Boat Shopping: Part Two
Here is something that I wrote a while back. You know, before everything went crazy and life as we knew it was forever altered. This really highlights how much our priorities have shifted in the last two weeks.
Alright, I'm gonna make this short and sweet because its Sunday night and some of us have to work in the morning so that I can support our new luxury lifestyle: boats. Thats right, I am currently sipping my dinner wine and winding down for a cool 7 hours of interrupted sleep so that I can go into my sweet 9 to 5, and ultimately continue saving up for our next great adventure, tiny living on the water.
So today was our second day of boat viewing----we have been aggressively messaging sellers (an odd number of whom were out of state and unable to show this week or the next) and since last week we have been aboard 4 boats: two sail and two motor. We both feel strongly that our combined heartstring is twanged with more vigor by the inherent romance of a sailboat, but that the practicality of a motorboat, with its higher square-footage and comparatively few high-wear parts (engines are expensive and complicated but sailboats have engines AND lots of ropes, rigging, sails, and sailing related crap that wears out/fails) and generally higher level of comfort. True, as far as livability goes, modern motorboats have a lot to offer a newly-wed (can we still say that?) couple who've gotten to live on their own for approximately one of the six years in their relationship, but still any boat means compromise and at the end of it all, living on a motorboat may not offer us enough perks over a regular apartment to make it worth it.
I could go on all night about the pros and cons of land vs. sail vs. vs motorboat, but the essential point of this post is really about the boats we saw. Two large trawlers to be exact, both with way more space than what we had seen in the Catalina or the Hunter, and both with massive engines to scoot them around.
Everything happened pretty fast, but we found a low priced, $25k, 1983 Carver 8207 sometime last week and found that the seller was located at Foss Harbor Marina. The same marina that we'd like to live at!
We hastily made plans to see the boat and took a field trip to Foss, to see the not-so-cleverly named, Wet Spot.
We hung around the Marina and enjoyed the local garden
Just slightly upset by the name.
Dave, met us at the gate and walked us down to his vessel. This man loved his boat, a fact which became apparent from the moment that we stepped aboard. Evidence of his use was everywhere, from the grease in the kitchen to the urine in the toilet, to the nicotine seeping from the headliner. Needless to say he'd been spending a lot of time here, and this fact alone was enough to make me want as little time aboard Wet Spot as possible.
Gritted teeth, breath held, hands uncomfortably unprotected, I began to make the most of this opportunity, and started my inspection. Who knew, maybe a similar boat would prove comfortable. Dave has certainly enjoyed his time here. We started with the aft deck, which had a very expensive amount of canvas completely enclosing it. This was a great spot to hang out, and as Dave so eloquently put it, "From up here at the helm you can see your neighbors takin' a piss off their deck!"
"Great point!" I replied, maybe with too much enthusiasm. The carver certainly packed a lot of usable space on deck, and the large canvas enclosure really made both the aft deck and helm an extension of the living area. With the door to the cabin open, this area warmed up and made a very comfortable space indeed. Sure, all the upholstery was in desperate need of replacing, but the vision is what matters.
I feel like I can see my neighbor's piss already!
Dave was chatty, as many boat owners are, and ultimately we really enjoyed hanging out with him. But we actually had another boat to see that day, so we helped ourselves down into the cabin. The space was not in great shape, and the smell was difficult, but we persevered. I was especially interested in the engine compartment, so that is where we started. I quickly saw that I really don't want two engines to take care of.
I am always curious about engine access, since I just figure its where I'll spend most of my time.
Motorboats make me uneasy as the possibility of extreme inefficiency could end up defeating the whole purpose of living on a boat in the first place. But it sort of depends on the boat. This one, unfortunately, is powered by two gas Chevy's and burns probably 10 gallons per hour minimum. Definitely not what I am looking for. Still, I appreciated him letting us poke around. We made it pretty clear that we probably wouldn't be interested in buying, so I did not feel bad.
I didn't love the looks of the engine. You can't really go all off of looks, but this engine had certainly seen better days.
Ultimately, I decided that I would only be interested in a single diesel engine were we to move aboard a motorboat. I simply could not see us spending a few hundred on gas to just to go to Seattle.
I didn't exactly love what I had just seen. But we had to move on.
