Date: 1 July 2016. Boat Buying
Decisions (what is important?)
Often folks come online with basic
questions. "What boat should I buy? How much does it cost? Can I
live well on a small budget?" These are Normal for those in the
beginning stages of exploring the life I live. One has to have a
point to start refining wants, needs and desires. Buying a floating home is a
major investment. Spending wisely is the goal.
Who wouldn't like a view like this? (Photo by Irene on Katja)
I love my girl and she's just 23' long. Truth to tell though a
bit longer would have afforded me more space for Stuff. And a girl's
got to have her stuff. For me being comfortable means I'm happy. I
truly love my home.
Roughing it is for
kids. I do decadence.
Lockers full of high quality food equals great meals
at anchor or while at a dock.
In my canned goods locker I've got a stash of delicious items. There
is a jar of home-canned applesauce from my friend Lynn on In
Ainneoin I'm saving
for a holiday. I've got pork, chicken, stuffed green peppers and
even a few peanuts for roasting.
This year I preserved
blackberries, made a rather runny blueberry sauce (tastes yummy on
chicken) and some not-so-terrific strawberries.
My strawberry preserves are not
red. Though the taste is okay they are not as good as the jar my
friend Louise in Carrabelle gave me. Her sister had canned it. I
still have a smidgen left. It's for savoring and I'll be Very sad
when it's finished.
Side Note: Stuffed green peppers
are a favorite. If you would like to can some like mine visit the
Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Peppers (new
canning theory) page. I love them.
peppers is time consuming. The end result
is worth the effort. Much like boating... we work to play.
Serious advice: IF you are planning to live life off the grid you'll
need a flat surface (large topside) that you can use for solar
panels. It's something to keep in mind as you search vessels.
panels (see next paragraph) should be a later item in the budget.
Folks living mostly in marinas won't need solar panels. Save your
money for the near-term needs.
Those who desire a step by step
primer on having electricity off the grid should read the
Solar, Batteries and an Inverter
piece. Now I'm not an expert so don't expect
techno-babble. That article details what works for me.
Make sure you like boating before
you fully outfit your floating home.
Schucker made just six of my little boat. When I spotted her I knew
I had The One. She was cute. The boat had great living space. She met many of
my requirements. Seaweed did not tick off all the boxes in my list. I
knew that over time I could make her mine. She'd be nearly perfect.
Except for the stuff that is broken or needs upgrading, replacement,
etc. Seaweed is spectacular.
These were my
I wanted to be inside the boat, imagining myself going forward to
the bow in a thunder-boomer to check the anchor. (Seaweed is not so
good at this aspect)
#2) No gasoline engine. (I bought a gasser, and have swapped
engines. Don't ask. It was UGLY.)
#3) I wanted to
entertain guests without them seeing my bunk.
Men are men, you know? Entertaining new acquaintances in my boudoir
would be uncomfortable for me.
#4) I wanted to be able to use the head privately. My head is
down below next to my bunk.
#5) Inside shower.
Displaying all in the cockpit for a sun shower won't work for me. I
do rinse off outside after I've been swimming. Then I go below for
#6) I wanted the
head close to my bunk. I'm at that age when using the head overnight is a
regular part of interrupted sleep. Some small boats tuck the head into a corner of the salon.
Getting up, getting dressed, walking through boat just to tinkle
wasn't going to be a good plan.
locker space for my Stuff. I wanted room for
not just tools. I have a sewing machine and quilting supplies, oil paints, beads, silk
floss, etc. Room to store my hobby gear was important.
#8) An adequate
weight for me meant more than 5,000 pounds.
The weight to length ratio is often an indicator of build quality.
Generally speaking, heavier is better. [Sailors who enjoy buoy
racing of course would opt for a lighter boat to get that added
speed on race day.]
Oversized anchor with
all chain rode.
Windlass to raise and
Stove and refrigerator.
Seaweed lacked everything except the stovetop and refrigerator in my
secondary/nice-to-have list. The anchor was inadequate, there were
no solar panels, no wind generator, no autopilot, etc. She came with
two batteries. They were old and barely held a charge.
Structurally she had good bones
and I knew that over time I could add items to increase my decadence
level. Now, finally, eight years into the journey I have an AMAZING
Questions to ask
Do you have the patience to build
infrastructure over time? I did not have the budget freedom to
install all that I desired from the get-go.
Side Note: Even if you do have the funds I would still advise
you spend some time living aboard your new-to-you boat at a marina.
Acclimate yourself to this life. Things you are certain you
require might not be so important once you're out here.
I was Positive that a hot water heater must be aboard my boat. In
that regard I spent $250 to buy a water heater and ended up selling
it a couple years later to Edwin for $50. Be smarter than I was and
wait for major purchases.
TrawlerForum said "Even as we sit here quietly at the dock,
enjoying our drinks, things are breaking." How is your
frustration level? Patience?
Last Friday I took Seaweed for a spin. We were gone from the dock
for a few hours and all was well. On Tuesday I wanted to meet my new
friend Tracy and her family at McDonald's. The alternator belt was
slipping so I ended up hitching a ride with Mr. Uber.
Add to List: Tighten alternator belt.
Planning and boats do not go hand
in hand. We have ideas of what would be nice. Implementation has
inevitable issues. I "go with the flow" and enjoy the ride. Others
start twitching and are really miserable. What sort of person are
Do you have the ability and
inclination to attempt repairs? If not, do you have the means $$$ to
pay someone to make the problem go away?
Even if you do not want to do the job yourself you would be well
advised to know how it should be done. Not all service people are
honest so knowing the fundamentals is important. Buy
Calder's Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual
4th Edition after you get your boat.
Seaweed is just about perfect except for the
stuff that is broken,
needs upgrading or tweaking.
Two things are next/upcoming in this
year and 2017 if all goes according to my plan:
I'd LOVE a small autopilot that
will drive my girl on a compass course. That's about $2k. I have to
find one that will fit in my Very Limited space. A larger boat would
have more room for such gear.
I want a half-size tuna door cut
into the transom for easier boarding from my dinghy. Climbing over
the transom is still okay. My bones are not getting any younger.
Seaweed is my Forever Home and Last Boat. I have been adding
infrastructure and truly life is wonderful afloat. I LOVE my
boat. Here she is:
To those of you still seeking your dreamboat I offer
this advice: Remember your boat does not have to be Everything you
the time of purchase. You can gradually make her into all you
If you're at the shopping stage,
this series may be helpful:
Finding Your Boat (part 1)
We have a limited amount of time
on this planet. I would rather spend my time messing about in
Seaweed than doing anything else. If you are like me you will have the
best time of your life out here.
See you along the waterways...
I'd love to hear what criteria you find Absolutely
Imperative for your boat home.
And, have you picked out one particular brand and size that suits you?
Books, Characters, Galley,
Marking my Paddles (dinghy safety
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