Every Boatie has a to-do List – I think I mentioned in a prior blog that mine is on an Excel spreadsheet, colour coded and ranked in priority. There are big jobs and lots of little jobs, ranging from removing the old antifoul to hanging pictures. We will get there, it’s just a matter of time!
When we first bought La Mouette, it was pretty much a blank canvas, basically a 1970’s family cruising yacht which hadn’t been updated. The only concessions to modernity were the EPIRB (out of date!), a solar panel which used to sit on top of the coach house with the wires coming out of the gaps in the washboards, and wired to a controller that sat on top of the quarter berth cushion. The other end had the spring loaded clamps around the battery terminals. A previous owner had installed dual batteries and there was an electric bilge pump and an electric muncher thing connected to the head. Oh, and a VHF and UHF Radios, both of which were once white and now in that yellowed tint – funny how white doesn’t fade, it gets darker! That was it! Everything else was 1970’s pure and simple. Hank on sails, everything controlled from the mast, original analogue depth sounder, analogue sum log for the speed (actual gauge missing from the cockpit bulkhead).
Therefore, the to-do list is a list of requirements to drag to boat into the 21st century and turn it into a blue water cruiser. Having said all of the above, it sounds like we bought a project boat – we haven’t really. It’s quite a solid unit – yes there are a few blisters on the hull that need grounding out – the engine is old but has seen a few rebuilds. Ground tackle is ground zero – meaning it needs replacing and there are dings, divots, stress cracks and gouges galore in the fibreglass that need sorting also. No leaks! When it rains, the water doesn’t come in – stern gland has new packing so it’s pretty good. Although the hatch seals should be replaced, they are still doing their job. La Mouette still looks good. From the end of the wharf you can’t see the imperfections in the gelcoat – only up close. Interior is good and we have replaced a few cushions and oiled the woodwork. Exterior timber needs doing as it’s starting to go grey in places and that’s another job for summer.
So it’s no project boat, but one that still needs lots of cash to be thrown at it to bring it up to spec for what we want to do with it. Another $20,000 Aussie dollars will get us a lot of the big ticket items we need, such as a dodger, arch for solar panels, wind vane, porta bote dinghy, a rebuild on the bow roller, and a Jordon series drogue. A new engine is inevitable (another $12 to 15 thousand). Lots of things need rebuilding or restoring and by the end we will have a very nice boat indeed, one ready to sail out of the heads into parts unknown.
Our philosophy tends to the simple side of things, so the price won’t be as high as it could be. Plus the fact that at 28 feet, we don’t have a lot of room for luxuries and that can only be a good thing, More gadgets = more breakdowns = more things to replace or repair. We might go down the route of buying a small fridge unit to keep the milk cold but no big freezers or anything like that. Navigation will be paper charts, hand held GPS, and I-pad based chart plotters. We are really keen to learn the old fashioned way of doing this stuff. I don’t believe in watermakers. We are going to keep the old metho stove, but might go for a newer Origo, however, we will definitely not being putting in a gas cooker in the saloon. Getting a Magma bolted to the pushpit rail will do as a an oven and additional cooker – yes, it’s LPG driven but that’s all outside and fairly simple. I originally wanted lots of gauges all linked into together but apart from the depth sounder, what else do you really need? You mobile phone/hand held GPS unit will tell you your speed. Oh, and we need to buy a compass! That will fill the hole in the bulkhead left by the removal of the sum log very nicely. It sounds like a more labour intensive life style, and in some ways it is, but then we won’t be wasting time tuned in/out with a television set. Theoretically, there should be more time to get things done, and once we are live-aboards , we should save commuting time also. This lifestyle really is swings and roundabouts.
Unfortunately, we can’t give up our day jobs just yet as the above has to be paid for. I have often heard/read that it’s better to buy a more upmarket boat where all these things have already been done, rather than to buy a boat where you have to pay for it, and never see a return on your investment. I reckon the return on your investment is the experience you gain and the satisfaction you get. Plus you don’t have to go through and fix up someone else’s mistakes. I don’t really believe that buying a turn-key boat or no more to pay/sail away boat is really ever that. There is always something to fix.
So I had better leave my keyboard and go and start crossing off items from the to-do list.