Sunday, June 26, 2022

and in the "So you don't think a Newport 28 is the right boat" department...

Over the years I've crossed the US of A coast to coast in/on a variety of vehicles...

  • Once on a bicycle
  • Four times in VW bugs
  • Three times in a VW van
  • Once in a 1953 International Travelall
  • Twice in a Rover TC2000
  • Twice in a Ford pickup
  • twice in a Porsche 911

I'll go on record and say that the very best coast to coast experience was when I rode a bike from Oregon to Virginia. It was simple, I had the time to appreciate the scenery, and met a lot of awesome people in the process. 

Most of the other trips were just getting from one place to another and, truth be told, all of the internal combustion powered vehicles were pretty much the same. When all the pros and cons were weighed, the cars, trucks, and van were surprisingly equal. That said, my 63 VW van had the edge on comfort but also had the greatest hassle factor where law enforcement was concerned. So, like I said, it all evens out.

I mention this here simply because there is so much focus on having the perfect boat and, if you're not going to cruise till you find the perfect boat, you'll never get to doing because there ain't any such thing.

Back when Robin Knox Johnson wanted to become the first person to sail around the world he chose a design based on the the works of Colin Archer. As much as I admire the Colin Archer designs they would be last on my list for any kind of race and, as long as I'm throwing shade, who in their right mind would bring a ketch to a race of any kind? Kind of like entering a cross country race with my beloved 1953 International Travelall. But it was the boat Knox Johnson had so that was what he did it with. Wrong boat/wrong rig but he still won the race.

Back in 1976, when I rode my bike cross country, I had planned to ride a custom built Bob Jackson touring bike which I'd paid, for me at least, a shit ton of money for. The Jackson wound up being held up by customs for some reason or other so I pedaled off on my lowly Peugeot P10. Obviously not the bespoke touring machine of my dreams but it did get the job done and carried me over 5000 miles.

Anyway, something to think about.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

How low can you go?

Sure, I know that there's a helluva lot of peer pressure to adhere to consumerist dogma but, just for a moment think about what you can afford rather than what you think others will opine on what you need to spend to be accepted.

I see a lot of folks selling the idea that "price is no object" but buying boats that are a fraction of the cost and pretending they're following the party line.

Know something?

They get away with it because most everyone is doing the same thing and no one's going to bust them because most everyone is part of the con.

The sordid truth is that most boat folk, by their very nature, have their asses firmly planted in the cheap seats. The problem only arises when they're not honest about it.

Worse is when they use the cost of stuff as a means of letting you know how much every-damn-fucking-thing-on-their-boat cost in a misguided ruse to impress you. As someone who has sold a lot of marine gear to these wankers I'll let you know that, more often than not, they lie about what they paid for those winches or top-of-the-line electronics.

Maybe it's just me but there's something pretty off when it reaches that point.

Know what impresses me? When someone comes up with a way of doing things that involves common sense and thought to make the whole sailing off into the sunset more comfortable, affordable and sustainable. On the other hand some guy bragging that he spent lots of money to impress me or as a put down just hits the pity note.

The other day when I mentioned that I was building yet another Tortoise someone pointed out that He'd spent $12K on his dinghy but if I can only afford a two sheet dinghy maybe I shouldn't bother until I could afford something better.

Yeah, it sorta/kinda pissed me off. Still, the Tortoise makes more sense for me than a 12-foot RIB with a 25HP outboard and it would be real dumb in a world where gas costs $5.50 to have such a beast.

Over on Boat Bits today I mentioned a Newport 28MK2 that's selling for $2.5K and appears to be in pretty good shape. Researching the design a bit more the Newport appears to be one of those designs that seems to have a pretty good price and is firmly in the "good bang for the buck" price niche. Plus it would make a very good cruising boat. What's not to like?

The important thing to keep in mind is that hardly anyone cares what sort of boat you cruise in. No one who isn't an asshole is going to ask you what it costs and, as long as the boat is shipshape, you'll still be invited to potlucks and suchlike (if that's your thing).

So, how low can you go?

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

an uplifting story of sorts...

As far as the R2AK was concerned there were only four boats I was rooting for. One of which, Loustic SuperSonic, was my favorite. Seriously, how you could not be engaged to the story of a couple buying an old Santana 20 sight unseen, arriving days before the races start, and having to get the boat race ready seems like an impossible accomplishment. Throw in the whole cobbling together a human powered pedal propulsion system as well and, all of a sudden, we're in heroic territory.

More on Loustic SuperSonic at the R2AK website.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

and today in the "Too much stuff" department...

It came to my attention that there's a thread on a cruising forum asking what 50 must haves you should have on a cruising boat. 

Apparently some folks just need help in finding ways to overload their boats.

Sunday, June 19, 2022


I'll be the first to admit that I've got too much stuff aboard "So It Goes" and we're just about to get into a serious purge of what's not earning it's keep. 

