buying a live a board
"...it has been my dream to own my own sail
boat and live aboard...and...I want a great boat for crusing..."
Those 2 goals are somewhat mutually exclusive when the need to do so cost effectively is thrown into the mix. A few thoughts...
1. Living aboard a 30 footer is an extremely expensive proposition for the comfort & space you derive, never mind the lessened privacy & problematic nature of many marinas. (Mind you, this is coming from someone who''s lived aboard 4 boats and loves it, even when we were on the 20 footer!) I can appreciate the joy & special nature of living aboard, almost on any size boat, but you surely will end up paying thru the nose in the Bay area for the privilege.
2. "Living aboard" is extraordinarily difficult to arrange in the Bay Area these days, thanks to the plethora of boats given the economic good times, the limited return on investment of most marina businesses and the BCDC. Finding a slip is a bit of a challenge, made hugely more difficult if you want to be a legal liveaboard. Most liveaboards in the SF area are probably not legal (one look at the Richards Bay area illustrates this), so you might also have to consider how comfy you''ll be while living aboard your vessel under the threat of eviction should you be found out.
3. There are some competing priorities between a liveaboard (living space, no need for extensive tankage, any flat surface makes a good shelf, etc.) and a cruising boat, where seaworthiness, adequate space for tankage & stores, investment in safety gear, etc. are examples of the ''drivers''. Your 2 goals, combined, are truly challenging ones.
I mention all the above since that''s the context in which you''ll be achieving your goals. Given your location, you''ve got a great FREE resource - Latitude 38 - which addresses these issues in extraordinary depth each month (most especially in the Letters & Sightings columns). Read every word in there, fair in the curve of opinion, and you''ll get lots of great advice. Also, attempt to get reprints of their multi-issue review of all the Bay Area marinas; it is the most current, most thorough review you can probably find.
Don''t overlook the option of initially placing the boat in a low-cost/low amenities marina and yourself in a studio apartment for a while. You can still live aboard at a later stage, and in the interim you''ll find it far easier to modify your boat (going cruising? you WILL modify your boat!) and also easier to go sailing when you otherwise wouldn''t due to the liveaboard flotsam. I''ll bet the cost is no more (& maybe less) depending on location, insurance, liveaboard fees, etc.
Simply stated, if you''re serious about cruising as an ultimate goal for you & your new boat, then you have to place its needs above those of a liveaboard. This means you''ll have a smaller living space and, while dockside, won''t be taking advantage of some of what the designer & builder put into the boat. But compromising seaworthiness and the cruising demands placed on a boat is the lesser choice, IMO.
As for specific choices, you''ve got a vast array to choose from in the Bay Area. Invest your spare time in prowling about brokerage boats with knowledgeable brokers (get referrals from savvy sailors), and don''t overlook how profitable it can be to just walk thru boatyards on weekends, stopping to ''see'' and ultimately understand what is only visible in those settings - the part the sea sees. You can ultimately select cruising-intended designs like the Aries 32 or coastal cruisers like the Cal 29-2, as different as chalk & cheese. One of the real joys of sailing is the process of finding *your* boat; it''s great to hear you''ve got the time to enjoy this process.
Best wishes on your search...
Normally aboard WHOOSH, currently lying POS, Trinidad