modified racer as liveaboard?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by KarlH, Aug 17, 2017.

  1. KarlH
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Minnesota

    KarlH Junior Member

    I'm new here, so I'll start with an intro:

    I was interested in boats and marine engineering as a kid, and even had a student license for Rhino3D in high school, but I switched to simpler hobbies in my 20s because work required that. Other than spending those years at an R&D company that occasionally did projects with marine applications, I'm very much in the learning phase. That's especially true with sailcraft, since what I read in the past was focused on powerboats and infrastructure (SWATH hulls, acicular ferrite steels for oil rigs and that sort of thing).

    Anyway, over the last year and a half I've been considering a liveaboard for practical reasons (being a light sleeper in need of a separate set of walls, needing to be able to relocate for work, and living in a region with cheap slips and sheltered waters). Any liveaboard in my area would need to be insulated and climate controlled because of the weather, which narrows the options.

    There's one fully-insulated steel sloop on Yachtworld that might work, but I can't find any information on the designer, and the builder mostly does powerboats. There are also some partially completed steel boats for sale, but most of them look like home-builts and it would be hard to inspect the welds (painted).

    So what I'm wondering is whether it would be possible/sane to buy a 30-40' offshore racer with a bare FRP interior and insulate/finish it? The ones I've seen have wide beams and deep keels, and I'm not sure how tough their hulls are or how easy they are to sail single handed.
     
  2. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Raceboats are usually set up for large crews. They are not ideal for cruising. Is there a reason not to get a cruising boat instead?
     
  3. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    There's a huge variation in hull strength, interior design and handling qualities among ex-racers. Apart from anything else an "ex racer" could mean a late 50ft '60s CCA cruiser/racer, a flush deck 40 ft alloy IOR boat from 1982, or a 32ft 2011 sportsboat.

    Personally I don't have an issue with the ex-raceboat layout per se. The main structural issue could be that they have quarter berths instead of cockpit lockers and that's not the easiest fix (although not the hardest, either). On the other hand some of us prefer to use the quarter berths for storage and access them from inside rather than outside. So much of this stuff seems to get down to personal preference that you may be best off visualising how it will work for you, not someone else.

    A lot of the boats that size are easy to singlehand if you are experienced. The main thing to stay away from is a rig that depends on running backstays, in my opinion. The more radical keels are also probably something to steer clear of because of the structural issues that can come into play.

    There are people who have sailed half-way around the world or more in ex racing boats that are still stripped out and bare inside, and which have running backstays. They normally seem to be French from the very small sample I know! It's a different way of living.

    What do the existing liveaboards in your area do? There are people who live aboard in cold areas, and the ones I know who do it don't have insulation as such.
     
  4. Steve W
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    Location: Duluth, Minnesota

    Steve W Senior Member

    Minnesota is not just cold, it can get down into the -20f range and the water freezes solid so you need to bubble if you stay in the water which is probably preferable as far as keeping warm. We had a couple from Florida winter over in the water 2 seasons ago in a Catalina 47 and didn't seem to mind. They had it shrink wrapped with clear I think and laid some kind of insulation on the deck, the solar gain can raise the temp during the day pretty well. I doubt they did much to the hull as it was only one winter. An old custom ior racer could make a nice live aboard as they usually have a lot of space and would be much easier to insulate permenantly than a cruiser with a lot of cabinetry and particularly liners. A lot that I have seen from reputable builders were beautifully built.
     
  5. KarlH
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    KarlH Junior Member

    The first boats that I considered were cruisers, but I've hesitated for the reasons Steve W listed. If there are some that would be practicable to insulate, I'd definitely be interested.

    CT249, thanks for the suggestions. That's exactly what I needed.

    The racer that initially caught my attention was a Dick Carter 36. I haven't found much information online, but there are a couple of threads about the Carter 37, with the main complaints being significant roll and unforgiving tendencies when capsized.

