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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Friday, December 29, 2023

Buying or Selling a Vessel? Tips, Tricks and Traps


Illustration by Caroline Magerl of Queensland, Australia
From The Epoxy Book

Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)!

Buying or Selling a Vessel? Tips, Tricks and Traps

The market is a slippery, tricky place. Theory is that parties negotiate until they come to mutual agreement. Win-win. Everybody goes home happy. Another view is that it’s an adversarial contest. The seller wants the highest price, while the buyer wants the lowest. All’s fair in love and war.

One piece of advice I was given; Back off at the first whiff of adversity (pressure, hustle, prevarication, coercion). 

If we’re not dealt with in good faith, we’re likely to get cheated or stiffed. On the seller side, I’ve witnessed transactions which include hidden issues, false provenance (the seller didn’t wholly own the vessel), listed gear being stripped after sale. I’ve known buyers to skip payment/s, abscond with gear that wasn’t included in the agreement, wreck the boat and skip town.

Much better to negotiate amicably for that win-win. The waterfront is a small world, and it’s good business to make and keep friends.

Four Traps for Buyer and Seller

These traps don't themselves signal adversity. We’re all human, and these kinds of things often creep in somewhat below the conscious level.

  • Sentimental Value – Sellers often factor their sentimental feelings into a vessel’s price.  This, despite the fact that they are never-the-less unloading their Loved One on the market. No issues with their fond memories, of course, but those have zero market value.

    By the same token, our own sentimental attachments can likewise serve to jack up the price. We’re suckers for pretty, cute, trim, traditional and a host of other impressions which bias our neutral assessment. Rot, nail-sickness, blisters and other infirmities might be lurking… beauty is only skin-deep!

    They say one shouldn’t sleep aboard a vessel before buying, lest one fall in love. Not sure I’d go that far – we want to be in love – but keep a clear, cold eye on how much you’re willing to pay for it! Consider a professional survey as a reality check.

  • Sunken Costs – Closely related, seller’s often wish to make up previous expenses, which have nothing to do with the buyer. Dock and haulout fees, for example. Sellers often wish to recoup their costs, which often ends up on the buyer’s tab.

  • Issues – Just as in buying a house, issues may be dealt with before or after sale, with the price reflecting the agreement.

    Consider a well-written contract based on industry standard templates that spells it all out. Handshake agreements are well-and-good for simple cases, but a fully found vessel is complex by nature, with lots of room for mis-understanding and animosity.

  • Potential Value – Once you’ve fixed ‘er up, you’ll have doubled yer money! Um. Well. You might double the price when you come to sell, but that doesn’t automatically count the time, materials, labor and fees you’ll have supplied.

    The value of a vessel is ‘as is’, not ‘as it might become’.

  • New Prices for Old Gear – Yes, the price is high, but look at that gear list! Think of the replacement value…

    Hmm… that gear is not only used, but has been sitting around in the marine environment. It likely does have value (obsolete gear doesn’t count), but it won’t be the replacement value.


Assigning value is extremely difficult. Supply-and-demand gets us started, but in the world of vessels, supply is very often low (unique or uniquely available vessels), while demand is… personal.

Cost is somewhat easier to calculate:

Consider the state of the vessel as is… take a goooood look!

Consider the time and energy required to repair and outfit to your standard.

Consider the time and energy required for long-term maintenance, including moorage.

Consider alternative options.

If your total cost from all the above plus the price you can negotiate is greater than you can afford or are willing to pay, it’s no-go.

Buyers, consider doing as much of this calculation as you can before starting negotiations… no point wasting the seller’s time and your own if it’s a non-starter.

Good luck, and win-win!

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

A DIY Rocket Stove Smoke Hood


Eco-Zoom Rocket Stove with DIY Smoke Hood

Somebody who claims to speak for the ‘hood don’t need no private jet.

– Chuck D

A DIY Rocket Stove Smoke Hood

About half of the energy in wood literally goes up in smoke, and with it, a good deal of our own! If the smoke can be burned, efficiency nearly doubles. The corollary is that only half as much fuel produces a given amount of heat.

Rocket Stoves were developed as a low-tech solution. At their heart is an L shaped, insulated tunnel, wide open at both ends. Fuel is fed horizontally, oxygenation and combustion burn hot at the crux, and what little smoke is left is pushed vertically, up and out the top. Typically, a pot directly atop the stove absorbs heat from the hot, gaseous outflow for cooking.

We’ve been using an EcoZoom Rocket Stove for years as a nearly smoke-free, otherwise open deck fire for outdoor cooking in hot weather, an evening blaze in nice weather and to heat metals for various projects (it easily takes ferrous metals to red-hot). It runs on limbwood from about thumb to wrist size, the former for cooking and the latter for longer, more subdued heat. In short, perfect for easy wood-gathering, especially as we age..

