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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s got the original engine, but that’s been rebuilt a couple of times and it tested out brilliantly.
Basically nothing else is original; the electronics and furniture and galley and head and kicker and pumps and so on have been lovingly upgraded.
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?
Cruises comfortably at around 20kt, which should get us to the cabin in under 90 minutes.
It constitutes a comfy guest bedroom for the cabin.
It cost less than either of the last two automobiles I purchased.
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.
It will be named Bodoni after an old friend of a similar color.
Less Important Things · For amusement’s sake.
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.
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.
“BOAT” stands for “bring out another thousand”. There are many ancillary expenses.
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.
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.
Our boat broker was Paul Shield of Allied/Tri-Shore, and he took outstanding care of us. I’d recommend him unhesitatingly.
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.
Boat survey and repair by Stem To Stern, who as a side-effect raised my consciousness about things maritime and mechanical.