Monday, January 28, 2013

On the urge to build...

A lot of readers of Boat Bits/VolksCruiser, as well as the guy who writes it, have an urge to build a boat from the keel up. More than an urge really it's somewhere between affliction and an addiction...

        "Hi, my name's Bob and I'm a boatbuilder..."

The thing is, there are some reasonably good reasons to build a boat. I should also point out that there are a lot more good reasons not to.

That said, most of the nay-sayers who crawl out from under the woodwork and tell you why it's stupid to build a boat are idiots and could not find their butt with a map, flashlight, and both hands. The anti-boatbuilding brigade is problematic simply because they're so stupid that they simply cloud the issue and give you the false confidence that if they're against it your cause is both sensible and just.

Like most things in this world it's complicated.

So, why not build a boat?

In the current economy there are so many cheap boats for sale at giveaway prices that you can buy a reasonably good condition sailboat for considerably less than the raw materials a new boat would entail... Sadly, if you can't afford to buy an old fixer upper CAL/Columbia/Pearson/Whatever you're not going to be able to afford to build a new boat. The old wives' tale that it allows you to pay as you go simply does not work in the real world as prices keep going up and in the end you wind up paying even more, plus, the working in fits and starts scenario means that you'll slow your building down to a point that you'll simply never finish the boat.

The downside, for me, of building a boat from the keel up is simply the fact that it is not nearly as eco-friendly as rehabbing an older boat. Face it, the most sustainable system is to reuse rather than bring in new materials that deplete forests, require the use of toxic chemicals and various oil based resins. Seriously, this is really a big issue and one that keeps me up some nights.

The obvious downside is it takes a lot of labor/time to build a boat... not that you can't build one quickly (our 38' Loose Moose 2 was built in six months while our 26' Loose Moose took 4 1/2 months) but most people cannot work full time on a project and the less time you have to build the more hours it takes. Ten single hours of labor never ever equals a ten-hour day of labor... My guesstimate is it's something like a factor of five.

All that being the case, there still are some excellent reasons to actually build a cruising sailboat but that will have to wait till tomorrow...