Budgeting For a Boat

Chapter 21 of 21 in the Online Book How To Buy an Offshore Voyaging Boat

Ship made of money

I think it’s fair to say that everyone reading this site either owns a boat, crews on someone else’s boat, or wishes they had a boat.

Today, we focus on that third group. How do you get from wanting a boat to having a boat?

It’s easy to get discouraged

There’s no way around it–boats are expensive. Even the Adventure 40, with its ambitious US$200k price tag target, is equal to an entire four years of income for a typical North American worker.

If you’re in your late teens or twenties, and are lucky enough to not be in the 12% to 28% who are either unemployed or nearly so, the prospect of saving your entire minimum-wage income for ten years is laughably daunting–there is a good reason why the sailing demographic skews towards gray hair, and why former business owners are somewhat over-represented.

When you think about heading out sailing, then, and calculate that you need, say, $150,000 to buy a used boat and sail on it for a few years, the challenge can seem immense.

It is not, however, impossible.

A good job

It’s the classic capitalist answer. Need more money? Get a better job! The trouble is that when job seekers outnumber posted jobs–by roughly eight to one in the North American industrial areas, last time I checked–the only way to move up is to have skills that are in serious shortage.

Figuring out what skills are in demand means:

  • Looking at demographic trends (an older population means a growing health care sector; increasing birth rates mean that education’s about to become a hot topic).
  • Asking local business owners and corporate managers what they think they might need in the near future.
  • Figuring out roughly where your area’s economy is going, and perhaps moving to an area with a more vibrant economy if what you see around you is dying off.

It’s also useful to think about what skills might help you maintain some kind of income while you’re cruising. Some fields–software, for example–are particularly conducive to keeping your own boat-based business once you’re out there. Others are in high enough demand, in enough places, that you might be able to get temporary work permits in some countries as you cruise.

Getting into in-demand fields might mean a couple of college courses and lots of self-study in computer programming, or perhaps a two-year trade certificate, or a four-year engineering degree, or graduate work in the health sciences.

The skilled trades are a reasonably good place to be right now in North America; same for nursing, medicine, engineering, finance, software and construction.

On the other hand, work that doesn’t require specialized skills, unique knowledge or a local presence is rapidly being automated or outsourced to low-wage jurisdictions elsewhere. (Labour statistics, such as this chart of average salaries in America, are required reading.)

25% or better

Expenses have a habit of expanding to fit available income. Keeping them accurately tracked and under control is, for many people, quite challenging. It is, however, the key to eventually being able to afford your dreams.

One rule of thumb is to put at least 25% of your salary straight into savings and investments, taking advantage of whatever tax shelters your government offers. (The old “Save 10%” thing might get you a mediocre retirement at age 70 with today’s inflation and interest rates, but the 21st-century reality is that the younger generations will need to be a lot more aggressive about stashing away money.)

Another approach is to calculate a minimum baseline living cost for yourself, consisting of the cheapest living space you’re comfortable with, enough food to stay healthy, basic transportation and communications, and other bare essentials. Any income beyond that baseline then goes straight into savings.

There are all sorts of ways to cut back on the cost of living ashore without cutting back on the quality of life. It basically boils down to tallying up what you’re actually spending, then restructuring your lifestyle to cut back on cash burn.

Quite a lot of people spend $30,000 a year more than they need to for the lifestyle they want–there’s plenty of money to be saved on cell and TV bills, car costs, dining out, clothing and gadgets if you take a few minutes to do some budget calculations rather than just whipping out the credit card.

An important part of this exercise is to know exactly where all your money is going. Online banking makes this fairly easy; you can drop your downloaded account and credit card statements directly into an accounting program (I’m a fan of GnuCash, but there are many others) and categorize each transaction. Cash leaks become pretty hard to ignore when they’re staring at you from a bright red expenses-over-time graph.

