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...


  1. I would rather go the other direction. I think 22-24 feet is plenty. More important to me a swing keel so I can get around in the close in, skinny water we have in abundance in Florida.

    With just me that should be plenty of room. Or maybe a 19' O'Day. Let's do negative creep. :)

    Wade in NW Florida

  2. We're all Goldilockses, out here... looking for not too big, not too small... juuuuuuuuuuust right!

    Anke and I find mission creep (in both directions) a constantly slippery slope.

    Lynn and Larry Pardey have good advice for those starting out - Go small, go simple, go NOW! What we learn along the way informs our next round of choices in ways that armchair sailing just can't manage. And erring on the side of small and simple gets us out there sooner and keeps us there longer. Can always trade up, later, if need be.

    Experience doesn't stop mission creep in its tracks, but it sure lights up the field!

    Dave Z