When searching for a boat that will hopefully help you realize your dreams, it is no small endeavour. If you missed the post on the method I use to compare potential boats, you should probably review it. It illustrates the technique we call the Weighted Quad Method for making major purchases. Today we will show you my requirements,  exactly what boats have made it to our short list and how they compared to eachother. 

Our plan is to live-aboard this boat full time, hang out in the Great Lakes and tributaries for the summer months, travel the ICW in Fall to Florida and cross to the Bahamas for the Winter months. Maybe even do the Great Loop some year. In general the boat will have to have as many live-aboard amenities as possible, making the boat as comfortable as we can get it. The boat would have to be relatively sea-worthy as we will be doing one day ocean crossings from time to time, like crossing any of the Great Lakes and crossing to the Bahamas. The boat would also need to be relatively fuel efficient at hull speed providing for longer range cruising, this also means reliable diesel engine(s). Here is the complete list of requirements based on the Weighted Quad Method. The only thing I have removed is budget requirements.

Must HaveShould HaveCould HaveWon't Have
Lower Helm
Aft Cockpit
Full Sized Refrigerator or Equivalent
2 Staterooms
>= 40 Gal Waste Capacity
>= 120 Gal Water Capacity
Diesel Engine(s)
No Exterior Teak Decking
>= 42 Feet LOA
< 50 Feet LOA
2 Heads (Bathrooms)
Fuel Economy ~2-3 gph @6-8 knots
Low Engine Hours
Good Galley for Cooking
An Area Outside for Dining
Little or no Exterior Teak
Double Sink in the Galley
No Hull Coring
Walk-Around Side Decks
Walk-Around Master Island Berth
Late Model Electronics @Lower & Upper Helms
Teak & Holly Flloring
Wood Flooring
Naturally Aspirated Engines (Non-Turbo)
Water Maker
Semi or Full Displacement Hull
40-42 Feet LOA
Tender and Outboard Engine

Given these requirements here are the top 5 boats that made the list. Honestly, we think we could be happy with either of these boats.

Defever 44
The Defever 44 is a very well recognized live-aboard and cruising boat. It is considered very sea-worthy with a full displacement hull and sometimes you can get them with stabilizers to counteract the roll in rough seas. They usually come with small twin 135hp Ford Lehman engines that are very economical and will last a long time. As for layout, The living area, galley and lower helm are in one large open single level area with the guest stateroom and head forward, and the master stateroom and head aft. The few negatives to this boat are they seem to maintain a high value so deals are hard to come by, and it is missing an aft cockpit which we wanted for better line handling around the docks and water access at the stern.


42 Kadey Krogen
Like the Deferrer 44, the Kadey Krogen 42 is considered a wonderful live-aboard and cruising boat. They have almost a cult like following and can command a premium in the used market. It is a standard raised pilothouse layout, with the accommodations forward and the living area and galley are midships with a nice large cockpit aft. This boat has even crossed oceans, so seaworthiness and fuel economy are major features of this vessel. Most of these boats had a single 135hp Ford Lehman engine, which gives the boat almost a 5000 nautical mile range. The single engine however has some drawbacks, close quarter maneuvering would be slightly hampered, and if the main engine fails while cruising one would not have the safety of the second engine to get you home.  Some other negatives would be, that this boat has a cored hull up to 1992 I believe, with newer ones having a better reputation than older ones. Also many of these boats in the 80's had teak decking, so one would have to find one that has had the decks refitted. 

Ocean Alexander 423
The Ocean Alexander 423 is a a trunk style boat, being so it has great walk around access on every side. This is more of a coastal cruising boat with a semi-displacement hull, one won’t be crossing oceans in this boat. The larger engines that can push it up on plane when need be at the sacrifice of fuel economy. This boat has one of the nicest interiors of any boat on our list. There is finely finished and crafted woodwork throughout the whole vessel. These boats can also command a higher price point, though we have seen some good deals on older versions.

44 Tollycraft Cockpit Motor Yacht
No list of possibilities as the next C-Shel would be complete without at least one Tollycraft on it. The Tolly 44 CPMY is one of our favourite boats. Built from the same bones as our beloved 34 Tollycraft, we could be sure of its sturdy and long lived construction quality. These boats have a great layout with a large master stateroom aft, 2 heads, and a dance floor sized aft deck for watching sunsets. Even with the raised aft deck there is still an aft cockpit for easy access to the water and line handling. There was a time where we were only looking for this boat. However, we had specific conditions, we wanted the version with the Cat 3208 engines, and had a lower helm, which not all come with. In our searches it seemed if it came with Detroit engines it had a lower helm, if it had 3208s then the chances were low it had a lower helm.

Bayliner 4788 Pilothouse
The Bayliner 4788, I thought, was an outlier, not seemingly anywhere in the same class as the rest of the boats on our list. However, after long hours of research, having this boat appear multiple times in our boat searches, and having friends with this boat saying nothing but good things, we decided to officially add it to the list. There is no doubt that the layout of this boat makes a superb live aboard. Though its sea-keeping ability may not be in the same realm as say the Krogen or Defever, this boat is popular in the Pacific North West used to run up and down the coast. That alone must say something.   The other negative was that this is a cored hull boat. I was adamant that we would not have a cored hull. Once again, research proved that there are near zero reports of hull problems in these boats and there are a lot of these boats around. It seems that Bayliner Motor Yacht division got something right with this cored hull. The value you get for cost of these boats are second to none. You get a lot of boat for your money. 

So how do these boats compare to each other, and how close are they in matching my criteria above? Here are our results using the Weighted Quad Method. 

When using this method we used actual boats for sale, not the make/model in general when rating the boats. Each boat of the same model can be very different and in addition to owners customizations and you could have the same model vary widely in these results. Every boat in our results above was/is one that was online for sale. 

So as you can see the sweet spot for us is around 75%. As said in our previous post about this method of comparing, depending on your criteria, your sweet spot might be higher or lower. We don’t think we would be able to find a boat that would go above 80%, unless we increased our budget. The interesting thing here is that the outlier, a 4788, topped the list with the highest match to my criteria, and thats even with the things we don’t like about the boat, like the cored hull. According to this, the Bayliner is probably the boat we would be most happy with. That said, we were not surprised that the Tollycraft came in high as well. This is because a lot of our requirements came from our positive experiences with our current 34 Tolly. I’m sure we would be equally as happy with the 44 Tolly. 

There you have it, the boats that we have spent about 2 years looking for. Do you think we have missed anything? Any boats you think meet our criteria better than the Bayliner or Tolly? Maybe you think our criteria is out to lunch? We’d love to hear your opinions, so leave a comment below. 

Within the next 2-3 weeks we will hopefully be revealing which of these boats we are actually buying, if the boat passes survey and sea-trial of course. Stay tuned.