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Project Boats -- Where Do You Find Them?
I lived aboard in New York City (actually New Jersey - across the way) and Boston. Yes - people look at you sometimes like you''re nuts - but you CAN live comfortably as long as you 1) heat the boat properly and 2) make sure you have access to fresh water to fill your tanks. And - if you ask me - there is NOTHING like waking up one winter morning after a heavy snow, going up on deck, and looking around!
Having said that - my boat was in very good shape. There were two people I knew that had essentially found project boats and were working/living on them. It takes a lot of commitment - but if you have the fortitude to stick with it I think it can be very personally rewarding. I wouldn''t trade my liveaboard days for anything!!
One guy acquired a brokendown Irwin 28 at a yard a few hours away. He paid almost nothing for it, had it trucked to our yard, was up in the yard for about 2 months (yes - living on the boat in the yard), completed bottom work, went back in (without standing rigging) and kept on working. The Irwin 28 (in my view gave him very little space, which was made smaller by the fact that he was tearing most of the insides out) - but he absolutely loved the experience and what he was doing.
The second guy (actually a couple - but he did all the work) lived on a wooden motorboat that he had been rehabbing for about 7 years. The motor boat gave him a lot more living space, but he diligently kept at it and made notable progress each year. I think in his case the boat was more of a home than a boat - but when I left he had just finished rebuilding the engines and was going to take the boat out this year!
The third guy found a derelect 27'' sailboat (don''t remember what kind) in a yard that was structurally sound. He paid about $8,000 for it. He lived on it full time, spend all his free time working on it, and it took him about a year to overhall (repowered, re-did all the wood inside, redid the systems) - he had a great time!
So - I have to say - it is very possible to do what you want to do. There are times you will be uncomfortable - but in my view the rewards far outweigh the inconvenieces.
Hope this helps!