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Old 13-08-2010, 11:59   #1
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The Two-Boat Solution

I started writing this in response to a question about buddy-boating vs crew in another forum, but realized I was about to induce major thread drift. This really is about relationships, and is a solution to a variety of problems that can result from sharing the tiny space of a boat.

My partner and I found ourselves butting heads fairly often on many aspects of life aboard, the timing of our Grand Plan, the dedication of resources to comfort vs geekery, the needs of our pets, seating and entertaining resources, and various other issues familiar to cruisers everywhere... yet still agreed that we want to do this together despite some seemingly intractable differences about how, exactly.

A few months ago we hit on the Two-Boat Solution, and it so far appears to be working beautifully.

The boats are at opposite ends of what we call the Geeky-Cozy Spectrum, and besides, she prefers a dog while I have a cat. We picked up a Cal 2-29 for her, sharing an end tie with my Amazon 44, and have discovered some interesting benefits:
  • one boat can undergo extensive and messy projects while the other is a refuge of comfort
  • we can accommodate more guests/crew when traveling
  • In addition the to the mothership, there is an agile and simple boat that can be used for a day sail with minimal advance planning
  • the smaller vessel can secure dock space for marina facilities access, while the larger anchors out
  • we have a backup survival platform in the event of catastrophic failure
  • reduced relationship stress (As a friend once said, "the pointy end's not far away," leading to the forepeak of mine being named the PENFA Suite).
  • no longer stuck in the role of "first mate," my partner is rapidly becoming a competent skipper
  • both an inflatable/outboard and hardshell/rowing/sailing dinghy, suited to differing environments
  • space for different kinds of projects - my electronics lab and her painting, for example, don't compete for scarce cubic footage
  • we can individualize our boats to personal taste, and are responsible for our own clutter
  • one can meditate or sleep while the other rocks out or chats on ham radio... and there are countless variations on that theme
  • we have a far more flexible setup for entertaining
It's not as expensively redundant as it may sound; many resources only need to be provided by one boat. Mine has the huge freezer, shower compartment, water maker, washer/dryer, multi-source Internet connection with wi-fi router covering both boats, deep-inventory space, a well-equipped shop, and extensive power conditioning (she can plug her shore-power cord into an outlet at my stern, and I have an isolation transformer, generator, solar array, etc).

This does of course increase moorage costs, but because the needs were modest, the acquisition cost of the smaller boat was relatively minor.

I'd be curious to hear from other couples who have done this, as well as thoughts on the concept. We recognize the perils (like really needing an extra hand that's not available), and if/when we take off for global voyaging it will be time to re-think this approach for safety reasons on passage. But for living aboard and coastal cruising in the Pacific Northwest, this is proving to be very liberating.

Cheers,

Steve (S/V Nomadness) & Sky (S/V Dervish)
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Old 13-08-2010, 12:16   #2
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Hello from the other half. I too, am thoroughly enjoying the Two Boat Solution. Steve has outlined the benefits really well, but I thought I'd add my two cents. The main thing for me is the freedom to go sailing whenever I want. I was always nagging about having a beautiful yacht in the marina but not getting it out often enough. Now I go out for daysails much more often. Also I am definitely becoming a more competent and confident skipper and navigator.

In addition, the very complex systems on Nomadness were intimidating to me, but on Dervish everything is simple. As I learn the basics of maintenance of my one cylinder diesel engine, I am becoming less mystified by the big 77 horse Turbo Yanmar on Nomadness. The same goes for water systems, head, electronics, rigging and the rest.

By the time we finally get underway for our big world voyaging adventure, I hope to be competent enough to really be the First Mate that Steve and Nomadness deserve.

The only real drawback so far is the extra moorage costs (not that much really) and trying to figure where to sleep each night. Packing my pillow and bankie back and forth is such a pain.
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Old 13-08-2010, 12:17   #3
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Himself and I are moving into a similar arrangement, for different reasons and with different results, but the premise remains the same. Sometimes one boat does not fill all needs. On second thought one boat NEVER fulfills all needs... ; -)

We have the Cal 28 which has become the primary living quarters and the designated platform for weekend cruising.

We have just acquired the Ranger 23 and that is the sailing platform, where all the safety gear that isn't bolted down is stowed. All the foulies, extra cold weather wear, PFDs, boots, hats, oars, spare fenders, yaddayaddayadda is on the ranger and nothing else. She is ready to go sailing (or will be as soon as the new lines and sheaves and light are installed in the mast and the mast is raised again ; -)

Taking the Cal out for an afternoon sail is a 2 hour ordeal of stowing stuff.
The Ranger is ready to go. The Ranger also will be extra berth space when company comes. There is much to be said for a guest room when you are on a 28' boat!

In the event of a crowd we would take em both and raft up. Katy Rose is learning how to sail and will be taking to the water in the Ranger with a crew of friends, and Himself and a friend are planning on Tuesday night beer can races in her as well. I expect I will be sneaking out with a friend who is wanting to learn to sail during the weekdays when everyone else is gainfully employed at work or school!

I think you plan sounds grand for what you are doing... But I get the impression you are considering long term cruising with both boats? That seems like it might offer more challenges...