A place to live

The big city is probably out. Katy and I have done this calculation many times, and we keep finding that a modest house in a mid-size town is the best place to be if you want to keep expenses low.

Higher incomes may be available in the bustling metropolises of Toronto, San Francisco, Vancouver, Munich or London, but the cost of living is also far higher.

The total ownership costs (mortgage payments, insurance, repairs, heating, property tax) on our small country home near Kingston would barely cover the rent on a one-bedroom apartment in an iffy district of Toronto.

For a wanna-be sailor, the key number is the net profit (after-tax income minus expenses) during your saving-up period. Moving for a higher-paid job only makes sense if your after-tax income would rise by more than your cost of living would rise–a calculation that you should do for yourself if you’re considering such a move.

Buying a house may seem like an odd thing to do if you plan to go gallivanting around the world indefinitely after a few years. If, however:

  • you can afford the down payment,
  • you can afford to keep the amortization period short,
  • your town’s real estate market is slowly growing (without signs of a bubble),
  • you can do most of the maintenance yourself,
  • and your employment prospects look favourable,

then buying now–and selling when it’s time to buy the boat–could very well work out to be more profitable than paying rent. Just be careful where you buy; a modest house in a desirable area is much easier to sell than a huge, more expensive or more remote property.

The boat

Imagine going to a lender and saying “I’m going to have no regular income for the foreseeable future, and I’d like to borrow $200,000 to buy something that depreciates quickly and requires a lot of maintenance, so that I can go overseas for an indefinite period.”

In other words, you’ll most likely have to dump a bunch of investments and pay cash for your boat.

Whether you’re looking at new or used boats, give careful thought to the total cost of ownership. You need to consider:

  • The purchase price.
  • The cost of a survey, insurance inspection, taxes and other closing costs. (Even on a new boat, you should always get a survey from an independent professional before signing the cheque.)
  • The cost of outfitting the boat (an ocean cruiser often carries tens of thousands of dollars of essential equipment, from saucepans to a series drogue, that’s almost never included in the base price).
  • The cost of necessary repairs and upgrades before the boat is ocean-worthy. (This can be huge, particularly if you don’t know *exactly* what you’re doing.) In many cases, you’d come out ahead if you spend your time getting paid for things you’re good at, and use the extra money to buy a boat that doesn’t need so much work.
  • The cost of fuel, replacement sails, cordage, spare parts, etc.
  • The insurance premiums.
  • The price you’ll get for the boat when you sell it, and whether it’ll need a premature refit before it can be sold. (Some wealthier folks own their boats through holding or charter companies, using various schemes to write off the boat’s depreciation and repairs against their taxable income. Most of us are better off looking for sturdy, well-built, well-known boats that don’t depreciate very much.)
  • The fees you’ll pay to brokers, lawyers, etc. to sell the boat.

Home build?

How about doing it all yourself? Even though I design boats for self-built construction, I don’t recommend this approach if cruising is your goal. Boatbuilding is for those who enjoy the process as much as the result, and have (or want to learn) the hundreds of specialized skills involved. If that doesn’t describe you, then build-it-yourself will be an expensive, frustrating debacle.

Yes, it’s possible

Few of us have the ability to drop everything, buy a boat and head out cruising right this moment. The necessary financial planning takes time and discipline.

I think it’s quite possible, though, for most folks with a modest middle-class income to, over five or ten years, build up enough savings to buy a safe (if rather cozy) cruising boat and spend a few years out there.

Coming next

John will be exploring what it really costs to own an offshore boat in the next chapter of this Online Book.

Comments

Comments are now open. This should be fun.

A Note From The Editor

[John here. I'm hugely grateful to Matt for taking on this difficult subject. I have thought a few times about taking a crack at it but have always shied away because a baby-boomer lecturing those of you of Matt's generation about how to succeed financially in life is just not pretty, since we, with more plentiful well-paying jobs, ever increasing property values, a secular bull market in equities (until 2000) and bonds, and, for some (not me) a defined benefit pension plan, had it way easier.]

