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post #1 of 9 Old 12-05-2016 Thread Starter
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Question Couple reacquainting with sailing, ISO best vessel for live aboard

Hi everyone. For starters, my normal M.O. for research on any subject is to do Google searches and watch subject-appropriate videos, but this endeavor requires much more wisdom from experiences of those who thrive in the lifestyle we wish to align ourselves with. That said, my wife and I will be transitioning from a house full of teenagers to an empty house within the next 2 years.
I used to sail every summer with my parents and their friends (probably 25 years ago) and my wife grew up on Lake Ontario and loves the water. We both desire to do some sailing while living aboard, maybe abroad, and are beginning our pursuit of obtaining a used boat versatile enough for both uses. So far I've read "The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat" and have had my eye on a 2008 Hunter 38, but I want to have other options.
I would like to open up a discussion about the ideal live aboard/costal cruiser. Please feel free to weigh in and moderators, please notify if this thread should be move to a more appropriate forum. Thanks in advance.

Ben
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-06-2016
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Re: Couple reacquainting with sailing, ISO best vessel for live aboard

There is no ideal boat. Every boat has trade offs. Lots of boats can do what you want but there are better and worse choices for you & your plans. You will get some widely varying opinions.

There have been a few similar discussions here but you'll probably get useful feedback if you can help us out with 3 questions:

1. What? What do you want to do with the boat? Sail a ton, take some vacations, hang out in neat places indefinitely, run away from winter? What does living aboard mean to you? What level of comfort are you expecting? Hot showers, A/C, refrigeration, lots of space, staying in marinas frequently vs anchoring out, ...

2. Where? Anywhere in particular that you want to go? There's a huge difference between the boat I'd pick for Florida <-> Bahamas vs logging thousands of miles in the Caribbean annually vs heading through Panama and beyond.

3. Who? Other than you & your wife, will you have anyone else aboard regularly? Expect friends & family to visit? How many at a time? For how long?

If you have an idea of your budget for the boat and your travels, that'd help people make useful suggestions too.


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post #3 of 9 Old 12-06-2016
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Re: Couple reacquainting with sailing, ISO best vessel for live aboard

What she said.
In addition you might want to book a couple of charters to try out some different boats. On a 32' boat you might be cramped but it is less likely to overpower you when push comes to shove. On a 45' boat, you'll have lots more space but everything is a more physical task. Including finding and paying for dockage. And bigger often means more draft, which constrains your sailing area.
A nice wide open comfy salon feels just great on the dock, but in a rough sea you may be happier with a narrow that that can't throw you quite as far when it bounces around.
Really, once you've spent some time (both of you) you'll probably settle into a particular size. "Just enough" plus a couple of guest berths is likely to do it.
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post #4 of 9 Old 12-08-2016
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Re: Couple reacquainting with sailing, ISO best vessel for live aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Ellis View Post
... We both desire to do some sailing while living aboard, maybe abroad, and are beginning our pursuit of obtaining a used boat versatile enough for both uses. ...
You'll need a boat that will safely get you across an ocean or buy a boat overseas and keep it there for sailing vacations. If the latter, that's another set of research you'll need to do.

There's no ideal boat. There will be compromises. You have to figure out which compromises you are willing to live with.

I've said this before on this forum, but our philosophy is to buy and sail the boat that we intend to use NOW and to sail the boat that's designed for where are located. Although it works for some people, we aren't interested in buying a boat designed for coastal sailing and spending time and money to try to turn it into a boat that can go offshore. There are too many compromises involved with doing that. One of those compromises is hull design and there's absolutely nothing we can do to change that. We'd rather buy a boat designed to sail where we want to sail and go sailing.

Our goal is to purchase a boat overseas and do some high latitude sailing, but until we build our skill level and figure out work schedules, we're sailing a boat that is just fine for where we live and can sail to places within our respective amount of vacation days. The important part is that we're sailing, getting experience and not sitting around only reading books and dreaming about sailing. It also allows us to fine tune what each of us wants in the next boat. We charter boats which allows us to become less nervous about sailing in unfamiliar areas, determine just how large a boat we think we can each handle alone (in an emergency), and continue to fine tune our Needs and Wants lists. While still sailing. We also sail with friends who have different boats and this does the same.

At this point we know what boat will be our Next Boat but each new experience helps to reaffirm our decision.

