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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there guys, I'm new here just getting back into sailing. I grew up lake hopping in Michigan on a little 17 foot daysailer, and the only thing bigger than that I have had was a Catalina 22.

I'm sure this is the topic of a thousand threads but I'll be damned if I could find one.

I now live on Puget Sound and I'm looking to get something to liveaboard. I have my budget of $20,000 but I was wondering about whether I should look for the biggest boat I can afford (barring structural damage, I'm not afraid of doing some work and spending a few bucks to fix her up) or if I would be better off getting the newest boat with the best amenities and least work involved. I also often hear the philosophy about buying the smallest boat that you can live with. I dont mind small boats that are well equipped. I lived in a 20 foot shipping container in Afghanistan for 8 months, so I know what I can and cant get by with as far as creature features.

I'm not simply asking "whats the best boat", because thats been done a bazzilian times and the answer is the same: "Its up to you". I'm also not worried right now about simple add-ons like Chartplotters or other electronics.

I'm just wondering what would be the better choice here, for example:

Option 1:
1984 Jeaneau Arcadia 30
Nice equipment, not a lot of work needed. It is pretty much turn key. Has all the features on my wish list, but is a couple inches less headroom than I would like.
Has pressure hot and cold water
Fully enclosed head, shower easily added
Decent amount of storage.

Option 2:
1970 Columbia 36
Feels a lot bigger inside, quite a bit more headroom.
Lots of storage
Needs a lot of elbow grease to clean things up, and could use updates to a lot of the equipment.

These are just examples. I know that obviously you cant change the size of your boat, but at the same time, bigger is more expensive to maintain, keep in a slip and potentially tougher to get under way in light air. (I want to sail this thing, not just park it at the dock.) But when living aboard I'm sure any additional space will be appreciated.

So what do you guys think? Super basic: bigger or nicer if given the same price?
 

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You will always get the "it depends"! You talk about living aboard and not about sailing. What is your priority? One or both? If both, you have to balance one against the other. Space (whether good or bad) does not mean good sailing. Look at ratings, look at livable space, and see what works. Remember that anything loose that you add means you will sail less as it takes longer to prep.

Good Luck, and whether new or old, hope you are handy.Thanks for your service!
 

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Bombay Explorer 44
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Interesting conundrum.

In your position I think I would be looking for a slightly larger boat but one that had the big ticket items in reasonable condition [engine/mast/rigging].

As a fellow live aboard but in a warmer climate I value my storage and water tankage.

Just found that Columbia it looks like the right sort of boat for you to me, take 10,000 in Benjamins and count them out on his table.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the help on this guys, its something I've been debating for some time. I would like to say that my priorities are balanced between sailing and living, but lets be realistic. My Army contract is going to keep me from long distance cruising for the next two years or so. At the same time however, I have heard a lot of people living aboard a boat with too little performance miss out on a lot of sailing days because of light air. The Jeaneau Arcadia has a PHRF of about 150, and only displaces 6500 pounds so I bet it could hit hull speed in about 7 knots of wind. Obviously that will suffer as I pack it full of goodies, but I really dont have much stuff. Ive been living out of a duffle bag for the last couple of years, with my apartment looking extremely sparse.

The Columbia will be more comfortable the other 5 days a week, but weighs almost twice as much. Given my limited time to sail (weekends), I dont really want to pass up any saturday cruises that would be more pleasant on the smaller boat. But there is no substitute for a good nights sleep that comes with extra stability. And though elbow grease is free, my time is often not and I'm not sure how often I would be able to dedicate the required time to bring a boat back to a livable condition.

Again, thanks for the input guys.
 

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More to consider. The larger boat will likely have a more kindly motion and not just at anchor. I used to sail a pearson 30 which was a lot more fun to sail than my current boat, a roomy, 41' center cockpit ketch. However I really felt it after a day out on my pearson and the bigger boat is a lot smoother and quieter in the water, also tracks better. And when at anchor or dock the creature comforts of a water heater, shower, enough room to have a bit of privacy when sailing with others... All adds up to bigger is better in my book... at least to a certain point. I would not want to deal with the expenses and maintenance of the 60' Swan across the channel from me.
 

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The Jeaneau Arcadia has a PHRF of about 150, and only displaces 6500 pounds so I bet it could hit hull speed in about 7 knots of wind.
I'd expect more like 3.5 to 4 kts. above the beam and less off the wind. On a cruising boat 27 to 36 ft. I'd expect it to hit hull speed in 15kts. on the beam with a 110-135. It's hard to beat LWL, 5 kts. or 25 kts. if a 36 ft. boat can't outrun a 30 ft. something is seriously wrong.
Limited by budget and time if you want to spend your weekends sailing get a boat ready to sail. There's always an unlimited number of things that you could/should/would do to the best of boats. Clean and lube the mainsail track, flush the furler bearing drum, flush/lube everything with bearings, clean and check anti-siphon valves, clean & repair sails, canvas, cushions, brightwork, etc. etc. etc. A lot of stuff is like making your bed, seems like you just did it and it's undone again, some just happens. You wake up to discover an eagle made a nest on your masthead and he removed your antennae and wind transducer to do so.
Even the "newer" '84 has had 30 years in a saltwater environment, you'll find plenty to keep you busy on Saturdays.
As for headroom, well, anyone over 6 ft. just takes up too much space on a sailboat so boats are designed to discourage them. Some guys cut the handle off a toothbrush to save weight and space.;)
 

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First, be sure the budget busters, like sails, rigging, engines, hull, etc are not just acceptable in the moment, but have years of life remaining. Then I would get the most comfortable thing I could afford to live aboard. The rest can come in time.

