Newbie interested in sailboats

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by 0verdrive, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. 0verdrive
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Location: Lawrence, KS

    0verdrive Junior Member

    I rarely post before having done a good amount of reading about the topic at hand, but in this case, I have a basic question before I get carried away:

    Last December, I went on a honeymoon cruise with my wife. Since that time, I've been enthralled by the idea of building and spending a good amount of time on my own sailboat. I have a fair amount of woodworking tools, and moderate experience with house and furniture construction, so I'm confident that I can adapt my skills to building a sailboat. But before I get too far into the process, I need to know that I'll be able to get my boat to water, once built! Unfortunately, I live in Kansas, and am not sure how difficult/costly this process would be.

    I would want a large enough sailboat that 4-6 people could comfortably stay on it on trips to the Bahamas - unfortunately, I imagine that's pushing the size restrictions on what can be shipped across the country. But I don't see any alternatives, given that I can't afford to build it elsewhere.

    Does anyone have any experience with having a boat transported cross-country? Any pointers on size restrictions or what I'm likely to pay to have a sizeable sailboat transported? I like the idea of building my own boat, but I would be disappointed to get it all finished, only to find out that I couldn't get it out of my yard!

    Thanks for your help,
    ~Dean
     
  2. lazeyjack

    lazeyjack Guest

    4-6 people, you are talking 36-45 feet
    i have seen big boats trucked there
    you have some alternatives to keep heights down, one is swing keel, other is scheel keel, google up both, beam is not a problem, I once met a trucker who was delivering power yachts Florida to Seattle, , from memory he did not even have a pilot, good luck, building can be either fun, or purgatory, get you family behind you first off, allow 7 years part time, if you are saving for it as you go:)
     
  3. OCEANSELEVEN
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Location: Somewhere in a swamp in Georgia

    OCEANSELEVEN Junior Member

    I built my first boat when I was 13. I am now 65. I have 14 boats, mostly large sailboats.
    Several things come to mind. First, I would never own a large sailboat if I didnt own my own slip or dockage. The new marinas in Fla are charging around a half million dollars for a owned dock...the most recent I just checked in Jax.
    Second, boat hauling for a boat that size is a nerve racking experience, both from getting a competent, insured hauler to watching a travel lift move it into the water.
    Lets be realistic from your standpoint. Do this first. Build a smaller wooden boat, maybe a skiff up to 18' and see how you like it. Next, you will spend more time on this skiff than you will on a big sailboat over your lifetime.
    Its a great time to buy a boat..almost any kind. I saw a $850,000 Berger for sale in the Miami area last year for $265,000.00. Problem..owner could no longer afford to pay the dock fees.
    Im not trying to discourage you but you should learn as you go. In order to know what I know you would have to spend the next 50 years of your life involved in boats.
    Around the globe you can take some advantages of certain tax breaks, dockage and maintainence. For example, you could dock in the UK...your boat is only as far away as the nearest airport...and utilize the new tax breaks enacted there for large boats.
    You can have all your cleaning done in the Carribean for 1/5 what it would cost in the states...and you will be doing work at least every two to three years.
    Take my advice for the time being and build small. Glen-L has an excellent boat for beginners...THE WEE HUNK...but dont build stitch and glue...use traditional methods so you have an honest, durable craft when you are done.
    I consider my handmade wooden boats as floating heirlooms.
    No greater pleasure.
    Well there you go...some advice free of charge and you may consider it worth what it cost ya.
    But with building small you learn the suppliers, who to deal with and who not to deal with. You can learn about marine woods, construction techniques and I can assure you there are little things, tricks of the trade, that are nothing like the cabinetry you have been doing.
    Some things are so simple once you learn. I learned from an old boatbuilder from the James River area not to cut and splice the keel, or the backbone of the boat. Or dont even have to steam bend it. He would just take the plank and put one end on a concrete block and put another block where the upward bend started and leave it like that for a few days until it shaped itself upwards.
    And terms like 'growed knee' was to me waiting for the white oak to grow into the shape you had trained it into...back in the old days it didnt matter if it took years. But I learned you can cut growed knees from an existing tree by using upswung limbs and a portion of the trunk. Be sure to de bark and use latex paint on each end or you will wind up with a lifetime supply of toothpicks because it didnt air dry properly.
    How do you build a steamer. Get a large piece of pvc pipe and a steel gas can and a burner from a stove or if you have one, a Coleman stove. Place pipe at an upward angle. Elevate can. Put hose on the pour spout. Put about a gallon of water in the can. Place beam to be bent in pipe. Put hose from spout of can into bottom of PVC pipe. Have a shaper already built to put the beam into. 1/2 inch dowel rods in drilled holes in 3/4 ply works pretty good. Wear gloves the beam will be hot.
    SO..on we go. Hope I havent bored you with my ramblings here but just wanted to give you a few examples of the nautical life both onshore and off.
    Regards,
    Sam
     
