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Old 13-03-2020, 17:32   #1
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Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

Hello! So we're finally, after years of trying, going to live aboard. Currently looking for a boat that can achieve two seemingly incompatible requirements:
1: Enough space for two parents and an 8 years old, one cat, and one medium sized dog.
2: Easy to single hand
Our son has autism and requires a lot of one on one attention. So it is critical that we pick a boat that is small enough to sail easily with only one adult. One adult to sail, one adult to watch the kid.
The dog is chill and so is the cat. The boy is wild. The grown ups are only a little bit wild. We all are ok with small spaces. Despite living in a house, we all find ourselves spending 95% of our awake time together in one small room (or outside), so we like it cozy. We already home school, so we've got that aspect covered.
We'll be sticking to the Chesapeake bay (Newport News/Hampton area) for the first year, mostly in a marina, and then actively cruising starting spring 2021 if all goes according to plan. We'll never be anywhere so cold that one can't escape to the deck for a 'break.'
I'm thinking a 30-34 that's got a wide beam, ideally 11+.
Are we crazy? Is that too small?
Thanks!!!!!!
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Old 13-03-2020, 17:46   #2
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

In my opinion that’s too small. The cat will be no problem I suspect. The dog however may be for many reasons.
I assume you will be marina living and only occasionally going for a day sail?
Depending of course on the individual child, it’s not really all that uncommon for an Autistic child to take to sailing and actually be more accomplished than you would expect. It seems that some have an ability to focus on one thing if the distractions are low, loud noises, etc.
A boat out sailing by itself can have few distractions.
But that is of course dependent on that particular child.

I‘m a novice sailor, but it seems easy to single hand besides the obvious roller furling etc is more of a function of how a boat is set up as opposed to how it’s built.
Meaning that it ought not be hard to take the average 40’ sloop and set it up for single handing.
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Old 13-03-2020, 18:08   #3
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

For the first year, yes, we'll be taking shorter sails in the bay. Mainly due to work / outfitting the boat for cruising. But we hope to cruise within a year.
Our son loves boats, loves water, and loves helping out on the boat.
We humans are comfortable on smaller boats. But adding the pets into the mix is the wild card here.
I guess I prefer smaller boats because that's what we're used to. And of course they are cheaper, short term and long term. Affordable, small living, and adventure is the goal for us.
A 40 seems huge to me, lol. But maybe that's what we need. Thank you!
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Old 13-03-2020, 19:59   #4
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

I agree with all a64's comments, but would just throw out that any two cruisers can have very different ideas of what is proper size-wise. Most would say 30-34 for what you want to do is way too small. On the other hand, many have done what you propose on even smaller (and perhaps even had just as much fun).

I agree that based on your comments, the dog is the wildcard. Does s/he have any experience on the water? It's not a great life for most dogs, but you can make it work. It's more work though. I "cruised" the US east coast with a 60lb hunting dog for 5 years, mostly marina hopping while working a remote job. We made it work and he was happy. But when the time came to jump to the islands, I left the dog with family.

My sense is that even if you love small spaces, setting yourself up for long term success on the water might mean getting a slightly larger boat than you deem necessary upfront. Just my opinion though..
When in doubt, seek the middle path. Or even better, get enough experience to know beforehand what is going to work for you

Cheers and best of luck!
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Old 14-03-2020, 08:41   #5
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

I like what you said about spending 95% of your time all in the same room. That's pretty much what decided me when thinking about living aboard. It's important to know your strengths and limitations when thinking about this stuff. For example, when one of you gets on another's nerves, (as impossible as that seems ) where do you go now? If you're like most of us the answer is "to another room" or "for a walk or a drive".

Now picture this. Three humans and 2 animals on a 35 boat, it's been raining like the end of the world for days with no end in sight. Everybody's cranky. Where are you going to go? What if you get the flu and need somewhere quiet to get well?

I ask this question because after 5 years of doing this there are magical days and some days from hell. You need somewhere to go with a door to decompress. Life keeps life-ing and we have the same day to day issues on a boat we have on land. This is NOT to say you can't do it, you seem very realistic and grounded and I wish you the very best. But in my opinion....

