Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Some good news...

Did you know you can now buy plans for the Skrowl and other neat designs from the Yann Quenet stable?


You still here?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

So, what about that Tad Robert's scow cat schooner?

Here's a glimpse of the interior accommodation...


What Tad has to say about it...
From the transom, four feet of cockpit with outboard well in the sole. Storage lockers port and starboard under the seats, each one is 24 cubic feet. A large locker under the forward cockpit sole, for gas cans, spare outboard, crab trap, other messy crap.
Through the hatch, down three steps, first section is 4' fore and aft. Head to starboard, navigation table/office over huge ice box to port. Next section is 3.33', galley counter port and starboard, storage under. Heater set into/under the counter on starboard side. Next section 6.67', seat/berth port and starboard, table between, shelves behind. Next forward, 5' fore and aft, full width of the boat, double berth. Watertight bulkhead with 120 cubic feet of storage in the bow.
Daggerboards will be vertical outboard of the settees. Centerboards can be a larger one forward of the mainmast under the table and a small trim board in the cockpit sole. Or a larger board aft the mainmast (in the way) with a small one forward under the berth.
Hopefully more on this boat sooner rather than later.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Some more thoughts of the Columbia 26 sort...

So, back to the Columbia 26.

As the previously mentioned list shows, there is really not a lot I'd change but a couple of things do come to mind. Mainly the rudder, propulsion system, and rig. Today, because they are somewhat related projects, we'll focus a little on propulsion and the rudder.

Having looked at a lot of old Columbia 26 MK 2's for sale, a great many of them all seem to come with either inboard engines with dire issues or outboards on a transom mount. Truth is, I'm not a huge fan of outboards on a transom mount and I'm not sure that an inboard engine is the best use of space and payload capacity on a 26-foot full time cruising boat.

If I were going to VolksCruiserize a Columbia 26 my first thought would be to remove an inboard with issues (gaining valuable stowage space). If it had a transom mounted outboard (even one that worked) I'd lose it and take it to the nearest consignment store and go engineless (more or less) using sweeps for the most part and a 4hp outboard on the dinghy as a yawl boat when needful.

Of course, a lot of people feel the need for a dedicated engine and, for them, I'd suggest a small 4HP outboard in a well in the rear of the cockpit. Which is just that little bit problematic because you'd have to build a well and a pair of rudders to replace the one in the way

Kind of makes engineless a bit more attractive does it not?

That said, a well is not such a big or expensive project and, more than likely, whatever you do you'll most likely want to rebuild the existing rudder anyway because a rudder built in the late sixties/early seventies is long past its sell by date so a new rudder (or rudders) would be a very good thing.

More about rudders later but, in the meantime, you might want to check out Atom Voyages which has an artful plethora of great information on making excellent outboard wells for small cruising sailboats like this one.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm guessing some folks think we're just plain...

STUPID!

The other day I bought a pair of industrial shears designed for cutting hard to cut stuff like Kevlar and Dux for just shy of twenty bucks ($16.47 to be precise).

This morning I happened to see the very same shears for sale at an online purveyor of boat stuff being sold for nearly $50. Being curious (and bored) I spent some time looking for the shears at other places and found, in the marine sphere, the going rate seemed to be in the $40-$50 dollar range.

I expect you can do the math...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A quick thought on needful things...

The big problem on my boat is guitar stowage...

I mention this because everybody I know has a stowage problem with some non-marine stuff whether it be guitars, books, art supplies, stuffed animals, or other non-boat specific stuff that you really need around to make your boat...  

Home

Of course, a lot of folks will tell you to just leave stuff "at home" or put it into storage but for us full-time-living-on-boat-folks, leaving stuff at "home" is simply not going to happen (I don't think I need to explain the logic of that statement) and, as for leaving stuff in storage what good is that?

I'm pretty sure that I've gone on record a time or few about how I hate the word "camping" when used in conversations regarding boat design, living aboard, and suchlike. In my personal view of things, the difference between camping and living aboard is not the number of heads, headroom, or having a genset big enough to light a small city but the simple equation of having the needful stuff you enjoy around you... Needless to say, I'll take a couple of surfboards, a big well-stocked bookshelf, and a quiver of guitars over full standing headroom any day.

That said, I have to admit that I don't always make it real easy on myself as my chosen axes are both large and oddly shaped (Firebirds and Thunderbirds) and my life would be a whole lot easier if I were to lose the birds and start using what seems like a very sensible and nearly perfect (in a stowage sense) guitar like the old La Baye 2X4 (which is really just a Firebird without the "wings")...


...which takes up about a third of the stowage space as my Firebird. For those interested Eastwood gutars is currently building a small batch and I'd be lying to say I was not seriously tempted (not that I'd ever consider giving up my Firebird or Thunderbird).

So if anybody has any cunning plans for stowing a half dozen or so guitars I'd love to see them... Comments, as they say, are open.



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lists are a wonderful thing...

So, after giving the Columbia 26 a lot of thought, I've come up with a short list of things I'd do to make it just that little bit more VolksCruiserish...

Interior
  1. DIY composting toilet
  2. Rebuild/replace the dinette with a Buehler inspired one
  3. Figure out a cunning plan to make the galley bettter (spelled add worktop space)
  4. Add more water stowage
Exterior
  1. Rig... If the rig is in good shape I'd simply roll with it (if it works no need to fix it mantra) but, if the rig needs substantial work or financial outlay, I'd just build a new rig of the junk or balanced lug sort.
  2. I'd seriously consider replacing the rudder with a transom hung one with an integrated self-steering (trimtab) system.
Propulsion
  1. Depending on what's already installed, I'd have to roll with the flow so, more about that in a later post...
Now, of course, there's all of the usual bringing a tired boat back to life in the cosmetic sense, sorting out the wiring, and other various tasks that you'd need to do but this list represents the needful tasks I'd need to sort out to make me a happy camper.

All in all, it's not a very long or expensive list...

Next we'll do the math on what it should actually cost.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How the evolution of the Raison scow continues...

This is seriously cool...


But wait till you see the interior...


Not too shabby for 29-feet...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Looking at the rig...

So...

The Columbia 26 MK2's rig works. Not a lot of ways you could actually improve it and if I came across one with a rig in good shape I'd leave it just like it is.

Really. It does not need bigger more expensive winches, have it's lines led aft to the cockpit, or a new furling system... The design as drawn (if it's in good shape) works great and throwing money at it will not do anything needful but will make somebody else richer and you a lot poorer.

That said, any boat this old is, more than likely, ready for a new rig... The rule of thumb is standing rigging and related stress points (toggles, chainplates, tangs, and suchlike) should get replaced every 7-10 years or so, as well as some serious attention paid to the mast while you're doing it. What can I say but metal fatigues. Sadly, I'm pretty sure that about half of the boats in this age bracket have their original rigs or at least parts of their original rigs in critical places... Needless to say, this can be problematic.

