It was Cottage Life that drove us to it. We like being there but haven’t enjoyed getting there. The water taxis are friendly and efficient, but they run on strict schedules, and leave from places that require fighting through rush-hour traffic. So we bought a boat.

Boating isn’t really a geek thing, and I’m struggling a bit trying to find words that are both interesting and nautical. But it’s taken a lot of our time and attention; “write what you know” they say, and I know a whole lot more about boats than I did a few months back.

Key Findings · What you might want to know if thinking about a boat:

  1. If you walk around a marina, you’ll notice a lot of the boats look neglected. In fact, pleasurecraft are like exercise machines; more than half languish untouched from one year to the next. So think twice first.

  2. Almost nobody buys new. The hulls wear out very slowly, and the things that go inside them (motor, electronics, pumps, you name it) can be replaced. The cost of new boats is shocking, while used boats are surprisingly reasonable.

  3. You can find a ton of boats on Craigslist or wherever, but you probably shouldn’t try to buy one yourself. There are “boat brokers” for the same reasons there are real-estate agents. You need to hire experts to do what they call “surveys” and “mechanicals”, and you don’t know who to call. Also, the broker can find lots of interesting boats for sale that aren’t on Craigslist. See the Credits below for a recommendation.

  4. Most cities with a lot of boats have not-quite-as-many places to moor them. So either you have room to store it on a trailer, plus mad reversing-with-a-heavy-hitch skillz, or you’d better start the parking-spot hunt before the boat hunt.

  5. You just gotta learn the lingo. If you don’t know what cuddy and transom and head and freeboard and kicker (and many more) mean, you’re not going to make it through.

  6. It really is a thrill to head out across part of the Pacific ocean, even if that part is entirely surrounded by a big city.

The Facts of the Case · Here it is, up “on the hard” as we sea-dogs say, being surveyed. It’s a 25-year-old Limestone 24-foot Express Cruiser. They’re still making it, with the design essentially unchanged, but the site is an all-Flash horrorshow; can’t even link to this particular model.

  1. It’s got the original engine, but that’s been rebuilt a couple of times and it tested out brilliantly.

  2. Basically nothing else is original; the electronics and furniture and galley and head and kicker and pumps and so on have been lovingly upgraded.

  3. The electronics are new and first-rate. We’re talking serious geek joy; the panel has a paged display that supports overlays or side-by-side for radar and/or maps and/or GPS and/or depth-gauge. I haven’t mastered it yet. I wonder if there are hackers’ builds of the software?

  4. Cruises comfortably at around 20kt, which should get us to the cabin in under 90 minutes.

  5. It constitutes a comfy guest bedroom for the cabin.

  6. It cost less than either of the last two automobiles I purchased.

  7. I had a stroke of unreasonably good luck and got a nice moorage at Burrard Civic Marina. As the name suggests, it’s operated by civil servants and ain’t luxurious, but the location couldn’t be better: close to home and right on English Bay.

  8. It will be named Bodoni after an old friend of a similar color.

Less Important Things · For amusement’s sake.

  1. There is nothing remotely hip about powerboats. The new ones, if they’re big, are all about the 1% rubbing it in your face, with furnishings representing the nadir of suburban vacuousness. Smaller craft tend to muscle, and a NASCAR flavor. Used ones express mostly the bad taste of past decades. The one we got is appealingly unadorned outside and comfortable inside, but looking at it doesn’t warm my heart.

    Sailboats, by contrast, are lovely and express more contemporary values. I’ve sailed some and liked it lots. Unfortunately, it’s hugely time-consuming and not really a good choice for getting your family from here to there.

  2. There aren’t many places near town you can tie up your boat and get a nice lunch with a good beer. This seems like a market failure.

  3. “BOAT” stands for “bring out another thousand”. There are many ancillary expenses.

  4. We’re naming the boat after a font. While there are boat-lettering specialists out there, the ones we’ve talked to have displayed a shocking lack of typographic sensibility. This problem remains unsolved.

  5. To drive a boat legally around here, you need something called a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. It’s not exactly hard to get. Confession: I haven’t been able to resist, with nearly every woman I know who’s a good enough friend for this sort of thing, pulling it out, leering, and saying “May I operate your pleasure craft?”. Not one has failed to dissolve in helpless giggles.

Credits · We so totally couldn’t have done this ourselves.

  1. Our boat broker was Paul Shield of Allied/Tri-Shore, and he took outstanding care of us. I’d recommend him unhesitatingly.

  2. Orientation and education by Cooper Boating. If we manage to get there and back with reasonable comfort and without loss of life or limb, it will be thanks to their classroom and on-the-water training.

  3. Boat survey and repair by Stem To Stern, who as a side-effect raised my consciousness about things maritime and mechanical.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Toivo Lainevool (Feb 17 2012, at 17:54)

Reminds me of that old nautical sayings: "The happiest days in a boat owner's life are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells the boat"


From: Bud Gibson (Feb 17 2012, at 18:31)

It's posts like this that have kept me coming around year after year. It sounds pretty cool, and I have to say I wouldn't mind the experience of navigating around the bay and sound in that thing.


From: David Magda (Feb 17 2012, at 18:43)

There's a good line from the 1992 movie "Wind": Boats are holes in water where you throw money.



From: Bud Gibson (Feb 17 2012, at 19:02)

It's posts like this that have kept me coming around year after year. It sounds pretty cool, and I have to say I wouldn't mind the experience of navigating around the bay and sound in that thing.


From: Luke (Feb 17 2012, at 19:30)

We've taken over a 29ft sailboat from my inlaws, it's down in false creek. At first I wasn't so keen on it, but then I watched the great indie film "Hold Fast" - (free download).

I think it really captures the excitement, thrill and sense of freedom of boating/sailing.


From: Rob Sayre (Feb 17 2012, at 19:36)

Sounds like fun to me. Wouldn't hurt to admit it.


From: John Cowan (Feb 17 2012, at 21:23)

For even afloat she's a hole in the water where his money goes.

Every dollar goes

And it's driving him crazy.

He pounds his fists white on the dock in the night

And cries, "I'm gonna win!"

And licks the blood away.

And he's gonna raise the Dolphin

Stan Rogers, "Man With Blue Dolphin"


From: Jon Jennings (Feb 18 2012, at 01:21)

Congratulations - there's nothing like a life on the ocean wave. Personally I've never been happier than the times I've spent afloat (although usually in things with sails).

I think you're going to find your hands full with both the cottage and the boat demanding time/attention/money/tinkering.

"It cost less than either of the last two automobiles I purchased"

Ahhh yes, but wait until you pull up at the gas pump.


From: stephen o'grady (Feb 18 2012, at 09:26)

as the plaque on my grandfather's boat used to read:

"the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys."


From: John H (Feb 18 2012, at 10:39)

One more thing you have to learn: boats are always "she", never "it" :)


From: Tony Fisk (Feb 20 2012, at 16:20)

Somehow I'm reminded of Jack Sparrow's grand entrance in the first 'Pirates' movie!

So how long before you start eyeing off all that fractal territory to the North West?


From: don M (Feb 27 2012, at 06:43)

Sailors love to quote as the comments already suggest, to which one must add;

"No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned. A man in a jail has more room, better food and commonly better company."

Dr Johnson


From: John O'Shaughnessy (Feb 29 2012, at 18:44)

It sounds like a great addition to to your Cottage Life.

I think you might change your view about the geekiness of boating if you take a look through all the wonderful boating tech that Steven Roberts has assembled over the last 20+ years!

He's also in the Pacific Northwest.


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