Date: 19 July 2015. Finding Your Boat
associate named John recently wrote, asking if he could buy a boat
for $5,000 and live aboard her in a style similar to mine. The
immediate answer is "yes" however there are caveats. For that amount
of money you're not going to have the amenities I have now, though
you will be on a par where I was seven years ago. And you can make
her better with time. Here's how.
can get a boat capable of sustaining a reasonable
quality of life for less than the "experts" will tell you is
That said, you're not going to buy
a yacht for that amount. Yours won't be capable of crossing oceans.
And there will be deficiencies you'll need to address immediately
after purchase. However that does not mean you should not proceed,
albeit with caution.
Additionally, few of us ever leave
sight of land. All too many find great pleasure exploring places
close to home. Coastal cruising has a lot to be said for it. One of
the best parts is discovering all the wonders right around the next
bend in the river.
Fun does not have to mean crossing
oceans. It isn't measured in miles underway but instead in
experiences had. The unplanned is often the best part of this life.
For instance, I made great friends
By the Shipyard.
Another fellow brought me fresh cooked boar that he'd hunted near
the place I'd anchored in Saul Creek.
Saul Creek is a wonderful quiet little spot with plentiful
stars and natural beauty.
GPS coordinates at anchor down: N 29 47.427 W85 02.947
Yes, this boat is beautiful. My cabin was on the port side, just
behind the dinghy on the bow. It looks like my hatch is open
She wasn't always a
yacht-boat though. The photo on the right, below, shows
her at launch. My home came a long way, eh?
And for that precise
reason I am aligned with those that say buy a boat you can
make better. One fully outfitted is great if you have the
wherewithal for same. Otherwise, know that with time, effort
and some dollars yours can become fabulous.
If you own a boat enough
years you make changes. Improvements will change a boat and
yours can be much better later than she is at purchase.
My Seaweed is now
outfitted for life off the grid. That was not true at
purchase. Your newly bought used boat can also be improved.
What Used Boat?
discusses some of the things I've done thus far to make
Seaweed better suited for the decadent life I aspire to
You might be surprised
what all can be accomplished with time and a small budget.
did it and you can too.
John wrote: You are living the life I covet. I
receive a VA pension of about $1000/month. But my pension isn’t
enough to survive here in Southern California… So, I have been
living in my van… And actually been able to save some money.
Seriously John, you've got a great start on this
boating life. You've already pared down your goods and that's
generally the hardest thing for folks to do. I've written a whole
series covering that topic with more to come. It can be found on the
And too you're living in a 12-volt
environment. Managing power resources you deal with every day.
Knowing that gives you a leg up on others. That said, it's entirely
unnecessary at your income level, at least initially. That's because
I envision you staying in a marina while you gain experience and
learn about your boat.
No you will not be staying in places like Fort
Lauderdale, St. Petersburg, Savannah or other high-dollar
marinas. There are a lot of smaller out-of-the-way places that
are absolutely wonderful. And they are not costly either.
C-Quarters Marina in Carrabelle is one place with
friendly folks and low rates. Talk to Kim. She's the best!
Kim's hubby Harold is great too. He does boat
deliveries across the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. Additionally,
Harold could help a local beginning boater learn how to
maneuver his boat, do routine maintenance and more.
Frankly I'm not familiar with the west coast however all I've heard
has led me to believe it's beyond my budget. This coast, along with
the rivers of the *Great Loop and beyond? Well, know that there are
enclaves where prices have not yet gone past what those of modest means
*Great Loop: The
circumnavigation of Eastern North America by water is known as The
Great Loop. The trip varies from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles
depending on the options used. Many boaters join the America's Great Loop Cruisers'
Association aka AGLCA [http://greatloop.org]
and if you too dream of "doing the Loop" you might consider the same.
First though you need to find your boat. Of course
World has lots of boats and ought to be a regular place to check
and learn about a variety of vessels. Too
has images of boats if you have a brand and size.
For many years, I've had the largest
of boats capable of supporting life afloat that are under 30' in
length. That page is the
List and it's always growing.
Primarily sailboats, the website page is my working files from when I was
boat shopping. I welcome photos and schematics of boats as long as
they meet two criteria:
Capable of supporting life afloat.
Specifically, there should be room below for a shower, head,
galley and bunk, plus a place to eat, spread out a chart, etc.
Those spaces can be combined however if a squirrel cannot turn
around without bumping into it's tail, it's too small.
Must be less than 30' in
Power or sail, it matters not to me. And
frankly the list is seriously lacking powerboats, houseboats,
catamarans and trimarans. Please feel free and encouraged to send your photos to me at
Finding the boat you lust for is one thing and the previous
three links can all accomplish that. That's not a bad thing
because you will learn what pleases you and what does not.
Both are equally important.
Yacht World under 30' or 35' if you must have larger.
Google images "small trawler" "inexpensive houseboat"
to learn about various boats, including
many European vessels.
Just remember this:
Whatever boat you
chose will require improvements.
That's part of the fun of ownership. Enjoy!
Also, whatever you wish to do does
not have to be done immediately. The safety stuff does, and Don
Old Boat will be a big help in that
regard. His book will teach you prioritizing, and how to fix what's
Calder's Mechanical and Electrical Manual. Both ought to be in your
arsenal of Boat Books once you get serious about this buying thing.
And get the latest versions of both. Buying through
link costs you nothing and helps my cruising kitty too.
(That's a hint!) Yes, I recommend these two books quite often.
Truly I know of no larger boat owner that doesn't have
Calder's onboard. Mine I refer to often. And for folks
inexperienced with boat repairs and maintenance, Don Casey is
just the man to explain it all. He tells you how to fix stuff
too. I like both.
My copy of Casey's
went south with a fellow who borrowed it
rather more permanently than I had intended. It's on my list
to replace eventually. Too many other things take priority
at this point, such as the engine fiasco.
Part Two, in a couple days.
For those of you wondering if the
time is right, the
article should be read. It speaks to that phenomenon. Don't wait too
If money were no object, what boat would you own?
Given a choice between having it all later or buying now "as is" which
would you prefer?
© 2015, 2019
On the St. John's River ~
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Finding Your Boat (part 2)