Date: 31 July 2015. Finding Your Boat
Everyone has their own ideas about what the Ideal Boat is. Some
focus on yachts capable of carrying them any place on earth. That's
good, however many of us are quite happy exploring rivers and lakes
along the coast. Our dreams are modest. And implementing them costs
lots less too.
Because we cruise
locally in protected waters, we
can buy a less robust boat and have fun safely.
For some of us, a smaller boat
that costs less is just about perfect. Even knowing it won't be one
of those spectacular Yachts shown in the boating magazines, we are
satisfied with what we can afford. Also, we know that with time,
effort and cash our boat homes can be made more accommodating.
With less money you'll need to be more reliant on
yourself and your abilities to fix what's broken. Starting a project
and not finishing it is all too common. Don't let yourself get caught
with a zillion projects underway and none finished.
And I would stick with power boats. Or outboards.
Not inboard-outboards as often there are lower-unit issues that cost
Sail boats have this mythological
"I'm cheap transportation" aura of them. It's not true.
With sail, you've got two complete
propulsion systems. The rigging and sails are not free and require
expensive parts and maintenance. Sails too are not inexpensive.
Do you dream of sailing? If so the wind is
either on your nose, nonexistent or too strong. Those balmy days
described in the sailing magazines are few and far between.
Power has an engine, and mine
doesn't run at present. The cooling system needs to be hooked up. But
I'll tell you this: for not a lot of money I could have (should
have?) put an outboard on the transom and called it good.
But I didn't so now I'm
struggling. Such was my choice.
When looking at boatyards you will find some (most?)
abandoned boats are dogs. That is perfectly okay. Go anyway and
meander around. Talk to everyone.
Keys to Making a Good
Back in the 1970's a
friend was speaking with a banker. Michael asked what makes a
person a well-liked and was told the following key points:
Always be polite. Say
"yes sir, no sir, please and thank you" when addressing
Be a man of your word. If you say something, do it.
Even if you are doing
them a favor, act like they are doing the favor for you.
Be prompt and courteous
in all dealings, both business and personal.
Respond to mail and
phone calls promptly.
John said: Currently I have about $5000 saved,
and another $5000 in an IRA. Is that going to be enough to get a
And I answered Yes. Previous
Finding Your Boat (part 1),
Finding Your Boat (part 2),
Finding Your Boat (part 3),
Finding Your Boat (part 4)
give lots of ideas on where to find such a vessel.
While reading those articles,
keep in mind the Keys to Making a Good Impression as outlined
above. You're not doing them a favor by granting your presence.
They are doing the favor for you. Good manners and being gracious
go a long way in establishing and maintaining relationships.
Always be polite and folks will go out of their way to help you
Now a $5k boat will not have solar
panels, a wind generator, windlass, big anchor, etc. However with a
pension of $1000 per month, a person can afford to stay at a marina while
gaining experience and gathering the goodies.
panhandle of Florida some marinas run $300 a month for smaller
boats. Specifically, one such marina is
C-Quarters. Ask for Kim if you call them. She's a great
Some of the smaller
places along the Great Loop charge even less.
Finding a friendly
congenial place that accepts live-aboard boaters is sometimes
a challenge. There are great marinas though and fellow boaters
are sure to point you to their favorites. C-Quarters is a
special place. I'll definitely come back one day.
Kim on the porch at C-Quarters Marina.
John also said I am currently reading
Voyaging on a small income. The thing is… I don’t have a lot of
I am past the
half-century mark. None of us are getting any younger. Steep steps
and heavy lifting (hoisting sails) is not going to get easier as we
get older. I ended up buying a windlass before planned because
hauling in the anchor was too tough.
Physically sailing requires more
strength or costly equipment to compensate for same. Captain Douglas
displayed his strength and navigating skills by landing in Bermuda
in the days before GPS. What a sailor!
When younger we could do a lot of things with
relative ease. Stamina was a given back then.
What I could do
with ease at 30 is darn near impossible now.
Or, if I do manage to do it, I pay for it in aches and pains later.
Thomas Sowell said it best:
More than once, after I woke up some morning feeling like I was 20
again, I did something that ended up with me on crutches or
otherwise being reminded emphatically by my body that I was
definitely not 20 again. Women may lie about their age to other
people, but men lie about their age to themselves.
I'll grant that men have testosterone however when
I bought Seaweed I fully intended (and still do) to live out my life
aboard her. She's got two steps down into my cabin and one down to
And there are days my knees say "why didn't you
buy a small houseboat?!?" There are some dandy
houseboats if you look long enough for lots less than $5k. And they
are generally on one level without steps.
My neighbor here is looking at a
houseboat that requires a
new engine (he's going outboard) for $2000. It will need new wood
and updating inside. Still, he'll be on the water for lots less than
I paid for Seaweed.
Will he be one of the "yachties" that are spoken
of in the cruising magazines? Dubious. He'll be out here though. Too many wait for
perfection when Good Enough would work.
