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Old 13-07-2011, 16:32   #1
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Logistics of Working on Boats

Hi:

I am wondering of the feasibility of working on a boat given that I am 130 km away from the water. What are the logistics of this? Can you camp in the boat when it is out of the water, that is does whoevers land you are on allow this? What about ugly messy sanding and the like, is the yacht club going to allow this?

Or would I truck a boat to my property? Is this even feasible at 40 feet? If not, what is the biggest boat that is reasonable to move on land? What does this cost?

I am just getting started on this journey, so I am dumb as a post at this point. At this point I think I want a blue water boat 35 to 40 feet such that I can go anywhere. No care of poor windward performance or any intentions of racing. A long voyage would have two aboard. Short duration local trips I can see having 4 or 6 on board. If all trips were to be just for two, Id be heading towards 30 feet. I wish I could convince myself that 30 feet was the right number, but I have friends and nieces and nephews... I understand that 40 feet will be 4 times the cost of 30 feet - the brutal reality of boating. I would not assume that all my interest would lie in warm weather cruising. Indeed, sailing in Canada can be cold any month of the year, not even considering that going around Newfoundland looks interesting.

I am reasonably skilled and trained as an engineer. I have a pretty good workshop and tool inventory. I like building stuff. I am 6'3 inches tall, so I can see there would be lots of things Id do differently than what shows up standard.. I want the boat insulated. Laying down a ground plane for ham radio is a good idea. Id like a wood stove as I heat with wood on land. I like things done properly, which tends to mean doing it personally.

So I am tending towards buying project boat on the cheap and making it suit me. This I expect is generally not recommended, so I am certainly open to being talked out of it. It is not an issue of money, I can afford to throw dollars at it and just buy a boat that is close to ready to go. It is just that it is not really me, and it would likely mean no insulation unless the boat was foam cored. I dont like the idea of anything but solid GRP below waterline, so the previous idea would make me uncomfortable.

All the above said by someone who has not even set foot in a large boat cabin ever. I last sailed on a large boat some 20 years ago for two or three evening outings. I am so green, it would make a leprechaun blush.

Given my first pass at my needs (dreams?), and my skills, nature, tooling, what advice do you have with regard to my retrofitting a boat? Or can/should I buy something close and live with its defecits?

Hopefully I have given you some idea of the specificity of my ignorance.

Thanks for reading.

Boulter
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Old 13-07-2011, 16:41   #2
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Re: logistics of working on boats?

I have encountered every sort of logistical problem in working on boats, and I can tell you with no uncertainty that "it depends." In other words, some boatyards won't blink and eye if you are sandblasting the boat all night long, others will make you sign an agreement that you won't touch anything below the deck level and you must get approval for every project. Most are in between. If you already owned the boat I would suggest looking for the type of yard you need so that you can work on the boat. But, since you are looking at boats, and don't yet know what you will get, this is a consideration for you to keep in mind, just like all the other details like type of engine, condition of sails, etc. Depending on where you are located it may be easy to truck the boat to your home, if you wish, or it may be difficult. Again, different states and localities have different regulations on this. If you are working on a fixer upper it is ideal to have it in your backyard or close to home. However, many times I have purchased boats hundreds of miles away and had to drive back and forth for months while fixing it up. If that is the case, I usually concentrate on the things needed to get the boat in the water and needed to be able to move the boat safely to where I can work on it at my leisure. I have found that most boatyards don't mind if you sleep onboard as long as you do it quietly.
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Old 13-07-2011, 16:44   #3
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Re: logistics of working on boats?

All the options you mention are possible. The best depends on your situation. Details including total distance to the nearest boatyard, your working situation, how much work the boat will need.

In my case, even though I live in Florida I too am a long way from the nearest boatyard. The boat I purchased also needed a lot of work, so I chose to have the boat trucked to a spot that is 15 minutes from home. Now I can drive out any evening after work and get in an hour or so. Otherwise I would be limited to weekends and a 3 hour, round trip drive to the boat.

If you don't have to work, buy a boat needed a bit less work and find a boatyard that allows you to stay on the boat while it is hauled (some do, some don't) you may choose to commute.
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Old 13-07-2011, 17:20   #4
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Re: logistics of working on boats?

I understand the desire to buy a project boat and finish it off right, to your own standards. I'm of a similar mindset. Currently working thru a huge rebuild on a 42' cutter I bought out of hurricane Katrina.

