Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Boat value and other illusive truths...

Doing a search on Craig's List for a boat I didn't find I came across a 26-foot bilge-keeled Westerly (I'm pretty sure it's a Centaur) for $350 which, being an amazing price, seriously caught my attention... For anyone wanting to know the Westerly is in Annapolis.

I have no idea what sort of condition the boat is in but, at $350 it's a killer deal providing it is not underwater.

Of course, some will disagree with me and follow the "you get what you pay for" mindset and assume that a $350 boat could not possibly be worth salvaging and if you did it would cost a silly amount of money to put things right.

That said, there are any number of reasons a boat might be selling for so little that don't involve it being a bad boat...

I know if I happened to be in the vicinity I'd be visiting the boat with cash in hand as fast as my feet would carry me because great deals on boats only go to the fleet of foot.

Just saying.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Everywhere I look...

Just about everywhere I look there are opportunities to get afloat in good boats for not very much...


For instance, today over on Sailboat Listings there's an Alberg 35 project boat with an asking price of $900. While it needs a lot of sweat equity and some money/materials thrown at it, considering that the lead in the keel alone is worth about $5K, that spells a seriously good deal just about anyway you care to look at it.



Well, maybe I should say a good deal for someone who's smart and doesn't just throw money at a project...

Sorta/kinda on the same subject; you really should be watching the Sailing Uma series because they're fixing up a boat with minimal muss, fuss, and a lot of common sense. More importantly, they show just how even major project-killing repairs are really pretty simple and affordable if approached with the right (get out the grinder) attitude...


Definitely worth the time it takes to watch.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

about shallow draft...

Our CAL 34 has a draft of 4' 8" or thereabouts and a lot of folks might actually think of that as being "shoal draft"...

I don't.

Our last boat, Loose Moose 2, drew a kiss over one foot and the previous Loose Moose only drew one foot (as in 12 inches)...

So, from where I sit, I put real shoal draft as somewhere at three feet or less.

There's a lot to be said for having a real shoal draft boat... For one, providing it was designed by someone who knew what they were doing, it's as safe or safer than their non-shoal draft brethren.

Secondly, it allows you to sail in places that a lot of deeper draft boats find seriously problematic. Just for the record, I happen to find just about anything that lessens the number of problematic things in my life a goodly thing.

But the really wonderful thing for folks cruising on a budget is that it allows you to find spots to anchor or moor for free or cheap in or near places where it's problematic to find free or cheap anchorages or moorage. Throw in the fact that having a shoal draft boat (and some common sense) you can also avoid a lot of costs associated with haulouts and suchlike.

I won't even begin to get into the added bonus of regularly watching bareboats run aground as they try to anchor on top of you....

The downside of real shoal draft is very few production boats have it and, if you want it, you'll more than likely have to build it yourself.

Tad Roberts 28 foot Future Cruiser with eighteen inch draft

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A little needful reading for you...

Here's something you really, really need to read.

Really.

Oh yeah, here's a boat you might want to peruse by Gary Underwood...



But more about Shoehorn later.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

on the $1200 stainless steel pulpit thang...

The other day I was watching the "Maritime Lemonade Stand" which is a video series of a guy who plans to sail around the world and support himself selling lemonade...

It's entertaining. Seriously, the guy is funny and brings a whole new take to the dynamic and, as such, it's well worth watching.

It's also quite instructive in the how not to rehab an old boat so, by all means, watch it because it is funny but do try and ignore or learn from the whole throwing money at everything and spending $40K to fix up a boat that, even in pristine shape, should only cost about $15K.

Case in point; he spent $1200 or so to have a new pulpit built.

Very few boats actually need pulpits of any sort...

Well, unless you plan to harpoon swordfish on a regular basis...

My personal preference is to simply have the lifelines dead end at u-bolts on the deck at a 45 degree angle from the foremost stanchion. Works finestkind, strengthens the lifelines, and doesn't cost nearly anything.


Friday, December 11, 2015

a VolksCruiser...

All this talk about money and budget, while needful, is just a way to focus your attention on why a VolksCruiser has to have certain qualities to do its job. Getting you where you want to go, keeping you safe, and being a comfortable home in the process while not costing more than you can afford is no easy task. Some might even say an impossible one...

That said, I've never been real fond of the word i-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e...

Let's take a look at some needful attributes.

A VolksCruiser has to be seaworthy

Hardly a foreign concept where boats are concerned but you'd be surprised how many people equate seaworthiness with what you pay for stuff when they should be looking at the boat rather than the price tag.

A VolksCruiser needs to be big enough but not too big

It's a fact of life that a smaller boat is less expensive to buy, operate, and maintain which is important. Lots of people have circumnavigated quite comfortably/safely in small boats.

A VolksCruiser is simple

Simple, by its very nature, is dependable, affordable, and (since it's simple) should be fixable by a normal person. Sadly, simple is not a word you find very often around boats and marine gear these days, as simple is generally counterproductive to making profits which is something you need to keep in mind at all times.

A VolksCruiser has minimal less-than-needful parts

Actually that statement should really be applied to any cruising boat... If stuff does not earn its keep it really does not belong on any boat. Which does not mean you can't have stuff aboard that pays its way by making your life better (books and musical instruments spring to mind) but, needful stuff is needful and you really do know the difference.

So, here's the thing...

Simple really is simple. 

Of course, the human condition does like to complicate even the most simple things and, in today's climate of idiotic consumerism, it's akin to heresy to follow a path of simplicity, logic, and common sense. Which means you might piss some people off so don't be surprised with a few negative comments or irksome behaviour as it's just part of the gig. You can always take comfort in the fact that you, unlike some, don't happen to have your head up your ass...

More on VolksCruiser design and shoal draft soonish.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Something to aspire to in the budget department...

So yeah, about that two pennies a mile maintenance/operating costs...

Let's say you're a person of VolksCruiserish leaning and you want to sail around the world on a budget of, shall we say $750 a month of which $200 is set aside for maintenance/operating costs which, from my experience, is a reasonable amount providing you do your own work and don't have any budgetary black holes on your boat.

Since we're conjuring this all up we'll also say you do your circumnavigation in five-years and you actually sail around 30,000 miles in the process.

That gives us something like 40 cents a mile and, since I'm not exactly known as an overly optimistic person, I'd round that up to a half dollar a mile. Which is less than most would consider prudent but a lot more than I'd like to spend...

So, the question is, how do we get that number down to a more manageable level?

Time to put on your cunning plan hat.



Saturday, December 5, 2015

In which we pay homage to a big influence...

Maybe you're old enough to remember this...




Then again, maybe not.

That said, it is worth watching if only to focus your mind on the importance of vehicle choice where budgetary concerns are an important part of the mix. The VW was all about being able to drive on a sustainably small budget... It didn't cost a lot, didn't use much fuel, was easy to maintain, and got you where you wanted to go in a reliable manner.

Boat designers and builders could learn a whole lot from checking out old VW print and video ads on a lot of levels... Since I don't expect them to anytime soon, if you want a sustainable budget cruising sailboat you're just going to have to sort it out yourself and, hopefully just maybe, we'll be able to lend a hand from time to time and help you join the ranks of the two-pennies-a-mile cruising club.