Sails can also be a problematic point as the other day I came across an ad for a C26 which boasted that the boat came with the original sails in "like new" condition.While old (seldom used) sails may look great the thread they were using in 1969 probably has quietly expired what strength it had back when Jimmy Carter was President.

Replacing big chunks of the standing rigging and buying new sails could cost a whole lot more than the boat is ever going to be worth... So it's really something you should be looking at closely.

Later we'll talk about how to redo a stock rig in a frugal fashion or, even better, how to replace it entirely with an even better more VolksCruiserish rig for less.

Next up we'll talk about engines and rudders...


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Taking a hard look at what's needful inside...

I'm a big believer of the old adage of "If it ain't broke don't fix it" and that very much goes for the Columbia 26 MK2...

That said, there are some issues that I think are needful to deal with if you're going to make the C26 your VolksCruiser of choice and they are mainly about improving livability and storage which actually turn out to be the same thing. The hardest part of living and cruising on a small boat is really just finding a civilized means of stowing the stuff you need. Which, sadly is a lot harder than you may think.

First of all the C26 comes with water tankage not anywhere close to needful proportions... a scant 12-gallons and it would be the first thing I'd put on the list to sort out. Hey, water's needful stuff.

Secondly, I'd look to improving the stowage in general. The C26 is better than most boats storage wise of its ilk but there is a lot of wasted or potential space that could make the difference between cruising in a civilized manner or not. Personally I'm not a big fan of the "not" alternative.

While thinking about stowage the third thing we really need to sort out is a better galley situation. While it is a very efficient use of space as it stands, it is not a happy making situation for someone who wants to cook real meals on a regular basis. There's plenty of room for improvement as long as we're going to be maximizing stowage.

The head is also something we might want to look at...

Surprisingly that's pretty much the important stuff. Bill Tripp knew what he was doing when he designed the boat and pretty much everything works the way you'd want it to. We'll talk in more depth on just how we might go about increasing the water storage, maximizing needful gear stowage, and improving the galley situation but for now we will let that percolate till later. The next thing we'll look at is the rig, sailing systems, and auxiliary propulsion.


 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Some more Columbia 26 thoughts...

Wow...

It's funny how some posts will fill up the mailbag and it would seem a lot of folks are interested in my thoughts on turning a Columbia 26 into a VolksCruiser. On the other hand, a lot of folks also wrote to tell me that the Columbia 26 was just too small because they "really needed a...", "there's no room for a...", and "but it's not a catamaran..." or other such things.

What can I say but life can be disappointing...

So, back to what I think about the Columbia 26 MK 2.

First things first... It's a small boat though, to give it its due, it's a pretty big 26-foot boat when compared to most its age. The real question you have to answer is whether it's big enough for your purposes. Personally I've lived (with my better half) and cruised on a similar sized boat that was less roomy for several years and don't recall any issues that were problematic or deal breakers. The bottom line is that it's a pretty sensible boat for someone who gets the whole simplicity thing and realizes that it's a boat and that living on a boat is not the same as living on land nor should it be.

Of course, no boat is perfect and the beauty of rehabbing a cheap classic plastic production boat is you can adapt it to your needs to your heart's content. Since it's a small boat it won't cost you a lot in materials or labor to put most things right and if your ideas don't work out you can simply redo it.

In my mind there's nothing really wrong with the Columbia 26 but there are some things I'd think about changing... We'll get into that next time.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A project on the drawing board...

A friend and I have been discussing an idea I have for rehabbing an old small classic plastic design and turning it into a VolksCruiser...

The boat in question happens to be a Columbia 26.

As it happens I've always liked the Columbia 26...

Studying the current crop of the C26 for sale floating around, my calculator tells me that the price for a boat in good or better condition falls somewhere in the $3-6K zone and we might safely say the average is right around $4500 (+ or -).

The $2000 boat I have my eye on however is a far cry from being in good or better condition and the amount of money needed to make it right, not to mention the large amount of labor involved, actually makes it quite a lot more expensive than the various boats in that $3-6K zone. My hope is that the guy who's been selling it for a couple of years now will wake up one morning and just sell the thing for what it is currently worth (about $500 or so) in which case I'll pounce.

You might say I have a cunning plan...

So, what would I do to turn a fixer-upper Columbia 26 into a proper VolksCruiser?

Tune in for the next post and I'll get into it and yes, dear reader, there will be lists!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Some Pop 25 goodness...

Here's the first footage I've come across of the Barros Pop 25 floating right side up and sailing...



Plus here's some in depth coverage from the Brazilian Nautica magazine on the Pop 25 with English synopsis (though Google translate might be a help for those who are Portugese challenged).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

On not fitting in...

Voyaging belongs to seamen and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in.

- Sterling Hayden 

The greatest fear about the idea of a VolksCruiser type boat and lifestyle I hear voiced is whether or not they will fit in with the cool kids cruising community.

I get that. Face it, nobody wants to return to the world of high school cliques and despair (well, unless they can return as BMOC or Homecoming Queen and some do seem to try). The thing is, if you're worried about fitting in that's just your spidey sense telling you that you might not.

Your spidey sense just might be right as it happens...

The cruising community is composed of any number of cliques, gangs, posses, clans, and other assorted assemblages of folks just like high school.

So yeah, there are a lot of folks who you may not fit in with just like high school. That said, there are lots of folks who you'll find to be just your sort.

I remember talking to a guy once who told me he had bought an Island Packet because he thought it was the perfect boat to fit in... Somewhat upmarket but not pretentious, sorta/kinda traditional but modern, a semi-anonymous boat that should fit in at any anchorage or so he thought. The problem, as he told it, was he apparently had bought the wrong dinghy and he felt ostracised, even within the Island Packet clan, because, since he liked to row, he'd bought a Trinka dinghy... The happy part of the story is that being a rower and Trinka guy he met a lot of like-minded folks, made some good friends in the process, and became one of the cool kids...

While sailing our Loose Moose and Loose Moose 2 (boats guaranteed to scandalize any anchorage) we did run across people who had issues but they tended to be, generally speaking, fools, idiots, and people of limited vision... Certainly not folks we'd choose to hang out with in any case. On the other hand, having an "odd" or "different" boat opened doors to a lot of great people we never would have met if we'd been in just another fiberglass bleach bottle.

So, not to worry...

Everyone fits in somewhere.

Monday, November 10, 2014

An article you really need to read...

Over at Comet Camper there's a great post that anyone considering the whole cheap-seats VolksCruiser thing should should read and take to heart...

Just saying.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

A stove with VolksCruiser written all over it...

Stoves for boats are silly expensive. Not only do they cost more than they should, most of them don't work all that well either.

Here's a better and more affordable than most single burner alcohol stove...

It costs over $250...

While this beer can stove costs pretty much zip.


 
How To Turn A Beer Can Into The Only Camping Stove You'll Ever Need from Tom Allen on Vimeo.

Of course, you're going to want to come up with a means to adapt one to the rigors of being on a boat but that's hardly rocket science is it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

some more quick thoughts on designing a VolksCruiser that makes sense...

