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Old 15-06-2007, 20:22   #1
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What I am Learning - Ownership

I figured I would start a new thread inspired by Cyrano's boat inquiry thread.

"Without discounting your Hobie experience, you are well-advised to gain keelboat experience before you commit." and "there is, unfortunately, no real practical way for me to do so that i'm aware of."

We purchased out 7.7 meter boat 6 weeks ago. Our goal was to buy an inexpensive boat that we can learn on. We wanted a boat that had the majority of the "big boat" systems so we could learn not only sailing but also systems maintenance and management.

We paid $10,000 for the boat after a fairly good survey that I did myself. Our total budget for a boat could have been double this amount but we wanted to spend as little as possible on our education.

In six weeks our budget has looked about like this. Asterisk items failed under way and were "emergencies."

$600 - *Hull tie rod to chain plate fitting failure
$300 - Mainsheet traveller failure
$500 - New toilet, seacocks and thru hulls for toilet
$500 - Safety gear, flares etc
$600 - *Various blocks and pulleys failures
$TBD - *Stay failure - Estimate $500+ Chain plates, back stay and forestay fittings
$200 - rope
$100 - *Autopilot rewiring
$200 - *Engine servicing and impeller replacement
$800 - Insurance, licensing and mooring

From a cost to sail perspective it makes no sense at all to have purchased but this is not about deciding to own or not - I am hoping to give a newbies perspective on initial ownership.

We have done two overnighter weekends and our short term goal is a multi-week cruising trip of about 100 miles up the coast of Malaysia in the South China sea. We are targeting September to be ready for this.

We are learning a ton about our boat. We are finding her weak points and working through them. One thing I won't underestimate in importance is the structural integrity of the boat. This includes the hull and all the standing rigging. I can tell you for sure that our hearts stoppped when we were close hauled in 15-17kts and the inner shroud let go. We came close to losing the mast.

I had understimated the "signs" that stainless gives when it is corroding. It has prompted us to change all the fittings on the boat and we are seriously contemplating changing all the shrouds. Actually I think that decision is done we just need to bite the bullet. The boat must absolutely be "bullet proof" before I sail out of sight of land.

There are a lot of details in going cruising. Even our weekend "camping" trips require a certain amount of logistical preparation. We have not even started thinking about an abondon ship bag, we don't yet have a dink and really haven't thought about what's required in abandoning ship. We are at the point where making ice last 2 days and getting a hot cup of coffee in the morning are major milestones!

Things are going largely as expected and we are learning a lot. When we sell this boat, and we will, the next person is going to get a boat in a lot better condition than we got it and it truly will be safe and sound for coastal cruising.

We are interested in a 36-38 foot pilot house for many reasons. We need more fuel and water tankage and a better cabin layout. We have already learned a lot about what we like and don't like about our configuration and what works and doesn't. The pilot house idea is a product of our region. We want opening windows so we can have a salon up with cross ventilation - it's mighty hot here. Now that we have a boat people seem more interested in inviting us on their boat.

It's weird - We pounded the docks for a long time and chatted with owners but I suspect they didn't believe us when we said we were interested in buying a boat. I guess we are the same. We have "civilians" drop by and I wouldn't consider inviting them aboard but when we are parked at a dock with other owners we invite each other over all the time.

We are seeing a lot more boats now and we can have "intelligent" conversations about what they like and don't like about their boats.

So diatribe over - Fundamentally I think that buying the right boat the first time is a near impossibility. You can find the right hull, the right sailing characteristics etc. But the livability of a boat can't be determined until you start putting your stuff on it and living with it.

For a first timer I would recommend what we did. Buy a learning boat.

Buy half the boat you can afford
Buy half the boat you think you can handle
Prepare to spend twice as much (or more) than you estimate
Get a boat with "big boat" systems for the learning

We are having a blast. The last two times out nothing broke. We did a twilight sail last week and cracked the beers open on the way in. The sun was setting, the air was cooling and Otto was driving. It was bliss.
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Old 18-06-2007, 14:40   #2
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Excellent and insightful stuff, thanks.
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Old 18-06-2007, 15:29   #3
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25 or so years ago, I used to sail from Singapore tp Tioman and other islands in the area diving. We knew it then and it remains true, those were the good ol' days.

I miss the uncrowded water, the fantastic food, the old friends.


She took my address and my name
Put my credit to shame
Sunspot Baby, sure had a real good time
Bob Seger
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