Motorsailer vs Yacht to live on

shannonyachtgirl

New member
Joined
12 Dec 2023
Messages
9
Visit site
I am just browsing (cheap) sail boats that I can live on.

I've watched a lot of youtube video's of people doing similar on a budget and was looking for a sail boat somethiing like a Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 361.
But I've just come across a really cheap (and very old) Miller Marine Fife Motorsailer that looks amazing space wise.

Might be a stupid newbie question, but do people cruise or sail (windpower only) motorsailers?
 

Wansworth

Well-known member
Joined
8 May 2003
Messages
30,120
Location
SPAIN,Galicia
Visit site
no Questions are stupid.Muchdepends on the design and ratio of power to sail the vessel has.a fife motor sailer is in the bracket of the true motor sailer,based on fishing vessels,definitely reliant on its engine
 

shannonyachtgirl

New member
Joined
12 Dec 2023
Messages
9
Visit site
Thankyou for your reply much appreciated. That doesnt sound appropriate for me then, motoring all the time would cost a fortune in fuel I presume?
 

Tranona

Well-known member
Joined
10 Nov 2007
Messages
40,844
Visit site
They are cheap for a reason. Owning and living on a boat like that is pretty much a full time job keeping it afloat. However in answer to your basic question, yes, people live aboard motorsailors because they value the space and particularly the enclosed wheelhouse which makes them a closer substitute for a land based home for a given size. However if your intention is to go long distance cruising under sail then not the best choice. However there are some designs, mainly Scandinavian like Nauticats that do combine adequate sailing capability with spacious accommodation. A Nauticat 331 is a good example but they are not in the budget category.
 

shannonyachtgirl

New member
Joined
12 Dec 2023
Messages
9
Visit site
Thanks for the advice I’ve been looking at different models and I just don’t know which one would be best for someone who’s new to it all. I’ve just looked at the Nauticat 331 definitely too pricey for what I’m looking for.
 

LittleSister

Well-known member
Joined
12 Nov 2007
Messages
17,646
Location
Me Norfolk/Suffolk border - Boat Deben & Southwold
Visit site
If you don't know what you are looking for, I'd strongly recommend you buy something popular that will be easy to sell on again, and that is pretty much ready to go and doesn't require rebuilding or refitting (even if that means compromising your ideal size and other preferences). Once you have a boat you will become much clearer about what you want, not least from what you like about what you have, and what you don't like.

It is almost inevitable that your boat preferences, and even your plans for what to do with a boat, will change, and armed with your increased knowledge you will be better placed to buy the next boat, or know that what you have will suffice (given every boat is a compromise).
 

Tranona

Well-known member
Joined
10 Nov 2007
Messages
40,844
Visit site
Thanks for the advice I’ve been looking at different models and I just don’t know which one would be best for someone who’s new to it all. I’ve just looked at the Nauticat 331 definitely too pricey for what I’m looking for.
Boat choice is only one aspect of living on a boat, and in many ways the least important. Boats are not designed for living on - at least in the smaller and affordable size range. You can "live" on just about any cabin boat above about 20' in length, although in practical terms 25-7 foot is the minimum. I lived for a year weekdays on an old style 26' sailing boat in an eating/sleeping/going to work every day way, but that was ashore and walking distance from work. Not much different from living in a bedsit but I had a proper house at weekends. I also lived fairly extended periods on a boat not dissimilar to the Beneteau you mentioned - much better!

You really need to think how you are going to live in relation to the rest of your life - work, social, relationship with others. Living a conventional shore based life of regular work and socialising surrounded by possessions that support this is challenging on a small boat afloat, particularly in winter. Boats are cramped, cold, damp and if in the water often a long way from shore based activity. So, for example if you really want just a home then a motor sailor has attractions (or a canal boat). However if your plan is to be mobile under sail then you need to be looking at 30-35' as a minimum and there are many older boats that are suitable at modest prices. If you have not done this sort of thing before then the advice in post#6 is sound. Buy a boat that is sound of a type that is easy to sell on and give it a try. You will learn what is involved and get a better idea of what the next boat should be like. Very few people get it right first time and often have 3 or 4 goes before they get the right boat that suits what they want to do.
 

rotrax

Well-known member
Joined
17 Dec 2010
Messages
15,513
Location
South Oxon, Littlehampton and Wellington, NZ.
Visit site
We have been part time liveaboards <6 months with a steel Hartley 32 in Wellington NZ and during our summer cruises in Europe with our current boat, a 12 metre Motorsailer.

