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.
A tip about Brokers
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: 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!
A tip on knowing what to buy
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. Look at cruising forums on the net and search and read and then read some more. Get on a boat by joining a sailing club. Put your name down for twilight cruising or weekend races. I did this but quickly 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 their 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 equipment 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.
Tip on buying a “new” old boat
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 completely stupid and I am still on a boat since 2010 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. Sometimes they even repair it properly so it is better than before. I like these people. They are the most wonderful 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. I mean it was coming off in sheets. This is not an isolated example but it is an extreme example. There are others of lesser degree all over the place. You can avoid this because of the kind hearted ones that will do this testing for you. Yep, these are mighty fine people.
Tips on repairing your boat
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 youtube, visit a cruising forum and do a word search. If you pay someone to do work on your boat 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.
Figure out how to fix things yourself now while you are close to town. If you botch it up you will have lots of people to ask to get it right and you can simply redo it easily so when you are away from everything you can do it yourself.
A tip about living on the boat straight away
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 wasted per day. 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 while living on the boat. 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.
If you can’t sleep you simply get up and do another job at 1:00 am and the activity will get your mind off whatever was bothering you in the first place. 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 psychiatrist too.
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 are in the zone, that my dear friends is the feeling of your freedom and salvation.
A tip on being creative
Sometimes a proper solution to a problem is not the way to go especially if the circumstances are trying.
On one occasion I was at sea south of Port Danger (East coast of Australia) 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 at about 2 am and was throwing me against the coast. I had to use my port engine to assist in clawing away from the coast. I was just thinking everything was going ok when the port engine overheated. I tried to use the starboard engine but the geometry was wrong. It was no real big deal. If I couldn’t solve the problem we could always turn back but I was reluctant to give up the sea miles. The water pump belt was fine so I figured it was either the impellor gone or some plastic bag around the sail drive. 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. I attached a tether to me and jumped in to take a look. There was nothing blocking the intakes from the outside. So what did I do? I had 15 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 too just in case. I waited another 30 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. Incidentally, the blockage was a small octopus. Ha, who would have known?