  4. 0verdrive
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Location: Lawrence, KS

    0verdrive Junior Member

    Thanks to both of you for your replies! It's a relief to know that transportation will be doable, if nerve-wracking. I imagine I'll only have her transported once, by which time I'd have found a slip.

    And thanks for the pointer about slip prices - I didn't realize how expensive they were! Given that I live in Kansas, I'm not that picky about where I dock, location-wise - I'll have to travel, regardless. That said, some locations are obviously cheaper than others - is there a page somewhere where I can look up slip fees? Otherwise, does anyone here know of any affordable slip locations? (Somewhere in the gulf or the gulf intracoastal waterway, perhaps?) What concerns should I address when considering a slip location? Offhand, I can think of: cost, water depth/boat draft... What else?

    At this point, this is all speculative - I obviously haven't made any commitments, and am trying to get all my ducks in a row before deciding whether to tackle a large project like this one. I think I'd enjoy the building process, but I don't want to build myself into a corner, so to speak. Any other advice that any of you experienced boat-builders/sailors care to share?

    Thanks again for your help,
    ~Dean
     
  5. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    The best advice you've gotten so far is to think small at first and try out the lifestyle. It seems you are dead set on reaching fourth gear without tediously working through one through three. You've got to have a local pond big enough for a trailer sailboat.

    Living on the water can be fun, but it can also be a very difficult & stressful life as well. Space is always an issue. There is never enough space for people or things, and the things you can have with you must be rot proof. The longer the contemplated voyage, the more personal space is generally necessary, as every little personality quirk people have are magnified into horrible nightmare irritations that can drive you to want to swim home. Could you stand solitary confinement with your wife for a month? And her mother?

    It's easy to contemplate swinging on the anchor at a quiet anchorage, but now think about running a diesel generator to power air conditioning and freezers, running a desalinator so you can have fresh water, washing clothes and fixing the 101 things that go wrong constantly on boats, while also keeping up with routine maintenance. You want the gens & desalinators as the cost of hookups, tank service and pump outs in the Caribbean are astronomical.

    Building and sailing a small boat on weekends will give you a perspective on things that you can't get any other way. Not just the technical challenge, but the lifestyle as well.

    My sister got her 100 ton US commercial master's license for running her biggish Cheoy Lee trawler as a gourmet food & drink charter boat with her husband in the USVI and BVIs. The operation never really made any money and it was hard work from sun up to well after sundown. They weren't in the game to be highly profitable, but did try to cover costs. Every boat out there requires constant maintenance and vigilance just to stay at a particular level of condition. Ongoing costs of hauling the boat, cradles, bottom painting, keeping brightwork bright and decks never go away. Supplies are brutally expensive - they'd do a Florida run once a year to fill the subzero freezers and diesel tanks, and then head south. Hurricane seasons were spent on a cradle in Puerto Rico - where bottom painting, barnacle scraping and deck maintenance occupied a month of hard labor every year. Engines need service based on hours run, and keeping the relatively cheap to run twin Cat Diesels averaged a fair amount of cash over ten years.

    Spend the money to go on a crewed vacation in your target home area. Talk to commercial skippers about operating costs and work load. They have to work whether or not they've got passengers booked, cause maintenance never sleeps. Don't listen to anyone selling a charter boat about work or operating costs.

    Figure out how to deal with money and tax issues, and how to insure yourself for health problems. Make sure you have continual US coverage (or better yet Canadian) for major health disasters. Look into ex-pat status and also the liabilities.
     