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{ 20 comments… add one }

  • Ian July 22, 2014, 4:33 pm

    Matt et al, this website is an incredible resource and I thank all of you for the incredible advice. $$$ is the hardest thing to talk about but is probably the most important thing standing in the way between all of us and a lifetime of cruising. Matt, I can’t help but feel you’ve glossed over some of the major things here such as to what is attainable for the current generation. Do you really think we should all be saving for that $200,000 cruiser? I’m in my mid 20s and am extremely lucky to have a great education and software job in the North East US. Even still, it would take me at least another 15-20 years of extreme saving, in a stable economy (haha), forgoing traveling, a house, kids, and other sailing opportunities, to attain that. Un/Underemployment, crippling student loan debt, and a turbulent economy means that this is nothing more than a pipe dream for the vast majority of my generation. I just read ‘Are Refits Worth It?’ and the bottom half of this article stating both the hidden ownership costs and how unlikely a loan is and feel very discouraged. Isn’t an older boat the only way many of us will ever come close to the cruising life?

    Reply
    • Matt July 23, 2014, 7:56 am

      Hi Ian, don’t become discouraged!! My partner Loz and I bought our first boat earlier this year and we love her! We’re in our early 30s and have been saving for just three years. At times I thought we would never get there. It is easy to become discouraged but you just have to keep trying. We’re still learning but here are my top ten tips for success
      1) If you can find a partner that’s as keen as you, you’ve halved the cost already!
      2) Live the simple life and save. We quit eating meat, grew 75% of our own food, got rid of the car and got bikes, bought what we needed from thrift stores etc. We were eventually saving over 50% of our wages.
      3) Look for a solid simple boat. We have none of the mod cons! No furlers, fridge, shower, aircon or LPG. Manual toilet and windlass . Just a solid, well maintained boat and rig. Everyone tells us she’ll get us round the world safe!
      4) Aim to live aboard as soon as you can! We were lucky enough to have wonderful family that lent us 1/3 of the $65k we needed to get the boat ahead of schedule and living aboad/ sailing right away. That means substantial savings on rent while you pay back the loan as fast as possible.
      5) Learn to do everything yourself! Fix your own car/bike/home/clothes and appliances. Garden, cut your own wood etc etc and once you know how offer to do it for others! Pay it forward and it’ll come back to you 10 fold. Working parties just got our boat stripped and painted! It was a massive job! Pay friends royally in food and tea and you’ll be amazed at the free labour you’ll receive.
      6) House sit! Looking after people’s homes when they go away saves you on rent and utilities and sometimes they even pay you! Yeah you have to be a little nomadic but hey, that’s why you’re buying a boat right? We once scored a 6 month house sit when a friend went travelling! That is serious saving!
      7) Read and learn – use the library, it’s free! Read a book called Voyaging on a small income by ??Annie Hill?? It’s a great thrifty philosophy to follow. Learning gives you knowledge, knowledge gives you confidence in yourself, and you can tackle anything with confidence!
      8) Be strict with yourself. We lived by the mantra ‘budget means boat!’ every time we were tempted to waste money. Accounting for everything really helps see where you’re losing money. I’m a nerd and enjoyed watching the ‘saving’ slice of the pie chart expand each month.
      9) Quit the booze, or start brewing which is what we did. This is a big saving in Australia, even for the social drinker.
      10) Find alternatives to expensive activities. You can find a free way of doing most sports and exercise. Counter invites out with friends with invites over to your place for a meal. Borrow a film rather than go to the cinema etc, etc.
      I know a lot of these things seem a tad extreme but hey you want to buy a boat before you’ve too old/committed/lost interest in the idea. I guess a few sacrifices are how we get to what we want. We’re far from experts and are only muddling through, making plenty of mistakes as we go but we’ve saved more than we thought possible and so far achieved our goals and we’ve enjoyed doing it too!
      I hope these pointers help give you some encouragment and I’d be more than happy to share more if you’re interested.
      Matt

      Reply
    • Matt July 23, 2014, 8:13 am

      Btw, I’m a different Matt, to the one that wrote the article, just to avoid confusion! :-)

      Reply
    • Matt July 23, 2014, 12:06 pm

      Ian, I certainly did gloss over a few things, in the interest of brevity and to avoid what could become an off-topic political discussion.

