S/V Ruby is for sale

S/V Ruby is up for sale!

Reason for sale: After a less-than-full sailing season, I’m putting Ruby on the market. Maybe it’s time to admit that I’m not going to enjoy this as much as I’d hoped, and that someone else can pick up where I’m leaving off. I lived aboard a Cal 28 out of college, moved up to a circumnavigating Tartan 37, before downsizing to the biggest trailerable I could find. I was inspired by the voyage of another Aquarius 23 named Lacuna from Seattle up the Inside Passage to Alaska.

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That picture in front of a glacier convinced me this was a boat that could take me anywhere I reasonably wanted to go: any East-coast destination was do-able with grit. Ruby has been arranged for comfortable single-handed cruising and fun with friends. Trailer her home for easy winter maintenance, then launch for great sailing the rest of the year. I’ve owned Ruby and her Aquarius predecessor for just over 6 years now.

The boat: S/V Ruby is a 1980’s vintage Balboa 23 centerboard sloop. Balboa purchased the molds and rights to the successful Aquarius line and continued production with some modifications. Most notably, Balboa interiors are molded fiberglass and the rudders are stern-mounted with a fully-enclosed cockpit. The Aquarius owners group on Yahoo has extensive information about both models, their performance characteristics, and a slew of happy owners. Moored on the Middle River above Baltimore, MD, the slip could be transferred to the new owner (current rate is $100/month).

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Hull, rig, above decks: Ruby is 23 feet long, just inside of 8 feet in beam. She draws less than 18” with the centerboard up. The stern-mounted blade rudder kicks up as early indication you’ve found the shallows. New “Ruby” vinyl letters on each side. Aluminum rub rail all around (forward port side shows some older hull repair from dock rash).

  • The aluminum mast and boom are easily managed even single-handed. I installed a new stainless mast-base hinge to permit easy raising/lowering of the rig. An aluminum gin pole and custom-made cat’s cradle provide additional leverage/support for the operation.
  • Standard fractional sloop rig with stainless shrouds all around, adjustable tension backstay (two-part block), and pair of windex indicators. Only two halyards: main and jib, with mast cleats.

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  • Mainsail is in working condition. Partial battens, full-length mast and boom slot for attachment (pro: no loss of wind, con: not as easy to raise/lower due to system friction). Mainsheet is A-frame style across rear of cockpit.
  • Jib is in working condition. Probably 110% (feels a little small) with luff clips. Heavy-duty sheets. Non-tailing winches and cleats in cockpit.
  • Deck layout is standard for a large trailerable. No openings in the bow, raised cabin with 20” port on starboard side. Bow pulpit and stern pushpit of 1” stainless. I removed the lifelines but will provide the stanchions. Companion hatch converted to sliding-style with rails; original plexiglass two-piece hatchboards & bronze fox head. Cockpit has single drain (1 ½”) at aft end. Deck was painted this year with non-skid for looks/grip.

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  • Maybe the most unique feature is the hard dodger. I made this as a prototype to see how I liked the feature. Has (5) opening ports for visibility, (2) solar trickle chargers mounted on top, screwed to the hatch rails and is removable. Coated in asphalt roofing tar ad covered in hull paint.
  • Rudder is stern-mounted with oiled tiller, red tiller cover, and push-rod for the kick-down blade. Newly installed clam cleat provides tension and safety when underway.

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Trailer: Original EZ Loader galvanized single-axle trailer. Towed well on 2” ball. Added an extension for an additional 4’ of length to make launching easier. Tires new in 2011; maybe 200 miles on them. (4) galvanized jack stands provide long-term storage weight support (takes the weight off the tires and/or use in emergency to jack the trailer up). Light-bar attaches to boat to prevent submerging them. Comes with: (1) spare wheel carrier (uninstalled), (2) spare wheels (good rims, need new tires), and if desired a weight-distribution hitch for a 2” receiver.

Propulsion options, spares: I spent a great deal of effort getting options for alternative propulsion. Ruby is one of a few of these boats with electric propulsion capability. Motorguide Riptide 80 lb thrust with hull-mounted plug connects to (2) 12 VDC batteries in series for a 24 VDC system. Super quiet, fully maneuverable. I’ve cruised a full weekend on a single charger. 24 VDC shore battery charger, fusing, circuit breaker, and kill switch are installed. Great option is you are in quiet waters and just need to get out/in.

