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Old 10-24-2010
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People don't use their boats

After spending many weekends on my Catalina pondering things that are none of my business, I have come up with a few observations that might be worth discussing.

First, people don't use their boats. Over the last few years, mainly in powerboat type marinas as that is what I had, I have noticed that 3/4 of the boats sitting at their slips never leave their slips. For that matter, many never even get opened up more that a few times a year. I have made it a point recently to watch a group of sailboats to document their usage over the season. Of the group of boats I chose to watch. Only one went sailing between 1 and 5 times. One other was started, untied and turned around in the slip once a month. (Don't know why.) The others just sat. A huge proportion of power boats suffered the same statistics but this is a sailing forum. Why do these people own boats? I only took notice of this because a friend recently tried to get a slip in the area and could not find one. At that point I decided to figure out why. Around here it is fairly obvious as there is rarely any boat traffic in the channels.

Knowing first hand what it costs to keep a boat in a slip, plus the added maintenance due to close proximity with salt water, why would people choose to pay this for something that they do not use?

My next curious rant relates to this forum. I have read hundreds of posts asking the same question; what boat will take me around the world for less than $xx,xxx.... Hell, I even posted a similar post when I first joined. Many get good answers and advice. How many actually do it? I can't remember reading any post by anyone saying, "thanks for the advice, I have purchased a 19xx Bluewater boat and we are sitting off the coat of France..." Does anyone actually do it? I made the conversion from power boats to sailboats a little over a year ago and have actually taken many sailing classes, rebuilt an older sailboat of my own, helped a few other people rebuild theirs and have put hundreds of hours in holding a tiller. This to me is actively pursuing a dream. Is the lack of follow ups the reason people get slightly hostile from being asked the same questions over and over? Anyways, I feel better. What do you thinks of all this? AR
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Old 10-24-2010
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Funny you bring this up, I was observing the same thing at my marina. Granted, normally I'm only at the marina on the weekends, and when we are there we are usually on our way within minutes, so I may not see what else goes on...BUT the last two weekends have been nothing but perfect for sailing the Chesapeake...yet only a handful of boats slips at the marina were empty? WTF?

This seems to be the norm. Our pier has about 16 slips (all full), three are live aboards who never go out, two are project boats, the rest...IDK?

Its not that I really care what people do with their time, their boats, but its disappointing to see people who have a boat not use it when I know several that would be thrilled. However, I'm sure there are numerous reasons why one is not using their boat?

We spend almost every weekend aboard our boat. I've always said, IF we don't spend at least 2/4 weekends aboard we will sell the boat or put it away until we can. Thats said, its fairly easy for us to spend our free time sailing. My wifes family lives 3000 miles away in Austria, so no obligations there . My parents are retired so we see them during the week, and I have one brother, who likes to do his own thing. (Don't get me wrong, we are a pretty tight family, we just don't feel the need to see each other every other weekend.) Our kids love the boat so that in itself makes it easy.

To each his own I suppose, but I certainly get what you're saying!