  6. 0verdrive
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Location: Lawrence, KS

    0verdrive Junior Member

    Thanks for the added input - I know that it must seem like I'm overly eager to jump headfirst into a lifestyle that I know nothing about. And, being from Kansas, I'm admittedly ignorant about the entire sailing/ocean lifestyle. But that's why I'm asking the questions now, rather than getting halfway into building a massive boat before realizing what I've taken on. I'm not dead-set on building this sailboat - just entertaining the prospect, and trying to get my questions answered in the process.

    With that said, I have considered (and am still considering) building a smaller boat. But as I see it, there are pros and cons to starting small, which seem to be something of a wash.

    Pro: By building/buying a smaller boat first, I'd know what I'm getting into, and how I'll like it, before I have a 40' boat in my yard without knowing what to do with it.

    Pro: I can take some time to get used to the lifestyle on a smaller boat before "upgrading"

    Con: One of the major draws of a sailboat, for me, is to be able to go where I please, under my own (i.e: the wind's) power. Living in Kansas, "going where I please" is pretty much limited to small, overcrowded "lakes", which would considerably dampen the experience. I've been on a sailboat with a friend once or twice as a kid - but when you can make it around the lake in 30 minutes, it feels pretty limited. Even the Ozarks, which cover a decent area, are miserably overcrowded these days. I doubt that sailing through 300 other cigarette boat's wake would give me much of an idea of what the Bahamas would be like.

    Con: Even with a smaller sailboat, I'd want something that could sleep my wife and I. But, again, on a small lake I feel like it would feel more like camping in a tent - cramped both by the boat itself, and by the small area in which the boat could sail. I know that even a larger boat is cramped when compared with a house, but if the "living" quarters on a small sailboat are hardly larger than a tent, I wonder if I would get a very good idea of what a larger boat would be like. (Admittedly, I could occasionally take the boat to one of the Great Lakes, or to the ocean, and stay relatively close to shore, but the small living area of a small sailboat would still limit the amount of time my wife would stay aboard.)

    Given my inexperience, it's entirely possible that I'm picturing a small sailboat as too small, and that it wouldn't be as cramped as I'm imagining. And maybe there are more areas than I realized where I could sail that wouldn't feel overcrowded or too small. If anyone has any input one way or another, I'd love to hear it!

    I've also considered finding a cruise on a crewed sailboat, or (even better) seeing if I can find some sort of cruise where I can learn and take part in sailing. And, assuming I find this sort of opportunity, I'm sure I'll take it. But even that is a relatively brief experience that is likely only to whet my appetite, rather than really give me a feel for what life on the ocean is like. Has anyone here taken that sort of cruise? If so, do you have any thoughts on the matter?

    Again, thanks for the input - keep it coming!
    ~Dean
     
  7. TeddyDiver
    Joined: Dec 2007
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    Location: Finland/Norway

    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    I had a dialemma a bit like yours (different reasons thou). After long consideration (=hesitation) I started to build a boat I can trailer myself when needed to. The limiting measures were: beam 10', weight with trailer <3.5tons (traffic regs). To meet the weight limit the ballast (1.5t in iron and 1t water) is removed amd the cast iron is loaded in the "truck". Other measures LOA 33' draft 5' max disp 6t.

    Teddy
     
  8. 0verdrive
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Location: Lawrence, KS

    0verdrive Junior Member

    TeddyDiver -

    You say "started to build." Are you still building it, or is it finished? What plans did you use? How many can it sleep, and how comfortably?

    If you've finished and sailed it, are you happy with it?

    Hearing what other people have, and what they like/don't like helps me form a better idea of what I want, and whether it's feasible.

    Thanks!
    ~Dean
     
  9. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    Nice to hear you are listening.

    A great point made earlier is that you can buy a lot more boat used than you can afford to build. Today's great economy ("Thanks Dubya!") has brought a lot of folks to their knees and luxury items like boats are the first things thrown under the bus. You can't buy the raw materials (including free labor) and get the same boat you can used. A home built boat is a labor of love and high cost because there is no economies of scale. Better to capitalize on other folks misery. (I built a boat over the last year)

    Used boats often come with existing slips in a marina, so two birds with one stone.

    Build yourself a Nutshell dinghy to learn the skills - all the same techniques apply to a larger boat, and you'll get a great tender out of the deal.

