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johnar 10-16-2007 04:44 PM

Hello All, My name is John 44 single and this is my first post and have so many questions. I will give as much information as I can right off so you all understand what I have in mind, please forgive the long post.

Living on a boat and traveling has been a life long dream and I am about in the best possible position to make this dream come true. I have already taken steps to make this come true by selling off everything Home,Harley and 19' ski boat and by moving in with my sister and her husband (thank god for family) I have been able to pay off every bill I had and living now debt free. Not a lot left over now.

One of the best things in my favor is the fact that after a 3+ year legal battle over a workers comp injury the case is coming to a close and I will soon receive a nice sum of money to buy/refit a used boat. So that you understand I am disabled from the injury which was a fall at work and will have a monthly income from SSD on top of the settlement. Even with my back injury i still feel i can handle a boat and live a very nice life.

As for experience in sailing Blue water or Coastal I have none the only experience I do have sailing was on a lake on a 34' boat and that was so limited and long ago it is best to just say I am new.

Now to the Dream, I would like to find a Boat between 30' and 45' that I could sail and live. From what I am told from my Blood sucker (lawyer) that I will receive around $100,000 and have a monthly income around $1,500 a month the rest of my life.

With all that in mind I have come to believe I can spend $40,000 on the boat and another $20,000 for refit/repair. I know this is not a lot of money when it comes to a live-aboard Cruiser but after looking on Yachtworld I believe it can be done with an older boat from the 1970's.

What I would like to do is start out by asking:

1. is this a realistic dream?

2. advice on finding the boat.

3. when to start looking for the boat.

4. advice that I just can not think of to ask for of hand. lol

I have read a number of hours and have found some of the first things to think about are:

1. How many people will live on the boat, I will live alone or if I get lucky and meet the lady of my dreams to have her with me. I believe a boat in this size range will be fine.

2. Where you plan to sail. I would like to Cruise, never see another winter. I plan to start off in the Great Lakes and live the first summer there and move down to Florida for the first winter maybe sooner depending on the boat condition and refit time.

There a few boats that I have found that I believe would fit my needs, Huns Christian (maybe out of price range) Westsail and Tartan. To me they are well built boats and fall under the Heavy Displacement Class for Blue water.

Where I am very lucky is that I am very handy and can fix about anything with a little research.

I do know that with any used boat a servey must be done but it would be nice to know as much as i can before hand before i have a servey done on every boat i like. This could be very costly.

I think that should do it for now. I hope to make some friends here and learn from the people that post. Thank you all. John

imagine2frolic 10-16-2007 05:40 PM

One never knows what life will bring to them. You need to be capable of some very physical stuff on boats. It is rare, but at time you really need to grunt.

$1,500.00 is a good income for a medium size boat, and yourself. There are always repairs, and you will need to learn to do as much as you can. If not then $1,500.00 will seem like chump change. I am not trying to discourage you at all.

If you have some skills such as computers, mechanic, electronics, or even sewing then you could always enhance your income along the way.

First thing I would do is try to get some time on other people's boats. Figure out if this is really what you want, or just a DREAM! It happens now, and then when someone is faced with the reality, and the boat is quickly sold. I myself find cruising the most satisfactory accomplishment in my life. Good luck in your quest, you will find many knowledgable people here to interact with.........John

Auzzee 10-16-2007 10:35 PM

Hi John, any injury which is sufficiently serious to cause you to receive compensation for a lifetime, has the potential to become even more debilitating if aggravated. My concern surrounds the sort of gymnastics which are necessary when initially refitting, then maintaining a 'fixer-upper'.

With a budget of $40K, you can certainly find a boat which can be turned back into a cabable cruiser, but the effort of doing so, could compound your injuries and leave you in an even worse position. Being upside down, inside out and hanging by your fingernails in your engine room, in a lumpy seaway....or turning yourself into a Mack truck on the cusp of an accidental gybe...especially if you have a back injury...or having to clamber up the mast to address any one of half a dozen problems aloft could prove disasterous.

Not knowing the nature of your injury means I can only speculate on its consequences, but good health must be protected, even more so if we are considering a life afloat, away from immediate health support options.