And as far a the pointy end being too close... THAT'S what we have a dingy fer... and a LONG painter. Like 300 feet ; -)

I figure on a bad day I can climb in with a book and get away! And on a REALLY bad day HE can!
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Old 13-08-2010, 12:23   #4
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Sara,
Nomadness is definitely the long term cruising boat for us. We won't be taking Dervish on any big passages. At least it isn't in the plan now. BUT we do hope to do a few months of buddy boating next summer as well as a few more short trips this year. And the guest room/boat is great for visitors. It is like having a little floating bed and breakfast!
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Old 13-08-2010, 12:29   #5
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At first when Himself brought her home and was all "can I keep her? Huh, huh? I promise to take care of her and feed her and everything all myself, please??"

I was not so excited... as they are confirming in another thread around here, there is NO SUCH THANG as a free boat. But in this case it turned out to be pretty close to free. We had the outboard, and rope is one of the cheaper items to replace, so I finally said yes when the Marina Manager chimed in "come on Sara, let him have it, be a sport... I'll let ya pay really low slip fees, ok?"

And I haven't regretted it once!

If we manage to actually head out the gate for long term cruising it prolly won't be in either of these boats, but they each have great learning curves that will stand us in good stead in the future.

And I know what you mean about the ease of practicing on a smaller simpler boat. It really is a great thing for gaining confidence, isn't it?
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Old 13-08-2010, 12:32   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dramanaut View Post
It is like having a little floating bed and breakfast!
Or, since it's nomadic, we could call it a Bedouin Breakfast.

-Steve
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Old 13-08-2010, 13:10   #7
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My lady and I did sort of the opposite. When we met she had been single handing her boat for years and I had been doing the same on mine. Then romance bloomed and we became a unit (on her nicer boat - no fool I).
So - Take two solo captains, put onto one boat, and shake well. Interesting.
The only reason we're still together 15 years later is we tend to think alike about matters nautical.
That leaves us the rest of the universe to argue about, but that's another story.
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Old 13-08-2010, 13:11   #8
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Funny Steve...real funny
Any news on the bow thruster project?
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Old 13-08-2010, 13:14   #9
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Someone should come up with a catamaran or tri that has detachable hulls that can be sailed independently
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Old 13-08-2010, 13:18   #10
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Salty - in the early days of the Microship project, I designed a tri that used double kayaks as detachable amas. Alas, they were very much the wrong shape for amas, and would have slammed terribly. But it was an alluring concept!

James - just slow work so far on dimensions for building the platform. I'll post for sure when there's news!

Mike - interesting reversal of the usual pattern! Congrats to you both.
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Old 13-08-2010, 13:26   #11
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Mike, that is great and it sounds like you have the right lady. I am a novice sailor, so I have a long way to go. You can imagine the stress of trying to learn to sail on such a heavy expensive boat, much less practicing docking or anchoring! A 29' boat would have seemed big to me 5 years ago, but compared with Nomadness, she's a light little lady with excellent maneuverability.
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Old 13-08-2010, 13:41   #12
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Another added benefit of having the second boat in the family, is that it is an excellent platform for taking my girlfriends out and teaching them to sail. Both the boat and the skipper (me) make learning the ropes less intimidating for many reasons. I have even had a couple women who are in sailing couples ask to go out with me, so they can try their skills without their Mister looking over the shoulder and correcting them. I find it is empowering to help more women gain confidence sailing. And a great way to learn is by teaching others.
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Old 13-08-2010, 14:10   #13
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I see nothing wrong with a couple having and using two boats, if that's what they prefer and they can afford the added cost and inconvenience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dramanaut View Post
The main thing for me is the freedom to go sailing whenever I want. I was always nagging about having a beautiful yacht in the marina but not getting it out often enough. Now I go out for daysails much more often. Also I am definitely becoming a more competent and confident skipper and navigator.

In addition, the very complex systems on Nomadness were intimidating to me, but on Dervish everything is simple.
On a more general note, I suggest that the above is support for the proposition that one should own the smallest, simplest boat that is able to meet one's reasonable regular needs. As we all know, many large, fancy vessels are 'harbour queens': either because they are too much of a PITA to take out for short / single-handed sails, or because some of their machinery or electronics is invariably waiting to be repaired.

Unfortunately, the temptation to buy as much boat as we can afford - rather than what we actually need - is very strong.
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Old 13-08-2010, 14:15   #14
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Svanen - you're quite right. My case is a little different from the norm, however, since my whole "mission profile" is largely focused on the geekery: designing and building the distributed network of nodes throughout the boat, creating graphic and speech interfaces, writing about it, and incorporating it into my next expedition (my last one was the same sort of gizmological craziness, but integrated into a bicycle). So the complexity of Nomadness systems is actually a part of my adventure, rather than an impediment to it.

But in general, I agree fully, and have seen boats accumulating a layer of barnacles year after year for exactly the reasons you state.

Our 2-boat solution is an excellent compromise that scratches both itches... my geek extravaganza and the simple desire to just go sailing!
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Old 13-08-2010, 14:23   #15
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Svanen, I completely agree. In choosing the Cal 29, I had to balance what I thought I could handle (and eventually single hand) with what I thought I needed to be comfortable living aboard. I believe I found just the right boat.

One of the beautiful things about Nomadness, is that although she is complex and will have LOTS of electronics etc., she is still relatively easy to sail and does not rely upon electronics for the basic functions of living aboard and cruising. The time required for installation of the more complex systems that Steve is planning, will serve as my training period. I think it is all going to work out just great! In fact, it already is!
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