shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Why Some Boats Never Go Sailing

May 12, 2014

Since we've been searching for a small sailboat for our son and his family, we have seen some strange, and sometimes sad, advertisements. One recurring theme is some variation of the old "bought a boat, decided to refinish it, gutted it, realized I was in way over my head and can't fix it, so now it's for sale." Naturally, not many owners admit the true reason. It is usually disguised as "no longer have time," "ran out of energy," or the classic excuse of "my wife doesn't like the boat." Maybe what your wife doesn't like is the time and money you're wasting on the boat. I bet if you took her sailing she might not make you sell the money pit.

Gutting a boat (or a house or RV) is the easy part. People buy project boats with the best of intentions, though they are usually lying to themselves about their own skills, confidence and ability to follow through on a major project. But they buy the boat, dreaming of how beautiful it will be when they finish it, then gut it, stare at an empty interior and think, "Oh my. Now what?" Months or years and thousands of dollars later, they realize their mistake and sell the boat. The problem is that the boat is now worthless to anyone besides someone just like them: people who prefer to dream about sailing instead of actually sailing.

The brightwork can be done in the Caribbean.

Another popular theme is the "buy it, spend lots of money on gadgets and gizmos to make it easier to sail, waste hundreds of could-be sailing hours making it pretty, but never take it sailing." Here is a sad example of why some boats never go sailing.



This boat must go, sadly! I can no longer afford storage fees. So I'm selling or trading her for a mere fraction of what I've put into her--including a $6000 custom trailer and thousands of dollars’ worth of Garhauer stainless parts, Anderson winches, electronics, and so forth. This is a 27' Catalina C27 sloop that was built in 1977, bought by me in 2007, torn down to bare fiberglass and extensively reworked and refitted--cherry bulkheads, teak and holly folding table with teak fiddle rails and wooden knife hinges, a mahogany dishrack, a porcelain tile/epoxy grout galley, and so forth. Outside, she's got Anderson 2-speed winches, a Garhauer rigid boom vang and a Garhauer traveler, and a hinged mast base/mouse for easy takedown/removal. Although she never had a single osmotic blister and has never been in salt water, I intended to cruise her in the Caribbean so sanded her bare, applied fairing compound to her keel, put on five layers of epoxy barrier coat and two coats of hard bottom paint, reworked her rudder, replaced all her thru-hulls, and that sort of thing. I have a teak sole in the cabin and planned one in the cockpit as well. To make her more suited to blue water, I changed out the stanchions for some six inches higher and four times as strong, and got rid of the flimsy original pulpit and aft rails, plus added synthetic teak toerails all around. I built a standup shower in the head with a forward escape hatch/ventilator. She has an electric macerator toilet, an LP tankless water heater, and other upgrades. But I never put her in the water. I had a float-on launching trailer built with stainless hardware and LED lighting, but economic changes made it unfeasible for me to sail away. And now I've come to the end of the lease on the storage unit where I've got her with all her parts, waiting for the last bits to be completed.

Blisters can be removed in Trinidad.

She's been painted with Perfection epoxy in white and navy blue--gorgeous paint--with gold trim. I was prepping her top deck for non-skid Kiwigrip paint when the rains hit in North Carolina, and it rained every day for a month. I kept her under a tarp, but the blue tape stuck hard. It needs to be removed and the decks painted, and then all the varnished teak (already done) and deck hardware need to be installed. I've bought all new ropes, lifelines, and so forth, and have the teak for her sole, and I have a new instrument/control panel and new Raymarine ST60 instruments that need to be installed. I have cut memory foam to increase the seating depth and make for better sleeping, and navy blue upholstery material in a soft velvet corduroy is already cut, with zippers and fittings and welting cord and the works, ready to be sewn. So there's some work left, but I find myself working the equivalent of two jobs and need to sacrifice her to someone else who can take on the task or pay to have it done. She's still got her inboard Atomic 4 and a great prop, and her tanks are good.

So I'm asking for just enough now to cover a few bills. I have about $24,000 invested plus years of work... and virtually everything you need in terms of materials and supplies to finish her the way you want.

But nothing beats a Virgin Island's sunset.

He planned to sail her to the Caribbean, but had a $6,000 trailer built? He invested $24,000 and years of work into a 27-foot Catalina that is almost 40 years old? For that money he could have hopped in the boat the day he bought it, sailed it for a year and thrown it away. If he lived similarly to our $2000/month budget, he would have spent the same amount of money. Instead, he has a boat with everything that he can't afford to sail. Ever. HE NEVER PUT IT IN THE WATER. She's got gadgets, she's beautiful, she's ready for Caribbean sailing, but she's sitting in a storage unit.

Please, if you want to go sailing, don't read the ads in sailing magazines, don't read the hype on sailing forums, don't buy a single item that is not necessary to be Coast Guard legal and to keep her crew safe. If you've got good standing and running rigging and a serviceable suit of sails, GO! Fix what breaks on the way, make her pretty while you're sitting in port waiting for a weather window. Haul her out in Trinidad during hurricane season when you've nothing else to do anyway and work on the blisters you and she have earned along the way. Sitting in port creating the perfect boat is nothing at all like watching the sunset over the horizon. The dolphins don't care how old your bottom paint is, they'll still play in your bow wake. When you sail into your first Caribbean port, drop your anchor in 20 feet of water so clear you can count the starfish around you, lounge in your hammock on deck and watch the palm trees sway in the trade winds, you won't regret not having stayed at home and worked on the boat. If you want to go sailing, GO. If you want to stay home and work on the boat, well, we'll be looking for your ad on Craigslist.

With the big H season quickly approaching, MONDAY we'll share one of our favorite stories about changing seasons.

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