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I’m moored at the upper end of a long river, and decided this year that I needed to renew a gas option. Currently installed is a 1990’s vintage Honda 8hp 4-stroke CDI outboard. Good condition, recently tuned up and many parts replaced. Mounted on a Garelick outboard mount, fuel hose, filter, and bulb in cockpit locker with thru-hull connection. Has 6A, 12 VDC charging capability (not installed). Comes with working spare motor with many replacement parts on hand.

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Interior layout, fixtures: Pretty much a stock Balboa with the expected level of comfort. Think “glamping”. Normal arrangement for a sloop:

  • V-berth
  • Forward-facing head
  • Starboard-side settee berth with fold up table
  • Aft-starboard navigation station console
  • Port-side galley
  • Port-side quarterberth

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Berths include two sets of cushions; tartan fabric in OK condition; back rests recovered with blue sunbrella. Thetford portapotty in head with shelf rack (will be cleaned for new owner, wink). Navigation console provides table-top an electronics mounting in convenient location. Cabin-top mounted chart storage. Floor has vinyl wood stripping for ease of cleaning.

Galley includes wall-mounted papertowel rack, trashbag rack, trashcan, hooks, (2) burner alcohol stove, small stainless sink, 5 gallon water tank, and weather station. Pots, pans, cooking utensils, etc. included.

imag0913Safety kit: Mostly standard items, but enough to get you safely on the water.

  • Heavy cruising plow anchor
  • Danforth anchors
  • Fisherman-style anchors, plus rode
  • Lifejackets (so many lifejackets…)
  • Harness & jackstrap
  • Flares, flaregun, horn, first-aid kit
  • Stern chainplates mounted to tow a drogue or lines when heaving-to
  • Multiple fenders, including a large sea buoy-style for in-port use

Electronics & whiz-bangs: I’ve managed to collect an assortment of odds and ends over a decade of sailing that found their way onto Ruby. Some are installed and working great. Some are installed and working good enough for now, but could be improved. Some are not completely installed, but planned.

  • House battery: 12VDC deep cycle, under the nav station, fused. 110VAC battery charger with co-located outlet for shore charging.
  • Dodger-mounted 12VDC trickle charger (2)
  • (2) cockpit-mounted depth sounders (pucks not installed at this time)
  • 5 VDC microUSB charge cable in cockpit
  • Bluetooth command mic in cockpit (for using your cell phone)
  • 3” compass
  • 12 VDC tiller autopilot (uninstalled)
  • LED running lights (bow, stern, mast)
  • Handheld marine VHF (2)
  • LED cabin lights
  • 10m Yaesu Ham radio (console)
  • Antenna tuner & watt meter (console)
  • 2m Kenwood Ham radio (console)
  • Midland CB radio (console)
  • Apelco Marine VHF (console)
  • 12 VDC audio amplifier + unmounted speakers (console)
  • 7” Lenovo Android tablet w/ 16gB SD card (pdf manuals, and a great classical collection: will reset for new owner)
  • Weather station w/ wind speed, temps, barometer: cockpit-mounted anemometer
  • 5VDC charging cable (interior)
  • Non-marine Garmin GPS (I keep it outside for simple speed & geographic area info)

Current to-do list:

Centerboard: Like many A23’s, Ruby has a stuck centerboard. I purchased her in the water and wasn’t able to fully assess until I hauled out in 2012. The Aquarius owners group has extensive directions on best practices for removing, refurbishing, and/or replacing the ~120 lb steel plate.

Ports: I’ve gotten by with Gorilla tape for the last few seasons, but the ports need to be addressed at some point. I envisioned replacing them a la Lacuna with fixed Lexan or Perspex fixed with stainless screws. In the current condition there is minor weepage in the cabin during heavy rain.

Electrics: I’ve been in continual “upgrade/update” mode on the electric system for the past two years and there’s much left incomplete. I’ve been finishing things as I’ve needed them. A complete list will be provided and gone over during survey. The inventory provided above gives you an idea of the extent of my envisioned scope. If you search “Datawake” and “Technomad” you’ll see one of my influences…

Galley mods: I’ve been considering how to improve the galley and came to a conclusion that a new galley top would be a wonderful improvement. A new surface would allow the stove to seat better and provide for a better 5 gallon tank fixture and more working space.

Inner shrouds: Are too long. I have a temporary set of galvanized wires with stainless hardware serving well, but could use replacement.

