Thursday, December 28, 2006

Moving a Sailboat 4 - 498

Now that the mast is out, I have spent a week taking anything out of the interior that could rattle, rub, break loose, shift, or cause mayhem. This list includes a large part of the vessels interior. The boom and the gaff had to be packed inside the boat and all the lifelines and blocks had to be tied and seized so they wouldn't come loose during travel and wear a hole in something. For me it was a great week all by myself. I slept in the boat at night and had the entire seashore to myself. It was a time of reflection and rejuvenation, and of course a great time spent messing about in a boat.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The boatyard is a playground.

My children think it is normal to spend the day at a boatyard playing. It is amazing what they find to play with. Bianca is a caped horse rider. She looks really bored because we don't own a TV and have a gaming system. What a deprived child. I am sure her development is being stunted.

Moving a Vessel 3 - 504

The mast has to be removed and packed up for transport. I removed every single piece of wire and line so that there would not be any chafing.
The mast still had to be bubble wrapped so that the roller furling foil would not rub against it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Moving a Boat Part 2 - 505

The next step to transporting a wooden boat is to pressure wash the bottom of the boat (gently so you don't blast the cotton caulking out) and apply linseed oil. I used a mixture of 75% linseed oil to 25% mineral spirits. (The recipe given me by my surveyor.) About half of the "experts" tell me I should use boiled linseed oil. The other half tell me to use regular linseed oil. This tells me that it doesn't make a difference. Use what you can get - in my case boiled. I applied five gallons of this mixture in four coats. I learned that the easiest way to apply is with a thick nap paint roller applied from the bottom of the boat and rolling up, then the side of the boat doesn't drip all over you. The linseed oil keeps the boat from drying out quickly, and it looks good.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Moving a Ship Part 1 - 507

This is the first step to getting a boat from Massachusets to Michigan. You have to get it out of the water. The first thing I found out is that everybody is not willing to lift a wooden boat. Apparently many wooden boats are soft mush piles that have been neglected and in some state of sinking for many years and the last thing you want to do is stress the boat by lifting. No amount of talking could convince some marinas to lift me out and set my vessel on a semi. Foster Rigging and Yacht Service is one place that convinced me they had the know how to lift my boat without damaging it and set it on a semi. They are EXTREMELY expensive though.
Everything went well.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Repairing the Rot - 508

The great part about a wooden boat is that it is made up of individual pieces. Each piece can be inspected and if necessary, replaced. In this case, luckily the plank was pretty short and can be removed relatively easy and replaced. Notice the lack of fiberglass dust, grinding, epoxy or fiberglass resin or face masks and tyvec suits. Just some sawdust, a piece of wood, and some cotton. Ahhhhhhh. . . .
Edit: When the board was removed, it wasn't actually rotten. The outer layer of wood had separated on the edge making it feel soft. If I had known better, I would have left this piece alone. Especially since the end of this wood just covers over another solid piece of wood.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Listening to the Surveyor - 510

This X mark so unceremoniously scratched on the hull of our boat is a rotten spot. The boat is not perfect. Stomach churns. Owner shifts weight from foot to foot. World shifts on axis. Etc. I did what everyone else suffering from Sailboat seizure does - I bought the boat anyway.
Edit: When the board was removed, it wasn't actually rotten. The outer layer of wood had separated on the edge making it feel soft. If I had known better, I would have left this piece alone. Especially since the end of this wood just covers over another solid piece of wood.

Friday, December 15, 2006

How to Buy a Boat 3 - Day 511

When you finally find a surveyor that you think you can trust - pay him or her well. This person is your only defense against a disease that has you completely in your grips. You are at this exact moment suffering from a sailboat seizure (keel induced infarction). The signs that you are suffering from this insipid disease are: 1. You are talking to someone about spending all your money on something that MIGHT hold its value, will most likely lose value and will either end up on a reef or stuck in the mud. 2. You are standing next to a boat that you don't own and would like to own. 3. You have looked at or have entered a building with the word "broker" anywhere on it.

The surveyor (as soon as he or she is paid) will do something THAT YOU CANNOT DO AT THIS POINT. The surveyor will inspect your vessel and tell you what condition it is really in. The reason you need this is you are suffering from a sailboat seizure, the owner doesn't really know and wouldn't tell you anyway if he did, and the broker may know but he isn't telling the owner or especially you what he knows. (See previous post).