For long term time aboard there is no comparison.

The Motorsailer has a huge pilothouse where we spend most of the time when not sleeping or cooking.

The Hartley, very spacious for its size and with a bright interior, was like living in a basement. No outside view.

The Fife will likely be a timber vessel. As a newcomer to boating I would keep well away from a timber vessel.

A Gibsea 96 Master might be within budget-certainly worth a look at one.
 

srm

Well-known member
Joined
16 May 2004
Messages
2,757
Location
Azores, Terceira.
Visit site
Millers was a well respected Scottish yard, mainly building fishing boats in wood. I suspect the Miller Fife motorsailers were something of a sideline to keep the workers employed between fishing boat orders. They were nice roomy, essentially motor boats with modest sail area in their day, well suited to Scottish west coast waters. However, by now they are getting elderly and, as has been noted earlier, on going maintenance and repairs will have be a labour of love to keep one in reasonable condition.

A similar style boat would make a good live aboard, but look for something more recent with a GRP hull and deck. If you want sailing performance then something like the old Nicholson 38 was built on a sailing boat hull, as was the Trident Marine Voyager 35. My wife and I spent a few years with six to nine months plus each year on the Voyager 35. I would suggest this as a minimum size for one person living on board full time.

Having a living area with a view, wheelhouse or suchlike, makes for a more pleasant living space.
 
Last edited:

ylop

Well-known member
Joined
10 Oct 2016
Messages
1,536
Visit site
Thankyou for your reply much appreciated. That doesnt sound appropriate for me then, motoring all the time would cost a fortune in fuel I presume?
I don't think that boat is a good choice for anyone who is not used to maintaining old boats, because I suspect even if you travelled a lot the fuel would not end up the most expensive bit! That said, your opening post asked about a boat you can live on rather than sail. Lots of people who liveaboard actually do relatively little sailing (although of course there are plenty who do). If it will spend 300+ days a year moored up, and you need to live/work/socialise/cook/wash etc on board 365 days a year make sure you get the 80% right and don't sacrifice it for the 20%. For the cost of keeping that boat on a walk ashore mooring in a marina for a year you can probably pay the fuel to motor it all the way round the UK. Compared to sailing round, that is expensive (at least if you ignore that sails, rigging etc all need maintained too) but compared to council tax, water bills etc it might not be.
 

Minerva

Well-known member
Joined
16 Oct 2019
Messages
1,145
Visit site
I sail on the Scottish West coast and see a fair few of the 50ish ft wooden ex fishing vessels cutting about. I quite often dream that for pottering about the West coast for a few months of summer cruise they would be brilliant - basically pretend that I'm para handy and with enough deck space to have a good tender plus kayak for exploring anchorages and a nice wheel house for when the weather is in a hurry.

Then I wake up - keeping an 80's GRP boat in decent condition is enough work of a winter. Keeping an auld wooden boat afloat isn't for me; I don't think I have deep enough pockets to pay for a yard to do the work nor anywhere enough time to spare to do the work myself between work and family commitments.
 

