Being a boat owner and how to eat an elephant one bite at a time


Well, I pulled the trigger on the sailboat, the 39′ Columbia. She is certainly a piece of work: a project boat. The guy who owned her previously was going to leave her at the docks and let the marina auction her off, there was a seizure notice on the vessel the first time I checked her out. The hull is certainly worth five grand anyhow, and it was five years ago or so that an old man was single handing her. The owner I bought from only owned the boat for a year, and the bottom paint was done just before he got her. It looked good to my untrained eye, aside from the barnacles that had started to build. I probably would have backed out of the deal except I couldn’t because I just paid eighteen hundred dollars in back slip fees to get the boat at all. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess: with a little work she will be a cruising machine.

I have itemized the list in my head of things that need immediate attention and fixing. First and foremost would be the engine, I was told that she needed injection work, nothing more. Second would be cleaning out the potable water tank and fixing the cap, which looks like a piece of forged iron that broke off in the fill tubing. Third is the toilet, which I was told also does not work. The winch was removed by the previous guy because it was jamming up, so I’ll need a new one of those, along with an anchor chain to match. The boat comes with a danforth and plow anchor, so I will be close to ready to set sail and anchor outside of a beach with minimal extra cash. Which is good, because at two-hundred and seventy dollars a month slip fees and one hundred dollars extra for live-aboard, I can’t afford to stay in the marina long. All the running rigging that I can see, aside from the main halyard, which is brand new, look like junk. I will certainly want a new furling line for the furling jib if I want to use it for a storm jib in heavy weather without it snapping. The previous owner told me that he took it out only once and that the mast had a bend in it; this makes sense since the only piece of standing rigging that I found to be loose was a lower shroud. Of course this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the standing rigging is good, there is obvious rust here and there. I will have to look over everything much closer before taking off. I don’t know how kosher it is to use climbing ropes for my running rigging, since they are more elastic likely than normal running rigging(I assume), but I will certainly be salvaging all of my climbing ropes to make it happen.

More than what the boat is now, where it is currently bent me toward buying it. I drove to Port Aransas one day and was pleased to discover there were surfers in the water. This east facing coastline gets much more surf than where I was previously in Freeport, the pier and jetty there help to shape the sand beneath of course too. Also, everybody that I was meeting at that live-aboard marina was nice and offering a hand when needed. They all realize what work a boat can be. I have two five gallon batches of homemade wine right now, and I was thinking I should take them as my bartering tool for labor. I will also be able to feed a few people, since I’ll be harvesting the totality of my garden while I’m back home in Grand Junction. Most of the people in Rockport are dead broke though, not much of an economy in the winter is the word that I got. The guy on a trawler next to me tried to sell me a bag of tools, possibly one that was taken from the boat I bought. In the repossession, or perhaps another time, the lock was removed from the cabin. The previous owner told me that he had a bag of tools on the boat, which weren’t there. Stolen as well was standing rigging and running rigging that he said were in a shed which was available to all the other people with a slip at his previous marina. Someone is being dishonest, but I can’t really tell whom. I have come to expect some dishonesty in people more and more. A damn shame, and one reason that I want to set sail. I try to be candid.

I drove back from Texas yesterday and of course had to stop in on the ten acres of raw land that I bought to hopefully homestead on. I made mention of the two three hundred gallon water tanks that were stolen from the property at the county store and the two there told me it was probably those texans, and maybe if I talked around I could find them and get them back if they weren’t sold off already. The store clerks were older, with weathered skin, looking to be in their sixties. The lady told me that she “lived on a boats for twenty years!” I don’t know that I’m headed on that Dhamma path but it was sure fun to find some camaraderie in her. She reminded me that b-o-a-t stands for “break out another thousand.” Fair enough.

Today while driving I serendipitously found a ribbed inflatable boat for only seven hundred dollars; keep in mind these often sell for two thousand. This guy only does two days of selling every year, and I happened to get back from Texas one day before he quit, and had that very morning been looking at life rafts(with the rusted standing rigging in mind). Is it bad to make big life decisions on the whim of a feeling of auspicious happenings? I don’t think so. But it sure doesn’t help my budget. I probably shouldn’t have, yet I know that if I need to sell it when I get down there and am hungry, starving, from depleting my resources with no work, then I can. Also I think there is a church nearby that does meals, so I heard a little birdie say. Rice and beans every day. Rice and beans.

I still think sometimes if the 31 ft seafarer would have not been a better boat, but then reminisce on her loose stations and failing mizzen rigging and I think I made the right choice. Also that lead keel she’s got doesn’t make her fast. When I first boarded I had noticed how it rocked a lot with the narrower beam. That coupled with the statement by the previous owner that “you gotta worry about getting seasick” made me think that it may have been an issue for muddy or myself. Not that I’m not buying the ‘behind the ear’ sea sickness patches before I depart.

Saw this quote recently and it made me smile:

img_0163 img_0161 The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William A. Ward

Author: Ronjohn

When I take a deep look at my ego, I see that it defines itself as a recreation bum. I ski, hike, rock climb, kayak, raft, sail, stand up paddle, mountain bike, rock climb again. I grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado. I am a vagabond extraordinaire.

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