Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I came upon this on a boaters forum. “Personal comfort level is the range of differences between camping in a tent and staying in a Class A motor home. Ergonomics is also essential. The buyers must face the reality of their physical constraints as they age. Some boats are a gymnastic challenge to get on and off at different dock configurations or move around to handle lines. … They need to be able to dock and undock solo, without dockside assistance. Aesthetics plays a part but should not dictate folks’ choice of a trawler. Pragmatism ultimately generates a much greater and enduring owner satisfaction.”
Sage advice from someone who has obviously spent so time on boats long distance cruising. The discussion was all about buying off brand manufactured boats and mass produced production boats that were shall we say ... are less than well thought out. If your boat is just a place to sleep at the marina, then it’s sea worthiness and sea friendliness is not all that important. But if you plan to be cruising over the long run, everything changes.
Shortcuts and compromises on a boat only lead to grief for folks spending a lot of time on a boat that is cruising. In fact choosing the wrong boat for a serious cruise can ruin ones interest in boating to the point that exiting the lifestyle becomes attractive to many that simply get feed up with things that don’t work and aren’t the way they are supposed to be on boat. It’s not obvious, especially for novice boaters, how badly and problematic some boats are designed.
The guy who wrote the quote above from the forum is quite right. You are going to be on fixed docks and floating docks when you are cruising and because you will end up in any number of dock elevations ... therefore your boat should have more than one elevation option to enter or exit the boat from the dock. As you get older playing acrobat is out of the question. Do you think at some point you might have to get to the bow in storm to anchor or secure a dock line? – hell yes! So why would you buy a boat that has no easy and safe passage from the helm to the bow. Some boat manufacturers don’t even provide strategic hand holds ... so you are left in a very dangerous situation. What kind of sheer does the boat have from the bow towards the stern and what kind of cockpit drainage - so when the boats taking water over the bow, how quickly does it shed. Flat forward decks are for pontoon boats not for serious cruisers. And what happens when the first mate is ill sometime – can you get the boat back on a dock by yourself if you had to? Are the cleats backed up with plates or just bolted through? Are the rails built with stainless tubing so skinny that the first time someone grabs the rail when you are docking it turns to spaghetti? Can you get reasonable access to the mechanicals for service? Are your thru hulls just gates or ball valves? The list goes on forever. No question cost is factor. Quality costs money. You might be better buying a well maintained ten year old quality built boat with a pedigree, than a two year old boat that will be junk in ten years ... even though they are in the same price range.
There is much to consider but one observation when I walk around marinas is, a very high percentage of boats for sale are compromises. Do you think that might have something to do with the fact they are for sale? Probably in many cases. Either the owner got feed up or he/she has gained the experience to know they should be shopping for a higher quality cruise friendly boat. When you are shopping for a boat take your time, and remember it is not all about space and gizmos. It’s about quality and functionality. It seems to me, the more boats are tarted up by manufacturers for showroom “pop” the less likely they are to be functional. Buyer beware.