Home   |   The Boat   |   First Mate   |   Admiral   |   Guestbook 

Date: 28 April 2017. Buying a Big Boat Series



I rambled on at the fingertips. You might wish to pour yourself a cuppa caffeine. This turned into a three part series. All three articles are combined on this page:

Buying a Big Boat Series ←you are here

For those that prefer smaller posts or who have a spotty internet connection, here are the three articles from the series.

  1. Buying a Big Boat (part 1)
  2. Buying a Big Boat (part 2)
  3. Buying a Big Boat (part 3)

Date: 18 April 2017. Buying a Big Boat (part 1)

Quite frequently folks ask me questions about boating. Now you should know I am not an expert. I am simply out here living life, making mistakes and learning all the time. For me understanding new concepts and applying them aboard Seaweed is a large part of the pleasure. I cannot imagine a worse nightmare than sitting in an apartment, isolated from the world at my age. I want to be out here doing things. If you are like me, boating might be for you too.

Often I wonder why other people chose this life. For self, I was a boat brat so for me this is coming home so to speak. New friends Pete and Deb shared "we got talking to a couple from the UK who had spent the last 18 years on a boat, doing winters in the Caribbean and a new thought started to form...."

This is what folks imagine:

Ron on Doodle Bug
This is another aspect of life afloat:

Hiring mechanics is costly.

Nobody likes waiting for a job to be completed. It is not just the money. Time is important too!


To my new friends Pete and Deb I offer a hearty congratulations for considering living aboard a trawler. Boating is a great leveler of sorts. All walks of life have chosen to experience life afloat. The folks you meet out here are fascinating.

You might be sitting at a table with the owner of a horse farm, a professional music teacher, a software developer, a mom, plus a cop. There might even be a thief at the table. For details about the shrimp acquisition expert please read the Time Stopped article.

A sundeck trawler heads south along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in St. Pete.

I love it when folks say nice things about my website. Words of encouragement are always appreciated. Pete said "I have just spent a couple of days looking through your wonderful website which I came across from a post of yours on Trawler Forum."

His note rejuvenated me. April is a tough month for me. I lost Daddy and then the following year Son had a heart attack. This is a difficult month. Still in all, I am living aboard a boat in Florida. There is a lot to be grateful for, and I am. Truly I am blessed. Seaweed is a wonderful home.

Pete said: "What a great website, you talk about the stuff most folk gloss over..." Thank you Pete for the boost. I needed the encouragement.

There is nothing like a full moon rising. Moonlight at anchor is soothing for the soul.

On this website I do discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am over fifty and have seen myself in the mirror first thing in the morning. I am FEARLESS! (said while laughing)

Suffice it to say, I am not at my most attractive first thing in the morning. By the same token, my First Mate is none to spiffy 100% of the time.

In this photo Skipper just had a
bath and is on my bunk ignoring me.


One of my favorite quotes was made by Caltexflanc on TrawlerForum. He said:

Even as we sit here quietly at the dock, enjoying our drinks, things are breaking.

What Caltexflanc said regarding things breaking is true. I took Seaweed out last week and all was well. When I started her up a couple days ago the water pump was not discharging water. I believe a fan belt adjustment is needed.


I will tweak the alternator again. To tighten the fan belt I wedge over the alternator. The first time I tightened the belt I did not get it tight enough. I will have to get out my pry bar and try again.

The bolt on that curved slot needs to be loosened. Then I will move the alternator over a bit farther. That will tighten up the belt so that water will pump and cool my engine.

Side note on this picture: It is the old/new/no longer used alternator. That is an UGLY tale which I will post at some point. It was not pretty.

Shown below, the current configuration
with the new/old/original alternator ↓



Such is life afloat. Owning an older home prepares you for this sort of thing I suspect. Stuff breaks from time to time. It is a given and it really does not matter if you have a brand new boat or an older one.

I enjoy the challenges most of the time.

I also pick EVERYTHING up at the close of repairs EVERY SINGLE DAY.

For me, living in clutter and chaos is not conducive to happiness. Being able to Start Fresh makes the repairs less onerous. I know some can live with disorder. I cannot. The visual stimulus of an unfinished job would weigh on my mind and fill my thoughts. Putting everything away solves that, and makes me happy.

I have heard that law enforcement looks less favorably
on those boats that appear chaotic and disorganized.

Pete said "if you can't find the right place to live, live somewhere you can move at will...." He is correct. I find new vistas wonderful. And I do not have to go far. Even around the bend of a river gives a whole new perspective.

I will be exploring the area on this chart. Perhaps the same area may suit your fancy too.

For a larger copy of the above chart #411, click HERE (5000x4102) and 7.41MB

I suspect some may wish to immediately start living at anchor as I have done. I would encourage you to begin boating life at a marina. Try a series of marinas until you find the one that best satisfies your happiness quotient.