Now that you've had some time to think about the lug schooner rig (though we'll be coming back to it in a post or two) let's look at the other big chunk of a budget for a cruising boat...

The engine.

Of course, it's been proven that a couple can cruise pretty well on a small boat without an engine. Lin and Larry Pardey being the obvious example but over the years we've come across a lot of cruisers who have successfully cruised boats without engines. I won't get into it but Jay FitzGerald makes a great case for the engineless sailboat in his book Sea-Steading and it's well worth the read.

Tad's lug schooner has an outboard in a well. Tad did not mention what size motor to me but I suspect it's either a 6, 8, or 10HP (at the moment we're more than happy with a 6HP on our CAL 34). It's a simple and afforadble solution to the auxilliary power problem and has a lot of advantages over an inboard diesel engine. It's lighter than an inboard, less expensive than an inboard, less prone to problems than an inboard, and in the event that you do have a major problem a lot cheaper to fix/replace than an inboard.

What's not to love?

Well, outboards do have some issues...

For one, deploying an outboard on a sailboat is always a pain in the butt hassle. Whether it's in a well or on the transom it is going to be problematic to get the prop in the water and start the engine. Most folks with outboards simply don't bother and just become better sailors simply to avoid having to deploy the outboard in anything less than needful situations.

Secondly, outboards are not as efficient as an inboard diesel which becomes severely problematic if you want a motor boat with sails and are one of those folk who tends to turn on the motor when the wind lessens a touch or simply can't be bothered to take your sail covers off. For sure outboards don't make sense if you want to make long passages under power. I might also add that if you really want to make long passages under power that sailboats don't really make that much sense either.

Lastly, outboards use gas and most of us don't like carrying a lot of it around and stowing the stuff safely can be a hassle but, I expect that Tad will have some super cunning storage plan for stowage of a couple of outboard tanks (and maybe a jerry can as well). Of course, being a sailboat you won't be needing silly amounts of fuel because you're going to be making passages under, dare we say it... sail.

So far we have an inexpensive but powerful rig and a capable affordable auxiliary propulsion system... Find out what else is on offer next time.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Some quick thoughts on designing a VolkCruiser that makes sense...

I was recently involved in a discussion about what features a boat should have to be a successful VolksCruiser... It was a problematic enterprise.

The hard part in discussing an enterprise of frugality in a consumerist world is that there is almost always a certain disconnect of logic. Face it, anyone with a consumerist mindset answers to all problems is to spend money...

For instance, I was advised that to save money on water (we spend 10 cents a gallon) I should spend around $5000 for a good watermaker (plus an unspecified amount for maintenance and replacement parts) and that would save me loads and loads of money. Then again, if you were to factor in the amount we actually spend for water a year (less than $200) the idea of a watermaker actually saving us money becomes a rather ludicrous endeavour.

Sadly, far too much of the "you need this/that to go cruising on a budget" advice tends to fall into the ludicrous category.

So let's look at a boat that actually seems to get it right...


Today we'll look at the rig and see how not spending money helps it be a better cruising boat.Tad Roberts chose the balanced lug for this design and it makes a whole lot of sense

For starters it's a free standing rig which done right is, as things go, inexpensive simply because you're deleting a lot of expensive standing rigging from the picture. There's no wire, stayloks, or $90 an hour riggers to contend with. Even better, no standing rigging means no standing rigging maintenance or failure while you're cruising. On the performance side no standing rigging means less wind drag (or noise) with the downside being a couple of points less performance to windward.

The schooner rig with lug sails is small enough in area that you also don't need any deck jewelery of the winch sort... Another huge savings of money. With a few blocks, any healthy person should be able to raise the sails and trim them without any added mechanical advantage, That said, a couple of small (say size 10) winches for the halyards picked up at a swap meet for cheap would be no bad thing but the bottom line is they simply are not needed just a nice touch.

Lug sails (whether junk or western lug) are fairly easy to home-build, easy to repair, and don't require any expensive sail-handling gear purchases. In terms of horsepower to dollars ratio, the western lug rig is nearly at the top of the list (FYI for those of a Bermudan rig bent the Bermudan rig can be found way down near the bottom).

Last, but not least, the masts, booms, and yards are all DIY friendly so you're not going to to have to pay high marine pricing for the rig.

So, in essence, Tad's put together a very seaworthy, powerful, and affordable rig by getting rid of stuff you don't really need.

This rig makes a lot of sense.

Next we'll be looking at some more choices made on this design...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Did simplicity just become Hip?

Yesterday, over at Boat Bits, I mentioned a French boat I like that I thought was overpriced... Then again, some astute observers might point out that I think almost all boats are seriously overpriced. I'm just that kind of guy...

As it happens, the Mojito 888 is a great boat for folks of the VolksCruiserish persuasion to study because its simplicity of interior construction and design should make for a very inexpensive solution to fitting out a homebuilt boat or rehab project.

For instance, just check out the galley...


It's real simple... There's plenty of room for the pots/pans, utensils and tools you actually need/use and with a little tweak or two could be a whole lot better. The important part is that it's simple, does not use a lot of expensive material, and can be built in a long weekend. Fact is, there's not a single chunk of the interior of this boat that can't be built in a weekend or so.

Of course, this sort of simplicity flies in the face of the prevailing mindset where where folks are trying to make boats into houses, luxury condos, or shrines but, as far as I'm concerned, if I wanted a house I wouldn't be on a boat.

As far as the Mojito goes, they got the simplcity right but somehow forgot to apply it to the price... Bummer that. On the other hand, the fact that it is a bit pricey as well as being the Voile Magazine "Boat of the year", will give simple seaworthy interiors a certain "Hipness"factor...

Now if you were to apply a nice simple interior to Tad Robert's new 28-foot scow schooner you'd be way ahead of the game...


I'll be talking a lot about Tad's new schooner in the next few posts...


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What is Hip...

Hipness, what it is!
Hipness, what it is!
Hipness, what it is!
And sometimes hipness is
What it ain't!

Or so goes the refrain from Tower of Power's best known song (as well as being one of my all time favorites).

If you were to read today's modern yachting rags you'd think that ever bigger and ostentatious catamarans were the epitome of Hip and, in some circles, you'd probably be right.

Of course, that trend has already peaked and even in the yacht press they're casting about for the new h
Hip thang. Tower of Power pretty much nailed it...

There's one thing you should know
What's hip today
Might become passe

I expect that, sooner, rather than later, overly conspicous consumer products are not just going to become no longer Hip but decidely UnHip... The signs are already there if you have your ear to the ground.

Big changes are coming...

That said, while smaller more frugal boats may never be the epitome of Hip they'll never be the more dreaded UnHip. I can live with that...

Just something to think about while you listen to the band...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Stuff you need to know...

Off Center Harbor has a truly excellent two part video on sail trim featuring Carol Hasse that you might want to check out... It's well worth the price of admission.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A great dinghy building book...

I've been reading "Building the Uqbar Dinghy" and it really is a great book for those who want to build a good dinghy in a weekend... Yes, really, a weekend.

