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-Exup√©ry

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...