While you are learning about this life having others close by who share the same world will be helpful in getting acclimated. More experienced boaters are a true benefit to folks like me. I have gleaned a lot from incredibly smart and generous yachtsmen.

Sunset at C-Quarters Marina in Carrabelle.

Having women friends is important to us gals. You will find a lot of menfolk who will help you trouble shoot everything and anything. Many will even know what they are talking about. NOT all.

Always check advice against
Calder's tome. As an independent boater you will want your own copy of Calder's Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4the Edition aboard your boat. I have used it to troubleshoot Beast (the gasoline engine) and lots of other times too. The first repair it allows you to do will pay for the price of the book.

Be sure to buy the fourth edition. It is the latest. I upgraded thanks to a Cruising Kitty gift via PayPal. (Contributions are always appreciated.)

This one I passed along to a neighbor. I am very happy too. The newest has lots more on solar integration.

As you can see, mine had a lot of hard use before I gave it away.

I purchased Calder's when I first bought my Seaweed. It is literally the bible for repairs. Even though the book does not cover gasoline engines (just diesel) it was clear enough that I could extrapolate what I needed and make my Beast go again. It is that good.

If you are worried about "learning" that book, do not bother. Study it when you have a problem. That is when you will go through the diagrams and checklists to figure it out. This is not rocket science.

I do not believe it necessary to "know it all" prior to living on a boat.
Capable of Learning article tells my philosophy on boat life.

There are way too many old timer sailors out here who say ridiculous things like "you have to know every system" and "I built it so I can fix it"...  Though in theory that sounds wonderful the reality is no one can know everything. Technology changes and newer better products come along.

As long as you're capable of learning, you will be fine. And Calder's Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4the Edition is a big part of that. Buy the book once you have your boat chosen. There is no need to get it ahead of time.

Date: 23 April 2017. Buying a Big Boat (part 2)

The introductory article Buying a Big Boat (part 1) tells how Pete and Deb are exploring boating. They are deciding if this life is something they would like to pursue. Like smart people everywhere they are taking classes and learning all they can before making a final decision.

As we mature, at least for me, the boating fun is found most often in a life of decadence. I am a big proponent of having the most comfortable boat you can afford. Then make her better. Nine years ago Seaweed had potential. She was however an Inadequate Boat. It has taken literally years to get to this point. I must admit the here and now is mighty fine.

Life aboard Seaweed is better than I ever imagined.


Please do not expect any boat you buy to be walk-on ready to live life at anchor. You'll need to familiarize yourself with her systems first. There will be oddities the Previous Owner did that you will wish to unscramble.

Often I hear "We don't want to be dock queens but rather live on the hook as much as possible just like you do." This is common and it is a goal to work toward.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Initially new live-aboard boaters SHOULD BE dock queens. Get to know the systems in comfort with a power cord providing unlimited power. Learn where you have ready access to supplies, advice and help.

C-Quarters Marina is a friendly place. Cap'n Kim who works there made me feel right at home.
She provides weather forecasts for the Loopers getting ready to cross the Gulf of Mexico too.

Life on the hook is not for brand new boaters. Those that can afford
 it should plan to spend a couple months getting ready while dockside.

I recommend a marina with congenial boaters. Making the transition will be easier if you are with other folks who have been there and done that, just as you are doing now.

Meeting friends for breakfast at McDonald's is fun too. Ruwan, Nishan,
me and Tracy had a lovely chat the day my water pump died. I needed that too!


A marina also offers options. You are not having a good day? Go to a restaurant, spend the night at a hotel, and/or visit another boater on your dock. Having an "out" makes staying aboard a CHOICE not a requirement.

Being on a vessel at anchor when things are going belly up is definitely not for a
new-to-the-boating world couple. That is almost always a recipe for disaster.

Most boats are not set up for extended life at anchor. Many of the newer boats have generators. You will also want multiple ways to generate power, including a solar array.

Having a built in diesel generator is a very good thing.


Side Note: I am a firm believer in having the ability to recharge my battery bank in a variety of ways. Some options you might consider are via solar panels, a wind generator, a portable generator and/or the alternator on your engine.

I believe solar is a good adjunct to a generator. With enough solar panels, the sun might be your sole source of power. I have 445 watts of solar atop Seaweed. All of my power needs and wants are provided by the solar panels, except I cannot run my 5k BTU room air conditioner. That requires a generator.


Solar panels, with a Large battery bank are "the way to go" in my view. Solar power is virtually trouble free. No hassle, and just monitor your battery bank. An inverter will turn your battery power into AC.

On Seaweed solar powers everything except the air conditioner.

Affiliate Link


MorningStar ProStar-30 amp (12/24v)


I have a MorningStar ProStar-30 aboard Seaweed. It allows me to see how much power I am putting into my batteries. Of course an MPPT solar regulator would be ideal. That is also a bit more pricey than I can manage at this time.