Additional projects going along:

  • Rail BBQ: I have most of the parts collected for a rail-mounted BBQ, like the Magma bowl-styles.
  • Stove: I have some parts for an in-boat stove, stainless enclosure, etc. This would be in addition to, or alternative to, the propane heater
  • (1) Self-tailing winch and chain windlass for use in anchoring (was going to mount at bow area)

Additional items going with the sale:

  • Tool bags aboard: two collections of hand tools for use aboard
  • Spare blue & red Sunbrella, cushions, marine carpet, paint, and interior items
  • Sevlor inflatable dinghy with bag & pump
  • Full-size boat cover for use in the off-season (sized for pontoon boat; fits over lowered mast and fully over sides; some tears from last winter)
  • Mast, fins, snorkel for below-water expeditions
  • sleeping bags + camping kit for shore expeditions
  • Fishing gear
  • Collapsible hose, nozzle, and cleaning kit
  • Spare boom, mainsail
  • Spinnaker & spare jib (can be repaired but unuseable at this point)
  • Propane Buddy Heater for winter projects aboard
  • Carriers for mast when trailering
  • Sailing library: Every armchair sailor needs some good books to while away the winter nights. I’m including a selection from my library to get you started, along with some maintenance classics for those projects coming your way. There’s probably ~ $500 invested over time in these.

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What’s coming down the pike for you: Hey, it’s a good honest question. You can sail comfortably today and for the foreseeable future. My annual operating costs feel high but were influenced by the many updates I wanted to accomplish. Required expenses were probably less than $300 (registration, fuel, simple repairs) plus slip. Rigging at the ramp takes 45-60 minutes (faster with familiarity) and derigging takes 30-45 minutes; in the slip I was underway in 10-15 minutes and packed away in 5-10 minutes. Looking out at the list of project above:

Centerboard replacement: Carbon steel will run a few hundred dollars or less, depending on the source. If you replace the board you may want to renew the antifouling paint all around.

Ports: Depending on source will run $100-$300 for materials to do them well.

Rigging & sails: Could be refreshed and get you a lot more performance: probably somewhere around $1000-1500 would get you well set up for years to come.

 

Bottom line: I’m familiar with this family of boats and the average prices they go for. I never thought too hard about investing money into something I really enjoyed, and I really enjoyed making Ruby a better boat than she started out as. You can find lower priced offerings out there. You’ll probably have to find an engine, trailer, or other substantial parts to get them going reliably. You’ll have to invest a lot of elbow grease one way or another! Ruby is priced to represent a lot of the odds & ends that add up over time but make her convenient and comfortable. You’ll still need elbow grease, but hopefully a good deal less.

Sales price: $2800 for everything. At this time I’m not interested in parting things out. You can probably make back a good deal of the purchase price by diligently selling off some of the spare kit (I’m just not interested in being diligent at this time either). In spring 2017 I’ll probably get her up on Craigslist for other potential buyers.

I can be contacted at my personal address travis.a.chapman(at)gmail.com to arrange viewing. My plan is to block Veteran’s Day weekend for trial sailing and/or a nice final cruise! I’ll probably haul out end of November.

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Sailboat Sunday: Allmand 35

Trolling for sailboats the other week lead to an interesting find; an Allmand 35 listed for $7500. In the last Sailboat Sunday post we discussed an arbitrary and invisible line called “thirty feet”. Every once in a while, something will pop up for less than $10K (our fictional budget) that is over 30 feet in length. In this case, a sailboat that fits nicely in the middle.

I tend to agree, based on personal experience and observing several other liveaboards, that a well designed sailboat between 33 and 38 feet in length is a sweet spot. Small enough to comfortably single hand, not too hard on length-derived service costs (slips, haul-outs), large enough to provide unique spaces for life activities, reasonable chance of finding something with headroom (at six feet tall, I have a personal desire for this), and plenty of storage for reasonable needs.

Why do I say this?

  • My personal experience living aboard our Tartan 37, Persephone, led me to find it the perfect size. Safe and comfortable at sea too.
  • In Charleston, I had one neighbor on a Catalina 34; similar experience, in that he had everything he needed and incentive to leave it that way!
  • In Fernandina Beach I had a Westsail 32 as a neighbor. Again, great sailboat layout and one happy guy.
  • Search across the web for those who are out there: Webb Chiles (Ericson 37, She 36) and Bob Wise (Cal 34).

Allmand 35

So let’s see what’s for sale this week. In the Annapolis Craigslist, I found the following:

Allmand 35 – $7500

Features from the listing:

 

  • http://annapolis.craigslist.org/boa/4815130383.htmlhttp://annapolis.craigslist.org/boa/4815130383.htmlhttp://annapolis.craigslist.org/boa/4815130383.htmlhttp://annapolis.craigslist.org/boa/4815130383.htmlYanmar 27 that needs replaced
  • Oven/stove unit needs replacing
  • Last surveyed in 2011.

