the best of times, the worst of times…

So it’s 2023 and a new year. For some of us, it comes with some musing over the state of things.

As far as sailing and cruising goes, my musings seemed to be along the lines of that Dickens quote and I spent a couple of hours thinking about the good/bad reality after the ball dropped at midnight.

On the positive side…

  • The cost of a good condition, under 36-foot, blue water capable boats have come down and are now very affordable.
  • The cost of needful gear has become more affordable.
  • Systems that were once considered too complicated or unaffordable for many are now within most cruiser’s means.
  • Needful information is readily available and no one has to reinvent the wheel. That said, finding good information should include a buyer beware warning.
  • The current state of computer-based communication systems means you can almost always be connected to the world.

On the negative side…

  • One of the main reasons boat prices have fallen is that we have a “Too many boats and not enough places to put them” situation so moorage and marinas have become unaffordable. A related issue is that this is causing a lot of anti-cruiser attitude on municipal and state levels.
  • While needful gear may be cheaper, the marine industry exerts incredible pressure to get the newest, most expensive thing/flavor of the month.
  • Sadly, the “You get what you pay for” mindset is counter productive to affordable cruising and really does not make any sense but considered gospel by far too many.
  • YouTube influencers, while helpful from time to time, are mostly pimping on one level or another. Any information from most of these sources should be considered suspect and taken with a grain of salt.
  • The current state of computer-based communication systems means you can almost always be connected to the world.

Actually, those lists could be a lot longer but I suspect you get the general drift. So, how do we deal with the best/worst conundrum?

For starters, VolksCruising only works if you’re actually cruising. Your mantra should be “Keep on Trucking” as any nomadic society knows that being welcomed always comes with a time stamp and it’s best to leave Dodge before the welcome expires. Which is a roundabout way of saying if you’re going to cruise you best be on your way.

Since there are so many inexpensive sailboats in good shape, the desire to buy a fixer-upper should be suppressed. Why spend a year or three fixing a boat when you can just buy one and get gone? Sure, I know you want to tweak the boat to your needs but a major refit is seldom a good financial investment and, if you think it’s required, you should be looking for another boat.

Same goes for the need some have of wanting to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. For a special few it might work but in 99% of the cases I’ve seen, you just wind up with a very, very expensive sow’s ear.

As far as stuff goes for cruising, less is more as the old adage says. I could go into deep detail but do I really have to? 

Overall the best/worst scenario comes out as pretty positive for someone wanting to cruise on a VolksCruiserish budget. Of course, you’ll need to do some critical thinking, jump through a bunch of hoops, and make some of those negatives work for you rather than against but the overall math says it’s going to be a good year to get going.

Here’s hoping we all have a happy new year.

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