Last edited by T37Chef; 10-25-2010 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 10-24-2010
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You are right. I recently been looking at power boats and have seen a number of 2001 vintage boats with less than 1500 hours on the engines; that is less than 200 hrs/yr. I'll admit that we only put 3-4000 miles on our boat each year back and forth to the caribbean and we are slowing down. Unless you use your boat (we have lived aboard for the last 7 years), it is cheaper and easier to rent a boat when you want to use one.
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Old 10-24-2010
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I'll give this a shot.
My expertise in this is perfect! I, like so many others have posted the "how much, what brand and how far can I go" My personal knowledge of sailing is about as bad as it gets.
For 35 years I have been involved in professional auto racing. Starting out as a helper, moving through the process to driving and eventually a crew chief and manager for team owners. When I talk to people who wish they could do what I do they ask the same questions. What chassis should I get, what motor,how much does it cost?
I dream of living on a sailboat, they dream of living a life different than their own too. So they ask what might seem like stupid questions and the few that do muster the courage to try this life seldom listen to the voice of experience and spend years in junk cars with junk motors wasting money, going broke and sometimes worse. Most memorial races are named after them!
Remember that advise is to be given, not taken.
I am very thankful that my stupid question posts are treated with such kind and insightful replys. Hopefully the people I irritate will continue to ignore me.
As for the first part of your question I can also call myself an expert. One of the amazing parts of professional racing is realizing how many truly rich people there are! They can afford to buy many "toys'' and let them just sit. Granted there are different levels of this but in my lifetime of working in an industry that serves absolutely no real purpose you quickly learn how well off a lot of people are and how quickly they move on to the next dream or distraction. Hopefully when I muster the courage to try my dream I can get a good deal from one of them!LOL
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Old 10-24-2010
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We refer to those boats that do not get much use as floating porches. Here on my lake, Minnetonka in the Minneapolis area. The lake is a supposedly prestigeous lake to be on. To have a boat or a home there means you got the Benjamins. People have their boats slipped there for the "Oh look at me" factor mostly. There are a few 34 & 36 footers, both power and sail, and they are too big for this lake and the sail boats sit. The powerboats, and their larger over compensating cousins do get used but that is because you don't need to tack back and forth or actually know what you are doing. There are a couple that actually have radar on them! Google Lake Minnetonka and see how big it is and draw your own conclusions on that....

I belong to a boat club through my sailing school at the most expensive marina, I hear, on the lake. I get to sail pretty much when I want and I see these boats sitting in a slip or hell, even on the hard all season, and I think "I will sail it for you if you don't want to!".

So that could be part of what you are seeing. Lots of ego stroking and the whole "aren't I cool I got this boat but, I have no clue how to use it"......

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Last edited by cb32863; 10-24-2010 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 10-24-2010
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I'll Play:

We probably bought our boat several years to early to put the kind of usage you want to see out of me..

But I had the pile of cash in my hand so I said now or never....that could not have been a truer statement...even with the now cheaper boat prices, that pile of cash would have just disappeared and been spent on other bills....and there is no way I see on the horizon me acquiring that pile again any time soon.

Our intention, was to continue our yearly summer boating vacation here in the PNW as a family expanding it to possibly a month...yes you are correct we could have probably done that in style aboard a rental with the yearly slip fees we pay alone to have our own boat birthed.

We haven't gotten use of our boat for two years due to the insurance/yard fiasco nor had to pay slip fees either but irregardless of that I doubt we would get out more then one week end a month right now due to kids activities anyway.

So is it monetarily worth it as far as a sound economic move?...Heck No!

But I don't run my life on those terms alone...I tried that and ended up divorced once upon a time.

So all those boats you see sitting are for some people the only reason to show up for work day in and day out...Its their dream rather they get time to actually live within it or not at this moment in their life...still dream they do....I don't begrudge anyone that...nor should anyone else.

Asking questions about ones dreams is as normal as breathing...I only tire of it when they are to lazy to do a search first to find out their answer was well covered yesterday.

Oh...by the way...Whats better a Ketch or a Sloop...
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Last edited by Stillraining; 10-24-2010 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 10-24-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanr77 View Post
After spending many weekends on my Catalina pondering things that are none of my business, I have come up with a few observations that might be worth discussing.

First, people don't use their boats. Over the last few years, mainly in powerboat type marinas as that is what I had, I have noticed that 3/4 of the boats sitting at their slips never leave their slips. For that matter, many never even get opened up more that a few times a year. I have made it a point recently to watch a group of sailboats to document their usage over the season. Of the group of boats I chose to watch. Only one went sailing between 1 and 5 times. One other was started, untied and turned around in the slip once a month. (Don't know why.) The others just sat. A huge proportion of power boats suffered the same statistics but this is a sailing forum. Why do these people own boats? I only took notice of this because a friend recently tried to get a slip in the area and could not find one. At that point I decided to figure out why. Around here it is fairly obvious as there is rarely any boat traffic in the channels.