From the reference data, the Allmand 35 tri-cabin model has the following stats:

  • Length: 34′ 9″
  • Beam: 11′ 8″
  • Draft: 4′ 8″
  • Displacement: 15,100 lbs
  • Ballast: 4300 lbs
  • Fuel tank (stock): 40 gals
  • Water tankage (stock): 95 gals

What makes this a good potential liveaboard?

Bottom line: size. When approaching a decision like purchasing a home, especially a sailboat as a home, one needs to consider many factors. One factor I use is the “what can I change and what can’t be changed?” factor. Example: there’s no point in imagining a townhouse will ever become a stand-alone house. Without significant financial investment (i.e., buying the townhouses around you, knocking them down,e tc.) you will always have a townhouse. With sailboats, what are those factors you can’t easily change? Dimensions are certainly one of them. At this price point, and knowing what I do now, I’d consider this a reasonable trade-off. Plenty of space to enjoy now, and a targeted plan of how to restore systems over time if I was tight on funds. This is based on previous experience as well; our Tartan 37 sold for $6500 without a working engine.

The five foot draft means this vessel is capable of doing most all of the regular cruising grounds found in the East coast of America. Caribbean jaunts are definitely possible. And ocean-crossing capability is available with some additional planning and assessment. Rather than a “starter” boat, this could conceivably be a long-term home investment.

At first glance, much of the vessel appears in good condition. Stainless rails topside mean less maintenance. A nice enclosed cockpit area means additional living space (and a buffer against the snow if you lived aboard in northern climes). Some water damage below that needs looked to, but nothing impossible to overcome.

One feature I enjoy is the tri-cabin layout. V-berths are fine for sleeping in port, but not much good at sea. I much prefer to convert them into purposeful storage (sails, Rubbermaid totes, etc.). A quarterberth (a berth in the aft quarters of a sailboat) provides good motion when at sea, and quick access to the cockpit should something be going on. In this case, the aft cabin would also be fine for in port use, meaning no changes to sleeping arrangements while going to sea.

And the midship placement of the sink means a great galley layout for cooking both in port and at sea.

Additional information on the Allmand 35 can be found over at Sailboatdata and the design’s homepage

Factors to consider:

Price: Based on our fictional $10K budget, this vessel does push us right up to the edge without much margin. That said, this particular listing tells me that much of the sailboat is probably in good condition (relatively speaking) so that I only need to focus on a few significant items to be live aboard ready.

Engine: As mentioned, the seller assumes the engine needs full replacement. A qualified diesel mechanic would be a worthy investment to better make that call. If possible, we’d like to salvage and reuse what’s available, and as long as repair of the Yanmar is budgeted appropriately, it may be a worthwhile investment in time (not getting out there) versus money (using up our budget and saving for any additional needs). If this truly is a case for total replacement, then several options open up. This vessel is likely too big to effectively do an outboard-in-well setup, but one option could be a drop-down outboard such as Yves uses on his Alberg 30. Alternately, this could be a candidate for electric conversion, assuming the prop and drive shaft are in good condition. Or be ready to jump on a good engine replacement. As mentioned though, I’d consider this a reasonable purchase with a plan to sit in port for a year while steadily saving up for that engine replacement.

Floor: The cabin sole is listed as water damaged, and we’d need to see the extent of that. If the stringers (cross-members that support the floor) are in good condition, then replacing what’s there with a good solid plywood (marine grade or some of the well-bonded signage stock) and a non-skid floor covering is an option. I’ve successfully used an adhesive-backed vinyl with a tough tread pattern before; easy to install and maintain.

First steps:

 

As mentioned, the engine story needs told first. I’m 100% a fan of those who sail purposefully without engines. They can become a crutch. That said, for many they are also a worthwhile aid for convenience and an alternate propulsion.

Secondly, this boat isn’t that old (1984), and so many systems are probably in reasonable condition. I’d take the time to conduct a good solid hand-over-hand walk-down of the major systems (electrical, freshwater, engine) and create working diagrams of the components to see what needs replacing, what needs cleaning, and what works just fine.

Conclusion:

Sometimes a sailboat in this size range falls on the market, priced at a few thousand dollars, and it’s a turd. Lots of work necessary to get it into reasonable condition, definitely not sailaway ready. Truly where the term “Boat – bring out another thousand” comes from. That said, this particular vessel is one of the few that, for various reasons, comes in under $10K and is likely a good deal. Well appointed models may go for as much as $20K. So this could be considered a good invest. The potential downside being, if you make the purchase and start the work necessary to rehabilitate her, you are running down a clock called “interest in sailing”. If you know you have the long view, you can push through that period of time. But if you’re unsure, you may run the risk of loosing interest and then being the next person listing on Craigslist. And we wouldn’t want that!

