liveaboard: Cal 27 VS Catalina 27 - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 15 Old 04-03-2009 Thread Starter
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liveaboard: Cal 27 VS Catalina 27

Sailnet, this is my first post. I confess to the sin of not lurking moar, but i couldn't find a answer to my question on google so i'm not sure it was asked. Come to think of it, i haven't found ANY mention of anyone living on a cal 27!

I'm looking for a boat I can live on. In the area i see a late 70's jensen cal for sale, as well as a late 70s catalina. I've seen both types, but not the particular boats. I'll share with you my rationale and perhaps you could help me tip the balance to one side with your knowledge.

From what i've seen in previous boats of the type, the cal has disturbingly little storage space at first blush, but comes with insulated bulkheads, a door for the head, a holding tank for the head (seems important to me). There's a mind-numbing amount of extra space under the cockpit hatches, perhaps stuff could be put there with some degree of inconvenience and invention. Perks like a ship to shore radio, sound system. This is just from an hour of looking at one.

I know someone who owns a catalina, I've cleaned sailed and scraped it and i imagine i could live on one IF i got a holding tank for the head, which that one didn't have. There's many more places to put stuff, there's a quarter berth that looks like a good place to sleep. No head door, no insulation.

Do late 70s catalinas conventionally come without a waste tank? Do cals normally come with? Did i miss some storage potential in the cal? Am I overlooking some relative convenience or reliability in either vessel?

Regarding my needs, I want to live on it and sail it. Climate where i live is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. I'm ok with small spaces but i'm not a buddhist monk, there's an amount of stuff that i just have to have.

Also, atomic 4 vs yanmar diesel?

Last edited by nailbunny; 04-03-2009 at 10:39 AM.
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post #2 of 15 Old 04-03-2009
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You've set a tall order.

Living aboard a small boat takes a special sort. Lack of storage is just part of it. By the sounds of your climate, you're going to need some serious cabin heat in winter (unless there's a typo there) and few smaller boats will have that.(but you can add it)

As to the holding tank, few boats of that vintage came with holding tanks, but many have been retrofitted, so you could too - at the expense of storage space, of course.

You may need to reassess the amount of stuff you "just need to have"

As far as to engines, there are thousands of A4s around, parts are available, they are smooth, quiet and powerful. Diesels are noisier, rough running in small sizes, but provide better resale potential as the market and insurance carriers favour diesel engines, primarily for the safer fuel storage situation.

Either boat will be a challenge to live aboard, but certainly people have done so with less.


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post #3 of 15 Old 04-03-2009
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Welcome to Sailnet, dude.

I have a C27. If you don't mind a pretty spartan existence - it's doable. But it's seriously tight. And there is nothing like a closet...just a small hanging locker and under-seat stowage. I would compare it to living in one of those tiny "Scamper" trailers you've seen around. It's really glorified camping.

One important item will be the stove (if you want to eat). Ours has an old alcohol stove that we won't use. At some point I'll replace it with a propane job.

Then there are the water lines. In boats this old, unless they've been cared for and used frequently - they can get really nasty. So, even if the sewage lines are in good shape, if you want sink water, etc. pay attention to that as well.

Also, ours did come with a waste tank which is located under the dinette seat.

Apart from that, I'd agree with Faster that heat is going to be a big deal. Let us know how it turns out.
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post #4 of 15 Old 04-17-2009
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i have a 1980 catalina 27 and i too liveonboard at least during the week. i find i have plenty of storage space under both settees and i have made shelves under the vberth. it is a little small but im only 5ft8 so headroom isnt an issue. judy's catalina site has great storage ideas that im slowly getting worked into my boat. its gets quite cold here in the winter but i use a little caframo 110 heater to heat the cabin as well have a dickenson propane heater on the bulkhead. catalina's arent insulated so you need to work a little harder keeping it heated. one of the biggest heat losses i have found is the companionway hatch. i have made up some covered round foam inserts that work great to seal off the draft and using storm plastic on the inside of the windows helps alot too.
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post #5 of 15 Old 04-17-2009
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As for a stove - check this out. I have two of them and they're great. Butane burns hotter than hell (store the bottles in a rail-bag), and they're a lot cheaper than a propane installation.

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post #6 of 15 Old 04-17-2009
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Alright, I'll try that again.
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post #7 of 15 Old 04-17-2009
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Hi... It's all relative re the size. I'm shopping for a liveaboard/cruiser and I know I want to keep it under 30 for many financial reasons. Would I love bigger, yes, but with every foot of LOA $$$$$$.
Are you planning to insure boat at least for liability? ask a couple of insurance brokers to give you quotes on the boats with and without diesel.

I live in a similiar climate and if my boat doesn't have insulation I will retrofit as much as possible. I want to be WARM even if I am squished.

Let us hear about your progress !

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post #8 of 15 Old 04-17-2009
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Newport 30 VS The World

Wow. I thought this post died, yet it was reanimated when i wasn't looking.

Now i'm far enough along in a deal that I'd like to say my location is near the Chesapeake, and due to circumstances, this thread's title became obsolete.