Knowing first hand what it costs to keep a boat in a slip, plus the added maintenance due to close proximity with salt water, why would people choose to pay this for something that they do not use?

My next curious rant relates to this forum. I have read hundreds of posts asking the same question; what boat will take me around the world for less than $xx,xxx.... Hell, I even posted a similar post when I first joined. Many get good answers and advice. How many actually do it? I can't remember reading any post by anyone saying, "thanks for the advice, I have purchased a 19xx Bluewater boat and we are sitting off the coat of France..." Does anyone actually do it? I made the conversion from power boats to sailboats a little over a year ago and have actually taken many sailing classes, rebuilt an older sailboat of my own, helped a few other people rebuild theirs and have put hundreds of hours in holding a tiller. This to me is actively pursuing a dream. Is the lack of follow ups the reason people get slightly hostile from being asked the same questions over and over? Anyways, I feel better. What do you thinks of all this? AR
Alanr77

People buy a boat to fulfil a dream. Half the people on this forum will get ill from the thought of selling their boat, because why they still have their boat - they still have their dream. Those folk would rather pay $1000 p/m in mooring & maintenance fees, just to keep the dream on the boil. Use the boat or not, they are boat 'owners' who at least have the potential to enjoy the sea at any time. No boat means the dream is dead.

I get a rush just thinking about taking the boat out for a burn. The 'magic' is just knowing you can enjoy it whenever you like, perhaps even decident. No boat means your daily 'happy place' is no longer available.

So, people hang onto their boats whether they use them or not. It represents a lifestyle more than the actual sailing. Case in point. A few years ago when we were in between boats, I sh1t myself when it finally dawned on me that we were boatless. Honest, I started sweating and could feel myself about to start what I'd guess you call a panic attack. It only lasted a few seconds, but I learned that I was pretty messed up about all this boat ownership thing.

One way or another, I will always own a boat in some form or other. Perhaps I might even become one of those guys you see who doesn't use his boat very often ( I doubt it ), but if it does happen, please go easy on me.
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Old 10-24-2010
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Clearly, Alan, what you've observed is the norm rather than otherwise. But at the same time, this forum, which probably represents a very small percentage of boat owners - for the most part it showcases the more active and dedicated portion. WE have active long time sailors like myself and others, and new sailors with tons of initial enthusiasm and eager to learn. (btw, lostatsi, Sailnet is probably one of the gentler forums for newbies)

To add to your observation, on a pleasant summer day the bay in front of Vancouver looks chock-a-block with boats of all sorts, racing, daysailing, powering on.. you name it. So lots of users, right? But if you flew over all the marinas in town that same day they would all still look pretty full. So even with 'heavy' use, it's still a minority of boats moored in any particular place.

We get between 60 and 80 days, 50 or so overnights every year, and that's much less than many others here. But we do feel we get the use and enjoyment that justifies our expenses. Soon Stillraining will be in similar circumstance, we all hope...

But it is a shame seeing a neglected, unused boat in a slip that you KNOW someone would kill for and can't find.

btw some clubs have a clause in their regs that require a boat to be used with at least some minimal frequency.. failing to satisfy that rule can result in a loss of your moorage rights.. I think it's the right way to go.
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Old 10-24-2010
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I meant no ill of the people who own but don't use their boat. I'm not angry I'm in envy . There are a lot of people in the world that would be disgusted to think I spent $500 on a laptop so I could surf sailnet and look for nudie shots of Miley Cirus when they would spend that on a years worth of food!
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Old 10-24-2010
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Probably works the same with any sport or hobby. Most motorcycles sit unused in the garage, most motor homes never leave the driveway, mountain bikes, skis, rock climbing gear, scuba gear, etc.

I've been just as guilty of this as the next guy. My 2nd motorcycle I owned for 3 years and only put 2k miles on it. My hiking backpack has been on 1 hike. I finally sold the bike, but it took a few years of "I'm not using this, why am I paying X a month for it" to let go of it. I still sigh a little when I see a motorcycle on the road, but I traded that dream for my current one and I'm happier for it.
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