Friday, December 4, 2015

On how three-months do not a budget make...

This morning a reader sent me a link to a website he said proves that the $500 a month budget is impossible. It's actually a pretty good blog so you might actually want to check it out and bookmark it.

Anyway, the short story is that in their first few months of cruising they've spent more than they cared to (an average of $2930.33) but they're aware their spending is more than they'd like and are putting the brakes on. Which, considering they have a reasonable sized boat (31-feet), should not be all that problematic as long as they can get out of "vacation-mode".

The thing about budgets is that they work on averaging and in the fullness of time things do average out. Everybody spends money like a drunken sailor their first year of cruising, it's just a normal part of the learning process. It takes time to sort out just what works for you, find that groove where you have all your shit in order, and your need/want radar is fully operational.

I'd say the folks on SV Smitty are way ahead of the curve and, I expect, that a year from now their budget will reflect something they are a lot more comfortable with.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Spelling out the important stuff and more about the $500-a-month cruising budget...

The joys of a full mailbox! Apparently the $500 a month cruising budget really gets folks all kind of excited....

So, here's the thing whether you have a CAL 20, a Catalina 36, or insert whatever your VolksCruiser of choice happens to be, cruising on $500 a month in a sustainable fashion is going to be really problematic and beyond most people's abilities.

The question is, why are we bothering to talk about a $500 a month budget anyway?

Well, for one, $500 is a nice round number that people can get their head around, secondly since I first started cruising back in the 1970's (jeez that just made me feel ancient) there has always been the perennial question of whether you can cruise on $500 a month topic/argument buzzing away in the background, and lastly, because people still keep asking whether or not they can cruise on $500 a month or not so it's a good place to start...

Oh yeah, I also admit to the fact that the very idea of a $500 a month cruising budget really, really makes a certain kind of person foam at the mouth and just generally messes with their head so I sorta/kinda enjoy the resulting carnage. Call it a guilty pleasure.

The other thing we need to talk about is the difference between living aboard a boat and cruising aboard a boat. You can be a cheapseats live aboard or a cheapseats cruiser but the two are poles apart and completely different animals. For instance, one email in my box this morning complained that the $500 budget was impossible because, where he lives (on a boat I surmise), he regularly spends more than $300 a month on car related expenses (gas/parking/insurance/etc) which is not the sort of expense issues a cruiser has to deal with at all.

Cruising on any budget is generally based on a nomadic mindset following the path of least resistance and advantage. Let me repeat that...

a nomadic mindset following the path of least resistance and advantage

As a rule we tend to prefer to sail to locations that are in a favorable direction (wind and tide being our friend), have a favorable climate (no heating bills!), and, most of us, more often than not, to places where our money goes further. For a cheapseats cruiser, the nomadic mindset needs to be highly attuned to the level of a Jedi Master but they're not really doing anything all that different than other cruisers. Maybe just a bit more intense on the details because they can't afford to slip over to the dark side of unsustainable spending.

Which is why we're talking budgets and as the $500 a month budget is so difficult to attain in a sustainable manner it is also a great teaching tool to see where the money goes and why...

More soon come about how the VolksCruiser factors in to the mix.




Saturday, November 28, 2015

Talking cheap seats...

Not too long ago a friend mentioned that they could do a $500-a-month budget but chose not to because they can afford to spend more and they desire a certain level of comfort...

Different courses for horses and all that but I'll quibble with a portion of that statement because, no matter how creatively I crunch the numbers, I can't really see how they could live on a $500-a-month budget simply because they have the wrong boat at 42-feet. The size of the boat is a huge factor in being able to sustain a frugal budget.

In my experience, most people have to haul out every two or three years and it's a good example to compare costs...

Last time I looked, Independent Boat Yard in St Thomas charges $14.25 per foot to haul/launch and $1.85 a foot for lay days.

So, with a 42-foot boat that works out to $598.50 H/L and $77.70 per lay day and, for sake of argument let's say you'll be on the hard for two weeks. That comes to a minimum of $1686.30 ($1087.80 + $598.50) plus all the hidden costs (like chocking/electricity/water/showers) they never quite tell you about till it's time to splash.

How about a 34-foot boat? That's $484.50 for haul/launch and $62.90 per lay day so a two-week haul would be around $1365.10 ($484.50 + $880.60).

A 30-foot boat?  With haul/launch at $427.50 and $55.50 per lay day that comes to $1204.50 ($427.50 + $777).

At this point I don't think I have to point out that hauling your boat is an expensive affair no matter what size boat you have...

But, the reason you're hauling out is to put paint on your bottom and good antifouling paint is not cheap. Depending on how lavish you are with the paint you're more than likely spending at least $175 a gallon. My 34-foot boat uses 2 gallons of paint for three good coats. Which adds another $350 to my bill plus expendables (rollers/sandpaper/etc). I'd expect a 42-foot boat would be at least four or more gallons while the 30-footer might be able to get by with just one gallon.

It all adds up...

So, what does that do to the budget? Based on a three year interval between haulouts let's just say the 42-foot boat spends $2500 on their haul out and paint so that works out to about $69.45 a month in their budget just for the antifouling portion of their haulout and we haven't even begun to factor in engine work, rigging jobs, topsides paint touch ups and all of the other things we tend to do in the mayhem that coincides with hauling the boat out of the water and "doing some work"...

Sadly, it's not much better for a 34-foot boat either as that works out to $47.65 a month in bottom paint related maintenance costs which is why I can't survive on the $500-a-month budget either without jumping through some serious hoopage and resorting to some very (dare I say it) cunning plans.

Meanwhile the guy on the 30-foot (or smaller) boat is pretty much in the $500-a-month comfort zone but more about that soonish...

Monday, November 23, 2015

An interesting boat...

Offhand I'm not really a fan of Catalinas...

That said, there's a Catalina 30 for sale here for not very much so I took a look at the sail plan and accommodation layout and it's really not a bad boat.

A rather nice boat actually...

Being somewhat beamy (just a kiss under 11-foot) it has much better accommodation than you'd expect from a 30-footer and a very livable interior. This is a good example of a very big little boat if you know what I mean.

From what I gather the boat sails well and it's an active class so you'd hear any issues in terms of performance or construction and no one seem to find fault... A good sign.

As far as construction goes there are some built in issues but no biggie and it's important to keep in mind that ALL BOATS HAVE ISSUES and it is fairly simple these days to find out what they are by checking out the boat's user group. In the case of the C30 the only things that jumps out is thru-hulls.

Doing a quick price check in the usual places the going asking price for an older C30 in good shape is around $10K (+/- 20%). Definitely VolkCruiser material.

It would be to your benefit to keep in mind that with good examples of the C30 being not very expensive that means fixer-uppers should only be considered if they are seriously rock bottom cheap.

You can find a lot more info on the design at the Catalina 30 page which you might want to check out..

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Boatfolk of modest means...

Since we're ramping up to T-Day and the world continues to continue to do a very good imitation of a rocket propelled turbo-charged wicker basket hurtling towards hell I'd just like to say this...

It's a great time to be a a member of the boatfolk tribe of modest means!

