Date: 14 May 2014. What Used Boat?
Recently I was corresponding with an online associate
who was debating various used boats that seemed to suit he and his
wife. When he asked for advice immediately I knew which I would
chose, and told him why. When you're looking at two identical boats,
the one that's been lived aboard and called home is often the better choice over the
lightly used dock queen. You too may wonder why that's so.
Boats are different from cars. In
an automobile, the one that's been parked is generally the better
option. Less miles means less wear and tear on the vehicle.
But boats are different. You want the boat that's taken a trek or
two around the waterways.
The simple reason is that an owner
who lives aboard longer term will make many changes. Not all will be
to your liking, but many you'll "figure out down the way" are a good
idea. Aboard Seaweed, I have eight cigarette outlets. Yes, one 23'
boat has lots more than many boats twice as large -- and eventually
I'll have two more.
The where and why:
Cigarette outlets onboard
|In my cabin by the VHF radio
||To charge my cell phone or
Kindle; also the electric (12-volt) blanket or my GPS in
Side Note on my GPS:
Yes, it's a hand-held unit, specifically the Garmin76.
You can buy for about $16 (Amazon) an
adapter so it will run
from your 12-volt system.
I use the adapter rather than two AA batteries. That's easier
|In my cabin by the steps to
||It's a great nook and fits
my spotlight so it's always available
|In the pilothouse, starboard
12-volt adapter for the
GPS, and with a
splitter, the computer when underway
Next to be installed: a
double unit on the port side for the computer.
I'm also considering
an A/C plug for the Christmas tree lights
|In front of the galley sink
||To power the 12-volt DVD
|Aft port side, corner
||My computer, and the
hand-held VHF radio and charger
I've considered adding one
in the cockpit because it would be tidier than running a cord
the aft dinette window for power to a light out there.
When I anchored in the crook of a river
(the best spot) I hung a portable anchor light on the dinghy
davit to illuminate dink.
|Port side, forward dinette
||Because I sit there and it's
handy. Powers the portable 12-volt fan most often.
It is more than likely that I could manage without
the plethora I've got at present, however I rather prefer a life of
convenience and comfort. They have been accumulated/installed over
the six years I've owned Seaweed. None came with the boat and all
are in use if not daily, at least once per week.
Sure, I could have installed
fewer, but this is home and I want her comfortable. I'm assuming in
your home you've got all the enhancements by your favorite chair?
There will be a side table, a lamp, a place for the television
zapper/flipper, your cup, a plate of snacks, perhaps a few
magazines, a book or three, and maybe a kit to tie some flies for
your next fishing expedition.
In other words, you're
comfortable and have everything within reach. I do too, and my
view is outstanding. Plus, if I wish to see new scenery I can
start the engine, raise the anchor and be underway in less than 15
minutes. Life does not get much better!
Boats become homes -- at least
ones that are lived aboard long term. In the six years I've
owned Seaweed, I've made a few changes/alterations. Some cost
nothing but time, and others, well, others were $$$. But none
of these items came with the model initially and all add to my life
and happiness quotient.
first six years aboard Seaweed, I have:
opened an area under the reefer for access to store
opened the area under the silverware drawer for
better access and added a shelf there to make more of the space usable
under the sink, added two shelves, spice racks and a
paper towel bar
added cigarette lighter outlets for my 12-volt
goodies 'most everywhere
added two more access points in the dinette seats at
the end by the companionway
added DVD shelves in my cabin over the bunk
added a shelf under my bunk for storage (from port
raised the head by adding a locker (for toilet
paper) so that head is now above the waterline
added a holding tank (on a shelf under the bunk)
plumbed a deck pump-out
added access to the new shelf under my bunk
added two bars for hanging stuff in the head
added a new medicine locker in the head
added a second mounted VHF radio (plus the new
wiring and second antennae to support same)
added 275 watts of solar panels plus a solar
regulator, heavy wire, etc. (almost $1k)
added a wind generator ($1k)
added a dinghy davit (one large 3-Musketeers candy
my friend Dale welded it for me and the davit was a road kill find,
i.e. by the side of the road in a pile of junk. The stainless caught
inverter (Aims1000) ($75)
added/upgraded to a decent battery charger
added a battery bank (three new batteries) ($300)
added a skylight (two now)
added bilge pumps and float switches for the bigger
pair (two 2k gph and one 800gph) ($300)
added a windlass ($1k)
added 100' of chain ($400)
added two anchors, both adequate to hold the boat in
a blow (got rid of the 13 pound toy anchor that came with Seaweed on
45' of 3-strand) ($600)
added numerous fans (Hella, at $22 each)
swapped out most light fixtures for LED (less power
added a new LED anchor light, new running lights,
also LED ($300, give or take)
screened all windows and doorways ($15, made them
myself from an old army screen tent)
added voltage meters so checking battery status is
added temperature gauges for both inside boat and in
the reefer so I can make sure it's keeping stuff cool at a glance
added hand grips/grab rails every
place I reached and wanted one -- if you reach for a place
and don't have something to hang onto, create it. That's
where it's needed.
There's more, but most of those things would not have
been done by a weekend owner. They would not have been
In my view given a
choice of two boats I'd opt for the one that's been a home.
She will (definitely will!) have
some things you're not thrilled with, and possibly some items won't
be as you'd have done them, but you will benefit nonetheless.
The other weekend (Kentucky Derby
weekend) I was speaking with my friend Lynn and she mentioned her
Southern Cross. Lynn said that sailboat was essentially free. How so
you may ask? Well, the number of spare parts and improvements
to that boat amounted to more than the purchase price. And Southern
Cross boats are nice -- very!!
[That particular Southern Cross was lost on
a reef off Australia. Lynn's new boat, In Anneoin, is steel.]
So do go ahead and have fun boat
shopping. Shiny is good, but look -- really look, at what the boat
has to offer for you today and don't ever expect her to be perfect.
Count on making her your own by improving what's there, but not
First use your
new-to-you boat for a bit before dumping big bucks into her.
The things you think critical
might not be after you've used her for a bit. Make the boat
yours after you've used her for a while and know, really know, what
is critical to your happiness quotient. That's your To Do
As for me, given a choice I'd
definitely pick the boat that had been a home.
Have fun, and happy boating.
I'd love to hear what your first boat projects were.
And, are you enjoying life in a marina or living life on anchor?
After Easter (pot luck idea) ~
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