Every single boat is an open money pit, so don't spend your last dime on her. Try to find one that's been pampered and worth more as a result. Even if you have to forgo some upgrades you may have wanted in exchange for a hull that has been properly maintained. You'll still have surprises, hopefully smaller ones.
 
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I wouldn't want to live on my boat for long, and it's not much smaller than the 30. Even a weekend camping out can feel cramped after a couple of days. Another vote for bigger. 40 feet (+2/-2) always strikes me as the right size/cost compromise if you will live aboard.
 

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bell ringer
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I did a poll once about what was more important: sailing performance or livability of a boats layout. People generally will not admit this, but the livability easily won.
 

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"But there is no substitute for a good nights sleep that comes with extra stability."
Bear in mind that if you are solo, and you are not under way, all boats will pretty much have the same stability at anchor in calm weather. There's no extra stability to be found in a heavier boat, when you're snug in harbor.

On headroom, I actually prefer "scrapes my head" so I'm not bumping into things, but if the boat is under way, I can just stiffen up my spine and wedge myself in place like a column. An enclosed head is always a good thing in the long run. Even in the short run if you're having new company aboard.(G) I don't know either of those boats but would bet the Jeanneau offers more than a decade of innovation in small things, compared to a fairly conventional older boat. If you're used to living out of a duffel bag, and the Jeanneau has more amenities and a lower upkeep...the worst that will happen is you can upgrade in two years when things change.
 

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Life is a wild ride!
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"But there is no substitute for a good nights sleep that comes with extra stability."
Bear in mind that if you are solo, and you are not under way, all boats will pretty much have the same stability at anchor in calm weather. There's no extra stability to be found in a heavier boat, when you're snug in harbor.

On headroom, I actually prefer "scrapes my head" so I'm not bumping into things, but if the boat is under way, I can just stiffen up my spine and wedge myself in place like a column. An enclosed head is always a good thing in the long run. Even in the short run if you're having new company aboard.(G) I don't know either of those boats but would bet the Jeanneau offers more than a decade of innovation in small things, compared to a fairly conventional older boat. If you're used to living out of a duffel bag, and the Jeanneau has more amenities and a lower upkeep...the worst that will happen is you can upgrade in two years when things change.
I'm so glad you mentioned this! I never really looked at headroom in this light but I guess it would be like having a 3rd hand when you're working at something in the cabin.
 

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Barquito
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I can't imagine living 24/7/365 in a place that does not have standing head room. I would, however, sacrifice some headroom if the emphisis was more on cruising.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
"But there is no substitute for a good nights sleep that comes with extra stability."
Bear in mind that if you are solo, and you are not under way, all boats will pretty much have the same stability at anchor in calm weather. There's no extra stability to be found in a heavier boat, when you're snug in harbor.

On headroom, I actually prefer "scrapes my head" so I'm not bumping into things, but if the boat is under way, I can just stiffen up my spine and wedge myself in place like a column. An enclosed head is always a good thing in the long run. Even in the short run if you're having new company aboard.(G) I don't know either of those boats but would bet the Jeanneau offers more than a decade of innovation in small things, compared to a fairly conventional older boat. If you're used to living out of a duffel bag, and the Jeanneau has more amenities and a lower upkeep...the worst that will happen is you can upgrade in two years when things change.
You bring up some good points on this and are absolutely right about the Jeanneau and innovation. Aside from actual space, it does have a lot of "Big Boat" creature features like pressurized hot and cold fresh water. That was a big thing for me. Not a lot makes it feel like camping more than shaving with ice cold water in the morning. :mad: Though it is small, I think that it would be good to help me keep costs down and condition up. And this I think will allow me more time to actually sail around the Sound when I have the opportunity. I still will have my fairly good shore side job, so I'm not having to totally worry about every penny that goes into it like some that earn a living from a laptop dockside. More power to them!

The owner of the Jeanneau loves his boat, and doesnt really want to sell it but he had a stroke on it last year and is no longer able to sail it. Some things have aged a bit; the lines look a bit rough and some brightwork needs to be done but I'm not afraid of that. He has done a great job of keeping her dry inside with a dehumidifier and all of the through-hulls appear to be rock solid. Bilge was dirty, but dry. Makes me think that it was not sponged out prior to me looking at it, and I'm getting to see the boat in its true condition.

Let me know what you think, and thanks again for all the replies with great guidance!
 

