Monday, December 10, 2018

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Small boats, small problems and just do it...

Of late I've been hearing the old Pardey mantra of “Go small, go simple, go now” a lot recently and, surprisingly, in a somewhat contentious manner.

That such a simple bit of reasoning can become contentious I find just a bit bothersome...

So, let's break it down.

Go small

Sure, I get the fact that most folks when day dreaming about sailing off into the sunset tend to look at things through rose-colored glasses so see themselves in a sizable "yacht" with all mod cons, mucho bling to impress the neighbors, and an (apparently) unlimited source of income. Why not... daydreams are never about reality but all about wishes. My daydream boat of choice is a seventy-foot sharpie schooner in a world without tRump, where there is universal health care for all, wars do not exist, and I'm a better guitar player than Eric Clapton. Need I say more?

A good small boat, which these days is anything below forty-feet, is less expensive than a good big boat and the smaller the boat the less expensive it gets. Just simple math. 

Some more simple math is that a good smaller boat is going to be less expensive to maintain and run than a good bigger boat.

Of course, cost is not the most important factor albeit the most talked about and the really important thing is seaworthiness. Small boats get a pretty bad rap on the seaworthiness subject though, in my opinion, a completely undeserved one. A good small boat is as safe or safer than a good big boat. Anyone touting the advantages of big vs small on the safety front needs to rethink their old physics notes from college. Bigger does not equate with stronger or safer as a general rule.

One more thing on the whole small/big thing...

Most everyone talking about boat size is using the wrong yardstick and displacement makes a lot more sense when comparing boats. For instance, L&L's Seraffyn at 24' 7" displaces five tons which is just a kiss more than our CAL 34.

Lastly, it's important to keep in mind that a smaller boat is going to be easier to sail and able to sail or anchor in places larger boats may have issues.

Go simple

There is a lot to be said for simple systems but the important points from where I sit is that simple systems are inherently safer and more trouble free than complicated systems and when (not if) something needs fixing they are easier and less expensive to fix. The bottom line is more complication equals more possible points of failure

Go now

Apparently there are any number of ways one can translate "go now" but I really doubt that L&L intended it to mean for folks to sail off unprepared into the sunset in unseaworthy boats but rather that life is short and if you want to do something it makes all kinds of sense to learn to sail and get to doing it ASAP in a boat that won't kill you.

Over the years I've come to the conclusion that procrastination and waiting for everything to be perfect are the two greatest killers of dreams (followed closely by listening to what "everyone says") known to man. So the whole "go now" vibe just might be the most important part of the equation.

The thing is, I've never been a "fan" of L&L and my opinion is that they're just like everybody else in that they get stuff right some of the time, get stuff wrong some of the time, and just like all of us are clueless more than they'd care to admit. That said, they are right more than they're wrong in most things relating to boats and it's important to keep in mind they were way ahead of the curve in terms of making cruising both a lifestyle and a means of making a living doing it.

Which is why I tend to recommend their books with the proviso that one needs to keep in mind that there is not one true path and that's a goodly thing so always apply a certain level skepticism and common sense whatever the source.

Friday, July 20, 2018

On the subject of how most people think about cruising...

Over at one of my favorite blogs there's an excellent post on the cost of living aboard and cruising that everyone should take the time to read and digest.

Especially if you're considering the whole VolksCruiser thing.

More on the subject and my thoughts in the not-too-distant future.

You're still here?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sure you can...

The other day someone told me it was impossible to cruise comfortably on a boat less than 30 feet or less. Well, all I can say is, I'm sure it might be impossible for him but not for me.

For instance, we lived and cruised full time on our first Loose Moose 25'6" with a 7'6" beam) for four years in Europe...

As it happens the Jessie Cooper design by Phil Bolger still falls into the favorite boat I've owned slot for a variety of reasons.

But, yeah you can live and cruise on a 26-foot boat without giving up comfort or safety as long as you're sensible.

So, it is doable.

Here's another design I wouldn't mind cruising in the same size bracket the L' ETROIT MOUSQUETAIRE by Gilles Montaubin which packs an incredible amount of comfortable living and storage space into a 25' 11" X 8' 4" Envelope.


I won't even begin to get into the large number of classic plastic production boats except to say there is a plethora of excellent boats in the sub 30-foot range going for stupidly cheap prices.

Just saying.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Everything most folks need in a 26-foot package...

I've always liked the Ecume de Mer...

It's a lot of boat in a 26-foot envelope.

Don't believe me? Check it out.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

in the "relative cost of burgers" department...

The other day someone pointed me to a couple of Craig's List self-steering gears to illustrate the argument that it was impossible to sort out a cruising boat on a frugal budget.

One of the gears was a Hydrovane for $4K and the other was a Monitor for  $3.8K... Which, I suppose, means that if you find two expensive wind vanes that proves all vanes are expensive?

So, I got on Craig's List and spent ten minutes searching and found an Aires for $450, a Navik for $895, and an ATOMS for a kiss under $600. All of the gears appeared to be in very good to excellent condition. Such good condition in the case of the apparently pristine ATOMS that I was very tempted to call the owner and ask how much he would charge to ship it down the Caribbean because the ATOMS is a truly great windvane and, in my opinion, much better design than either the Hydrovane or Monitor.

Still, as it only costs me about $300 all up to build a vane it would not exactly be the frugal thing to do...

Think of it all like a hamburger. You could go to some super hip bespoke cafe and spend a hundred bucks on a burger, then again you could to someplace that makes great burgers for $12, and, lest we forget, you  can always buy the fixings for a super burger to grill at home for a whole lot less.

The fact is you can almost always make do with something up to the required task on a given budget if you just bother to do your homework and apply the need/want/utility test.

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