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lifehack for budget bluewater boats for a family of 4

Feb 14, 2021
4
Alberg 30 Montreal
Hi guys, I'm sure this has been asked for many times... But I've always been seeing youtube videos of people getting really cheap boats and cruising around the globe for years after fixing the boat on their own. I'm wondering if you have any suggestions for ways to find, and good models of bluewater worthy boats for such endeavors. We are a relatively young couple starting a family. We don't mind the work, actually it would be nice to work on the boat so we know what's going on and how to fix it if things go wrong. I just want something solid and safe, and accommodate a growing family. We don't need anything fancy and I really wouldn't mind super budget friendly options (think less than $10k) for . I'm a noob in cruising, welcome any suggestions.
 
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Likes: SailingLoto
Dec 28, 2015
1,105
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
Research . Your asking a loaded question that, in my opinion, doesn’t have a answer for. Some time searching around the internet will paint a critical picture of your vision. Your post says your have a Alberg 30?
 
Feb 14, 2021
4
Alberg 30 Montreal
Research . Your asking a loaded question that, in my opinion, doesn’t have a answer for. Some time searching around the internet will paint a critical picture of your vision. Your post says your have a Alberg 30?
That's the boat I have in mind. I think Alberg 30 would be a boat that meets all I listed (with limited space but that's something I'm willing to sacrifice). Just wondering if there are any other options out there so I can compare.
 
Dec 28, 2015
1,105
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
off shore and $10k don’t go together. At least not in anything you’ll want to be in or feel confident in in my opinion
 
Oct 22, 2014
14,501
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
You have a start on concept but there is much wanting to be identified.

First what are you willing to loose to take on this adventure you crave.

My 35 foot boat I got for a steal at about $7500. She has a sound hull and a working motor. Along with the basics were some convenient, necessary add on’s like a diesel heater to keep the interior of the boat warm during the winter months north of the 45 parallel for $4000. I added a dinghy to row from the boat to shore, $3000. The rigging was over 30 years old, required replacement to be safe sailing on the ocean, all the fixtures on the mast needed replacement, all running rigging (ropes) needed replacement for ocean sailing, the furler/Genoa, main sail, and boom needed refitting figure $16,000.

I have already blown your budget and I am not yet done with electrical, the electronics or the cost of an anchoring systems to help minimize the cost of marina’s.

I have a 1974 boat that, with skill, could sail coastal and in fair weather and skilled sailor longer off shore passages.

Going smaller than 35 feet will save you maybe 10% for every 5 ft smaller, but you are still talking sailing off shore. Off shore sailing takes a serious investment in equipment if you do not want to loose your wife or young family to the ocean.

Look at the La Vagabond couple. They started with a &100,000 boat they claimed they got at a great price
Cruised together as a couple in the Med, then Reilly had to go back to the oil riggs to raise more money so they could chase their dream.

Many of the YouTubers sell their homes and all their possessions to create a cruising opportunity. So back to fleshing out the concept.

What are you willing to loose to chase this idea?
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,666
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Welcome lovelytsquared, I applaud your dream and your plans for your family and you. You clearly have a strong sense of adventure and, I hope sincerely, a strong family bond with a partner who is equally driven.

I spent nearly four of my most formative years living aboard with my family from ages ten to fourteen and loved it. I am afraid my two brothers might have been less enthusiastic about it at the time, but today, over forty years later, they still refer back to those days with love.

You have joined the right group to ask your questions of, although you may not hear answers that completely satisfy you. Every sailor on here wants to see you succeed and has real wisdom to give, so be patient and understand that what you are asking for is almost like winning the lottery. It happens, but you will probably have to buy a lot of tickets first.

Please, tell us a little more about yourself and what you expect. You said your a young family. Does that mean a baby? Might there be more on the way? There was a couple from French Canada living aboard, a few slips down from us, on a double ender of about 35' who raised two baby girls. They grew into strong confident women and always seemed happy. However, the family didn't go cruising while they raised their babies.

I assume, also, by "really cheap boats", you mean the initial investment and understand that the final cost of bluewater cruising is substantial. You can get aboard a boat for next to nothing, but to make sure it floats, sails, is safe and ready for open ocean weather and long distance cruising will take a combination of money and work over time. The more you put in of one, the less you will need to put in of the others.

There will be some things that you just can't do yourself. Most of us can't make our own sails, for example, and on a boat bigger than 30 feet, that is a lot of money. Also, berthing is far more expensive than it was when I was a kid. That's why my boat is a trailersailer.

The hull will be the easy part. First, though, have a place to keep it and work on it over the years. Own property or find a marina that allows DIY projects. The marina that does that, will also have a good idea about these abandoned project boats that you can pick up cheap.