Sure, things tend to be expensive if you, excuse the pun, buy in to the current consumerist kool-aid on offer but, if step back apace and look at the bigger picture, it's way better than most folks can imagine...

A few weeks back I picked up and dusted off Lin and Larry's "Cruising in Seraffyn" (you can get a used copy on Amazon for a penny) and re-reading was both enjoyable and eye-opening. So much so I immediately dived into "Seraffyn's European Adventure" (a used copy will set you back less than a dollar), and, I expect, I'll be re-reading "Seraffyn's Mediterranean Adventure" later this week as well and will, more than likely, have rolled through the entire series by New Years... What can I say they're enjoyable and still have a lot to teach me.

You'd pretty much have to live under a rock not to realize that while L&L have a lot of fans they also have a lot of quite vocal detractors (most of which I doubt have actually read their books) who seem to be quite threatened by their blasphemous ideas and, even worse, their  impressive level of seamanship.

But, I sorta/kinda digress...

The thing is, small (under 38-feet) seaworthy boats have never been more affordable to folks of modest means, the tools/skills are easily accessible, and the needful things to outfit are currently selling for pennies on the dollar. Even better is that the condions will continue because the marine industry, while greedy and tunnel-visioned, can't really see us and as a result we're not even on their radar and that alone is a lot to be thankful for...

So, 2016 sure looks like a good year to just go off and sail away.

Just saying.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Simple...

Not too very long ago, someone wrote in to tell me that my thoughts on boats concerning the whole idea of a VolkCruiser mindset were simple and I'm pretty sure he did not mean it in a positive sense.

It got me thinking...

... About how when I was in school taking design classes that the highest praise one teacher could bestow to a design idea was that it was simple. On the other hand, the word you never wanted to hear from him in describing your project was that it was complicated.

Where boats are concerned simple makes all kinds of sense...

Simple almost always works, it does not take a rocket scientist to fix it if something goes wrong, and since it's s-i-m-p-l-e it does not cost silly expensive money.

Now take the word complicated and try and find a positive outcome when you throw it into a nautical situation of any sort... I mean do you really want to hear the word "complicated" used in a sentence from the rigger or mechanic you just hired to look at your rigging or engine?

That said, with simple systems you don't have to hire riggers or mechanics because you can fix them yourselves!

Simple is a good word and simple boats with simple systems make sense.

So yeah, a lot of my thoughts are simple and my current goal is to simplify them even more while dispensing with as much complication as possible. Or to put it in simple nautical terms everyone should understand...

 Get into serious cruising mode.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

a possible project...

Way back when I first started talking to Phil Bolger about possibly building a Loose Moose 2 he sent me a couple of cartoons (his description of a quick sketch to illustrate a point)...

One was his breakdown schooner...




The other was a design he was playing with for the guy who'd built the first Bolger Micro...



At the time I was somewhat attracted to the Breakdown schooner but not-so-much enthralled with Phil's balance lug/leg-of-mutton ketch but I do remember clearly thinking that I quite liked the deck area and would have plenty of room to build the odd dinghy or surfboard if I felt the need. Of course, the lack of headroom was an issue but I've since learned that headroom is seldom a real positive factor in its own right and that a well designed interior with headroom only where needed makes a lot of sense.

Both designs featured water ballast and a beam of eight-feet as they were intended as maximum trailer sailers which makes all kinds of sense if you wanted a boat to pull behind a car or truck. That said, a beam of eight feet in a sharpie makes a lot of sense and since standard plywood is 4' X 8' it tends to make some sense as well where construction costs are concerned minimizing waste.

Hindsight being, as they say, 20/20, I'm pretty sure I missed just how much potential the ketch had and the last couple of weeks I seem to keep coming back to this cartoon and asking myself just what I'd change to make it a workable cruising boat.

More about that soonish...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A boat project you may want to follow...

Annie Hill (yes that Annie Hill) is currently building a junk rig boat and documenting it, more or less, over on the Junk Rig Association forum.The most recent Junk Rig Association magazine also has a good article on the subject.

Interesting stuff...

Offhand, seems like a good time to join the Junk Rig Association.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

For those readers who complain about the cost of boats...

Here's a 1969 Columbia 28...


As it happens it's for sale over on Sailboat Listings and the asking price is all of $800 that's EIGHT-HUNDRED-DOLLARS.

Really.

Looking at the ad it would seem it needs an outboard and maybe some sails. While it appears to be clean and in good shape one expects some sweat equity as well as some money will be needed to put it into cruising trim. That said more than likely a lot less than you'd expect providing you keep the need/want mantra in play...

Eight hundred dollars and lets say another thousand or two and you have a cruising boat/home...

Need I say more except that good deals go fast?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Some questions...

Over a long period of time I've been troubled about some "truths" a lot of folks take as gospel...

Like this one.

"Boats break. A lot."
 
A phrase found a few times over at The Retirement Project (a blog you might want to check out from time to time) which I find somewhat problematic. Not because it is incorrect (boats and boat stuff do indeed break) but because folks mostly accept this as the way things are without questioning it. What we should be saying is...
 
Why do boats (and boat stuff) break? A lot.
 
Even more importantly maybe we should be asking..
 
Why the hell are we putting up with this sorry state of affairs?
 
Think about that for a bit...

 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Some basic economics...

So, about that Westsail 32 project question...
  1. Buy the $50K boat and sail off into the sunset.
  2. Buy the $30K boat do the needful TLC and sail off into the sunset.
  3. Buy the $30K boat do a major refit to the tune of a few years and $66K and sail off into the sunset.
  4. Buy a cheap fixer-upper W32, fix what's needful and sail off into the sunset for around $25K.
  5. Look at boats that are cheaper with the same qualities of the W32 and sail off into the sunset with a lot more cash in your cruising kitty.
From where I sit the obvious answers are 1, 4, and 5. The first option for those with money buying a ready to go boat makes sense. Options 4 & 5 (as well as 2) makes sense for those with more time than money. Me being cheap and one who enjoys working on boats you already know I'd be all over the cheapest seats option.

That said, what about the third option? What the hell kind of sense does that make?

Well, none actually...

The thing is, I read a lot of blogs of people fixing up sailboats to go cruising because I like to see how others tackle problems and I learn quite a bit as a result because education is a continuing process (or should be). In doing so I've encountered an alarming trend of boat projects as a consumerists wet dream with the out of control Westsail third option project is just such a beast.

All boat projects are going to cost money and, more than likely, a bit more than we would prefer... It's a given. On the other hand, if you're going to build a shrine to the consumerist faith it's a whole different ball game.

Boats are a commodity and while the prices of used/new boats fluctuate, most boats actually do have a perceived value. Using the Westsail 32 as an example, my maximum valuation of a well equipped W32 in near perfect/pristine condition is somewhere close to $50K. With that number in mind we can do some simple math and figure out what we should be spending on our boat project...

Let's say you're thinking of buying a W32 for $30K just how much money should you budget for the refit? Since a boat that doesn't need work and is as near perfect as a boat can be costs $50K it's a pretty easy equation...

50 - 30 = 20

So that's a maximum budget of $20K wasn't that simple? Truth of the matter is, done right, you should actually be able to do it for a lot less.

