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Old 05-29-2011
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Question Getting the right size...

Hello to all.

I am looking for advice/input from true liveaboard cruisers on how much space you thought you would need when you first moved aboard versus how much space you actually require after a year or two of living aboard. I am very interested in learning from others how their perspective of space has changed as they became more accustomed to the cruising and liveaboard lifestyle.

I have been researching boats in preparation of buying, living aboard, and cruising to wherever my whims take me. Since I have never lived aboard or cruised extensively, I am trying to get some idea of how much boat I am going to need. I have read accounts of how people who have made the transition from living ashore to living afloat have discarded much, if not all, of their material possesions and never looked back. They seem to find plenty of room on their boats for the few things they need. Others appear to upgrade to larger boats for the extra room and comforts they afford. I'm sure this is mostly personal preference.

As for me, I have camped comfortably (for me anyway) for as much as 7 days at a time from what I could carry aboard my 13' kayak and loved it. As I look around my 2800 sf house, I could pack everything I actually use on a regular basis in my Ford Explorer. I do want a little room to grow on my boat in the event of guests and I definitely require at least 6'2" of headroom minimum. In addition to spares and stores, about all I would require space for would be books, my carpentry and concrete finishing tools, and my kayak.

At this point, I have been thinking a boat around 37' would suit my needs but I'm wondering if my reasoning may be influenced by the fact that I'm writing this post from the couch in my 2800 sf home. What do you think?
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Old 05-29-2011
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My guess would be that you can drop anywhere from 5 to 10 ft off that 37 and be very comfy.

My wife and I have been living on our boats with 3 kids for 4 years now and found that 2/3 of the crap we thought we had to have to be comfortable got pitched within the first year.

Start looking at 27 to 32 and I think you will be nicely surprised how comfortable you can be in a smaller easer to maintain and defiantly cheaper in morage and maintenance fees, and most importantly easy for one or 2 people to sail.

We are currently refitting or 34' for a 5 year voyage with the kids ages 7, 9, 11
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Old 05-29-2011
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my biggest problem comcerning space is i just can't rest unless i have bunches of stuff i'll probably never need and i have spares/backups of everything,a couple of times this paid off but still.....
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Old 05-29-2011
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One thing that the wife and I have learned over the past three boats, is that beam is probably more important than length. You will get more out of a 34 foot with a beam of 11.5 feet than you will with a 36 foot with a beam of 10. The obvious is that the additional room from the beam is available over a longer portion of the length. The additional length is only available to a small portion at the ends. This is of course a generalization that is dependent on many things, but it generally holds.

The wife and I are happy with our current 36 footer. We have found that, with the occasional guests for a weekend cruise, between 36 and 41 feet is a good length. Keep in mind that we have already sold the home, second car, and all of our belongings that would not have fit on the boat. Already pruned our lives down to the minimum. If we do upgrade to a larger boat, beam will be the prime concern, and we will not go longer than 42 feet. Chances are we will stick with what we have and tailor it to our needs. With as soft as the boating market is now, it might behoove you to buy a smaller (28-30 foot) boat and see how it works out for you. You would then be in a position to think of how many more feet you need to be happy.

Just my thoughts.
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Old 05-29-2011
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Tom makes a valid point. We've spent the last 9 years living comfortably on a (wide) 33-footer. My advice would be, don't take your land-based understanding of what you "need" with you when you go boat-shopping. For example: on land, you may think you need a second cabin to serve as a home office. Once you move aboard, you realize that you never needed that, you can do just fine making your home office as your boat's nav station.

One way to plan what you really need to move aboard, something we call "shopping at our house": take everything (EVERY THING) out of your kitchen cabinets and put it in the basement. Then, live your normal life. When you need something, go downstairs and get it. Sooner or later, a few weeks or a month into the project, you'll decide to use a chef's knife instead of going downstairs to get the super-special-tomato-slicer-gizmo that you discovered in an infomercial... at that point you'll have separated your posssessions - you'll have a kitchen full of things you really use, and a basement full of things to sell on ebay or donate or give away. Repeat the process with your clothing, tools, whatever, and you'll be well on your way to moving aboard!

E-books, scanned photos instead of photo albums, and iPod instead of a collection of cd's are your friends. Figure out what makes you feel like you're 'camping out' - whatever it is for you - and make sure your boat accomodates that. (For me, that was walking back from a marina shower at 6 AM in the winter with wet hair. So, our ideal boat demanded hot water and a head with hand-held shower hose.)

