I would like some input on a good liveaboard sailboat that's approximately 28 to 35 feet long that has a good shower setup. It will only be sailed inshore on the lakes.
Thanks for the question. There are a number of questions to consider when it comes to choosing a boat, especially one that will become your home. Will you be the sole inhabitant, or do you entertain the thoughts of a mate down the road? Will you keep the boat dockside, or will you be daysailing and cruising on it and if so, where would you like to go? And will guests visit periodically?
You'll also want to determine what beam, draft, and sail plan requirements you have? And how important is windward ability to you? What kind of hull shape are you looking for? What kind of price range are you looking at? Also, do you have the skills, tool, and time to invest sweat equity into the boat or are you looking for something closer to a turn-key operation?
The more a boat becomes like a house, the more complicated its systems become and the more demands it will make on its owners. Consider the onboard shower, for example. A good shower set-up will mean having a water-pressure pump and its attendant circuit breakers, fuse, wires, hose clamps, and hose, as well as the hot water heater. This is usually connected to the dockside 110-volt system or plumbed off the engine’s heat exchanger, possibly an accumulator tank so that pump won’t have to be constantly running.
Then there is the issue of drainage—you don’t want what would go down the drain to simply enter your bilge as it could clog the bilge pumps, so then there is the sump for the shower, and its pump, hoses, and thru-hull discharge. One snafu in the system—a clogged heat exchanger, a leak in a hose, a torn diaphragm in a pump, or a circuit breaker that keeps tripping for whatever reason—and you'll be on your hands and knees with a voltmeter, flashlight, and screwdriver trying to assess the problem.
If space is your biggest concern and leaving the dock from time to time isn’t a priority, a strong case can be made for buying a broken powerboat as these are occasionally the best type of liveaboard. They’re cheap, spacious, and abundant. If you want the satisfaction of sailing around the harbor or heading off for distant locales, however, there are veritable fleets of great pre-owned sailboats that would fit the bill. Albergs (the 30 and the 35 in particular, Ericsons, Pearsons (the Triton and the Wanderer, along with the 35), Catalinas, Morgans, C&Cs, and Westerlys are just some that spring to mind. Just be sure to take a system-by-system approach in developing the criteria for what makes the right boat. Remember, you'll be dealing with the engine, the rigging, sails, electrical, and plumbing, as well as what kind of safety equipment and electronics are onboard. All of these should factor into your final decsion.
I’d also refer you to our e-mail discussion lists on the site. By joining those, you can query other boat owners about their experience with specific make and models. Just click on this link: E-mail Discussion Lists. I’d also you encourage you to check out our Buying a Boat section of the site.