Date: 26 July 2015. Finding Your Boat
the third part of the series about how to locate an inexpensive boat to live
aboard. The other parts
Finding Your Boat (part 1),
Finding Your Boat (part 2)
should be read first.
A Nordic Tug is a lovely boat to live aboard and
cruise. She's a Dream Boat.
A fellow I've been corresponding with wishes to live aboard a
comfortable boat and asked advice. John wondered if it was possible
to do so with limited resources. Fortunately he has a good income
($1000 per month) and will be able to upgrade his choice of boat,
once purchased. First though John's got to locate that diamond in
the rough. Here's how I'd do it.
Never look the part of a yachtsman
on the prowl, looking to spend big bucks on a rust bucket. You've
got to look like you're a guy or gal without a lot of wherewithal or
the price will go up. Drive into a place in a Mercedes and you'll be
treated to one price. Arrive in a clunker Ford Escort and you're
pegged as economical.
At this price range ($5000 or
thereabouts) you're clunker material. And yes, I did own an older
Escort. Mine was a standard so both Son and Kidlet learned how to
use a clutch. They knew how to drive, not just steer a car.
However, before you go boat
shopping, you've studied thoroughly Don Casey's
This Old Boat and have read lots of articles about boats, boats
that broke, what it takes to fix said item, etc. You've got some
book learning in you.
If you're particularly fortunate you've made friends
with live-aboard boaters. Perhaps one will be able to mentor you while
you seek the ideal vessel in your price range. Most of us, curmudgeons
excluded, like sharing
details of what went wrong, and right on our boats.
Shy Anne and Skipper, sitting on the laps of the owners of M/V
The experienced fellow with lots of time afloat
is ideal. You want him to have a good working background.
Specifically, he didn't merely write checks. Instead, he
either did the jobs himself, or knew how to do so and opted to
hire the muscles.
I've been blessed with
a series of mentors over the years of the engine swaps.
Three engines in two years is a bit excessive. For
certain, the mechanics of engines are not my strong suit.
Captain Will of Beachcomber was extremely helpful in
determining the why's for BOB's failure. The
Diagnosing a Blown Bearing
article describes that.
And recently Stu shared a great idea. His was
to use a
There have been other
mentors to whom I'm grateful. Boating is like that. We help
each other, and that is one of the best parts about this
Sometimes it's not the
big things but something little that wasn't thought of that
makes all the difference in the world. Listen to all you can
and learn to make judgments on what you hear. The
vignette speaks to that and should be read as a refresher when
you start your boat shopping expeditions.
mentor may suggest:
Adequate access to the
engine (all sides thereof) and all mechanical components.
If you cannot get to the parts, you won't do routine
maintenance. And the previous owner won't have done those
things either. No matter how much we think "I will do that"
if it's difficult to get to, you won't. Other items will
take priority and that's never a good thing in the long
Solid structure, including
beneath the waterline. You don't want to start with a boat
that leaks like a sieve.
An engine that runs well.
Or a boat that could accommodate an outboard for propulsion.
Trust me: having a boat that
doesn't move under her own power is not fun. It's a feeling
of powerlessness, and dependency. And worry too: what if a
storm comes and I cannot move to safety?!?
That's just three. Others will have ideas that add to the
list. For me, my ideal boat included a private cabin for sleeping. I
also wanted a shower separate from the head. And too, I wanted open
So, you've refreshed your memory on the previous articles. Good
Next, go online and seek every
boatyard, marina, and boat storage place within a three or four hour drive of
home. The goal is to find boats where they are essentially
abandoned. Find the ones that are not listed on
your goal. These are the rejects and that's where you might just
find your dream boat.
Your chances of finding one like
the blue sports fish in this photo are two: Slim and Fat!
Lady Pamala IV is a 48' Hatteras and she's a gem.
Beautiful, and well above our savings.
Whatever vessel you find will be a
your Dream Boat and the funds available to pay for same.
It is easy to have fun afloat,
regardless of the price of your boat. We are sharing the same
environment. The difference is in the amenities. A spiffy yacht will
have "The Works" whereas a boat like mine won't. Not at purchase
If you're willing to go at the
improvements slowly, even an inadequate boat can become superior
with time and effort. Plus cash. You can't do it for nothing. My
Seaweed still isn't done seven years into ownership. She's closer, but
there's always more to do.
I aspire to
decadence afloat. So far, so good.
Next, stop by your local five and dime store. They are called dollar
stores nowadays. Buy a package of those little spiral notepads. You
want the small ones that fit into your pocket. The idea is to look
poor, unprepared, but interested. As much as I love my boat cards
Intriguing Possibilities (boat cards)]
a friend suggests they are too fancy for boat shopping.
Plus too, you can take notes about
the boats you see on the notepads. Take pictures with your cell
The ideal boat
sleeps two, feeds four and drinks six.
At the lower end of the financial
spectrum, bigger is not better. A larger boat will require more
bottom paint, larger anchor, bigger dock lines, longer wire runs and
with larger cables, plus any number of things. Smaller is definitely
better for those of us pinching pennies.
And too folks at a
different stage in life often will opt for a smaller boat after
years aboard larger yachts. A less complicated boat with fewer
systems appeals to many, even those with deep pockets.
Captain Bob bought the houseboat
Bottom Feeder for a song in Minnesota. I met him cruising in Florida.
You don't need a fancy blue-water boat to have fun
afloat. And houseboats have a ton of useable space.
What you want is a boat that will allow you to become a boater. Just
living in a boat doesn't make you a boater any more than sleeping in
the garage makes you a car. That comes with experience and life
afloat offers lots of opportunities for experience.
I hope all yours are wonderful.
Part 4 coming soon. I keep running
on at the fingers... rest your eyes and more will be uploaded in a
day or three.
I'd love to hear how you discovered your Dream Boat?
Where did you find your boat?
© 2015, 2019
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