Looking back on our experience, we realize that there are a few things that really shouldn't be overlooked when buying or otherwise procuring a boat. Everyone told us these things, but nobody told us why they are still a good idea even when you are strapped for cash. All of them (except for perhaps number 2) will ultimately save you money.
1. GET A SURVEY. Everyone says to get a survey so that you don't get a nasty surprise later on. That is VERY good advice and will pay for itself. BUT, it is even more important because you can't get a good rate on insurance without a survey. A survey cuts your insurance cost to less than half price for much better coverage.Without insurance, you can't rent a slip. Also, most marinas won't let you in if your wood boat or older fiberglass boat is not surveyed even if you can get insurance. There are only two marinas in our area that don't require a survey for older/wooden boats, and they are the two most expensive. The difference of three months' rent will more than pay for the survey. Also, with a wooden boat, you can really get clobbered with unforeseen expenses if you don't know the state of the fastenings, et cetera, at the outset. Which leads us to:
2. BUY A FIBERGLASS BOAT. As a craftsman, I am not intimidated by wood at all and much prefer working with it to working with fiberglass. There is also no denying that the feel of a wood boat is worlds better, BUT insurance companies and marina owners aren't so sentimental about it. Too many old wood boats are abandoned in boatyards or left in their slips to sink, and marina and boatyard owners are wary of letting anything without a fiberglass hull in. If you have an impeccably maintained classic with a current survey and lots of insurance (see why the survey is important) you are probably fine, but if you lack either of those, you had better have lots of cash ($5,000-$10,000 for a deposit, just to haul out).
3. Make sure that you include the amount it will cost to get the boat "ship shape" when calculating the purchase price you can afford. All marinas require some sort of inspection and they are well aware that "derelicts" lower the value of their establishments. What may say "classic restoration project" to you says "boat rat" to others. Restoring a boat at anchor to be marina-ready is possible, as we found out. But it is much nicer not to have to worry about your partly-restored boat whenever a storm comes through. If your boat looks good or even just has a running engine you shouldn't have a problem getting out of the weather. No engine, no shelter, no boat can take getting pounded forever.
Sailing is a different culture and there are reasons why things are done a certain way. The reason given is not always the real reason, but rest assured there is a reason. I hope that this helps anyone looking to get their dreams off "the hard".
We are not giving up on our dreams, and will soon be back on the water in our own surveyed and fully insured boat, Lord willing.
We have decided to sell the engine that we bought for Grace.
The engine was rebuilt 600hrs ago and started ran beautifully, came over from Catalina the day we had it craned out of the other boat in October. I had a mechanic go through it and brought it home to repaint it. It needs a raw water pump ($500) and an alternator ($225), and paint. I am planning on adding the parts and painting the engine then raising the price to cover parts/materials/labor if it doesn't sell right away.
Too busy to write much, Grace has a leak and the battery needs to be charged every other day and we can't afford the trips to the island. So rather than let her sink (some friends of ours are watching her to keep her afloat) we have decided to give her to someone who can restore her and give her the needed haul out.
It beaks out hearts to have come so close to getting her fixed up again and to run out of funds now and have to watch her get thrashed by the storms.
Since the last post her hull has been sanded and 98% has been primed and a new (to her) solid bronze Manuel windlass has been installed.
Here are some pictures:
Because there was no one to change the batteries the water has come over the floor boards three times and has damaged the interior varnish some. We really want to give Grace to someone who she will be as much a blessing to as she has been to us and who can finish the restoration that we have worked so hard on.
Please pray that we can find a good home for her before it is too late.
It is with a heavy heart and after much prayer that we have decided to put Grace up for sale. The bad economy has reduced our income to the point that we can no longer afford to make the needed trips to the island to work on and maintain Grace the way we would like to. Also the rougher weather has caused her to take on more water and the Captain we had looking after her has moved his boat to San Diego for work so there is no one to change out her batteries that run the bilge pump. She is a beautiful lady, we got lots of admiring looks from tourists and the local fishermen. We absolutely loved the time we spent aboard.
It is heartbreaking to have come so close, last trip (yet to be written up due to lack of time) we got her ready to sail and hoisted and shook out her sails ready to bring her over and install the engine. Alas, it looks like we will never get to sail her.
I'm a bit late getting this update out as life has been really busy for the last couple of weeks. During this trip we continued getting Grace ready to receive her engine (now sitting ashore ready for a few new parts and a coat of paint) and getting ready to bring her to the mainland. We left early to pick up a couple of things at the chandlery and catch the ferry from Marina Del Rey to Avalon. Traffic was worse than usual, and even leaving an extra hour failed to get us to the chandlery before the boat left. That turned out to be a good thing as we had left Roo's bed behind in the rush. So, after getting breakfast, we went back home to re-pack some things and then headed to San Pedro to catch a later boat to Avalon. My brother Jon kindly gave us a ride both trips. We were hoping for a cat straight to Avalon but ended up on a mono-hull going to Two Harbors first.
Roo enjoyed the ride as usual and we had fun watching one of the tall ships sailing in the channel.
The first thing on the agenda after arriving in Catalina and unpacking was to clean the engine room and paint it. Grace used to have iron fuel tanks, but they rusted out and were removed before we bought her. Unfortunately, the tanks coated the bottom of the bilge with 1/8" of rust sludge (she is bronze fastened and all her other tanks are aluminum).
Here is her engine room before much cleaning was done.
After a lot of scrubbing and cleaning all the sludge was gone and drying ready to paint the next day.
After adjusting the air flow through the boat using fans and opening the rear deck hatches I spent a morning giving the engine room a good coat of bilge paint, which dries fast and covers really well but isn't great to breathe.
We spent the rest of the day in Avalon while the paint dried and the boat aired out.
The next day I worked on tightening the standing rigging (I wouldn't claim to actually be tuning it). It made Grace feel much more solid and ended most of the creaking. The rest of the day was spent cleaning and getting ready for....
.....Grandma and Aunt Gwen to visit! Roo loves spending time with relatives and had a blast with Grandma for the rest of the week. Gwen had to leave for work and school that evening.
Corrie and Grandma Anne worked on sanding all nineteen spindles of the taffrail with Roo keeping a keen lookout for Tot-tots (California Sea Lions).
All of the spindles came out looking really good. A couple are in need of some repair, which we will get to at a later date.
Corrie oiled the spindles.
The finished product; clean, sanded and oiled. Grace's rails and trim are Honduras mahogany (as far as we can tell) and are truly beautiful, albeit rather weather-beaten.
Here are the finished spindles.
While the ladies were working on the brightwork on the aft deck, I was cleaning the wood on the hull and preparing the hull for painting. Here on the beakhead, you can see the fore part cleaned and the aft section still grey.
Capt. Jim lent us his catamaran to use as a work platform. Once the hull was scraped I scrubbed it down with salt water and a coarse brush.
The starboard side scraped and scrubbed, ready for a freshwater wash and paint.
We ended up staying in Avalon until after dark one night and got to see the waterfront in the fog.
The trip back "over town" was fast and smooth on the Marina Del Rey Flyer. I had a good time talking with the crew and the service was first rate, as always.