V1701

Well-known member
Joined
1 Oct 2009
Messages
4,585
Location
South Coast UK
Visit site
What will you be doing though, sailing round the world? Well clearly you don't want a motorsailer for that. Living in a marina whilst holding down a full time job - a motorsailer is a very good option for that. FWIW I did 7 or 8 years living on a few different smallish (30') sailboats, did them up, got windvane steering fitted, etc., etc. but actually did not very much sailing because I was (& am still) working full time & what with the vagaries of the weather, other commitments, just 5 weeks annual leave to play with threw the towel in and bought a Colvic Watson 34 which is about as good as it gets for full time living on in the UK. When I am able to no longer work I may well switch back to a sailboat. I wouldn't buy anything other than a fibreglass boat, if older preferably not on original engine. Sails, standing rigging, bunk cushions in good condition or their replacement budgeted for. Be prepared to learn how to maintain and fix stuff yourself 'cos if you don't you might as well rent a flat it's too expensive to pay "marine professionals" to do everything. Best of luck with your plans...:)
 

shannonyachtgirl

New member
Joined
12 Dec 2023
Messages
9
Visit site
Thank you all for your valuble advice. Especially about avoiding the Fife as I would intend on coastal cruising once I have the experience.
I am only at the planning stages of doing this so still have to settle on a plan of action but it seems rather than remortgaging and aiming at a 40 footer I could actually just save and dip my toes in the water with something smaller and significantly cheaper (Old Moody 27 or 30 sort of size maybe?)

Some vaild points raised about mooring, I need to find out some costs on that for around the UK and Spain I can imagine it would vary a fair bit?
Quick questtion on that... Would it be unreasonable to plan just to anchor to save money?
Work wise, I have some modest rental income and I'm also doing a law degree (online) so all things work wise can be done remotely.

Again I really appreciate the advice, I am a total newbie so these are probably obvious questions and no brainers to those of you in the know :)
 

ylop

Well-known member
Joined
10 Oct 2016
Messages
1,536
Visit site
Marina’s are expensive but convenient and comfortable. Mooring balls are less convenient and can be unpleasant in bad weather but usually significantly cheaper. Anchoring is perfectly viable when staying on board, and provides some flexibility to move to avoid the forecast conditions. Most people (or perhaps it’s their insurers) don’t like leaving boats at anchor unattended for long periods because as weather and tide change the anchor may drag. Anchoring is free in many, but not all areas.

If you are talking about long periods on board, I would want standing headroom. If you want to anchor rather than use formal facilities you will probably want a shower. That points towards a decent volume of water storage. In northern climates a heater, and decent cooking facilities, if you are thinking of working/studying remotely power for laptop, Wifi etc, so potentially solar panels. If using all year round you will want to consider insulation, ventilation, washing and drying clothes, etc too.

A boat which has been kitted out for weekend cruising may be expensive to configure for living aboard. You will be unlikely to recover much of the investment if you resell.

There’s many people who dream of living and working aboard long term. To do that with no prior experience of sailing, a small budget, and a compact boat requires determination - what is the objective? To save money - it may not. To enjoy discovering new places - you may not have the time between sailing, fixing, studying. To sail - there are probably cheaper ways.
 

onesea

Well-known member
Joined
28 Oct 2011
Messages
3,667
Location
Solent based..
Visit site
Just some thoughts on motor sailers, yes they will burn fuel. However they tend to be fairly efficient compared with motorboats.
Motor sailing is a good way making passages, known speed less effects of the vaguaries of wind. Many yachts on passage still burn a fair amount of fuel.

As others have said they often are better set up for living on board. Do not discount.

Also do not discount the cost of moving a boat to it's home port add that to the cost of any boat you look at. It can vary from hundreds £££ to 1000's
 

shannonyachtgirl

New member
Joined
12 Dec 2023
Messages
9
Visit site
Thank you for the reply :) aiming towards anchorage 90% of the time I think might something I'd lean towards.
And yes long periods on board, 3 months on 2 months off is what I have in my head to start with. But that leads to the question that might be obvious to you guys but what do you have to do with the boat in off periods? Haul out?

Intention wise is a bit of all of the above but it's very early days to say anything for certain until I have tried. Better climate, adventure, with remote study. I have a passive income already but long term, 5 years from now I would offer legal services. Wifi is a must so from watching YouTube I think a Starling is aboout £90 a month. I'd need solar without a doubt.
 
Top