my tiny sailboat – 1971 newport 16

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My “new” Newport 16.

After selling the last sailboat, I really wanted to focus on getting boat that I felt comfortable learning on. I wanted a sailboat that had a cabin for overnight excursions but I wanted it small enough to tow and avoid berth fees as I learned. Heck, my friend even poisoned my mind with taking a small sailboat to the Sea of Cortez for some Baja excursions, now who wouldn’t want to do that?

The checklist for the new boat entailed having a cabin, a trailer, being light enough to tow with my 85 Toyota Van and in being good enough shape to sail right away with limited to no repairs. I looked at the usual suspects, a West Wight Potter 15, a Compac 16, the Montgomery 15, and the Newport 16.

The Potter 15s are a really popular boat, one owner had even taken part in a transpacific sail to Hawaii on his. There is a small group in the Bay Area called the Potter Yachters, it’s a tiny sailboat cruising community that despite it’s names, allows other boats as well but the boat really does have a cult following. The next was a Compac 16, the heaviest of them all but some consider the most seaworthy of the group. There’s the Montgomery 15, a really beautiful boat but you don’t see as many and they cost a bit more. The last boat, the one I ended up buying was a boat I didn’t know much about. It had a small cabin, it seemed in good condition and came with a trailer, the price was right so I jumped on it after looking the few articles that were out there on the web. Most owners seemed to enjoy the boat just as much as any of the other small boats out there.

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Me hoisting the mainsail.

Next begin the journey of getting in contact with the boat’s owner. I text the owner, I called the owner, crossing my fingers all along that it hadn’t been sold. People who have experienced the Craigslist buying experience before know that it’s sometimes just as hard to buy something as it is to sell something. I began to come to grasps that the boat may have sold, the listing was old, I hadn’t heard back in a few days and that I should probably look for something else. Not soon after this realization, I received a call and a text from the owner. He was busy and hadn’t had the time to respond. I said I’d love to meet up, just tell me the time and place.

I drove down the road to San Pablo Point Yacht Club where the boat was stored and quickly found the owner trying to blow up the flat tire on the trailer with not much success. I walked up and asked him a few questions about the boat, he seemed distracted, slightly annoyed because he had a task in front of him he was trying to accomplish before the buyer showed up. It was at that point that I thought it might be good to introduce myself as the interested buyer and he soon warmed up to tell me about the boat while the high pitch sound of the tiny 12v air pump blew its heart out with not much success.

The San Pablo Point Yacht Club is an interesting place, it’s off the last exit before getting on the Richmond Bridge to head to Marin County. You’ll pass by old army barracks as you drive a winding road down the yacht club past the gun and rod club. When I finally made my way down the steep descent to where the marina was, I saw goats on my right and a yurt. Where did I just drive to? It felt like this place shouldn’t exist in the Bay Area where land is outrageously expensive and developers are quick to buy any land not maximized to its full multi-floor apartment capacity.

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Before cleaning.

In between him lighting up a rolled cigarette with his butane stove, we did end up getting the tire to inflate, it needed more forced air than the tiny 12v pump he was using. The guys at the shop near the marina lent us an air compressor that did the job. I gave him the cash and didn’t bargain for a lower price because I believed the price to be very fair. I then hooked up the boat and cautiously headed home.

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After power washing the deck.

The previous owner has been very helpful since the purchase of the boat with answering my dumb questions as well as offering to help me take it out and to learn the ropes (oops, I mean lines!).

The Details

Year: 1971
Manufacturer: Newport
Model: 16
Two quarter berths, a hole for a toilet, a retractable keel with a big cockpit, a fancy new rudder, fishing pole holders, a mainsail and a jib. What else does one need?

The Plan:

Learn to sail on it. Take it on overnight camping trips across the lakes and the delta.

