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Old 07-03-2008, 03:52   #1
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point system for onboard gadgets

In an effort to help manage all of the various widgets, gizmos, and value-added features of the used boats I see, I am creating a weighted list for the features.

I've got numbers to trade off size and price and motor type and some others but the area I am really unsure of how to attack is onboard electronics. I thought I'd put the question out here.

What I am looking for is a list of gizmos, nothing can be too trivial, and a +X points it is worth in looking at the boat. An example might be "fish finder + 1" and "GPS + 5"

This boat would be used for cruising.

Let me know what you think!

Thanks
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Old 07-03-2008, 04:43   #2
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When it comes to electronic gizmos, I’d also prepare some negative multipliers:
-1x for “built-in”
-2 x for older than (5 years?)
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Old 07-03-2008, 05:09   #3
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In an effort to help manage all of the various widgets, gizmos, and value-added features of the used boats I see, I am creating a weighted list for the features.
I'm not so sure I would do that. I would instead divide all gizmos into 2 groups and just list them. When you get into a list of boats the gizmo list is important mostly after everything else has been examined and you already know which boat to make an offer. If you don't get a winner before the gizmo list then you probably screwed up. Trying trade off the better radar against the newer chart plotter involves a lot of effort that really won't help you make a "which boat purchase decision". The martini flag is cute but not enough to buy the boat. The gizmo list list is mostly to make sure at closing you got all the stuff that was on the purchase agreement.

Tools like these should help make a decision and it needs to use a process that isn't complicated. I hate to say it but if the process can't be clearly explained to the Admiral you can just about forget the whole idea of buying any boat. Making the process simpler is the key to making a decision. Points list are just an excuse not to decide. There will always be a boat with a higher score you can't afford or flat out dislike.

There are a lot more factors other than gizmos that need more attention. Ignoring the gizmo list might totally actually help you. They don't last long and often need a lot of repairs and none of them are the ones you would have chosen. Some are probably desirable and others are either old / worthless / useless. I've been put into the second gizmo list on occasion too.
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Old 07-03-2008, 05:37   #4
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<am creating a weighted list for the features…>

Could be a very interesting exercise – and wonderfully entertaining for an individual in their particular situation, but highly subjective… I’ve done this for motorcycles (my other major vice) and decades ago for sailing vessels as well (albeit more basic than the motorcycle one) along with less significant efforts in other interests, deciding what was optimum for me and then developing a (rather convoluted) spread sheet that awarded scores based on an aggregated factors…

For instance, in the case of motorcycles I had specific gross weights and wheel-bases in mind (along with such things as tankage, range, handling, saddle comfort – measure in hours, horsepower, a factor for my bias as well as that of my pillion at the time, etc., etc., etc….) which in that narrow category would score (say) 100, with any amount above or below reducing the score (using an exponent, so the further from the mark the more the score reduced…), finally each of these was weighted according to my sense of priority and then aggregated into a final score with 100 again being perfect…

But, like I said, this was all based on issues as they meant something to me, the whole scheme of weighting was highly subjective, as were the “things” actually measured – note; although I awarded pluses for alternator wattage, I took points off for techno-gizmos such as radios and cruise control as well as digital FI, so you can probably figure my “structure” for your query might differ significantly from that developed by skippers more titillated by contemporary offerings…

But, it surely could work… fair warning, these can take on a life of their own… my bike efforts started off being a simple dozen entry spreadsheet and over a year or so grew into a small data base with an accompanying 100+ page tome – but yours sounds like a very interesting exercise – like to see what you come up with…
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Old 07-03-2008, 05:47   #5
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Originally Posted by Pblais View Post
The martini flag is cute but not enough to buy the boat. .
Dunno about that. Saw a boat yesterday and from the dock marveled at his nicely done twin martini flags thinking this guy must really like his boat. Then when I got on board I found that I was right and everything had been done and kept up beautifuly. I also saw a boat which was exactly the opposite - kept by a sloth. The sloth boat had a radar. So is the radar a +? Nope. The radar on a sloth boat probably will/has/needs repairs... thats if its properly attached to the mast!





