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Date: 31 July 2015. Finding Your Boat (part 5)

© janice142

I rambled on at the fingertips. You might wish to pour yourself a cuppa caffeine. This turned into a five part series detailing how to find your inexpensive live aboard boat. All five articles are combined on this page:

Finding  Your Boat Series

For those that prefer smaller posts or who have a spotty internet connection, here are the five articles from the series.

  1. Finding Your Boat (part 1)

  2. Finding Your Boat (part 2)

  3. Finding Your Boat (part 3)

  4. Finding Your Boat (part 4)

  5. Finding Your Boat (part 5) ←you are here

Everyone has their own ideas about what the Ideal Boat is. Some focus on yachts capable of carrying them any place on earth. That is fine for some, 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 inexpensive boat is just about perfect. Even knowing it will not be one of those spectacular Yachts shown in the boating magazines, we are satisfied with what is affordable. Also, we know that with time, effort and cash our boat homes can be made more accommodating. It is a very good life.


Final Notes:


With less money you will need to be more reliant on yourself and your abilities to fix what is broken. Starting a project and not finishing it is all too common. Do not let yourself get caught with a zillion projects underway and none finished.

I would stick with power boats, or outboards. Inboard-outboards often have lower-unit issues that cost $$$ and/or sink the boat. I would not buy a boat with that propulsion system. NEVER!!!


Sail boats have this mythological "I am cheap
transportation" aura of them. That is absolutely not true.

With sail, you have 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 does not run at present. The cooling system needs to be hooked up. But I will 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 did not do that so now I am 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 Impression

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:

  1. Always be polite. Say "yes sir, no sir, please and thank you" when addressing everyone.

  2. Be a man of your word. If you say something, do it.

  3. Even if you are doing them a favor, act like they are doing the favor for you. Show gratitude.

  4. Be prompt and courteous in all dealings, both business and personal.

  5. 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 boat?


And I answered Yes. Previous articles Finding Your Boat (part 1), and Finding Your Boat (part 2), and Finding Your Boat (part 3), and 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 are 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 succeed.


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.

In the 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 gal.

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 will definitely come back one day.

Kim on the porch at C-Quarters Marina.

John also said I am currently reading Annie Hill’s Voyaging on a small income. The thing is… I don’t have a lot of sailing experience….

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 will grant that men have testosterone however when I bought Seaweed I fully intended (and still do) to live out my life aboard her. She has two steps down into my cabin and one down to the galley. 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 is going outboard) for $2000. It will need new wood and updating inside. Still, he will 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 will be out here though. Too many wait for perfection when Good Enough would work.

We are not getting younger. Do not wait.

And read this piece about my friend Bob who waited too long: Time Stopped

Shantyboat Floating Empire tucked in during wintertime:

Mungo onboard the Floating Empire wrote Composting Toilet How-To.

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 dock.


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 heart.

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 am 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 is just the way I like it. There is plenty of time to see the sights and besides:

I am already where I want to be. It is about the journey and mine has been fabulous so far.

And it will be again once I have 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 is going to be in an upcoming letter to my friend in Carrabelle.

Stats on fuel consumption say I use one quart per hour at five knots. So that is 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' will be at about 1100rpm and in the water, thus doubled the fuel consumption because of moving the boat through water.

But that is not proven, not yet. I am anxious to get this Kubota up and running so I can confirm or not the figures we have hypothesized on paper.

Still, once Seaweed is 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 way.

*Make way: go forward.


Isn't she a beauty? This is my 18hp Kubota motor.

The engine is from Yanmar Tractor Parts. They ship anywhere at a reasonable cost. Ask for Dennis.


The engine is 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 do not bother finishing them. Others you might just want to own. If so, [blatant plug] please buy through my link. Thanks!

You are 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 have 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 is 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 do not 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 Yacht 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. That is 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 would 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 ten.

At five knots you could circumnavigate the globe
in less than seven months. In case you wondered...

The world waits for you... All the best in finding your Dream Boat and making her your own.

Thank you for reading. Good Luck and happy hunting.

I'd love to hear what books you have read so far.
Was there one in particular that seemed to be written just for you?

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