A friend with a back injury from a fall at work manages and lives aboard a 42' yacht with his wife. He copes very well and occasionally they sail offshore. His major discomforts have been caused by suddenly bracing during unpredictable wave movements whilst he was down below cooking...and, getting into and out of his dinghy both from the boat and in mild surf at the shoreline.

This has not dampened their enthusiasm, nor altered their plans for extended coastal voyaging. To lessen the impact of heavy stress on his back (and to modify a bigger boat to enable his wife to handle things in an emergency) he bought a ketch, added an inner staysail and, while he did not shorten the main mast, he has changed his headsail for a high cut yankee with a shortened luff...and fitted a furling main also of reduced size. He has added an oversized anchor winch, changed his lifelines for solid rails with increased height, fitted granny rails beside the mast, solid folding mast steps and has peppered the area below decks with handholds.

All of these alterations were made to an already capable sea boat, but still cost them quite a lot of money.

The positive aspect to this is that there can be no better way to convalesce than through sailing. I welcome you to our forum and hope you find the boat that will serve you well across the years, but counsel you against being tempted to buy a 'bargain' which could aggravate your injuries....after all we are blokes and that means we are a little bit stupid (thanks for the reminder sweetie) and even without injury we are predisposed to doing things that may be physically, just a tiny bit beyond us.

Best wishes


Trim50 10-16-2007 11:40 PM

Maintaining my boat IS the cause of my back pain...and I'm 42!

johnar 10-17-2007 02:15 AM

Thank you all for your responses concerns, I guess I really should have been more clear as to my injury. Back in 2005 I was a department Manager at a local Steel Fabrication shop. I went up a ladder 20' to see why a part would not fit on this machine and while up there someone moved the crane, I fell and have been unable to work due to the injury. This was not the first time I have been hurt on the job (1990) finger cut off from a forklift driver being drunk on the job and again (1995) 600 lb. of hot steel came off of the crane right on me, 70% of my body was burn. I know some will say I am very unlucky but in the steel industry it is common to have a high injury rate.

I have talk to my Doctor and he and I both agree that if daily activity is not climbing a mast I should be fine.

This is one of the first concerns I had but felt that I have always over come past injury's that this would not stand in my way.

Ok now that is covered I can move on ( I hate talking about my health) just reminds me of the past.

I do not want to sound as I know it all because this is not true. I have worked all my life in building things and even in design, I believe this will help me a lot in the refit and I will have a great deal of help on the refit.

One thing your responses help me with the most was in rigging, I was unsure what would be the best. Roller furling looks to be the best for me. I love how your friend was able to change his boat to accommodate his disability.

Trim50 10-17-2007 02:46 AM

I highly recommend crewing for the OPYC (Other People's Yacht Club) before you dive into a boat purchase. You will learn volumes crewing and racing. I believe I learned the most about how I wanted to rig my boat from racing on the weekends on other people's can take away the best ideas from each boat knowing exactly how it should be rigged to work for you. This will save you years of experimenting on your own boat.

MMNETSEA 10-17-2007 11:27 AM

Hello John,

Welcome to our club ! great advice ! Within whatever limitations others in your life may have set for you , you will find a different life in the fraternity of cruising yachtsmen and women.

Over the years I have seen many people who have been challenged for reason or another - and where the life on a cruising yacht has actually helped their every day physical fitness. Just going from saloon to the cockpit 20 times a day is more exercise than many shore bound people perform in a week. My best friend has been cruising for 18 years - last week had a second spinal fusion op (this time L6<>7) he is now on his way back to his boat !

Your selection of boats is fine :- "Hans Christian (maybe out of price range) Westsail and Tartan. To me they are well built boats and fall under the Heavy Displacement Class for Blue water.""

The Hans Christian (which I know well ) is a good heavy boat - BUT - expensive ! Expensive to Maintain, needs lots of upkeep ! Spacewise in terms of living space could be better.

The Tartan and the Westsail are average.

