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Anke and I are building our next boat, and writing about it at Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.

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Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirl gmail daughter com

Monday, December 5, 2011

Keep It Simple, Sailor

Steve Lewis' CHUGGER: A Simple Boat UNDERWAY

Laugh if you will, but this fella's underway in a vessel of his own making. Look around him! If the sneers and jeers of the easily offended held sway with him, he'd be standing ashore looking wistfully across it, something I've done my share of. In my book, this guy's stylin'! 

Thumbing through the glossy pages of most maritime media, one gets the impression that only a Fool would attempt the sea unballasted by the latest gear. Everything from radar to moisture wicking undies. Can you spell B.O.A.T. (Bring On Another Thousand)?

Boating forums teem with paraphrases of, "I'd never go to sea in a boat that couldn't A, B and C." Or "If I wanted to go to sea in a crate, I would, but I don't." Or variations on, "Boats having properties D, E or F can't X, Y or Z." Uh... do these people actually get to sea at all?

"Ya gotta do/have this." 
"Ya can't do/have that."

Oh yeah? Well, my friends, it doesn't have to be that way.

Here's an example. A recent forum discussion focused on the economics of free-standing masts. Carbon fiber vs. efficiency vs. sail stability vs. flag-poles vs. the cost of losing the boat on that lee shore you can't sail off. Can't. Won't. Doesn't. Oddly, at no point did using a tree come up... they grow on trees, you know.

Like thousands over a span of centuries, Anke and I have sailed with unstayed masts, year round for years, engineless, in a region that do come on to blow. We cut 'em from local spruce, but fir, pine or cedar would work just fine. Yep, they've got knots. Simplified junk rig (won't go to weather as swiftly as more refined JRs). DIY hinges and tabernacles. The entire rig cost less than a small winch. Yet we get where we're going and stay off the lee shores, thank you very much. Can. Will. Do. Sure there are trade-offs, but their economy is outstanding.

Why the difference? I think it's that folks get it in their heads that it's got to be first class or nothing. Never mind that, if you didn't inherit, somewhere along the line you've got to earn that first class ticket. Or nothing? Or do what most sailors have done through most of history... substitute relatively inexpensive skills, materials and patience for expensive hulls and gear. If you want and can afford it, good for you. If you can't, go 'cattle class', but go!

Keep It Simple, Sailor! The Pardey's motto: "Go small, go simple, go now!" 

Look. Your boat needs to hold together. It needs to take care of you to a certain degree. But the idea of the Ideal Boat is a fata morgana. There is no Ideal Boat, but there are a range of capable boats suited to your waters, needs, pocket and skills. Your tastes are capable of revision.

Most of us are coastal or inland water sailors. We don't need to survive the perfect storm at sea. Most of us are the 99(.9)% and can't plunk down five years' salary on a boat, even if it is to be our home. Some of us take pride in having built our own, but want to get it done with and underway.

Take a hard look at anything about a prospective boat that's keeping you from the water. Can you live without it? Can you live with less of it? Can you Do It Yourself? Simplify and get going!

Or get used to disappointment.

P.S. - I'm not dissing complex, yachty, expensive, or wicked fast boats. I just can't afford 'em. If we'd let that stop us, we'd have spent the last 20 years in a cubicle, not on the water. Instead, we 'settled' for simple, boxy, inexpensive, okay fast boats that get us out there and keep us there.

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