For details on solar regulators read the
Solar Regulators (Standard vs. MPPT) article.


If you are planning on life away from docks and anchoring in remote spots, solar is a good addition to your power plan. I recommend it.

Thank you for reading. Part Three will be posted shortly.


Date: 27 April 2017. Buying a Big Boat (part 3)

This is final installment in this series about how to locate and purchase a larger boat to live aboard.

Search criteria for boat buying is something each individual has to decide for himself. Having elbow room in the engine room is critical in my view. If you cannot easily get to engine components to do routine maintenance you will not do it. I can practically guarantee that the previous owner did not do preventative maintenance either.

If it is not easy it will not get done. I find that true in many aspects of my life.

The larger the boat, the more complicated ship systems will be. Make sure your pre-purchase surveyor has the experience to do a great survey for you. He needs to be able to interpret what he is seeing. His conclusions should be detailed and accurate.

A fellow who routinely surveys fishing boats is not the guy
you want looking at your inboard propulsion motor yacht.

Regarding Power:

My Seaweed has one 30 amp power inlet. A larger more complex boat would require additional power. A cord capable of carrying 50 amps is likely necessary to run larger capacity air conditioners, washers and driers, microwaves, etc. Your surveyor needs to understand wiring and more. The surveyor I hired pre-purchase was not very good incidentally.

So you have decided you want a 45-60' trawler. One decision will be determining hull composition. Do you want fiberglass, steel, aluminum or wood? For goodness sake, pick a surveyor who knows your hull type. A person who knows and understands steel might not be so well versed in the intricacies of a wooden boat. The obverse may well be true too.


Make sure you have chosen the correct surveyor.


How to Find a Surveyor:


Your best bet for finding a surveyor is to ask for recommendations. Be specific. Tell what type of boat you are considering and where it is located. There are *some* excellent wood boat surveyors. Ditto steel and aluminum. Most surveyors have far more experience with fiberglass and are better able to offer an educated review of said 'glass boats.

DO NOT ask the seller's broker for a surveyor.

I would first ask on Trawler Forum. The folks there are primarily power boaters, though many were once sailors. It is a good group of folks.



Because I have plenty of power, the niceties that make life pleasant for those of us past the half century mark are on my Seaweed. I am quite comfortable now. I do not have to conserve power because my solar panels keep up with my usage. Thank you Bucky.

What I would have enjoyed at thirty will not work now. I want decadence!


Finding a Last Boat when we are of "a certain age" brings into play many things that those younger might not consider. Often early retirees want spare cabins for their children and grandchildren to use when they vacation. All too any times those cabins become storage rooms. Younger people simply do not have the time to devote to leisurely cruising. That is most unfortunate.

John and Tracey aboard their beautiful Selene 4714 named Pairadice.

I would encourage couples to focus on what will work
for them and not count on many overnight visitors.

The original Hatteras advertising showed crew quarters forward of the galley. That stateroom could easily accommodate visiting grandchildren. The extra cabins on your yacht might become an office, tool workshop or sewing nook.

There are a lot of options with the extra cabins found in larger vessels.

Lady Catherine is a gorgeous motor yacht.

In Pete and Deb's letter they said "So after lots of reading, looking and talking to people we have decided on a 45-60ft Trawler type boat with full/semi displacement hull.. more towards an *LRC... small displacement natural diesels (prefer twins) of the "old school" type with manual pumps etc... Fiberglass hull, preferably no teak decks"

*LRC - Long Range Cruiser. A motor yacht capable of extended voyaging without the need to take on supplies such as fuel, water or foodstuffs.

That search criteria does not seem unreasonable. Know this though: finding a gem is not easy. Be prepared to pay $$ for one that meets your needs. Do not dawdle before making an offer. Your broker can advise of contingency wording so if the vessel does not pass the survey you can back out.


How we sold our 40' sedan cruiser with fly bridge back in 2001:


Mother put a sign in the starboard forward window on Saturday. Sunday a broker saw the sign and Mother listed with said broker that afternoon.

We had an appointment with a fellow Monday. A second appointment was scheduled for Tuesday with another guy.

First guy offered full cash with a closing on Wednesday. Tuesday's fellow called Monday evening meeting our asking price as well, sans survey. We had already signed off on #1. From listed to sold took less than a week.



When you are ready to pull the trigger, do not wait.
Do make your offer contingent upon an acceptable survey.


I have been on innumerable boats since last fall with a neighbor. He is shopping for his Last Boat. We have not found a suitable one. Yet.

Every boat we have seen thus far described as "turn key" (meaning ready to go, perfect) was not. I wish folks would say needs major overhaul or leaks like a sieve but otherwise okay. All boats need something, at least at the lower end of the dollar scale. I recently wrote
Turn-Key versus Fixer-Upper about this very topic.