      Notably, I did not touch on why our generation (I am in my late twenties) is in such a different financial situation than our predecessors. The growing gap between the elite and the stagnant middle/lower classes, and the reasons why real wages have been stagnant or declining for over 30 years despite tremendous improvements in productivity per worker, are complex political issues that call for solutions on a national, not an individual, scale.

      It is possible for individuals to work around those structural socioeconomic problems to achieve our own goals. That we can, with great effort, occasionally succeed in doing so does not negate the need for us, collectively as a society, to fix the problems with our current economic systems.

      Reply
      • Marc Dacey July 30, 2014, 1:33 am

        A well-considered piece, and John’s instincts not to soapbox on this one are very wise, I think. We have a house in Toronto, not an iffy part, I hope, and we bought in 1998, before the current madness began here. From the beginning, we rented out half the house, allotting that to cover the mortgage, and that practice, plus a yearly chucking of $10-15K at the principle, got us mortgage-free in 7.5 years. We lived like students, and had/have no car…the 1970s sailboat and YC membership being, along with property taxes, our greatest expenses.
        Of course, after six months of “freedom”, we got a fresh mortgage against the house’s value (now slightly more than twice what we paid) and bought outright the boat I’m still fitting out. We still have tenants, and this mortgage is once again below any kind of anxiety level.

        My point is that if you have the Scottish gene, and if you are, as has been pointed out, willling to forgo certain amenities, particularly of the monthly fee type, you can leverage property to get the one-time payment to acquire a house. This “house-as-bank” idea only seems scary until one realizes that houses are otherwise “dead money” in which the profit is only captured if you sell up…and had bought at the bottom and sold at the top. Well, that’s both hard to time and involves the places where one lays his/her head, and therefore can be emotional. Far better, we feel, to have just one-half of a house (the smaller space becomes prep for the liveaboard life) and to use the houses as “two flats” while cruising. So for me, a very good topic of discussion would be to hear real-life experiences with a) selling up entirely, b) buying income property to provide cash flow while cruising, or c) using one’s house as one or more rental units and hiring (perhaps) a superintendent or property management firm to deal with leaky taps and bill-paying.

        Because acquiring the boat we found easy. Finding the dollars to fit it out and to run it is a different story.

        Reply
  • Dick Stevenson July 23, 2014, 4:34 am

    Matt,
    Thanks for an interesting take on getting into offshore cruising.
    The take off point for your comments is to describe someone who knows what s/he wants to do (offshore cruising) and needs to develop a plan of how to get there. I suspect the majority of people take a much more meandering path where the end is less in sight.
    I know one of my big steps was to buy a boat with a good pedigree that had sunk and was a complete insurance write off by the company. I bought it on a blind bid auction. I still had no idea where exactly I was going, but I did know I was cruising (weekends & summer holidays) with 3 children on a 28 foot boat and I needed to go bigger. I learned a ton refurbishing my now 38 foot boat and we cruised her for 15 years, but I was assuredly very happy that my next boat, Alchemy, was only 2 years old.
    It was only later in life that we thought we might pull off retiring early and go wandering full time on a boat and developed a 5 year plan to do so.
    That is a long winded way of saying that my take is that the majority of us now out here have evolved into wandering cruisers rather than had a goal set from the get-go. Most of this evolving seems to synergistally arise out a love for sailing, a love of the outdoors, a wish to travel widely and a curiosity about the world. I absolutely know a few who were goal directed from the start, but they are the small (and usually greatly admired) minority.
    My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