For starters, the two Mirage drives that have been taking up room in my port cockpit locker really need to go. The plan was to use them in a dinghy but I've yet to find a dinghy I like that would work with the Mirage drive. That said, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The there's some tools I simply don't use anymore, clothes, and the dreaded "What the hell is this for?" stuff that I'm sure was part of a cunning plan at one time but whose use has long ago fallen into the memory hole.

Hell, I even have a couple of ten year old Harken winches that have never been installed or used just taking up space in my aft dinette seat...

Then there's the old rope. I mean, seriously, where did all this rope come from?

You get the idea.

Friday, June 17, 2022

a missed opportunity...

As it seems that more human auxiliary powered sailboat were collected for the 2022 R2AK it would have been nice to have a race on the side for the competitors to display their various systems.

A not-very-fast drag race if you will.

I don't know about you but I'd love to see a lot more about what worked, what didn't, and the various workarounds used.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

something to think about...

I just got the new Cruising Compass and they had a link to this BFB...

Now, I've long been a fan of boats from Jeanneau for ages and I'm sure most everyone in the yachting media will be all over this design but I have a short question...

Is this the right boat design for 2022?

In a world of finite resources shouldn't we be focused on a more earth friendly and sustainable design model?

Granted a lot of good work went into the design of this rich man's toy but how much of that good design can be adapted to more sustainable and affordable models?

Now, in my less than humble opinion, is the fact that boats like this distract from any real development and distort the market to the point that all of a sudden, everyone feels like this sort of sailboat is what one needs to go cruising with.

Another downside of BFBs is that the cruising areas tend to adapt their services and facilities to boats like this making it that much more difficult and expensive for cruisers of modest means to fit in. Sint Maarten used to be the best place in the Caribbean to get work done but these days no one wants to work on smaller boats because the bigger the boat the more profit involved. Worse is that a lot of marinas and shore side facilities create barriers designed to favor their preferred client in such stupid ways as not allowing human powered dinghies in their dinghy docks.

Which is just the sort of attrition that makes people give up cruising or sail off to places that have not caught up to the new norm or reality that is currently passes for cruising.

Anyway, it's an interesting boat and one can learn quite a bit in studying it.

More soonish on a semi-related subject...

Saturday, June 11, 2022

the economics of can and can't...

Everyone, whether they admit it or not, is going to be on a budget. It's just part of how things work.

Some years back we had a client contact our charter brokerage asking us for the best charter yacht in the Caribbean when we queried how he defined "Best" it turned out that what he really wanted was the most expensive yacht in the Caribbean because, you know, the more expensive the better.

Having some experience where Mega-yachts were concerned we actually knew that the current most expensive yacht had a base price of around $400K plus all expenses which were, at the time, mostly covered by an advanced provisioning allowance (APA) of 30% or more. If you do the math you're in a serious chunk of change zone.

Instead of offering that yacht to the client we offered him an excellent yacht that went out for nearly $100K and the client nearly had a heart attack. Obviously the $400K and $100K were out of his budget.

Like I said, everyone's on a budget.

The problem is that not everyone knows what sort of budget they're on.The old adage attributed to J.P. Morgan where yachts are concerned is "If you have to ask, you can’t afford it".

So, here's a question...

How much can you afford to spend on a cruising sailboat?


How much money do you need to live in reasonable comfort?

and lastly.

Do you have a way to sustain a boat and your reasonable comfort level long term?

I don't want to know those numbers but if you want to sail off into the sunset you really should do a bit of research and figure them out.

Sadly, most folks on boats don't have a clue about budgets until they're confronted with the cold hard economic reality of the words can and can't. A situation that almost always ends badly.

Oh yeah, about that guy who wanted the most expensive charter boat in the Caribbean? He wound up chartering a very nice crewed power boat for around $18K.

Just sayin'.

Friday, June 10, 2022

A quick note

It was just pointed out that I'm rather stupid because I think it's possible to buy a boat for not a lot of money, sort out any needful issues, and go cruising.

It's not the first time...

Apparently, the ex-reader in question is of the opinion that it's impossible to buy a suitable boat for less than $30K and that the $30K boat would cost as much again to make it into a proper cruising boat. So we're talking about a minimum of $60K. 

As it happens, I've been beavering away on a book with a working title of Eighteen VolksCruiserish Boats which documents various affordable production boats suited to long term voyaging on a blue collar budget. None of which will cost you more than $10K to purchase with minimal refit expenditure.

I'm not all that big on giving advice. I'd much rather point out options, workarounds, and common sense approaches that work rather than offer a one true path to cruising Nirvana. 

Fact is, I don't take issue with a guy who feels he has to spend a minimum of $60K to sail down to the Caribbean or other milk run destinations where high prices, keeping up with the Joneses, and conspicuous consumption are the norm. As long as he's happy doing it, I have no issues.

That said, it really gets up my nose when someone feels the need to tell me that his way is the only way.

As I've said before, VolkCruisers and cruising is not for everyone and you really have to understand basic economics and sweat equity to make it work.

No rocket science involved.

I really shouldn't have to say more.

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