What an opportunity! My friend Don shares a similar but different disease in loving boating. But Don is a fisherman. He's got a 26' Grady White - one of the best fishing boats made. And let's just say that he gets good use out of it. His enthusiasum for boating is so strong that his son has caught the bug and works for the local Grady White dealer. So I guess it runs into the family.
A couple of months ago I ran into Don at a party. I was telling him about my apsirations to liveaboard with Joan and he asked if I'd talked to anyone who's doing it. Gee, that hasn't occurred to me yet. What a good idea!
Turns out that Don has fellow fishing friends that also liveaboard a 53' Selene. So today Joan and I went with Don for a tour. The weather here in Seattle was unusually beautiful, so it was a perfect day for a tour. The view at Elliot Bay Marina was just stellar. I'm going to have to take a walk down the dock on a rainy, nasty day, so I can see what we're in for. Because today all I can think of is, "YES!"
J'Anna and Larry were quite the hosts and totally ready to show off their boat. They've been living aboard for a number of years now...previously in a 42' Grand Banks. This was perfect! By the time they'd ordered the Selene, they knew a lot about what they liked and didn't in boats, so this boat was really set up exactly the way they wanted it. In fact, they made two trips to China to see it built, and to customize it to their specifications. Now that's the way to do it!
I don't expect to be so lucky, but for instance, I really liked the way they had the galley setup. They altered the side of the salon across the galley, eliminating a window in lieu of a full height Sub Zero refrigerator with two drawer freezers below. Very nice! This also gave the main galley area more workspace by eliminating the refer. The stove and oven are both electric. No propane here. They learned in their previous boat that when on the hook, the generator almost always needs to be running if for no other reason than to recharge the house batteries. So why have the propane complexity? The smooth glass cooktop also allows anyone to use the area as a plain counter when not cooking. This is a great deal when your counterspace is limited already. I expect to be making some modifications on whatever boat we end up with, so input like this is golden.
Another question I had is why go to a 120v refrigeration unit? Larry explained that 12-volt units are made in such limited quantities that they generally are a lot less reliable. In the past, they'd experienced the refer going out about every 6-8 weeks for a spell there. So basically, everything in the fridge was wasted. That wouldn't last long for me! Meanwhile, 120v refers are typically made by the 1,000s, so they're much more reliable. Parts are easier to find, etc. Makes sense!
The rest of the tour was great. Larry gave me a lot of context to many systems in the boat. One engine instead of two, bow thrusters, stern thrusters, etc, etc. I really appreciated his perspective on heating systems. Fussy! They went through three systems before finding one that was reliable and comfortable enough for their Grand Banks. All this info is really great to know BEFORE you buy.
Another thing I was grappling with was comparing an aft cabin boat to the pilothouse style. An aft cabin boat will put the master stateroom behind the salon, and the guest accomodations forward. This is nice for separation of the host from their guests -- at least in theory. But to me, this tri-cabin layout requires a lot of stairs up and down, and when you exit the boat on a rainy day, you walk right into the weather, rather than into the covered cockpit area in back. That seems unpleasant! J'Anna totally agrees with the weather issue, but didn't think that separating the accomodations with the salon means much. "It's still a boat with limited space. No matter how big the boat is, you're still on top of each other." J'Anna should know. She's had both boats!
Thanks J'Anna and Larry for the great tour. And the great context! And thanks Don for putting the tour together!