    My sister was first operating out of Nassau, but the Bahamian government got really sticky about non-Bahamians operating in their waters. No matter where you are you've got to think about the government of the day and living in what is effectively a third world environment. I've got a friend living in St. Thomas and although a US protectorate, many areas of the place are not particularly safe for wandering around. West Indian culture will be encountered wherever you go in the Caribbean, and it isn't exactly like Kansas, Dorothy. Even though another set of acquaintances was living in a gated community in St. Thomas, the husband got shot in his driveway during a robbery attempt and had to leave the Islands to get long term medical help. Many West Indian residents consider "tourists" as cash dispensing non-entities. Local laws tend to favor residents over non-residents, and as a foreigner in many places your sense of law and justice is in for a rude awakening. Think about that pretty young girl who was killed in St Maarten.

    People born there can live safer than you and I - we just don't have the right antenna and senses. Moving around in the company of a native dweller things are very different.

    The US Virgin Islands are the most "American" place to be and are the easiest for you to adapt to. I would not consider long term stays anywhere else as your first "living in the Islands" adventure.

    The United States is kind of like Disneyland on a large scale, and most Americans never venture outside the fence for more than a few days at a time. Living outside the fence is a whole new can of worms.
     
  10. BWD
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    Location: Virginia, US

    BWD Senior Member

    I would read a bunch of boat books while planning a first anniversary cruise (crewed) with your new wife, in a place you think you might be interested in long term.
    Then read some more books and next summer do a bareboat cruise, if you're ready.
    If that goes well:
    Then build a small boat, sail on some more big boats, decide what you want to buy or build.
    Provided it's ok with the wife, etc.
    Might take a few years....
    Remember, if you opt to buy, you are buying yourself extra sailing years instead of building years! It could be a worthwhile tradeoff.
    Either way, smooth sailing to you!
     
  11. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    dam straight
    Im hoping to eventually build a live aboard
    and am presently working my way up to the boat I want
    starting with a duck trap wherry http://www.duck-trap.com/2002dtw.html
    as a tender and then a larger day sailer for lake Granby
    ( closest puddle in the area )
    I want to leave my boat on the lake and not have to drag it back and forth
    but Ill be leavin an arm and a leg behind as well
    ( am thinkin of stashing it in some ones field for $50 a month
    as I know the ranching community round here and am sure I can swing some kind of arrangements )
    so there are solutions if your slick
    but what Bistros is sayin is gospel pilgrim
    and well said to boot
    I got friends in the Bahamas
    keep that draft as shallow as possible
    and prepare to be on the bottom of the totem pole
    B
     
  12. 0verdrive
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Location: Lawrence, KS

    0verdrive Junior Member

    So after giving it some thought, I'm starting to warm to the idea of having a small "starter" sailboat. I still don't think the little lakes around here offer much, but I could learn to sail on something fairly responsive, so that when I graduate to a larger boat, I'd be ready for it. One of the things that helped convince me was another post I read where the poster stated that too often he see sailors that haven't adjusted their sails properly, and are relying too much on a wheel to overcome their shortcomings.

    I don't want to be that guy. I've always been the type that if I'm going to do something I'm going to do it right. So in this case, it would appear that I need to spend some time with a smaller boat, learning to sail right, before getting a larger one. In the meantime, I can use my experience on a smaller sailboat to fine-tune what I'm eventually wanting to build.

    That said, does anyone have any recommendations? There are all kinds of boats out there, but I want one that will be good for learning on, but still demanding enough that I learn to do it right, if that makes sense.

    Thanks again for your help,
    ~Dean
     
  13. TeddyDiver
    Joined: Dec 2007
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    Location: Finland/Norway

    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Building.... Started actually last summer and expect to spend few more. I'm building it in tent, and I've got only a couple of months in each year when it's warm enough to make epoxy works. I got my own plans (got few sketches and photos in the member gallery here under my username).
    She going to have 2 cabins (2 berths each) , saloon for 8, galley, head, shower (separate), pilot house/cockpit, engine "room" and deck space for 6 divers or fishermans. What else? .. Gaff scooner.. long keel.. 1t water tanks 0.5t diesel.
    Teddy
     

  14. TeddyDiver
    Joined: Dec 2007
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    Location: Finland/Norway

    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Second that! Read Vigor, Gerr, Larsson & Eliasson, Ted Brewer, Marchaj etc... a lot of good reading and gives a lot of insight too..
     
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