Good luck and it is good to have you aboard. I look forward to following your adventures so keep posting.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 

capta

.
Jun 4, 2009
4,195
Pearson 530 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
Boat building and carpentry are about as far apart as a biplane and the space shuttle. The former takes years of training.
Jumping into a "project" boat when you know nothing about boats is a recipe' for disaster, economically and psychologically. Perhaps you've seen a half dozen videos of "successes", but Craig's List et al is filled with thousands of failures, many up for sale by a third or fourth owner.
This is not an easy or inexpensive way to get into sailing. Most who succeed at this invest more than a boat in good shape would have cost, and have the pleasure of sailing the boat for perhaps years, instead of working on it and worrying about how much the rebuild is actually costing.
I'm not trying to turn you off, after all, I set sail on my 9.5 year circumnavigation @ 22 and raised my child sailing. I'm just saying perhaps it might be a good idea to get into sailing, learn much more about the sort of boat that will fit your needs, and build a bigger kitty before you choose a boat and venture forth.
Good luck.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,104
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Hi guys, I'm sure this has been asked for many times... But I've always been seeing youtube videos of people getting really cheap boats and cruising around the globe for years after fixing the boat on their own. I'm wondering if you have any suggestions for ways to find, and good models of bluewater worthy boats for such endeavors. We are a relatively young couple starting a family. We don't mind the work, actually it would be nice to work on the boat so we know what's going on and how to fix it if things go wrong. I just want something solid and safe, and accommodate a growing family. We don't need anything fancy and I really wouldn't mind super budget friendly options (think less than $10k) for . I'm a noob in cruising, welcome any suggestions.
Yes, you are correct. If there was every a poll about the most frequently asked question on a sailing forum, it would be some variation of "Which boat should I buy?" :biggrin:

Finding a suitable boat that will not require an extensive and expensive refit for $10K CDN (~$7K USD) is going to be a real challenge. Matt Marsh, a young naval engineer from Ottawa, has been writing about buying a suitable cruising boat for low money. His articles can be found on John Haries, website Attainable Adventure Cruising. It is a pay site, however, about $20 gets you a year's subscription. There is a wealth of information on the site both in the articles and in the comment section. The sailors who frequent the site are well known and experienced sailors.

What you want to do can be done and folks are doing it. Your budget on the other hand is very tight. Boat yards around the world are filled boats abandoned by others who had big dreams and a challenged budget. One couple that seems to have been successful is Ben and Danielle Zartman. They have an extensive blog that chronicles their sailing and boat building adventures. You can find it here: http://www.zartmancruising.com

As you learn more about sailing, cruising, and boat restoration, come back and ask questions.

Good Luck! :beer:
 
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Oct 26, 2008
4,737
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
Keep in mind that the less you spend buying the boat, the more you are going to spend making it ready to sail. In fact, it is probably a multiplier in the wrong direction. Think of it this way, everything you buy to improve a bare-bones boat to make it ready to sail, you will probably be paying retail. Everything that is already on or with the boat and suitable for your use, you will be buying wholesale. There is a lot of experience to back up this simple truism ... the worst financial mistake that you can make in buying a boat is to purchase the cheapest boat that catches your eye. And don't fall into the trap of misunderstanding what your time is worth, either. Don't underestimate what you will need in both time and money to make a boat ready to sail. It is the single-most common mistake that inexperienced boat buyers make. Experienced boat buyers are prone to making this mistake almost as easily.
 
Jul 27, 2011
4,356
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
I've long noticed that the less one knows about a subject the more that seems possible regarding it. Nowhere has that been more evident than among the would-be, first-time boat owners with low "budgets" and big commitments, such as family and job. It takes a long time to do anything right working on a boat; more than what seems fair. It will likely consume you or you will not finish it. Also, it costs what it costs. "Budgets" are for the most part a fantasy when messing with boats. They might work at home, but not out here. If you stop when your unrealistic "budget" runs out of funds, nothing happens. Boat is still not ready for that voyage. Repeated "unbudgeted" expenses going into the boat and little else raises questions at home. The best one can do is endeavor to keep costs down as they come. But come they will; no getting around it. And we have not even gotten to the part about experience.
 