Fact is, I like the dinghies so much I'm pretty sure I'm going to build one in the very near future. The only problem being which dinghy (there are plans for a six, seven, eight, and ten-foot dinghies within the book) I'll choose. I suspect it's a toss up between the eight or ten footers but the six-footer is truly sweet and, as we've successfully cruised for years with a six-foot Bolger Tortoise, to say I'm tempted would be something of an understatement.


Lot to be said for a dinghy that does not take up a lot of space and only weighs 35 pounds.

What really struck me about the book was how well Redjeb Jordania made the building process simple. I suspect the fact that he's taught a lot of dinghy building workshops gives him an edge on making the content of the book tyroproof.

Better yet, I just noticed the price has come down for the Kindle format version and four complete boat plans with step-by-step information on how to put them together for less than $10 is some kind of serious deal...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Color me simplistic...

The other day a friend wrote me complaining that the boat project he was thinking of building was getting scary expensive and he used winches as an example. The winches spec'd out for his design, even with a deep discount added up to somewhere just shy of $7K.

Quite an "ouch" factor for a small boat less than thirty feet...

Of course, being an aficionado of alternative rigs, I was quick to point out that it would be easy to adapt the design to balanced lug and dispense with the winches entirely. This would also get rid of the not insubstantial cost of standing rigging as well.

In his case I'd still fly a small blade jib set flying because it's a big help with balance but mostly because a small jib does wonders for the balanced lugs windward performance with the only downside being the addition of a forestay and running backs.

Not that I expect him to go with the balanced lug but it does give you an idea that if you want to save serious money on a boat it makes all kinds of sense to think simple...


Saturday, September 27, 2014

A book that should be part of every VolksCruisers library...

I've been working on a better mast raising/lowering system for "So It Goes" and rereading all my various go to boatish books for whisps of cunning plans for ideas.

Have I mentioned of late what a great book Bruce Bingham's "The Sailors Sketchbook" is?


One thing I like about it is there are no "Buy this" sort of projects anywhere to be found. All of the improvements and projects are DIY doable on a budget. Another is nearly all of the projects  (the cassette rack being the glaring exception) and ideas have stood up to the test of time and still make all kinds of sense.

As for the new better raising and lowereing system for our mast, that's covered so well (pages 32-36) that there's no need to look any further.

The one downside of the book is everytime I pick it up I find another perfect solution to another issue aboard so my job list never seems to get any shorter...

Monday, September 22, 2014

a quote of note...

"In these days of depleted bankrolls,'cheap' yachts are a matter of importance to most of us".
- Howard Chapelle 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

a project boat for sure but...

A reader of VolksCruiser just wrote to mention he picked up a CAL 27 for $300 and that it floats right side up...



Lots and lots of deals out there.

So, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

tools...

While all boats need a good selection of tools, it's a given that folks of the VolksCruiserish persuasion tend to be a bit more serious about their tools because they'll be using them on a regular basis. You might say a good set of tools and half a clue about how to use them is the VolksCruisers best friend.

Now, I'll admit I'm something of a tool snob of a sort. Which is not to say I make judgements based on the sort of tools in someones kit  (Hey, Harbor Freight tools work just fine) but simply about whether or not someone actually has a kit at all. Being toolless denotes a lower form of life if you will...

That said, I should mention being toolless is not nearly as low on the evolutionary scale as those who borrow tools. Yeah, those guys...

Anyway, you need tools to build boats, repair boats, build/repair things, and, most importantly, free you from the greedy evil clutches of the marine trades and tradesfolk. They'll also save you lots and lots of money.

Are not tools cool?


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Now, this is just cool...

A very cool outboard that has VolksCruiser written all over it.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Getting real...

I just started rereading "Cruising in Seraffyn" and I'm finding the rather stark contrasts with what passes for cruising today somewhat entertaining...

Of course, times were different then and cruising had an element of a no-safety net enterprise.

Just something to keep in mind next time someone you know throws a hissy-fit because their air conditioning needs to be repaired

Saturday, August 30, 2014

In praise of Miami teak...

Folks around boats tend to become obsessed with costly materials which they give near-magical properties to whether or not they deserve it.

So yeah, let's talk teak... Or to be more precise, why you don't want to use teak.

Truth be told, teak in my opinion, is a far cry from what I'd consider a good boatbuilding wood. It's expensive, hard to glue, and judging from the number of boats with rotten teak I've come across, not at all as rot-resistant as people give it credit for.

The funny thing is that back when teak started being used for ship building it was mainly used because it was the cheapest thing around. How it has become the king of marine lumber is more about good marketing and a whole lot of folks who don't really know the first thing about wood.

That said, I'm a big fan of what's known as Miami teak which you might be more acquainted with as pressure-treated southern yellow pine.

Yeah, the cheap stuff...

How cheap you ask? Last time I looked pressure-treated southern yellow pine costs all of $100-$200 a cubic meter and, for those of a curious nature, decent but not great teak these days is going for $2500 a cubic meter.

Quite the difference wouldn't you say?

The one downside of pressure treated wood is that the copper involved tends to have a tenacious ability to show through stains, epoxy, and varnish. Personally I find that slight green tinge gives me a certain feeling of comfort knowing that my wood is well protected from a lot of what causes "soft" wood and I embrace it as being a goodly thing...

Then again, I used to have a Fender "Wildwood" guitar which I loved. The Wildwood process being that they'd inject the growing trees with water soluble dyes giving them what I thought was a very interesting look...


So for me that slight green tinge is just something that makes the Miami Teak all that more interesting.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A quickie link...

Here's a quick lesson on why you should shop where the commercial fishermen do...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A little further education...

There are a couple of ways to look at the need/want thing but it mostly boils down to looking at it with a positive approach or a negative one... If you start with a negative slant the whole need/want test is all about not being able to have something you want while, on the other hand, the positive approach becomes all about working through the process to sort out what you actually need.

Me, I simply try and sort out what I need and avoid thinking about stuff I might want. Working on the need first level long enough I find that most of the stuff I actually want tend to be things I need.

That said, sometimes you need a bit of outside help to get with the program but no one as yet is doing a VolkCruising class... though to be honest we are thinking about it and would love to hear from readers if they feel there is a need and if so what would you be interested in having it cover?.

In the meantime, you might want to consider a class like the Tiny Transition and Downsizing class being taught by the Comet Camper's Mariah which, while not about boats, is very much about living and thriving in small spaces like boats.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Working on boats...

Time, apparently, is a somewhat elusive concept where work and boats are concerned...

The other day someone was telling me about a guy who'd taken 12 years to build a boat. As it happens, I built the same boat and it took me six months of work spread out over a year. So, the question is how long does it take to build a boat? Or, more accurately, how do you measure time/work?

The boat in question was Phil Bolger's Loose Moose 2 (AKA the AS39) which admittedly is a pretty easy boat to build but there is a lot of it so there is a considerable amount of work involved.

