Saturday, June 9, 2018

Hazy details...

A very long time ago PBO had a short article on building a hatch for a sailboat based on the Maurice Griffiths double coaming design. It was good albeit sparse on details but included all of the information one actually needed to build the hatch. I cut this picture out of the magazine and added it to my files...

The next month in the letters section of PBO I was surprised that there was a negative review of the article as being worthless since it did not include dimensions and a few other details that were, apparently, outside the ability of the reviewer to figure out.

Over the years I've come across a surprising number of folks building and repairing boats that seem to exhibit a pronounced lack of , for want of a better word, imagination. Then again, some might just call it laziness.

For me the above drawing of the hatch construction is really all one needs. It shows how it goes together and I don't have any issues with the fact that it does not tell me what glue to use, the type of hinges needed, or the thickness and type of wood used.

The fact of the matter is most details for the hatch are going to depend on the size of your boat, the size of the hatch, and what sort of materials you have available. Telling you that the hatch should be built of 7/8" stock is just going to cause you all sorts of problems if you don't have 7/8" stock available and, I suspect, that your local lumber yard will only have 3/4" stock anyway.

Of course, you could do what a guy I know did and order some teak from a shop a couple of thousand miles away, have it milled to a precise dimension of your choosing, and then shipped at ludicrous expense to where you are which will result in very nice but way-too-expensive hatches for the likes of us of a VolksCruiserish nature.

Sure details count but you really only need two things for a successful boat project and that's the general concept of how it goes together and, most importantly, the fact that the concept of the project actually works.

In the case of the Griffiths hatch it goes together like the drawing and thousands of hatches to this general design have been built and they work...

All you need to know.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sunday, May 20, 2018

$2.99 you need to spend...

A couple of days ago I saw there was a book on Kindle that looked like it might be interesting...

This one in fact.

At $2.99 it was something of a no-brainer so I downloaded a copy to my Kindle and read it in a couple of hours.

It's an easy enjoyable read and contains a lot of information that flies in the face of what a lot of people say. Stuff, as it happens, that actually needs to be said.

Whether you want to flip boats or not is unimportant as the real meat of the issue is simply how to approach boat work and get the boat up-and-sailing in a timely, affordable, and seaworthy manner.

In short a whole lotta good advice for just under $3.

That said, surveyors and boat brokers will really hate the book. Of course, from where I sit that's just the cherry on top.

Do I really have to say more?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Doing the VolksCruiser two-step...

I'm currently in the midst of a variety of projects which, if I were not a cheapseats VolksCruiserish sort of fellow, would cost an arm and a leg to sort out...

One project is pretty simple: replacing the hand rails on the coach roof to make space for our new nesting dinghy. The old ones are somewhat past their sell-by date. Off-the-shelf teak replacements would cost on the order of $50 a pop and of somewhat diminished scantlings that hardly inspire confidence, had me looking at stainless steel hand rails which were silly expensive.

Going to the local lumber yard I bought enough clear pressure-treated yellow pine 1" x 3" stock to build new hand rails for $10 and change. Add in some epoxy (maybe $5 worth at the price/volume level I'm in) and a couple of hours or so of sweat equity and I've got a new set of robust hand rails that will do the job far better than anything available retail for around $7.50 a pop.

So yeah, hand rails are just one item on the list of boat things one tends to throw money at but it is a pretty good example of the process of not spending more than needful on boat stuff otherwise known as the VolksCruiser two-step. Let's go back and look at the details...

First, we do a Need/Want. Do I really need to replace the hand rails?

Yes, they were always too light duty for the job and years of being in the tropics have taken their toll. They were teak which is a not very good wood for hand rails as it is neither as rot resistant as believed to be nor very strong.

Second, we do some research to see what's available as a replacement and costs only to find what's available is either too expensive, too light duty, or both for the intended purpose (namely keeping aboard the boat when all hell breaks loose). So, going the DIY route is actually the only thing that makes sense.

Building hand rails is as simple a project as you can find. My method of choice is to laminate two pieces of pre-cut one by stock together, clean up and round over the resulting hand rails with a router, and then lay on three coats of epoxy to prepare them for painting. Dead simple and fast.

Now I'm sure I'll get some questions about the pressure treated pine (often referred to as "Miami Teak") so to answer those questions I'll just say pressure-treated pine is much more resistant to rot than teak in general. It's stronger and coated with epoxy, it is even more rot resistant and strong. On the fact that we're painting the hand rails, it's because the paint will protect the epoxy coating from UV and exterior varnishing is more something you'd find on a "Y-A-C-H-T" and is the antithesis to the VolksCruiserish thought process.

Yeah, right... rules.

Rule #1: Don't replace it if you don't need to.

Rule #2: Don't replace it if you can fix it.

Rule #3: If you have to fix something or replace it, DIY it whenever possible but do your research first so you know what you're doing.

Rule #4: Keep in mind that a lot of common knowledge (teak being a good example) is just plain wrong. Do your own due diligence and be wary of your sources.

Yep, simplistic as all get out but, if you mostly follow those suggestions, you'll save a very large chunk of money and improve your boat in the process. More importantly it gets you out of the "Just throw money at it" mindset.