My best advice to you would be to get some experience on boats before you take on a major project. The reason is that you will need to make hundreds of decisions on what you want, how to do it, etc, etc. I don't think that there is any substitute for experience on the water. It is an enormous advantage to know what you want, any why. There are a million people who will give you advice. A few of them will actually have a well rounded knowledge base. Most will have limited experience. They will have opinions based on what they do know, or have read, and will have a lot of assumptions about how this applies to other areas.

If your're going to take on a major project, #1 it will take longer than you think. If you've got the boat in a boatyard, paying yard fees for many months, or more likely years, it will get expensive. And driving a long distance to work on the boat will burn up a bunch of time, and you will get to the boat and find you need something you forgot to bring, etc. If it's a big project, I think you'll be a lot happier paying to get the boat trucked to somewhere close, and cheap, where you can keep it and work on it. Work space is usually a lot cheaper when you get away from the water.

Boat building is definitely an adventure. Sometimes trying, frustrating, difficult, but also a very interesting, wide ranging and fulfilling activity.

I wish you success with your project.

Paul
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Old 13-07-2011, 17:27   #5
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Re: logistics of working on boats?

Good posts that I agree with entirely and have had the same experiences.
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Old 13-07-2011, 17:28   #6
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Re: logistics of working on boats?

Paul brings up a very good point, and one that I considered in my decision to haul the boat closer to home. Even though the cost will be about $2500 in trucking I would have paid that in monthly yard storage about 8 months. Add the 3 hour round trip and the lost time, for me this option had paid off quite well.
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Old 13-07-2011, 17:58   #7
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Re: logistics of working on boats?

A variation on this topic is "Are We in Over Our Heads, or Just Ignorant About What it Takes to Refit ?"

To answer your specific question from my perspective: Rowing out to my boat on a sunny day with light winds to do well thought through boat work is one of the most enjoyable activities that I can think of. The same, but with 25 knot icy winter blasts, rain and rocking from what mother nature and a few of the more moronic power boat drivers we get round here throw up to do some ill thought through repair of a job that was botched to start with can be as close to hell as its possible to get on this earth.

For a major overhaul, if you can haul the boat to your property and erect shelter and proper scaffolding then I would strongly recommend it. Unless you live at the South Pole it should be cheaper than in water or hardstanding facilities.

What you may be missing is just how much work there is in a project boat. Reports of from 5 to 10 years are common. I will have over 5 years in Boracay before we cast off.

I'd strongly suggest getting some sea time in boats similar to the ones you are considering. Buying a cheaper 28 footer or doing a few crewed charters comes to mind.

You say you have some technical ability. Have you considered starting from scratch or a kit? For what you want it may end up quicker, easier and possibly more satisfying.
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Old 13-07-2011, 20:48   #8
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Re: Logistics of Working on Boats ?

Hi folks:

Thanks for the comments so far.

So before getting a project boat, I best nail down the logistics. If I could truck here for $2500, and same back to water, that would make lots of sense. I live on 28 acres, so the space is here. Can one truck a 40 footer as easily as a 30?

I don't think I want to build from scratch, I don't like GRP work THAT much! I just want a simple old boat with all the poorly done crap gone, well insulated, likely a composting head. I'd probably make it modular in the sense that I'd have 6 berths for local sailing, and then swap out 2 or 4 of them for storage or whatever on long passages.

What about cold weather? Can one make sufficient headway on all the epoxy, GRP, caulking etc. stuff in the 4 months or so it is warm enough in Ontario? I woulds think that most of a complete retrofit would be design and construction of stuff like cabinetry that can be done modularly and installed quickly in the cold, or wait for the weather.

Anyone know of any particular boatyards I might want to check out at Belleville +- 100km along the St. Lawrence? I think trucking sounds more sensible, but for completeness I should ask.

Someone mentioned starting with a smaller boat. This is on my mind too. One could do alot of learning in a $5000 day or trailer sailer. Especially if one learned that his wife would rather take a pass on the whole idea. My health is a bit pooched this year, but likely I'd join the Bay of Quinte Yacht club next year and spend some time with my thumb out on the dock before buying anything.

Thanks for helping me sort out what is possible, from what is sensible and likely. I am really trying to wrap my brain around this whole sailing thing. So much to learn.