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Sep 24, 2018
1,245
O'Day 25 Chicago
Don't underestimate the amount of time boat work takes. Most automotive repairs are done in a few hours. Boat repairs are often in the range of days, weeks and months. When buying a boat that needs work, expect it to take 2-3 times more money and time than initially expected. It's often better to buy a boat that's had the work done than to try to fund and do the work yourself
 

SFS

.
Aug 18, 2015
1,904
West Marine kayak Tampa Bay
jssailem said it one way, in post #5. Capta said it another way, in post #8. Scott T-Bird said it a third way in post #10, and if I recall correctly he has the most recent experience in this arena. It is an important concept, so I am going to say it again, a fourth way:

It is always going to be less expensive to buy a boat that is ready to go do what you want to do than it is to buy an inexpensive boat and refit her to meet your needs. It's that simple. And it is ESPECIALLY true for blue-water sailing. However, for the higher price you get the added value being able to go NOW instead of years from now, and you avoid all the potential pitfalls of a years-long project, with its attendant setbacks, delays, disappointments, joys, satisfactions, experiential rewards, etc. Note though, that all of these things are still available (and WILL happen) once you are aboard and travelling. It is part of living and travelling on a boat.

Now, take it one step further. If you are spending a larger amount of money than you originally anticipated, imagine how important it is going to be to not buy the wrong boat! Or to find that you don't enjoy being on a boat? How do you avoid those two mistakes? Let's take them in order.

You avoid buying the wrong boat by doing two critical things. First, answer for yourselves (your family MUST be involved) what you will need to have the experience you want. No matter your cruising style, rest (sleep) and nourishment are critical items. Evaluate the level of comfort you need while obtaining those things. Does the principal cook need a simple two-burner stove, or three burners and an oven? Do Mom and Dad want to be removed from the kids at night? Are the kids of an age where they need their own sleeping areas? Those are the kinds of questions that eliminate some boat options/floorplans/sizes, and steer you towards others. There are MANY more questions like that to be answered. Tankage for fuel, water, waste are important considerations, and depend on the use of the boat. You get the idea.

Second, look at a lot of boats! This takes time, and if travel is involved, it takes more time, and money. It's actually time saved though, because it gets you on the right boat faster. Look at the listings of local brokers, Yachtworld.com. Use the internet to expand your reach. Interview brokers (local or otherwise) to find one that you like and trust, and tell them of your dream, and the specifics you have decided upon. Ask local sailing club members for recommendations on brokers. A good broker is invaluable, a bad one will be worse than no help at all. Get onboard as many boats as you can. Boat shows are another good way to get ideas.

As to that second critical mistake, finding out too late that you don't like being on a boat for extended periods of time. Charter a boat for a week. You stated you are "a noob in cruising". If you have enough of a sailing resume to qualify renting a bare boat, do so. If not, hire a crewed boat. It's a nice vacation, and if at the end of the week you go, "you know, it was romantic and nice, but really small, and I had to worry about water usage so showers were in short supply, I was seasick twice, and constantly worried about the kids/baby" you have saved yourself a bunch of money and still had a nice vacation. One week will let you know if you like it enough to do it again. Whether you charter again before making a final decision is up to you.

I don't say any of this to rain on your parade. I would love for you to have this experience, just as many of us have had. I just want you to go into things with eyes wide open. Sailing is a wonderful activity, and one in which not knowing what it is that you don't know can have tremendous costs. That is true before, during, and LONG after acquisition of the boat.

Welcome to the forum. This is a tremendous community with a huge amount of experience and knowledge, a welcoming attitude, and a love of sailing. You have come to the right place with your questions.

Edit to add: Note that in the time it took me to compose that wall of text, two more folks have said the same thing. Read the post from KingsGambit again. Then one more time. You can have your experience. We just want you to know that costs are paid in various currencies.
 
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SFS

.
Aug 18, 2015
1,904
West Marine kayak Tampa Bay
I've long noticed that the less one knows about a subject the more that seems possible regarding it. Nowhere has that been more evident than among the would-be, first-time boat owners with low "budgets" and big commitments, such as family and job. It takes a long time to do anything right working on a boat; more than what seems fair. It will likely consume you or you will not finish it. Also, it costs what it costs. "Budgets" are for the most part a fantasy when messing with boats. They might work at home, but not out here. If you stop when your unrealistic" budget" runs out of funds, nothing happens. Boat is still not ready for that voyage. Repeated "unbudgeted" expenses going into the boat and little else raises questions at home. The best one can do is endeavor to keep costs down as they come. But come they will; no getting around it. And we have not even gotten to the part about experience.
Kings, this is one of the most cogent and articulate posts I've read here, and it's poetic to boot. Wow.
 
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Likes: Kings Gambit
Feb 14, 2021
4
Alberg 30 Montreal
Welcome lovelytsquared, I applaud your dream and your plans for your family and you. You clearly have a strong sense of adventure and, I hope sincerely, a strong family bond with a partner who is equally driven.

