Date: 23 July 2015. Finding Your Boat
Finding Your Boat (part 1)
details John's desire to live aboard a boat, and what he has
accomplished thus far.
purchasing your boat home takes time and there is a learning curve.
Looking online is a good way to get an education without spending
your perfectly good money. Don't be in a hurry. That ideal boat is
not without flaws. One just like it is probably available and for less
money. Tuck your wallet away for the moment.
I know: Women
shop and men buy. At present, shopping is your goal.
fortunate. He's got some savings and the desire to live aboard. To
reiterate, he said: 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.
wondered if he could buy a boat, live aboard and do so all on three
times the income I have. I started seven years ago and if I can do
it, so too can he.
I did have an advantage in that I knew and understood what it
required to live aboard. I grew up afloat with less than most
contemporaries ashore. For instance we didn't have a refrigerator
until I was a teenager. Ditto, no television. I still don't own a
television, but that's another story...
No boat is perfect,
and the lowest priced boats can be just awful!
So we need to observe carefully. Pictures posted online tell a story.
Being able to study the photos is helpful in determining condition.
The listing descriptions provide an education too. Look and learn
all you can.
A friend was admiring
a boat. She was reasonably priced and he was and is enthusiastic.
Then I looked over his choice. There were a lot of
lovely pictures in the listing. Please examine the following
two pictures from the sale page.
I spotted an aluminum pan (such as you'd cook a
turkey in) under one of the fuel tanks. It was stained. I
cannot imagine why a pan would be there except to catch a
leak/drip from the tank.
Is that a deal killer? Probably
not. But it is something you're going to need to be aware of.
Any surveyor should be able to see things like that.
And those batteries in the picture
on the right need to be secured. Still, this is a dock queen and for
that usage the batts can be a lower priority than that leaky fuel
Please note: I'm not an expert.
I am observant.
Your next step in this education process is to
examine critically the photographs posted online of boats you like. Is
that flaw something
minor or cosmetic in nature? Can you fix it yourself or is this an issue
requiring the services of a professional?
Do you have both
the skills and determination to finish the job?
Anyone can start a project. Completion is the key to success.
Craigslist can be your friend. Check boats for sale. Last week
there was a houseboat, 30' long for sale on a trailer for less than
$2,000. Is she perfect? No. Is she capable of supporting life
tomorrow? Yes, provided you can live short-term in a war zone while
you tidy up the interior.
And no, this is not a blue water
world traveler. Instead she's an inexpensive coastal cruiser. With
some investment of time and effort you'll have a comfortable
has boats for sale. Just look, and look thoroughly and carefully at
the pictures provided by the sellers. Learn to spot minor and major
problems in the boats you like.
Skipper is next to my
Boatowner's by Calder.
Refer often to these two books to
determine if you can fix-it-yourself.
Don Casey's This
Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual
And don't worry that Calder's is
too complicated. It won't be... not always. Sooner than you can
imagine you'll be flipping through the pages, skimming for answers
and following the how-to's laid out in that book.
Like anything, we learn with
experience. I knew some but had forgotten tons and tons. Anyone
capable of learning can make this life a reality. A previous
Capable of Learning,
covers that subject.
At this point it is a good idea to
get a couple of wish books. You'll want to know what things cost at
have catalogs filled with boat stuff. Both are valuable.
West Marine is great because if
there's boating in your area, they have a store. Defender is
primarily mail order and offers wonderful prices on new gear. I
bought my windlass and chain from
The Rocna anchor came from
My copies of the Defender and West
catalogs have seen a lot of use:
Mostly, at least at my economic level, I'm not paying retail. Buying
used items at consignment shops and from marine flea markets and
swaps is sometimes a real bargain. Or I trade.
A while back I swapped some stainless hinges
for five sockets and ten LED bulbs. Both Guanahani and I won,
and that's how all great trades are. The lights are very low
power consumers and the one by my bunk is just perfect for
Another one I installed in the galley. It is on
24/7. With a power use of just .01 amps I can run the LED for
four days before using one amp hour. I also made a light for
Algae using the same bulb. It's described in the
Anchor Light for Dinghy
Algae's anchor light
In the meantime, horde your pennies. Part 3 is upcoming. You're going to spend some money
the drive to find the perfect boat at a price you can afford.
Perfect is of course a relative term.
Whatever boat you
chose will be a compromise between
your desires and the funds available to pay for same.
How and where did you discover the boat you bought?
And, what made you pull out the wallet and make her yours?
© 2015, 2019
Finding Your Boat (part 1) ~
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Finding Your Boat (part 3)