The fact of the matter is that the process is not so much to save money as it is about doing the right thing for your boat. Providing we've done our research correctly, we're actually saving a lot of money as a bonus.

Friday, May 11, 2018

What everyone seems to do...

Have you noticed how many YouTube channels there are about people downsizing, buying a boat, fixing it up, and sailing off into the paradise of Patreon fueled bliss?

If not, you really should check them out because they are very educational for the most part.

One of the things you'll notice is there seem to be certain rites of passage that everyone goes through and rules of sorts that, like it or not, apply to the whole "Buying a boat, fixing it up, and sailing off into the sunset" gig...

Rule #1

Whatever boat you buy or how much you spend will require lots of work and money to fix up.

Rule #2

Everyone underestimates the amount of work and money needed.

Rule #3

Nothing involved in the process is rocket science and can be accomplished by just about anyone.

Rule #4

Everyone makes mistakes (though some make more than others).

Rule #5

Most people on boat projects don't do enough research/homework of the right sort.

Sure, I know, rules are never concrete things in this life but they do exist even if it's just to give us a hint of what may lie in store for us. Forewarned is forearmed so to speak. 

That said, rules often send the wrong message as the big picture does not always reflect a specific projects specific details. Especially if you're embarking on a VolksCruiserish project.

Yeah, VolksCruiserish rules are going to be a little bit different.

More about that on Sunday.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Not for everyone...

In the last couple of weeks I've noticed a lot of hurricane related boats and gear coming on to the market down here and like Rod Stewart reminded us way back when...

In the case of the Westsail pictured it's beat up, forlorn, and a whole lot of work to make it right but there's life in the old girl yet. That said, it is not the sort of project that is suitable for most folk and for most folk it would be the project from hell.

Of course, most folks don't read VolksCruiser or, for that matter, have a clue.

As for my take on such a project it's doable for a lot less time and money than you might expect. Though, admittedly, just the sort of enterprise that would test one's mettle, sanity, and perseverance.

Like I said, not for everyone...

But, just maybe, a good discussion point.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

in the "Take a bit of care" department...


This week I read of two separate incidents where someone was killed in a boatyard while working on a boat. Not actually a rare occurrence as it happens.

Think about that for a moment.

Sadly, boatyards (especially DIY yards) are notorious for being unsafe as they are a mix of toxic materials, dangerous conditions, unsafe working practices, and too many people working without a clue to possible outcomes of their actions.

Over the years I've been in boatyards where people have been poisoned, had masts fall on them, been electrocuted, had a boat fall on them, sawed off various body appendages, fallen off masts, been blinded, screwed or nailed a hand to a bulkhead/hull, impaled by flying pieces of metal/wood, been concussed, caught on fire, and gotten into fights that left them in intensive care. In too many of those accidents the people wound up dead.

Which is something you really might want to factor in if you're contemplating building or fixing up a boat/VolksCruiser. There's generally a safe and sane way to accomplish your goals and the alternative may just ruin your day or, possibly, the rest of your life.

Just saying...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Regarding the word "CHEAP"...

Just this morning a reader of VolksCruiser wrote to tell me the problem with cheap boats is that they are more expensive in the long run and that,  just maybe, I should focus on boats of a higher quality more expensive caliber. Because, you know, you get what you pay for.

Oops, I just threw up in my mouth a bit.

First, lets look at what Merriam-Webster has to say in regard to the word "cheap"...

Definition of Cheap

a: charging or obtainable at a low price (a good cheap hotel - cheap tickets)
b: purchasable below the going price or the real value
c: depreciated in value (as by currency inflation)

a: of inferior quality or worth (tawdry, sleazy, cheap workmanship)
b: stingy (example: My uncle was too cheap to pay for dinner.)
c: contemptible because of lack of any fine, lofty, or redeeming qualities (feeling cheap: I felt cheap, full of shame and guilt)

gained or done with little effort (a cheap victory - talk is cheap)

of money (obtainable at a low rate of interest)

Like a lot of words "cheap" seems to have a variety of meanings attached to it but for me the primary meaning where boats are concerned I use cheap as being charging or obtainable at a low price.

Also in this mornings mailbag there was a friend pointing me to another CAL 34 for sale in San Francisco at what appears to be a very nice price of $12.5K.

I'll go on record and remind everyone that I think the CAL 34 is an excellent design which were built to a fairly high standard but not without their problematic issues. The fact that there are lots of fifty-year old CAL 34s still floating right side up and sailing speaks volumes in their favor.

Of course, it's pretty easy to say a 34-foot sailboat for $12.5K is cheap because it is and that's a goodly thing.

Right now, in my neck of the woods, there are a lot of "Hurricane" boats popping up for sale on a regular basis all of which proclaim to be cheap. Boats without rigs, boats with holes in them, boats that spent more than a little time underwater. Almost all of which are selling for a big chunk more than the CAL 34 in question and will cost lots of money and time to put right if possible.

So, there's "cheap" and then there's "cheap" which are not the same thing at all...

Choose wisely.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sunday, March 18, 2018