Launching in Meaux (where they make the best Brie) France
Hindsight is a wonderful thing... Looking back at the build, I clearly recall that a good portion of the time spent "working" was actually spent sitting around deciding what to actually do. Seriously, I spent a LOT of time doing the should-I-do-this-or-should-I-do-that two-step. Offhand, I'd guess about a third of my time... Now if my decision making process had not been so ass backwards problematic I'd have been able to build the boat in four months rather than six.

There's also the learning curve which, though not so steep on a sharpie, does take its toll in time and I would not be surprised if that did not take up another month of the building process. So, that would make the actual build time for LM2 to be somewhere around three months or 600 hours of actual "productive" labor.

Of course, the big problem is that it's really hard to set up a project so you can maximize the amount of productive labor and minimize the non-productive time sinks that are all part and parcel with what most people think of as the normal boatbuilding process.

We'll get into the how and why on that next...



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

On the difference between a makeover and a honeymoon...

Dick Dorworth makes some good points...

Truth is, I'm not real big on advice... Sure, I might point you to places you can read up up on stuff so you have the information you need to make an informed decision but I'm not really that guy who tells you to do shit.

Well... mostly.

The hardest part of getting off the consumerist treadmill and joining the real world of need as opposed to want is just taking that first big step and quit buying stuff while you sort out your need/want regime.

Really. You can always buy more stuff later...

Yesterday I read about a couple who just bought a boat and even before they've taken possesion they're already buying "stuff", having it shipped to the boat, and, I expect, they are adding to the list of needful things to get as I write this.

Now, if it were me who'd just bought a boat I'd go and get to know it a bit before I started making changes, adding stuff, and all the mayhem that comes with making a new to me boat mine. You know, just get to know the boat and let it talk to me and tell me just who she/he is.

Call it a honeymoon...

Find out what works...

Get to know the quirks...

Find what doesn't belong...

What is truly needful...

The funny thing, is while I do not know the new owners of the boat, I actually do know the boat very well. I'm pretty sure the last thing it wants is to have people making changes before she's had a chance to let them know who she is and how she feels. As it happens, I'm pretty sure the boat has some changes it would like/need to make as well as it is something of a one off, a bit special, and very much needs to become what it needs to be.

Of course, they will have to do some work on the boat and stuff will need to be bought but, just maybe, the right work and stuff may not at all be the stuff that they think and, if they listened to the boat, something else entirely.

They just have to listen...

“A designer knows, he has achieved, perfection not when, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Friday, August 1, 2014

silk purses and sows ears...

There's a Pearson 33 in not horrible shape on St Thomas going for $4000 and like most boats  in the sub $5K bracket it will need some work. I'm guessing not a lot...

Which is not to say you can't turn a good deal on a boat into a bloody money pit because I see it all the time. Folks try and turn a sows ear into a silk purse or forget the need/want equation and start replacing perfectly good systems with new more expensive stuff and that almost always turns into a monetary clusterfuck of epic proportions.

Not too long ago I read someone opining that it was impossible not to get screwed financially buying and rehabbing an old boat and then used an example of a guy who bought an old CAL for $10K, ripped out all of its systems (that were serviceable but not new or hip), and proceeded to replace them with the current flavor of the month "best" stuff and, well, apparently it got out of hand. As the writer pointed out this was proof positive that fixing up an old boat was always going to be a losing proposition.

What can I say... There are a lot of logic-deprived people in the world.

The thing is, the Pearson in question, even in perfect showroom condition, is, at best, going to be worth somewhere south of $20K so buying the boat for $4k and then pumping $60k into fixing it up might not exactly be a smart move. That said, I see folks doing the same exact thing just about every day and it's more than a little bit depressing.

Then again, with a little common sense, a passing knowledge of the need/want principle, and 50% of the purchase price set aside for needful repairs/improvements this particular Pearson 33 makes all kinds of sense...


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

a quick thought...

The other day I was checking out the VolkCruiser stats and saw I was getting some hits from a couple of new blogs who had linked to the site...

Being curious, I trundled over to check them out and they seemed like nice sites by very nice and interesting people who were all about getting ready to cruise off into the sunset/sunrise who seem to equate getting ready to cruise with a whole lot of buying stuff. Really, just about every post was about something they'd just bought or something they were about to buy and they both seemed to have a long list of stuff they thought they needed to get.

It was just a little depressing...

Of course, it's all understandable and the pressure to conform to the consumerist agenda is both ruthless and unrelenting. Come to think about it, there's not a whole lot of pressure from any direction telling folks to use less and simplify is there?

Just something to think about...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Something you'll want to read...

Over at SailFeed there's a pretty good article about sails for downwind sailing...

That said, I disagree strongly with their thoughts on drifters.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A reality based multihull..

Yesterday while running errands we noticed a new boat in the anchorage... A very nice example of a Wharram Tiki 30.

What a great boat...

Rowing by I was struck with just how much sense it makes and what a great design it is.

Sure, it might not be everything you want in a boat but it pretty much covers anything you'd actually need...

Definitely a design to spend some time studying.

That said, it does fly in the face of where catamaran design has wandered since cat design took a left at the corner of Charterland and MacMansion leaving real world needs in the dust.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

a quick response for that guy who must have the perfect boat...

I have very few illusions about boats...

I don't over-romanticize, put it on a pedestal, or fetishize them because, when all is said and done, a boat is just a boat.

Webb Chiles is currently doing his thing on a Moore 24 which is not the sort of boat most folks would consider for sailing off into the sunrise on but I'm pretty sure that "Gannet" will take Webb wherever he wants to go. That said, so would any boat that Mr Chiles decided to sail off on...

It's really never about the boat but always about the person sailing it.

The boat's just a tool...

Of course, in time and when deserved love and respect come into play but that's something else entirely.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why your local lumber yard might be your first stop...

I've got a couple of pieces of wood that have been sitting out in the open for the last couple of years as sort of a "when-will-this-stuff-rot/fall-apart" test.

Now, I'll admit it's not a serious scientific test and more a simple bit of satisfying my curiosity but it has been enlightening.

The wood in question is a bit of yellow pine "2X4" , a bit of cypress 1"X6" and a scrap of some formply I used for a mold section when I was strip-planking my new mast. For a control I have a little offcut of teak and a scrap of marine plywood.

As to the conditions it's been subjected to, I happen to be in the Caribbean and it's been through the same old same tropical weather and conditions that everyone warns you about when they are telling you that you need an expensive tropical hardwood because anything else will deteriorate and rot.

So, here's the thing...

The pine 2" X 4" is, except for some minor discoloration, just peachy keen and so is the cypress 1' X 6". As for the formply it looks pretty much as it did when I cut it out. I should restate the point that it has been out in the sun/rain/humidity unprotected all this time.

The teak on the other hand has some "soft" spots and the marine ply is delaminating.

So ends this test as I threw out the control groups the other day...

