Lentils win

Row over and examine abandoned boat, or stay in cabin with warm tea, alcohol heater, and make lentils? Lentils win.

smallboat galley, pearson ariel 26

No wind today. I didn’t care. Was happy to be under way. Was happy to have made some progress to the engine. Was happy it was running so well. The sun made an appearance. Twenty five miles left of the Chesapeake. Anchored in Pepper Creek–sketchy depths. Came in at high tide but leaving closer to low. I may find myself waiting to float off the ground tomorrow with the afternoon flood…Wind forecast perfect for tomorrow, minus some rain. Hope it sticks. My last November northerly on the bay. Hope I find myself just lingering out there tomorrow again, not quite ready for it to end.

cruising guide chesapeake bay
A rare Chesapeake calm in November

I’m wearing an old Pendleton I got from my friends in Matthews, VA. I’m like the son they never had. No, really. I feel like a boy. At least a tom boy. I put in eye liner to go to shore the other day and looked more like I was leaving the coal mines than trying to look presentable in society.

I’m scheming again to take Vanupied far, not this year though. I can’t stop thinking about it. It would be real easy to shorten the cockpit, move her scuppers. I designed a sort of locker in my head that would double as storage while reducing the size. I want to replace her standing rigging, at least some if not all. I’m on this kick about using Dyneema to do it. A backup cheapie auto pilot and sheet to tiller steering (double redundancy). Short wave radio for Chris Parker weather reports. Already got a receiver on the backstay (which unfortunately I think indicates the age of of my shrouds).

I don’t know, though. I still need her looked at with a keener eye than mine. It’s a process. For now I know what needs doing in the immediate future and I have lots, and lots, of ideas.

Back to the abandoned boat. Pretty grey hull with a sorry looking paint job. No mast. Sixties or seventies era. Strong, sturdy hull with pretty, traditional lines. Hell, she could even be an Alberg! Don’t think so, though. Her sheer is slung differently. More elegant.

Maybe it belongs to the creek person I just saw. He was catching oysters on a homemade barge constructed from an old dock and an outboard motor.

360 degrees north

Choosing a dinghy

“But I’m going to need a dinghy,” I say with a suspect tone.

“Yes, but I’m going to need one, too,” my Canadian friend replies.

So, we’re negotiating.

When I got a call this morning from the owner of the boat I’ve been slowly trying to make my own I knew that the methodical, maple-syrup like pace I’d been operating at was too good to be true.

“I’ve got a fellow from Toronto who wants to come down and buy the boat right away, sight unseen, for my full asking pricing!” He said, practically laughing with excitement.

I guess it’s true what they say, about the two happiest days in a sailor’s life. . .

But I wasn’t going to let this Canuck swoop in and spirit my boat away from right under my nose. I appreciated the forewarning, which had been delivered in good faith, but it was time to act fast.

Less than an hour later I had bus fares booked and a surveyor who understood my situation, was willing to come on such short notice and not charge me for the entire survey if we decide early on the boat’s not up to par…but I hope she will be.

I’ve written up a contract. My finances are in order. On Monday morning I will board that bus that could take me into the future. She’ll be buried under snow. She’ll surely have some deck rot. She might not even have a dinghy. But she might be mine.

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The 30-minute self survey

SnowmaggedonMoving home at the age of 26 had me feeling a bit lonesome as everything in my hometown has remained much of the same, while I’ve changed dramatically. I envy the loners, I really do, but I’m a social creature and always have been. But with my newfound alone time I’ve found something incredible: focus. I’ve saved enough money for my boat, a professional marine survey, and the imminent upgrades it will certainly need right away. I’ve even stashed extra funds away for some travel for travel’s sake before I move aboard in Spring. I’ve studied closely what designs, designers, and builders have created inherently seaworthy vessels, and specifics I need to bear in mind when I examine a potential purchase. The Self SurveyRecently I traveled to New England to look at two boats I was very keen on. They were in my price and size range, and I loved their lines and reputations. Luckily I was able to replace the diamonds in my eyes with concrete and see them for what they really were…

Disclaimer: I am still a beginner and looking to soak up as much information as possible! If you see anything in the photos below that I’ve called wrong, or failed to notice, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Surveying the Sea Sprite 28The Sea Sprite 28

Using notes from the book, “Inspecting the Aging Sailboat,” by Don Casey as a guide, I found some issues needing repair that were far beyond my skills.