You see, i really meant to get a 27. It's all i can really afford, and I saw my dad's catalina 27 and i could imagine living on it. BUT THEN the market reared its ugly head and some guy offered to sell me a ---- for a price that was too good to pass up. So along with my first boat comes my first loan. And with something that size, i need a survey, long story short i'm spending a hell of a lot more money than i thought i would. "it's an investment", i tell myself.

This thing's got propane oven and range, head, water heater, universal diesel. I've lined up a haul powerwash and survey (and a captain, the owner is too busy to pilot it for the sea trial). The one thing that has me vexed is I very well can't paint the bottom on a survey haul, so I'll have to reach into my pockets for a second haul since i'm assuming they'll most likely pressure wash off large amounts of bottom paint. I'd like to wish the barnacles away for a while between those two hauls while my banking account comes up for air, but I don't know how long I have.

As for insurance, I haven't a clue. I figure i'm living on the damn thing, so I probably need more than liability. A wiser friend says I need towing. The boat was struck by lightning once before, so I'll have to make sure i have St. Elmo's Fire coverage... I tried to get a 'quote' from boatus and was subjected to the second most intense barrage of questions i've ever seen in my life, that will leave me calling the current owner and asking him personal questions. Does a dinghy with an outboard obviate tow service?

It's all quite exasperating but allowing for $1k a year maintenance, I still save money vs renting a room in a house full of bozos. I'm open to more realistic maintenance estimates, but afaik the vessel is pretty damn well maintained so far. Cost points to watch out for, i'm all ears. I'm all about TCO.

I've been lurking the sailnet forums every bit of the way. I'm fascinated with the idea of wind and solar. -rant- The effectiveness and solar and wind thread has the worst noise to signal ratio i've ever seen, by the way, I humbly submit that that entire thread is wiped out and restarted in an attempt to approach its original intention. -/rant- I'd like to run biodiesel in the universal.

I'm a bit dismayed by the heating equipment others have acquired. I thought I could get by on a space heater, but it seems that electric heaters are more of an accessory to a marine heating system, even on smaller craft. The thought of a naked flame onboard, almost assuredly close to something flammable, scares me as much of the thought of sleeping without the heat on.

Working name ideas

Naughty name ideas, guaranteed to break the ice at naughty parties.

Silly name ideas:
Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel
Wind Dancer'); DROP TABLE Vessels;

most likely i've done a horrible disservice to future googlers to not split all these ideas among logically organized threads, but hey, you asked for an update.

Last edited by nailbunnySPU; 02-14-2011 at 05:36 PM.
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post #9 of 15 Old 04-17-2009
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hey congrats on the new boat. yup your going to find many little new changes to your lifestyle pocketbook and especially insurance and regulations. but coming from a fellow liveaboard trust me its all worth it.
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post #10 of 15 Old 05-08-2009
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We just moved on our 1971 C27 Dinette. It was the cheapest and most practical of the boats we looked at. We used to have a C27 standard layout and loved how the boat performed and parts where always available and cheap. It's a Toyota on the water.
I did the following to the our C27 Dinette:
- Instant hot water - shorepower (we have an outboard)
- New holding tank - V-birth 20 gallon
- New/additional water tanks
- Propain heater - bulk head
- Added 12v fans for air circlation
- Changed lights to LED

Planning on purchasing a full cockpit enclosure before winter. This will increase our living space for winter.

Living on the boat is myself, wife and 2 kids (6yr/3mth). Daughter sleeps in port quarter berth, boy has a crib set up on the starboard quarter birth. Boy sleeps the whole night, the boat rocks him to sleep.

How we do it:
1 week cloths onboard, we use ziplock backs for each day of cloths that do not have to be hung(keeps moisture out of socks and underware). We have only 1-2 days of meals on board (we eat lots of fresh foods). Simplify, Simplify, Simplify, No CD's or DVD's (all digital, ipod and AVI's), We did spoil our selves and kept the wii, but guitar hero had to go bye, bye.
We use a stoarge unit for all other clothing and dry foods, like a pantry. It is a climate controled unit and we have full enclosure hanging racks for clothes. We do have monthly "Land Vacations" as we call them. We will book a weekend at a hotel and take long showers and sleep in a king size bed.

We have simplified because I expect to be layed off next year. We are saving and we know we'll need a bigger boat in 2-3 years. Friends though we where nuts. We love it. We are saving a $800 a month by not paying rent for an apartment, plus another $250 from utilities. I grew up on a sailboat with a brother and there was a family of 4 living on a J/24. If you can simplify, you can do it.

There are always CON's with this life:
Bed is tight, get's cold in winter. Someone said C27 is not insulated, very true. We are working on idea's to insulate, but summer is coming
We owned a house and had a freezer in the basement and had lot's of food, now it's lot less and we hit the store almost daily. I miss the oven, I loved to bake, but that's why we have family who live on land, lol.

It took my wife 3 years to "WANT" to move onto a boat. Took her another year to say she wants a C27 again. We loved our old C27.

Good luck with you decision. You'll love living on the water. I can not tell you how priceless the view is when you wake up and drink your firsh cup of coffee in the cockpit.
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