What do you actually need on a boat? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 109 Old 12-28-2019 Thread Starter
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What do you actually need on a boat?

I'm a Canadian shopping for a winter getaway boat I will keep in Florida, spend a few months on every winter.
After looking at a million boats on Yachtworld and sailboatlistings, I have narrowed my range and I'm looking forward to finally start visiting boats next week. The forums here have been so useful, by the way, mostly for eliminating problem boats.
The process has got me thinking about what you need on a boat and what you don't need.
One of the things I like about sailing is the way it makes you engage with the physical world in a simpler way. I like that my boat isn't like my apartment. In my summer cruises in Canada, I don't mind hand-washing clothes, having cold showers.
Partly because of maintenance requirements, I think I would prefer a boat with less gear. I don't want a microwave, air conditioning, a tv, mainsail furling, water maker, bow thrusters or an electric windlass. I hope to mostly anchor out, charge the batteries with solar panels, and don't want a bunch of power-hungry systems to worry about. I could live without refrigeration, a chart plotter and hot water, but I don't see too many boats without those things.
I can see from all the millions of ads I've looked at that not everybody shares my desire. Some boats are just crammed with gadgets. In some cases, I would guess the owners like fussing with gadgets as much as they like sailing, and good for them.
I don't mean to disdain those who like their systems, but want to learn if there are other sailors who see this as I do and have insights on what you actually need and what you don't.
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post #2 of 109 Old 12-28-2019
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Re: What do you actually need on a boat?

If i was sailing Florida and camping on a boat with little luxuries, I would get a small 20 to 30 foot trimaran. most don't have many systems, they have little draft to anchor in shoal places or beach to go a shore and will get you farther in a day to see more in a day. they can be store on a trailer out of the water and easy to move to new locations.
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Re: What do you actually need on a boat?

I've been sailing monohulls for decades though and have never been on a cat. They make me nervous.
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post #4 of 109 Old 12-28-2019
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Re: What do you actually need on a boat?

I don't think it comes down to “insight” as much as if you don't have something you learn to do without it. Doesn't mean that life is better without it. There isn't anything on my boat that my life and enjoyment would be better without.

In the end if there are things on your boat that you would be happier without, just don't use it.

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Re: What do you actually need on a boat?

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Originally Posted by PopeyeRideau View Post
I've been sailing monohulls for decades though and have never been on a cat. They make me nervous.
notice I did not say Cat i said Trimaran a different animal. you did not say what size you are looking for, single hand or with a crew. big boats are mostly for more people so more systems small boats are easier to single hand. lots of skinny water in florida
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post #6 of 109 Old 12-28-2019
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Re: What do you actually need on a boat?

My boat is on the more simple side of life. But it is still very comfortable and easy to live on for long periods.

We don't have any of your list items (microwave, air conditioning, a tv, mainsail furling, water maker, bow thrusters or an electric windlass). We do have a manual windlass, a chartplotter (three in fact), and a fridge/freezer. And we have hot water on demand -- it's called a pot on the stove .

Far more importantly, we have a floating home that is comfortable and well equipped for long-duration independence. Large storage, big tanks, good anchoring gear (with the skills to use it), a composting head, and enough solar/wind to keep the batteries healthy. For entertainment we have our electronic gadgets to watch movies and check email (when connected). And we have a good dinghy, plus a couple of inflatable kayaks which come out when we're anchored in one place for a while.

One certainly doesn't need all the latest doodads and creature comforts to be comfortable and safe. Some people here get on just fine with far less stuff that I have (talk to Arcb for example). What you need to feel comfortable and safe can really only be answered by you.
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Re: What do you actually need on a boat?

Not going to be able to anchor out for long if you need to get ice and a hot shower every couple of days, and pulling the anchor by hand on a bigger boat gets old in a hurry.
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post #8 of 109 Old 12-28-2019
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Re: What do you actually need on a boat?

As long as it floats you don't need anything first year.

Many buy the boat 'fit it out' then sail off and in a year realise they fitted it out with 90% codswallop. Expensive codswallop at that.

By buying a boat thats more similar to your Canadian sailing style you might be able to afford a bit bigger boat, or one thats a bit newer.

I've had my boat for 12 years living on it fulltime. The water heater only worked with the engine. So I bought a plastic bag solar water heater for $20. Great!!
This year, after 12 years, I spent $1,000 on a new hot water heater I can now use at a dock. But docks are not on my plan for the next few years. Go figure!


So my advice is buy the boat you can. If it needs something you will know after your first year. Buy that bit of junk then. You'll save thousands

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post #9 of 109 Old 12-28-2019
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Re: What do you actually need on a boat?

Completely agree with Mark's wise words. Get a good, solid boat with all the basics, and then go out for a while and discover what you want and need. Ten cruisers or forum members will give you twelve different opinions on what you need. The best thing to do is go find out for yourself.

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Not going to be able to anchor out for long if you need to get ice and a hot shower every couple of days, and pulling the anchor by hand on a bigger boat gets old in a hurry.
Completely agree about the windlass for anything bigger than say a 32-footer. My previous 34-footer had no windlass, but I had a much younger back in those years. I appreciate my manual windlass.

One does not need a fridge or ice, but it certainly makes life more pleasant. Nice to have cold beer on hot days.

I've never owned a boat with a built in shower. I suppose I'd like it very much. We do just fine with a converted black bug sprayer. I used the bag for years, but prefer this approach because you can pressurize it, and it seems to get hotter, faster (similar to this one).

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Re: What do you actually need on a boat?

I don't mind cold showers. Spent three months in Mexico last winter and every place I stayed had cold water only. You don't mind it after a few days.
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