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post #1 of 7 Old 02-25-2004 Thread Starter
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Liveaboard Boat Choice

Considering cutting ties to land and living aboard for 2-3 years. We would appreciate any comments or suggestions from the group.

Background: My wife and I are 35/38 and in good physical condition. We have been sailing for 6 months now, 2 years powerboating before that. We currently own a cal-27 and sail it 2-3 days/week. I am fairly handy at fixing and maintaining mechanical things and did a lot of the work on the Cal myself. We also have 2 parrots that would accompany us.

Timeframe: We are starting the research now to liveaboard in about 2 years. Most likely 1 more year on Florida''s East Coast, where we live now and then up to Baltimore / Annapolis for a year, then back to Florida to have the house built. After moving back to land, we would like to keep this boat, using it around florida, bahamas, keys and then cruising after retirement. (Caribean, Central America, Mexico I would imagine)

Boat selection: We have physically looked at a Pearson 38, Hunter 38-45, Benneteau 40, Pacific Seacraft 43 and a Morgan 38. I think we would like something in the 44-46'' range. Of these boats I liked the Morgan the best for layout. So I the rest has been pictures on the internet, but I''m really liking the 44,45,46'' Morgan center cockpits. We would like to keep the budget under $100,000 - $150,000 for an exceptional boat.

Questions: Can a boat this size be crewed by the two of us (with 3 years experience on the Cal)?

How well do they sail? Is it a fair balance of speed/comfort.

What sail configuration would be the best? Sloop or ???

Would it work in the coastal waters mentioned as well as the open ocean crossings?

Are there slips readily available in the Annapolis area? Can you really liveaboard in the winter?

Do you really sail when you''re living aboard? I''ve seen so many boats on the docks that look like they haven''t moved in years.

Any other boat selections that may be better?

Sorry for the long post, trying to get all the thoughts down. Thanks in advance, this is a wonderful forum.

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post #2 of 7 Old 02-25-2004
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Liveaboard Boat Choice

You will not find a boat that does it all well. That is not what you asked, but I think it is what you mean. No, most live aboards I know do not sail much after the first year of moving aboard. The larger the boat the less it goes out. Those that do have a fleet of boats. I know one guy that lives on a powerboat, has a 36 foot sail boat and has a small assault craft. He is a boater.

Living aboard is different than cruising, you need a lot of stuff that you wouldn''t want when cruising. That extra stuff gets in the way if you want to go day sailing, and at the very least needs to be stowed first. Larger boats are more work to sail, not so bad if you are going to be on one tack for many hours at a time like when you are cruising, but they can be a pain when day sailing.

A c27 is a fast responsive boat. Just try to manhandle a boat that weighs 5 times as much. I have decided that a 15,000 lb 38 foot boat is as much as I want for day sailing and short cruising for my wife and myself. Any bigger than that and I don''t think we would use it as much.

Just some random thoughts on a rainy day in CA.

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post #3 of 7 Old 02-27-2004
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Liveaboard Boat Choice

Dave, I like how you''ve thought thru the issue and, altho'' none of your questions have absolute answers, they show a thoughful approach to what will be major lifestyle good for you. I also liked Gene''s answers (altho'' I will differ from them somewhat) and liked the practical real-world tone of his comments, which you need to hear.

I can''t/won''t answer your question about boat choice because no one really can. You need to shut down the computer, roll up your sleeves and spend lots of cold, boring hours prowling around in boats in order to develop a legitimate opinion on what suits you two best. (Fortunately, you live in an area of the country where day trips up/down I-95 make lots of boat shopping possible; imagine if you were in Dubuque). If you had more experience, the process would not take so long nor have some many unknown variables in it...but you''d still need to touch & feel, sit & stretch, take apart and explore lots of different boats before the trees will emerge from the forest and second- (third-, fourth-) order reasoning will kick in. If your experience is typical, you will ultimately end up making a different choice than you now expect, after looking at boats you didn''t initially know to choose from, and for reasons not now on your "must haves" list. Or you''ll buy out of ignorance and end up satisfied only if you are very lucky.

As for whatever level of experience you do or don''t have, it''s essentially irrelevant as it is what it is. Compensate for it with some clear thinking, a sustained research effort, and not a little tenacity and you''ll avoid at least the big mistakes, grow a lot from the experience and be the better for it.

Speaking of the big mistakes, buying big is a good one to mention. Liveaboard slips in the Annapolis area are hard to come by for folks absent independent wealth, and especially so for larger boats. (Annapolis used to be our nation''s capitol and, as such, is ''Olde''. Older slips are narrower, shorter and with fixed pilings...because that used to be enough to meet the need). Guest dockage on the ICW and in Florida isn''t cheap, either. Moreover, you intend to keep this boat for an extended period of time: Consider the accelerated costs of a larger, more systems-intensive boat, and reflect on how much accummulated expense that will cost you over time. As Gene mentioned, it''s generally more work to get a bigger boat underway than a smaller one. Finally, you are buying a boat to serve multiple purposes over the years, and for most of those intended years of ownership, owning, berthing, hauling out and maintaining a bigger boat just so you can do some daysailing seems like a real waste to me. At least logically speaking (tho'' logic of course fights to have its say in these matters...), doesn''t it make more sense to compromise on what you think you need for a few years and have a size boat that''s sensible for many more years?