I spent nearly four of my most formative years living aboard with my family from ages ten to fourteen and loved it. I am afraid my two brothers might have been less enthusiastic about it at the time, but today, over forty years later, they still refer back to those days with love.

You have joined the right group to ask your questions of, although you may not hear answers that completely satisfy you. Every sailor on here wants to see you succeed and has real wisdom to give, so be patient and understand that what you are asking for is almost like winning the lottery. It happens, but you will probably have to buy a lot of tickets first.

Please, tell us a little more about yourself and what you expect. You said your a young family. Does that mean a baby? Might there be more on the way? There was a couple from French Canada living aboard, a few slips down from us, on a double ender of about 35' who raised two baby girls. They grew into strong confident women and always seemed happy. However, the family didn't go cruising while they raised their babies.

I assume, also, by "really cheap boats", you mean the initial investment and understand that the final cost of bluewater cruising is substantial. You can get aboard a boat for next to nothing, but to make sure it floats, sails, is safe and ready for open ocean weather and long distance cruising will take a combination of money and work over time. The more you put in of one, the less you will need to put in of the others.

There will be some things that you just can't do yourself. Most of us can't make our own sails, for example, and on a boat bigger than 30 feet, that is a lot of money. Also, berthing is far more expensive than it was when I was a kid. That's why my boat is a trailersailer.

The hull will be the easy part. First, though, have a place to keep it and work on it over the years. Own property or find a marina that allows DIY projects. The marina that does that, will also have a good idea about these abandoned project boats that you can pick up cheap.

Good luck and it is good to have you aboard. I look forward to following your adventures so keep posting.

-Will (Dragonfly)
Thank you for the response everyone! There are indeed many things I have not considered in terms of the true cost of time. To give some more information, we don't have any kids yet, but we are planning to. We newly moved to Montreal so we haven't really connected with any local sailing community yet, b/c of covid and frankly I just don't know anyone here. I learnt dinghy sailing and crewed for people's boats on club races on lake Ontario, did my keelboat intro courses, but I have not done an overnight trip. My husband doesn't know how to sail at all lol, but he's very interested in learning.

I've wanted to go cruising and explore different islands and coastlines for a few years now. I tried to do it a few times when I was younger, asking to crew for boats on transatlantic crossings, in the Mediterranean, but it never happened due to concerns for safety etc, which now I really regret (so I don't know if I'm THAT adventurous). Now I'm married, I see more and more life obligations but I don't want my dreams to just die like that, besides I think it would be a really nice activity for my family to do. If I don't do it, It would probably be one of my biggest regrets when I die.

So really my goal is to just get going first, and learn and fine tune things later, which many of you have pointed out, if the budget is too low, it's very likely I'll get stuck on the get going part. I also don't want to scare my husband too much in terms of how much this "hobby" would cost, so I have been telling him things like " it's ok we can find something cheap and we can fix it and learn to sail, and eventually go to the Caribbean and explore the islands there", which is what he's really interested in doing.

So I guess in summary I'm looking for a boat that can help me achieve that, to get us going, to cruise around the Caribbean, as minimiumly as possible, to help us learn safely. If possible I'd like to have the boat as small as possible to keep expanses down.
 
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Oct 19, 2017
6,666
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Sailing is a wonderful activity, and one in which not knowing what it is that you don't know can have tremendous costs.
So true, so true.


So I guess in summary I'm looking for a boat that can help me achieve that, to get us going, to cruise around the Caribbean, as minimiumly as possible, to help us learn safely. If possible I'd like to have the boat as small as possible to keep expanses down.
You should consider a boat that you are not going to sail to the Caribbean. You are in Montreal, with a good sized river in the middle of the city that has a sailing community. There is access to Lake Champlain and the Erie canal system, down to NY on the Hudson or into the Great Lakes. The Saint Laurence also goes to the Atlantic around New Foundland or you can take a trip to Ottawa.

A smaller boat, such as a daysailer or trailersailer in the 16 to 22 foot range can be had for very reasonable money while you explore your love of sailing, learn and grow into the sport. A boat that is kept in good sailing shape by an active and current sailor is usually easy to resell later when you have found that perfect cruiser.

used sailboats for sale in Montreal are not hard to come by. You won't have a problem, so take your time.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Sep 25, 2008
1,094
CS 30 Toronto
Montreal to Florida keys and back would take about half a year (fall to spring) at least. Diesel alone will cost your over $10,000 if sailing a lot of the time. Inter-coastal water way (ICW) is mostly motoring. Never mind repair and upgrades, mooring fees, docking along the way, medical insurance, food and supply etc. Boat dollars = real dollar x 1,000.