    Reply
  • bruno July 23, 2014, 7:01 am

    thks Matt,
    an article to straight to the point,
    However, let me be more optimistic,
    eventhough John ´s previous article is absolutly right too, the second hand market is so low nowadays, at least in Europe, that opportunities are numerous,
    Advertised prices is known to lead to selling prices abt 20% less or even more, some boats are even given for free …
    So if you wish to start small, and even Go small, go simple, go now,… it is almost as easy as 30 years ago,
    Of course these older boats usually need a refit … or you could even be that lucky to find a boat which was already refitted by the previous owner… going for another 1m longer bargain …

    Older boats are usually sturdier, by the way, and i was lucky myself to find an old “small” but superstrong and light oceangoing glory of the 70’ies, which had had some essential refits, looked awfull cosmeticly, and of course needed more love and TLC which gave me the other essential opportunity to learn to kniw her from bottom to top ..

    so yes it is possible !
    fairwinds !

    Reply
    • Matt July 23, 2014, 12:36 pm

      I certainly don’t mean to suggest that everyone must buy a new boat. The used market is bigger, has more selection, and has lower prices.

      It is important, though, to realize what you’re getting into. Many, many boatowners have been burned by skyrocketing rebuild / refit costs after thinking they got “a hell of a deal” on something that “just needs some cosmetic work”.

      If you’re OK with doing a refit on an older boat, then by all means go for it. Just don’t go in with unrealistic expectations of how cheap, easy or quick it’ll be.

      Reply
  • richard s. (s/v lakota) July 23, 2014, 9:31 am

    excellent article…as one who has implemented and lived by many of the measures outlined by both of the above matts i can attest to their effectiveness even for those not looking to go long-range cruising…if you simply want to just abandon the rat race as being too stressful you can do it by implementing some or all of these measures…it’s called living well without a salary although those looking to go long-range cruising may need to keep that salary plus implement the above measures…cheers

    richard s.
    tampa bay

    Reply
  • ChrisW July 23, 2014, 10:21 am

    We have been cruising in some fashion for 40 years. We have been cruising full time on our seventh cruising boat for the last three years. Five of those boats we bought from a racer or a cruiser and none via a broker. Two we bought new, and one of those was semi-custom — we’ve had it for nine years now .

    Of them all, one we owned for a year, and one we owned for 15 years. In the early years we borrowed unsecured money against good jobs, we scrimped on just about everything, and we took advantage of inflation having devalued our payments relative to wages. In the mid years loans became mortgages secured by the boat and with hefty down payments to drive the rate as low as possible — usually the total proceeds of selling the previous boat. We upped the scrimping, and we put our credit cards on a choker leash. And finally after decades, we were able to pay cash.

    Boat eight is on the horizon and boat seven will have to pay for it. And because of that, boat eight will probably be less of a boat because of the depreciation even good boats suffer and because the glut of good used boats has driven prices downward. And we don’t “scrimp” anymore because over the years, frugal was what we became not just how we forced ourselves to behave. And it took force. Living in a consumerist society the pressure to keep up with the pack was huge, and in some cases some of that was required to keep our jobs. Misery loves company, and when your boss is carrying a financial burden it can affect the boss’s judgement if you aren’t — or aren’t carrying one they understand. I can’t count the number of times our early large boat ownership was misinterpreted as excess wealth vs hard core frugality. I had one boss who actually said I obviously didn’t need a raise, I had a big boat… He was standing there in a $2000 dollar suit and $400 shoes when he said it.

    Three things were key. Good Jobs — jobs that allowed us to save. Reality Driven Budgets — you will spend every penny you have and not know where they went without a budget that is used to control spending. Hard choices — Human wants far exceed human needs. We chose to drive our cars for ten years+. We chose to refresh our computers only when they could no longer safely and effectively interface with the infosphere. We chose to take real vacations every three years or so and cook when we got there. We chose to eat out less. But we also chose to dress for success, to take care of our health, to be generous with others. Once those choices had been in place for a while they became habits.

