Tuesday, April 27, 2021

a boat with a lot of resources...

Checking Craigslist this morning I saw there was a Pearson Triton being sold off at a marina in the San Francisco Bay area for $750. You might say it caught my attention. 


It's a great design, Dan Spurr used the Triton as his main example of how to fix up a small boat for cruising in his "Spurrs BoatBook Upgrading the Cruising Sailboat"which amounts to a great how to do it guide.

James Baldwin circumnavigated his Triton twice and now is an awesome resource on how to make small boats better and a great resource on all things Triton with an excellent website and a wonderful YouTube channel.

The going price for a good to excellent Triton seems to be between $10K to $28K so a fixer upper for $750 that's floating right side up and appears to be in OK condition is certainly a good candidate to check out.

What I particularly find attractive about the idea of refitting and cruising a Triton is that all of the brain work has already been done for you. Between Spurr's book, James Baldwin's books , articles and videos you pretty much have the answer to any issue you'd encounter in the project.

For example take a look at one of the Triton refits on Baldwin's Atom Voyager channel;

I'll be honest and say that if the Craigslist ad was down here I'd be there with money in hand as fast as I could get there as it would be a great boat to fix up and resell for a profit...

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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Another book you really should read...

I mentioned this book by Keith Carver a couple of years ago but "Sailboat Cowboys Flipping Sail Post-Sandy: The Art of Buying, Repairing and Selling Storm-Damaged Sailboats" is still an excellent read on the subject of buying boats cheap, fixing them up, and selling them for a profit.

As it happens I just read it again this morning and it still holds up well and the advice contained within is still spot on.

Better yet, it's a great book to use as proof of concept when someone is telling you a cheap fixer-upper is nothing but a money pit and your dreams will all in tears. 

Just tell them to go read "Sailboat Cowboys Flipping Sail Post-Sandy: The Art of Buying, Repairing and Selling Storm-Damaged Sailboats" and let you get back to working on your DIY refit.


Friday, April 23, 2021

and in the "Are we ready to look at that Ericson yet?" department...

So you've done your research, sorted out that an Ericson 26 would be an appropriate small cruising boat you could live with, and within your budget. Hell, you even built a dinghy to prove to yourself you were not a tyro, had the mindset and needful skills to fix up the Ericson, and you're ready to go look at the sucker cash-in-hand but your buddy and everyone on that forum tells you you need to get a surveyor.

Here's the thing...

One, you don't need a surveyor and two, the boat's already sold.

A good surveyor might make sense if you're paying big bucks for a boat but not so much if you're talking about a fixer-upper that costs less than the surveyors fee. For a VolksCruiser you're better off doing your own survey.

Don Casey has a decent book on the subject that you might want to check out as it makes a good outline of the things you need to look at.

When I look at a boat I'm mostly concerned with the hull, deck, and rig. Everything else I'd rip out and rebuild the interior and systems from scratch as it's faster and cheaper than trying to work around or make sense with what previous owners have done to the boat. The other advantage of starting fresh is that you set up things in a way that makes sense.

When you do your self-survey make sure to take lots of pictures/videos and take note or narrate the survey so if you need to talk to someone about the boats issues they have as much information as possible to base their advice on. Some time ago a reader sent me a ton of photos on a Bolger design he was considering and it was easy for me to offer advice and the sad conclusion that it would be a big mistake to consider the project.

But why bother as the boat is already sold. Right?

The thing is, good deals on boats don't ever last long. Show me a boat that has been sitting with a For Sale sign for a year and I'll know it's selling for way too much. On the other hand, boats that are priced to move, move quickly.

Which is why, when looking for your VolksCruiser, you really need to be ready...

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

On that big hole in the water you throw money into...

OK, I get it. "Everyone" says that if you buy a fixer-upper sailboat with the goal of turning it into a cruising boat it will all end in tears. Some will tell you that you'll wind up with nothing but an expensive disaster that you'll have to pay someone to dispose of it in some landfill.

I could go on but I expect you've already heard it all before and it's boring...

What I will do is point out that the disaster or failure scenarios of this sort have a lot to do with people who have made stupid mistakes in choosing their projects, have little in the way of an intelligent plan for the needful work involved in the enterprise, and a poor skill set where boat building and repair are concerned. Which is another way of saying that if the boat refit project failed it's because the person doing it screwed up big time.

Every once in awhile I'll point out what I think is a possible project boat like the Ericson 26 so we'll use that as our crash test dummy. Which brings us to the question of whether or not an Ericson 26 is a good choice as a cruising boat for you?

So, you'll need to put away the rose colored glasses to do some research and a bit of math. Seriously if you don't properly research the project and work out the costs you're in clusterfuck territory. For starters you really need to research the market for the Ericson 26. 

  • What does an Ericson 26 in great shape cost?
  • What does an OK Ericson 26 cost?
  • Does the Ericson 26 have an inbuilt issues which will need to be repaired and cost you money (FYI ALL production boats have some issue(s) or other that will need attention so find out what it is)?
  • Can you afford an Ericson 26?

With me so far? Most boat projects fail simply because someone did not ask and get real answers to those four simple questions. Let's say you've answered the previous questions, got your answers and think it's time to move to the next level which requires a few more questions.

  • Is the Ericson 26 a boat that I'll be able to cruise comfortably on without major changes?
  • Do I have access to an affordable location in close proximity to work on the boat?
  • Am I willing to put some effort into learning the needful skills to refit the boat?

