Must Have List for Choosing Our Boat

When it comes to making a must have list, a lot of research has been involved in making the most informed decisions possible. I have done a lot of reading on many live aboard sailing blogs. (It is definitely the trend for long term cruisers to have a blog for their boat.) These are a couple of my favourites: Sleeping with Oars, Hobo Sailor, Cygnus III

With all kinds of people in the live aboard community there is a lot of variation in what kind of boats people need to suit their own needs. Some live aboards will simply live tied to the dock almost all the time and never go sailing. Some stay at anchor all year and only come ashore to provision occasionally. Then there are cruisers who sail everywhere and may not stay in one place for very long at all. And there is of course everything in between.

If you want to cruise the Caribbean, you are better off getting something in which you will not be constrained by your draft to get into some of the shallower anchorages, wing keels act as excellent anchors if you run aground, good luck ever getting free of the bottom if that happens. If you want to cross oceans, you need to have a more solidly built blue water boat, a full keel is good, but you also want something fast enough to help cover the miles across the ocean day by day, and it will need large amounts of tank space.

Jay and I intend to sail our boat and cover some good distance with it down the coast and potentially across the ocean. It’s also going to spend months at a dock, and will potentially be in Canada for some Canadian winters. This means we will have to be able to winterize our boat.

This is our must have list for our boat:

  • Under 40 feet (more than 35)
  • Draft less than 6 feet
  • Single mast
  • Decent amount of tank space and storage space
  • Traditional C shaped Galley
  • Washroom with separate shower
  • Full or ¾ keel
  • Long waterline
  • Real mainsail (none of those furling mainsails)
  • A heater, or place for us to put one
  • Dinghy davit

 Things that we would like – while we understand it isn’t completely necessary:

  • Some sort of swim platform
  • Full enclosure
  • Good hull shape, appearance (we are both racers and we care about this, silly I know)
  • Space beside the bed in the V-berth
  • 2 cabin layout
  • Decent cockpit space
  • A fridge with front access
  • Good amount of windows/natural light inside
  • Should be a good “sailing” boat, lots of sail area and good stability, we prefer sailing over motoring any day
  • Fresh water generator
  • Electric windlass
  • Well laid out electrical panel

 Deal Breakers, won’t even consider a boat with:

  • All teak decks
  • Lengthwise galley
  • Too much of a fixer upper
  • Two masts
  • Dark/ugly wood interior
  • Washroom too small
  • Wing keel or fin keel

This list is in no way complete, things can and probably will be added and taken away. Though Jay and I have been aboard a lot of boats, we still haven’t been able to narrow down very much because we actually do not know what our budget is yet. Our searches online have shown us that we might have overly expensive taste, but so far the one that fits our desires the most seems to be Island Packet. We are not ruling anything out yet though, and would like to have a chance to check out some center cockpit options before narrowing down the list.

Next steps for us:

  • Find out our budget, get approved for a loan
  • Start Shopping is a good place to start
  • Find a boat broker
  • Check out boats, climb aboard and see them in person

We have a long way to go.

This website has a very well written in depth description on buying a boat: Sleeping with oars – buying a boat

What do you guys think? Any suggestions on boats, or things to add to our list?

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3 thoughts on “Must Have List for Choosing Our Boat

  1. You will not find any sailboats with “washrooms”! And stay away from keels with centreboard, nothing but a headache in the long run.

    • I know it’s called a head, just don’t want to confuse anyone who doesn’t know that.
      Definitely don’t want a swing keel, which I just noticed is shown as an option for the island packet in the picture.
      Another strong contender from the layouts we’ve seen is the 1985 Endeavor 38. Center cockpits allow for a pretty big aft stateroom.

  2. Maybe you should start your search looking at the features of the ultimate cruiser and cross out the features you do not need or want. If you just want to live on water pick a house boat, if you actually want to go places and cross oceans pick a boat that actually moves with decent speed.
    Check out the ultimate here:

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