Live Free 2 Sail Fast

Sailboat Cruising, I’ve got to keep learning!

Since me and my family live three hours from the ocean, I’m obviously not on my boat as often as I want to be, but I want to keep learning as much as possible on technical sailboat cruising subjects.  These are often the ones that involve expensive specialty experts; who are more than happy to come to your boat and do whatever needs to be done, for a price per hour.  I know,,,,I’ve hired the best of them,,,,from surveyer, rig inspector, diesel mechanic, electrician, gelcoat repairman, polisher, bottom cleaner and the list goes on.  These would have been very expensive ventures if I simply sat back with a Corona and let them work while I relaxed in the hammock.  Since I don’t do this and follow thier every move to learn as much as I can, I chalk each of these bills up to  training AND repair cost on my boat.  Thus, if you figure out how much that electrical training and work would have cost if done separately and amertize those two costs together, it’s really quite affordable?  Right,,,,see my logic?  This the point in the blog where people with true mechanical skills roll thier eyes in disgust!   Yes, Yes, I could have spent countless hours trying to figure it all out for free and read the manuals, but I just don’t always have time,,,,but I’m learning quick.

To keep learning while away from the boat, I’ve found that the various cruising and sailboating publications I buy often have articles with vast amounts of good, solid technical advice, so I started saving them for future reading.   Today was cleanup sunday,,,and when I looked under the bed and realized I had more than 100 sailing magazines under there, I knew it was time to start actually looking for the articles I wanted to keep.  Much like Captain Couch’s “The Checklist” I’m keeping articles that have specific training and learning points I need or interest me.  So, I simply ripped them out and put them in a folder for a time I want to reference back to them.  I’ve got stacks of articles that cover:  boat buying, places to visit, natural energy (electrical), kids on sailboats and plumbing.  This doesn’t mean I don’t have personal experience with all these things, it just means I want to hear what others say about them and probably find expert knowledge and great ideas from others.  Since I can’t get to my boat all the time, I’m going to keep collecting articles till I’m comfortable with the subjects,,,,but I’m no mechanical or electrical genius, so I’ll keep reading.


Houseboat or something larger- Do it while you can!

Freshwater houseboat or something larger-  Jessica made a comment on the blog about owning a fishing skiff for freshwater, but her husband always wanting “a houseboat or something larger”.   Hope you don’t mind, Jessica, but your comment motivated me to re-read a few buy the right boat articles I have here at the house, and I wanted to take few minutes to throw my thoughts into a readable post.  While I have some really, really smart experts who follow this blog and even may read it from time to time, I’m NOT a boating expert by any means, thus I read a lot to see if my thoughts match what experts say.

First,,,,I have no idea how old you guys are or if you have kids, aging relatives or a ton of responsibilities that preclude a purchase;  but my advice would be to seriously think through a lease or purchase of the houseboat or something larger,,,,while you can.  I’m motivated in this thought by my own experiences and other’s heath scares that precluded them from doing what they always wanted to do, simply because they waited too long.  I hear a lot of folks who say they always wanted to get a houseboat, sailboat or fishing boat to spend vacation or weekends on, but wait too long.  They get older, they can’t afford it or a major health issue comes along and those people fall into the “wish I would have done it while I could category”.

Second,,,,for a larger purchase you can of course buy new or used; but I recommend you follow the same process as buying a sailboat or powerboat.  If the boat is large enough to live on (kitchen, bathroom) then it could be used as a tax write-off in the second home category.  Thus, I would recommend you get a surveyor who specializes in  that type of vessel to look it over, take a test drive in it and get it out of the water to look over the bottom.  I’m no expert in fresh water boats, but these steps just seem logical to me.  Most larger boats have some form of bilge and engine, make sure you and your husband get a good look inside,,,clean bilge =’s happy wife as there will be less smells!

Hope this helps, do it while you’re young enough to enjoy it-

Boat Challenges

Been awhile since I’ve been on here, but for good reason, I’ve been working on the boat.

The challenges I’m having with the boat are NOT mutually exclusive to a Hunter, but they do seem to be coming on fairly quickly.  I can’t blame the surveyor, I won’t blame the surveyor, but I’m a bit bummed because some of the challenges should have been found early, and may have prevented us from buying this particular boat.

1.  The boat has been leaking, but as you’ll hear from all Marine Professionals, all boats leak somehow, most boats have water in their bilges.  Ok,,,but to me this means there’s been a failure somehow and if my automatic bilge pumps fail in the middle of a significant emotional event or a long sail, I’ll have water shipping into the bilge at a rate that may compromise the boat.   So, I’ve had a second, industrial size bilge pump put in,,,and after literally seeing water coming through fiberglass; I called my broker and the owner of the survey company.  They both came to see me the next day (which is very impressive) and both said the same things.   Except, while the owner of the survey company was there, he may have thought me a nutcase, because we completely dried the bilge, yet there were NO leaks at all, anywhere.  And,,,the next day the bilge was still dry.   This is a case that’s yet to be solved, as I’m going to be so interested in seeing the boat in two weeks to see if there’s water in the bilge-

2.  The boat has a dripless shaft seal,,,but the surveyor may have missed an important point during the inspection, which is that there’s a piece of it that’s supposed to be aircraft grade materials, but appears to be deteriorating,,,,supposed to have a nice smooth shiny surface but instead appears rough, rusty and cracked, like something’s been hitting it.   No pun intended, but the rub of all this is that the only way to fix a dripless shaft seal if to haul the boat out of the water and have the prop moved,,,,which of course I have to pay for fully,,,,instead of finding it during survey and having the previous owner or the other broker fix it  before final paperwork was signed.   I am NOT bitter at the surveyor, but I wish I had known about this beforehand.

