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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys and gals,

I've been thinking about living aboard for the past few years, and now that I'm at the point in my life where it may be possible I'm getting a little more aggressive and trying figure out if it will actually work before I go any further.

First, let me give you a little background. I work offshore in the Gulf of Mexico oilfield on a sub sea construction vessel. I work/ live on the boat for 28 days and come home for 14, though sometime in the next 6 months I hope to be switching to even time so will probably be working a 28/28 or 21/21 schedule. I'm 21 and still technically live at home in PA, though I don't end up spending much time there...

My ideal plan (I know, nothing ever goes as planned) would be to live about for the next 3-4 years until my fiance is out of college. At that point I foresee buying a house and no longer living aboard. My idea/ dream of living aboard isn't a plan to save money. I have enough money saved and was looking at houses last fall through this spring. However, I keep coming back to the live aboard and feel like it's something I at least have to try now before it's much harder in the future when I'm tied down with more responsibilities. Maybe I'll hate it and have to boat for sale after 6 months or maybe I'll do it for the rest of my life... that's the mystery I feel I need to solve before I can move on :).

So I've started looking at boats (online), marina's, locations, etc... Before I really can start calculating costs I'm trying to figure out what size range of boats I should be looking at. Something in the 30-40' range, but I realize that's a huge difference. Things like a Refrigerator, HW, heat, AC are pretty important to me, because if I'm not comfortable then I know it won't last. Then tank size seems to become an issue with the smaller boats, although I don't plan on doing any major offshore trips... I also don't plan on being at the dock all that often, so being able to be away from a dock for at least a few days is important to me. I'm also a pretty avid diver (just did 20+ dives in the FL Keys last week) so spending a day or two offshore diving would probably be a regular occurrence. I would probably be docking the boat somewhere near Baltimore, MD and sailing the upper Chesapeake bay during the school year to be close to my fiance (goes to college in Bmore) then doing some low-key crusing down the coast in the few months I would be home during the summer.

Without doing any crazy number punching I'm thinking I could spend around 30k on a boat figuring plenty of extra money for repairs and upkeep. I realize in this price range I'm definitely looking at a boat that needs some work, but I don't want a POS. I'm very mechanically inclined and don't feel any repairs/ work needed I couldn't do myself.

So, what do ya'll think? Looking for advice, opinions, criticism, etc... Just trying to figure out if it's within reach or not....

Thanks,
Austin
 

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Hi Austin,

At no point did you say you enjoy sailing. Have you considered a trawler rather than a sailboat? Room to hold the dive gear, comfort.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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Have to ditto Donna. Trawler makes more logistical sense. Though of course it's going to cost more upfront and to run.
 

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At your age, you would be neglectful to NOT do it.

Trawler 32' would be great for a close couple, sailboat would need to be 34-36' or well laid out. Lot of places on the bay, some more tolerant of liveaboards. A bit further out/away from the big boat centers....ie not Baltimore but pasadena or aberdeen/Harve de Grace...you get the idea.

All the best. The wife and I did a year on a Beneteau 36CC, then I did a year on a Marine Trader 36 double cabin (about twice the space of the Beneteau) working in the DC area on and off, while living in SW Va. Then we did a Hunter 42 that was really roomy, and the wife LOVED the full size berth in the aft cabin, AC was an arm length away.

Do it. Now.
 

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I'm am currently living aboard my yacht , it's a small 32 footer and I'm on a mooring . I get up at 4.30 am take my inflatable to the park where my car is , deflate boat , pack in car . Go to work . Come home via marina for shower , inflate boat , put outboard on 10 minute run to boat . Sit on my back deck with a coffee and watch the sun go down before cooking dinner . Wouldn't change a thing . I'm 52 , as said before , do it now , the worst that May happen is you love it and the dream of the house and white picket fence will fade into " have you seen that new 40 footer that's for sale dear " or not and you will know that you at least had a go .
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Sounds like a viable plan to me. I got into the sailing lifestyle by wanting to be a live-aboard first, and boater second. I actually preferred the idea of a powerboat in the beginning, but found sailboats were curiously cheaper. I agree with what Donna suggests about getting a trawler or powerboat of some kind as you get a lot more room, windows etc in a powerboat. There are lots of Tolleycraft boats around with gas engines that can be had really cheap for example.

