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Dean101 10-29-2011 12:33 PM

Bumping heads
After reading a few threads concerning living aboard, I've noticed that many different people have stated that they have lived aboard their boats for years and then mention the boats length. The "many people" I'm refering to have been living on boats under 30' in length. I've been reading the specs for many different types of boats and, generally speaking, boats under 30' have less than 6' of headroom.

I'm 6'2" tall and in order to find that kind of head room I seem to be stuck with buying a boat 32' or bigger. Thinking further on this, now I'm wondering if having less headroom than the owners standing height is a common thing? Before I purchased an Endeavour 32, I had visited a couple who were selling a Balboa 26. From the moment I stepped aboard I felt like I was constantly stooping, which I was. First it was the boom. As I stepped into the cabin, the smallness of it didn't bother me as much as walking around did. When sitting, I was comfortable. The V-berth was short but adequate. I just couldn't stand completely up.

Is this situation common to those that live aboard smaller boats? Are the owners short enough that they have standing headroom on these boats? I would think that standing headroom would be a requirement for maintaining comfort while aboard. It certainly is for me. But then again, I wonder if it is just another thing to get use to as one settles into a life of living on the water.

Standing headroom... I've seen that listed as a spec on many boats. Can anybody tell me if standing headroom refers to a specific height? It's not a one size fits all kinda thing. I've read articles from experienced liveaboards that say in time you get accustomed to living in a small space. Does this include the vertical plane?

So, what are your experiences and thoughts on this? The next boat I buy will be my home. I intend to cruise and eventually cross oceans. I'm use to having no headroom in my tent when I go camping. If headroom on a boat is something you just get use to, like a tent, then maybe I'm worrying to much about it. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the subject.

Thanks to all and have a great weekend.

Faster 10-29-2011 12:54 PM

I think most vendors would call anything 6' or higher 'standing headroom'.

I do think that as a liveaboard being able to stand up without stooping would be rather more important than for casual cruising (would you want to live in your tent full time??),.. many boats w/o full headroom can provide headroom at the galley, for instance, with a pop top or an open hatch but that's not going to be a practical liveaboard situation. If part time cruising/sailing the reality is that you don't need to be standing up most of the time you're below (sleeping or sitting at a table)

People such as yourselves over 6 feet tall definitely have different needs when it comes to boat shopping. Age and fitness level will factor in here too... a bad back and constant stooping is not a good combination...

hellosailor 10-29-2011 01:09 PM

"Can anybody tell me if standing headroom refers to a specific height?"
No, it has no legal or industry meaning. FYI, the average US male is about 5'10" tall so if you had to push it, 5'10.5" would be "standing headroom". A good orthopedic surgeon might be able to help you meet that lower standard. may just need to look for a taller boat.

With regard to the boom, "performance" boats will have lower booms to capture more wind. Even on a 42' Pearson ketch the mizzen boom would take your head off at the helm. That's not just a function of boat size, but of design.

killarney_sailor 10-29-2011 07:42 PM

Headroom is not just a function of length although it gets much easier to have it with a longer boat. The Nonsuch 22 for example has standing headroom for me at 5' 11". look around and you will find boats that are offshore capable, not loo long/expensive, and that you can stand in

Minnewaska 10-29-2011 07:57 PM

Standing headroom, at least in the salon, is a must to live aboard, IMHO. Ducking into sleeping quarters is not a problem, since you will lie down most of that time. However, changing clothes with out headroom can be a nuisance.

Dean101 10-29-2011 08:49 PM

Thanks for the input everybody. :) I get the feeling that I need to look at boats between 30' and 36'. The problem I'm running into is that very few of the boats I look at actually state the amount of headroom in the specs. A few do, and several mention "standing headroom", but it is generally just not mentioned. I've looked at several boats that I like that are under 30 feet but can't find a definite answer on headroom.

The Bristol 29, the Cape Dories under 30', Bristol Channel Cutter, Allied, plus several more... They are nice boats and look to be within the budget I've set for myself. But short of travelling to actually walk into one, the headroom number remains ellusive. I'm still in the saving phase financially so travelling very far is not an option right now.

I was getting the feeling that since headroom is so often not mentioned in listings maybe it was not such a big deal. With that said, can anyone suggest any offshore capable boats with 6'2" headroom that are under 32'?

Dean101 10-29-2011 08:54 PM


Originally Posted by Minnewaska (Post 791683)
Standing headroom, at least in the salon, is a must to live aboard, IMHO. Ducking into sleeping quarters is not a problem, since you will lie down most of that time. However, changing clothes with out headroom can be a nuisance.

I just have to agree with you. Being able to stand completely up should be just as important, if not more so, than how many people can sleep on the boat. I'm willing to bet that entertaining that many guests happens a whole lot less than the number of times you want to stand and stretch the kinks out!:D

chrisferro 10-29-2011 09:06 PM

My 1983 Seidelmann 30 has well over 6 feet of headroom, probably 6'5 or so. There are always 1 or 2 Seidelmann's for sale in the Chesapeake area, and they have tons of room downstairs due to their massive 12 foot beam. You may want to take a look at one. If I win the lottery I'll sell you mine when I get a bigger boat...

Chris Ferro

carl762 11-03-2011 05:50 PM

I'm 6'3" and I believe I can fully stand up on my friend's Catalina 27. He's a live aboard and is at least 6'2". Have to verify this the next time I'm on his boat.

denverd0n 11-04-2011 10:19 AM

For someone 6'2" tall I would suggest that you want 6'3" headroom or more throughout any areas of the boat where you would normally be standing. You can get by with stooping much of the time on a boat that you only spend weekends and the occasional longer cruise, but on a liveaboard that is going to get old REALLY fast! You don't need that above a berth, or even the "sitting area" of a head, but elsewhere...

You are going to find extremely few boats under 30' with that kind of headroom. In the 30-32 range you'll find more, but they will still probably be the minority. Get up to 34' and above and you'll find plenty of boats with the headroom you need. I am only 6' myself, but if I were looking for a liveaboard I would be focusing on boats in the 34-40 foot range. If I discovered a particular make and model that was shorter, that had the headroom and layout I wanted, I would add that to the list. But I would not spend a lot of time examining shorter boats.

Good luck.

Edited to add: Remember that when a manufacturer quotes a particular amount of headroom on a boat that is often the maximum headroom, and may only occur in one particular spot (usually in the saloon). Again, for living aboard I would not want a boat that has only ONE PLACE where I can stand fully upright. I want that headroom throughout most of the boat.

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