Video of a similar model that was for sale.

Sailboat Sunday: American Galaxy 32

Once again, life keeps holding me back from getting a good post it! And once again, like the Columbia 29 I profiled, this particular vessel came up again on Annapolis Craigslist. So fate suggests we should talk about it.

Any introductory book on cruising/sailing will have some discussion about hull form. It’s one of the easiest ways to distinguish sailboats from one another, and visually is most apparent when out of the water. As you may have guessed, it is also apparent when in the water from the perspective of performance. Different hull forms perform differently in different conditions. Each is a trade off of factors, with no “right” answer. That said, there are sometimes “better” answers for particular situations. The key components in evaluating hull forms, based on my naval architecture experience, are:

1) Hull section (i.e., if we cut a boat in half width-wise, what shape do we see?)

2) Keel attachment method (external vs. internal ballast, and the attachment method)

3) Rudder configuration

Each design factor deserves it’s own post, and I’m sure others have commented extensively on the subject. But for our purposes, consider these factors as we look at the following offering:

American Galaxy 32, $2700 

Features from the listing:

  • Built: 1959
  • Westerbeke diesel, 21hp
  • New sails in 2004

http://annapolis.craigslist.org/boa/4885621221.html

http://annapolis.craigslist.org/boa/4885621221.htmlhttp://annapolis.craigslist.org/boa/4885621221.html

http://annapolis.craigslist.org/boa/4885621221.html

What makes this a good potential liveaboard?

First, at 32 feet, the Galaxy gets us into a magical land called “over thirty feet”. In the sub-$10K category, this is a magic number to achieve. Why? Well, many sailboats built in the 1960’s and 1970’s were marketed as weekend family cruisers, and most were between 25 and 29 feet. While there’s nothing specifically wrong with this, the designers faced unique challenges. How do you fit everything a family might want for a “weekend” cruise in a small enough package to make it financially viable? Sacrifices were made, such as trading purpose-built storage for berths. To maintain visually appealing lines, most had low cabin heights, making the interiors challenging for tall folks.

Over 30 feet in length though, and now you get into an envelop where you can make some effective trades in terms of interior space use. I highly recommend “Voyaging on a Small Income” by Annie Hill, who advocated that their home-built 34 foot flat-topper, “Badger”, was about the perfect length. Not too long to incur unreasonable fees for length-derived services, yet easy to handle by one or two people. And big enough, compared to the high-twenties sailboat club, to make living aboard a reasonable experience.

Secondly, the hull form gives us a reasonable trade-off. While the fin keel requires some care (both in terms of maintenance and inspection to ensure a good strong fit and caution in sailing to prevent grounding), the skeg-protected rudder is a positive find. Especially in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay with crab-pots all over.

Lastly, the interior (as mentioned in the listing) isn’t too bad. Let’s see the details.

Some of the data on this model:

Length Overall 31.58′
Length Waterline 23′ (which translates to long, beautiful overhangs)
Beam 10.13′
Draft 5′
Displacement 11260 lbs

The Galaxy 32’s molds were sold and later used as the base for the Paceship 32. Bill Tripp developed both designs.

Factors to consider:

Certainly lots of things to wonder about with this specific boat, such as:

1) Price: This particular sale is from a sailboat non-profit who have listed the vessel several times. They are not looking for a project; they are looking for some cash in hand. This could mean a good deal for the prospective buyer, but will also mean the burden of restoration falls in those hands. At the same time, for our typical fictional budget of $10K, there’s plenty left over for a few well made purchasing decisions.

– Engine maintenance: Since this vessel already has a diesel inboard, we’ll assume it’s in reasonable shape and needs a good looking over. If it appears to need significant work (i.e., more than a mechanic giving it a tune-up after inspection), then we’d need to consider the inboard vs. outboard-in-well conversion discussed with the Columbia 29.

– Interior appointments: things likely all need a good scrubbing down (Simple Green, a bucket, and scrubby), but the cushions and other seating material, curtains, etc, may also warrant replacement.

– Navigation: a basic navigation kit would go far to bring this vessel up to reasonable cruising shape.

2) Liveability: Many sailboats built around this timeframe were designed for cruiser/racing. Meaning, the vessel could compete on the weekly race course (with appropriate handicaps per the class rules), but also suit a family for fun weekend sailing. The fin keel of this model jumps out at me as a racing design feature, which may mean the interior headroom is limited. Not a bad thing, but something to consider. Like my Cal28, I’d consider some kind of dodger setup to add at least one interior place where a person could stand at full height.

