[R] or [D]?

It seems as if the more advice I seek in finding the right boat for me, the more confused I get. There are people who love and swear by the heavy-displacement full keel boats. Then there are those who love and swear by the lighter fin keel boats. Each will say “I knew this guy who had a (insert boat type here) and listen what happened to him!” I don’t get it. What gives?! How am I supposed to make up my mind when everyone I’m asking has significant offshore cruising experience yet completely different “must have’s”? It’s like trying to decide if I’m a Republican [R] or Democrat [D]. To switch to the political topic for a second, I didn’t grow up in a political family. It wasn’t until I was finished with my four year enlistment and well into college in a very backwards conservative state, then I decided I was indeed liberal. OK, back to boat shopping:

The [R] in this case I’m going to say is the full keel heavy displacement side. These boats move slower, they are heavier, they are said to weather storms better. “They are sooo slow and sail terribly in light winds, you’ll end up motoring more than anything” fellow Dem’s would say.

The [D] would be the fin keel racer/cruiser. I’ve read that they can out-run storms because of the speed they can achieve, while the [R] side is going to say “yeah, well you’re going to get stuck in a storm at some point so you might as well have a full keel.”

Then there’s the advice of going on a race down to Mejico or Hawaii. That takes about three weeks to a month to get there and come back. There’s no way I can get three weeks off to sail over to Hawaii or Mexico at my job, so that’s not an option. The internet cut out on me as I was searching Craigslist and Yachtworld this past weekend for boats, so I picked up a book and started reading. Cruising on Seraffyn by Lin and Larry Pardey. Although I had no idea who this couple was when I first moved aboard, my former boss enlightened me to this couple and I picked up their book detailing their adventure. If you don’t know, Google them 🙂 It will amaze you, no matter how little you know about sailing. Anyways, just a few pages into the book and Lin said something that hit home for me. She and Larry set sail on a 24′ boat that had almost electronics. They had about a month of maintenance for the ENTIRE year on that boat. What a beautiful thing! I hear so many people say that cruising is just doing boat work in exotic places. Screw that! I want to explore the world around me! I want to go hiking and swimming and eat the food, get to know the culture, etc. I don’t want to be strapped down to boat work. I am even starting to know people who are downsizing because of the maintenance overload. That doesn’t sound like freedom to me.

While I will need more time to decide if I’m a [R] or a [D] in the boating world, here’s a list of things I absolutely must have:

Standing Head Room (for me, that would be about 5’9″, a girl’s gotta be able to wear her bun that adds a couple of extra inches)
Galley (gimbaled stove/oven, sink with salt water intake and foot pump, ice box/refrigerator)
Head with holding tank
Enclosed storage for food, dishes, etc. (I’m thinking something along the lines of the port and starboard side shelves that usually have a lip or rail along to keep things from falling over. I want this part enclosed, to keep the dogs hair off of my stuff. It. Will. Save. My. Life.)
Diesel Inboard

So far the boats that meet this criteria (that I have found) are:
Contessa 26′
Albin Vega 27′

Both are full keel designs. Probably considered “slow”, but I guess the tradeoff for having a faster boat equals no standing head room in a boat that small. Because of all of my back injuries and the fact that I haven’t and probably won’t ever return to “normal”, I really need me some standing headroom. Hunching over is just not going to happen. The plus side, these boats were pretty reasonably priced! Under $15K, which was my budget to begin with. Onward with my adventure, I will probably end up settling right now for a boat that is about 30’and ready to move aboard as well as be ready to sail. It will give me more time to decide what exactly I want, it will give me more time to save more monay, and hopefully I’ll have more sailing experience under my belt.

I don’t want to hate just yet. I love all keels equally.


paying for things once, not twice

A few months after I moved aboard I tried doing a very simple upgrade: changing out the faceplate of an outlet. Not only did the outlet crumble, when I went to unplug the shore power so I could replace the receptacle the prongs came out in my shore power cord (not supposed to happen!). Since I’d had a string of unreliable people when it came to boat work, the only person who had been interested in helping me had a brother who was out of work and was an electrician. Not a marine electrician, but “it’s the same thing, right??? Right??” He did a good job and got my shore power outlet replaced, my outlets working, my cabin lights working, installed an automatic bilge pump, etc. etc. but generally speaking when mariners take a look at my battery or the way the wires are hooked up, it scares them.

So far everything has been working fine, except my automatic bilge pump. This stopped working probably over a year ago. I never really bothered to fix it because I still had a manual one as a back up and I was always around to pump any rainwater overboard and would pull out the wet-vac to get whatever was left over. If I had fixed this automatic bilge pump, I wouldn’t have come home to standing water after being gone for a week. Blarg! I hired a neighbor to help me replace the bilge pump and when we were taking it apart it was apparent where the water damage was. As we were installing the new bilge pump, it was apparent that the previous one was not installed with proper protection from water elements. There was no heat gun used to shrink the adapter around the wires, there was no heat-shrink tube that went over that adapter that was blasted with the heat gun again, and there was no liquid electrical tape pasted around the edges of the heat-shrink tube. That’s triple protection right there! All in all, I’m happy to see that there’s a new auto-b-p installed and I’m glad I got to see how he did it. It’s wired to it’s own switch, that can be either manual pump or automatic and is of course attached to the battery. Perfect timing, because it’s raining today. The moral of the story? If you pay for something to be done correctly the first time, yes, it’s going to be more expensive, but you won’t have to pay for it to be done a second time. 🙂


As for the boat search, I’m still searchin’. There are three boats for sale here in the marina that interest me. A Bristol 32′, an Ericson 32′, and a powerboat that’s 31′ and would give me time to find something before actually plunging into another project boat. Both the Bristol and the Ericson need a considerable amount of work. Haul out, new sails, new rigging, bottom and topside paint, the Ericson has a soft spot in the deck which is a problem. The Atomic 4 engine on the Bristol doesn’t work. If I got the Bristol, which is probably the more homey of the two sailboats, how would I get it over to the harbormastors office for inspection? The Ericson’s engine works, but, it’s not as homey feeling and needs a bunch of work to it. I’m hopefully going to look at all three this weekend. Even if I’m not entirely interested, it’s good to see what’s out there and talk to as many people as I can. Perhaps if someone knows of something they’ll contact me.

That’s all for this week, folks! Have a good weekend.