How''''s this boat sound for the money???
A couple thoughts here.
-First of all you have not supplied your email address so it''s not really possible to email you directly.
-But in a more useful sense, $20K does not buy much of a boat that is suitable for living aboard and which would also offer decent sailing or motoring characteristics. I would think that you would want to try to stay in the 33 to 38 foot length or so range. These are big enough boats for a couple to live on and handle with relative ease. In that price range any 33 to 38 footer will probably be a bit of a project boat, but it should be manageable. When you start getting above that general size range boats becoem less easily handled for new sailors and for a couple.
-With a $20,000 budget any thing that you look at is likely to be a project boat for you. When you start talking about project boats over 35 or so feet, it is extremely easy to spend nearly double your purchase price budget (just in parts and materials)to put the boat into safe and operable condition. If you think about the cost of the kinds of things that you might expect to find in a $20,000 boat over 33 feet in length such as :
-an engine rebuild (just parts), shaft log,cutlass bearings,
-electrical wiring, fixtures, electronics and panels,
-sails and rigging
-plumbing hoses and clamps,
-Bringing the Galley up to modern codes and fully operational,
-Refrigeration if you plan to live aboard,
-Deck core repairs (just glass and core materials,
.......and the other types of problems likely to be encountered in a boat this big, with decent accomodations in that general price range you can quickly spend another $20K getting a boat into shape. I spent nearly half of that on minor items (with the exception of a new stove) just cleaning up my own 38 footer which was actually a fully functional boat in very good shape.
-You will probably need to budget some money for a place to live while you are putting the old girl into sufficient shape to live aboard.
-In other words you really either have a $10K budget to buy a boat (and you need to move your sites down below 30 feet), or you need to think of yourselves as having a $40 K budget. If that is the case, I would plan on trying to find a $25K to $30K boat in good shape that someone else has restored for you because one sad reality of older boats is that you almost never get close to the money out of them that you put into them doing a restoration.
-Then there is the Dogs! I know you think of them as your children but if these dogs are so important to you then perhaps the live aboard lifestyle is not the hot ticket. At best living aboard with pets is a compromise. A single small dog that is also a water dog can and often does work. 100 lb Rottweilers do not fit that definition. Many Rottweilers are very poor swimmers, (very high body density animals who do not float if they stop paddling frantically), are next to imposible to get out of the water (They can panic as they get tired and bite who ever tries to get them out of the water. I once interviewed a fellow for a job who was recovering from reconstructive hand surgery as a result of trying to save his Rottweiler.) And having two dogs aboard greatly increases the amount of storage, and space that you will need. Many marinas are starting to forbid live aboards with dogs. Its hard enough to find a marina that permits live aboards and that permit project boat live aboards no less adding the further restriction of one that also permits dogs. Just because you want to live aboard a boat, does not mean that the dogs will be happy in that environment. So, my best advice is pick one of the other.
I don''t mean to be the voice of doom and gloom. When I was in my twenties, I too had the kind of dream that you have. I bought a 25 foot wooden boat, restored her, and lived aboard. I spent approximately 5 times what I had paid for the boat in parts and materials fixing her up and 10 months of my life. (Remember that was a 25 footer) When I was done I sold her for far less than I had in her. The next owner put nearly what I had put into her. I am not trying to talk you out of your dream, I am just trying to infuse it with a degree of reality.