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Best Boat to live in the harbor on

Discussion in 'Yacht Captains' started by GlobalMariner, Apr 3, 2020.

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  1. GlobalMariner

    GlobalMariner New Member

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    I am thinking about putting about $50K down, and then spending in total about $200-300K for a yacht that I can live on in one of the harbors in Southern California, Real estate is rather pricey out here. Condos in the area sell for $800,000, and do not really do anything (aside from go up in value, but when taxes, HOAs, carrying costs, etc. are figured in, they are really just sitting still). Or, I can go inland a bit and buy a home on land for the same price ($800,000), but those homes have so much metal on their doors and windows that one cannot tell them apart from the County Jail. No thanks.

    I would like to buy a nice, used but not too old, comfortable yacht for my wife and myself to live aboard. Obviously, the yacht will depreciate in value over time, and I will pay a harbor fee, but it is fine. I am trying to find a yacht that will at least depreciate as slowly as possible while we make use of it as a home and RV on the water.

    Am I right in figuring that a used, 40-42 foot catamaran is my best bet? Looking at Lagoon, Leopard, Seawind. Outremer is my favorite but they seem to be the priciest for what you get (and rightfully so, that design is so sleek).

    Any other manufacturers that I ought to look into? Or, should I be in a different class altogether? (some sort of powerboat, etc.)
  2. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I know this is a bit vulgar on this forum, but if you're not planning to cruise I'd go for a houseboat or even a house barge. There are some amazing ones out there. You'll have similar space and amenities as with a home, and they maintain their value better. Some are downright palatial. Understand though that living on a boat brings its own set of expenses and inconveniences starting with a holding tank to be regularly pumped out. It could be as little as 30 gallons as opposed to maybe thousands of gallons for a home septic tank. Salt air is hard on structures, so there's extra outside maintenance.
    Cats give you a good amount of deck space and salon area, but not so much in the stateroom and head areas. Personally my favorite style boat for living aboard is the old Hatteras' (80's- 90's) in the 50'-60' range. Tons of deck space, salon areas, big galleys and the staterooms are gorgeous. Their values are also quite stable and they fit within your budget.
  3. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    If you think living aboard will save you money you re in fr a rude awakening. Now if you love boating, use the boat and live aboard then yes... it makes sense which is what I ve been doing for almost 20 years now.

    dockage, insurance and maintenance is as costly if not more than a mortgage, condo fees and taxes, at least in Florida where property taxes increases on primary residence are capped at 2% a year. Not sure about the People Republic of Kalifornia :)

    finding dockage will be your biggest hurdle especially for a catamaran

    while 40/42 cats do over a reasonable amount of living space, they re still just above camping with cramped staterooms and heads along with limited storage and appliances.
  4. d_meister

    d_meister Senior Member

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    Before looking for a boat, you might try find a live-aboard slip. Very few to be had in California, due to Coastal Commission rules enforced on marina operators.
  5. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    Live aboard slips are slim to none and are 2 times the price of a standard slip. The wide beam catamarans are limited to end ties and those slips may or may not fall under live aboard status. Get the slip arranged first with an eye on a quick purchase.

    Length - 53 is the start of comfortable and 42 is cramped but can be done in a Grand Banks. Otherwise, stick to name brands like Hatteras, Bertram or Viking to slow depreciation although there are some other brands out west that do ok including Tollycraft, Californian and some Oceans. Mentally prepare to lose at least 50% of your purchase price when it is all said and done unless you find a steal.

    You just have to leave the mindset of the home buying-appreciation cycle and realize there is a lifestyle benefit to living on the water away from the condos or track homes that has a great value for those who love the water :)
  6. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Live aboard slips are hard to find on the east coast as well, so I can only imagine how it is in California. I think a lot of us grew up with the free-wheeling dream of living on a boat. The reality is that living on a boat is expensive, cramped, inconvenient and very limiting. One of those things that's better in fantasy than reality. Take a look at the fridge on any boat. That'll tell you what to expect. While I go to Costco you'll be buying the smallest, most expensive of everything, etc. etc.
    It is fun for awhile though, but mainly for singles. Good for vacation home too. Just remember that "boats are big holes in the water for you to fill with money". The joy of boats is in the cruising. I managed my career so that I only step on board boats that were going some place. The rest of the time I slept in my comfy bed in my comfy home.
  7. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    I've read about some beautiful houseboat communities in CA, but I'd bet that they match or exceed inland prices if the OP was fortunate enough to locate a vessel and slip for sale.
  8. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    I got interrupted and didn’t finish my previous post and I was leaving the best (or worst) for last: depreciation of a boat Vs real estate value increases

    I have no regrets when it comes to living aboard but the reality is that the $300k waterfront condo I sold back in 2003 is worth over twice that right now... the boat I bought $225k at the time is worth half... if that.
  9. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    He might end up living in a dock box. lol. Better he buys a condo or house.
  10. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    Ditto what they said, all true, but I really enjoyed my years living aboard.
    44’ sailboat, not too much space inside, but we stayed outside 95% of daylight hours, only inside to cook, sleep or fix the boat.
    Being in the Caribbean we sailed and cruised as much as possible, if that is not an option, you may get cabin fever pretty soon.
    Would I do it again? Yes, if I was young again, now 36 years later and need more room and less work: (Boats are maintenance hogs, they are like a baby, need constant attention and TLC, otherwise they go bad, fast.)
    As an old fart stuck in a marina, not so eager to do it again, unless the boat is roomy and not a piece of junk. (See above, old Hats, Betrams, etc would fit the bill.)
    As for sailing cats, they are great for sailing, but hard to find dockage for, have
    Friends with 39’ and 42’ cats, they ask me frequently to find them reasonable dockage in Fort Lauderdale, not an easy combination.