    It's not completely bare FRP below deck, but close to it in many areas. There appears to be a cloth lining that wraps around the stringers and hugs the inside of the hull. There are also two settees with some type of cabinetry behind them. I'm not sure how those are attached, but they would only block access to a small portion of the hull. There's also flooring and a wood frame supporting the forward V-berth.

    As far as structural problems with keels, what types have caused trouble?

    I think that's true of one person here as well, which surprised me. It's possible that the air is so dry that condensation isn't a problem. The winters he spent here were also pretty mild.

    I'd be open to trying an uninsulated boat if I knew that it would work, but I don't want to find out the hard way in February that it won't.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
  6. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    The 36 is also known as the Texas One Ton. It's slightly later than the Carter 37 and a bit more pushed around the IOR measurements. For the story from two of the guys who designed it, go here : Dick Carter design boats http://forums.sailinganarchy.com/index.php?/topic/120735-dick-carter-design-boats/&page=14 . Bruce Perry and Yves Tanton were the designers involved. Yves mentions the boat in his blog and he names some very good guys in the construction team. If it's the standard construction it's C Flex foam sandwich which could be good insulation??????

    A lot of IOR boats rolled downwind, but mainly when pushed to the max under spinnaker. The capsize issue is IMHO immensely over-rated. The number of people who have been killed in a capsize in boats like that is about 0.0000. A bunch of guys who rolled a smaller version in the 1979 Fastnet got scared and hopped into the liferaft and a number then died. The boat itself, Ariadne, survived the storm untended. Not one healthy person was killed in an inversion in that race; one person who was apparently unwell and one person who was already injured did, but the same number of people died in capsizes of non-IOR boats.

    The keel issue is almost always with boats from about 1987 on. Boats of the 36's era were normally built like tanks and losing a keel was basically unheard of. The big genoas can be hard to handle but if you just use a small jib you're still going to go faster than lots of cruising boats.

    I can't find into on the 36 but assuming it's got a similar layout to the 37 she could be a great liveaboard. Our J/36 is similar in basic layout; it's a classic simple racer/cruiser layout because it works. Chuck a nice vee berth in and some storage and she'll be ace.

    The people I know who live aboard in cold conditions cruise Cape Horn and Alaska in the summer, and lived aboard in England for 20 years. Not as cold as the Midwest, but they also didn't have a clear cover and I don't think they had shore power for heating. There's some articles around on the net by people who liveaboard on the Lakes as you've probably seen. I did a winter in Ontario when I was a kid and I know it's a different level of cold around the Lakes!

    I spent four years living aboard - it's great fun and a great way to save money. Good luck!
     
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  7. KarlH
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    KarlH Junior Member

    Steve, do you by chance remember where that couple from Florida stayed? Someone on another forum had said that Barker's Island was unlikely to allow year-'round liveaboards, and I didn't find much info elsewhere. I lived in East Duluth for a winter several years ago and loved it, so the option of staying at a marina there or in Superior would be pretty cool.

    That looks like neat stuff, and you're right, cored hulls would be a good start. For some reason most of the cruisers I'd looked at were solid lay-up.

    That's pretty sporting :)
     
  8. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    Karl, the Florida couple spent the winter in the water at Spirit lake marina in Riverside up the St Louis river. She worked at the Big apple bagel shop in Superior so we would talk to her when we stopped in for lunch. I never did get up to see the boat so just have vague memories of what she told us.
     
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  9. KarlH
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    KarlH Junior Member

    Thanks, Steve :)

    I also appreciate your suggestion of custom boats; just a quick search on Yachtworld turned up several very nice-looking and reasonably affordable ones.
     
  10. Fred Roswold
    Joined: Mar 2005
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    Location: Hong Kong

    Fred Roswold Junior Member

    Raceboats can make exellent liveaboards and cruising boats. Older ones are exceedingly inexpensive to buy. They often have sparse or bare interiors so projects like insulation are possible. For cruising they sail well with small sails. The sail handling controls are efficient and easy to manage. The usually have expensive equipment such as winches and electronics. They DO NOT require large crews unless you wish to do every sailing maneuver instantaneously.