While we're doing math, let's look at how that third option W32 looks...

50 - (30 + 66) = -46

Sure looks like someone spent $46K too much somewhere. Sadly this is such a common thing in most folks fixing up a boat experience, it's become very close to the norm.

Next up we'll be talking about how to tell the difference between needful, less than needful, and just plain stupid expenditures where rehabbing a boat is concerned...


Friday, September 11, 2015

Pithy, important, and no real boat content at all...

Here's an enlightening article that should help you understand the how/why of the consumerism/fashion affect on the cruising world...

More on that Westsail 32 tomorrow.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A quick question...

Let's say you want to buy a Westsail 32...

Let's say you study the market and see that you can buy a pretty exceptional turnkey example of the design for $50K and a mostly turnkey example fo $30K that might need a bit (around $5K or so) of TLC.

So, what do you do?
  1. Buy the $50K boat and sail off into the sunset.
  2. Buy the $30K boat do the needful TLC and sail off into the sunset.
  3. Buy the $30K boat do a major refit to the tune of a few years and $66K and sail off into the sunset.
  4. Buy a cheap fixer-upper W32 fix what's needful and sail off into the sunset for around $25K.
  5. Look at boats that are cheaper with the same qualities of the W32 and sail off into the sunset with a lot more cash in your cruising kitty.
 Think about your answer while you're having an awesome Labor Day...


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Just a quick thought...

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the process of simplification and why so many of us seem to have so much difficulty with the process...

It really should be simple, shouldn't it?

As it happens, Mariah of Comet Camper Blog fame/infamy actually teaches a class from time to time on the nuts and bolts of how to downsize and simplify your life so you can be a happy camper in your tiny house, camper, or other small living space not unlike a boat. From what I hear it is a very good class and well worth taking. From where I sit most of the really good living on a boat advice I've come across on the web in the last year or so has come from the Comet Camper Blog so you might want to bookmark it and give it a read on a regular basis... She does make a heck of a lot of sense.

On the other hand, if you wanted to take a class to learn about how to cruise and live on a boat you'd find that you'd actually be taking a class not so much about simplification or downsizing but mostly about buying stuff...

Expensive stuff as it happens. Lots of expensive stuff.

Just the other day I read an article that used words like simplify, downsize, and make do with less, but the real subject seemed to be more about making room for a new bigger watermaker, an interior makeover, and a proper SSB/Ham radio installation which is hardly downsizing or simplifyiny but all about making things less simple and spending money.

So...

Maybe it's more than time that we look a lot more closely about the words we actually use...
SIMPLIFY :  to make simple or simpler: as
a)  to reduce to basic essentials
b)  to diminish in scope or complexity :  streamline (was urged to simplify management procedures)
c)  to make more intelligible :  clarify 

Not exactly rocket science is it?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why an old plastic boat makes sense...

The other day while I was comparing various "classic plastic" designs I had a bit of a eureka moment...

Most of these boats are built like frelling tanks!

In the various boats I was looking at, almost none of the interior structure was actually... well, the best word to describe it, would be, structural. Or, in other words, 97% of the interior is just furniture. Think about that for a moment.

Having worked on quite a few classic plastic boats over the years, I was actually aware of this situation on a practical level but had never really thought about it past the point of "Sure you can pull out and replace that bulkhead without worrying about the boat taking on the shape of a banana in the process".

Of course, these days folks build boats differently because it's cheaper to make boats in a monocoque structure with all of the interior parts sharing the load. Which I'm not knocking in theory and I strongly believe that a monocoque structure is the only way to go when constructing a boat but, with that being said, you can take it too far... Something you'll understand in a hurry when you go to replace a galley in a modern boat afloat and once you've removed a cabinet find the hull oil-canning inward once the support of said cabinet is no longer in place.

Now, our CAL 34 is a good example of a boat where the interior structure in the boat is doing pretty much zip in support of the hull and deck and, providing the mast/rig is not up, you can pretty much rip out the interior to your hearts content while afloat and the hull will remain the shape Bill Lapworth intended throughout the process.

But, back to that eureka moment...

When you replace the interior it makes all kinds of sense to rebuild as a monocoque structure because it won't cost anymore to speak of (a 6" roll of biaxial tape and a gallon-and-a-half of epoxy would be the added outlay), it will make an already strong structure a whole frelling lot stronger and, dare I say it, a whole helluva lot stronger than pretty much anything you'll find on the new market today.

Of course, while you're doing the monocoque presto-chango there's nothing that says you can't fine tune the interior to better suit your personal needs while you're at it.

Or, in other words...

Old boats truly rock...


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Some needful reading...

Over at Comet Camper there's a must read on the subject of your 5/10/15 year plan you should check out.

Really...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

a whole lot of bang for the buck...

I may have mentioned before how much I like Phil Bolger's Jessie Cooper design. If you are looking for a VolksCruising design that gives you maximum bang for minimum bucks that is buildable in a short time frame, you'd have a difficult time finding better...

That said, it's not exactly an easy boat for most people to understand being just that bit further out of the box design-wise, so there is a WTF or two for anyone checking it out.


For instance, both the mainmast and mizzen are off center, there's only one dagger board (off center as well), and the boat only draws a foot. To say those attributes drive some people batshit crazy is something of an understatement.

The fact is, we built our Jessie Cooper for a special short term purpose. We had no thoughts of keeping it long term so we built it as a temporary boat. I'll be the first to admit that I was as surprised as anyone when it turned out to sail incredibly well and, as a result, made me rethink everything I took as gospel where boat design is concerned.


Those off-center masts were non-problematic; never causing us to sail in circles as some opinionated dockwalkers said they would and, more to the point, they were actually advantageous in making a small boat's interior much bigger than it had any right to be. The lug rig (also something that made some people froth at the mouth) was powerful and although the sail on the mast on the bad tack distorted the sail shape, the difference in drive between the good/bad tack was not enough to actually measure a positive or negative difference in drive or tack angle to windward.

Pretty much the same could be said for the off-center daggerboard... While I'm sure there was a tiny difference to windward and, just possibly a kiss more leeward drift on one tack, I  never actually found it problematic enough to be able to measure said difference. I've come to believe that a dozen or so square inches of lateral resistance is well within the mind's subconscious ability to self-correct as you trim sails and steer your course to the point that it really is a no-brainer.

As far as the one foot draft goes, once you've experienced the varied joys of real shoal draft cruising you'll never want to go back to anything else.

Some more on what I'd change if I were to build a Jessie Cooper with the addition of some hindsight soonish...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

All you have to do is look...

A couple of weeks ago someone wrote and told me he'd looked for a possible VolksCruiserish boat and there was just nothing around...

Fact is, everyday I scan Sailboatlistings.com, my local Craigslist, and keep my ear open to the coconut telegraph. It's not hard  and only takes a few minutes but there are always a boat are two going for cheap that only need an investment of a little money and a significant amount of sweat equity that would be up to the task of taking you wherever you cared to go.

How about a Dufour 27?


There's one on SailboatListings.com with an asking price of $999.

That's just a kiss over seventeen cents a pound!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A little insanity...

Looking at some boat ads this morning I found this bit of craziness...