I''d encourage you to take Gene''s observation as a challenge. Some folks who enjoy sailing AND choose to live aboard make it a priority to keep the boat ''sail-able'' and there''s no reason you can''t, too. That means different things to different sailors but to some degree that will mean less ''stuff'' being brought aboard, more daily/weekly effort at putting things away, customizing and modifying so the things that don''t have a home get one and, needless to say, constantly taking things OFF the boat, as well. (This is a battle I''m constantly fighting, and never feel I''m winning. But the victories, small tho'' they may be, at least make the rest of the stuff a bit more accessible). This ''keeping things ready to sail'' really does take relentless effort...while you may instead be picturing only the idyllic hours sailing without much concern for how you get those hours and/or what you do after they''ve ended. So - again - the issue depends on you and has no absolute answer. Also in contrast to Gene, we don''t generally find a need for more ''stuff'' when living aboard than when cruising, but that just reflects choices we make about our lifestyle. (However, this London winter makes a liar of me at the moment, with the dehumidifier and two heaters all posing trip hazards around the boat).

As for your other questions, inexperienced folks with bigger boats have to start a bit slower and work at it a bit harder, but two sailors should be able to handle a mid-40''s boat given the uses you describe. Larger boats will require more sail horsepower (aka: square feet) which require more handling effort, which these days is usually overcome with gizmos and extra hardware, which in turn adds a bit of expense...but unless the boat is overly heavy or overcanvassed, you will be able to find the hardware and develop the skills to handle any rig choice you make. (Keep in mind that one of the things that makes a given rig a good or bad choice is the rest of the boat; IOW there are ''bad'' cutters and ''good'' cutters. That''s why I don''t think there''s a simple answer to your ''rig preferece'' Q).

We lived aboard 3 winters in Annapolis, had a high-end diesel fired heating system, were eager for the adventure of it all (when the marina power would fail, we had more adventure than we wanted...) and found it a good experience, for us. Perhaps you two already have reason to believe the same might - or might not - be true for you?

Good luck on the adventure of it all; even shopping for boats is good fun!

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post #4 of 7 Old 02-27-2004
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Liveaboard Boat Choice

Well I have a few words to say on this matter. Think of drawers stuffed with sweaters you will not wear and shelves full of trinkets your wife collected from grandma and all the junk you like to play with. Golf clubs, hiking boots, stereo equipment,any hobby will take allot of room on a boat along with all the clothes you only wear only sometimes. Then you have everyday living at the dock it is a fair thing to say it is easy.But slip the lines and it changes real quick things get stowed and it becomes piles of stuff that you can''t seem to find the item you were looking for because you have to much stuff.Get rid of it as much stuff as you can sell it at a garage sale and make room for the things you will need. You will find your collection of junk will grow again and you will be wanting to give it away to any taker.We have been shopping boats for the better part of a year and have come up with a down scaled plan.We have down sized to as small as 38'' and as larg as 41'' this is a range we feel is cheep to maintain YA RIGHT! but still big enough to live on for as long as we need to. Gulf star 41'' traditional aft cockpit boats have caught our eye and on the bottom end a Catalina 38 because they have a beam and are easy to manage at the dock and under sail. the Junk we are selling is a biggie we have a small storage space 10X15''for things we have to keep some of it is not things we can get rid of like Grandmas clock from 1866 things like that. Our kids are old enough now for us to pass some of it on to them and that is what we are doing with some of it.But the lockers full of clothes blankets ect become problems because they collect moisture and if not aired out well you can guess what will happen.My hobbies change to fishing and diving,surfing (54)years old still ride a wave or two, when I live aboard it just fits in. The Morgan has some real room but sails real slow so again you have to trade off someplace.
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-02-2004 Thread Starter
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Liveaboard Boat Choice

Great insight everyone. I guess I''m trying to get too much out of one boat. I think we''ll just have to keep looking. The more time we spend on the boat, the more we think we know what we want. We plan to rent a couple of times before then, maybe a catamaran and a larger monohull, so that will get us a little better prospective. Our Cal, and a Bristol 25, is the only boat we have actually sailed so far so it''s hard to choose just based on stats and specs.

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post #6 of 7 Old 03-04-2004
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Liveaboard Boat Choice

I will likely hear flak from this posting but I''ll do it anyway. Keep in mind opinions are like bellybuttons everyone has one. I have sailed center and aft cockpit boats with just my wife and I,We both feel more comfortable in a aft cockpit boat when docking or putting the boat in a slip. Keep in mind when you or your spouse/whatever,are at the helm of a center cockpit boat and your trying to tie it up in a breeze its tough to leave the controls and help out when your fifteen feet from either end. Otherwise cp''s are great keep you dryier,and generally give better visibility when handling under sail/power. Good luck in your search, and try some boats on for size before you buy.
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-04-2004
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Liveaboard Boat Choice

Well, Where do we start. I had Cal 2-27 for about 15 years. Bought it new in 77''. It is a terrific boat.

Since you are somewhat knowledgeable and familiar with Bill Lapworth design and sail performance, have you considered a Cal 39? Go to Sailnet and look at the owner reviews of this boat. It is a great sailor and provides much accommodation.

I used to sell Morgan Yachts in the 80''s and have sold many Out Island Models. This is a great live aboard boat and a pretty good sailing machine as well. The Cal will do circles around it though. It depends on what you want out of the boat.

You can Live aboard in Annapolis. I have customers that do. You will need to consider a cabin heating system for sure.

Start looking around, take your time, and see what strikes your fancy. Let us know what you like and I am sure you will get plenty of assistance.

The folks that have contributed here on this post have provided real good information and I am sure you can count on continued support.

E-mail me and I will send you the model list of boats that you are looking at have sold for over the past year or so.
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