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Date: 1 July 2016. Boat Buying Decisions (what is important?)


Often folks come online with basic questions. "What boat should I buy? How much does it cost? Can I live well on a small budget?" These are Normal for those in the beginning stages of exploring the life I live. One has to have a point to start refining wants, needs and desires. Buying a floating home is a major investment. Spending wisely is the goal.

Who wouldn't like a view like this? (Photo by Irene on Katja)

I love my girl and she's just 23' long. Truth to tell though a bit longer would have afforded me more space for Stuff. And a girl has to have her stuff. For me being comfortable means I'm happy. I truly love my home.

Roughing it is for kids. I do decadence.

Lockers full of high quality food equals great meals at anchor or while at a dock.

In my canned goods locker I have a stash of delicious items. There is a jar of home-canned applesauce from my friend Lynn on In Ainneoin I am saving for a holiday. I have pork, chicken, stuffed green peppers and even a few peanuts for roasting.

This year I preserved blackberries, made a rather runny blueberry sauce (tastes yummy on chicken) and some not-so-terrific strawberries.

My strawberry preserves are not red. Though the taste is okay they are not as good as the jar my friend Louise in Carrabelle gave me. Her sister had canned it. I still have a smidgen left. It is for savoring and I will be Very sad when the jar empty.

Side Note: Stuffed green peppers are a favorite. If you would like to can some like mine visit the Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Peppers (new canning theory) page. I love them.

Preparing stuffed peppers is time consuming. The end result
is worth the effort. Much like boating... we work to play.

Serious advice: IF you are planning to live life off the grid you'll need a flat surface (large topside) that you can use for solar panels. This is something to keep in mind as you search vessels.


Buying solar panels should be a later item in the budget. Folks living mostly in marinas will not need solar panels. Save your money for the near-term needs.

Those who desire a step by step primer on having electricity off the grid should read the Solar, Batteries and an Inverter piece. Now I am not an expert so do not expect techno-babble. That article details what works for me.

Make sure you like boating before
you fully outfit your floating home.

Schucker made just six of my little boat. When I spotted her I knew I had The One. She was cute. The boat had great living space. She met many of my requirements. Seaweed did not tick off all the boxes in my list. I knew that over time I could make her mine. She would be nearly perfect.

Except for the stuff that is broken or needs upgrading, replacement, etc. Seaweed is spectacular.


These were my concerns/wishes/desires:


#1) Safety. I wanted to be inside the boat, imagining myself going forward to the bow in a thunder-boomer to check the anchor. (Seaweed is not so good at this aspect)

#2) No gasoline engine. (I bought a gasser, and have swapped engines. Do not ask. It was UGLY.)

#3) I wanted to entertain guests without them seeing my bunk. Men are men, you know? Entertaining new acquaintances in my boudoir would be uncomfortable for me.

#4) I wanted to be able to use the head privately. My head is down below next to my bunk.

#5) Inside shower. Displaying all in the cockpit for a sun shower will not work for me. I do rinse off outside after I have been swimming. Then I go below for my shower.

#6) I needed the head close to my bunk. I am at that age when using the head overnight is a regular part of interrupted sleep.  Some small boats tuck the head into a corner of the salon. Getting up, getting dressed, walking through boat just to tinkle wasn't going to be a good plan.

#7) Plentiful locker space for my Stuff. I wanted room for not just tools. I have a sewing machine and quilting supplies, oil paints, beads, silk floss, etc. Room to store my hobby gear was important.

#8) An adequate weight for me meant more than 5,000 pounds. The weight to length ratio is often an indicator of build quality. Generally speaking, heavier is better. [Sailors who enjoy buoy racing of course would opt for a lighter boat to get that added speed on race day.]





Equipment Wish List:

  • Oversized anchor with all chain rode.

  • Windlass to raise and lower anchor.

  • Watermaker.

  • Solar Panels.

  • Battery Bank.

  • Wind Generator.

  • Autopilot.

  • Tuna door.

  • Hard-bottom dinghy.

  • Stove and refrigerator.


Seaweed lacked everything except the stovetop and refrigerator in my secondary/nice-to-have list. The anchor was inadequate, there were no solar panels, no wind generator, no autopilot, etc. She came with two batteries. They were old and barely held a charge.

Structurally she had good bones and I knew that over time I could add items to increase my decadence level. Now, finally, eight years into the journey I have an AMAZING boat.


Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you have the patience to build infrastructure over time? I did not have the budget freedom to install all that I desired from the get-go.

    Side Note:  Even if you do have the funds I would still advise you spend some time living aboard your new-to-you boat at a marina. Acclimate yourself to this life.  Things you are certain you require might not be so important once you are out here.

    I was Positive that a hot water heater must be aboard my boat. In that regard I spent $250 to buy a water heater and ended up selling it a couple years later to Edwin for $50. Be smarter than I was and wait for major purchases.

  2. Caltexflanc on TrawlerForum said "Even as we sit here quietly at the dock, enjoying our drinks, things are breaking." How is your frustration level? Patience?

    Last Friday I took Seaweed for a spin. We were gone from the dock for a few hours and all was well. On Tuesday I wanted to meet my new friend Tracy and her family at McDonald's. The alternator belt was slipping so I ended up hitching a ride with Mr. Uber.

    Add to List: Tighten alternator belt.

  3. Planning and boats do not go hand in hand. We have ideas of what would be nice. Implementation has inevitable issues. I "go with the flow" and enjoy the ride. Others start twitching and are really miserable. What sort of person are you?

  4. Do you have the ability and inclination to attempt repairs? If not, do you have the means $$$ to pay someone to make the problem go away?

    Even if you do not want to do the job yourself you would be well advised to know how it should be done. Not all service people are honest so knowing the fundamentals is important. Purchase Calder's Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4the Edition after you get your boat.

Seaweed is just about perfect except for the
stuff that is broken, needs upgrading or tweaking.

Two things are next/upcoming in this year and 2017 if all goes according to my plan:

  1. I would LOVE a small autopilot that will drive my girl on a compass course. That would cost about $2,000. I have to find one that will fit in my Very Limited space. A larger boat would have more room for such gear.

  2. I want a half-size tuna door cut into the transom for easier boarding from my dinghy. Climbing over the transom is still okay. My bones are not getting any younger.

Seaweed is my Forever Home and Last Boat. I have been adding
infrastructure and truly life is wonderful afloat. I LOVE my boat. Here she is:

To those of you still seeking your dreamboat I offer this advice: Remember your boat does not have to be Everything you wish at the time of purchase. You can gradually make her into all you desire.

If you're at the shopping stage, this series may be helpful:
Finding Your Boat (part 1)

We have a limited amount of time on this planet. I would rather spend my time messing about in Seaweed than doing anything else. If you are like me you will have the best time of your life out here.

See you along the waterways...

I'd love to hear what criteria you find Absolutely Imperative for your boat home.
And, have you picked out one particular brand and size that suits you?

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