 

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i sold a boat and bought a new one

I ended up selling the boat I purchased to liveaboard for a variety of reasons. I have not given up on the idea of living aboard a boat. In fact, it’s an option for this winter coming up. I have learned some valuable things with the purchase of my first boat that I will apply to boats I look at in the future.

Why I sold the boat?
1. Too big to comfortably learn how to sail for me.
2. Timing, currently I still have to commute three days a week to work. With the commute during the workweek and adventures on the weekend, I was spending limited time on the boat.

Those are pretty much the only two things that were driving factors for me selling the boat. I really want to learn how to sail and it didn’t look like that was going to happen with a 33 footer.

A couple lessons I learned with my first boat.

  1. Sleeping. This is a big one. You must have a comfortable sleeping arrangement. If you’re a light sleeper like me it will be hard to adjust to sleeping on a boat with the lines tugging, squeaking and the halyards from other boats slapping their masts. This was a huge one for me. I couldn’t sleep in the quarter berth in the boat because of the way you got in and out nor could I sleep comfortably in the v-berth. Sure, I could get used to it but having a studio that I was renting close by made it easy for me to choose the studio rather than the boat to sleep in. Without the studio, I’m sure I would have gotten more use to it. I found it the most comfortable to drop the table in the galley to make a large bed where I could spread out. The downfall of that is having to construct and deconstruct your bed everyday. Maybe, I’m a baby but if your sleep isn’t great, it’s not going to spell success. Think about it hard before purchasing the right boat and make sure there is a place you can feel comfortable getting a good night’s rest. A fellow dock mate and friend said sleep wherever on the boat that you’re most comfortable.
  2. Regulating temperature. It’s hard to regulate the temperature in a boat. Often I found it too hot if I left the heater on but without leaving the heater on, it was cold in the morning when you woke up. I chose to not have the heater on during the night and use warm blankets. Then when you wake up, you can turn on the heater and deal with ten minutes of being cold.

What boat did I buy? 

A 1971 Newport 16. It’s day sailer or overnight sailboat with a couple quarter berths and it’s only 16 feet. I’m hoping to learn how to sail on this boat before moving back up to a bigger size.

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a failing minimalist

The dreams of traveling to other places by water is exciting. In addition to that dream, the thought of maybe living on a sailboat and focusing on what’s important and reducing the stuff I own is exciting. I’ve gotten comfy with space over the past few years. I haven’t been as diligent as I used to be with reducing the stuff coming in and the stuff going out. This transition to a sailboat will ultimately make me own less stuff but what I’m finding out is that when you buy a sailboat, you soon may be drawn to all the cool gadgets.

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Buster (mini-dachshund) in his new life jacket. 

As I read the Lin and Larry Pardey’s book on “Cost Conscious Cruising,” they make a point to get  a feel for the sailboat before buying all the things. Be on it for awhile and take it out and then see what you might want. I’m definitely keeping that in mind although I have spent a lot of money on items for the sailboat in the first week of ownership but I feel like they are essential to the boat and my mission.

1st week of purchases:
(2) SRM-27 Interstate Deep Cycle Batteries for Starting the Boat
(2) 200 Watt Solar Panels for Charging Both Banks of Batteries
(1) 40a Solar Charge Controller (ePever)
(1) Super Cute Life Jacket for Buster
Hasp to Lock the Hatch
Wind Muffs to Block Wind Noise for Camera/Vlogging
New Marine Charger to Replace the Broken One

I’m getting a little bit of anxiety bringing on all these new items and spending all this money in a short amount of time. I could probably say that the above items are a necessity to the boat running well and my dog staying safe but you should also see what’s in my Amazon and eBay cart. A composting toilet, fishing reel, maybe new pots and pans (you can’t have ceramic in a sailboat, can you?),  and other miscellaneous stuff that my mind is tempting me to buy.

These are the times I need to catch myself. I need to be careful as to what I bring on. I really need to wait a few days or a week before making a purchase. I can convince myself things are really necessary when maybe they aren’t.

