For many senior boaters, packing it in and retiring on a boat for a few years has a lot of appeal. Fortunately, there are hundreds of older powerboats that possess the attributes boaters look for in a good liveaboard. It’s all about size and living space, that much is obvious, but after that comes storage space—the more the better. A large galley is important, and in boats over 40 feet it would be useful to look for a model with a built-in dinette. For those looking a something in the 50-foot range, a washer/dryer is a tremendous asset in a liveaboard boat. Further down the wish list are features like a master stateroom tub, galley freezer, good engine access, and lots of outdoor space for entertaining.
With so many great older models to choose from, here are eight popular (and reasonably affordable) motoryacht choices that aspiring liveaboards might consider.
At a Glance: One of the best selling motoryachts in her class throughout the late 1980s. Roomy two-stateroom interior of the 4207 delivers the comfort and amenities often associated with a larger boat. Two floorplans were offered, one with a U-shaped dinette opposite the galley, and the other with no dinette but an expanded head and a much-enlarged forward stateroom with island berth. The spacious, teak-trimmed salon features an entertainment center, wet bar, L-shaped sleeper-sofa, and salon chair. A full-service galley offers a combination microwave/convection oven and double-door refrigerator. A lower helm was not available. The wide side decks are a plus. While diesels are generally preferred in a boat this size, the majority of 4207 Aft Cabins were delivered with standard 350hp gas engines (13–14 knots cruise/22 knots top). Cat 375hp diesels were optional (20 knots cruise/mid 20s top).
Price Range: From $50–60K to just under $100K.
At a Glance: Last of the so-called “small” Hatteras motor yachts — great styling and a roomy layout made 40 DC a top-selling model. For the first few years of production the galley-down teak interior featured an L-shaped sofa to port in the salon with a serving counter to starboard overlooking the galley. The aft master stateroom includes a centerline queen bed, hanging locker, and en-suite head with shower. The interior was redesigned in 1990 with a salon dinette and wet bar, more open galley area, and enlarged bow stateroom with three bunks. Additional updates in 1990 included a new flybridge layout with a swept-back windscreen and forward helm station, and a full-height entry door to the salon. Also in the newer floorplan is space for a washer/dryer. A lower helm station was optional. No lightweight, standard gas engines cruise at just 13–14 knots. Optional Cat 425hp diesels cruise 18–20 knots. Over 125 of these yachts were built.
Price Range: From $50–60K to the low $100s.
Hatteras 40 Double Cabin
Hatteras 56 Motor Yacht
At a Glance: A classic twin-deck Hatteras motor yacht — the definition of 1980s yachting luxury. The galley and dinette are down in the Hatteras 56 resulting in an expansive main deck area with the salon completely open to the wheelhouse. There are three staterooms and three heads on the lower level including a full-beam master with walkaround queen berth (or twin berths in early models) and en-suite head with tub/shower. The amidships VIP stateroom has twin berths, and the second guest stateroom (or crew quarters) is forward with over/under berths and private head access. Split walk-in engine rooms flank the corridor leading aft to the master stateroom, and a washer/dryer is located at the base of the companionway steps. Double doors open from the spacious salon to the semi-enclosed aft deck with hardtop and enclosure panels. No lightweight, cruise at 14–16 knots with Detroit 735hp diesels.
Price Range: From the low $200s to low/mid $300s.
At a Glance: A modified version of the classic Hatteras 53 Motor Yacht with an enormous full-beam salon. A partition separates the wheelhouse from the salon, and centerline teak doors open to a small aft deck area. The mid-level galley—three steps down from the deckhouse level—features large counter spaces, abundant storage, and a booth-style dinette for four. Forward is a guest stateroom (or crew cabin) with over/under bunks and private head/shower. Aft of the split engine rooms, to port, is the guest stateroom with twin berths. A full head with stall shower is opposite. Further aft, the full-beam master stateroom has a walkaround queen berth, dressing table, and en-suite head with shower. The flybridge is greatly enlarged from that of her predecessor with an updated helm and additional lounge seating. Detroit 465hp 6V92TA diesels—or 450hp 8V71TI engines—cruise at 15–16 knots.