    Our boat ownership (which does not include payments) takes 25% of our budget (which still includes savings set asides even though we are “retired”). That is at least twice any other budget element. There are things we would enjoy that are denied to us — by us. It’s about making initially uncomfortable choices and sticking with them.

    Full Disclosure. We did not have children to raise. That was a choice as well, but not a financial one.

    Reply
  • Richard P July 23, 2014, 1:03 pm

    I have to agree that a couple with average incomes can become cruisers: 1) Have a spouse that supports the cruising dream 2) Be willing to live frugally. 3) Learn handyman and self sufficiency skills.

    Skip pay TV, shop thrift shops, eat at home, bring lunch to work, mow your own lawn, let the other guy buy the latest and greatest gadget, live below your means. Make living frugally a point of pride. We enjoy swapping frugal tips with friends and family. Spend less time with people who aren’t also frugal, because they will draw you into their high cost lifestyle.

    It is easier than you think to become a handyman. When something is broken, what harm can you do by taking it apart? When you first start disassembling broken things, it will be a challenging puzzle that you may not always solve. But, with practice, you’ll gather the tools and skill to fix almost anything… sometimes even electronics can be repaired. But, you’ll never learn, if you don’t try. And, the time to start learning is now.

    Learn to paint, refinish and varnish. If you enjoy doing such things around your house/apt, any boater can attest to the fact that your boat will give you ample opportunities to practice those skills.

    But, if you don’t have #1, #2 and #3 above, then you need to focus on earning a lot of income to buy your way into this expensive activity.

    Reply
    • Matt July 23, 2014, 3:55 pm

      Very good points, Richard, so true….
      I count myself very lucky to have #1 in particular taken care of. Probably three times a week I have this conversation on the way home:
      Katy: “So, what part of the boat are we going to build tonight?”
      Me: “Probably none, because tonight we need to mow the lawn, trim the dog’s claws before he shreds something, replace the car’s cabin air fan, reconnect that heating duct in the crawlspace and eat dinner, and I still need two hours to finish the drawings for the outrigger bulkheads before we can build the jig for them.”
      Katy: “Ah. (Pause.) So, what part of the boat do we build tomorrow?”

      Reply
  • richard s. (s/v lakota) July 23, 2014, 4:02 pm

    this is another critical element: good sense of humor

    cheers
    richard s.
    tampa bay

    Reply
  • Hoftman July 23, 2014, 5:56 pm

    The idea to downsize everything, in preparation for a long period aboard a 40 foot sailboat, is a necessity not an option. I need to prepare my family for the simple life, long before the yard delivers the ship, or else the recipe is for disaster.

    A frugal mind setup definitively contributes towards that. I teach my wife and kids to be thankful for their food and roof. And I also teach them that material things, are all dispensable, and that little they contribute to true happiness (even sailboats!). I agree with Chris, I teach my wife and kids that frugality can’t mean not taking good care of my family, nor stop being generous with others (even with cash).

    An important lesson that a sailboat you can take you offshore single handed will teach effectively, is: (i) the definition of safety and reliability; and, (ii) the difference between needs and wants.

    With that said, an old proverb says “Put productive assets to work — and afterwards move on to build the non productive assets.” I like this approach, so I also teach my wife and kids that their own Startups are the right place to go looking for sponsorships, specially when it comes to each adventure that won’t self-sustain. In time, projects eventually become more sophisticated, and capable of funding greater dreams.

    Succession planning should be a constant priority, from day one. Or else, you’ll be a CEO all your life. You don’t name an independent Board because you want to receive orders in your own company… you name it because, eventually you will no longer want to be the CEO, and need a mature collegiate body to oversee your replacement. In fact, if you are like me, you don’t even want to be in the Board. There’s abundance of well documented cases, where successful owners were “out” of the CEO position within 2-5 years, to pursue other interests.