Some of you may have noticed that none of these questions involve the actual fixer upper in question. My advice is to always do your homework before not after viewing a possible project as the more you know about the boat the better your advantage you'll have when you actually look at it. 

In fact I'd recommend, before you go boat project shopping, that you build a dinghy as a proof of concept that your abilities are up to the task. My advice for most folks is to build the Bolger Nymph from Dynamite Payson's "Build the New Instant Boats" As it's a great dinghy, does not take a lot of outlay in materials, and pretty much shows you if you have the needful skills and mindset or not to take on a much bigger project like the Ericson. No pressure but if it takes you more than 24-hours of labor to build a Nymph rowing version you might want to forget the idea of anything larger than a dinghy refit projects.

Just saying.

We'll get into how we handle looking at a fixer-upper in the next bit...

Sunday, April 11, 2021

a couple of good $400ish deals...

So, here's a couple of interesting project boats someone might be interested in...

For starters there's a Crealock designed Ericson 26 selling for $400 bucks up in the no man's land between Port Townsend and Anacortes. The Crealock design is, in my opinion, a better boat than the Pacific Seacraft Dana. The beauty of a fixer-upper 26-foot boat is that even if the boat is in dire straights a full refit is not going to cost much more than $3K with a reasonable amount of sweat equity.

I've also noticed that there seem to be a few Bill Tripp Columbia 26's that need fixing up in the $400-500 dollar range that seem to pop up on a regular basis. So you might want to add "Columbia 26" to your Search Tempest list.

Either design is well worth checking out and more than able to take you most anywhere you'd care to go.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Eleven factors that come together to make a VolksCruiser...

I'm often asked just what a VolksCruiser actually is in terms of solid definition and, for the most part, my answers to that particular question tend to be somewhat vague. It's akin to Justice Stewart's famous quote on what pornography is...

"We know it when we see it"

Which is pretty much how I've approached what a VolksCruiser actually is in that I know one when I see one. Or to be more precise, I recognize a variety of factors that come together to make a boat a VolksCruiser, such as:

  • Under forty feet in length
  • Simple user repairable systems
  • Minimal carbon footprint
  • Well equipped to anchor
  • A boat that costs no more than $1000 a foot in cruising mode
  • A boat that can be sustainable on a given budget

Which, it would seem, also describes a whole lot of cruising boats. The catalyst of what actually makes a boat into a VolksCruiser is really the mindset of the person cruising the boat. Who will exhibit a variety of needful traits, for example:

  • Creative frugality
  • Sensible maintenance strategies
  • Critical thinking
  • A keen sense of situational awareness
  • An elevated understanding of value as related to budget
Throw all those various factors together and you're in VolksCruiser territory.

Obviously, "less than $1000 a foot" is a pretty wide range of boats and the whole VolksCruiser vibe centers around the "Less is more" thought process so that the actual cost of a VolksCruiser in cruising mode really should be significantly less.

Next up on the subject we'll be talking about the reality of how a VolksCruiser budget might work...


Sunday, April 4, 2021

On keeping up/coexisting with the Joneses...

It's been pointed out to me on many occasions that the whole concept of VolksCruisers puts some folks at a real disadvantage in the social context of cruising. Many have even suggested/demanded that I should come up with some, shall we say "cunning", ways to make a VolksCruiser more socially acceptable.


I can only go by what has been my personal experience but I've never seen any real issues experienced by folks on smaller than average sustainable cruising boats. Sure, within the cruising community, there's no shortage of cliques, posses, and assholes that you might find yourself in an anchorage with but they don't seem to have a thing against folks of the VolksCruiser persuasion.

Some time ago I had a very enlightening dialog with someone who wondered why so many low budget cruisers seemed to shun various social invitations to hang out with them at potlucks and dinners ashore.When I pointed out that the folks she was inviting may not have been on the same sort of budget that they were on she thought about it for a bit and then said...

"I just thought they didn't like us."

Face it, if there is one universal trait that all humans share is that we're, to some extent or another, insecure. Being invited to a group function where you don't know anyone can be stressful and if you throw in the fact that by doing so it might disrupt your budget in a big way the easiest way to deal with it is simply to find an excuse not to go.

Of course, the person giving the invitation may take the decline of the invitation personally which can lead to something akin to friction. Which has zero to do with what sort of boat you might have but it does have a lot to do with general human interaction.

Most people on bigger and more expensive cruising boats tend to be a bit tone-deaf where money is concerned and often assume everyone tends to be on their level. I've often had advice that I should add "inexpensive" gear to my boat which is far from inexpensive. In fact, just a couple of days ago, a reader of Boat Bits wanted my opinion of the Colligo ELHF and was surprised when I pointed out that it looked excellent but was way beyond what I'm willing to pay for but that a less expensive DIY clone is very much on my project list.

Which also might be a good time to point out  that a lot of upscale cruisers are living way beyond their means but hiding the fact because, being a bit insecure like all of us, tend to hide their budget concerns as they're afraid that people will think less of them.

On the subjects of cliques and posses being a problem for VolksCruisers you have to realize that it's not about VolksCruisers, at all and cliques and posses are, by their very nature, unwelcoming to all outsiders.

The bottom line is really that everyone is too worried about what everyone else thinks of them to be anti-VolksCruiser in any kind of systematic way.

On the other hand, where the marine trades are concerned, it is a whole different kettle of rotten fish which we'll talk about later in the week...