Components of Successful boat ownership - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 7 Old 05-10-2019 Thread Starter
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Components of Successful boat ownership

I often work with people who have dreams of becoming boat owners.

I was talking to one today and with a moment of inspiration I came up with seven components that together would determine if someone would be successful.

I'm defining success as they were happy they bought the boat after the first season and in general had enough fun to be worth the frustration.

Sailing takes time, Repairs take time.

You need someplace to keep the boat. That place will take time to get to and cost money.

You need to learn how to sail. You may need to learn to do maintenance or repairs.

Tools are much cheaper than they used to be but you need space to store them, money to buy them and skill to use them.

Pretty obvious but a lot of problems can be solved with more money. There is a minimum amount you need to make it happen.

Friends / Family
It is fun to share sailing with others. Someone else may have skills to help you or space or tools to lend.

Attitude / Needs / Expectations
This is especially important. Some people are just happy being on the water. Other people have goals that are unrealistic and they will not be met. If that person can go with the flow they will not be happy.

The worst scenario:
A guy who works at a demanding job 80 hours a week in an inland state. He lives in a condo with no room and has no money as he has to pay off debts. He is not handy and has no tools and no friends with tools or skills and expects everything to be perfect.

This guy no matter how much he loves the idea is probably not going to be successful. His life has to change to make it work.

The best scenario:
A retired guy with savings and a good pension. He has worked on cars and houses his whole life and has a full garage of tools. He brother has a dock and he is welcome to park his boat there. There are several full-service marinas within 20 minutes.

This guy on paper at least looks like he should be able to make it work.

Most people fall somewhere in the middle. I'm working with three people right now and I like to be encouraging and help them with their dreams. At the same time, I want to be truthful and let them know what they are getting into.

Besides the seven items above what other factors have you seen that have made someone succeed or fail at boat ownership?

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post #2 of 7 Old 05-11-2019
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Re: Components of Successful boat ownership


No point in owning a 35 ft sailboat if you live on a river or an inland lake (Great Lakes excepted).

Conversely a trailer sailer might not be all that practical if you live somewhere with a lot of exposed Ocean.

I have been through this cycle, bigger keel boat on the great lakes became nothing but a costly annoyance on a river, switched to a trailer sailer and sailing kayaks and get much better use out of them.
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Re: Components of Successful boat ownership

Good thread... Obviously one needs the ALL the right elements or components to successfully own and use a boat. Clearly money is required, time and access to waterways... which will somewhat dictate the type of boat which is appropriate. Even if you don't sail year round for any reason... the boat requires attention.

You certainly need a set of skills to operate, maintain and repair the boat. Everything wears/breaks and needs attention. You CAN buy these services but most boat owners are at least somewhat DIY and self reliant. It's a continual learning process.

You don't need friends or family to share the experience... But if you have them it is rewarding usually for all.

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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Re: Components of Successful boat ownership

I think that you need a natural desire to be around boats and the water. If you are just falling in love with the 'stereotypical idea' of sailing off into the sunset, it will quite possibly be a short lived experience.
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Re: Components of Successful boat ownership

It's not money per say, it's money compared to the value of the boat and/or its problems.

I'm fine with an older 39 footer. But I'd be stuffed on a 60 footer at the same budget.

However your example of the guy working 80 hours per week is no problem at all if he has the money to have a paid dude prep the boat, warm the engines and have the line ready to slip at 5pm Friday.
That might just be $100 to a casual or a full time skipper, but maybe very well worth it.

Money solves problems and add happiness

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Re: Components of Successful boat ownership

Probably the biggest thing for me is having someone to share adventures with. In my case that's my wife. Before our boys grew up it was all of us. Second would be the inexplicable fascination with being on and controlling a magic carpet being blown by the wind. Such power! Third would be having cool projects. Our current boat has all the utilities of any city so the maintenance and improvement of the systems is interesting and rewarding (after a lot of swearing).
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Re: Components of Successful boat ownership

I believe I have seen more couples quit sailing because of how they treat each other on the boat.
Yelling at the foredeck person to jump or in some other way expect that person to get a line ashore when the person on the helm hasn't done their job and gotten the boat close enough to the dock that the line handler can safely step ashore is one of the big ones.
Normally it's the husband berating his wife of 20 to 40 years because he is not in control of the situation and taking his insecurity out on her. Yelling and screaming as they perform any maneuver, anchoring, docking or raising/lowering sail. Just plain ugly, unnecessary and counterproductive.
Really, how much talk/yelling back and forth has to go into anchoring? The helmsperson signals the depth with a prearranged system and the anchor person acknowledges. Time to drop? How about a thumbs down? The person dropping the anchor should know to let out at least 3:1 scope and about the time the anchor is setting (we do not often back down) the second person arrives forward to discuss adding more scope, if necessary and help set the spring. No headsets, no yelling; clean, neat and professional.
So, for any couple reading this with the thought of getting a boat and having fun aboard, remember your bestie, your partner and longtime companion is not responsible for your mistakes. Own your mistakes and don't hurt your partner's feelings and take the fun out of sailing because of your insecurities. You are a team; learn together and support each other.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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