In planning MUSTELID, we hoped to bring this marvel indoors for cooking and heating. It requires far less wood to gather, dry and store within her small volume. Being insulated, wood can be dried directly alongside the stove, warm but nowhere near wood’s flashpoint (we can touch the stove sides without burning!).

To bring it indoors, we must gather and direct combustion gasses outboard, like any other onboard stove. The solution is a smoke hood fit snugly over the stovetop with a stack, which has the extra perk of increasing the cooking surface area. We wanted one more feature… we wanted to easily install and remove the stove for outdoor use on deck or ashore. So we went for a swing-up, cantileverd variation.

This called for some head scratching…

Grate spacer for airflow under,

Ash tray…

Whole thing slides aft behind bulkhead lip

And between heat / splatter shields.

Note black fire-retardant pad
protecting carpet from sparks

Swing hood upward to remove

A look under the hood...
a vertical ring fits closely over upper plate
for extra fume collection


Smoke Hood Plan
Not to Scale

Smoke Hood Elements

At it’s simplest, the hood is a flattish box made from sheet metal (in our case, stainless steel from and old stove’s grease trap… a heavier top plate has better thermal mass for cooking, if available. A large hole in the bottom fits closely over the Rocket Stove top, while a smaller hole in the top has stovepipe fit into it, which leads to a standard deck-jack and smokehead. If you leave the stove in pace, this is all you need.

For a swing-up top – allowing removal of the stove – we broke the hood into two boxes, each with an open end:

  1. The far box is fixed (in our case to bulkhead and flanking heatshields), with the flue let into its upper surface. Its near end is open, with rounded shoulders and an under-lip. This part is female, slightly larger than the second part.

  2. The near box is cantilevered (stops may be additionally fitted to help support heavy pots). Its far end is open, with a partial rounded shoulder fairing to 45deg… extending an over-lip, while the angled section limits upward swing. This part is male, slightly smaller than the first part. Insert its open end into the female’s until their respective hinge-pin holes align.

Other parts:

  • The long hinge pin (alternatively, short, opposing pins) are let through paired holes centered on the shoulders. If it binds while swinging upward, grind away from the lower male shoulders till clear.

  • A vertical smoke collar can be used around the stove-top cut–out (not sure it’s necessary). We used a strap of sheet metal, its edges doubled over just short of its outer mid-line (result about one inch wide) and tabbed around its outer mid-line (tabs bent alternately, slightly away from cut-out). When pressed into place, it ‘snaps’ in to lock. It works best to cut the tabs before bending.

  • Rims, rails, bars and what-have-you may be added to secure pots while cooking underway. In our case, we added a low front rim and let that and tall heat / splatter shields along each side contain pots. Watch for swing-up clearance.


  • Any gaps allow air to be drawn into the hood. The closer the fits, the more energy is available for cooking and heating. Once the stove is drawing (seconds) there appears to be no leakage, even from wider gaps. We didn’t use gaskets, but they can’t hurt.

  • We sized our male part to be 1/16in smaller than the female’s inside dimensions. Given our crude techniques, we managed between 3/32in and 1/8in. So long as it slides in without undue forcing and the gaps are small, it should work fine. Thermal expansion binding isn’t a problem as we only ever move it out once cool.

  • In both cases, the lips should overlap the opposite part to help close the gap and contain ash. Small tabs may optionally be bent along single edges to help minimize warping with heat.

  • Sizing can be more or less according to your available space. We sized around our frypan plus our small teapot, to cook and heat water at the same time.

  • The smokehead can be lower to the deck than is usual. Although it does induce some draft, Rocket Stove’s generate expansion in their combustion chamber, and actually push gas about 40ft. Still, an efficient draft smokehead hedges our bets in some gnarly conditions.

  • We didn’t have a brake (sheet metal bender), so clamped sheets over a piece of sharp-edged hardwood, then hammered it over. Cutting was with a thin-wheel grinder and touched up with a mill file. We used bent tabs with (copper/stainless) pop-rivets to join. Wear gloves, eye, ear protection and work safe!

Looking Ahead

One of the intriguing possibilities with Rocket Stoves is to make our own from a substance that insulates, absorbs and radiates thermal energy. In other words, which acts as a thermal mass or ‘sink’. Such are easily made from brick, firebrick, concrete, clay, cob and other materials. 

Perlite (pumice) is a light, inexpensive insulator, and can be mixed with concrete for a lightweight aggregate with decent thermal mass. The combustion chamber can be lined with refractory clay. A thick, steel cook surface is easy to install over a lipped smoke chamber for a full sized stovetop / smokehood. Sand makes a good gasket between plate and stove. Alas, this doesn’t sound very portable!

But we keep on thinkin’.