We are not getting
younger. Don't wait.
And read this piece about my friend
Bob who waited too long:
An okay houseboat aka Shantyboat can do a lot. It
will be like my Seaweed. The vessel will be a coastal cruiser. In
bad weather it will
in port or tucked into a safe spot on the river. I have learned to spot all
the potential places to hide out when weather is icky. And I have
them marked on my chart prior to raising the anchor or leaving the
John said: I was planning on getting a
sailboat because of the cost of gas and the ecological advantage.
I too wanted a sailboat,
specifically the NorSea27. Before cancer I had
dreams of sailing to the south Pacific and exploring the islands there.
The pictures are so pretty and I admit wanderlust had a grip on my
Obviously the over the horizon
dreams were wrought of youth, strength, and invincibility, eh? Then
I realized how many beautiful places we have here. I decided to
enjoy the world I'm nearest, first.
John was surprised to consider life aboard a power boat can be
economical. Please note I do not go fast. Five knots is slow and
that's just the way I like it. There's plenty of time to see the
sights and besides:
I'm already where I
want to be. It is about the journey and mine's been fabulous so far.
And it will be again once I've got
the hoses put on the engine. I think I can do that and save some $$.
I have to find out where they all go and that's going to be in an
upcoming letter to my friend in Carrabelle.
Stats on fuel consumption say I'll use one quart per hour at five
knots. So that's a minimum of 20 miles to the gallon. However, that
is theoretical, and everything works in Theory.
I should have named
my boat Theory. Everything works there.
A friend has this identical Kubota in his tractor.
He tells me at 1700 rpm running at 3/4 throttle in the field the
tractor burns 1/2 quart per hour. I'll be at about 1100rpm and in
the water, thus doubled the fuel consumption because of moving the
boat through water.
But that's not proven, not yet. I'm so anxious to
get this Kubota up and running so I can confirm or not the figures
we've hypothesized on paper.
Still, once she's in motion there is little fuel
required to keep her going. Actually it takes 8 hp to push my 23'
boat at hull speed. So the 18hp Kubota is a bit over powered for my
Seaweed. The engine, because it is larger than it has to be means
that when the winds and current are against me, I can still *make
*Make way: go forward.
a beauty? This is my 18hp Kubota motor.
Yanmar Tractor Parts. They ship anywhere at a reasonable
cost. Ask for Dennis.
She's painted white so any
oozes or leaks will be immediately apparent. All engines
should be a light color. I can state unequivocally that a dark
blue paint job makes finding anything new dang near
impossible. And red is only slightly better than black.
Folks say "I just don’t know how to get from where I am to
where I want to be…"
My advice is to read everything
you can lay your eyes upon. I've a few articles on boat books for
beginners. Start with the
Learning about Life Afloat
(a checklist) piece for some of my
favorites. And remember, there is no test. Some books will not
appeal to you so don't bother finishing them. Others you might just
want to own. If so, [blatant plug] please buy through my
You're a budget boater. That means
the books I suggest should be first borrowed from the public
library. Librarians are a wonderful resource. Benjamin Franklin and
50 associates started the first public library in the United States
in 1731. We've come a long way, eh? More about the original library
and how it came to be is found on the
First Public Library page.
I believe you can live cheaper on this coast so I
would not buy on the left coast, unless you have dreams of life in
the Sea of Cortez. I certainly have considered same. It's beautiful
and from boaters who live there, quite a nice spot.
When I was young the Sea of Cortez
was called the Gulf of California. It's the same place, renamed.
The Sea of Cortez aka Gulf of California is between
Baja California and Mexico.
Learning about boats can being now. Visiting and chatting
with the guys who work on their own boats is a good place to start.
Friendly folks (not the curmudgeons) generally like sharing their
choices and the whys provided they are not busy. After all, you want
to do what we are doing so you validate us.
If you see a fellow in the midst
of a project don't interrupt. Towards quitting time is a better
choice, or first thing in the morning before the day starts. And for
goodness sake, remember your manners.
In the meantime, check
World for power boats under
30' and under $10k. You'll see a lot of go-fast boats but more
than one will be almost what you want. Asking price and selling price differ.
why I suggested you look in the higher range.
You will find most boats are
significantly overpowered. Blame men. Guys want the biggest and
fastest boat. Fuel consumption increases exponentially with more
speed for those of us who own trawlers.
Try for either an inboard diesel
or an outboard motor. Gas outboards are far less costly than the
diesel outboards, so I'd opt for gasoline in an outboard. Besides,
there is something to be said for a four-bolt tune-up. That means
taking the motor off the boat and into a shop for repairs.
Definitely plan on going slowly.
You and I can get into a whole lot less trouble at five knots than
At five knots you
could circumnavigate the globe
less than seven months. In case you wondered...
I'd love to hear what books you've read so far.
Was there one in particular that seemed to be written just for you?
Finding Your Boat (part 4)
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