The surveyor does all this with a magical little device called a hammer. He will tap the hammer in a pattern that manages to touch the boat every two square inches. It is amazing to watch, and only someone who is suffering a keel induced infarction will be able to watch another person tap a 30 foot object all day every two square inches with a hammer. But to you at this point it will seem amazing and sound musical.
NEXT, the hard part - listening to the words coming out of the surveyors mouth.

Friday, November 24, 2006

How to buy a boat Part 2 - Day 535

As soon as you find the vessel that is the best compromise for your conflicting needs (like space vs. money), the lies start. Lies. For instance, every broker you talk to has several people who are going to be looking at the boat you are interested in within the next couple of days. I have sold several boats. The number of people looking at your boat at any given time is usually zero. So when a broker tells you of all the people that are looking at the boat you are looking at he is telling preposterous lie. In the last year every broker I talked to told a new twist on the same old lie: Nobody looked at this boat for months, and then all of a sudden I have been getting a ton of calls to look at it. Ton of calls all of a sudden = you. It is like brokers everywhere get together and decide that the old line isn't working anymore and that they better use a new one.

The next batch of lies you will get in buying the boat are the reasons the boat is getting sold and the condition it is in. Health reasons, devorce, and disinterested children seem to be the top three. Like anything in life, the reason for selling a boat are a little more complex. I find that keeping up with the maintenance on the boat is the real main reason for selling a boat, and most boats for sale show lack of any real maintenance. The most important thing to realize is that ANY boat you buy has problems, expecially if it is brand new or looks brand new.

This is the crux of the problem: When you buy a boat, everyone is lying to you. The broker is lying (even your broker - see the book "Freakonomics" to understand this), the manufacturer is bending the truth as much as possible (see Catalina tell you how their boats are world cruising vessels), the owner hides the truth as much as possible, and the magazines are implicit in not exposing any of the above three parties who pay so dearly needed advertising dollars.

This is the solution: Buy someone you trust. Surveyors. Surveyors can be part of the problem expecially if they are recommended by the broker or buyer. The best bet is to find one yourself and then pay them well and give them plenty of time to find the problems. Not really sure, get two surveyors. There is absolutely nothing more expensive than saving money on a surveyor. One problem on a 30,000 dollar boat can take more than that to fix. Spending a couple grand on a surveyor is the best money you will ever spend on a boat.

I found my surveyor by reading. My surveyor came up in several books and magazine articles, and oddly enough he was also on the list my broker recommended. It took a month to get a survey scheduled. The owners hate waiting, the broker howled citing the above "other people are looking at this boat" rule. Ignore all of this. DO NOT BUY A BOAT UNLESS A SURVEYOR YOU TRUST SPENDS AND ENTIRE DAY GOING THROUGH THE BOAT. The buyer and seller will have twenty other solutions other than waiting the month to get your surveyor look at the boat and will put unbelievable pressure on you to do otherwise. Pressure filled with lies.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How to Buy a Boat - Day 566

We just spent the last five years looking for the Sailboat that is the best compromise for the criteria that we are looking for to embark on a major open ended sailing trip. Five years. So I have a few guidelines for anyone else looking for just such a vessel.

1. Read. You are not going to be able to sail every type of boat you are thinking about using. All the guides say to sail as many types of vessel as you can so you can decide what you want and I agree. The problem with this thinking is that you are not going to be able to decide what you want just by Sailing in a boat once. We don't really get to know a Sailboat until we have owned it for about three years. I can tell you more about your vessel having owned it for three years than you will ever know by chartering it for a week. You are going to have to find other owners and read their very biased opinions on what they have. I tend to listen less to what they say and watch more closely what they are doing. Someone who thinks Catalina's are great vessels to take across oceans but has never left the Great Lakes probably doesn't have much to add. Yes, there are people who have sailed a Catalina 27 around the world, but if you look at the typical Catalina 27 owner they like to stay within 25 miles from shore. I also look at how long they have been doing it. I will put more credence in someone who has been sailing 25 years over the couple that just bought their boat (that would be me)