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Old 07-03-2008, 06:32   #6
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But, like I said, this was all based on issues as they meant something to me, the whole scheme of weighting was highly subjective,
I have tried to do this with the last two boat purchases. I find you can make the score meeet the requirements if you try. Boat you like = Score times 2 and boat you don't like so much = Score divided by 6. Just do the math.

Works everytime except it does not explain why the first boat got sold and the new boat was purchased instead.
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Old 07-03-2008, 07:39   #7
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hhmm... Pblais you make an interesting point but I am still curious.

What I am looking for is less specific that worrying about age/condition of the devices and relative value of the devices themselves. Another way to consider this might be- if you had a boat with nothing on it that you were going to use every day- and you could only add things one item per week... What is the order in which you would add things?

It might help to know I am looking at the very lowest end of cruising boats. And FAR FAR BELOW the minimum line of anybody who is even remotely snobby about gear. People will say things like, "You can cross the ocean in leaking soap bucket but it isn't recommended." I am about one price range ahead of leaky soap bucket.
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Old 07-03-2008, 07:56   #8
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I am about one price range ahead of leaky soap bucket.
Then you really should not care about the gadets at all if you think about. I would say you want something that is at least held together and that would be the one criteria and the second being price. After that it's all of no interest. You quickly find too many boats that you can't afford if you extend the criteria else you never actually get one. Lots of people love subscribing to Cruising World and never buy a boat. The magazine is all they really wanted. If you just want to get out and sail then you need to deal with your own limitations and just enjoy it for what it can be.

After you buy a boat it all changes and you need to start fixing things that are dangerous and working down a priority list. Adding new things is after you take care of other things. Getting to far ahead is not all that productive especially if your options are limited by cost. You can still enjoy what you can have to the best advantage it offers.
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Old 07-03-2008, 08:15   #9
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<I am about one price range ahead of leaky soap bucket…>

This could work… I think Paul may be onto something with his “lists…”

Although I’d probably do something a tad different, the concept would be similar… Maybe a list/category something like; (A) Those devices that must work first time every time, or something dire happens, (B) Those mechanisms that could create a problem if they don’t operate, but usually not immediately; (C) those devices that are useful and labor saving, but not absolutely required; and perhaps a (D) for those items that one can live without indefinitely (this category forces one to place techno-trinkets in their proper place and not confuse them with the imperatives…).

Then perhaps a reliability factor for each; conceivably divided into at least two (2-square) possibilities; (1) Those items measured on their everyday reliability (an anvil) (2) Those items measured on their ability to repair vulnerable components quickly (a wooden handled hammer…). So, you’d have: (I) Those items with high ultimate reliability AND exceptionally easy to repair; (II) Those items of high initial reliability but not so easy to repair (III) more or less equal would be those of less reliability, but easy to repair, and (IV) those of marginal reliability and difficult or needing a specialist to repair…

Then set your weighting so that (hopefully) (A) cataloged mechanisms likely fell into (I) and certainly not (IV), (B) could fall into no lower than (II) or (III), and (C) and (D) items could fall into (IV) cuz no one is having to depend on `em anyway…

(A) might be a EPIRB or a PFB, where as (B) might be a VHF, SSB or a bilge pump, where as (D) might be a CD-Stereo or tell-tails on the jib… or whatever subjective category fits your personal “leaking soap-bucket” scheme (I like that, I may have to plagiarize your handy analogy for my own use…)
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Old 07-03-2008, 08:17   #10
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Okay, so, from the top!

Sail ready with strong running motor is a minimum requirement. I have a max price and I am adding points for every 500 increment under that max price. I have a minimum size and am adding points for every foot above that. I have structure in place for inboards vs outboards, dinghy or no dinghy, etc...

I promise not to buy a boat with no mast because it has a shiny plotter.

What lead to this was finding a solid boat at an excellent price that was at my absolute minimum footage and another boat that was at my absolute maximum price but substantially larger on the same day.

