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Old 11-12-2013, 16:07   #1
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One year on. Musing.

I just received a lovely text message from my wife, reminding me that we have owned our current boat for one year today. One year ago, I was sitting in a broker's office, signing endless pieces of paper for both of us (some of which, I am sorry to confess, I really did not completely understand at the time) and handing over a substantial chunk of our savings to a stranger who's decision making and value system over the last ten years would have a big impact on our lives.

So looking back a year later, I am forced to ask, are we still in the wannabes camp or somewhere else? How did the stranger's 10 years of ownership of what is now our boat affect our plans and prospects with the boat. How much did I get "right" and how much did I delude myself in thinking we knew what we were doing?

Well, it's a mixed bag.

First, I was relieved to see that we have sailed over 1000 miles, not including the 500 mile delivery trip. Not much for some, but better than I thought. We have run the engine for a total of 14 hours (excluding the delivery trip), more than I'd have liked, but not as bad as I feared.

This is all a way of softening the blow that we have spent nearly AU$14K between club fees, berth rental, slipping fees and the significant overhaul of replacing every skin fitting and seacock, the shaft seal and the drive shaft, plus overhauling the injectors (all work done by ourselves, except for a small bit of fibreglass work and the actual injector overhaul which needed some special equipment). Somewhat sobering, that works out at $14 per mile.

Did we buy the right boat? Well, we SEEM to have done so. Certainly the design suits us, and one year in there have been no show stoppers, and I feel I know the boat pretty well now. Over the year I have mildly cursed the previous owners for some pretty shoddy stuff with the electrics, the owner prior to them for some insane plumbing, but overall, nobody has done anything really bad to the boat in its 30 years. Most of the poor stuff has been superficial and has been an indication of people deciding to go for the easy option, probably the cheaper labour option, as it is clear that at least the previous owners did not have the skills needed to maintain/improve the boat on their own.

Did I know what we were buying? No, not really. I had a sense that the design was sound and well proven and would probably not be a difficult boat to own, but if I am honest, in retrospect I really knew nothing. A year on I am simply wiser to what I don't know, which is a step in the right direction. I do know that the money spent on the surveyor might as well have been torn up and burned in a small camp fire, where at least it would have served to provide heat. The surveyor was fixated and anxious about utterly trivial items while missing some absolute blinders, issues which might have allowed me to beat down the purchase price. Thankfully none of the issues he missed were show stoppers in their own right, but what a waste. And this guy came highly recommended as a result of careful research, he was not provided by the broker or vendor or any such silliness.

Are we still wannabes? Ah, this is the difficult question. I guess it is subjective, one sailor's grisly bearded old sea salt is another sailor's dock hugging softie. We are still tied to land by family and work commitments so all sailing is, by necessity, restricted to day or overnight only. On the other hand we have managed a couple of overnighters, and when we pulled the boat out of the water for her yearly antifoul, she was clean, so we've done enough for the ablative paint to work well. We feel closer to being ready to cruise so there is progress, now we just have to be patient. Perhaps the answer is we are gunna-bees, which to my thinking, is a step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading this far, and thanks to all who's advice, encouragement and gentle prods in the right direction have got us this far.

Matt
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Old 11-12-2013, 16:30   #2
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pirate Re: One year on. Musing.

Rock on Tommy....
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Old 11-12-2013, 16:58   #3
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Re: One year on. Musing.

Nice summation, Matt! I think that it should be required reading for all newbie boat buyers, for it is a pretty good indication of what lies ahead for even a pretty careful first time buyer/cruiser.

If I was grading you, I think that an "A" overall would be indicated. You have followed up on your plan, you have done a lot of corrective maintenance, you have unearthed previously unknown issues and dealt with them, and above all, you have had some fun and are not discouraged.

Well done, and keep on trucking'...

Cheers,

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Old 11-12-2013, 17:08   #4
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Re: One year on. Musing.

Congrats Matt! I'd say you are getting well along in the learning, repairing, and actual sailing. I agree that some surveyors are worthless. My last one did the same as yours - worrying about silly items, while missing some big ones. Oh well, next time WE will do our own survey to check our surveyor.
Keep up with what you are doing, as it is all a journey, whether on the water or not. Continue to enjoy the journey.