    Frugality + Productivity = Powerful Formulation.

    It’ll allow the person ample room for generosity and access to a rich (as in colorful) and satisfying life, that most only dream about.

    Reply
  • John Q July 23, 2014, 9:30 pm

    I see a number of comments on refitting an older boat.
    Advantages:
    Huge saving in cost.

    You can rebuild the accommodation to suit your needs – building in multiple lockers outboard of settees, for instance. (I have fifteen separate lockers in my main cabin, as well as wide shelf space.) I also have a bunch of lighting units I installed.

    You know how everything works – and if something goes wrong – hey, you put it there the first time, you can do it again.

    If I were looking for a boat right now, I’d have jumped on the Pearson Vanguard offered here recently for just $2,000.

    Reply
    • Marc Dacey July 30, 2014, 10:14 am

      This is true. Having bought a custom boat, and being able to access the previous owner’s “decisions”, I simply do not have the reticence to chop and drill away to suit my own ends that I would have with a production boat, which, despite often glaring errors of construction, can seem more “legitimate” a build, and therefore discouraging to alter.

      Reply
  • RDE July 24, 2014, 12:42 am

    I can’t help but call to mind Fred Roswold & Judy Jensen, (SV Wings– Serendipity 43) when they lived in Shilshole Marina in Seattle. Every Wednesday night they would rush down to the dock, removing items of their business attire as they went, and then race the Beer Can races. The boat had an open race boat interior— sails stacked on one side of the foksle, business suits and dresses on the other.

    20 years later and they are back to Mexico—- almost completed a circumnavigation! Along the way they have worked in places like Singapore for extended times, raced at every opportunity—- and Wings still doesn’t have a real dodger or cockpit with seat backs. Cruising long term is a question of desire, not money. How many people who start out with a 55′ air conditioned, automated, electric winched, generator powered “fully equipped yacht” will still be doing it in 20 years?

    Young with no money at all? Buy a sunk insurance write-off for $3000 and spend several years rebuilding it to a state where it can be re-sold. No matter how mechanically clueless you were at the start, you will now be more educated than 99% of the other cruisers, and when you buy the right boat to go cruising on you will not be a slave to the dock and the marine trades .

    Reply
  • RDE July 24, 2014, 12:56 am

    ps Fatty Goodlander’s Niagra 35 was a sunk hurricane wreck, and hardly anybody’s idea of an ideal blue water design. Sailed in the VI without an engine for a year. Completed two circumnavigations before they sold her and moved up to a bigger derelict Wauquiez.

    Reply
  • Dannie July 26, 2014, 10:20 am

    A very good article, Matt. I’m older, semi-retired and many of the same rules apply to a person of my age. It’s really not so hard to obtain a truly seaworthy boat. Now, if you want to keep up with the Jones’s then things get hard. Applying the same rules for a boat as you did for a house is a good rule.

    The problem I have is not getting an ocean worthy boat and going offshore– it’s the mooring while you’re refitting, preparing for a passage or just waiting out weather. Docking and mooring fees have gotten out of control. And even worse than that is the shrinking availability of free anchorages. Storing a boat on ‘the hard’ is expensive now as well.

    Lots of things to think about but if you’re looking to cross oceans or just visit the islands it is doable if you set your own standards and don’t expect the lap of luxury while plying the seas

    Reply
    • Matt July 28, 2014, 11:02 am

      Dannie, that’s an interesting point about mooring / docking costs. I took a quick look at that in the design phase of what became the Starwind 860 trimaran…. turns out that the extra cost of building a trailer, and a step up in vehicles to tow it (8-year-old GMC Yukon XL where a Grand Caravan would otherwise have sufficed), was going to be cheaper than two years of dock and winter storage fees.

      Large boats are treated as luxuries around here, and the support services for them have adjusted their pricing accordingly.

      Reply

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