$28,000 its a steal at this price; spent 62,000 on it

Refering to a 35 year old Hunter 37 for sale.

The thing is, I see people pouring copious amounts of money into boats in ways that don't make any kind of sense at all. Why on earth would you spend $62K on a boat that, at best, is only worth between $15-$20K?

Which, sorta/kinda, brings up the Endeavour project...

You could easily pour $60K into the boat... A new rig and sails could easily cost a third of that, so would a new engine by the time the dust settled and, as long as we're throwing money around like the proverbial drunken sailor, I'm sure someone will point out that an AwlGrip job would not go amiss...

What little that remains from the $60K might be enough to buy your nextgen anchor of choice but maybe not.

The thing is you'd still have a boat worth maybe $25K at most...

Do the math.

So, why rehab a semi-derlict boneyard Endeavour 32 anyway?

Well, on one hand it's to prove it can be done on a sane budget. On the other, it does happen to be a great teaching aid in the How-To of it, and lastly, I simply like working on boats so I find the process enjoyable.

That said, I'm still not sure it is a doable project and I'm still doing the math...

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Slow going on the Endeavour front...

I've been waiting on a quote for a forty-foot section of mast extrusion for the Endeavour but, as expected the rigging company who happens to be the purveyor of said extrusion...

Boy do I hate dealing with some marine businesses.

It's not that I can't live with slow and inept but do admit to a certain exasperation with just plain rude and nasty.

Really, how hard is it to answer two questions of whether or not they have forty-feet in stock and, if they do, what it costs per foot.

That said, the cost of mast extrusions and the needful bits to make up a mast being what they are these days the only really affordable way to go is to either find an acceptable used mast or to build your own.

Though it really would be nice to have the quote on a new mast for comparitive purposes...

I'm not going to hold my breath in the meantime.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A potential VolksCruiser project...

So, there's this dismasted Endeavour 32 with a dead engine that's sorta/kinda for sale here that would make a good candidate to turn into a VolksCruiser...

It's a Ted Irwin design which, before Endeavour bought the molds, was called the Irwin 32. All in all not a bad design.

Of course, the problem with any boat without a rig or working engine has very little value other than the sum of its parts which in this case pretty much amounts to the current street price of the 5000 pounds of lead encapsulated within its keel.

Doing a quick price check of Endeavour 32s for sale I come up with a pretty wide range of asking prices for boats in decent shape that ranges from $4.7K to $28K putting the average price somewhere in the 14K zone. Which says to me that while not a bad boat it is certainly not real popular and you should be able to find a good cheap one fairly easily... Definitely a good candidate for a couple looking for a cheap boat to go cruising on.

That said, it also means that fixing up a dismasted/engineless example would be stupid unless the boat was VERY cheap and you'd need to sort out the rig and propulsion systems on a very short shoestring budget...

As it happens you might say I have a cunning plan or two that might make that possible. But, more about that later...



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Some needful reading...

Phil Bolger once told me when I asked him to design Loose Moose 2 that he was currently swamped with design work and, at best, it would take him at least a couple of years to find a hole in his schedule big enough to design it. He then added that, as I knew what I wanted, had a lot of experience with boat building, I could read, and had basic common sense, there was no reason I could not design it myself...

In hindsight he was right but at the time I took the consensus view that the design of sailboats was more akin to some arcane lore I could never really master. So I went to another designer to design the boat which I was never happy with so never built. Luckily, Phil found a hole in his schedule and designed LM2 for us... Anyway, I mention all this simply because Phil really nailed it when he pointed out that reading is a needful skill in the design of sailboats because everything you need to know is accessible in books.

Like this one...



Which is a reference book that you really should have right alongside this one...



Nestled up next to this one...


And, of course, can't forget this one...


There are lots of others but those certainly cover most of what you need for starters.




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

a quick observation...

Boat design and boatbuilding are not exactly rocket science...


Rocket Crash by sonicbomb

And, just maybe, that is no bad thing.

That said, it would be a very good thing to do your homework on the subject of boat design and the practicalities of putting a boat together before you embark on any major boatbuilding or boat modification/rehab. Really, there are a lot of good books on the subject and the time it costs you to read and digest them will pay off in many ways and most importantly helping you avoid having a boat that does not float right side up.

On the other hand, if you're crazy and not very bright you can do what a lot of folks do and go the internet forum route which will be counterproductive in terms of  building or fixing your boat but it will be highly entertaining to folks like me who enjoy a great clusterfuck as long as it's somebody else flailing around making a fool of themselves... Just saying.

More about those books you should be reading tomorrow...

Monday, July 13, 2015

So, a quick note about boat plans...

Here's something important to keep in mind...

Boat plans are not a sacred text and you can change them as much as you like as long as you realize that if your changes/modifications/cunning plans result in a clusterfuck of a boat it's all your fault.

With me so far?

Here's something else you need to know about what a designers job is all about...

A designer of boats job description does not include teaching you how to build a boat, babysit you through the process, and do your thinking for you.

In the next few posts I'll be talking about building and possibly changing a particular plan which just may fall into what some people consider heretical territory. Folks with a delicate and orthodox nature just may want to skip the next couple of weeks or so...

More soonish...

Monday, July 6, 2015

What's coming up and something SHINY...

For starters there will be several more posts on the Laura Cove 28 as well as a couple other boats I'll be comparing it to and, just maybe, something out in left field as far as VolksCruisers go.

In the meantime I need to look at and do some research on an idea that seemed to pop into my head while I was reading the new issue of "Good Old Boat" but it most certainly falls into "I have a cunning plan" territory.

More soon come.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Stuff...

The hardest part of the whole VolksCruising gig is not about storms at sea, pirates, dealing with bureaucrats in exotic locales, or the problems presented by living on a minuscule budget...

Nope, those things you can deal with. Problematic maybe, but the really big problem we all have to deal with is the stuff thang.

Seriously the more-than-problematic nature of finding a place for stuff on a finite platform/space called a sailboat is the big problem that never goes away...

For instance, one of the things I have to factor in for the next boat is where the electric hookah compressor related hoses/regulators/ancillary gear (like float bags) is going to be accessibly stowed along with the 2000W four-stroke generator that powers it. Talk about problematic.

Of course, with a hookah rig aboard, you're just bound to come across stuff you'll want or need to transport to a place where there's a good nautical flea market which just might be a thousand miles away... But then what are you going to do with the big stainless plow anchor, that 30kg Bruce, and the half-dozen milk crates of nautical bric-a-brac bottom plunder?

Then there's the tools and needful materials problem... They all take up room and when I look at a boat design, more often than not, I'm looking at stowage space and wondering where I can store 10 gallons of epoxy/related fillers, a lot of fiberglass tape/cloth, a partial roll of Sunbrella, enough sailcloth to build that new sail I need, misc pieces of stainless/aluminum/plywood/lumber as well as paint/varnish/goop and a few spools of rope and Dynex for rigging jobs.

I could go on and I have not even got around to guitars but I'm pretty sure you catch the drift.

The thing is that all of those items I mentioned actually earn their keep and for a person cruising on a budget multiple income streams make sense but the stuff that fuels multiple income streams tend to take up space but it's space that pays for itself in a lot of needful ways...