However the best advice has already been given :- research and research to find a boat that meets your set objectives (don't change them to suit the broker) Once you find a boat that really matches in most departments - get a good honest surveyor to produce a report just for you (not the sellor !) and take it from there.

Whatever, you are are always welcome to return for 2 cents or more.


Lynx 10-17-2007 12:26 PM

Crew on a few boats first.

Raising the anchor in wind by hand.

Handling the sails. lower and stow them with some wind.

Maving the boat to and from a dock or lock.

A smaller boat is less weight and less of everything else including money. You should have enough money left over to come ashore and keep the boat. A 26 foot coastal cruiser will do you fine.

Oh yea, stay coastal.

MMNETSEA 10-17-2007 01:18 PM

Hi Lynx,

What represents a good example of a "coastal cruiser" ? -- in fact what is a coastal cruiser?

Charles J. Doane in a very good article affirms that there is no set formula that makes for an ideal coastal cruiser. Because coastal-cruising boats are not likely to be caught out in bad weather for extended periods, their construction need not meet offshore standards. Any of the popular mass-produced boats currently on the market should be more than adequate in terms of strength. Because coastal boats do tend to spend a lot of time tied up to docks, focus should on amenities. A substantial AC shore-power system is usually a critical item and will go a long way toward making your boat as comfortable as your home, allowing you to enjoy microwaves, hair driers, air conditioning, televisions, and other luxuries without installing such impedimenta as generators, huge battery banks, and inverters. Nor do you need big tanks. Capacities of as little as 20 gallons of fuel and 50 of water, given a mid-size boat between 30 and 40 feet, should be adequate in most cases.

Otherwise, what constitutes a well-equipped coastal cruiser varies by location. A boat based in northern waters will get a lot more use if it has a sheltered cockpit and a good heater on board. Likewise, a boat in the sunny south will need good ventilation and a good bimini to keep its crew happy. The same goes for the sail inventory. If light winds predominate, you'll need a big genoa, probably a spinnaker or drifter, and a lightweight main. If your cruising ground sees a lot of heavy air, you'll need smaller, tougher sails. In all cases, you'll want a roller-reefing headsail with a sunstrip (so you can leave it bent on when the boat is idle) and a mainsail cover that is easy to put on and remove. The faster you can get under way, the more you will use the boat.

However, notwithstanding Charles J. Doane's good analysis what might make up a coastal cruiser it does not answer all the original questions by Johnar.

Only John himself will have to determine what suits himself and his objectives.

Gallivanters 10-17-2007 03:35 PM

I'm certainly no medical expert, but...

Twelve years ago, while living aboard at the Pier Marketplace Marina in Cairns, Australia... I became friends with an interesting and fun cruising couple. They were living aboard a yellow catamaran across the creek at anchor. They'd been at it for years sailing all up & down the east coast of Queensland and NSW. He was an electrical engineer masquerading as a mechanical engineer who cheerfully offered to help anyone fix anything on their boat (myself included) anytime. She was a talented artist.

What made them so special (in my eyes) was the fact that He was paraplegic and She was quadriplegic.

I used to let them park their wheel chairs by our boat and charge her batteries when they dinghied back over to their boat for the night. I'd sometimes offer them a shove up the dock ramp when the tides were low (they'd never ask) and go have a few beers with them at the local pubs. We even carried them both (and their chairs) up into the Cairns Yacht Club for a big brew-ha one evening as they'd NEVER been there because it's built on stilts and there was no elevator. We all had a riotious good time that night. As we left, he wouldn't allow anyone to help him down the stairs and attempted to do a wheelie all the way down to the beash! He ended-up sprawled on the sand laughing his butt off after taking a tumble, breaking his chair. He said it was okay as he couldn't feel his scraped knees and he was planning to build another wheelchair, anyway. He designed, cut, bent & welded them himself - out on their catamaran. He was a big guy and hard on his equipment.

At their boat - they'd row up between the hulls connect block & tackle and He'd lift themselves and the dinghy up to deck level and hop aboard. The boat was rigged as usual but with twin roller furlers (which he'd designed & built) and attached one to the front of each hull. Their boat was uniquely arranged to allow them easy access with ramps instead of ladders. She told me that she'd never even been out on the foredeck area and that whenever she fell over she just had to wait until he could help her back up again.

