I looking at possibly getting either a Holiday Mansion 38-42 or a Lord Nelson Tug. Can a HM make it across the Gulf Stream? I know the tug could but it should since it costs about 3 or 4 times the HM.
If you pick an evening with no wind and a good prediction, you shoud be able to do the crossing to Bimini with no problem. It is only about 60 miles from No-Name harbor to Bimini entrance. Only the first 12 miles or so are a Gulf Stream issue - and the forecasts are good enough for a reliable prediction -- but you may have to wait days or weeks in No Name or Miami Marina for the right night.
Most of the Gulf Stream horror stories come from people who left from Lake Worth Inlet and headed for the Exumas - a longer sail with more changing weather patterns. If you stop in Bimini to clear customs and refuel, you can wait in Honeymoon Harbor for the next weather window and cross to NorthWest Channel via the bank. Not to bad.
I did a little poking around. It seems the Holiday Mansion brand has changed hands a number of times. That isn't necessarily bad but does suggest that as you collect information you should sort it by build year. Going back at least as far as 2000 (during which time they seem to have gone through two if not three owners) they look pretty decent as far as construction.
How are your boathandling skills and experience? Houseboats can be a real challenge to manage in wind. I have seen a couple caught out on the Chesapeake when squalls blew through that couldn't maintain heading. Certainly they can be a handful to dock with significant crosswinds. If you are skilled you might find operation to require a lot of attention; if you are earlier on the learning curve wind could really be a problem.
The HM is one of the houseboats with a boat-like hull. The various models and pedigrees have differing freeboard forward, but all seem reasonable to me for a settled weather Gulf Stream crossing. Would you be pressed for time? You might have to wait weeks on each side to cross, and have to exhibit similar restraint crossing exposed areas of the Bahamas. You would want to pay extra attention to where and how you secure the boat when fronts sweep through.
If you enjoy pouring over navigation and synoptic charts and the prospect of becoming a weather geek this could all work out well for you. If not, you could be in for a lot of stress.
Personally I would avoid single-engine HMs if you anticipate crossing the GS and cruising the Bahamas. Twin engines could be the difference between inconvenience and real difficulty. I would put a significant investment in ground tackle (windlass, chain hook, chain, snubbers, anchors). Finally I would install a single-sideband radio and associated bits to receive weather fax and Navtex.
Have you considered some of the older motoryachts such as the Chris Craft Commanders?
Dave's got a good suggestion there. I am presently helping a friend restore a Chris Craft Corinthian 380 and would recommend the Corinthian, Catalina or Consellation for live-aboard as they all have aft cabins. These beauties have an amazing amount of room, are very well built and are plentiful. Many are for sale and can be had quite reasonably. I know the boat well as we have replaced and or repaired most every system on her (was a salvage boat). We're enclosing his upper deck and that will give him two full cabins - fore and aft, a dining salon, a upper main salon, flybridge, fore deck, aft deck and swim platform. Check out yachtworld, you'll be amazed at what's available and the space afforded. You can even get them with twin diesels. Crossing the stream would not be an issue.
Thanks guys for all the info. Fortunately I have lots of years doing close maneuvering with power boats. I have lots of time and am somewhat of weather nut already, so that's no problem. I was already figuring on twin engines. I would probably lean towards Detroit Diesels if I need to repower as I'm an old retiree from GMC Allison's.The little 6.2 is a fine engine and of course we built the Twin Disc marine tranny's where I worked. The idea of the CC Corinthian sounds interesting since I've not looked at them. I guess I'd better take a look.
My second retirement was from Disneyworld where I drove a boat for about 6 years and made about an average of 48 landing per day for 5 or 6 days a week plus OT. I also had my own pontoon boat on the St. Johns river for about5 years plus sailing since 1070. I also got my USCG Masters license in 1998 for 100 ton offshore.
Verner, What a great history! The challenge with houseboats is there is a lot of windage, particularly forward. Even with twins the props are usually pretty close together and you can't get nearly the rotation that one usually does with a twin-screw power boat. Further even the boat-hull shaped boats have very light draft and often no exposed keel at all for directional stability.
They are ideal for Southern lakes and inland rivers. I should think a houseboat might make a lovely ICW boat, although I wouldn't want to be caught out on Albemarle Sound or Chesapeake Bay in a summer afternoon thunderstorm. It would likely be unpleasant.
With your background, if you are planning to dawdle up and down the ICW, hop down through the Keys, explore Lake Okeechobee, with one adventure to visit the Bahamas I wouldn't turn my nose up at the HM. If you're planning to visit the Bahamas regularly I'd look for something more inherently seaworthy that still meets your other needs.
Is the tug you are considering a Lord Nelson 37? If that is on your list you might look at Marine Traders. There where some build quality shortcomings to them but most have been worked out by owners and there are tons of resources available and a strong community. The aft cabins are more comfortable than the forward one on the tug. The Chris Craft community is similarly strong with lots of information and resources, including small businesses making trim parts and fittings for renovations.
I spent an afternoon driving a water taxi in Annapolis. I had a great time; you have my respect for the boat driving you did at Disneyworld.
Sooo, my best guess is, you probably know whatcha doin! Good luck picking out a new boat, worst damn project I've ever endeavored upon. All too many people selling boats are ruthless, dishonest or just plain daft when it comes to what their boats worth. Damn near quit just before settling on the one I got.