I won't be executing until June so mostly right now I am training myself to identify good deals.
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Old 07-03-2008, 08:39   #11
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What lead to this was finding a solid boat at an excellent price that was at my absolute minimum footage and another boat that was at my absolute maximum price but substantially larger on the same day.
You need to define "maximum price'. This can be a deal breaker. You get the boat home and you find out all the things you didn't find in the survey or the things you did find and now the extra costs add up. Thee are just things you need to buy after you buy a boat - even one in ready to sail shape (they don't have any of those for sale).

The bigger boat will have more things to fix and will cost more to own. Too much of boat ownership is priced by the foot. You need to make sure the new boat fits the budget. The smaller boat fits better than a bigger boat. The sale price is the cheapest money you will ever spend. The "by the foot prices" of things is almost a daily affair.

For anyone I think the rule is "the biggest small boat that works". High budget or low budget it's a good rule of thumb. Understanding what works can be a task you need to own several boats to learn. What works for some isn't always about you.
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Old 07-03-2008, 14:20   #12
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You need to define "maximum price'...
... For anyone I think the rule is "the biggest small boat that works"...
Yes sir, what Paul said.
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Old 07-03-2008, 15:23   #13
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Not leaving home without...

I have a list of fixed "gadgets" that I feel are essential on Boracay before I can cruise.

They include:-
1) A good electric anchor winch with appropriate anchor and chain
2) Single handed mainsail reefing
3) Headsail roller reefing
4) Stern anchor
5) Good strong dinghy davits
6) A hard dinghy and a soft dinghy (with appropriate survival gear)
7) Depth sounder
8) VHF Radio
9) Gas stove with proper bottle installation
10) Sturdy self steering
11) Ample fuel storage
12) Ample water storage

Most (if not all) of the above items are expensive to buy and to fit and do not deteriorate greatly with age. The total cost could exceed the purchase price of the boat if they are not already fitted.

Items like EPIRB, GPS, SSB or satellite phone and drogue or sea anchor can be portable.

I don't want to leave home without them
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Old 07-03-2008, 22:03   #14
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No offense intended but trying to quantify something that is so subjective seems impossible.

Imagine trying to do this to body parts? Brain +5. Heart +4, Hair +1 ...it just does not work.

Its an interesting idea that MAY help but I would not let numerical ratings be the bottom line determining factor.

I think its more what you feel from your gut instinct. Its more synonymous with how you would judge a person as a whole.
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Old 08-03-2008, 00:04   #15
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I think it's a good idea and I do that on things I buy. However I use weighted scores such that "frills" and gizmos" won't change the underlying decision. However on two like boats it would.

So I assume we are talking "gear and electronics" other than the basic hull, rigging, engine and sailing stuff. I'll start with ground zero and what I would add in what order.

It's pretty much the order we are adding stuff

Caveat Sailor...

Wet Compass (you have to shoot a heading to penetrate squalls and t/storms)
Mast top wind indicator/vane (boat handling)
Radio (ordering ahead to the marina for a round of Margharitas)
Nav lights (let's open up 12 more hours of sailing time)
Depth (let's open up a lot more channels with confidence)
Auto-pilot/tiller (adds a second, fluxgate, compass. Argues less than the wife and takes orders better)
Upgraded house batteries
Speed log (adds a key element of ded reckoning nav)
Stove (let's do weekends...)
Small fridge (...with cold beer...)
DVD player (...with no bored kids)
Electronic wind instrument (can feed the pilot)
Hand Held GPS (can feed the pilot and makes nav easy)
Solar power (feeds the beast with less motoring)
Chart plotter/laptop nav system (getting fancy)
More Batteries (lot's of power needs coming up)
Genset (lot's of power needs coming up)
Freezer (A steak on the 25th day of a passage)
Watermaker
Sat Phone (global comms)
Radar (who's out there?)

I've probably missed a bunch of electronics stuff but this is off the top of my head.
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