While not exactly conclusive, it does reinforce some opinions I've had for a long while about teak being just about the last wood I'd use for boat construction (well, unless it was FREE) brought about by having worked on a lot of boats with serious rot issues that involved teak and redecking an old schooner built in 1910 whose original pine deck was in pretty much pristine condition the problem being the oak beams under the deck which were soft.

In a couple of weeks I'm going to build a new T-section boom for "So It Goes" and I'll be building it out of yellow pine. It's cheap and more than strong enough with the addition of a bit of carbon roving I happen to have laying around. Coated with epoxy then painted, it will likely last twenty years or so with minimal maintenance. Better yet, I don't have to take out a mortgage to be able to afford a more seamanlike wood.

Even more important, woods like yellow pine and cypress are much more sustainable materials than exotic hardwoods... Not only are you saving a lot of money, you're also doing the right thing ecology wise. What's not to love?

The formply, on the other hand, needs some more testing where long term epoxy/glassfiber adhesion is concerned. That said, If I were going to build a sharpie or any traditional plywood construction boat I'd be looking very seriously at formply for the hull, deck, and bulkheads...

Friday, June 13, 2014

On the premise that spending money to save money is a good idea...

I'm currently fleshing out some ideas about frugal cruising for my Island Gourmand blog. While reading some other blogs on cooking on boats I detected a certain trend where saving money was concerned. The solution most put forward to spending less seemed to be to go out and spend more.

I'll be honest this sorta/kinda surprised me.

Looking at a lot of advice on the web regarding saving money cruising or for your boat there it was again; the same spend money to save money mantra... So, for instance, if you have an inboard engine that uses too much fuel (or so you think) and you run your engine 300 hours a year, your best solution would be to...
  1. Live with the problem as 1.1 gallons an hour instead of 1 gallon an hour only adds $120 to the yearly fuel bill.
  2. Replace the engine for around $10K to save that $120 a year.
  3. Live with the problem, sail more, and use your engine less.
Now, I'm pretty sure VolksCruiser readers can see the illogic of one of those solutions . Well, at least I hope so.

On the food front my basic premise is simply to fish more, spend less, and, when needful to spend money, make sure the math works out in your favor whenever possible.

Applied to general boatbuilding, boat upkeep, and cruising, translates to DIY more, spend less, and, when needful to spend money, make sure the math works out in your favor whenever possible...

Not exactly rocket science is it?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Always a good read...

The new issue of Practical Boat Owner has a review /article about he Etap 24i that caught my attention. First off, it is a good review and not the usual regurgitated advertising copy we take for granted in American sailing rags. Secondly, I've always really liked what Etap is doing with their boats and it's good to see how they are holding up.

Yeah, you read that right... PBO reviews boats from time to time on how they have held up long after they were the new boat at the boat show. What is it they say about hindsight being 20/20?

The thing I really like about PBO is that they take their job seriously...

In the same issue there is a somewhat exhaustive/exhausting article about shaft seals, a test of small portable fridges and cool boxes, and quite a few hands on projects and how-to's.

Lots of great content.

I'll repeat that...

Lots of great content.

The downside is a subscription is more expensive than Sail or Cruising World...

Then again, if you were to charge by real content versus ersatz, should it not just maybe cost a bit more?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Not everyone's ideal single-hander

There's a guy anchored next to me who I kind of admire...

He mostly single hands and sails into and out of an anchorage in total control, handling his boat with the sort of elan one expects with a dinghy...

What's a little different is his boat is a Santa Cruz 70...


Which brings us to the next rule of VolkCruising...

Whatever works for you, works.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sometimes a little historical perspective is a needful thing...

Being an old fart does have a few advantages...

The other day I was reading an interchange between folks who simply did not understand the reasons behind the thought process in terms of boat, gear, and cruising choices of Lin & Larry Pardey. The logic (or lack of) seemed to be that no one should go to sea without currently available conveniences or should have done so way back before these things actually existed.

See what I mean about questionable logic?

The thing is, a lot of the stuff we take for granted are actually quite new in the grand scheme of things so to fully understand how and why Lin and Larry made their various decisions you have to jump back into your Wayback machine and and go back a ways...


Back in the late 70's and early 80's you'd notice that one of the main reasons folks had motors was not to make passages under power but to charge their batteries and keep their beer cold. As it happens, you would also notice that engines in boats (not unlike today) were less than dependable, often a source of expensive problems as were various charging systems that were motor-centric.

Electronics were expensive, undependable, and power hungry. How expensive you ask? Well I remember while building the first Loose Moose and looking at satellite navigation systems, the cheapest was right around $5000 and had rather feeble coverage of a lot of the places folks on boats sailed. As for things like EPIRBs, while they existed they did not work very well or transmit very far.

Electric lights of the 12-volt variety were both power hungry and dim so a good kerosene lamp (either for reading or as navigation lights) were as good or better...

Kind of puts a whole different tilt on those choices made by L&L all those years ago.

Back when we were cruising in the Med in the early 90's not all that much had changed. Most American cruisers we met had refrigeration (though I should add that most of those were constantly having them repaired), solar panels were just coming into more widespread use but most charging was still provided by an alternator, and people with motors always seemed to be working on them.

Fast forward to today and most boats are using electricity in volumes that would have made someone cruising in the 60/70/80/90's freak out. Electrics are better, charging systems are better and as a result we tend to take them for granted but even the best system still has an annoying habit of going all Murphy's Law on your ass from time to time.

Me, I like having a small fridge and an electrical system that allows me to have lights, watch DVDs, and suchlike. I certainly would not want or need to give them up in any scenario I could envision. That said, having sailed for a long time and been up close and personal with too many badly designed or built systems marketed to boaters, I don't have any illusions that anything electrical will necessarily work when I really need it to. So I always keep the 4th rule of VolksCruising in mind and am prepared to carry on without when it happens...

Back in the early 90's I remember hearing that Lin and Larry had not only added a couple of small solar panels, a battery, and some reading lights to Taleisin but they had also got a a small vacuum cleaner (yeah, the vacuum sorta/kinda surprised me). Of course, it made perfect sense because they were not anti-electricity zealots at all but simply folks who did not want anything on the boat they could not depend on and, as electric stuff on boats became better, they added a few things when they made sense and passed their need/want criteria.

A vacuum cleaner is actually a very needful thing aboard a boat...

Speaking of needful things, the other day I realized that I no longer had a copy of The Self-Sufficient Sailor. As it's a book I keep going back to I really need a new copy and since I'm not really a Luddite (with my Kindle backed up a half dozen ways) I'll be getting the Ebook.



Sunday, May 25, 2014

a rig of interest...

I came across this rig a while back and it seems to make all kinds of sense...
Better yet, it's an affordable and home-buildable rig. What's more, I'd really, really like to build and try it out.

Reuel Parker has more to say about the rig and the boat over at WoodenBoat (it's well worth reading).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Roll with the flow...

OK, I'll admit it. I've been reading that toxic cesspool of a forum regarding the aftermath of the loss of Rebel Heart. It's depressing reading but has the attraction of a slow motion train wreck combined with a witch hunt and OMO forgive me but it is entertaining in a sick and twisted way...