First steps:

Let’s assume our fictional budget of $10K and enter into a “What-if” scenario. The sailboat looks reasonable during inspection: it needs a good hard cleaning, but is structurally in good condition. Interior components are bonded together, fiberglass tabs are in good shape, and there’s no significant water damage. The engine is checked out by a local diesel mechanic who can turn it over; components are all in reasonable shape.

Engine: As mentioned, we’ll have someone do a service on the engine, cleaning the injectors and fuel lines, check compression, and any other maintenance. We can handle many other items, such as checking/cleaning strainers, giving it a de-greasing, and other simple labor. Bottom-line, once splashed, we want high confidence that the engine will be there to support us. And I’d purchase a model-specific manual as well as a basic diesel maintenance handbook, such as Nigel Caldwell’s.

Anchoring: Assuming like so many sailboats that the Galaxy only comes with a questionable danforth “lunch hook”, I’d consider what was needed to provide a suitable anchoring system for coastal cruising. In my mind, I’d need six components:

  • Suitably sized all-around anchor, such as a generic plow-style.
  • Long-length of galvanized chain as a primary rode (80′ or more).
  • Short-length (15′-25′) of galvanized chain to weight-down the secondary anchor rode.
  • (2) long-lengths of nylon line (100′ or more): the first for augmenting the primary chain rode and the second for the secondary anchor rode.
  • Shackles/thimbles to fasten everything together.

Having cruised successfully on 80′ of HT chain in a bucket from Home Depot, I’d feel comfortable doing so again. Many resources are online to size anchor chain and nylon line.

Electrical: Bob over at Volkscruiser wrote a great piece on the availability of certain kit for cruising which has come down in price in the past five years. In this case, using my fictional single dude from the Watkin 27 post, the minimum requirements for power aren’t too outlandish. For south of $1500 we could have a small solar array, clamps, wiring, two deep-cycle batteries, charge modulator & monitor, and LED’s for the entire rig, along with LED navigation lights.

Navigation: As mentioned above, we’d need to consider what a minimum navigation kit looked like for this vessel. Assuming again that we’re cruising coastal, staying in port for extended periods for work, and would only consider significant off-shore work with a more thorough evaluation, I’d suggest:

Bedding: along with the consideration of interior cushions and “apartment therapy” things, I’d also take a look at a nice 4″ memory foam topper, cut diagonally to support the V-berth or doubled up on one of the settee berths along with a quality sleeping bag. Perfect, easy to stow and use bedding for cruising.

Galley: One of my favorite reads was Tim Ferriss’ The Four-Hour Chef. With a copy of this, a skillet, a pressure cooker, a good santoku knife, and a set of Target flatware and dishes, I’d happily head across any ocean. Especially with a stainless kettle and Aeropress for coffee, along with the Hario hand grinder.

Conclusion:

I could see a very enjoyable post-college, first-job, using-for-sabbatical scenario with this vessel. Over a few years it’d be a good platform to figure out “Do I really like this enough to consider something bigger/newer/better/whatever?” Or learning that this really is all you need to do some amazing cruising and lead a “World’s Most Interesting Man” lifestyle.  I recall reading about a group of friends just out of college purchasing and refitting a Newport 30 for just such a plan. This would be nearly identical. As always, take the above with the appropriate grain of salt, as it’s one person’s opinion and not gospel.

For further information:

Galaxy 32 Sailboat Data basic coverage

Paceship 32 Sailboat Data basic coverage

Paceship 32 owner’s group

 Google search for the Galaxy 32

A Galaxy 32 is about to come into frame at 2:44.

Sailboat Saturday: Columbia 29

While I’ve been delayed in writing this, the post on Craigslist continued to be available. Perusing the internets for a fun sailboat to highlight I found this ad for a Columbia 29.  The basic specifications:

$1500 o.b.o.
1964 Columbia Sailboat Model C-29
1997 15 hp Honda Outboard – runs great
Presently on the hard
Includes five jack stands

Columbia 29 sailing


Columbia 29 on the hard

Columbia 29 interior

Columbia 29 settee

What makes this a good potential liveaboard?

Well, a few things stand out to me. First, at 29 feet, this is slightly larger than the Cal 28 I lived aboard, making me just a little bit size jealous. It’s a good length for single-handing, and the layout down below appears to be usable in the same capacity.

Also, the hull form is something you won’t find being used much in newer vessels. A decently long keep with a protected rudder. See the layout drawings found at one of the Columbia 29’s owner websites here.