Her rudder moved easily, the prop as well. Her top sides had lots of little bumps but I likened it to cosmetic only. Her bottom had layers upon layers of paint, easy to remedy with some scraping, sanding and painting. I tapped around the thru-hull fittings and the sounds resonated sharp. I found no overwhelming indication that the hull was in anything other than good shape.
paint job
Sea Sprite 28 rudder

Down below was another story. The boat was out of the water on jack stands, yet still the bilges were filthy and full of water. That meant two things to me, 1) the owner didn’t maintain clean bilges so what else could have been neglected, 2) water was getting into the boat.

Dirty bilge

I knew going into it that this boat had some issues, as it was advertised as needing “TLC to bring her back to her original glory.” Plus, she was priced nearly 70 percent lower than any of her used sister ships for sale. The hardware on deck that houses the boats’ spinnaker pole is apparently the source of a leak that has caused damage to the bulkhead veneer on the port side of the boat, but with a few pokes of my knife it seemed the damage went deeper than the decorative layer of wood. While I was sounding the cabin floor I also found rot on the port side at the bottom of the head door where the “wall” meets the cabin sole. It was wet, soft, and alarming. I also noticed salt crystals and other signs of leakage high on the hull, which could indicate hull to deck joint leakage, but I’m not sure.

Pretty quickly I realized these issues were beyond my skills for repair and I didn’t bother doing anything other than a light once over on the mast, rigging and deck.  30 Minute Self Survey

The owner has only had the boat for a one season, and he didn’t get a survey, nor did he know how old the rigging was, when the last time the hardware was rebedded (something important, especially the chainplates, on the SS 28 according to owners forums). He planned to fix the boat up, but other boats came into his life so this one went up for sale. I don’t doubt his honesty or integrity, and I think the boat is priced fairly. This Seasprite 28 will certainly make a sailor who is a little more suited for the task of refitting very happy.

Another major factor was her sheer size and girth, she seemed like she would be too much work to single hand. The cost of maintaining her inboard diesel engine was the third strike and I had to let this boat go.

I want to outfit, not refit my first sailboat, and I don’t doubt that a boat meticulously maintained by its previous owner is out there for me. In my next post I will go over my findings on the second boat I surveyed in New England,  a Bristol 27.

 

Thorough

That word was used again. That word that has never been the right adjective to describe my actions. That word associated with people who are inherently less likely than me to half ass everything. 20160111-DSC_4528I’ve never been obsessive compulsive until I started shopping for boats, and while it may be aggravating to the current owner (who I ask to leave me alone with the boat and then respond with a very generic “eh,” when they ask me how I liked the vessel) it’s a quality I’m glad I developed. Tools of the tradeIt’s difficult for me to describe how uncannily fun it was to stomp around those boats I went to see last week. How it made me feel to scrupulously inspect every inch of the hull, deck and cabin. I felt like I was ensuring my safety, like I’d learned so much since I went to inspect my first boat only a short month ago, like a few taps of the head of a screwdriver was going to save me from having to pay upwards of $500 for a surveyor to confirm my suspicion–this isn’t the right boat for me. I discovered some faults that may have otherwise gone unnoticed by the owners, like a rotting bulkhead on one boat. It was clear, that in my sailing education and theirs, we had come from different schools.
Self SurveyOne of the owners texted me later that evening asking for my feedback, and when I gave it to him I was reminded of the time I quit a job and my boss asked for the same thing. People don’t actually want to know what’s wrong, and just because you’ve been sailing longer than a neophyte doesn’t mean you necessarily know more about boats, or anything about boats. Although I can’t help but wish I had an experienced sailor and boat buyer there with me, to confirm or deny my findings.
My assistantEvery boat I call on brings me closer to “the one.” The stars seem to be aligning for one particular vessel, but it’s too soon to reveal anything about her condition or whereabouts. I don’t want to jinx it but unless a star falls out of the sky…

Until then the search continues, and so does my education in the valuable skill set that is the self-survey.

“There are a lot of people in this world at this moment in history who feel pretty lost in life. Who don’t feel like their life has a lot of purpose, has a lot of meaning, they don’t feel like they’ve actually achieved anything…People have gone to sea or have sought that experience as a means to remedy those lacks, and I would attest that can still be the case. If you do feel there a things in your life that you’d like to have that you’ve never had, sailing can be an excellent vehicle to reach that kind of satisfaction.” -Jay Fitzgerald, Pacific Northwest Engineless Sailor.