A guilty pleasure if you will.

The thing I keep coming back to is that some of the worst players in the debacle seem to think that if someone dots all the i's and crosses all the t's that one can protect themselves from stuff going FUBAR. Oh yeah, can't forget that there always has to be someone to blame.

They're wrong of course as events always tend to seriously screw with the best laid plans, or in the words attributed to the great thinker Forrest Gump...

Shit happens.

Yes indeed it does.

The thing is, folks of such a rigid mindset generally don't do well cruising as fluidity of thought and lateral thinking are not their strong suits and, as fluidity of thought and lateral thinking are much needed tools to come up with solutions when, you know, shit happens and you need to roll with the flow.

Which brings us to another rule of VolksCruising...

Roll with the flow

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Swimming upstream...

Here's something of a conundrum...

You live on a rock with a finite number of resources and there's plenty of proof that a lot of important resources are either running out or will become too expensive to use in the not too distant future.

What do you do?

A. Bugger all and continue as normal.

B. Bugger all, continue as normal, and hope someone smart comes up with an answer.

C. Bugger all and radically expand your use of depleting resources...

Not much of a choice is it?

I don't know, but somehow the headlong plunge into bigger and bigger boats just seems a kiss problematic.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

The great disconnect...

I see a lot of boats for sale...

Hardly surprising because in a bad economy/faux recovery world there are simply a lot of folks who can't afford to have a boat. So, as a result, a lot of them are selling them for pennies on the dollar.

For us, dear reader, this is no bad thing.

Take this ad for instance...
Selling our cal 2-27, set up for cruising.. makes a really sweet gunkholer for the bay

Big boat for the size. all LED house and running lighting (uses next-to-no power), one 185watt solar panel and another 10 watt panel, keeps batteries well-charged. Navik self-steering windvane (worth 1000 bucks itself) which works great. awesome stereo with cockpit speakers as well as cabin speakers, and a 12" JBL subwoofer with remote which shakes the whole marina when turned up. radar works good. New memory-foam mattress in main cabin sleeps two very comfortably. two new house batteries. ferryman 13hp diesel which runs but should be serviced by a mechanic (it's running hot). New deck paint with anti-slip. over-sized genuine danforth anchor with over-sized chain and rode (holds very strong even in powerful winds and currents--tried and proven in the delta), with a manual windlass. Roller-furling. Dodger. New rudder. Outboard motor bracket on back. force 10 BBQ. VHF radio masthead antenna, various cushions etc.

This boat's in pretty good condition, sound structurally. could be sailed to mexico and beyond with the following improvements: tune-up on the engine, running rigging improved (previous owner started but didn't finish), electrical water pump serviced or replaced.

As of now, she would make a very sweet liveaboard for the right person or couple, and she's a joy to gunkhole around the bay in. She's in Emeryville and the slip should be transferable to the right person.. great marina with a great community in a great location.

Asking $6,500 but am motivated. Also could knock off $1,000 if we take off the Navik windvane...

Small boat well equipped that only needs a bit of cash, some sweat equity, and fine tuning. The surprise is, in the current market, this is actually considered a bit pricey.

So, your excuse to not go cruising is what again?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Money,money, money...

OK, I'll admit stuff costs too much...

Just the other day someone mentioned to me he was going to forego a self-steering gear because he'd have to pay in excess of $5000 to get a good one and if he could not have "the best" he'd simply make do with a used underpowered, prone to failure, and non-user serviceable tillerpilot he could get for $200 at a nautical swap meet.

Do I detect a certain failure of logic somewhere?

For an example of where such logic may leave you, check out this post about a guy who needed to be rescued and lost his boat due to the lack of a self-steering gear... He thought he had to have the best as well.

Today I looked for a few minutes and found several Aries gears for under $1000, an Atoms for $1250, and a Sayes rig for $750... All in good shape and all top quality self-steering gears. I expect with a little more searching you'd be able to find one for even less.

Really.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A boat I've always wished I'd had...

Once, a long time ago, I was a poor starving college student and found myself living on a CAL 20...

Fact is, living on a CAL 20 was not such a bad thing and with a little creativity/zen was actually quite comfortable. Made better because the CAL 20 is a very capable boat and could take you places when the rat race and dock politics became tiresome.

I mention this because while I truly loved my CAL 20 I lusted after a much bigger boat down the dock...

Yes, the Thunderbird.

Twenty-six feet of hard-chined plywood awesomeness.

I figured that if I had that extra five feet and change I could pretty much sail anywhere I wanted to go in a great deal more comfort than my CAL 20.

My dock neighbor in Sausalito with the Thunderbird disappeared for about six months and when he returned he'd sailed up the coast to Seattle, then did a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island followed by a voyage up to Alaska where, apparently, the salmon simply jumped right into your cockpit. He came back a happy man and last I heard he'd pointed the boat towards Hawaii...

Yeah, I really, really wanted a Thunderbird...

The thing is, it's still a really awesome design and it is more than capable of taking you where you want to go.

As it happened, I saw a fixer upper for sale on Craig's List up in Seattle the other day going for $750.

For more information on the design and its class a good place to start is the Thunderbird Class Association...

Maybe not a boat for everybody but it certainly deserves a spot in the VolksCruiser honors list.



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Another book that's not about sailing but all about sailing...

There are two non-boaty books I think everyone engaged in sailing/cruising should read...

Especially for those considering jumping into the craziness that is VolksCruising.

One "How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive" you already know about.

The other one is "Just Ride"...

It's sorta/kinda about bikes and bike riding but to be truthful it's more about cutting things back to what's important in a consumerist addicted and led world.

It's a good read.

If it helps, just substitute the word "Boat" for "Bike" as you read it and hey presto it's all about boats.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The posse mentality...

Have you noticed that Sail Magazine is now doing a rally so folks coming down the ICW won't be so lonely?

I suspect, that most folks of a VolksCruising bent, are not the sort who sign up and pay big bucks to do rallies.

Well...

Maybe if we had a stealth/flash-mob rally?

Nah, there's no money in a stealth rally. The fact of the matter is there is all kinds of money in and around rallies and it's really all about the money in spite of what some people will tell you.

Plus a lot of the reason for cruising for a lot of us is to have as little negative impact on the places we visit.

Jimmy Cornell was a very smart guy cruising who figured out a way to charge admission for something that actually existed already and, as such, the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) was born.

What the rally thing is for folks who have never experienced one is you go to someplace you'd be going to anyway, meet a bunch of like-minded folks doing what you're doing, make some friends, and head out to somewhere else you'd be going to anyway. Oh yeah, you also hemorrhage quite a bit of money in the process.

Which is pretty much exactly what you do if you cross the Atlantic with the ARC (or reasonable facsimile) and it's pretty much exactly what you do if you don't cross with the ARC (or reasonable facsimile). The only real difference is you pay quite a bit more to do it if you go the rally route.

The genius of the scam enterprise is Mr Cornell simply figured out how to sell tickets.