Minimalism is a privilege, people tend to think about practicing minimalism more when they have the ability to purchase or obtain a lot of stuff. Not everyone has that ability. With that said minimalism goes beyond physical stuff, it’s ridding yourself of the mental clutter too. Something I could practice more as of late. I digress, but isn’t that life jacket cute on Buster.

i bought a sailboat

Before the survey happens, the buyer puts an offer on the boat. This is usually a technicality because the buyer adds language to the contract stating that it’s dependent on the survey. If it’s a boat, they’re going to find something in the survey so you have an out but with that said, you’r not likely to sign up for a costly survey if you’re not 95% on board with buying the boat.

As I wrote in my previous post, the survey came back relatively clean. There are some items to be addressed like painting the hull, replacing the batteries, and fixing the battery charger among other maintenance items but nothing too unexpected. With the write off from the surveyor that the boat from his eyes was not a lemon and structurally sound, I offered the seller a slightly reduced offer to address the issues. We eventually came to a deal and I now own a 1977 thirty-two foot Challenger Sailboat.

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Me and my “new” 1977 Challenger 32 Sailboat.

It’s the most money I’ve spent on something in my life and it’s not any more than a used car someone might buy. The final price we agreed to was 10,500 dollars. When I started to think about sailboats, I thought they were a lot of money, and they can be but I’ve learned it’s a lot about what a buyer desires in a boat and where they live that affects the price the most. Do I want a huge boat? Do I want my apartment but replicated on water? I wasn’t looking for that and fortunately in the Bay, there is a wide range of sailboats to fit whatever your needs.

I’m hoping to put together together a video tour of the boat as it is right now before I start to restore this beauty. I just find making videos daunting, even more than blog posts. I hope you continue to follow this journey wherever it may lead. This new project is exciting, now if I can only find the time to be on it.

Feel free to post comments or questions down below!

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My dad and I. 

 

 

post (sailboat) survey anxiety

I had waited weeks for this moment. Now was the time someone who knew something about boats was to come and let me know how much is wrong with the boat. Notice how I said “how much,” not if there is anything wrong with the boat because there will be something with any boat. Especially if the boat is from the late 70’s which this one is. Disco was popular when this boat was first made.

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1977 Challenger 32 (sailboat) hauled out and ready for inspection.

I was lucky enough to have a surveyor that welcomed questions and encouraged me to ask as many as I want. I thought for a moment about someone watching me 6 hours straight, doing my job and how annoyed I would probably be. Kudos to him for welcoming this kind of shadow. I mean, I was paying the guy a pretty penny so anything less from him would have been a shame.

The day came and the day went. I lucked out because this just happened to be a day that was relatively sunny in between lots of rain and windy days. The clouds had cleared, was it a sign? Maybe.

It started off really well with everything he checked being functional. It was great to know some of the sailboat lingo from all the books I’ve been reading to understand better what he was talking about. After reviewing practically everything on the boat, it was time to lift the boat out of the water to examine the hull. We slowly moved the boat through the marina and into the boatyard where it would be hauled out.

As we started to lift the boat, I questioned the owners if they thought the boatyard looked up the schematics of the boat beforehand. How do they know where to locate the straps so they don’t lift the boat in the wrong place. They did ask me the model of the boat so

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Not very happy with my picture taking. Is there damage? (1977 Challenger 

I thought there was a chance they had done this. Turns out, nope! We watched in horror as they lifted the boat with one strap being directly on the propeller shaft. After getting the boat lifted, it turned out that “we missed a bullet”, the employee’s words exactly. I’m not sure how I was included in the “we” but we were nonetheless. It sort of soured everything up to that point. Why do I let some things bother me so much?

I need to learn to breath more. So many things are out of my control that I let affect my mood. I need to pause, take a deep breath and just let go. (Writing this down for future self)

Next, after forking out more money (this seems to be a theme with boats) we brought the boat out of the marina and gave it a quick sea trial, raising the sails, then putting the engine at full throttle. At the end of the day nothing terrible was discovered but I still wanted to wait for the results of the survey before making a final offer.