2. Travel. You cannot find out what works by just looking at vessels on You have to find out for yourself what is working out in the real world. We visited Vancouver BC, Houston TX, Florida, Southern California, Boston and the entire West Coast of Michigan. In doing this we were able to get to know what many vessels were really like, and more importantly what their owners are like and how the boats were really being used. You find out very quickly what does and does not work in a hurry.
3. Sail. Pick a small inexpensive vessel and sail it as often as possible. I think this is the most skipped step of them all. Everyone is all abuzz about having the right boat and navigation system and electrical system and engine and keel and bla bla bla. You cannot use any of these if you don't know how to sail a vessel. Don't fall into the trap of sailing for ten years but sailing the same year over ten times. Go out in ridiculous conditions, learn what your boat does in heavy weather. Learn to sail in light winds. Learn. You cannot pick a boat if you don't know what floats yours. We got very used to having only 27 feet of boat. We don't want the expense of maintaining a 45 foot vessel. 27 is enough. When we started searching we knew that anything over 35 feet would bury us financially for maintenance and for the fun of taking it out. Next time you get to a harbor look at what size is out on the water SAILING. It is all the smaller boats. We also knew a 27 foot boat is enough to handle anything out there because we have been in it. We know what an 80kt microburst feels like. We have been in those conditions you read about in books where you cant hear anything over the wind in the rigging, or see anything unless you are on the peak of the wave. If you don't sail you will not know what you need and you will make buying decisions based off of the magazines or worse a broker at a boat show. DO NOT BUY A VESSEL BASED OFF OF WHAT YOU READ IN A MAGAZINE OR GET TOLD BY A BROKER. They have no basis in reality. Sail, Sail, Sail.
3. Trust someone. You are going to have to find a sailor you resonate with and trust them. If you follow Steve and Linda Dashew you are going to end up with a very large systems based vessel built with the idea of outrunning and avoiding weather. If you follow Eric and Susan Hiscock you are going to end up with a smaller and simpler vessel built to take care of itself. What kind of sailor are you? Do you want to have a washer and drier? The Dashew's are your people. Do you have less than 300k in your bank account? The Hiscock's are your people. We stumbled upon a couple we decided to trust by mistake. We chartered a Balboa 26 in the Florida keys for two weeks one winter that was designed by Lyle Hess. I loved how it sailed. When it came time to find a vessel to cross oceans with I started looking into what else he designed. It was either Lyle Hess or Bob Perry in my mind. I found out Lyle Hess also designed the Ensenada 22, our first and very well liked vessel. I also found that you can't do a search on Lyle Hess, who had passed away ten years ago, without hearing about the Pardey's. All of a sudden Larry and Lynn Pardey were everywhere I looked. I bought one of their books, "Self Sufficient Sailor" and loved it. They seemed like no nonsense people. I decided to go to one of their seminars more to see if they were full of crap than to listen to the seminar. We met two very easy to meet people who love sailing, and people. We decided that we would listen. Our new boat was built at the same time and along the same lines as their current vessel Taleisin. We have found little to disagree with in the Pardey philosophy, the main differences in that they have no children and they are very small people. That is another day's topic

Sunday, July 02, 2006

This man is clueless - 705

I purchased a sextant this winter because . . . they look so cool. The problem is that understanding what the angle means as far as your location requires M A T H, something I am trying to skip learning as a lifelong goal. I hate conflicting goals.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Winter Blues

January and feburary are the longest, most expensive months to live in Grand Rapids, MI. I find myself caught between two very large extremes. On one hand, can not wait to get out of here and just be done with bills, house payments, heating expenses ect. Just be debt free and take off with enough in your pocket to get to the next place. On continue on in the same fashion...not worry.

On the other hand, I kind of like having the next few years figured out and having the comfort and conveinences of knowing that I have Job...income. I have a home...i actually enjoy paying bills as long as i stay in black. Settling...that's what you call it. Settle down and have a nice place with some kids and grow old.

I wonder if we will ever get to that of ties that bind us to our present lives or of the comforts and luxuries that we cling to with some sort of false sense of comfort. Do I dare let go of these i worried that i might change...have to change...grow into a differant person? I fear it...I like how i am i think. I hate change...but change forces me to grow.

I choose to grow.