They loved to go scuba diving with battery-pwered underwater scooters.

One time - I noticed their boat was gone for several days... but they'd left their chairs by our boat. When I saw them again I asked if they'd gone out to the reef, or what...? and he said no, that they needed to install a new depth transducer on one of the hulls and that they'd gone up the creek to careen the boat in order to do the job. Immagine (if you will) the challenge and difficulty they went through to accomplish that job... between tides, in the mud, without the use of his legs or an able bodied assistant to help on the inside. He would have been crawling through the mud, with tools, cutting a hole in the boat, feeding wire, bedding, tightening & sealing the boat while keeping an eye on the water lever changing around him.


I feel sure some of you may have met them in your travels around Ozzy. They're hard to miss.

When the day finally came that they loaded their wheelchairs into their dinghy and said their good-bys, they said they were sailing up to Thursday Island to do some kind of computer job he'd been offered. After that they were going across the top and heading for the Kimberlies.

I can't remember their names (not even the boat's) and I've regretably lost their mailing address but they were as nice as could be and inspirational to myself and to anyone who ever met them - I'm sure.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that life at sea is always easy. But whenever I feel a cramp or sore back or skinned-up knee or hear anyone complaining about the joyful tasks of changing hot oil, toilet hoses or cleaning mud off the foredeck... I always look back and think about my friend laughing in the sand with a broken wheelchair on top of him.

And then I start in with "You think thats hard - you shouldda met this Australian couple who..."

Love to Live - Live to Love,


Lighthouse 10-17-2007 04:53 PM

johnar 10-17-2007 05:08 PM

Good Morning all,

Wow, i love the post they gave me alot of incuragement. The story about the couple that is disabled was great, he reminds of some of the thing that will help me make extra money if needed, i have some back ground in Computers as well as Auto Cad and wiring machines. The company i worked at for years had me working a job in which i had no title, my duties were to find better/cheaper ways to make the product.

I very much agree that i need to crew on boats that it is the best way to learn, in my case i have aways been able to learn anything by hands on and asking advice from what i call old heads. I have always loved to talk to older people about almost anything, i feel the knowlege they have is past along in conversations.

I guess i am very lucky again that i live so close to a marina and they have a very nice boat club that i will be spending alot of time at over the next few months. I live right on the Mississippi River in Alton illinoius, as it is becoming winter now i am not sure who many people will be sailing.

One thing i would like to ask about is "stepping the Mast" is it a hard task to do while on the water? To me it would be very hard. There must be some type of winch used.

Another thing is passing through a lock, is there a charge? Do you make arangements ahead of time?

The reason i am asking is if i was able to have the boat here in Alton for the refit it would make my life alot easier. Right now i have free rent and able hands to help me with the boat. If i had to move to the coast or Great Lakes to refit i would have added cost.

Thank you so much freinds.

imagine2frolic 10-17-2007 05:18 PM


When I was trying to teach my 10 year old how to snow ski. He kept saying he couldn't, and had a million excuses. Of course I am not the best of teachers, but we had to make do. Just about when I was ready to give up. Here comes this man swishing, and cutting like no one else, and on one leg. I looked at my son, and he looked at the guy missing a leg. He was skiing in no time at all.

You have to hand it to the people who never complain, and never let anything hold them back. Especially when disabled these people are an inspiration.......Johnar, only you can make your dream a reality, and only you can overcome the difficult times. I have my fingers crossed for you if this is what you decide to do. You can dream your dream, but it is more fun to LIVE IT!

johnar 10-17-2007 05:40 PM

Well said thank you so much

imagine2frolic 10-17-2007 09:53 PM

About a mile north of the lock on the Missouri side of the river. There is a marina where my friend keeps his boat. This guy takes newbies all the time to the Bahamas out of Miami, and has done it for over 35 years. I was one of them, and look at me now.

