On board for central city living

By Mike Rose

Convenience and good prices tipping the scales for a life afloat in downtown Auckland.

Live-aboards used to fall into two broad categories - those who were frequent ocean travellers and those who tended to stay put.
Live-aboards used to fall into two broad categories - those who were frequent ocean travellers and those who tended to stay put.

With its aft galley and wide beam, this 15m Pelin is typical of the type of boat being sought by those considering a live-aboard lifestyle.

Live-aboards used to fall into two broad categories - those who were frequent ocean travellers and those who tended to stay put.

Those who had sailed to New Zealand from foreign climes brought with them a sense of adventure and some much needed foreign exchange.

They often stayed in smaller ports - Opua, Whangarei, Nelson - and used their stopovers to undertake refurbishment, supporting local marine businesses in the process.

The other group were more of the shoestring sailor variety. They often had virtually all their wealth tied up in their worse-for-wear vessel and tended to stay in one place.

Today, this group has all but gone. In their place is a new and growing group of people keen to make their home on board. They tend to be far more well-heeled than their shoestring counterparts.

They own their own businesses or are semi-retired and want to be close to the city.

Wayne Baston, managing director of Westhaven brokerage Laurie Collins, says he is receiving inquiries from increasing numbers of people wanting information on "live-aboard boats".

They fall, he says, into three main categories - those who live outside Auckland but often come to the city on business and need somewhere to stay, those who love boating and do not need to be tied to an office, and those who would like an inner city apartment and a decent-sized boat and realise they can combine the two.

Most are of the baby-boomer generation.

Baston says a typical prospective live-aboard couple would be people who were seriously considering selling their family home.

"They could buy an inner-city apartment but they have increased in value, there are usually ongoing maintenance fees and car parking is not always included.

"Then they realise they can buy a very comfortable vessel and moor it in an inner-city marina such as Westhaven. They do not need to use all their capital, their ongoing costs are manageable and their car parking is included.

"Most importantly, they can spend their weekends cruising and fishing in the Gulf instead of mowing the lawn and doing gardening."

Baston says he has also started receiving inquiries from younger couples finding it difficult to get into the Auckland property market.

Obviously not all boats are suitable for living on long-term.

"Beamy boats are undoubtedly the best," says Baston, "followed by as much length as you can afford."

He also recommends an aft galley (so it can easily service the cockpit), a comfortable saloon, good refrigeration and covers to enclose the cockpit and create more useable space.

Prospective live-aboards worried they won't be able to afford a suitable vessel might be in for a pleasant surprise, too.

Baston says Laurie Collins has a surprisingly wide range of live-aboard-friendly boats in the $200,000 to $400,000 range.

- NZ Herald

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