Chesapeake sailor solving the under-used sloop problem, one sailor at a time? - SailNet Community
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Chesapeake sailor solving the under-used sloop problem, one sailboat at a time?

I’ve been reader of Sailnet for several years now. And though I’ve never met any of you in person, you’ve all become quite familiar to me -- especially travlin-easy (to your health Gary), Donna_F, chef2sail, T37chef, Ajax_MD, TakeFive, and SVAuspicious, among others. I’m sure that I’ve crossed some of your paths out on the bay.

A common lament I hear on Sailnet and in marinas is about the vast number of sailboats these days that are rarely if ever used. I’ve seen them myself. The boats sit on their moorings or in slips while beautiful days and fresh breezes blow on by. As someone who grew up sailing but doesn’t currently own a boat (I’ve been chartering since moving to the area), this is heartbreaking. My wife and I are determined to make a difference. One boat at a time.

Last May, we heard that a long-lost friend with a Pearson 303 had accepted a job in SF and that he didn’t yet know what to do with his boat. It sounded to us, save for a long weekend or two, like the boat would succumb to the same fate as so many others, so we asked if he wanted to someone to look after it and he said sure. We struck up an informal barter deal where we would show it some love (keep the desks clean, regularly run the diesel) for no money if we could also sail it. In the fall when he finally decided to sell, the boat had been well-looked-after and he got what I think was a good price ($27K) for a Pearson of that vintage.

I share this story with you all because while I know this was a rare stroke of luck, I have a hunch that we could do more for the cause of under-used monohull sloops next summer. I believe there is another boat owner out there – perhaps someone too old to sail regularly or just too busy – who would like to know that their boat is not just watched after but also providing someone else the joy that it once provided them.

I can already anticipate the first posts: "Who in their right mind would actually agree to such an arrangement?" one of you will write. "What if you damage the boat, what if something old breaks, who pays?" You will be right to raise these questions. There are indeed risks and we live in a very risk-adverse culture. I'm not going to let that stop me from trying, however, because I believe there can be mutual benefit in such a situation and that such concerns, if not acute, can be worked out if the two parties are in synch. We have been fortunate so far to live a life of careful stewardship and we've tended to find people who are trustworthy, responsible, and share our values. When we lived in New York City, we found an extraordinary brownstone rental by slipping notes under the front doors of all the beautiful buildings in a target neighborhood. We ended up getting a massive duplex in need of some tender loving care for a very fair price and then we spent months fixing it up and we lived in it happily for five years. So, I have great faith that things like this are possible. As for the Pearson 303, when our arrangement ended in September with the sale of the boat, there was no new wear and tear, the engine was happy, and the brightwork looked great. So to those of you with old classic plastics in the 28-35’ range, I offer you our bartered services.

"But how do I know you can sail?," you’ll ask next. Here's my sailing experience and a general introduction: I am a coastal sailor who since moving to the Chesapeake several years ago has been chartering 25’-35’ monohulls—our favorites so far have been a Bristol 30 and a Sabre 34. We’ve been in and out of Rock Hall Creek, Rock Hall, Kent Narrows, St. Michaels, Annapolis/Spa Creek, Magothy River, and the West River, etc.—all the areas just north and south of the Bay Bridge. In a previous life, I was a member of the Boston Sailing Center, I raced J24s out of the Noroton Yacht Club in CT (Annapolis & Newport), I crewed in the Block Island race, I crewed on a weeklong charter on a 32’ Bristol in Penobscot Bay, I sailed a lot of Wednesday night races out of Norwalk, CT, and I worked on a 112’ Maine windjammer schooner out of Rockland, Maine. Way back in college, at Cornell, I raced 470s all over New England and match-raced Shields up in Castine, Maine. My wife did not grow up sailing but dated sailors for years before we met, has spent some time on the water, and we’re a great team. We live and work for a nonprofit in DC (hence us not owning a boat ourselves) and are in our early 50s.

I don’t know if this is enough convince any of you that this is a good idea and that we are the right couple to take on this daunting challenge of saving Chesapeake monohulls from a life of inactivity. But if it is and you know of a good old boat that needs to be lovingly looked after and sailed on occasion, let me know. You can contact me at [email protected] or 202.631.5438 cell. I'd be happy to be of help the cause. :-)

Thanks and happy New Year,
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Re: Chesapeake sailor solving the under-used sloop problem, one sailor at a time?


Sounds like an interesting relationship and proposition for someone with that need. I know of others who have done the same.
Do you share any of the expenses? Insurance? Maintainence?

I suggest you find someone who needs a partner to go out with sometimes as that may increase your network to find someone who meets your specific criteria. Many times this stuff is word of mouth.

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Re: Chesapeake sailor solving the under-used sloop problem, one sailor at a time?

Yes, I'm sure I would be willing to cover some maintenance or other costs. That would be fair. Or could do some work on the boat -- haul it and help scrap and paint her, etc. Nasty work, I know, and not that fun, but someone's got to do it and if the owner isn't sailing regularly they are probably also not real intent on doing or paying someone else to do it.
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Re: Chesapeake sailor solving the under-used sloop problem, one sailor at a time?

It comes to mind that if you paid for the insurance you might get a bunch more interest from owners. It would show a commitment on your part, up front, that you are willing to protect the owner's interests and property at some expense to you.
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Re: Chesapeake sailor solving the under-used sloop problem, one sailor at a time?

Good luck, and I sincerely hope you find something close to DC. There are lots of boats sitting at the dock doing nothing all along the Potomac and it's tributaries. When I worked and fished in that area, I saw them every trip. Like you, I am literally amazed at the number of sailboats that just sit at the dock and never get moved. The boat that sits next to mine, which is in good shape, never left the dock last season until it was pulled for winter. In contrast, I made more than 50 trips and when the boat was pulled, other than a bit of mud stain on the bottom of the keel the bottom was fairly clean. I guess it didn't sit still long enough for stuff to grow on it.

All the best,

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