.

The Morgan OI 28 is a pretty good sailing pocket condo for well under 10K as it has lots of room and storage, a proper head and over 6' headroom throughout and usually equipped with a diesel. Better sailing ability than her OI cousins as she has a modified full keel and spade rudder. But lets face it, if going from point A to point B, we tend to motor more than we like to admit.

The Bruce King era Ericson's are a good value and built well. Many will still be equipped with an atomic 4, which is best to stay away from. Great motor, but requires A LOT of care and feeding. Stick to outboard or diesel.

ONE Major thing to consider. Many marinas these days will charge a minimum size slip for liveaboard. So, if you have to live on a 26' boat in a 35' slip, you will feel very cheated.
tdoster is offline   Reply With Quote

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