It occurred to me that you just don’t see a lot of homebuilt cruising boats in the Caribbean these days and I find that all kinds of depressing.
One reason is that DIY boatbuilding has become something of an antisocial activity in a “We are what we buy” world. A world that seems to look down on people who can actually make a thing. A quick look at any cruising forum where someone says they’re going to build a boat often results in rabid ridicule and mansplaining that anyone who builds a boat is an idiot.
As I’m currently in the middle of putting together a better tabernacle for the mast, I find that the cost of most materials keeps going up at an alarming rate. Whether it’s a tabernacle, dinghy, or cruising boat, the cost of building has become unaffordable for a large portion of the folks inclined to build. Sure, there are any number of hacks and workarounds to save money but it’s an uphill battle at best and a project killer for most.
This brings us around to fixing up an older unloved classic plastic design which seems to make the most sense in our current social and economic climate. Sprucing up a lot of old boats is often just a deep clean with invested sweat equity, some paint, and needful parts. The cost of many classic older designs is so low that they are being sold for less than the lead in their keels is worth. Which is pretty nuts when you think about it.
When the going gets weird the weird turn pro…
Hunter S. Thompson sure knew what he was talking about. While he was not talking about boat building or refitting old boats it still applies to anyone doing such in these hard times. Times where outlandishly unconventional, outrageous, or extreme measures are all part of the everyday boatbuilding experience. Or in a single word, gonzo.
Gonzo boat building certainly has a nice ring to it.
On a semi-related side note here’s a great interview with Lloyd Kahn that’s well worth a read.