It really is a fun journey if sailing is important to you. Best of luck to you and your wife.
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-08-2016
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Re: Couple reacquainting with sailing, ISO best vessel for live aboard

As ChristinaM said, there is no ideal boat.
That said, some are more suited to your needs than others. But only you know your needs. Coming from a big house, would you actually be comfortable on a 38' boat? Or would this boat be a stepping stone for a larger move when you are ready to go offshore?
What I suggest you look for first is comfort. Is this a boat you could be comfortable living in 24/7 even in a rolly anchorage? Or would you retire to your bed or go ashore? Can you cook a decent meal in the galley, at anchor or at sea?
Next is ventilation. Will this boat have adequate ventilation especially in warmer climates? What will it be like cooped up inside on a rainy day? Then there's storage. If you are living aboard you need LOTS of that.
Then I would look at sailing performance and that sort of thing. All but the most ardent ocean sailors spend about 90% of their time NOT sailing. This brings us right back to your boat being a comfortable place to live.
How it's equipped is all fine and dandy, but electronics go out of date so fast that I couldn't care less how much and fancy a boat's electronics are, they are of no consequence when I consider price. A good windlass, winches, good sails etc. are important, but not deal breakers as they can be replaced, which needs to be factored into the offer price.
Last and almost of no importance to me is the looks of the boat. I've known way too many people who have fallen in love with a boat's looks and ignored all the really important things and come to sincerely regret it. Nobody wants an ugly boat, but really, you can't even see her when you are aboard or sailing. If she's making good easting between a couple of Caribbean islands in 35 knots of wind and it's still comfortable enough below to whip up a nice lunch, you certainly aren't going to be thinking about her looks, I don't think. Some of the most beautiful 35 to 45 footers out there, designed by old Nat, haven't the headroom for a person over 5' to stand up in!
The best thing to do is rent a bunch of bare boats, charter the few you've narrowed it down to for a day (with their owners if private), and try your best to find a boat that suits YOUR needs. All boats are a compromise, unless you've an unlimited budget and build to your specifications.
None of us on here can help you with this process other than to say that this boat or that is not well built and even that is someone's personal opinion.
Good luck.

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Last edited by capta; 12-08-2016 at 01:44 PM.
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post #6 of 9 Old 12-09-2016
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Re: Couple reacquainting with sailing, ISO best vessel for live aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Ellis View Post
So far I've read "The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat" and have had my eye on a 2008 Hunter 38, but I want to have other options.
I read that back when I got interested in boating and feel it is a terrible book for for you!!! But far as you boat choice it is good cruiser liveaboard boat. As others have said the goal is to get a boat for the use you plan to use it for. That's where forums work aganist you and if you spend time on them they will work to talk you out of that nice Hunter and into some old dark leaking boat. I know I was there and fell for it and had to find my way back into the light.

Good luck.

Don't blow air up my rear, be useful and blow it at the sails!
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post #7 of 9 Old 12-09-2016
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Re: Couple reacquainting with sailing, ISO best vessel for live aboard

Donna's advice is exactly right IMHO. We've been at it 40 or so years, and are now in our 5th boat. That hunter would be fine as a first boat and a great vehicle to help you figure out what you want to do next. What you "want" in a boat changes radically with your sailing goals, and your sailing goals only become clear when you own a boat and use it for some time.

What I wouldn't do is sell the farm, put all your money in what seems like the ultimate boat, and set off for the blue, although that has worked for some here who will undoubtedly post their opinions. What I would do is leg into the sailing world with an investment size that reasonable for you, go sailing for a while, extend your range over time, have some fun, and figure out what you really want. If you don't buy something too new, you'll only loose operating costs, cause you'll sell boat one for what you paid. That's the good news. The bad news is that operating costs quickly overwhelm purchase price, but even that is part of the experience.

But you only go around once....so do it, and good luck!
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Re: Couple reacquainting with sailing, ISO best vessel for live aboard

I don't really think there is a perfect set of criteria. When I purchased my current live aboard/cruising style sailboat (which I no longer live on, but still own and voyage with), I was already living and voyaging on a smaller boat (a 30 footer). I wasn't exactly sure what features I wanted, so I looked closely at a lot of very different boats. The internet hadn't really occurred to me as a possible resource, so all of my research was done by finding boats on bulletin boards etc, and then going to see them to see what they were really all about. I did have a maximum budget, which I really didn't have any wiggle room on.

My advice would be to look at a bunch of boats, have some idea of your maximum parameters (size and cost for example) and pick a boat that feels right for you, you probably will know it when you see it. If you are drawn to something like a Hunter 38 specifically, then look at a bunch of them (in person) and compare what each one offers in terms of features, condition and price.

In my opinion, boat choice isn't always going to be some kind of formula calculating every efficiency. It will be heavily influenced by your wants, needs, perspective, personality, abilities, sailing style and preference.

As it turns out for me, I was very happy with my boat choice, in the years since I purchased her I have lived aboard in different locations, sailed lots of miles and visited enough ports and wilderness anchorages to learn her weaknesses and her strengths. Most of the weaknesses she has I have learned to either compensate for or live with and I think many boat owners feel the same way.

Last edited by Arcb; 12-09-2016 at 11:38 AM.
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post #9 of 9 Old 12-09-2016
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Re: Couple reacquainting with sailing, ISO best vessel for live aboard

Benjamin hasn't returned since he started the thread. Hopefully someone else passing by will benefit from the responses.

Donna


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