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Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Starting From Scratch...

I kind of agree that 30 = 32 feet is too small for a ketch. However there is a bargain Westerly Renown in Miami that would be a good liveaboard. The one great thing a ketch has going for it is the ability to sail with mizzen and headsail only and be balanced.

A key question is where are you going to spend your time? in marinas where they charge by the foot or at anchor.

If you planned to live on the hook then one of these is worth a look CSY 37 owners version a great liveaboard boat.

In practice the boat does not matter as much as the positive mental attitude and the required sailing skills. [ Mostly common sense IMHO ] Out here some of the people having the most fun have the smallest boats.
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Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Starting From Scratch...

What you'll learn if you hang around here for a while is that what's good for long distance sailing isn't (generally) good for long term living aboard. There are design considerations, like long keels, narrow beams, small cockpits, etc., that make "blue water" boats excellent for crossing oceans, but not the best when it comes to actually being a "home". What you might want to consider is a "coastal cruiser" like the aforementioned C30, or even the "Cherubini-era" Hunters that Captainmeme suggested. High points for such boats include the fact that their draft isn't TOO deep, which will make them good choices for the shallower waters that you'll find in that area, and there are a TON of them out there, with lots of third-party support when things go wrong.

I suggest that you look at the nautical charts in the areas you're considering and figure out what the typical water depths are at low tide. Then look at,, and to get a sense of what boats are available in your area, what their prices are like, their general condition at any given price point, and what their draft tends to be. What you'll probably find are quite a few C30's and H30's, and a few slightly larger too (largely for the reasons set forth above). Start there, read up about them, and then find a few that are for sale and actually go aboard them (find ones that are already at the broker's marina if you can, this way you aren't wasting too much of the broker's time). Sit in the cabin and ask yourself where your "stuff" will go. How many shirts, shorts, dresses, undershirts, suits, etc. can you pack in the dressers/closets? What about foul weather gear? Supplies? What kind of shower is there? Does it have room for the appliances (TV, blender, etc.) that you want/need in your life? Can you see yourself cooking in the galley?

Those are some of the day-to-day things to think about. Then there are the bigger questions, like visitors. Will you have day guests, or overnighters (kids/grandkids)?

If overnighters, where will they sleep? How much of a PITA will it be in the morning if you have to break down their bed before you can eat breakfast, or before you can get to the head? Are there enough heads so that you and your SO can go to the bathroom at the same time? (don't think that's an issue? Wait 'til you both eat some bad seafood)

If the guests are more likely to just be day visitors, how is the cabin set up for lunch/dinner? Is the cockpit big enough to comfortably hold the number of guests you're envisioning?

Of course, the answer to a lot of the issues above is to go bigger. But that will compete with your desire for a singlehandable boat. What you'll find is that as the boats get bigger the sails and other "stuff" gets heavier/harder to lift. You wind up with power-assisted winches, windlasses, etc., and that adds complexity, increases maintenance needs, and adds to the cost.

Then there are the costs associated with actually keeping and maintaining the boat. Slip fees are expensive, moorings less so. But then how do you get back and forth for provisions? Are you OK with taking a dinghy back to shore in a nasty rainstorm because you forgot to buy toilet paper the last time you were at the store?

In the end, these kinds of competing priorities are what keep many here with boats in the 27-35' range. Anything smaller is too small to really live aboard comfortably for any significant length of time (at least for me, YMMV, and that's fine). Anything bigger, and the costs can really add up quick.

To be clear, I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying take your time and really start defining how you think you'll use the boat, and what living aboard will actually mean. Once you do that, you'll start to find the boats that will actually be appealing and useful to you.
- Jim
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1980 Allmand 31
1975 Albacore 15

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Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Starting From Scratch...

Originally Posted by Mad Jack View Post
I would like to be able to sail some distances, though, and to cruise for as long as a week. And I definitely must be able to single-hand her.
IMO that narrows it down to 30-36 foot range, big enough for 2 but easy enough for one person with some experience to handle in heavy weather.
Lots of good choices here. If I had a budget in the higher end range (50-60K) I would go for something like Tashing Baba 30 (one example here: 1980 Tashing BABA sailboat for sale in Georgia ) or better yet Kaiser 34 Gale Force (example here: 1978 Kaiser Yachts Gale Force Offshore Cutter Sail Boat For Sale - )

For lower end budget (25-35K) I would get a centerboard design, like Pearson 35 or Bristol 35 - lots of them around, in decent shape and with decent gear.
Allied Seawind 32 is also a good choice, as well as Cape Dory 30 to 36. All rock solid, conservative designs that will not let you down in bad weather.
I would not hesitate to take any of these boats properly equipped across any ocean.
Some of these boats come with a ketch rig which I personally like. Yes, they are more complicated, but they give you advantage of flexibility when single handing, especially off wind, and are great when tacking often in narrow channels. I would not look specifically for a ketch rig but would not hesitate to take one on an otherwise good boat.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
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Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Starting From Scratch...

Originally Posted by Mad Jack View Post
Thank you for those replies.

And please forgive me for knowing too little to even pose a proper question...

My own experience level is somewhere between nil and novice. I have a basic knowledge of seamanship.

My main reason for finding and joining this site is to learn, which I really do best by observation, and by interaction with those who possess expertise. I am in the right place for that, I think.

I just want to be as prepared as possible.

I would like to live aboard her full time. Probably out of the Gulf Coast of southern Florida. I do have one eye on the Keys, also.

I would like to be able to sail some distances, though, and to cruise for as long as a week. And I definitely must be able to single-hand her.

My budget for this is yet indefinite, but it certainly won't be unlimited. Nothing too extravagant. I'll likely be looking for a good bargain.

Chrisncate: I'm sorry, but I do not understand. Why would you say that the question of ketch or not is not an issue at 30'?

Again, thanks, good people.
Captainmeme summed the ketch issue up very well, 30' is small for a ketch with not much (if any) benefit. Just more to deal with.

You seem to be on the right track so far, keep in mind that as you learn your needs/desires will change - so it's a good idea to get something that you think will suit your needs now, while still keeping an eye on re-sale and moving on/up in the probably nearish future.

If asked, I say keep it cheap and maybe bare bones initially - solid sails and rigging, a livable interior, a decent motor (ahem, cough cough..), acceptable ground tackle. Have a go at it and just see how things progress and learn what suits you. Getting caught up in finding the "just right" boat when you just don't know yet, might lead to getting locked in on something you find you don't really want. Also I'd highly recommend finding something that you don't have to get into a bunch of refitting projects on. Refitting can take up so much of your life and time the entire dream can slip away on you (ask me how I know).

Best of luck, please keep the forum posted on your progress!
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Old 07-31-2013
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Re: Starting From Scratch...

Write down 5 words that describe the boat you envision. Bargain? Pretty? Fast? Comfortable? Teak? Classic? Modern? That'll lead you to a decision and help us help you.

For some, it is practicality and value. Catalina and Hunter have that covered very nicely. Others prefer something with a bit more cachet... maybe a Cape Dory or Sabre. You get my drift. A boat is not a TV you just buy on price and specs... it has to "move" you.

I own a boat not particularly well-suited to the way I use it. And I wouldn't trade it for one worth twice as much.
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