Maybe it's time to rethink just what sort of boat a volkscruiser needs to be...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

More on the Laura Cove thought process...

So, we we're still talking about the Laura Cove 28...

What's to like?
  1. It's got a very roomy interior and a lot of storage area for its size.
  2. It would be both simple and quick to build.
  3. It would not cost an arm and a leg in the process.
  4. The lug rig is simple, powerful and cheap.
  5. It's towable.
  6. It has real shoal draft.
What's not to like?
  1. It's still a 28-foot boat and, while bigger than one might expect, packing in long range cruising gear, provisions, and the tools needed to make a living will be problematic.
  2. It has a really small cockpit.
  3. Like just about every other boat designed in the last twenty years or so, no real provisions or cunning plans to make all of the needful stuff (solar panels/wind generators/gas generator/self steering/dive gear/misc stuff that winds up on deck as a clutterfuck) integral to the mix.
 Think about all that for a bit.



Next up will get into the nitty gritty...

Monday, June 22, 2015

What I'm thinking about...

One problem with sailboats used for cruising is they're all pretty much designed for weekend and vacation use rather than serious cruising. Which, when you think of it, makes all kinds of sense because that's how 95% of people who buy boats will use them.

Of course, for the 5% that are going to use sailboats for extended cruising and suchlike we sorta/kinda have some problems...

One of the reasons so many people cruise in bigger than needful boats is the simple fact that what passes for a normal sailboat design ignores good stowage and weight distribution in favor of more berths and and wasted space. That said, moving up to a bigger and more expensive boat to get more stowage is still somewhat problematic as bigger comes with a lot of wasted space. as a big part of the mix.

Which, I suppose, brings us right back around to the whole need/want thing.

One design, by Tad Roberts, I've seriously been considering building is his Laura Cove 28 because it covers most of the stuff on my need list...


It's already pretty close to what I want...

But more about that later...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A couple of links you'll want to check out...

Geared towards tiny house folk the post "Building Your Nest Egg" makes all kinds of sense for VolksCruiser and wannabe VolksCruisers.

Dave Z, over on Triloboats, covers the same ground on the boat side.

You're still here?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

There is no one right boat...

I'll repeat that.

There is no one right boat.

I mention this because, on a pretty regular basis, people tend to ask me which boat is the right one for them and they always seemed a bit disgruntled when I tell them that pretty much anything that floats right side up that they can afford will more than likely work just fine.

Of course, there are a lot of people who need to sell you on the concept of the one right boat because they want to sell you something which, in most cases, is a boat that's not right for you at all but that's just the way the whole consumerism gig works.

You really need to keep that in mind...

The thing about most fiberglass boats built in the last thirty years or so is that they mostly were built pretty well. Just the fact that so many of them have survived this long and are still going strong is all the evidence you need.

The current manic obsession with having the "best" is simply the same old same "keeping up with the Joneses" on steroids as it is no longer about keeping up but "surpassing/crushing/humiliating the Joneses".

Not really a pretty picture at all.

It's really all just about the need and the want. You need a boat to take you where you want to go in a safe and comfortable fashion and that's doable with a fairly large variety of boats that are affordable to most. There are lots and lots of good boats sitting neglected and forlorn just waiting to take you wherever you want to go and, though it might surprise you, no one really cares what sort of boat you come into an anchorage with.

Then again, if your need is all about impressing people because you have deep seated insecurity issues and a poor self image then, just maybe, the boating life is just not for you...



Saturday, June 6, 2015

Creative finance...

Yesterday, Dmitri Orlov (whose blog and books you really should be reading) asked for some help in replacing the engine in his boat. It got me thinking...

There are many ways to raise the needful cash to get a boat and go cruising other than the standard one of being born to a well-off family or winning the lottery. The obvious one is getting a job and saving but in these dire economic times it's not nearly as easy as it once was and for a lot of folks that means getting creative.

One tried and true method of getting a good cruising boat is buying a near derelict boat doing the bare minimum fix, cleaning it up, and selling it... A few weeks ago I noticed an Albin Vega in heinous shape going for cheap and just the other day the same boat popped up again on the market for a couple thousand dollars more having been cleaned up and the trash removed. The math is pretty easy buy a cheap but structurally sound boat for $950, spend a couple of days cleaning the boat up then relist it for $3K as a fixer-upper. Being that a clean uncluttered boat sells way better than a cluttered with junk mold factory and, providing the boat is actually the sort someone might actually want, it pretty much works every time.

Then there's the old "find a good boat that needs fixing and fix it" approach... In a recent post I asked the question whether or not I should buy a dilapidated Shannon 28 partly because I need a boat to use as a crash test dummy, poster boy, and to prove some of my ideas/theories about rehabbing a boat on a budget and partly because I did some quick math and a $2600 boat that needs some arduous but simple TLC that in good shape would go for $40K tells me that I could pretty easily sell it off when finished for enough profit to subsidize a couple of years cruising. That said, this sort of project only works when you have a good sense of what stuff costs to fix up, how much time is needed, what boats will actually sell for, and you leave the rose coloured glasses off when you do your math.

Both of the foregoing methods work and are a really good way to acquire the needful skills to better rehab your own boat when you come across it. Like the old adage says...

"Build your first boat for your worst enemy, your second for a friend, and the third for yourself".

Some folks think you can finance their cruising dreams on the web and by blogging but, in my experience I think you'd have a much better chance doing the Powerball lottery. BoatBits and VolksCruiser get fairly good traffic but the odd affiliate sales they produce have yet to pay for the cost of the coffee I drink while I'm writing them. Not saying it can't be done but I've yet to see anyone manage it unless they went to some sort of paywall system and that's just too tacky for me to be able to deal with.

There are any number of ways to make a comfortable living cruising but they mostly revolve around sellable skills, crafty merchandising/trading, and small scale manufacturing.

Then there's writing... Obviously it works for some and I'm sure there is a huge amount of info on the subjct you might find helpful if that's your chosen path.

Which, sorta/kinda brings us back to Dmitri asking us to finance a new engine for his boat...

The way I see it (as well as the way Dmitri explains it) is that Dmitri Orlov in his blog produces a great amount of important good reading that is available for free and that money spent towards said engine will allow him to write more rather than less so you'd just be investing in stuff you'll be reading down the line. It's a good point and he's right. 

Of course, Mr Orlov could put up a paywall and raise money that way or write less and get a paying job doing something or other and, I suspect a lot of people might think that's the better way to go.

As for what I think... Well, I'm going to send Dimitri a bit of money and invest in my future reading material.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A quick thought about a couple of extra knots...

Tad Roberts has a new design in the works which, I expect, I'll be telling you a lot more about in the next week or so, but for the moment, I'd just like to point out something important about it and boats in general...

Speed: 6.5 knots with 15HP outboard, 9 knots with 40HP

A little extra speed's expensive, isn't it?

Not only is the cost of a 40HP outboard a lot more expensive than a 15HP outboard, it's going to use a whole lot more fuel in the process and its upkeep will be costlier as well.

Of course, everyone wants to go just that little bit faster... Don't they?

Offhand, it seems to me when the gain seems meager compared to the cost of attaining it, you might want to take a long hard look at your priorities.

