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Sailor77 08-24-2006 08:37 PM

Looking into Live Aboard life style and need advice.
Hello Folks,

I am new to this site and I desperately need some advive from some seasoned salts. I am currently looking for a nice live aboard sail boat. I need to gather as much info as I can on what kinds of boats are best suited for this, hidden cost, dry docking fees, and common problem areas. I live in NJ and I was lookng at a boat between the sizes of 30 to 35 feet but i could go bigger. My price range is about 25,000. Any suggestions on where I should start? Thanks for your time and consideration.

Fair winds and Following Seas

sailingdog 08-24-2006 10:56 PM

Some questions...

Do you want to sail the boat, or just liveaboard it? If you just want to liveaboard it, then you will have different considerations than if you want to be able to liveaboard it, and still sail it.

What is your annual budget for insurance, marina slips, etc? Most marinas currently charge per foot for many services, so the bigger a boat you get, the more expensive it will be to dock it, haul it, wash it, store it. etc. Also, most marinas now require a minimum of $100,000 or $300,000 of liability insurance on boats in their facilities. Liveaboard policies are generally more expensive than regular cruising boat policies.

Are you going to liveaboard in the winter as well as the summer? If you are planning on living aboard year round, the boat will have to have heat of some sort, as well as be insulated to some degree. Be aware that in the northern states, many marinas do not allow you to liveaboard year-round, so finding a marina will be a bit more difficult. At least, that is the case in the New England area....NJ might be different, but I doubt it.

Sailor77 08-25-2006 07:05 PM

Well I would like to live aboard the vessel as well as cruise in it. I was looking at a 35' catalina. Those boats seem to have very spacious accomadations and also can cruise. I was thinking about just living aboard the boat only in the spring and summer. I just recently applied for a insurance quote based on a 35' catalina so i am still waiting to get that back. Thanks for your input.

sailingdog 08-25-2006 07:17 PM

The fees that you won't see listed any where are going to include the following:

Insurance—this will vary depending on your coverage, the cost of your boat, the area you will be sailing in, etc. Liveaboard coverage is generally a bit more expensive IIRC, as the insurance has to have a personal liability section, much like your homeowner's or renter's insurance policies would. The personal liability section covers things like if your dog bites someone... etc.

Maintenance—Usually about 10% of the value of the boat for general maintenance, per year. This covers things like hull paint, small repairs, wear and tear, but not major things like replacing your rigging, fixing a blown engine, etc.

Marina Slip Fees—Also varies based on the length of the boat generally, and the location and amenities of the marina. In many areas the year is broken down into two seasons, the summer season, where the boat is usually in the water, and the winter season, where the boat is in storage, usually on the hard, at least in northern areas. Boats are often kept in the water year round further south. There is usually a "liveaboard fee" and a fee for power and water.

Other Marina Fees—These include things like hauling out and launching the boat; stepping or unstepping the mast; power washing the boat; wrapping the boat in shrink wrap if needed.

Excise tax and fees—Most communities have a waterways use tax or fee of some sort.

I hope this helps.

eryka 08-26-2006 07:53 AM

Hi "sailor77" - a couple of thoughts - if you're going to have a land base, you can probably add your liability to that and avoid the extra insurance costs SD mentioned. BTW, some of the costs he mentioned like slip fees and maintenance, are general boat ownership fees, not specific to liveaboards. The rest of the answer is "as much money as you have." When you move aboard, what are you going to do about communications? Will you hardwire a land line or increase the minutes on your cellphone? Where will you get your snailmail? buy a PO box, or will the marina accept it? Will you be pumping your holding tank more often, or use the 'bag and bucket'? Will you do all your own maintenance (in which case, 5%/year for coastal cruising may be a better estimate than 10% IMHO) If you still have a land-based career, you may be using a laundromat more often. Oh, yeah, and your entertainment bill may increase as you start hanging out with a community of liveaboards ;-)

That said, it's a really fun life! We've been living aboard a 33-footer year-round in Annapolis for 4 years and no way would we go back to land.

tommyt 08-26-2006 11:48 AM

Your choice of boat is going to cost you much more than $25K unless that is your annual liveaboard and mortage budget instead of a boat price.

The 35' Catalina is a new boat in the last few years, and yes it is spacious. You might find a beat up one for $125+. I don't think you will find an old Catalina 34 or 36 in your range either. They tend to be in the $50-75 range in decent shape and early 80's boats.

Good Luck,

Pamlicotraveler 08-26-2006 12:16 PM


Originally Posted by tommyt
Your choice of boat is going to cost you much more than $25K unless that is your annual liveaboard and mortage budget instead of a boat price.

Yeah, I was thinking $25,000 didn't sound like anywhere near enough for a 30-35 liveaboard, but who knows.

sailingdog 08-26-2006 12:54 PM

You could get a 30-35' liveaboard for that price, but it would probably be an older one, and in need of a fair amount of work. BTW, most marinas provide bathroom and shower facilities to the boats that use them. So, pumping out is not that much of a problem, provided you use the shore-based facilities rather than those on your boat. Pumping out is often a free service, and may be included with some of the fees you'll be paying to have your boat in a slip.

Sailor77 08-26-2006 02:49 PM

Hi guys Thanks for your input
Hello all,

Just want to say thanks for all your help. I found a bunch of 30' to 35' Catalinas for about $20,000. I am not sure how much work will have to be done to them. Are there any vessel specific problem on a 1975 to 1981 catalina that you are aware of? Anythings to consider when looking at a old fiberglass sailboat? I currently work in the Merchant Marines as a Second Mate on tankers which takes me away from home 4 months at a time. I plan my times off the ship to wind up on shore during the summer and winter seasons more or less. I am sick of renting and really would like to live on the sea full time. I think the live aboard sailboat setup would fit my lifestyle nicely. Whats your take on it? I am all swept up with grandiose dreams of sailing my boat that I need a third party opinion.

Thanks for all your help

camaraderie 08-26-2006 04:26 PM

Your live-aboard plans are realistic...but dock space is at a premium in the NY/NJ area so you might want to plan on keeping the boat elsewhere since your schedule doesn't allow you to "weekend" on the boat.
For example...there are many marinas on the Chesapeake Bay that are less expensive...still an easy drive from NY...and it is a great cruising ground for Catalinas/Beneteaus/Hunters etc. like you are considering. Also you have a sailing/living season that is much longer, insurance is cheaper and even in the winter, you can live aboard without ice. Something to think about.
As to your Catalina question...I owned two and was happy with both of them but each boat has it's own specific issues and the Catalina forums right here and owners groups (google it!) can provide much more specific model advice than I can. Get the boat surveyed when you find the one you want!

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