Did you work in the Granite City mills? If so we may have crossed paths at one time or another. My first sail was right there on the river, and it changed my life. At the end of town on the right hand side for years sat a 32 Ford Pick up. I can't remember the business, but I actually tried to buy that truck.

I lived in Collinsville, Belleville, Edwardsville, and so many other towns....oops customer. I will send you a pm soon......John

johnar 10-18-2007 12:04 AM

Hello Imagine,

The last 9 years that i worked was at a place called Mart Corp. it is located in West Port over by the airport in St. Louis, they made very big power washing machines. Before that i was a metalergist and have worked at a number of steel foundries and yes Ganite City steel was one i wroked at for very short time i think in 1993. When i was burnt i was working at Dinnion Foundry as the oven operator and after that i desided to change the line of work i was in.

I just moved to Alton this year in June from down by 6 flags but a have a friend that lives right there next to the marina your friend is at. That is called West Alton and i have been there a few times with my Dolphin 19'.

The next time i am out i will go down and see if the truck is still there.

I am so happy you know something about this area, i am sure i will have a number of question.

Today i spent some time reading about stepping the mast, which was the one thing that i had the biggest fear of doing. I was so happy to see how it was done, I now know that it is something that i can do with help. Just could not picture a light going out while out and climbing the mast is one thing i will avoid as much as i can.

One thing i am trying to do is figure out the things that i will have to do in order to know what i will be able to do alone or need help with. I am sure i will never sail alone.

What started this dream really going was the days out on my boat seeing others sail on Clearwater Lake and then reading online how people retirer and live aboard. I know that it is what will make me happy and that i will be able to do it, even if i am unable to sail every day i can find a marina down south and live aboard.

I feel like i have lived and worked a very hard life and now that the kids are grown it is time that i slow my life down some and be happy with my life. That is why i tell people that i am changing my lifestyle and not just that i am going to live on a boat. To me a boat is a home and if taken care of like a home a person could be so happy with the lifestyle.

My sister thinks that sail boats are made only for parties and that people get on them just to get drunk and go fast. lol I try to tell her no it is the feeling of being free and that not all people drink on boats, myself im not a drinker but do not mind my friends having a few cold ones.

My reasons are to be free, free from my ties at land, the every day driving, the crime, the sounds of a city oh and i cant foreget the winters (i hate the cold).

well i hope to get to know you better and i would like to thank you for your post.


ChrisG 10-18-2007 04:57 AM

Well good luck.

Even cheap boats are expensive. Like over the medium term you will be looking at probably a new motor, sails, electric windlass etc. Nevertheless it can be done.

I think you should narrow the size down to 32-36, for cost and handling. Probably a cutter. Big enough for two if you get lucky.

$1500 is ok to live on once major boat expenses have been taken care of but unless it is fully inflation adjusted beware.

You probably won't know unless you have experienced it, but even in moderately rough conditions you can be literally thrown around the boat if you are not careful to hang on.

You also have a substantial learning curve to undertake, not only learning to sail but learning all the rest that goes with command ie sailing courses.

You don't get boats surveyed unless you intend buying. You should therefore learn enough to pick out the problems that can be ascertained.

No rush. Try it first. Have fun.

Pelagic 10-18-2007 05:29 AM

Hi John,

I’ve said this before but I think it applies especially to your concerns. Study different types of boats from an ergonomic point of view and as in Kirk’s great story about that couple…attitude is everything once you have made your decision. Study… then go with your gut feeling as to what platform feels most comfortable, and then enjoy learning how to service that platform concerning your specific needs. Have fun and remember…the journey has already begun

Yachtmaster81 10-25-2007 02:44 PM

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible."


Seeratlas 11-05-2007 08:18 PM

I'm going to give a bit different piece of advice. I would seriously consider a junk type rigged boat. The most trying thing on a boat (imho) is reefing the std. bermuda rig in a sudden blow. snapping your harness lead onto a jackline, clambering forward in the weather, struggling with the flapping sail...well, not going to be good on a previously injured back. With a good junk, you sit in your ph or cockpit, let fly the halyard and the rig comes down, settles into the lazyjacks, and you take another drink of coffee.

