Problem solving…

So, here’s the ongoing question most of us are trying to deal with: what is the most needed attribute for successful, low-budget cruising or building/refitting a boat?

Is it your sailing ability?

The ability to make a perfect dovetail?

Having the right gear?

Enough money?

Maybe the correct answer is none of the above, and the simple answer is the ability to solve problems. Take building or refitting a boat as an example. Every boat building or refit project I’ve undertaken has been a collection of problems that need to be solved.

It’s all about problem solving. Some are simple, others are difficult, and then there’s the odd dilemma which is right up there with solving the world peace equation while juggling chainsaws.

The same goes for cruising on a budget. It’s not just a money thing, as money is just a math issue. It’s more of “How do we cruise in a way where money is less of an issue?” kind of thing. Thrown together with the “Quality of Life” issue, suddenly we’re looking at how to achieve world peace and someone just threw a brace of chainsaws for you to catch.

So, here’s where you get to put on your thinking cap and work through a couple of problems…

Problem # 1

You notice a 1972 CAL 29 listed for $1500 that does not have a working engine, needs to have the under-mast I-beam replaced, as well as the corresponding bulkhead. The boat otherwise is clean and everything works. The sails are in good shape, but the rigging is as old as the boat.

There is another CAL 29 selling for $10K with a working Atomic Four engine that appears to be in good shape, albeit with no information on the rig or I-Beam. At the moment, you have $5K in cash for a boat. What are you going to do?

Obviously, this scenario is really a cascading collection of various issues. You need to work through the problems before you get to the “should I buy or not” problem. Let’s see how you get there.

Problem #2

You want to sail to Europe as part of a two-year Atlantic circle in your CAL 29 but folks you’ve heard from say Europe and the Med are too expensive to cruise on a $1000 a month budget, the Schengen treaty won’t let you, and that you’d be better off in the Bahamas or Caribbean instead. Is the two-year Atlantic circle doable or not?

Again, here’s another plethora of potential issues that you have to research.

The good news it that all you need is available online and really shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.

Leave your answers in the comments, but remember the moderated comments take a while before your answers show up.

Here’s a quick hint. Don’t bother with forums as that way lies madness.

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2 thoughts on “Problem solving…”

  1. Problem 1, keep shopping. For my $5000 I will happily settle for this Dufour Aprege. Replace the rigging mount a wind vane and go. Fingers crossed that is all that needs doing.
    Problem 2 is not really a problem. You just have to ask yourself if you can limit your spending to a $1000 a month. Last year we went on holiday with another family and they easily spent twice what we did on the same holiday. All we did different was not eat out for every meal, no souvenirs and spend like we normally do at home

  2. 1) I've done this before (Cal 28, Tartan 37, Aquarius 23, Laguna 18) and know my hard/soft decision making framework
    2) I have a good paying job in an industry I can come back to (and possibly work in PT to supplement). At worst, I can always bail out and there's a safety net. I am time poor though….
    3) I am personally more interested in North than South, and am starting from Maryland.
    4) I'll need to establish a project kitty to start and an acceptable burn rate throughout. That will help me figure out the juice vs. squeeze on the boat, pricing, and project timeframe I can tolerate, all against the features I want. Then we can tweak the dials on supplemental income, etc.
    5) Current budget: $5K for the boat, $24K capable income for a 24 month cruising opportunity. Need to establish contingency and reserves. Need to think through lifestyle changes to make now to be ready for the launch.
    It's worth seeing each boat and doing a Don Cassey inspection, but my heart says I can make the $1500 one work. Rough order of magnitude options:
    – Outboard engine: $2K (with accessories, and I know I can reduce that through Craigslist/FB Marketplace)
    – Interior repairs/upgrades: $500-1000 (Epoxy, fiberglass, and trips to Lowes. Challenging, but doable)
    – Niceties: Remaining budget, but here is where supplemental income, a prioritized list to check out second hand (we live near a marine one), CL, FB, etc. comes into play.
    – Rig: while I want to make replacement a priority, I had my experience of passage making on the Tartan 37 with an original 30 year rig and not issues: heavily over-engineered. Inspections, identify any major issues, but try to get some coastal cruising under the belt and time the replace for the Atlantic crossing.
    Lastly, do my best to negotiate the heck out of everything. That $1500 Cal 29 is probably really a $1000 or less boat!
    Somewhat harder problem is cruising, but there's a framework to consider it through.
    a) On a scale of 1-10, what's the worst things that could happen and the likelihood of them occurring (compared to the alternative). Make a list.
    b) For each of those items, what would I do to recover from them? Is it possible, or unrecoverable?
    c) On a scale of 1-10, what's the best things that could happen and their likelihood?
    1) If Europe ever becomes an issue due to costs, I can sail elsewhere. I do need to be mindful of my spend rate though, and contingency.
    2) Start easy before doing harder stuff. This helps test the boat, understand capabilities, right-size equipment, and get comfortable. Gunkhole in Maryland, then up to New England, then to Canada, then consider the crossing and what it'll take/how I feel. I can always turn to Bermuda or the Carib if I want to. Going south first pushes Europe that much farther away if I decide to change course.
    2) Be realistic: While I want to see Greenland, Labrador, Norway, Svalbard, and cruise the North Sea, and maybe eventually head down to France/Spain (and lastly, maybe, do some Med cruising), I know I can't do everything in 2 years. I have to prioritize my must-do's and want-to-do's of locations, with fallback options, to make the time worthwhile. Also, conservatively estimate my cruising and passage-making speeds. Take it slow.
    3) As early I could, try to establish a fixed routine to minimize disturbances in my $cheddar burn rate. I eat practically the same things every week: can I do that aboard? What are the special things I'll allow myself (budget for eating out, etc.)?
    4) Is there an alternative to a northern-Atlantic circle? If I'm not interested in the Carib for that 2 year period, would I maybe be interested in heading further south (cutting my teeth with some island fun), to do a South American cruise?

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