- - Hey, don't disparage filthy old boats - - remember "My Fair Lady" the movie
, there are some incredible gems hidden under that dirt. You just have to know where and how to look. That is why rushing to buy something now, anything now is IMHO a big mistake. Take a couple of years at least to look around and more importantly - every time you look you learn!
- - However, that being said - after about a year you need to be able to act. Some incredible hidden gems occasionally pass under your nose and if you are ready to strike, you will end up with one of them. But remember, the first boat you own is always a wrong one unless you have incredible mojo (or karma). Kind of like the first spouse, generally the wrong one but I have met cruising couples who have married after high school
and have such incredible love and understanding for each that you want to cry with happiness. Just like the hidden gem under the "filthy old boat" exterior you may just find your dreams there. If not, keep looking some more. Some do it by luck but the safest way is educating yourself and looking at everything.
- - Spend some time hanging around boatyards
for Do-it-yourselfers, and you will learn tons of good information about how boats are made and what goes wrong over time. You will see a lot of used steel
owners crying but a few smiling ear to ear after finding one of the truly cared for boats. IMHO steel
is the first choice, but finding a good one, I believe is really like winning a lottery.
- - The vast numbers of FRG boats is daunting, but you have a statistical better chance of finding an acceptable vessel. But you need to learn what to look for first.
- - Besides all the places mentioned, Trinidad or any "end of the cruising line port" should not be overlooked. There are a lot of new cruisers who after bashing and crashing and living on the tilt or living without shopping
malls that fly home to land and put the boats up for sale
. As the boats sit there the prices lower and you can find some "gems."
- - Buying
old boats with the plan to sail the oceans can often be a "double deal" - You pay for the boat (remember "asking price" is normally 1/3 higher than selling price) and then you pay an equal amount again to make it ocean ready, ready for safe navigation
and living full time on. Nothing is cheap
anymore. There are ways to save significant money but still end up paying the same amount by just buying
- - Safety
and survivability for ocean sailing is half skill and experience and half the amount of wise money you put into preparing the vessel.
- - Luckily for the serious newcomers to cruising, there are increasing amounts of people who should not be out there on the oceans. The lucky part is that they get quickly scared or disgusted and more good boats go on the market.
- - It is a very steep learning
curve of self education to get to the point of knowing or having a good prospect of finding a good boat. After that the education continues but in between you are floating in an incredible bay or harbor sipping rum
punches or fine wine watching incredible sunsets and green flashes. And with you are folks from other boats sharing the joy and reveling in the "good life."
- - But do not kid yourself, you can kill yourself out there on the oceans and islands very quick. The education never stops. I spent a career - half a century - above the ground and learned that the old saying is true. Aviation is hours and hours and hours of shear boredom punctuated by a few moments of stark terror. With sailing/cruising it is more like, months and months and months of boredom punctuated by a few days or a week of stark terror. The trick is to outlive your mistakes
and the joy of accomplishment comes in the style in which you did it. Sharing great sea stories (of actual experiences) is part of the bond between cruising sailors. Maybe it is what makes the community so unique, we have faced the ocean and all that Mother Nature has thrown our way and survived to tell the stories.