There are many types of boats in all sizes and shapes that can make a good liveaboard home. People have been known to live aboard almost anything that floats including rafts. The allure of life afloat is thousands of years old.
These days most people consider living aboard a power boat, a sail boat, a trawler, a motor sailer or a houseboat with or without an engine.
Here's some information for potential liveboards in all of these categories.
Of all the types of liveaboard boats, power boats give you the most living space per foot of boat length. They have a lot of space above the waterline which means good news for headroom and storage space.
Read more about Liveaboard Power Boats
I have loved sailing since my boyhood days and would live on a sailboat no matter its disadvantages. I just feel right aboard a sailing vessel. If you like sailboats too, you have a lot of choices.
Even though most monohull sailboats don't have as much interior room as a trawler, houseboat, power boat, or multihulled vessel, I like to sail.
I like being able to use the wind to get from Point A to Point B and I like the sound of halyards slapping against the mast when I'm in an anchorage or mooring field or marina on a windy night.
Sometimes in marinas a neighbor or dockmaster will complain about the clanging halyards and I'll have to tie them down. Otherwise the sound is as appealing to me as church bells might be for others.
Most sailboats can be lived aboard with enough comfort that they can be considered to be liveaboard boats. Some are better than others, and here are a few of my favorites.
As the name implies, these boats have a single hull. They usually have a fairly deep keel or centerboard that limits the places you can liveaboard. You will usually have to forego shallow marinas or moorings.
Space is also a problem. Sailboats have pointy ends, the forward one known as the bow, and the sides of the hull are curved. This presents a problem for headroom and storage space.
The mast height also limits you to marinas that are not constrained by low overhead bridges.
The cutter rigged monohull sailboat above was in Pier 66 Marina in Fort Lauderdale when this photo was taken. It would be a comfy and spacious liveaboard. The large pilot house with abundant glass means plenty of light below and good headroom.
Another example of this type of sailboat is the CSY-33. Although it's no longer in production, a good used one can be an ideal liveaboard. These types of boats - pilothouse sloops or cutters - are very comfortable homes afloat.
Don't let budget or size discourage you from living aboard. Many people have lived aboard the Flicka, a twenty foot long sailboat formerly manufactured by Pacific Seacraft.
A Flicka may be one of the smallest boats that I could consider a liveaboard. Plenty of people would agree.
The Pacific Seacraft Flicka is only 20 feet long on deck, and is almost the same length on the waterline. It has tremendous room below for such a small boat and has served as a liveaboard home for many people.
The Flicka has even made several Atlantic and Pacific crossings and circumnavigated the globe. This small boat proves you don't need a big boat to live aboard.
The designer of the Flicka, Bruce Bingham, lived aboard with his then companion, naval architect Katy Burke for many years. They made it their full time home and cruised extensively.
An Island Packet of any size makes a wonderful liveaboard sailboat. They are extremely well built and beamy and offer a lot of room below.
The entry level Island Packet for many years was the IP26, and it was superseded in following years by the IP27. Island Packet no longer makes these boats; they have moved into larger and larger sailboats over the years.
Good used IP26s and IP27s are available on the used market for prices in the range of $35K to $45K. These are among the few Cadillacs of American sailboats.
The Nonsuch 30 has an amazing amount of room below because it is rigged as a catboat with the mast stepped far forward in the bow.
The boat is no longer manufactured. It was made in Canada in the years 1978 to 1995. More than 500 of the 30 foot model were manufactured.
I first saw one at the Miami International Boat Show in 1980 and fell in instant love. Not only is the boat solid and well made, it has a very liveable interior and even includes a separate shower. The Ultra model, shown in this floor plan, has a pullman berth on the port side forward and an amazing amount of hanging locker space.
The simple sailing rig means that even an old sailor can single hand this beautiful craft.
The very active International Nonsuch Association has a website where you can learn a lot about the boat.
Multihulls include catamarans (two hulls) and trimarans (three hulls). The advantage to these boats are shallow draft, speed underway and a lot of liveaboard space. You have almost twice as much space as a monohull.
Read more about Multihull Sailboats.
A trawler is a power boat with a displacement hull that is designed for long economical voyages under power at something less than theoretical hull speed. Sometimes the trawler will have a steadying sail to help it withstand rolling motion while underway.
Read more about Trawlers.
These are usually boats with a flat bottom and a large house that occupies most of the deck. They are usually designed for calmer waters like rivers or some lakes. The photo below is from the Gibson Boat Company website.
Read more Houseboats.
A motorsailer is designed to be a better performer under power than the average sailboat of equal length. By the nature of their design, they are usually a bit slower under sail than the average sailboat of equal length. It is one of the types of liveaboard boats that can satisfy both sailors and power boat fans.
Many motorsailers have a lot more space than a sailboat because of the typically large deckhouse and hull shape.