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Keiser Marine – Jeff Keiser surveying the mast. 

I’m not sure if it was the boatyard experience but when I got home I felt a little down. I had worked myself up for this day and now it had past. It reminds me of the principle of the yin and yang. With all the excitement, there will be some time of sadness or boredom. It’s just the way the world works. I’m a believer that we don’t know happy if we don’t know sad. I have to remember this while in the process of setting goals, and generally feeling ecstatic about things. It’s that, “I’ll be happy when…” that’s dangerous. It’s important to enjoy each moment and the journey along the way. I need to remind myself that this feeling will change, just like feelings of sadness will change. “This too shall pass,” is a mantra I sometimes repeat to myself. I only need to remember to say that to myself when I’m excited, that way I can handle the change in emotions more easily.

how to find the right sailboat to liveaboard

Now that I have your attention. Let me tell you that this isn’t professional’s take on buying a sailboat. This is an inexperienced person’s experience from chatting and talking with a few owners, experienced sailors and different surveyors. This is what I’ve learned so far in the process of buying a sailboat. To avoid bad boats, you’ll want to get the best surveyor in your area to view the boat you’re interested in. If the boat is floating, you like how it feels inside, you’re going to want to get a survey done. Yes, $600+ dollars plus can be quite expensive but when you know how much a boat can cost you in the long run, it pays for itself. In my area, one of the best surveyors charges $23 dollars a foot and that includes a sea-trial. Trust me, I want to skip it too but it’s not a smart decision to do that. The information below will go into what you can do to make sure you like the boat before you start contacting surveyors to haul the boat out.alberg

Now, we know the best thing you can do before purchasing a boat is getting the BEST surveyor in your area. This means looking at reviews, asking around, and asking for sample surveys. I would not get a surveyor who can’t supply a sample survey. You can really look into the thoroughness of a surveyor by viewing the report they provide. Well, enough about surveyors, let’s jump into what you can do before picking up the phone and breaking out your checkbook (do people still use those?).

Disclaimer: You’ll want to read up about what makes a good boat for your intended purposes. If day sailing, simplicity, and overnight camping is your objective maybe a dinghy will do. If you want to cruise around the world, a coastal cruiser or race boat might not be the best option. If you’re strictly just looking for a liveaboard that can float, you may not care what condition the sails are in. Research types of rudders, keels and fin systems, types of sailing configurations and more. There are a ton of books out there. Look at the bottom for a few suggestions.

What should I ask the seller to provide and what should I look at during the initial viewing?

  1. THE NUMBER 1 RULE – A good friend and an experienced sailor (thanks Laura!) told me that one of the most important things when buying a sailboat is getting a feel for the boat. How does it feel to you specifically? Is the inside too cramped? Does the cockpit seem small? Is the boat too large, too small? The boat could be a great buy but it may not feel right to you. Check out the boat, sit in the cockpit, sit in the head, take a number 2, wait, don’t do that last part, the boat owner probably won’t appreciate that but you get what I mean. Sit in the bed, make sure it’s big enough. Stand up in the kitchen and move around the boat. Especially if this is going to be a liveaboard.sailboatinside
  2. After you’ve checked out the boat or before you’ve checked out the boat, ask for the most recent survey. Typically the boat owner will have one but sometimes they don’t. If the boat has switched multiple hands in the past 10 years, I’m a little weary if they didn’t have a survey done. Maybe the seller doesn’t want to provide it or maybe they didn’t keep track of the paperwork, either way, I don’t like it.  In this survey you should be able to see recommendations for work that should be done on the boat and you can ask the seller if those issues were ever addressed. If it’s less than a year old, maybe you don’t need a survey but if it’s older than that, understand that a lot can happen in a few years.
  3. I thought this was a good question that was given to me buy another forum poster. If you were to keep the boat, what work would you perform? In my case, the seller said that he would address the teak issues as the wood is very dried out and hasn’t been addressed in at least a couple years.

