Recommendations for live-aboard & beginner boat - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-28-2011 Thread Starter
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Recommendations for live-aboard & beginner boat

Hi,

in the next few months I want to buy a sailboat ($ 15 -20'000) to partially live aboard (about 3 days a week), do some weekend day cruises (Florida ICW and the Bay) get better in my sailing skills over the next years to get ready for holiday cruises around South Florida, Bahamas, and Caribbean.

I want a 30 feet boat, and have looked into a Catalina and a Cape Dory Cutter. I found a 1980 Catalina for 20'000 that seems very well equipped for live abord (solar panels, AC, Shower, Refrigerator etc). However, I am very concerned about the performance and safety in bad weather (in particular since I might do a lot of mistakes in the beginning...), and hesitating about the Catalina since many people here say they are not reliable.

The Cape Dory Cutter (found a 1981 for $22'000) seems very stable and what people call 'forgiving'. I would like to know if most of you agree that this is a good beginner boat that can be handled well even in bad weather conditions. The disadvantage I see is the few storage it offers and some of the missing live-aboard adaptions (I know expenses for boats add up easily).

I would like to get recommendations from some more experienced sailors and live-aboards about these 2 boats or recommendations on other boats that could fit my needs. I read in a threat about the 29 Bayfield, Hunter, and Pearson but havent really looked into them much yet.

Appreciating your help and ideas,

thanks
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-28-2011
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Gosh, 30 feet is a small space to live aboard...but your $20k budget definitely limits you in terms of finding something larger. You're also going to be looking at boats with serious functional obsolescence and/or major issues with that price. Something that may be perfectly suitable for dockside living, but will require a good towboatus membership to take sailing fairly often.

I dont know who you're speakin to that says Catalina as a brand is unreliable. I think the reliabiilty is more a function of *AGE*...most anything mechanical immersed in seawater for 30 years is going to have reliability issues....try dunking a toyota in the ocean for a few years and see what you get out
One thing to remember...other than the fiberglass layup, very little on a boat is really made by the manufacturer...its all parts/components from various vendors...and the reliability of those parts is very much on the owner who has changed, swapped out, upgraded, fixed, or jury rigged various components over 30 years of boat ownership.

Cape Dory's are very sturdy, bluewater boats...pretty much the opposite of the Catalina in terms of purpose of the design. For what your intent is (learning to sail, coastal sailing, no offshore passagemaking) it may be too spartan in terms of creature comforts and space.

Now, if your intent is to take your boat offshore or do some serious ocean passagemaking (Hawaii, Fiji, crossing oceans outside of a weather forecast window) then the Cape Dory would be the boat I'd prefer.

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Last edited by night0wl; 02-28-2011 at 10:19 AM.
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-28-2011
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The problem is the qualities you are looking for in a liveaboard boat are going to be very different from the qualities you'd want in a bluewater passagemaker. If you're just island hopping, you may not need a true bluewater passagemaker, but might want something a bit better than a regular coastal cruiser. It isn't so much that Catalinas aren't reliable, but that they're not designed as bluewater passage makers.

The Catalina would be a better liveaboard, since it is going to have far more accommodations than the Cape Dory Cutter. However, the Cape Dory will tend to deal with rough seas and heavy weather better overall.

I generally recommend you reserve at least 15-20% of the boat buying budget for refitting, upgrading and modifying whatever boat you do buy.

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post #4 of 15 Old 02-28-2011
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Quote:
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I generally recommend you reserve at least 15-20% of the boat buying budget for refitting, upgrading and modifying whatever boat you do buy.
I agree with sailingdog on keeping money in reserve for upgrades/maintenance....but I think for a boat that is 30 years old, the maintenance/upgrade budget should be closer to 40-50% of the purchase price of the boat. Unless the owner has been *METICULOUS* with maintenance and upgraded key components (standing rigging, furling gear, etc), you will run into heavy expenses on a boat this old.

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post #5 of 15 Old 02-28-2011
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NightOwl-- I did say at least 15-20%...

Of course the key is to buy a good boat at a good price, and remember that it is usually far less expensive to pay for a boat in good condition than it is to buy the same make/model in poorer shape and refurbish it to the same level. When refurbishing/repairing a boat, you're paying NEW BOAT prices for most of the gear, parts and material you buy, unless you're lucky enough to find it in a consignment shop.

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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post #6 of 15 Old 02-28-2011
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Quote:
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NightOwl-- I did say at least 15-20%...

Of course the key is to buy a good boat at a good price, and remember that it is usually far less expensive to pay for a boat in good condition than it is to buy the same make/model in poorer shape and refurbish it to the same level. When refurbishing/repairing a boat, you're paying NEW BOAT prices for most of the gear, parts and material you buy, unless you're lucky enough to find it in a consignment shop.
Absolutely true...

The best boat values out there are boats in *CHERRY* condition that someone poured their heart and soul into and did a meticulous job only to have a life event change their boating plan. The 3 dreaded "D"s....death, divorce, disability....

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post #7 of 15 Old 02-28-2011
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[QUOTE=night0wl;703169]Gosh, 30 feet is a small space to live CaQUOTE]

guess it depends on your needs, i find my 30 to be big enough for one, has 6'+ headroom and plenty of cozy spots. i would note, though that i have a conference room at work i can use for some storage, though i find that i really dont go in there much. you wear suits to work or flops? might be a consideration.... maybe spend a day at a marina w/brokerage climbing around different stuff to see what grabs you.


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post #8 of 15 Old 03-01-2011 Thread Starter
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Thank you for all these considerations. Both boats seem to me in pretty good conditions, though of course, my knowledge/experience is very limited.

I wonder if it makes otherwise sense to buy a REALLY cheap boat for the live-aboard fun and just buy a real one whenever I am ready to sail a serious cruise. But I am afraid of having to maintain lots of leaks etc... - my experience from having a old car.....
Since I have a real house in Miami, and would take the boat as home to avoid commuting, I dont have to store too much stuff. I will also have a real office, so it will be some clothes and the usual kitchen things. I do wonder, if my stuff will get moldy without an AC int the boat (like clothes).

Can someone tell me also how much I have to calculate for taxes - and do I need an insurance?
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If you're keeping the boat in a marina, you will likely need at least $300,000 of liability insurance, at a minimum. Whether you want/need other coverage is up to you, but most marinas require that as a minimum. If you have a well-found boat without a leaky cabintop, and it is well-ventilated, then mold isn't much of an issue. Storing clothes in the "vacuum" space saver bags can help a lot with preventing mold as can stowing them in plastic storage bins with packets of dessicant.

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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post #10 of 15 Old 03-01-2011 Thread Starter
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$300 is that per month or per year?
I would keep her in a private docking place, so I guess I wont require that. But is there a "driving" insurance required, in case I sail into another boat?? (You may laugh now about such a stupid question....).

The vaccuum packers are a great idea, thanks.
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