    The down sides often include extensive rework to make a livable interior, lack of cruising equipment such as ground tackle and windlass, roller furling, autopilot, watermaker, spray dodger, etc. The conversion can be expensive.

    That being said, if you like sailing as much or more than motoring, if the thrill of a fine performing boat excites you, the old race boat offers a lot.

    My wife and I have lived aboard and cruised on a 43' race boat for over 30 years. Our boat has so many advantages, including a mirad of seeming small things that you wouldn't think of which make living on and operating it so much easier. I often find myself shaking my head at the difficulty I see other cruising boat owners dealing with.

    The trick is to get a performance boat and keep it SIMPLE, and avoid buying and installing everything you see on other boats. Most just add clutter, weight, and complexity. Then SAIL THE THING! Sail it every where in any whether. Soon you will be glad you bought a race boat.

    On the other hand, if you just want a floating home, and plan on motoring everwhere, any old tank will do.
     
  11. KarlH
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    KarlH Junior Member

    Hi Fred; it's nice to hear from someone who's doing it successfully :)

    That's a very nicely-appointed boat, by the way. It sounds as though you don't have too much trouble with the backstays. Any tips?
     
  12. Fred Roswold
    Joined: Mar 2005
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    Fred Roswold Junior Member

    Like many raceboats we have running backstays (with checkstays, a second segment going from the runner to the mast). Also like many raceboats our cockpit is set up for efficiency and ease of operation. We are lucky in this way. This means that one person can reach the runner winches and the headsail winches standing in one spot, just by turning around. The helm person can also reach the runner winches. We use the runners going up wind, and usually set them going down wind but we're less religious about that than upwind. Upwind we always have a runner on. The routine is this (while shorthanded):
    helm: Ready about?
    crew: Ready
    helm: Helm's down (turns the boat)
    Crew releases the jib sheet
    Crew turns pulls on the new runner
    Helm releases the old runner
    Crew winches in the new jib sheet.
    We have an adjustable backstay (hydraulic) and if there is more than 1500lbs on it the runners MUST be used. We also have a baby stay (also hydraulic) and if we are beating into waves we put that on also.

    We know that this is more to do than many boats, but we've always felt that sailing is an active sport and we don't mind a few jobs to do on each tack. We like sailing and we like to do it right.

    If I want to tack single handed (letting my mate sleep) I use the autopilot and use the auto-tack feature which turns the boat 90 degrees, then I just hit the button and do all the winches and stuff myself. The only problem with this approach is that we are usually sailing on the wind vane, so if I am going to do it myself I must disengage the windvane and hook up the autopilot prior to each tack.
     
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  13. KarlH
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Minnesota

    KarlH Junior Member

    That would open up some affordable options, although it would take practice before I'd trust myself in bad weather.

    Do you think that a wind vane would be the best option in following seas?
     

  14. Fred Roswold
    Joined: Mar 2005
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    Fred Roswold Junior Member

    The most important thing is practice. You have to sail, sail, sail. You have to sail in any kind of weather. We plan our sailing days far ahead of time, and then when the day comes, we go, regardless of weather. The thing is, you learn quickly, but you never stop learning. Bad weather? Just keep the sail area reduced. Don't worry about whether you can trust yourself; you'll learn more from your mistakes than from your successes.

    Following seas? Good boats have powerful, balanced, rudders and following seas are not a problem. The wind vane, a servo-pendulum one, if it has the friction worked out of it, will turn the rudder as needed and even in following seas, if the boat is not too overpowered, will steer the boat fine. Read this story WINGSSAIL - Cruising Log of Wings - Serendipity 43 - Fred Roswold & Judy Jensen http://wingssail.blogspot.mx/2013/07/july-5-sleighride-to-columbia.html and if you click on the link at the bottom you will see the kind of waves which we handled sailing with a windvane.

    The thing is, you gotta sail sail sail.

    Fred
     
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