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In this instance, I'd vote. size
You can always fix/refinish/refit a boat.
You cannot make it bigger; regardless how much you clean/polish !
 

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69' Coronado 25
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If you plan on selling it in two years and moving to a cruising boat you might want to consider the resale value too. The Jeanneau might still have value to loose but the Columbia is at bottom value so anything you do to it could add value to it. It seems that a hot shower is important and there are a number of instant on hot water heaters that will work on a boat. Consider all systems such as sails, rigging, electrical, plumbing, deck layout, etc... Headroom is a small factor unless you want to do jumping jacks or your 6 ft. and your boat has 5 ft. headroom.
 

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I wouldn't want to live on my boat for long, and it's not much smaller than the 30. Even a weekend camping out can feel cramped after a couple of days. Another vote for bigger. 40 feet (+2/-2) always strikes me as the right size/cost compromise if you will live aboard.
Our Pearson 28-2s are larger than many 30' boats in interior space due to the double quarterberth and aft head layout. The Arcadia is only 1' longer and has the same interior layout, but it does have a little more beam and probably feels a hair larger but with less standing room.

I have spent up to 4 weeks in a row on my 28-2 and was very comfortable, but I'm not sure that I'd want to live on it. I wouldn't want to shower on it, boats are damp enough already in Puget Sound and adding more moisture inside boats will just make it worse.

Puget Sound is a light air venue, if the OP also cares about sailing performance then I'd go for the better light air boat, which in this case is probably the Arcadia. Depending on where on Puget Sound they are located moorage for a 36' boat is also going to be over $1000 more per year than the 30' boat.

At a $20k budget I'd expect to find a 36' boat that will need $10-$20k of work over the next couple of years, or a 30' boat that is in very good to excellent condition that only needs minor improvements. Personally I'd go for the latter.
 

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Hi there guys, I'm new here just getting back into sailing. I grew up lake hopping in Michigan on a little 17 foot daysailer, and the only thing bigger than that I have had was a Catalina 22.

I'm sure this is the topic of a thousand threads but I'll be damned if I could find one.

I now live on Puget Sound and I'm looking to get something to liveaboard. I have my budget of $20,000 but I was wondering about whether I should look for the biggest boat I can afford (barring structural damage, I'm not afraid of doing some work and spending a few bucks to fix her up) or if I would be better off getting the newest boat with the best amenities and least work involved. I also often hear the philosophy about buying the smallest boat that you can live with. I dont mind small boats that are well equipped. I lived in a 20 foot shipping container in Afghanistan for 8 months, so I know what I can and cant get by with as far as creature features.

I'm not simply asking "whats the best boat", because thats been done a bazzilian times and the answer is the same: "Its up to you". I'm also not worried right now about simple add-ons like Chartplotters or other electronics.

I'm just wondering what would be the better choice here, for example:

Option 1:
1984 Jeaneau Arcadia 30
Nice equipment, not a lot of work needed. It is pretty much turn key. Has all the features on my wish list, but is a couple inches less headroom than I would like.
Has pressure hot and cold water
Fully enclosed head, shower easily added
Decent amount of storage.

Option 2:
1970 Columbia 36
Feels a lot bigger inside, quite a bit more headroom.
Lots of storage
Needs a lot of elbow grease to clean things up, and could use updates to a lot of the equipment.

These are just examples. I know that obviously you cant change the size of your boat, but at the same time, bigger is more expensive to maintain, keep in a slip and potentially tougher to get under way in light air. (I want to sail this thing, not just park it at the dock.) But when living aboard I'm sure any additional space will be appreciated.

So what do you guys think? Super basic: bigger or nicer if given the same price?
If it were me, I'd opt for the standing headroom. Maybe they'll both allow you to stand. And if you're buying the boat to live aboard at the dock, the priorities are different than if you think you might be voyaging. Strictly for living aboard, size matters!
 

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I think the that "age versus condition" is pretty much irrelevant, condition (including equipage) is the only consideration.

Until a boat hits 30 years old, at which point finance and insurance may become impossible for a new owner. Regardless of condition.

Age? One boat in charter use or constant cruising, can put on ten years worth of wear compared to the average weekend-use boat in one year. One owner who follows maintenance schedules, waxes the topsides, washes their sails, versus another who rides it hard and puts it away wet.

In real estate they say "location, location, location" in used boats I would change that slightly to say "condition, condition, condition". Because the important stuff, the hull, the mast, the engine, all don't have 'clocks' per se. And the standing rigging is a consumable item in any case.
 

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1974 Cal 29
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Can you not actually stand fully erect on the Arcadia? I sold my first keelboat because my head rubbed or banged everywhere but under the hatch. My current boat has *just* enough headroom that I don't hit anywhere, but I could touch my head if I went up on my toes. I don't need any more, and for a bachelor pad, the size (29') is just right for me.

If you can stand up on the Arcadia, that is the boat I'd recommend. It sounds like you'll be able to spend more time enjoying the boat than having to fix it.
 
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