Now junks are not particularly fast to windward, but they are the equal of the bermuda offwind, and often superior and that's without having to set any poles or chutes...which is another thing your back might not be up to.

The best way to get a junk rig on a boat is to buy a used one all set up by its previous owner. Often they will be built of steel which might work well for you also as used steel boats are often tremendous buys in the places where fibreglass is king. For cruising, a sound steel hull properly barrier coated and maintained is generally stronger than a glass boat, especially when grinding up against a reef, a concrete wharf, or some yahoo's dock queen which has come loose in a blow and headed your way. They are generally more watertight due to the welding of decks, houses, and fittings as opposed to bolt thru's on wood or fibreboats. They have their quirks, but many experienced circumnavigators prefer them. Once prepared their maintenance is not a burden. With the junk rig, especially a free standing one, a whole lot of what can go wrong on a boat is eliminated, and the costs involved in maintaining the rig and sails is drastically reduced.

Since your income is secure, and deadlines and schedules won't be your problem, get one with a good motor and big tanks, plenty of sail area (easier to reef than add sail later) and I think you may find that sailing predominately downwind, while adding a little motor power to those times you absolutely have to go hard to windward, will suit you just fine. you will also spend a LOT less money over time.

Lastly, if you consider any steel hulled vessel, be sure and retain an experienced metal boat surveyor adept with an ultrasound. Pay him whatever it takes to go over the boat with a fine toothed comb. A good man with an ultrasound can not only tell you what's solid steel and what's not, but can find invisible places where perfectly good appearing coatings have nevertheless come loose from the steel underneath.

Ok, one more piece of advice. over the years I've seen an awful lot of cruisers start out in 30's, move to 33's, then 36's or 7's, and either finally settle in the 40's or with gobs of money for electric reefing /furling stowaway sail setups, graduate into the 50's or even 60's. With a good junk rig, most men can safely handle up to say a mid 40's to 50 ft. boat without expensive powered equipment. The difference in living between a 35 or 36 and say a 40 or 42 is vastly more than the numbers suggest due to the increase in ship's volume. If you're going to live on this boat, and maybe pick up a mate a long the way assuming you're single now, its something to consider. I used to singlehand my 54' sloop without electric winches etc., and I wouldn't recommend it. Tons of living space, full shop etc. but the stress took most of the fun out of sailing so I found myself going out less and less unless I had a bunch of crew to go with me. Finally I sold the boat and began to rethink my priorities. I settled on what many would still consider a *large* boat at 44ft. and around 38 thousand pounds displacement. I'm not alone. If you read around a lot of experienced sailors beginning to think about their own personal and perhaps *last* boat, have settled right in that 43 to 46' range, setup to require minimal foredeck action to handle the sails etc.

One thing for sure, get out on the water first, as one of the best places to go shopping for good used boats is at the termination points of "dream cruises" where many once proud owners find that being seasick for days on end, fighting in close quarters, and not being able to talk for hours with aunt martha on the phone everyday doesn't quite fit the dream they had imagined.>/smile.gif You can find some hellacious deals at the end of cruising season in these places. Just first make sure you aren't going to turn right around and do the same thing.

You can read all the sailing magazines, books, and forums like this in the world but until you get out there in a blow in the middle of the night and the power goes won't really know if sailing is the life for you>/smile.gif

now just to be fair, there really are those idyllic days on the hook, sunset splashing an amazing array of colors across the westward horizon, a warm breeze caressing the fronds of the palms into seductive and almost hypnotic waves to the tempo of the rhythmic lapping of the sea at the shoreline; the sounds of seabirds reassuring their mates that all is well as they return to their evening roosts, the delightful smells of fresh seafood sizzling on the grill tempered with subtle (and sometimes NOT so subtle) aromas of mysterious and exotic spices..., that glass of your favorite beverage, whatever it may be, sitting there held close in the palm of your hand, and if you're lucky, the knowing smile, understanding and comraderie eloquently communicated without words by a fellow being and kindred spirit.

AT its worst, well, it can be pretty bad..but....

at its best...well, it IS the best>/smile.gif

Good luck to you.


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