Good luck, we love living aboard and probably won't go back to land unless old age and illness force the issue.
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Thanks for starting this. It's something I've been thinking of recently. When I first started thinking of buying I was sure I'd need something in the 38-42 foot range. Then I lived aboard a 41' for 6 weeks and realized I could *easily* live in about half that space. So now I'm looking in the 26-30 foot range with a goal of about 28'. One thing that makes it easy for me is that I am already a traveler. I've been on the road with nothing more than a 60L backpack for over 2 years now so once I get on a 28' boat I won't know what to do with all the space I'll have!
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There are a few boats that I have researched that, although they are too small for what we need, they have a lot of room for their size and they are totally charming.

First that comes to mind is the Dana 24. It is a great boat in its size and very well built.

Next would be the Westsail 28 cutter. Great boat, although some would say that it's rather slow. Very sturdy and over-built for blue water.

Then there is my favorite of the too-small-for-me boats; the Fisher 30 motor sailer. It's a really large 30 footer, and they sell larger boats, too.

Have a look-see at those and report back!
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Old 05-30-2011
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Red face Advice needed for Beneteau 352.

Hello All:

Can Beneteau owners please kindly share their experience with this boat as we are thinking of buy the 1997 Beneteau 352 for about 85000. Yanmar 3GM has 700hrs. Electrics basic.

We (me,wife and son 36) will use it mainly for day sailing and very occasional overnights.

Many thanks.
Len
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Old 05-30-2011
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I like the particular 36' boat we have, but we haven't lived on it yet. As I keep updating the current systems on board, I'm also thinking about where to put the other systems we'll be using when we go cruising. Now I'm beginning to think we should have gotten a slightly larger boat, but this is the boat we have so we'll make due with what we have. One person on our boat would be perfect, but as soon as you have two people the available space seems to shrink by half. For me I like the idea of having another compartment to set up like a small office, and it would give a person a good place to have a little privacy if they felt the need.
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Old 05-30-2011
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Thumbs up Many thanks for the input

Thank you all for the great advice!

WingNwing, I like the idea you put forward. That would really put needs vs wants to the test so I may just try it. My camping expeditions have been almost exclusively in remote areas with only what I can carry so I can relate to the point that Vagabondette makes. I do have a tendency to leave anything that I find in the very bottom of my pack or the peak of my kayak's internal compartment at home on the next trip.

Tom, I like the picks you suggested, with the exception of the motorsailer. I am not a big fan of those for the reason of the motor. While I do use the motor for entering/leaving the marina area, I never liked listening to the hum of a motor. It tends to put me to sleep, LOL! But the Dana and the Westsail are both beautiful boats. I love the traditional looks and, indeed, the Westsail 32 is on my final list of choices. 32' to 41' comprise the range of lengths when I look at the list I've made. All have a full or at least long fin keel and most have the canoe stern with the Cape Dory's being one of the exceptions I can think of without actually looking at the list.

I can see the point you make concerning beam also. The Endeavor 32 that I briefly owned had 10' of beam and I often visualized what 1 more foot of beam would allow for that boat. All of the boats that made my list have the U-shaped galley, which seems safer to use at sea and is one of the things I had wished the Endeavour had.

CaptainTim, your plans of a 5 year cruise on a 34' boat with 5 individuals really makes me reconsider what I will actually need. As I will most likely be sailing alone I will probably not need the amount of space I think I do. When I sit down to look at boats I do generally start around the 32' range. When I think about my search habits, I tend to end up with the longer boats. Now I am thinking I'm getting caught up in the "bigger is better" mindset.

Lately, I have started viewing all the useless things I've acquired over the years as anchors. I drag them around, never use them, but the tend to distract me. One of the main reasons for wanting to transition to life afloat is to get rid of these things. When camping, I tend to feel much less distracted. My thoughts tend to be more focused because of it and I feel much less weighed down by, at times even free of, the materialism of mainstream society.

Out of curiosity, do marinas tend to require a certain boat length for liveaboards? I am planning on spending a year or two around Norfolk to attend some sailing schools and gain some much needed offshore experience before I head out. I was actually hoping to find a berth near other liveaboards so I can pick them for advice. I must say that I'm glad I ran across this forum. The posts made by all have taught me much so thanks again for your advice. Keep it coming!
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