Just saying...

Saturday, May 30, 2015

About the cheap thang...

Here's a point that seems to have escaped a few readers comprehension...

 the VolksCruiser thing is not really about cheap.

The idea is not about getting a "cheap" boat and go sailing off into the sunset/sunrise but to point out that it is possible to sail a good boat anywhere you care to go in a sustainable and affordable manner on a constrained budget.

Sadly, these days, almost everyone connects the concept of quality or something being good with its price tag. I suspect if you're reading this that you already have at least, in principal, come to the conclusion that value seldom has anything to do with a price tag. Even so, the whole "You get what you pay for" mythos is so ingrained in our culture that even when we know it's false just like Pavlov's dogs drooled whenever they heard the bell we still tend to have a knee-jerk reaction whenever the word cheap comes up...

Since I happen to be writing this from a CAL 34 I'll use it as an example...

The CAL 34 designed by Bill Lapworth back in the sixties is a good design (many would say a great design). 

Jensen Marine, the builder of said CAL 34, built a good boat and if you have any doubt in the matter just go to any marina in the US of A and there will be CAL's still in use, still kicking ass, and still floating right side up.

Obviously, boats built in the 60's are now somewhat long in the tooth but nowhere near retirement age yet and pretty much still able to take you wherever you care to go.

So, all in all, it's a good boat.

As for price, you can usually find them in the $10K-30K zone. Truth be told $30K and environs is just silly expensive and if you were in the market for a CAL 34 somewhere around $15K would be about right for a good boat at a good price.

Personally I call that affordable, inexpensive, and good value for money. Cheap does not even factor into the equation at all.

There are lots of well designed and built sailboats that are in good condition floating about for very little money that will take you anywhere you want to go. They're inexpensive not because they are cheap, badly designed, or built but simply because the machine of consumerism makes them so and not because there is anything lacking in the boats themselves. 

Just something you should keep in mind.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Something you should read...

Here's a great description of the VolksCruiser ethos in a nutshell.

Sure, it's talking about riding across the country on a bicycle but, for all practical purposes, sailing/cruising and cycling/touring are the same sort of thing...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A cat that would make a great VolksCruiser...

A very long time ago, a good friend had an Iroquois catamaran and used to rave about what a great boat it was...Yesterday, looking at current Iroquois cats for sale, I have to admit he was right with an additional insight that they've also held up extremely well.


Not a big cat at 30 feet but many have crossed oceans and circumnavigated so they actually walk the talk. Even better, they do it with an amazing amount of livability in a small envelope.


It occurred to me that a lot of current designers of multihulls could learn a lot by looking at some older pivotal designs...

Anyway, the Iroquois cat, because it was well made, simple, they made a bunch, and their design is no longer what people consider a "proper" catamaran, can actually be found, from time to time, within reach of folks with a VolksCruiser budget.

For those wanting more information the Iroquois Owners Association is a very good place to start.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Keeping it simple/cheap...

Face it, the hardest part of doing the VolksCruiser thing is really about focus. It's easy to get distracted.

Pick up any sailing magazine, visit a cruising forum, or dock walk just about any marina and you'll be inundated with a staggering amount of pressure to conform and purchase shiny things you don't really need (with money you can't really afford to spend).

Which is why I tend to go on and on (like the proverbial broken record) on the importance of applying your need/want test to everything you do pretty much every step of the way and to be 100% honest throughout the process.

Yeah, I know it sounds simple but, in a consumerist society where shopping, for most, is considered a recreational pursuit, not buying stuff you don't need is not just a matter of swimming against the prevailing current it's heresy.

Need I remind you what usually befalls heretics?

I expect that if folks just applied the need/want process to their sailing/cruising expenditures that they'd save somewhere between 25-50% for starters with no need to go the DIY cheapseats route at all. That said, adopting a DIY cheapseats mindset would seriously turbocharge those savings to the max.

Which brings us around to, just possibly, the most important rule for happy, sustainable, and successful VolksCruising...

Use the brain not the wallet.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

A VolkCruiserish dinghy...

Some folks suggest that you have to have a dinghy like this with a 15hp motor...

Sam Devlin tells you how to build a VolksCruiserish alternative with a couple of sheets of plywood and some epoxy.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Have you ever had one of those days?

Have you ever had one of those days?

Maybe I should back up a little...

For a while now I've felt that Boat Bits, VolksCruiser, Island Gourmand, and Fishing Under Sail could use a little work and a few tweaks in direction. The problem is it's really hard to do a makeover while trying to do the same old same... Kinda like the problematic nature of rehabbing a boat while you're living on it. So, a couple of days back, I made the decision to close the blogs for a bit so I could regain a certain perspective, make some changes, and get started on some other semi-related projects.

Fact of the matter is, a lot of folks don't much like my blogs and a goodly amount of the emails I get regarding the blog are negative. That said, I often do wonder why some people who dislike my posts so much apparently read my blogs religiously... Anyway, I have a fairly thick skin and as most of the folks who take exception to what I write seem to suffer infantile political mindset, have minute attention spans, and don't seem to actually read the posts in their entirety I'm not all that bothered but let's look at the instrument panel to check...



Yep, not that bothered at all.

Where the problem comes in is that I don't want to be that guy who writes the same old same stuff and disappoints or bores the regular readers who actually invest themselves in what I write or talk about. Hence, my feeling that I need to make some changes and why I turned off the blogs yesterday.

This morning when I opened my email my box was full of people wanting access to the blogs. Even more touching was the fact that a lot of people were actually worried that there might be some health or medical issue and wanted to make sure I was OK. To say that such concern is appreciated is a huge understatement...

Thank you.

So, the blogs are back up but I have to warn you that since we're going to be in that rehabbing while living on it state of affairs it just might get messy from time to time and we might miss a few days here and there.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Should I or shouldn't I...

So, there's this boat that's been for sale for a long, long time and the owner finally got serious and lowered the asking price to something that actually makes sense...

The boat in question doesn't have a mast, the motor might have last run some time in 2001, and it's also a hurricane boat with the scars to prove it... In short, a whole lot of work and a healthy dose of money to make it better.

It's just a hull and deck...

That said, It's a nice hull and deck that would make someone a great small cruising boat. As it happens, I've been looking for a good candidate to use as a crash test dummy and proof of concept  project to illustrate a lot of the ideas I have on how to rehab a sailboat in a timely and frugal manner to go along with a new build for a VolksCruiser book and media project.

Part of my decision problem revolves around the fact that the boat in question is a nice boat in the sense that you'd expect to pay a minimum of $40-$50K for a used one in good shape. I'm sure some folks might find the process of converting a design that's one step away from being cut up for the lead in its keel into a VolksCruiser instead of a shrine to the boatbuilders art offensive...

Plus, at 28-feet, it's a little small for my own personal use so I'd actually be rebuilding the boat for some unknown future owner which plays some kind of havoc with the design process having to keep in mind some future buyer/owner's wants and needs.

So, something of a conundrum...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Since we were talking about cats...

So, here are a couple of out-of-the-box designs I really like...


First up is by Michael Schacht of PROA File infamy so not exactly surprising it happens to be a Proa named "Herbie". What impresses me off the mark is that in the proportions shown you won't have to go up towards fifty-feet in length to get a thirty-foot monohull interior...