Some of the data on this model:

Length Overall 28′ 6″
Length Waterline 22′ 6″
Beam 8′ 0″
Draft 4′ 0″
Displacement early 7400, late and MkII 8400 lbs.
Ballast (lead) early 3120, late and MkII 4100/4120 lbs.
Fuel Capacity (with inboard) 12 gal.
Fresh Water Capacity 35 gal.
Sail Area 382 sq. ft.
Head Room 6′ 0″
Power – Concealed outboard well (standard), Inboard 8 HP Palmer (optional)

Note that last point, a big seller for me: an outboard well. In this case the specific boat had an outboard mounted on an external bracket. Not bad, but not great either. In my estimation the outboard well is one of the most unappreciated features in these 1960-1970’s era sailboats. Check out James Baldwin’s excellent builds over at Atom Voyages for examples of this feature being added in after market.

Factors to consider:

Certainly lots of things to wonder about with this specific boat, such as:

1) Price: given the low selling price ($1500 at the time I’m posting this) my spidy-sense is kicking in. Part of the price is due to a desire to sell quickly, but this also likely means there’s equipment missing or in need of replacement. Much like the Watkins 27 we looked at early, I’d look into what basic equipment is already provided and the state/health of these things. If I had a fictional budget of $8000-$10,000, there’s probably a lot that could be done. Such as:

– Buy a good gallon of epoxy and fillers to tackle any fiberglass projects that would crop up. It’s easy to learn to use, and given the vessel’s age there’s likely a number of holes and areas which could benefit from some structural loving.

– Electronics: I’d like to think I’d be cautious, but given the age and potential budget, there’s probably a lot that could be done to add some modern conveniences where they are absent. A good depth sounder, compass, and maybe a small chart plotter wouldn’t break the budget and could be found used on eBay or with further Craigslist searching.

– Propulsion: given the low price, I might consider changing out the engine. The 15hp would likely fetch something when sold, but a newer model high efficiency/high thrust long shaft would be a nice-to-have feature and probably better mileage. Brand new with controls and such it may run into the $3000 range, but is worth the money.

– Liveability: Much like the Watkins we covered, some self-sustaining gear to provide a better liveaboard situation, such as solar or wind power, possibly an additional deep cycle battery or two for house loads, and maybe a DC-powered freezer/fridge unit.

Of course, the trouble with low-price fixer-uppers is being honest about the need-want decisions. A diligent owner could really stretch their dollar and get a lot of boat for their money. At the same time, it’d be easy to sink a bunch of cheddar into low-priority fixes or conveniences which don’t improve the value or utility of the vessel.

In closing, there are a few other Columbia 29 resources I found. Given this one is on the hard, in a perfect setting to give it a good survey and dig into any problem areas, there’s a lot of potential for this particular vessel and this model in general. Sta y tuned for the next installment.

Sailboat Data basic coverage

Write-up at Bluewater Boats

Sailboat Saturday: The Watkins 27

In an effort to become more consistent with posting, I’ve wanted to get into a rhythm with a basic post format. One that stuck in my head was to write about the most enjoyable time waster I know; trolling Craigslist for new sailboats!  I can’t explain the pleasure that exists in researching all of the “What if?” thoughts that come with finding a diamond in the rough.  Sometimes the sailboats are in great shape and could sail away today.  More often, they need some love and tenderness to be brought back to their full potential.  And in those cases, there’re many examples where a frank discussion on prioritizing could be beneficial.

The structure of these posts will attempt to do a few things:
1) Describe the “avatar,” or situation and person who might be looking at this particular style of sailboat.
2) Describe why the particular sailboat in question could make a good potential live aboard for that situation.
3) Key factors to consider for the person looking into the sailboat.
4) And lastly, a few recommendations for first steps after the sailboat was purchased.
So, let’s talk about the Watkins 27
Situation:
I’m a 23 year old college graduate, just out of a computer science program and moving to coastal North Carolina for my first job.  I’m just about 6′ tall, like to run, and enjoy playing video games on the side.  I learned to sail while in college, but haven’t ever owned a boat before. I’m looking for an adventure post-college, and figure this may be a good way to spend a few years before moving on to my next gig.
A Classic Coastal Cruiser
The Watkins 27 first came to my attention in 2009.  I was in the process of selling our Tartan 37 over in Guam, but sitting around in Maryland waiting for my new job to start. It was killing me.  The thought train circling my head kept saying “Well you could just buy a sailboat now, mooring it out in the Chesapeake, and enjoy unemployment for a bit.”  I knew I wanted something smaller than the Tartan 37, and the 27-30 foot range was ideal.  Then a Watkins came up.
http://www.watkinsowners.com/albums/w27/index.htm

