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Old 05-06-2009, 09:22   #1
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Location: Portland, OR
Boat: 1974 Columbia 34'
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Hello from Portland, OR

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to introduce myself. I've been lurking on this forum for a few months reading all of the goodness it entails. It's been a life saver in the slack times at work!

I live in Portland, Oregon, work in the IT field, and also own a small web design company. I am purchasing a Columbia 34 to live aboard and sail. In the past, I owned a Clipper 26 that I restored and sailed for 2 years. When I initially got her, she had been sunk to the bottom of the marina and born again. What an adventure that was. I got into sailing after having a boss that had sailed in the Americas Cup shared sailing tales with me. Later, I actually got an opportunity to go sailing for the first time on a friends Buccaneer here in the Columbia River. I was hooked!

I'm still so new to sailing. Theres a ton to learn here, and I have enjoyed reading the successes and disasters of many people. It's been a small gold mine for sure.

I'm turning 29 next month and have somewhat of a plan to spend the next 5 years adding to the small amount of sailing skill I have now, before venturing out to possibly do some adventuring in the sea.

Within the next 3 years I'd like to work on getting all of my ASA certifications, spend some time crewing on other peoples boats, sailing my own, and learn as much as I can. I feel pretty fortunate to have both the Columbia River, and the Pacific Ocean at my disposal for learning, why not use them? I don't plan on doing any ocean sailing until my skills are much better though, but really want to crew on a boat with an experienced group sometime in the ocean before I dive into it. I'd love to learn all about sailing in poor weather and practicing puzzle solving situations like rudder loss, engine problems, etc. Reading the thread about Ronnie (for those who are familiar) was a familiar story to me. I grew up on the coast and watched too many boaters lose lives and boats to the sea. Even on the best days it can still throw surprises!

So hopefully my new 34 will be a stepping stone for a few years where I can increase my experience and skill set, and have some fun. Shes a bit bigger than my 26 was, and has more bells and whistles Then maybe a few years down the road, I can get something a bit larger, and go see some of the wonderful world!

If you have any advice, books, etc you'd love to share, I'm going to have a ton of spare time on the new boat to read and learn. I'd love to listen! Also, to everyone here on the forum, thanks for your stories and posts, it's a great resource for those of us that spend a lot of time lurking in the background.

-Id
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:16   #2
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Welcome Id, and congratulations on the Columbia 34. I owned one briefly and I also owned another Tripp design, the 26 for several years. Columbia was not a great builder, but Tripp was a great. great designer, and he designed roomy, comfortable fast boats.

Recommended books? Remember this name: Nigel Calder. He has written three that I can recommend to you right now to help you put your boat into top shape:

Amazon.com: Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual: How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat's Essential Systems: Nigel Calder: Books

Amazon.com: Nigel Calder's Cruising Handbook: A Compendium for Coastal and Offshore Sailors: Nigel Calder, Nigel Calder: Books

and, assuming your boat has a diesel...

Amazon.com: Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair: Nigel Calder: Books

Some find his books too technical but I think you will be able to handle them very well.

I have family in Portland... it's a great little city and sailing on the Columbia River is fun. Tell us more about your boat when you have a few minutes!
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Old 05-06-2009, 11:27   #3
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Boat: 1974 Columbia 34'
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Thanks for the recommendations Speedoo. I'll be picking those up.

I'm going out on the boat for the first time this Saturday, so I'll let you know a bit more about it after I hop aboard. I've done quite a bit of research about the Columbias. I've read they tin can a bit, but it can be fixed with some glass work. Also about a few other things to watch for with the 34 in particular, including keel bolts, but this boat just had a survey done, and hopefully everything came back good.

You'd be correct in assuming its a diesel. Though I did have an option for another Columbia 34 without a diesel.

Again, thanks, I'll post some pictures this weekend.

-Id
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Old 05-06-2009, 11:40   #4
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Very good information, speedoo! I added those books to my amazon cart.

Good luck to you, Finding ID. I think what you are doing is awesome. I wish you all the best of luck. Neat boat, too! Keep us posted
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:08   #5
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Id... on the Columbia, some things to watch for that I did not like on mine:

electrical system
cabin floor (needed to be rebuilt at the foot of the companionway)
soft spots in deck

The one I had was really a mess (very poorly maintained by PO's), so I'm sure yours is much better. I loved the neat sliding nav table but the galley was way too small for a 34 footer, at least for my taste, unless you can figure out a way to use all that galley space under the cockpit. Microwave?

If you plan on keeping her for a while, and if the keel has not already been taken down to bare metal and sealed, you will want to do that. Keel bolts on mine were fine. Also check to make sure the rudder is ok.. if it has not already been addressed, it's probably waterlogged and weakened.

Mine had a wheel, but I would have preferred a tiller.