"I remember coming to grips with the notion that I could spend six digits
on a boat and still come home with a fixer upper."  6-Pack on TrawlerForum.

Congratulations folks. This life can be yours too.

Taking a training course is a good idea. Chartering a variety of boat types is an excellent idea. Being aboard for a day or three at a dock is valuable. You will want to know what layout works best for you. Do you prefer the galley down or up? Do you want a pilothouse or a sundeck? Is your dream a go-fast cruiser or would a stately Dock Queen better suit your needs?

Boating is a lifestyle. Pick the vessel that best fits you.

For the social set, a marina is a great place to have potluck dinners.

At anchor I have shared meals with folks too. I met Bear and his son Drew three miles offshore.

I provided power while Bear tried to get his engine up and running. That  was not successful but we/he tried.

Now Bear's garlic bread was super. I made New England style clam chowder. Bear had spent a fruitless afternoon working in his engine room. A shared meal made the unsuccessful repair experience less onerous I suspect. The story of our meeting is found in the
Three Miles Out (Thursday's Child) article.

Charting a course to large boat ownership can be daunting. Pete and Deb intend to take trawler lessons and charter. Pete says "Then if we liked it, and we can't see why we wouldn't, we'd start looking avidly for a boat..." This is a wise couple.

Pete and his wife Deb are not jumping into yachting without learning all they can. Yes, that will cost some upfront money for charters and such. The value is in discovering that "yes this is absolutely perfect" or "what was I thinking?!?" Either lesson learned is worthwhile.

A boat like Lady Catherine could be in your future... if boating is right for you.

Those new to the trawler world should charter a variety of vessels in order to drill down to what is absolutely necessary. Try a trunk cabin model such as a Grand Banks, a sports fish, motor yacht, a sundeck and more. The more styles of boats you can get aboard, the better.


How to Find the Best Boat for Your Needs:

Selection Process
  • Spend time aboard a variety of yacht styles. Decide which best suits your needs.

  • Do you want a galley up or down? Is a sundeck perfect for entertaining or do you prefer a sportsfish? Pilothouse, fly bridge or both? Walk in engine room or not?

  • Will you be going anyplace where air draft (the height over the waterline) or depth (how deep of water does your boat require) matters?

  • Is there good access to the engine and generator? Can you swap out an impeller, change the oil, replace filters, etc.?

  • Which model(s) fit your requirements and budget?

Know that whatever structure you buy is what you will live with forever. Do not compromise on this issue.

Survey Process



  • Ask on Trawler Forum or Cruisers Forum for surveyor recommendations.

  • Be specific. Tell what type of boat you are considering and where it is located.

  • If your hull type is not fiberglass make sure your surveyor is thoroughly versed in whatever you're interested in.

    Specifically, for wood, steel, cement or aluminum hulled vessels go with an Expert for that particular hull type. You want first hand experience and knowledge.

  • Hire a mechanic to provide a thorough drive train and engine inspection.


Imagine life aboard your vessel.  Does your heart sing? Mine does, and yours should too.


No boat will ever 100% suit you. There is always
something that needs changing, upgrading or tweaking.

After nine years, Seaweed still has a list. Next up, the tuna door creation and possibly a fan installation in the overhead of my pilothouse. Both of those may be done this month. Or next. However, it has been nine years. On a tight budget one must have the patience to work toward perfection.

This life is ideal for me. If you think it is for you as well don't forget this aphorism:

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Make your dreams come true.

Good luck and happy cruising. Wish me luck on the tuna door and fan installation projects. The fan is rather critical what with summer almost here. Plus I am not quite so flexible as I was nine years ago when I bought Seaweed. Climbing over the transom has gotten old. I would like a tuna door back there.

Thanks for reading. I will see you along the waterways.

How long have you considered living aboard a boat?
And, is there a particular dream boat you have?

Regarding the Comments Section, found at the end of every article:

  • Before you type in each block be sure to hit the backspace key. Coding inserts a space in every box. Your email address will come back as malformed unless you remove that space. (You don't have to include your email address.)

  • The capcha is case sensitive.


2017, 2023

Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Books, Characters, Comfort, Gear, Locations, Memory Lane, Relationships,

Magnifier ~ Previous Post ...    ... Next Post ~ Sheet Trick

First Mate's Gallery now open ~ Crew photos welcome via Email.


The Archive holds a running list with synopsis of published articles, and links to same.

A favorite aphorism:  Buy nice or buy twice.

Contributions to my Cruising Kitty via
are always appreciated.

Every gift helps.

The Cruising Kitty is what boaters refer to as spending money. There's never enough aboard Seaweed!

I am also an Amazon Affiliate.

My Buddy, and his girlfriend...

Copyright Janice Marois  |  Home  |  Archive  |  Topics  |  Boat List  |  Site Map  |  Email Me  |