I'd expect the sweet spot of a boat like this would be in the 34-40 foot zone with a cost to build on par with what an equivalent accommodation/payload monohull would. For my needs I'd expect a forty-foot version would work out just fine.




Two more reasons I like this concept is it sports a powerful, but inexpensive, balanced lug rig which makes all kinds of sense in a shunting sailboat and the design in general lends itself to an easy affordable build. Which, after all, is what a VolksCruiser is supposed to be about.

The other design for today is the Bit & Kontell 5.5 by Yann Quenet and it's not a Proa but then again neither is it a cat in the accepted sense...


Now, at 5.5 meters (18-feet) it's a little small for most folk's tastes but I've been very tempted to build one and sail it around the USVI/BVI/Puerto Rico for couple of months long surfari of all the good surf spots as a proof of concept to see just how it works and whether or not scaling up the concept to a full time liveaboard cruiser would make sense.



Offhand, I think an 11m50 version of this boat would make a great cruising boat...

So, do you know why we don't see more interesting designs like these? Why most multihull and monohull designs are just the same old same?

I could blame the yachting press for slavishly promoting/pimping whatever their advertisers are selling, the idiocy of designers only really designing for three markets (those being yacht charter, racing, and luxury play toys for the rich) none of which are optimum for just plain normal folks, or the collective greed of the marine industry where profit trumps everything else... To some extent I'd be right.

That said, the real reason we're not getting the boats we say we want and need is that we're simply not supporting the sort of designers who are putting heart and soul into different boats knowing full well that, more than likely, no one is going to take that leap of faith, buy a set of plans, and build them.

It's our fault...

So, if you want more innovative cruising boats whether it's a bluewater sharpie, a scow, catamaran, or proa buy a set of plans, build a boat, and go scandalize an anchorage .

Nuff said...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

a few words on my anti-cat/tri agenda....

The other day I received an email from a reader who took exception with my "buy old boats and rehab" bias and went on to suggest that more posts be about building new boats of the VolksCruiserish ilk. He then went on to say that it would be even better if I concentrated on multihulls...


Houston we have a problem!


Actually we have a bunch of problems trying to build a multihull VolksCruiser. For starters, there are almost no designers of multihulls designing cats or tris for folks on a budget. Add to that the simple fact that multihulls, by their very nature, demand higher spec'd and lighter materials which are a LOT more expensive.


Which is not to say that someone can't build a frugal cat or tri but it is still going to be a great deal more expensive to build than a monohull of the same seaworthiness, livability, and payload. For the record, in today's economy, you can buy a used monohull in good shape for less than you can build one (in most cases). On the other hand, a good fixer-upper monohull will cost a fraction of a new build or used monohull.


So, the reason I mostly tend to point people on a frugal budget towards good rehabbable designs that you can find for cheap is not because I have an anti-cat or tri agenda but simply that for cats and tris in the current state of things, there are just bugger all choices if you want to go to sea and cruise on a budget.


Truth be told, I'd really like my next boat to be a catamaran and I can no longer keep track of the number of hours I've spent going over and costing out various study plans only to find that either they weren't up to real cruising or simply too expensive to build for what they provide.


Now, if any aspiring multihull designers care to send me some details of VolksCruiserish cat or tri designs they have in their back pocket that can be built on a blue-collar budget without acquiring crippling debt in the process, I'm all ears. What's more, I'll be happy to do more posts on VolksCruiser about cats/tris and tell as many folks I can about such beasts...


Hell, I might even build one...

Friday, May 8, 2015

Because quite a few people just asked what a Centaur costs...

Just a quick look at some Westerly Centaurs for sale show me an average asking price of $9199. That said, no one really ever pays asking price for a boat...



So, let's just peg the real world price (in the US of A) at somewhere around $7600 or about $1.14 a pound.

Pretty much says it all...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Just a couple of boats in an anchorage...

A while back, a guy I knew dropped me a line from Ushuaia down at the tip of South America and he was just a little bit perturbed. As it happens, the reason for his upset is that the boat anchored next to him was a Westerly Centaur, a 26-foot bilge keeled "family" cruiser, not unlike this one (though I expect without the bikini clad helmswoman)


My friend, on the other hand, had a big go-anywhere serious cruiser by Garcia. A very expensive boat that had been designed just for cruising such out of the way serious places like the tip of South America and the lower latitudes. So, to find he was sharing an anchorage with such a humbly-pedigreed design had him all kinds of out-of-sorts.

Made worse, I suspect, when the elderly couple rowed over to bring him some freshly-made scones and to compare notes about their respective voyages as they'd both come from the same neck of the woods and sailed, more or less, the same voyage to find themselves together in that same particular harbor...

Fact is, he mentioned there were a lot of "surprisingly" small modest boats doing the Horn that year almost all with little fanfare and precious little man-against-sea posturing.

Which just goes to show that pretty much anywhere you go there will be small boats of a VolksCruiserish sort scadalizing the anchorage.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

the big problem...

There's a guy who writes from time to time wanting my opinion on various boats he's considering and, to be honest, I quite look forward to his emails because he has a good eye for boats but avoids being stuck in a rut. You might say he's all over the place and not the same old same sort of guy.

Sadly he's a rarity.

Most folk who write on a regular basis tend to ask about variations of the same boat (like my opinion on the Westsail vs the Bristol Channel Cutter). They're not interested in anything outside a certain type and mainly seem to want to know which (insert boat type here) is the best. Truth is, I don't do best (it being a consumerist con and all). I often find myself wondering just why these people keep writing me since I'm obviously not answering their questions. Or maybe to be more precise, I'm not giving them the sort of answer they want me to give.

That said, I really do enjoy the mail because it keeps me grounded in to other people's viewpoints, needs, and problems navigating the whole get a boat and sail off into the sunset gig. Which sorta/kinda leads me to the big problem almost everybody seems to have...

Mission creep.

Case in point, a guy started writing me about the time I was doing posts on the Columbia 26. He liked the fact that the Columbia 26 (there was one local to him in good shape for sale at $3.5K) was cheap and seemed to be able to do everything he thought needful for his girlfriend and him to go off sailing to Mexico for a year to see if they actually wanted to do the whole cruising gig.

A few mails later he mentioned he'd seen a CAL 29 and wondered if the extra money spent would be worthwhile and make for a better experience. The difference was about an extra $1K for the CAL and in his mind the big advantage was the fact that the CAL had an inboard motor (an Atomic4).

Of course, now that he'd upped the ante to a twenty-nine foot boat and decided he really needed an inboard engine, he began to cast his net a little wider and decided that as long as he was getting a boat with an inboard engine he really should go that little bit more and get one with a diesel engine and that, just maybe, a 34-36 foot boat might be better than the CAL 29.

Which is how you get from wanting to spend under $5K for a boat to go cruising next year to finding yourself shopping for boats with a $35-40K pricetag and a five-year plan to go cruising in 2020.

Mission creep. It's a relentess monster.

As for the guy who was interested in buying the Columbia 26?  Just the other day he wrote to ask me my opinion of several forty-foot boats...

So it does go...