The following tips are useful if you are like me. That is, if you live off the smell of an oily rag, you can give things a crack even though you don’t know anything about the subject matter.
When buying a boat….assume the broker is an idiot until proven otherwise. I mean there has to be some good brokers out there surely but I did not meet one. All the ones I met knew nothing about the boat construction, the rigging, you know, all the bloody important stuff etc. What they did know was stuff like: how roomy the boat was, how well looked after the boat was and, this was a goody, the maximum number of people the boat can sleep. All of these things I could work out for myself within the first 10 seconds, so the broker had reduced themselves to opening the boat with the key and that was about as useful as they got!
Read as much as you can. I personally did not read any flashy magazines with the very expensive boats in them since they were way out of my league but I scanned one quickly once and I discovered that the writers were just as useless as the brokers I had met. Is there a “school for the bleeding obvious” that all brokers and yacht writers go to in order to gain fitful employment? Far out…maybe they are related.
Join a sailing club. Put your name down for twilight cruising or weekend races. I did this but quickly I came to realize that the yacht racing world was not for me. They really do take it seriously, and you know me, I don’t take anything seriously. But you do get to talk to people that know there stuff and you can pick their brains and start getting an idea of what type of boat may be for you.
Offer to help some yachtie fix his boat. This may put you off boats altogether and save you heaps in money and time. Repairing things is one thing but repairing things on boats is another thing altogether. All the spaces are small. Access to the broken or suspect piece of hardware is always difficult. You will come to realize that stuff on boats will last a maximum of 10 years but that’s not to say that you won’t remove that piece of hardware 2 or 3 times during the 10 years and pull it apart for some reason with the very likely result that the mystical 10 years lifetime has suddenly reduced itself down to 3. Shit happens but shit happens on boats more. I am not trying to dissuade you, you just have to know this. Hey I am not stupid and I am still on a boat after 7 years so there must be something good about it.
Don’t buy a brand new boat. What you do, is you let someone else do this for you. They pay the obscene price and then test it for you over a few years so you can see where it is failing and not up to scratch. I like these people. They must be the most empathetic people around. They see you in the future buying their boat. They know your lack of funds and your concern about the strength and durability of the boat. They then, out of the goodness of their hearts, make the decision to buy it for you brand new, test it and then give you a discount after all the testing because they are such good blokes. These people are the best people ever. And I mean ever.
Here is an example of why you ought not buy a brand new boat. I drove past one boat everyday when I was working. It was sitting in the same spot on the hardstand for more than 2 years. The story goes like this. It was purchased brand new from a well-known manufacturer and was the subject of legal proceedings. Within 2 years of purchase it was delaminating everywhere. This is not an isolated example. There are others. You can avoid this because of the kind hearted ones that will do this testing for you. Yep, these are mighty fine people.
When you buy your boat, live on it as soon as possible and start making it your home. If you don’t do this then visiting and fixing your boat will become a chore. You have to tow your tender/dinghy through traffic down to the boat ramp, pay for parking, get out to your boat and then start doing the jobs for the day and then you have to pack up at the end of the day and return home. That is going to be at least an hour or 2. And then one day it will be rainy or windy and it is just too hard to get there etc etc. I know of one couple that bought a boat that was ready to cruise and it took them 11 months to get it ready for them….this is probably extreme and they were probably very slow but there will always be stuff to do on boats. ALWAYS!
So you begin to live on your boat. Suddenly the 8 hours per day you had available when you lived on land has now grown to 16 hours. How good is that! What’s more, you are starting to get the benefits. The sunsets are not a hurried time of leaving the boat for your land home but a time of enjoyment and reflection. You will see the sunrise in the morning. You will be gently rocked to sleep and have that salt smell soak into your soul. Ahhhhhhhh. Just sit back now and imagine for 30 seconds…………………………………………….. Do you feel that? It’s a dangerous feeling that. It is a bit faint and some of you may not have imagined hard enough but for those that can just feel that, that my dear friends is the feeling of your freedom and salvation.
If you can’t sleep you simply get up and do another job at 1 am and the activity will get your mind off the concern. You also get to mingle with other yachties who, almost without exception, are the best people in the world. You can tell them all your problems and they will tell everyone, I mean EVERYONE….and then there is no more problem. There you go, you just saved on a psychologist/psychiatrist too.
Be the handy man for everything even if you don’t know how to do it. If you don’t know how to do it ask around, Google it or go on you tube. If you don’t find out using these you are not trying hard enough. Believe me there is almost always something on google or in youtube land.
If you pay someone to do it then all you get good at is writing a cheque. And if you don’t do anything yourself you will be writing a lot of cheques. Also when do you think something breaks down? When you are conveniently at a port or town? That happens almost never. Breakdowns have usually happened to me away from town and twice at very isolated locations where there was no-one around. Both of them concerned a motor overheating. On the first occasion, although I had my other motor functioning I couldn’t leave. I had to navigate a very tight course through sandbanks with a cross wind. This is something I can’t do with one motor because my cat is so wide. I am a bit like a one legged duck, I swim in circles. On the other occasion I was at sea south of Port Danger in 30 knots. The forecast was 20 to 25 knots ESE which was perfect for travelling north however at about 11pm it went E and then ENE and then NE at about 2 am and was throwing me against the coast. I had to use my port motor plus the heady sheeted in real tight to claw away from the coast. I was just thinking everything was going ok when the port motor overheated. I tried to use the starboard motor but the geometry was wrong and I couldn’t get away from the coast. I brought in the heady and just drifted. It was not too big a deal. If I couldn’t solve the problem we could always turn back but I was relauctant to give up the sea miles I had already made. I gave myself an hour to work out the problem since to give it any longer would have put me too close to the coast and I set about trying to solve the problem. The water pump belt was fine so I figured it was either the impellor gone or some plastic around the motor. When I removed the salt water intake pipe to the water pump it usually flows but this time it didn’t so there was something blocking the water from the outside. The sea conditions were not great and it was dark and there were only 2 of us on board so we decided it was too risky to jump in. In any case I had a really quick solution. I had 10 metres of garden hose which I attached to the saltwater pump that fed the galley. I then put this straight to the water pump. I closed off the seacock just in case the plastic fell away from the engine. I waited another 20 minutes for the motor to cool a bit more and then whacked on the galley saltwater pump and started the engine. Problem solved. We clawed away from the coast sufficiently and got into Southport no problem. I also have had breakdowns in high stress situations. Once I was in 40 knots near Hamilton Island where I had to get people to the airport. My boat can battle against 33 knots but not 40. Because it was a little cross to the channel, If I hugged the eastern part of the channel I could make headway. figure out how to do it yourself…the time therefore people is NOW to learn to do the repairs even if you botch them up because before you leave you will have lots of people to ask and you can simply redo it again and again until you get it right and then guess what you start being independent and then don’t need to ask anymore