Budget boats…..the bottom line.

Absolutely and definitely the last word about budget boats…for now…..maybe..

For those readers who have been following along with this series of posts i hope you’ve enjoyed them and got something from them, what i intend to do is create a new blog category just for my various posts about budget boats and starter boats……they go back several years and even i have difficulty searching that far back in the blog.

Today i want to round things up with something iv’e had to consider several times in my own sailing life , this being what i call the ‘bottom line boat’ or, in my own terms the ‘BOA’b (bones of arse boat) – several times in my sailing and outdoors life iv’e been in that position and usually i managed to get some sailing in by crewing for somebody else rather than having a boat myself. There’s quite a good lesson to be had right there – that the ultimate budget boat might be by way of not owning a boat at all but by sailing with someone else on their boat ; and i would like to add by maybe contributing time and effort into their boat work to help them along.

I spent all of my boatyard days , 3 years , doing that and then another 3 years as a student nurse and several more years as a junior staff nurse just crewing for other people and a big part of that time was always turning out to do the rub-down and antifoul in the spring or just turning up for an offshore race, cleaning through the boat and doing the provisioning. Yes, even that has a cost – but really only the cost of travel to and from boats and maintaining my own sailing kit and it got me thousands of miles of offshore racing and the huge gain in experience i got from taking race boats to and from their starting and finishing ports.

In 1995, when i gave up professional sailing, i had some 200,000 miles, give or take a few thousand, of sailing experience and it was only at that point that i really started thinking about boat ownership myself : at the same time though i was in ‘BOA’ situation once again except that this time the UK’s HMRC were chasing me for tax as well. I thought about finding a very basic boat and living aboard it to keep my costs down but the big problem with that was that i was living around the Hamble river, just about the epicentre of big boats and boat ownership in the UK and definitely not the place to find a cheap mooring. My first lesson then in becoming a budget boater was that i might just be able to afford a very small and simple boat but that i wouldn’t be able to keep it locally ; in fact i costed up the whole idea and i found that if i had to keep a boat in a marina then i would be paying out the equivalent of the base cost of the boat just to keep it there….and then that the marina i looked at said but…..but being you can’t live aboard.

My choice was to leave sailing alone for a while and go do other things for a while, as it happenes i could still get lots of sailing because i was helping out on the refit of an ex Whitbread maxi and i was offered a trip as navigator down to the Med and i’d never been there so that was ok….shortly after that another big boat (Swan 60) owner offered me a Fastnet race as navigator too. Maybe a very big lesson is to be a very useful member of crew – someone who can not only sail but who knows how to do actual technical work on boats ; i was a rigger for example and the same was always true for anyone with engineers or electrical skills – it also helped in my case that i was a Nurse as big boat owners always seemed to like having a ‘medic’ around the place.

The major lessons i would begin to learn came as early answers to a simple question – “why and how do i want to go to sea and what do i want to do there” ?. In my own life as an outdoorsman i came upon that question several times in different forms – as a climber for example “why do we climb” ? and then much later in my life generally why i wanted and needed to spend time in the outdoors. My early answers were some positives and a list of negatives – i didn’t for example want to race boats and nor did i want to spend time with large groups of people ; if anything i wanted to be ‘out there’ in the same way as i am with boots and a rucksack on a long trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains or even an English woodland.

The bottom line of that i now take from Canadian psychologist Dr Peterson – he says that introverted people , and i am strongly introvert on the Big 5 personality score, spend time in the outdoors because it suits their personality…..they find peace , comfort and meaning away from people and not in large groups as their temperament opposites – extroverts do. My answer earlier on, years before i knew anything about personality psychology, was that i wanted to go to sea in the same way as i do on the mountain, long trail, river or lake , and that is with the simplest and lightest kit that i could ( i had to carry it) , be on my own or nearly so and be as far away as possible from things like large commercial campsites and their at-sea equivalent of boating car parks…..marinas in other words.

At anchor, waiting to cross the Exe bar

In personality i am probably somewhere on a line between Maurice Griffiths and Charles Stock – Griffiths because he never could just settle on one boat….also that he chose to write about his experience….and Charles Stock because he seems to have gone completely his own way, trod a lonely furrow and done the maximum sailing with the least boat possible – and then also wrote about that experience.

There are possibly just 2 lines of boat that suit my budget and temperament best , one is the small ‘perfect’ single man’s cruising boat of 23 feet or so and the other is the boat that i build myself and which i keep at home : iv’e done the small cruising boat that has to live on a mooring and found it good – now, iv’e progressed onto the smaller boat that i am building and will keep at home. The latter is perhaps the most logical choice and end point for the budget boater because it takes away many of the financial burdens that come with boatyards and moorings. Just to add that another aspect of my understanding of Big 5 trait personality is that i also have high open-ness which i express as needing to do something creative with my hands – build a boat, and with my mind – build a boat and write about it.

The late Charles Stock and his boat Shoal Waters.

Charles Stock and Shoal Waters.

“That’s all i have to say about that”

1 Comment

  1. Great idea to make all your budget boat stuff more easily accessible — thanks. And I love that photo of Mr. Stock.


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