But, the good things are that the boat is easy to sail, appears to have a decent engine (Yanmar), and now has 300 feet of new chain and a new anchor.  I had to go with an anchor the reviews all say is decent and uses new technology to surpass some others (a Rocna- 55 pds), I feel pretty good about this choice.  I’ve also gotten rid of the 740 feet of chain the boat had, replaced with 300 in front and 40 in back plus rope rode.  I’ve cleaned out the back locker which had a large amount of stuff that I don’t think we needed and I’ve had to get ride of other stuff the boat just couldn’t use.  I’m bummed we have to eventually get a new radar and chart plotter, but that’s part of the game I guess.

2000 Hunter 460

So,,,in mid January we closed on a 2000 Hunter 460, AWB (another white boat) but ours!  After all the years of looking and dreaming about buying a boat, it was almost anti-climatic since it was so hectic getting things together to close, re-name and move the boat to the new slip that I was overwhelmed and probably didn’t enjoy the experience like I should have.  We re-named the boat properly, denaming it and re-naming it and then pulling off the paper to show the name, properly envoking Posidion and the other Gods and getting all the permissions.

On top of getting all this together, the surveyer had mentioned one small repair that was needed, but when he puts the word bulkhead in the survey, the insurance folks read a bit closer.  So, because of that, I had to have a whole new bulkhead rebuilt forward of the V-Berth and behind the chain locker and the whole rear portion of the chain locker,,,,with extra fiberglass for reinforcement, which makes me feel better.  This wasn’t cheap, but made me feel better like I said.

In the course of all this, I was also informed by the fiberglass guy and my broker that the boat had over 600 feet of chain (some of it rotten) just in the forward bow chain locker,,,which they had dumped overboard so he could work on the bulkhead.  I was forced to bring it all up, 300 feet by hand.  The chain is rotten and rotting together because it was left in the locker wet, now waiting for me to sort it out.  No worries, I wanted better chain anyways.

I am thrilled to have a new (used) boat, which will be a highlight of my life and I will use the next three years to turn it into a cruising sailboat safe enough for my family to Bluewater Cruise on, leaving the US in approx 2.5 years for adventures afar.

Sailboat Survey Redux

First,,,,yeah, the little blog that could has TWO followers, THANK YOU, I have no idea how to get people to read this or if people even would read this, but I don’t care cause I’m writing anyways.  If you can suggest this to more folks who may want to follow my little blog, I’ll give you a lollypop.

As I alluded to in the last post, we took the plunge; making an accepted offer on a cruising sailboat, plunking down the big deposit and getting our broker to schedule the survey, haul-out and sea trail on the same day.  What an awesome day it was for me personally, because Michelle had obviously agreed to buy a boat and was mentally there (a HUGE step) and we were going ahead with a boat that had everything I thought I want on a cruising sailboat and didn’t have to buy it in cash, it could be had on the boat already as part of the loan package.

So, on Tuesday the 11th of November we took the long drive to San Diego for the day, getting to the boat a bit late but better than never.  For the survey, I had hired who I thought was one of the best surveyors in town as well as the recommended surveyor from the website.  BoatUS says you must use their recommended surveyor for the specific area and they have a good list on their website.  I have wanted to hire this surveyor for awhile, as I like the fact I was able to go on their website and read completed sample survey’s, giving me material to get a baseline from their completed survey examples.  I used Christian and Co. Marine Surveyors and upon meeting our surveyor the morning of Tuesday the 11th, I was impressed and relieved because he was already at work,  a no-nonsense guy who simply wanted to knock out the job. My broker, who works for Yachtfinders-Windseakers in San Diego was there too as well as the buyer and his agent.

The survey has always been spelled out in everything I’ve read as one of the most aspects of the boat buying process, I disagree.  Getting the survey done (and done well) is easy, there’s surveyors who will travel anywhere in the world to work.        I think the most important thing in the boat buying process is actually financing, but I digress.   The survey took all day,,,as he was surveying a 45 foot cruising boat that is 25 years old.  Although in one of the best marina’s in San Diego and maintained by a diver monthly, the rest of the boat wasn’t maintained as well, as a bit of the preventative maintenance had slipped.  The survey revealed lots of minor details that I could have easily fixed, but when the forward geneker on roller furling didn’t budge during sea trial,,,bad juju.  The rest of the sea trial went fine, but started us to thinking a lot about the value of the boat.  Despite a great haul out, decent sea trial and complete survey, the fact remained that the survey found the boat’s worth to be $15k below what the owner and us agreed to in the accepted offer,,,and the surveyor sent a separate note to let me know his estimate was on the high side as it was.   In the end, after a few days of thinking about it, we just couldn’t justify the difference in price and were not emotionally invested to the point we HAD to have the boat,,,thus it was time to make that big boy decision.

In one of my favorite books, “18 Endless Summers of Sailing” the authors talk about their search for the boat that would eventually become theirs and the various selling experiences they had while waiting for her to sell, so I guess my experience isn’t unique,,,,the search will continue.