You're gonna need a bigger boat... Good luck to you!
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Old 14-03-2020, 08:49   #6
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CamWrenRoo View Post
For the first year, yes, we'll be taking shorter sails in the bay. Mainly due to work / outfitting the boat for cruising. But we hope to cruise within a year.
Our son loves boats, loves water, and loves helping out on the boat.
We humans are comfortable on smaller boats. But adding the pets into the mix is the wild card here.
I guess I prefer smaller boats because that's what we're used to. And of course they are cheaper, short term and long term. Affordable, small living, and adventure is the goal for us.
A 40 seems huge to me, lol. But maybe that's what we need. Thank you!
I wouldn't worry about the dog as they spend most of their time sleeping. My dogs loved two things, eating and being within 5' of me which is easy on a boat. Pets become an issue when checking into some countries (most of the Caribbean doesn't seem to care ( except Jamaica and Dominican Republic) There was a post here a couple of weeks back from someone who had a Gemini 34' for sale for $20,000 (seemed to be in good shape) This should be an easy boat to live on if you can find a reasonable place to park it (fairly wide beam) I might be skepitical about circumnaviigating on something like this but it would easily handle the east coast and the Caribbean.
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Old 14-03-2020, 08:51   #7
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

We did what you're talking about, sans the cat, first on a 35' Chris Craft and later on a 41' Gulfstar.
Both were center cockpit boats, which provided privacy for mom and dad while security for the child. The cockpit was generally our living room. Cats are probably the best furry crew member since they don't take up much space and entertain themselves.
I'd learn to sail first if you don't already.
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Old 14-03-2020, 09:00   #8
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

We have a 42 ft Jeanneau that my husband single hands all the time. We sail with 2 dogs that are medium. Our setup is 2 cabins and garage. This gives us lots of space truthfully. It is tight but comfy. We started in a 32 ft was just awful with dogs, and no kids at all. 42 ft makes it just right and still able to single hand.
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Old 14-03-2020, 09:05   #9
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

Hey well done for going for it

My boat is a large 42ft wide beam , we sail and cruise with my Wife and myself and my Autistic Daughter and 2 large dogs , so for comparison the 42 ft is plenty big enough for us , would I go smaller , no not for long distance cruising, but for normal cruising about yes It would be ok for a smaller boat,

My daughter gets the usual I do not want to go sailing , but once shes is on the boat she loves it, she does not get sea sick, We find by keeping her occupied and interact with her , i.e she helps me pull the sails up and helps fix things she seems great. to the point she did not want to leave the last cruise we did

Dogs, One does not care and sits on top of the Spray-hood like a lion and the other is a bit nervous but is cool as long as she is beside someone, but once they get ashore they are just wild and have fun,

Hope this is helpful
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Old 14-03-2020, 09:43   #10
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

A smaller catamaran may address many of the concerns expressed here. The 34 and 35 foot Gemini are available at comparable cost of monohulls and while not really blue water boats do fine as coastal and island cruisers.
With dogs, the companion way ladder on a monohull is often a challenge and is eliminated in a catamaran. The more spacious cockpit and deck as well as little healing under way is a plus with animals. The ability to pull the bow into many beach, shore areas is a plus. There is generally more separation and privacy on a cat.
I know if you've never sailed a cat and have all your experience in monohulls this may seem a stretch but you really should check them out before you choose.
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Old 14-03-2020, 09:46   #11
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

Like they said in "Jaws", "You're gonna need a bigger boat!"
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Old 14-03-2020, 09:59   #12
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

Look for a catamaran with a full cockpit bikini. It gives you a lot more usable cover space. Also gives you lots of usable deck space for your pets. Having two separate hulls allows you a quiet separate space when martial tensions need quelling. I pretty much sail my 42' catamaran by myself, my spouse never having much interest in sailing, but loves travelling. Autopilots are a godsend for singlehanded sailor, not only for raising and reefing the sails from the mast, but also for dropping and raising the anchor. I actually find docking easier than on my old monohull. The hulls are narrower, which puts you closer to the dock when you pull alongside and performing it solo is relatively easy. Even with fenders out, I can reach my coiled bow and stern lines from the dock.
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Old 14-03-2020, 10:01   #13
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

Most boats can be made to be single-handled.
Lead the lines to the cockpit add roller furling and self-steering
We have had many different boats and a boat in the 35' - 38' would work well.
Sometimes it is nice to have a private spot to be alone, on a 30' you do not have that luxury. Enjoy the process of looking.
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Old 14-03-2020, 11:16   #14
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

Catamaran definitely.
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Old 14-03-2020, 17:44   #15
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Re: Kids and dogs and cats, oh my!

I found my 45' cutter was pretty easy to single-hand. It is not the size as much as the layout. (The cutter rig gives somewhat smaller sails. But they are still very large.)

If funds are not limited, go with a big cat. You'll get the same space for the same price with either mono or multi. So compare a 45' mono to a 32' cat and you're in the ballpark.
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