As you noted, stiffening the hull would be good, but the way the boat is put together, that could be a big job and I'm not really sure it's necessary, even for offshore.. Have you seen the Columbia owner's group site and mail list?
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:20   #6
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Yeah, I spent quite a bit of time on the Columbia site, reading about the history, reviews, etc. There's a lot of good information there. I plan on joining their mailing list here shortly. It seems in the past they've done Columbia owners get togethers as well.

I read a lot about owners of boats with wheels wishing they had tillers, why is that? My Clipper had a tiller, and it seemed to me that a wheel would have been much nicer.

Also, tonga, thanks for the kind words!
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:31   #7
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Welcome aboard, FI!

Your plan is sound. I especially endorse your idea of sailing offshore for your first time on someone else's well found boat, with an experienced crew. I always tried to include an offshore virgin in our four man crew on my bluewater passages so that person could have the experience in a safe, supportive environment. My first time offshore was in a similar circumstance. I learned a lot, and I appreciated the opportunity greatly.
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:35   #8
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Wheels take up too much cockpit room and the C34 cockpit is pretty small, and designed for a tiller, not a wheel. A wheel is just unnecessary on that size boat.. expensive, likely to fail at some point, etc. I like to "KISS" whenever possible.

Tonga... you really can't go wrong with Calder's books. My other favorite author for this type of book is Don Casey:

Amazon.com: Don Casey's Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual: Including Inspecting the Aging Sailboat, Sailboat Hull and Deck Repair, Sailboat Refinishing, Sailbo: Don Casey: Books

That is a great addition to the books by Calder.

Id... if you have not already finalized your deal, Casey has a great book on how to inspect "pre-survey" an old boat. A section is included in the above linked book.
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Old 05-06-2009, 13:16   #9
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Originally Posted by speedoo View Post
Wheels take up too much cockpit room and the C34 cockpit is pretty small, and designed for a tiller, not a wheel. A wheel is just unnecessary on that size boat.. expensive, likely to fail at some point, etc.
It seems I've read about wheels failing on many boats. I'm hoping the system is intact and in good condition on this boat. I was told that the survey had good results, and shes ready to go. The surveyor has a good reputation in this area from what I'm told.

I have mild headache/nightmares about the steering going out on my boat. It's one of those things I want to practice if possible and be prepared for.
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Old 05-06-2009, 13:20   #10
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Of course it's not the wheel that fails... it's the cables and sheaves etc. underneath the cockpit. But as long as the cables and sheaves are setup properly so there is no excessive wear, and as long as the system is inspected regularly and issues are addressed quickly, probability of failure can be minimized.

But I'd still rather have a tiller, because probability of failure can basically be eliminated. Other than something simply breaking, of course.
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Old 08-06-2009, 13:00   #11
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Well, I was a bit excited and dopey going to see the boat this weekend and failed to remember the camera! The good news is she looks great. The PO has taken very good care of her. New diesel, all new lines, new tank, hull has no blisters, no soft spots in the deck, etc. The interior is in fantastic condition.

Didn't get the chance to put the sails up, but motored around a bit. It's amazing the difference between my Clipper and the Columbia. Its like a comparing a tank and a bicycle! The 34 feels so much heavier and far more solid.

Anyway, as soon as I pull my head out of my rear, I'll post some photos Barring any disasters, I should have the keys soon.
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Old 08-06-2009, 14:46   #12
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Congradulations on your Columbia. Not everybody likes them for whatever reasons, but I do. Mine was a 1972 30ft, and she served me well for 17 years. I would have bought a 34, but it wasn't in my funds. I drool on the 50's, and love the limited interior space.

As Hud typed. It sounds like you have a good plan in order in stepping up your skills. BEST WISHES with the boat, and get those pics posted.......i2f
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:03   #13
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Thanks to everyone for the encouragement and advice!
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:33   #14
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Hi Id --

I'm a fellow Columbia River sailor. I have Betty Lou, a Tartan 37, moored in St. Helens. Sounds like you've found a nice boat. Hope she surveys well. Have you thought about where you are going to keep her? We really like St. Helens, but there are not many live-aboard marinas here. The sailing is way better than in the Portland area, though. Good luck with your purchase!
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Old 08-06-2009, 18:06   #15
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Hi Id --

I'm a fellow Columbia River sailor. I have Betty Lou, a Tartan 37, moored in St. Helens. Sounds like you've found a nice boat. Hope she surveys well. Have you thought about where you are going to keep her? We really like St. Helens, but there are not many live-aboard marinas here. The sailing is way better than in the Portland area, though. Good luck with your purchase!
The survey was done last month luckily, it looks good with the exception of a bit of wiring. I'm actually having a bit of trouble right now trying to find a liveaboard slip. The 2 I had lined up both fell through, and now I'm on a waiting list. I'm trying to avoid St. Helens, as being in a marina there would be a very long commute for me. I'm hoping to find something farther down the channel toward downtown, or on the Columbia in Jantzen Beach. I had a great spot in Waverly, but unfortunately you can't liveaboard unless you own the slip, and I would be renting one from an owner. I don't really understand why marinas here are so against liveaboards, but I'm sure they have a reason.
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