Watkins 27 Under Sail

This week, another Watkins popped up on Craigslist. Basic information includes the following:
Price: $6000
Year: 1979
Size: 27′ long, 10′ beam, 3’8″ draft, and 6’2″ headroom
Equipment: All the standard sailboat gear (head, alcohol stove, fridge/cooler, 2 way VHF radio, AM/FM/CD player…)
Engine: Yanmar YSM12 with some recent work completed
Sails: Main sail, storm jib, genoa
Bonuses: Garmin GPS 2006C with navigation cards; wheel steering
What makes this a good potential liveaboard?
1) Headroom: When analyzing a sailboat purchase, consider all of your decision factors with this criteria: what can I change after I purchase the boat, and what am I going to be stuck with?  Two in particular are headroom and draft.  Without substantial modification, these will be fixed and unchangeable.  The Watkins is one of the few sailboats under 30′ that boasts this kind of headroom.  And as a 6′ guy who lived aboard a 5’10” Cal 28, I can tell you how enjoyable having that kind of flexibility is.
2) Draft: Along the same lines as headroom, this boat draws just less than 4′.  Perfect for cruising the barrier islands of North Carolina and more than capable of cruising up or down the East coast of the U.S.
3) Equipment: For $6K you’d get a Yanmar diesel engine.  In the end, if a sailboat has a working diesel engine, you are probably better off keeping it and maintaining it in good condition than changing it out.  I personally subscribe to the philosophy of Yves Gelinas’ Jean de Sud and James Baldwin, and enjoyed several sailboats converted from gasoline inboards to gasoline outboards.  I wouldn’t consider a replacement diesel unless it was a great deal, for this particular size and age of sailboat.  After all, you could likely spend over $10K in a new installation, more than the cost of this boat in the first place.  But, with a working diesel you could consider some well thought out upgrades to make sure it lasts you a good long time.
4) Build/Layout: The Watkins is a pretty solid coastal cruiser.  It has a wider-than-average cabin, good coamings in the cockpit, and (to me) appealing lines.  One of the nice conveniences to sailing, wheel steering, is included in this model. And the arrangement below decks would support having a computer station in the settee, using the table.
http://www.watkinsowners.com/albums/w27/index.htm

Watkins 27 Layout

Factors to consider:
Other than the typical survey checklist, a few items I’d be concerned about during my in-person inspection:
  • Engine condition: Again, one of the appeal factors is a good condition diesel engine. I’d want to know how it was used, maintained, and what the state of the entire system is (fuel tank, hoses, exhaust, cooling, etc.) When in doubt, have a mechanic come by to assist.
  • Steering cables: Duck into the cockpit locker with a flashlight to inspect the condition of the steering system. While steering by wheel is convenient, replacing the cables is not. That said, it’s completely within the realm of the do-it-yourselfer to replace these cables if necessary.  Keep an eye out for cable wear, broken strands, and corrosion on the turning blocks and quadrant.
  • Sails: The listing didn’t specify, but this is a pretty stock set of sails.  Check for wear and tear, fit (raise them up to verify the size is accurate), and for versatility: how many reef points does the main have? What condition are the batten pockets in?
Most of the equipment list is pretty stock for a boat of this vintage.  One should expect to see the typical boat gear necessary to get out and about safely. This post isn’t meant to be exhaustive of a pre-purchase survey, and a well informed buyer will do a thorough job of inspecting the entire boat.
Next steps:
A few things I’d consider:
  • First, ensure the top five priorities are met. See Attainable Adventures for more detail, but until confident of these, I’d forego any significant modifications.
  • Power: Depending on the context, being self-sufficient in power production is the next step I’d make. Solar panels on the stern or sides of the pushpit railing, or on deck, would make a big difference.  A wind generating system may also be valuable depending on the intended location.
  • Dodger: In this case the boat came with no additional covering, and I’d posit that a dodger should be the first item on the list. At anchor or in port a simple boom tent could be rigged to reduce heat from sun glare, but a dodger would allow full headroom and movement even in increment weather. And be a luxury when sailing out of Cape Fear into the rolling surf!
Caveat:
 These are my thoughts, not gospel. Each person’s situation is unique, and each sailboat is different. Just because something is possible to do, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only way to do things or even the best way!  Consider these good entry points and thought-drivers.
So… any other sailboats you re interested in? Shoot me a note in the comments and I’ll keep my eye out in the Craigslist listings.  Stay tuned for the next installment in two weeks.