Boulter
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Old 13-07-2011, 21:20   #9
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Re: Logistics of Working on Boats ?

I've owned 4 cruising boats, two of which were pocket cruisers I parked in my yard. All I can offer is that working on a boat on my own property was so much easier than working on a boat in a boat yard. Less rules, a more flexible time frame, don't have to sleep on the boat and work on it at the same time, tools and work space more convenient, etc.
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Old 14-07-2011, 04:50   #10
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Re: Logistics of Working on Boats ?

If you can, I would truck her to outside your house / workshop - IMO the money spent will be more than repaid in time saved alone (not just the travel - but the ability to do quick / simple jobs like a coat of varnish), let alone no yard costs or travel expenses.............especially as it sounds like your project would take a couple of years. I'd budget for 3 - and keep fingers crossed for 2

A 40 footer would be truckable, but might well be an oversized load - and priced accordingly.

I've heard barmier plans here But whatever you do, very likely that you will discover that you have taken on more than you had anticipated.
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Old 14-07-2011, 06:01   #11
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Re: Logistics of Working on Boats ?

Take it home - you'll get a lot more done. But before you do, read this:

yachtrodney - Launched at Last (after 15 years)
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Old 14-07-2011, 07:09   #12
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Re: Logistics of Working on Boats ?

I had my 42', 12' beam, 12 ton Pearson trucked to my 15 acres with minimal trouble. Distance from the boatyard was about 100 Km. Cost $1250 one way.

You should be aware that you cannot use just any standard boat hauler. Most trailers are just a flat bed and have to use a boat yard lift to get the boat on and off. To drop the boat on your land requires a special flat bed that is a long, very skinny U shape that is open at the rear with hydraulic legs that lift the boat up or set it down. Also need to make sure you have straight, flat and level path into the spot you want to drop the boat. I'm in Florida and thought my property was very flat but a very slight rise in the drive leading into my gate almost stymied us.

At one time I looked into building from scratch and rejected it for several reasons, mainly time and cost. When I added up the costs to buy all the parts needed to build my own boat it was much more than buying a similar used boat. If you are really, really good at scrounging old and used bits and pieces and have lots of time to do it, you might save but if you buy new parts and equipment it's going to be very expensive. Plus buying a used boat you typically get years of equipment, spares and stuff that the previous owner(s) have added. Granted a lot may be old and worthless but you will get plenty of useful odds and ends.

Final comment, it never hurts to try a smaller boat to see how you like it. There must be at least one out there somewhere, but personally I don't know of a single boater that bought his perfect, keep it for life, boat on the first try. I know my preferences have changed a lot over 35 years of sailing.
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Old 14-07-2011, 10:43   #13
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Re: Logistics of Working on Boats ?

I second (third?) the notion of trucking the boat home if you have significant work to do. I live at least as far from the water as you do, and I have my boat trucked home (almost) annually! (for my 34-footer the round-trip cost comes to only about US$2500, including mast unstepping, haulout, power wash, mast storage at the boat yard, trucking both ways, launch, and mast stepping -- which is about on par with the cost to store the boat in a waterfront boatyard for the winter). The limiting factors will be the boats width and height when on the trailer, not so much it's length.
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Old 14-07-2011, 11:18   #14
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Re: Logistics of Working on Boats ?

Without making a very long post, I would say, buy a boat that seems to be a very minimal project. I have bought a few project boats. A project boat will undoubtedly end up being a MUCH larger project than you assumed. Hidden problems (even with a survey) will come up. etc etc. Trucking a 40 footer will be expensive... although 130 miles may not be too bad.... if a trucker with a hydraulic trailer is nearby that is... Buy a boat you think is pretty good and believe me...you will have plenty of projects to "make it your own" as well as keep it good. You will seldom save money, even donating your labor, with a project boat. More likely you will loose a lot of money. You could be sailing, not digging rotten core out of a deck! Someone else's project will save you alot of money. They are going to loose 50%-100% on all that expensive gear they add to the boat!
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Old 14-07-2011, 11:30   #15
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Re: Logistics of Working on Boats ?

Say, if you don't have room or its not feasible to keep a boat at your home, can you guys and gals give some typical places and sources on where you can keep your workboat near your home on the hard - and NOT in a boatyard? That might be valuable.

e.g. What places should you look for to keep a boat on land outside of a boatyard? Check out your local ___________.
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