For me, the real problem with rallies is they distort the economies for anyone who travels in their wake. Rallies are filled with cash cows who are not shy about throwing silly money in all directions so anyone following the same route will find that people equate folks on boats with money signs.

Of course, it's not just about money as big groups have a greater impact on a lot of levels and most all of them negative... Which no matter how much you try and dress it up it's still some what counter to the minimal impact watchwords of "tread lightly".


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

but it's an in-between world...

We seem to live in a world of absolutes these days and, just between you and me, it drives me batshit crazy.

Take two words that come up a lot where sailing and cruising are concerned...

Easy                  Hard

Now, in the world I grew up in those were just two words on a scale but in today's no-middle-ground-at-all world it's become more of an either or case.

The other day someone asked me about rowing and told me as much as he'd like to row it was simply too much like work and was "hard" while on the other hand his 15HP outboard was easy.

I pointed out that, in point of fact, rowing was often easy, occasionally hard, and mostly somewhere between the two with a lean towards the easy.

Of course, this is not the sort of answer he wanted and double downed with since it's got to be either one or the other if it's sometimes hard then it is hard.

Obviously logic not being his strong suit.

The funny thing is I hear this sort of logic all the time in a myriad of boat and cruising discussions including what sort of boat someone should cruise in, which is the best anchor, or what toy is currently flavor of the month in consumer yachting circles and put into logic deprived absolutes of best/worst, new/old, easy/hard, and winner/loser sort of terms.

The upside of all this for us in the VolksCruising cheap seats is that costs come way down if we're willing to actually think past absolutes and, dare we say it, use our brains...

Looking at the West Marine site a 33-pound Rocna anchor (recently on a lot of peoples "best" lists) costs just shy of $360 while a 33-pound Bruce (on just about everybody's best list for a decade and a half) clone by Lewmar only costs $120 (though often on sale for less). Truth is, both anchors are good and the fact that the Bruce clone is lumped into the worst category because it is simply no longer in the best category means we can buy a pretty awesome anchor for a lot less.

The real tragedy is that most of the good/bad conversation about quality or usefulness is simply smoke, mirrors, hype, and truly awful logic.




Friday, April 18, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

the truth of the matter...

So, let's say you went out and bought an old cheap plastic boat, rehabbed it a bit, and are ready to cruise...

But you're a little worried about being some sort of pariah because your boat, while seashape and freshly painted, is not as expensive or hip as some of those other boats you'll come across in the anchorage.

Don't be...

Fact is, no one who matters really cares.

We've been on boats for a lot longer than I care to admit and I've yet to come across a situation where being in an old Columbia 34 or reasonable facsimile will make you a social pariah.

The rather small number of people who do care about such things are actually a lot more concerned with what people think about them and keeping up with the folks on the Swans and Oysters...


Monday, April 14, 2014

an older boat worth considering...

Someone wrote and asked me what I thought of an older Columbia 34 selling for cheap the other day...

It's not a bad boat at all.

Of course, being cheap with an asking price of less than $7K (around 62-cents a pound) makes it a whole lot more interesting as well.

Even if you needed to spend a month on the hard to replace some interior or a bulkhead, throw some new chainplates and rigging on, buy a couple of new sails and paint, it's still going to be a great bang for the buck.

From what I gather and judging from the fact that it's already been converted to using an outboard (that apparently works) with a well, has a Monitor selfsteering, and seems to have some excellent ground tackle, it's a very tempting project... Made even better by its shoal draft.

Doing a quick search of Craig's list, I see that there are actually quite a few Columbia 34's  (a couple of different models though) ranging from free (without a mast) to what appears to be a pretty much turnkey boat for $10K, So, $6500 might actually be a kiss high for the boat in question but it does show that the Columbia 34 is something of a must look at for aspiring VolksCruisers.

You could certainly do a lot worse.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Speed...

The recent quest for that ill-fated airliner over the last weeks should be something of a wake-up call for those who think speed is a goodly thing in a cruising boat,

To be more precise, a huge problem in the airliner search has been the plethora of debris viewable from satellite. There's so much of it they can't find the actual bits of airplane they're looking for amidst the clutter.

Maybe it's just me but junk floating around that you can see from space is junk I don't want to hit at speed if I can help it. I know for a fact that hitting an awash 55-gallon oil drum at 6 knots can ruin your whole week but hitting the same flotsam at say 15-knots just might leave you treading water faster than you can say...

"Honey, did you just hear something go bump?"

Personally I like going places at a leisurely pace and I find 5-7 knots a rather civilized speed for a cruising boat. Then, again, I'm not in any real hurry to be anywhere as I like the voyage as much or more than I like being at the place I'm heading towards.

I expect I should also come clean and say I actually loved the 55-MPH speed limit because I liked the idea of using a lot less fuel, enjoying the view while I did it, and having  a much smaller chance of becoming road kill/carnage on the highways of America.

For those of us of a VolksCruiserish bent, there is a real financial advantage to going at less than pedal-to-the-metal speeds because stuff lasts longer when it has less stress... Blocks don't break, sails tend not to blow out, and systems in general just keep on working. What's not to like?

Trust me, done right, cruising does not have to be speeding from one port where you had something repaired to the next place to get something fixed.

Plus, I do a lot better with less stress as well. I've never been a big fan of being in a hurry because it's stressful and too much stress makes me stupid. Do I really need to point out that stupid sailors make bad decisions?

Have you ever noticed how folks who vote republican always seem to be in a hurry?

The downside of longer passages is you need to carry a bit more water, provisions, and (if you're like me) a few more books to pass the time... None of which what I'd call a terrible disadvantage.



Friday, April 11, 2014

A question answered...

To answer an oft asked question about why I don't do more detailed critiques of boats.

I try not to be a critical kind of guy...

Given the opportunity I'm much happier to point out something interesting in a boat rather than nitpick its design flaws, issues, or failings.

That said, I have been known to go on and on about silly pricing and, I expect, will continue to do so.

The bottom line in the VolksCruising world is that most boats work. Admittedly some might work a bit better than others but providing that they happen to float right side up is a pretty good indicator that they'll get you where you want to go.

Back when I still drove, I used to drive between LA and NYC for film jobs on a pretty regular basis... It's a long drive. I've driven it in a Porsche, VWs, various pickups and an old Korean war vintage ambulance. Hell, there might even have been a Country Squire in there somewhere as well. The thing is they all got me safely where I wanted to go in a reasonable amount of comfort. Sure some were better at some things than others but I should also add that all also had their foibles as well... In hindsight they really were all just cars that got me where I needed to go and in that regard they did it equally well.

Much the same can be said of boats and comparing a Tahiti ketch derived sailboat, a sharpie, multihull, and whatever other sort of boat you care to add to the mix is that they all have advantages and disadvantages but when the dust settles they'll all get you where you want to go.

The biggest issue of getting on the water is not to find the perfect boat or making whatever boat you get perfect but simply to sort out what it takes to get out and actually do it.