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

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.

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.

the zen of pruning roses

It’s been a few years since I had a pruning job. I forgot how joyful the simple process can be. The weather has gotten colder and the leaves have fallen off the roses, the perfect time to break out the pruners. Note,”pruners,” if you think pruning roses is about breaking out the hedge trimmers, you’re wrong. It’s much more than that.

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It’s about sliding your hands down the stem to find buds you can’t see. Feeling for which direction the bump in the stem is pointing and either accepting the position or moving further down. You’ll mostly want to cut right above the buds facing outwards from the plants but I leave a few on the inside to fill the center so it’s not completely void of foliage.

Pruning roses is about peaking underneath the top leaves to find the stems breaking through the soil and underneath the graft, yelling “you chopped my head off!” These shoots that come from below the graft aren’t the rose you necessarily desire but they don’t know that. They just have a will to live but you must remove them or they will take over. You remove them to form the shape, to prevent overcrowding of stems and leaves that can cause poor airflow and disease.

You’ll want to take a step back from the beautiful specimen to examine it’s form. Often you can get so consumed in the pruning that you don’t know what it looks like from a regular viewing distance and not from the twelve inches your eyes are seeing it from. You may find a branch that you missed, a rose that wasn’t deadheaded, or a shape that just seems slightly off. I believe rose pruning has parallels to life. We can get so caught up in our day to day that we don’t take a step back to take a look at the larger picture. Maybe we need to trim something that is not serving us or change ever so slightly the direction of our life.

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.


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.


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!


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


foldout bench seat that transforms into a bed

When designing this van I wanted to the ability to have a bench seat (i.e. couch) and not have the bed take up the whole van like so many designs. Although, it would require work to fold up and down, I like the ability to clear the space and sit up right. I thought this was necessary to work while on the road.

My brother found a design that didn’t involve any sliding or folding out legs. The only thing necessary was to flip what you’re sitting on. Once folded out, it provides a large enough space to sleep two.

Flaws of this design included:
1. The back rest can only be a certain height or else it will clip the ceiling.
2. The bench width needs to be under a certain length so it avoids clipping the sides of the van because the van is curved.
3. It makes storage a little harder to access.

The benefits:
1. Simple!

We built a frame around the wheel well and the back of the van.

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The frame around the wheel well.

We added a sheet of plywood to the top as one piece.

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Buster enjoying a place to sit.

Then it was time to attach the folding section. Note, there are spaces for storage in the back and the front of the design. You can see a cut out in the back where we installed a lid to access gear.


Here’s a shot from the back. You can see that the side facing out the back can be folded up and turned into a table. This is nice because it has protection from rain with the back hatch.

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Fold out table in the back of the van.

Here’s the bed folded out.

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The bed folded out. 

In the picture below you can see how the back rest was framed. 3×2″s were used to support the back. img_1873

Below is flip out storage underneath the legs but it also doubles as a coffee table. 56211149368__d47e37b8-e687-41cd-bc33-72d160622064

Next step is to make cushions for the seats out foam and fabric I have bought. The cushions should not cost more than 100 total to make. Although, it will take some time to stitch them together. I will post progress as I follow through with making the cushions.

on the bus

If I were to drive, I’d wait for the last possible moment before turning the keys on the ignition and driving off before the car gets warm and puts it coat on. Rushing to make it a second earlier only to realize I was racing myself.

Instead, time is an estimate, not a calculated affair. I start the hot water and soon pour a dark cup of coffee. I let my little dog soak up all the warmth before letting him down to do his duty. He is hesitant to wake up and his legs a little wobbly from his doggy dreams. He gives me a look, a look that says why go to work, we have all we need here, warmth and food!

As convincing as he is, he just doesn’t understand, or does he? I put him back inside with a few treats that say, thanks for not taking too long. I bundle up and head out the back door. The walk is cool in the winter but there are others doing the same. Their four legged friends are getting their daily exercise and trying not to freeze their paws off. Is it just me or are people more friendly when there is just a few of us on the streets? The ones willing (or forced) to wake up early and venture into the cold. I say hello to everyone I see and I get one back. As only a few words are said, a bystander might not think much of it. I on the other hand think of the hello as “nice to see you out here, I hope you have a wonderful day.”

I think to myself, more people must walk! The senses that awaken when you walk through town and the sights often unseen when you speed by with that huge hunk of metal. Oh, what’s that? Turkeys in the middle of the intersection. These feathered friends get the stink eye and the blaring horn as people in cars grow more agitated that they won’t move to the sound. They seem deaf. Deaf to your schedule, they don’t care if you’re late for that presentation. They’re more worried about impressing that lady turkey. I laugh, I stop, and welcome these decorated birds and enjoy their company as it’s a different scene than the day before.

I’m almost there now, I see the people under the small roofed bus stop and I say hi. Again,. is it something about there being just a few of us? Does it make us just a little more friendly? I saw the same people the day before who were once strangers. They introduce themselves and over a few weeks we become friends who share the most intimate detail. All because of this bus. This bus where we congregate and take a method of transportation often thought too slow and too old. Well today, it’s just right.