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Old 11-12-2013, 17:25   #5
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Re: One year on. Musing.

Good analysis. Sounds like your repairs are typical. Shafts, seacocks, etc happen alot and are hard to ascertain on inspection.
You are absolutely right about Surveyors.... they have a boilerplate list, they think in terms of the list and dislike getting sidetracked. A rare good one just follows his eyes instead. Like all things you learn when it's too late that what you should do is just be there and tell him what you want him to investigate.
It's like those home inspectors... they want to spend 1.5 hours and will spend a bunch of time plugging the damn circuit tester into every outlet to see if the wires are mixed up... they should be under the house with their overalls on!
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Old 11-12-2013, 21:39   #6
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Re: One year on. Musing.

I wonder what I will have learned after 10 years...
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Old 12-12-2013, 00:30   #7
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Re: One year on. Musing.

I'd say you more or less know what you're doing at this point!

I'm about there, having bought my boat two years ago, cruised a bit with a few solid passages thrown in there, but overall still spending way too much time at the dock/on the job.

It's amazing how much work even a well-found oldish boat needs! Mine was advertised as "ready to sail the world's oceans"..'course I knew even then what broker-speak was, but the boat WAS in great shape and the PO seemed to have a soild handle on things.

Even still, yeah, replacing all thru-hulls and seacocks, injector work on the engine, barrier coat, fuel tank removal, removing things I didn't need, adding other things..etc, etc..

Besides actually saving money to cast off the dock lines for real, can't think of anything I'd rather spend it on
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Old 14-12-2013, 20:34   #8
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Re: One year on. Musing.

Great post! And completely relatable, especially about the surveyor's worth, and because I am now just 6 weeks away from my first year anniversary. It sounds like you and your wife have already become awesome sailor-bees.
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Old 14-12-2013, 22:11   #9
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Re: One year on. Musing.

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Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
Great post! And completely relatable, especially about the surveyor's worth, and because I am now just 6 weeks away from my first year anniversary. It sounds like you and your wife have already become awesome sailor-bees.
How does your first year compare? Would love to hear from someone at a similar stage to us.

Matt
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Old 14-12-2013, 23:00   #10
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Re: One year on. Musing.

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Originally Posted by GILow View Post
How does your first year compare? Would love to hear from someone at a similar stage to us.

Matt
Well in all seriousness, I feel like I'm "at a similar stage" to you; not time wise but in a general sense of boat awareness or "boat emotion". I can relate to all you have written.

Am I a "wannabe"? I feel like one most of the time and this is after 30 years of on & off boating (more off than on), 3 boats (30', 28' & 31'), 3 refits, a year living aboard, a couple of years full time cruising, a couple of international sails (Indonesia & NZ).

For me, it hasn't changed a great deal after say the first year or so. Maybe the knowledge of what I can do is settled but so is what I can't do.

Remembering back to the first year, it seemed like I could do anything and go anywhere, just didn't know how to do it. Now I sotta know how to do it and also know what I personally can't do.

Funny, it seemed easier to just go somewhere before I had a radio or GPS or CF . A paper chart, a compass, a set of binoculars, food and water and we were ready to go.

Anyway, nice thread Mr GIlow and I have very much enjoyed reading your 1st year musings
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Old 14-12-2013, 23:32   #11
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Re: One year on. Musing.

Yes, a bit the same with me. The first time I lived onboard was 1979. 42' junk rigged steel Colvin gazelle. No electronics, coastal navigation by hand held compass and charts. No flares, no epirb, no problems. Love the Swanson 42 as a big cruising boat. Nearly all Swanson designs are great sea boats, I had a Carmen. 31' double ender and a simply magic sailing boat.

Coops.
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Old 15-12-2013, 04:57   #12
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Re: One year on. Musing.

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Originally Posted by Wotname View Post
Well in all seriousness, I feel like I'm "at a similar stage" to you; not time wise but in a general sense of boat awareness or "boat emotion". I can relate to all you have written.

