How to find the right live aboard
Hi Everyone, My wife and I are considering moving out of our studio apartment and purchasing a boat to live on. We love being on/near water, but are total rookies when it comes to looking for the right boat. We live in Sacramento, California, so the majority of our time spent aboard our home would be on rivers. Any advice?
My wife an I have a Bristol 29.9 (30ft). There is a v-berth, large head (the bigger the better for women), a good sized salon, gally and quarter berth. It has plenty of storage for us as well as the dog (sheltie). Some would say the boat is too small that a couple needs a 35 to 40 foot boat. If you are going to spend most of your time at the dock or day sailing on the weekend then that may be fine for you. However if you intend to sail in blue water 30 to 35 is more than enough. Additionally blue water boats vs near coastal cruisers are two completely different boats as well as two different types of sailing. Your big roomey bay boats do not provide much in the way of comfort in rough water. They tend to have too much free board and bob like a cork. Then there is the beam and openess of a costal cruiser. You can pick up a lot of speed down below with a 12 to 14 foot beam and I can say from experience the other side of the boat comes at you fast and does not provide a soft landing. Where as a blue water boat is typically less roomey less beamey but provides a smoother ride with more hand holds (a good thing). Moving from a studio apartment is a good start, it will have more room than most boats but still better than a 2000 foot 3 bedroom house. I would recomend finding a boat that you think is a little too small (it's not). Then you and your wife go thru your closets ect. and toss 1/2 of everything there. Wait a month and do it again. Then when you move on the boat you will only need to do it one more time. It is NOT about a minimalists lifestyle or learning to do without it is learning more about what you NEED vs what you want. Someone once said if it's not on the boat you don't need it...
Just my thoughts.
and let you know that I lived for 15 years in Sacramento ... and now liveabord a Cal 28 on San Francisco Bay ...
First off ... experience on the water ... and actual time spent on a boat ... how much time have you spent aboard ... it is a very rewarding experience ... much different than in an apartment ... and very rewarding in it's own way ... if you have little to none ... I would highly suggest that you spend time aboard ... both power and sail ... with friends (if they have any) ... if not ... take some time and visit Sacramento Yacht Club or Capital City Yacht Club or River View Yacht Club ... it will let you see potential 'homes' ... lifestyles ... and where you might possibly be keeping your boat
As you will have 100's of miles of delta to explore and enjoy ... see if you can hook up with someone there to spend a weekend on the delta and see if a power or a sailboat makes more sense for you ...
Start reading Latitude 38 and possibly hook up with the Delta Do-Dah which starts end July.
Once you get a feel for the kind of boat you think you would like to live on ... look at boats .. and more boats .. and more boats .. with a keen eye as to space ... privacy ... storage ... comforts ... maintenance
Keep good records as to what you think you want ... what you see you like ... and DON'T like ... and don't be afraid to change your mind
Be realistic with regards to how much time you will spend ... out on the water ... for this will make a marked difference in the boat you end up initially purchasing.
Take classes at the USCG Aux in Sacramento as this will not only add to your education but also give you valued contacts.
Also look at where you will keep her (another reason to start spending time at yacht clubs and marinas ... but don't forget there are also some private moorings available on the river ...)
REMEMBER ... that this is a BUYER'S market right now ... and that you can do very very well in San Francisco purchasing a boat ... for example on Craigs List there's a beautiful Cal 30 for sale ... blue water boat with many upgrades .. well maintained ... for $3700 ... or this 36' Bill Garden 36 with asking price of 13.5K
I would highly recommend getting immersed in the culture ... for it is a culture ... learning as much as you can ... about what you want and what makes you happy ... and not being afraid to take the 'plunge' if you find that is what you want to do.
Also remember that maintenance aboard is something mandatory and not merely an option ... you don't have to be a skilled craftsman (tho yes it helps) ... you need to be willing to learn ... and put the time and effort into it ...
Finding a balance between what makes you happy initially ... what you will enjoy living on ... and what you can afford ... is rather difficult ... especially when there are two of you ... so communicate ... especially the things that you dislike.
Feel free to message me if you have any questions.
I moved aboard my boat a couple of months ago. There's already a wealth of good advice above, so I'll try and be succinct.
1) Look at boats in the 29-36' range, maintenance doesn't scale up with length, it scales up with area. A 36ft boat isn't half again as much work as a 24ft, it's closer to double.
2) Smaller is also less boat to clean and keep tidy.
3) Smaller is also less berthing fees. My marina has a completely different (and much higher) tariff after 10m.
4) Don't start by taking all the luxuries, hobbies and possessions in your life and trying to see what you can lose to fit them into a boat lifestyle. Instead start at a blank, figure out the bare minimum of what you need to life comfortably and then see what you can budget in afterwards. Build it up slowly, carefully assessing each item, be brutal.
5) Read these two threads Living Aboard Cheap and Boat Inspection Trip Tips.
6) Get out and look at boats, look at as many boats as you can find in your price/size range. At first you will see a lot of awesome boats, try not to get over excited. Agree to nothing without sleeping on it.
7) Find likely marinas, get details of their tariffs. If you're a little geeky, like me, throw together a quick spreadsheet, adding each possible boat and adding on the insurance, berthing costs and the cost of any work that may need doing, be generous. Compare it to your expected income, the less money you spend on the boat the more money you have for luxuries, trips and savings etc.
8) Look at some more boats. You'll know the one when you find it, I did :D
9) Get it done, I'm wondering now why it took me so long.
Go to local boat sellers and arrange to view in person (Not over the internet) lots of different vessels. you then get to see what size, quality and refinements you require.
internet pictures can be old so do not give real view of vessel.
Seek hard you find the vessel for your needs and wants.
After you spend a day or two looking at as many different (OEMs, sizes, models, years, etc) boats as you can, You and your wife should seperately make 2 lists. List 1: Things (roller furling main, walk thru transom, wheel steering, air conditioning, etc) I want on the boat, list 2: things I don't want on the boat. When done, compare and negotiate down to 2 combined lists. Then continue the shopping using the lists as a guide.
I'm also shopping just now (and learning) would just like to say good luck to bombadil420 and a well done to everybody who posted, some really good and very useful advice for newbies!
Re: How to find the right live aboard
My wife and I live on a 36' Holliday Mantion, Fiberglass Houseboat and we love it. It will handle the bay in any conditions
And is a lot more live friendly then most boats. I'm yanking the motor (indoard outboard). And installing 2 outboards I can raise out of the water and easily maintain, Being we live in the bay salt water which will deteriorate anything you put in it, including your out drive .
We also have a lil 27' Oday Sloop sail boat at another Marina we call our guest home / inlaw unit / office / kids college dorm ,,, you get the picture, and at $230 a month it's worth every penny. :) We stay there more in winter cause it takes less than 5 minutes and toasty warm.
Don't buy a wood boat unless you have plenty of time for the maintainence And plenty of Money. I made that mistake my first boat.
Came down to a girlfriend or the boat,,,,,she won!
We love boat life it's like being on permanent vacation. Although ther are adjustments like living simple and not excessive, No complaints, hope this helps
Re: How to find the right live aboard
Insulation , mandatory in my northern latitudes can still make a huge difference in winter, in yours. It can be added.
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