Buy a cheap boat and sail locally first. Sailing school is a very good start. You can always move up. There is no final boat, only the last boat.

Enjoy your dream.
 
Oct 26, 2008
4,737
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
So I guess in summary I'm looking for a boat that can help me achieve that, to get us going, to cruise around the Caribbean, as minimiumly as possible, to help us learn safely. If possible I'd like to have the boat as small as possible to keep expanses down.
Since it is the two of you, starting with a small boat is probably the right way to go. I'll recommend 2 YouTube bloggers that you should tune into because they go into some detail on how they started out sailing without having any experience:
1) The Escape Artists - this is a trio consisting of a pair of sisters and one boyfriend, so one of the sisters was basically a third wheel. But they never really made the relationships obvious. Their approach to the whole endeavor was pretty unsophisticated, and they were basically learning on the fly. However, they were resourceful and they apparently new how to live well on a very simple budget. The two sisters are pretty melodramatic and the boyfriend hardly says anything (he also apparently doesn't own a swimming suit because he always appears to swim in his underwear). They are a little bit odd, probably because they are Canadian, like you ... ;) . I only tuned into them because they passed thru Barnegat Bay and featured it in one of their episodes. It turned out that I liked them quite a bit because of their oddity. I went back to the beginning and followed them and was really drawn to their story. They bought a small boat because they were very drawn to a simple lifestyle. Their goal was to make their way to the Bahamas from Lake Ontario and they were starting with zero experience. They learned an awful lot along the way but they certainly found they were lacking experience and ability and it was scary at times. They eventually had to get rescued and towed off the New Jersey coast into Cape May and did some major damage running aground in the ocean. That was the end of the videos, I suspect because possibly the sister was suitably scared and had enough and left. It seems that the couple made it to the Bahamas, but we won't know how. They are apparently living in a tiny house, homesteading in Ontario somewhere, I think. I can see you learning quite a bit from these episodes. I was disappointed that their videos stopped in Cape May because I was quite interested in their experience.

2) Sailing Soulianis - This is another couple whom had a much more sophisticated and well-funded approach, making their way from Lake Michigan to the Gulf Coast, via the river system, and eventually sailing around Florida and to the Bahamas. They took a long time to do it and the episodes are really filled with boat projects among other things. They were also inexperienced, but they started with a lot of monetary resources (they worked hard for a while before changing their life and they were able to work while living on the boat). Your can learn a bit more sophisticated approach from them, but their 37' Tartan sailboat may not be in the budget for your approach.

If I were you, I would look for a nice boat in the 27' to 30' range that you can have in the water and start sailing immediately. Take about a year, living on land, sailing your boat on Lake Ontario, cruising the islands and get used to spending 3 to 4 days at a time on the water. Spend that time at your jobs and saving as much money as you possibly can. You will know when you are ready to move on or move in! You DO NOT NEED a blue water boat at this time. You DON'T NEED a blue water boat to make it all the way down the coast to Florida and across to the Bahamas. You DO NEED experience, and you will learn everything that you need to know on a nicely appointed Catalina 30 or similar sailboat. I'll say it again ... FORGET the blue water nonsense ... it is what every noob says they want before they have even set foot on a sailboat. In 3 years time, you will have a fortress of knowledge about boat systems, boat maintenance and sailing if you just buy a nice coastal cruiser. The boat will take care of you far more than you are ready for if you get a nice coastal cruiser. After 3 years, then you will know if you want a blue water boat or not. When you know what you want, that is the time to look into it. Who knows, maybe your time table will be speedier, and if so, so be it. :) In the meantime and above all, make the progress enjoyable. If it is enjoyable, the likelihood of success will go up. If you are sweating bullets just trying to get ready to splash over a year's time, my prediction for success would be minimal.

You could try Wicked Salty on YouTube as well. They started without any experience and little money on a 30' Ericson, I believe. They sank their second boat and almost sank their third, but they made it to the Bahamas and back on their first boat, with a few harrowing experiences. They also have stopped producing for some reason.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,104
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Montreal to Florida keys and back would take about half a year (fall to spring) at least. Diesel alone will cost your over $10,000 if sailing a lot of the time.
Huh? $10K in diesel fuel? That seems rather high. At $4 a gallon, that's about 2,500 gallons. Burning a gallon an hour at 5 knots gives you a range of about 12,500 miles. It is less than 2,000 miles from Montreal to Key West, Fl. That's about 400 hours at 5 knots, at 1 gph fuel cost will be about $1600 each way at $4 a gallon. A gallon a hour is a high burn rate, my boat burns about ¾ gallon an hour at 6 knots.