Price Range: From the low $200s to low/mid $300s.
Hatteras 53 Extended Deckhouse
Carver 500/504 Cockpit MY
At a Glance: A super-popular model for Carver, basically a condo on the water. This is a cockpit version of the Carver 455/456 Aft Cabin model produced during the same years. Spacious two stateroom maple interior has a folding bulkhead in the forward VIP stateroom that conceals a small guest cabin/den to port with convertible bunks. (This feature was eliminated in 1999 when the interior was redesigned and the name changed to Carver 504.) The large U-shaped galley is aft in the salon rather than forward as it is in most motoryacht floorplans. In the master stateroom, the walkaround queen bed faces aft to permit the installation of cockpit access door. Washer/dryer is in forward stateroom. The huge interior is the result of moving the deckhouse well forward in the hull (note the relatively short foredeck). Twin 450hp Cummins diesels cruise at 18 knots.
Price Range: From about $150K to mid/high $200s.
At a Glance: The top-selling cockpit yacht in this class for several years. Basically a Carver 396 Aft Cabin with a good-sized cockpit. The 444’s huge full-beam interior — made possible by raising the side decks to eye level — comes as a surprise. With its panoramic views and nearly seven feet of headroom, the salon’s dimensions are those of a much larger boat. To save space, the forward head is split with the shower stall to port and toilet compartment to starboard. A sliding glass door in the (smallish) master stateroom opens directly into the cockpit. In 2004, an optional "Extended Salon" floorplan with a full-size dinette, enlarged galley and redesigned VIP stateroom became available. Topside, the helm is forward on the spacious flybridge with lounge seating and wet bar aft.Twin Volvo 370hp engines cruise at 18–19 knots. Carver sold a ton of these versatile boats.
Price Range: From the mid $100s to low/mid $200s.
Carver 444 Cockpit MY
Silverton 402-422 Motor Yacht
At a Glance: Popular entry-level cruiser with the features and amenities of more expensive boats. Her two-stateroom cherry interior is a model of efficiency with a roomy main salon, two double staterooms, two full heads, booth dinette, and full-service galley. A serving counter overlooks the galley from the salon, and big wraparound salon windows provide panoramic views of the water. A convertible L-shaped sofa is to starboard in the salon and an entertainment center is to port. Down and aft three steps, the master stateroom features a centerline double berth and en-suite head with stall shower and mirrored vanity. The aft deck, with its standard hardtop, wing doors, and wet bar with refrigerator, is perfect for entertaining several guests. Molded steps from the transom make boarding easy. Most were sold with big-block gas engines for a cruising speed of 14–16 knots (about 20 knots top).
Price Range: From $75K to the mid/high $100s.
Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge
At a Glance: Stylish 1990’s cruising yacht with three stateroom interior and extra-large cockpit. The salon is impressive, a wide-open (carpeted) living area with cut-down galley, long leather sofa, entertainment center and big wraparound cabin windows. The forward master stateroom is huge with an island queen bed, two hanging lockers, vanity, and private en-suite head. Roomy guest stateroom has a full-size berth, and the second guest cabin has over/under bunks. Both heads have stall showers, but guest head is tight. Lower helm was optional. Center transom door is flanked by built-in bench seats in the cockpit. In 1996, the flybridge ladder was replaced with molded steps and the helm was relocated aft. The 550’s drooping bow is distinctive enough, but the possibility of stuffing the bow in rough seas might be a concern. Detroit 625hp 6V-92 diesels cruise at 22–23 knots.
Price Range: From $125–150K to the mid $200s.
Eight Affordable Older Motoryachts that Make Great Liveaboards