But really, a survey is the way to go.
Make sure you like the looks and make sure you’ve done your research on the best designs for your intended purpose. If you like the feel of the boat and there aren’t any huge red flags, go get that survey.

When creating a contract before the survey, there are plenty of examples out there. Make sure that it provides a way out depending on survey findings. You may have to make an offer before the survey but that offer is not locked in. The survey allows you to negotiate or back out of the deal.

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Resources, DIY Surveys, and Checklists

A Great List of What to Bring and Buy to Complete Your Own Survey

BOATUS – Buyer’s Checklist (PDF)

DIY Survey Checklist from Practical Sailor

Marine Survey 101 – Port Credit Marine Surveys

Recommended Books

Get Real, Get Gone: How to Become a Modern Sea Gypsy and Sail Away

20 Small Sailboats That Will Take You Around the World by John Vigor

 

the sailboat idea

Things have taken a turn in the past six months in ways I could not imagine. Relationships have changed with not only people but locations. The past few months have been anything but easy. When it rains, it pours. While not always true, it was true this time as I got hit by a car on my commute home weeks after a big life event. I was laying in the street in pain thinking all of the bad thoughts. My one outlet, in a trying time, taken away from me for the time being. It really makes you think about what’s important.

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In a relationship, you can seem so busy but the minute it’s gone, things seem empty. There is a void that needs filling. There are unhealthy ways that can fill that void. Although tempting, I had been down the easy path before and it is not pleasant nor productive. Riding my bike couldn’t be my outlet after getting hit by the car so I looked for something else. Finding a place to live and fill that space has lead me to my most recent quest, to find a sailboat and maybe even live on it.

Disclaimer: Filling a void with a material item is not what I consider healthy but I believe this could be a path to a different and simpler lifestyle. I won’t go too deep into the ways of processing emotions and material items as I’m no expert.

After 6 years as horticulturalist in the depths of Sonoma County, my job now involves a computer. Although not “tech” in a programmer sense, it for now contains me within the reach of the metropolitan areas, specifically Oakland. Finding a place that’s a reasonable cost or that doesn’t involve joining a commune and find my dog the devil is tough. The dreams of owning a regular house are beyond my reach and to be honest not what I want right now.

As I’ve grown older I’ve come to appreciate the tiny house movement and minimalism that is so popular in our culture today. As you can read from past posts on this blog, I’ve made efforts to downsize and lose the extra weight that often comes when staying in one place too long. Tiny homes aren’t practical in the middle of the Bay Area. There are too many zoning ordinances preventing one from parking a tiny house in just any backyard. You are forced to the outskirts of the Bay and even then, it’s hard to find a spot to park your house. But what does the Bay Area have, water of course!

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I’ve always had dreams of living on a boat. Since I was a 16 and could drive to the marina where our modest 23′ cabin cruiser was kept. There I met a woman on a boat called Shatoosh (a story for another post) that showed me it was possible to live on a tiny boat with minimal needs or material items. At this marina along the Delta and winding levee roads, I could spend the night on the water in a small cozy space with everything one would need. The two burner stove, the table, and the head all within reach. Instead of feeling limited and cramped, I felt free.

The past six months have been incredibly hard at moments. Getting hit by a car and proceeding to get sick was one of the low points in my life. Out of these times comes change and from past experiences, positive change. I’m up for a new challenge and that’s why I’m searching for a sailboat. Although a sailboat will never replace a great relationship, I have hope it will provide a more positive future for the time being. Did I mention I don’t know how to sail?

Some youtube channels I’ve been getting into:
Art of Hookie – Minimalist Living on a Falmouth Cutter
Travel by Water – Micro sailboat camping
Roger Barnes – Dinghy Sailing/Camping