What worked for me, and what I recommend for you, is to pick your marina first, then pick your boat. You need to verify that you CAN liveabord where you want to. With your schedule, you may also not need to register as a liveaboard, as some places have a "less than 50% of time aboard" definition of a liveaboard vs non liveaboard.

You also need to make sure the marina(s) you desire don't have long waiting lists. I found that in my area there were 3-4 year waits for 40ft slips but only 3 month waits for 30ft slips. It directed me to buy a 30ft boat. Go to the marinas that you think may be good ones, and find the liveaboards at the laundromat at the marina. Ask them how they like this marina vs others.

MedSailor
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Thank you everyone for the replies....


I have seriously thought of a trawler, but I think I would get bored with it... I currently own a 20' Center Console powerboat (set up for diving) and have owned a few small sailboats less than 20'. When on the sailboats it was as much about the journey as the destination, probably more. With the powerboat, although I enjoy going fast, it's almost always about getting from point A to B. I also don't like the idea of having to decide if I can afford to go on a trip by calculating the fuel consuption of a trawler...

MedSailer, Thanks for the advice on getting a Marina before a boat. I've read about people doing that and it seems to be the way to go. I thought about a mooring since I'll be gone for long periods of time, but I think that would get old pretty quick. If I'm not mistaken the boat would acutally be safer on a mooring when I'm gone? When I start looking into marina's I can see about the "liveaboard" status, since I'll be there less than half the time and I would hope to spend at least some of it away from the dock.

The more I look at different style and sizes of boats online I think I'll probably fall in the low 30' range. It seems like the 32-36' range is where they start to be more equiped for multi-day trips with bigger tanks, referigerators, etc...

Thanks,
Austin
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Take a close look at the beneteaus, Hunters and Catalinas. I would think that a transom that allows you to enter the water easily would be high on the list of necessities considering how important SCUBA diving is to you.

MedSailor
 

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Take a close look at the beneteaus, Hunters and Catalinas. I would think that a transom that allows you to enter the water easily would be high on the list of necessities considering how important SCUBA diving is to you.

MedSailor
This is true! If you plan on any scuba you want an open transom. Even just a sugar scoop would help, but an open transom will make your life much easier. The only problem is this means newer boat, and likely more expensive. I can imagine if you had to lug your gear over the back rail, then climb down the boarding ladder you might decide you did not really want to do it so much!
 

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I'll reiterate the "go for it" sentiments previously expressed. I wish I had gone with my instincts 30 years ago and bought a boat to live on........

As for what kind of boat to look for, you can get a lot of bang for your buck with older boats, and the old Morgan OI 33 is a great example of something within your price range that would make a very comfortable live-aboard (I have no connection to the seller of this boat, by the way):


1979 Morgan 33 Out Island Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

Good luck with your quest, and keep us in the loop on what you decide to do.
 

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Go for it.

I'd never set foot on a sailboat before, and bought one at the start of the year and moved onto it a month ago, after spending a few months completely overhauling all the systems.

My only regret is that I didn't do this years ago.
 

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Hi Austin,

Add me to the list of those encouraging you.

I do have some thoughts.

There are a number of marinas in Baltimore Harbor that allow liveaboards. First, since you are away so much of the time you may not need to label yourself as a liveaboard. When I traveled as much as you I "lived" on my boat in a no-liveaboard marina - since I wasn't aboard every night the marina considered me a frequent user and not a liveaboard. *grin*

You won't find much interesting diving in the Chesapeake. Visability is awful.

Things like a Refrigerator, HW, heat, AC are pretty important to me, because if I'm not comfortable then I know it won't last.
My thinking is much like yours. Refrigeration is easy - there are lots of good, low-power systems available. Hot water is also straightforward. Look at diesel heaters (Espar and Webasto) for heat. A/C pretty much requires a generator off the dock. At anchor or on a mooring, even very warm weather can be tolerated so you might try A/C only on shore power.

Being in Baltimore makes BWI readily available for commuting.

Leaping into liveaboard on a mooring might be a bit much. I'd recommend you start in a marina and see how it goes. I particularly suggest BMC by the Safeway and West Marine.

The things that drove a lot of my decision making in early days: water in the winter, laundry, WiFi or other Internet access, parking, quiet, access to groceries, and storage. YMMV.
 
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