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Old 01-28-2013
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Re: Are Boats Built in the 70's Just Too Tired

After looking at so many boats that my head was spinning, then doing that over and over again, and then scrutinizing each boat I thought could be the one, I just had to walk away for a while and let my brain heal.

Yesterday we went to Strictly Sail Chicago. It's a far cry from the Annapolis Boat Show but it's only a 30 minute drive and a nice respite from the boatless harbors and lake.

We were seriously considering a '76 Sabre 34 a couple months ago. I got my water wings on a '73 Columbia 45 and logged 7-8K miles on it. I later raced and helmed an '86 Hunter 35 but never got comfy with the starkness of the boat. The Columbia had a good amount of teak, and it was all solid wood (except some panels) and not veneer. My hobby is woodworking because I love real wood. Good luck finding solid wood in today's boats that's not veneer.

So here I was, ready to resurrect a 70-something boat and do whatever it took to make it my home. I knew at best it would be a season away from being ready to sail away and at worst years. But I wanted a "classic, real wood" boat.

I reluctantly went to Strictly Sail because I really didn't want to see any more IKEA boats. Sadly, I had resigned myself to the realities of age, money and time. The best times of my life have been on a sailboat and I had given up the dream of ever owning my own.

It was when we were looking at the Beneteau Oceanis line that I realized if I compromised I could actually realize my dream and sail away as soon as the boat was delivered and sea trials were complete. That was a "wow" moment.

What I realized was, along the line was my need for the timeless, the "classic boat" meant I had to be ready for each and every breakdown, failure and unexpected catastrophe that is always inevitable as a boat ages, if it hasn't been properly cared for. And if it has been properly cared for a 70's boat would have seen a total refit or two, maybe three, in its life. And that's usually reflected in the selling price. If you can find that "newly retrofitted" boat for about the same price as comps, consider yourself blessed. Some do win the lottery.

After the Annapolis Boat Show I trashed the Beneteau Sense. Although it's not my taste, the design tools available today produced almost a full length chine that reduced the ideal healing angle by about 5%. I found when I focused on current design advances, I was impressed by the results produced by computer aided design. So many of the weak links were being minimized in even the production boats. It's become easier to produce a better boat for less. That's not to be confused with build quality though.

I'll be 62 in April. I designed and built my house. I designed the electric on a $500,000 data center and a 60 story high rise. I love design and I love building things but I'm not getting any younger. I want to sail. And I want to get back to the islands and hop from one harbor to the next, and get in a round of golf or two along the way. That's the way I want to go out.

So when I saw financing on a new boat being half of my present mortgage, I thought maybe I can tolerate IKEA or maybe I can take my woodworking skills and warm it up. Either way, I can sail away, and with a warranty. I think I can make the compromise.

That's me. Everyone has to decide what's most important to them. There is no one right answer. It's like walking aboard one boat and feeling, "I got to get out of here" and walking aboard another and thinking, "This is home."

But if you don't spend time on the boat, you will never know what's right for you. Make the broker work for you.
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