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Date: 22 August 2017. Is a 34' boat Big Enough?


Seaweed is 23' long. She suits me though for a couple I would say "go larger" without hesitation.

Recently a young man asked if a 34' boat would be big enough to live aboard with his bride. Almost any size boat will suffice for one person. Adding another individual to the equation does offer opportunities for both success and failure. Here is my advice to those couples considering life aboard any boat:

One determining factor would be the boat model in question.
The length is not the only critical factor. Beam counts!

The Ranger Tug brand sure has a nice profile. She reminds me of my Seaweed in a larger, more fancy scale.

A wider boat will have more living space inside her. Having adequate seating for yourselves and another couple (or two!) would be important to most social folks. And boating is a social activity. Folks are friendlier on the water.

Our 40'er had lots of seating for guests. That love seat unfolded into an uncomfortable bed for overnighters.

Count on visitors coming by and saying "hello" whenever you are at anchor. You will find the same is true when visiting marinas.

People want to know about your boat. They will be curious about your journey. New friends can often offer "insider" details only known to locals. You may be able to provide insight regarding the areas you have passed through too.

Drew and his dad Bear came by one afternoon.

Their story is found in the Three Miles Out (Thursday's Child) article.

I enjoy the social aspects of meeting new people afloat. Their stories are varied yet there is a common thread. We all like our boats. Life is pretty good that way.


The main thing couples need is privacy.


There should be a place out of sight of the other partner. If one of you can be on the fly bridge or aft deck, or forward cabin, it helps. There will be times when you may find yourself:

  1. Working on a craft or boat project
  2. Planning a romantic interlude
  3. Contemplating murder or planning a mutiny

Being apart visually does help restore the equilibrium. Everybody needs moments to themselves. Finding that private space on a boat can make a difference in the success of the journey.


Looking westward on the Carrabelle River at low tide. Photograph by Cap'n Kim.

There will be days when you will be inside your vessel because you have to be. Fog may be thick. Navigating in strange waters with less than stellar weather is not something I do. I'm retired and if the fog is prevalent, I will wait for it to burn off.

Being underway in conditions such as these is untenable for me. I stay put.

In some areas fog is a given (think Maine) however here in Florida foggy days are few.

Being a fair weather sailor does not provide me with tales such as those described in the We've Seen Worse article. That is just fine with me.

Being pressured and stressed does not equal happy boating. It has got to be fun or I do not do it. Of course there are folks who follow schedules. They may not start as single sailors, though they often find their partners departing after one passage from Hades too many.

Men should listen to their women. If a partner says "never again" let the individual meet you in the next port. Hire a captain to help with those overnight trips. There is no shame in asking for help.

Crossing the Gulf of Mexico is daunting, especially with a novice boat crew. Experience helps, however fear can negate
everything. Hire help. That does not mean you will never manage alone. New boaters are wise to learn from a great teacher.

Not all charter captains are good at teaching the nuances of seamanship. Choose wisely.

There is absolutely zero excuse for not making the
boating experience enjoyable for both partners.

By taking on a crew for a day or three you are all going to be happier. Hiring a captain for a passage is far less costly than divorce attorneys. And yes, it has come down to just that scenario for more than one fellow out here.

This is Harold. He's an experienced sailor and power boat captain. [Phone: 850-727-9437]

My friend Harold has helped numerous cruisers take their boats across the Gulf of Mexico when the boat owners were a bit trepidatious. Some of the couples had never done an overnight offshore passage. They opted to have guidance whilst gaining experience. Paying for a good captain is often a smart move.

New boat buyers should always consider hiring an experienced individual to help them learn the ropes. It is not real hard though all maneuvering does require practice.

A boat heads out the Carrabelle River, on her way into the Gulf of Mexico.

But I digress...
Having a separate space aboard your boat for each person is in my view critical for overall happiness.

I am perfectly pleased aboard my 23'er. To me 34' is extravagant. And doable with caveats. Specifically privacy. You both have to have privacy!

Gus and Captain Tom share the cabin of an Morgan28 when out on the water. Gus is a bunk thief!
They each have their own spots, though I have heard Gus's spot is wherever Tom happens to be.

Skipper is the same way. She wants to be right where I am.

Ashore when a couple is ticked at each other they can get away. A walk in the park, a trip to the grocery store or going out to eat are all easily accomplished. Aboard a boat the duo will be in tight quarters. They will rely on each other as most couples never have had to do.

John and Tracey aboard M/V Pairadice are enjoying a cruise in Alaskan waters. They depend on each other.
Successful partners become a team, enjoying the experiences. Having someone to share with is important.

For some boating is an adventure filled with joy and happiness. Others find it a short trip through purgatory with divorce or boat sale at the other end.

It is up to you which experience you end up with. Know this though:

If either of you do not like the boat, DO NOT BUY IT.

Nobody has ever had an epiphany after living aboard the "wrong" boat.

Good luck and happy cruising.

How big was your first boat?
How large do you anticipate your Last Boat will be?

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2017, 2023

Categories: Boats, Characters, Locations, Pets, Relationships,

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