Am I a "wannabe"? I feel like one most of the time and this is after 30 years of on & off boating (more off than on), 3 boats (30', 28' & 31'), 3 refits, a year living aboard, a couple of years full time cruising, a couple of international sails (Indonesia & NZ).

For me, it hasn't changed a great deal after say the first year or so. Maybe the knowledge of what I can do is settled but so is what I can't do.

Remembering back to the first year, it seemed like I could do anything and go anywhere, just didn't know how to do it. Now I sotta know how to do it and also know what I personally can't do.

Funny, it seemed easier to just go somewhere before I had a radio or GPS or CF . A paper chart, a compass, a set of binoculars, food and water and we were ready to go.

Anyway, nice thread Mr GIlow and I have very much enjoyed reading your 1st year musings

Well, there's a lot for me to ponder in what you have written here. After so much more experience I am staggered that you feel at a similar stage of boat awareness (I like that expression, a little new-age, but it encapsulates a lot.). You've hit on something that has niggled at me a bit too, with your point about how much easier it all used to seem, before all the extra gadgets.

Food for thought for me, thank you for sharing your musings too.

Matt
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Old 15-12-2013, 05:07   #13
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Re: One year on. Musing.

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Yes, a bit the same with me. The first time I lived onboard was 1979. 42' junk rigged steel Colvin gazelle. No electronics, coastal navigation by hand held compass and charts. No flares, no epirb, no problems. Love the Swanson 42 as a big cruising boat. Nearly all Swanson designs are great sea boats, I had a Carmen. 31' double ender and a simply magic sailing boat.

Coops.
Maybe there's a movement afoot for a technically uncluttered sea life. I know that I am doing all I can to simplify our boat.

Perhaps the "sailing luddites society"?

Sadly, I feel a bit of a fraud about buying the S42. I wish I could claim some great natural instinct for good boat design, perhaps a family heritage of boat builders (well, dad was a naval architect), but we really did just luck it with the S42. She felt right, and all the comments from people who knew about such things were positive so we bought her. Now I feel I have to live up to the boat, and somehow, if I am not 1000 miles from the nearest shore, I am not using her properly. Sigh, I just wanted a comfortable coastal cruiser that was within my budget.

Matt
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Old 15-12-2013, 05:31   #14
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Re: One year on. Musing.

Surveyors= Pfft, hummph, Bah Hum Bug.

My advice to first time dream buyers, about surveyors is simple. You may have to hire a surveyor to finance a boat, but do yourself a huge favor before you negotiate and settle on a final price for that thing and separately...
1) Hire a qualified marine diesel mechanic
2) Hire a qualified marine electrician
3) Hire a qualified rigger
4) Hire a qualified person for the electronics this boat has
5) Hire a qualified marine plumber

Pay them all for a few hours of their time to look at the respective systems. It may cost an additional $1,500 or so but a repair or replacement of any one of these systems or a combination of them can cost you bucket loads of money you didn't anticipate or may not have after the sale is done.
There are some very good surveyors out there. But my experience after working with hundreds of customers that have bought "new to them" boats is that really good surveyors are the exception not the norm.
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Old 15-12-2013, 13:29   #15
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Re: One year on. Musing.

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Maybe there's a movement afoot for a technically uncluttered sea life. I know that I am doing all I can to simplify our boat.

Perhaps the "sailing luddites society"?

Sadly, I feel a bit of a fraud about buying the S42. I wish I could claim some great natural instinct for good boat design, perhaps a family heritage of boat builders (well, dad was a naval architect), but we really did just luck it with the S42. She felt right, and all the comments from people who knew about such things were positive so we bought her. Now I feel I have to live up to the boat, and somehow, if I am not 1000 miles from the nearest shore, I am not using her properly. Sigh, I just wanted a comfortable coastal cruiser that was within my budget.

Matt
You got what you wanted and you do what you want with it. You certainly will not be the only person to buy an ocean crosser and never cross one. Me included. The East Coast of Aus can get pretty wild at times so you will be very grateful of the Swanson's ability to take it.

Coops.
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