    Ditto depreciation, boats usually go down in price unless you keep them pristine @ high dollar amounts annually. (I had no idea before I bought my first boat, eye opener: Bought the tub in 1985 for $30k, put $30k into it, and sold it for $30k three years later)
    Had fun though, in my 20s with a young and wild wife, had an interesting job flying airplanes between the islands and enjoyed every minute of my live aboard days, mostly because I did not know much about boating and maintenance requirements, but learned really fast..

    I happen to be selling a waterfront condo in Fort Lauderdale right now, very good deal for you my friend, today only..:D

    PM for details, $150k.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
  11. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I prefer doing it my way. Spent 30 years cruising all over the east coast, on every kind of boat you can imagine, and never crossed a transom without green crossing my palm. As the saying goes, the best boat in the world is the one your friend owns. You have the fun and let him have the bills and headaches.
  12. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I tend to disagree with people on size. One boat I could live on is a 37' Silverton sidewalk, it has 2 room staterooms, head and showers are a good size, decent sized galley with an oven, decent sized refrigerator, nice covered aft deck, nice galley table. You could also use it for local inland boating and dockage should be reasonable.

    I've delivered 2 lagoon's long distances a 43' and 44'. Salon/galley area are ok...….master stateroom had king sized bed, BUT could only stand on the 2 bed sides, the forward staterooms had to climb high and get on the head of the bed, then turn around and put your feet forward, sucked. A Slip is a problem.
  13. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    That's bunks that will never be made and sheets that won't get changed till they walk off themselves. The Silvertons are nice, but as a full-time live aboard still tight for my tastes.
  14. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    This is why I completely changed the layout of my 53...

    I combined the master and midship staterooms and heads in one large master suite with centerline queen, a double sink and 5’ jacuzzi tub head

    forward I gutted the 70s vintage bunks and tiny head and build a centerline walk around full with hanging closet and vanity. Built a new head where the old dinette was (head is comfortable at 6’ x 4’). Old galley is a workshop for now but will be a third stateroom.

    build a new galley up in the back of the salon right by the aft deck. Full size green door fridge.

    the only trade off is that I reduced the size of the actual salon but it s still comfortable enough for 4 or 5 people which is plenty big since we have a huge aft deck (from back when hatteras knew how to built real aft decks ).

    For us it has become the perfect live aboard and 53 is easy to handle especially with pilot house doors on both sides.
  15. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    Hey, hey, ...my 42' Ocean which I lived on for three years in Phila, ice, snow, 20 degree weather etc. has a great layout ; queen bed aft stateroom with private head and shower, large open main saloon with built in sofa for 4 + large adults + two club chairs--room for six comfy seated adults. Full galley down with dinette for four; two refrigerators , oven , garbage disposer in galley sink, built in Thermador micro wave/oven. Forward state room with 6'6'' long vee- berth ,private head and shower both showers are roomy and on a flat surface no hull contours to deal with under foot. Is an easy boat to get around on with a free flowing layout.

    I agree you don't need to big of a boat for comfort. You just have to do your home work for your personal preferences and really look around on the net.
  16. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    My best buddy was a live aboard along with myself in Phila; his boat a 42' Grand Banks: at the dock interior wise it couldn't compare to my 42' Ocean sunliner. I had way more usable room, way better galley and more comfort for the owner and guests compared to the GB.
    Now at Sea, the GB is a much better, solid riding boat than my old Ocean. I would put Tollycraft right up there with Hatteras, Bertram or Viking IMO.

    All this being said, seems to me you want a sailboat and not a power boat?
    Sailboats tend to be less expensive to purchase it seems to me.

    Anyway do it! Try not to overthink it to much, but rather just enough so you don't make a big mistake.:)
  17. GlobalMariner

    GlobalMariner New Member

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    Yes indeed. I prefer the sailboat as the motorboats are such gas guzzlers. Only so much gas that those little engines on sailboats will consume, and I would prefer to rely on the wind to get me around.

    So the dilemma after further research is:

    Monohull (sailboat): easier to find a slip, very cramped for space/ nor really enjoyable to live on
    Cat (sailing version): finding a slip is a headache, great to live on depending on size

    I may just move inland a bit in SoCal and get myself a reasonable home for $200K or so. That would seem the reasonable thing to do. I do appreciate all the feedback though guys. Alot of great info in here, should I hit the lottery prior to deciding on the more traditional life.

    I do love the water, but not sure I am willing to sink the finances into enjoying it 24/7 minus when I am at work. Gotta think on it and see what develops during this time.

    Please keep the feedback coming, I am enjoying learning all these perspectives, and appreciate it.
  18. GlobalMariner

    GlobalMariner New Member

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    This might be the best option for me; just get the Captain license and make deliverie (which I think I would love, as I have lways loved driving motorboats, I just do not want to be the one footing the gas bill).

    So, rookie question. Is there a AAA equivalent on the water?

    Suppose I am delivering a 42 foot Sea Ray from LA to SF. It conks out halfways up the coast, I anchor, and then I "call WWW?" (the AAA equivalent for being on the water)?

    Every time I have lost power on motorboats, it was just, "Change the sparkplug and hope for the best," and the best was always on the other side.

    Is that how it works? Or not quite?
  19. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    UMMMM NO. That's not how it works. There is seatow and towboat U.S. which are both marine towing companies that sell annual memberships. Most of the time if something happens on a delivery you will be too deep to anchor. Why don't you try to get delivery jobs as a mate.
  20. GlobalMariner

    GlobalMariner New Member

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    US Sea Tow appears to operate exactly like AAA on the water (thank you for the details). I am trying to figure out how membership is different. Are there hidden charges in here that I am missing?

    I will try to get on board as a mate for those delivery jobs.