Layout was a different story. What lead us to this boat in the first place was the prospect of increased interior volume, and the difference was immense. At just 36ft long, this boat is on the short end of what we are looking for in a sailboat, but it easily has 50% more room than a similarly sized sailboat. We liked the 1.5 bath design, which would make having guests more comfortable, and we really liked the big windows, a feature that is not as widely available on sailboats in our price range. Sail or motor, we would both like an aft cabin in addition to a v-berth. We would very much like to have room for guests on overnight voyages to Seattle, Port Townsend, or even the San Juans and converting a settee each night would be ok but not great. An aft cabin also means more living space in general, and we are into that. We want tiny living to be sustainable, and for us that looks like having enough room to not be super uncomfortable.
Kitchen space is another area where, though compromise is unavoidable, we'd rather not give more ground than necessary since cooking together is super important to us, and an essential part of maintaining a decent budget. Moving onto a boat will become very unmanageable if we find ourselves eating out excessively to avoid cooking in an inadequate kitchen. So this is an important consideration. Wet Spot had a pretty accommodating little galley. Three propane burners and a large fridge mated to a spacious amount of open counter made it easy to see myself chopping up some onions, frying some fish, and having a glass of wine. Storage was sort of limited but I felt that more could be added. I did not love how one had to walk down into the kitchen, though, as it meant that the space was dark and uninviting. Better lighting could have helped, but I would rather the kitchen be closer to the entry for better ventilation.
The kitchen offered a decent amount of space, and big stand-up fridge, but poor storage.
The aft cabin complete with half bath. "I could fall onto that toilet at night!" Jill exclaimed.
Big windows, wood floor, and an old pullout couch which Dave assured us was "super comfy"
This bathroom was the cleaner of the two, the other had a full shower.
Overall, I don't think either of us were enamored with the Wet Spot. Maybe it was how grimy she was, how smokey, or just the lighting, but we were at least a little inspired by how much room there was on such a small boat for such a low price. We left Foss optimistic, and headed for Lake Union to see our next boat, a 1978 40' Bayliner Bodega.
Traffic through Seattle was favorable in light of the newly dubbed pandemic, coronavirus. We made it to the lake in less than 40 minutes and were aboard the Bodega shortly thereafter.
A little bigger than the last one, we cannot remember the name
Ultimately, this was a better boat in most ways. It had a lot room and a lot of nice features. It also didn't smell and the guy, Dave, was currently living aboard with his dog, and she was great!
Once again we started on deck, trying to imagine ourselves relaxing with a drink and talking about travel. Then we moved into the salon, where we would realistically spend most of our time.
Not wanting to appear too enthusiastic, I kept my hands in my pockets. Also it was cold and the weight of my arms made me anxious.
Easy to see lounging around this space
Again, I did not want to appear pleased at all. Always keep your cards close, thats definitely my game.
Lots of room, to the left is the stairs to the kitchen, second bathroom, quarter berth, and v-berth. To the right is the L-settee and the stairs to the master bedroom/bathroom.
Plenty of storage, but the whole space was more of less full from the current tenant
Lovely kitchen with ample room, and a wine cooler!
Double bunks in the v-berth, with a great shelf for shoes
The master bedroom with attached half-bath, washing machine, and doors to the engine room.
We both liked the layout a lot. There was maybe even too much space, but we appreciated the full bed and multiple bunks. I was especially enamored with the engine room, which had tons of space for me to climb around in. Accessible from both ends of the boat, the engine room was also home to the new Westerbeke generator (less than 600 hours), the 17 gallon water heater, the 400 gallon fuel tank, and the water-maker, which was barely used. Thats a lot of stuff!
Shiny black engines, they looked expensive
Shiny red generator
The water-maker, cool but a bit unnecessary for our purposes
17 gallons of hot water, we would definitely appreciate this
Just loads of storage space, and great access
Initially, I felt like all of these extra amenities added a ton of value to the boat, but as I inspected each element, I started to think of the upkeep, and mental burden of all of this. This boat is capable of staying offshore for a long time with its fuel capacity, water maker, and big generator, but when will I need that sort of capability and is it worth paying for? This is our first boat and while cruising could happen in the future, thats not what we are intending to use this boat for. Ultimately, this wasn't gonna work for us anyway due to the fuel cost, but it was great to look and think.
I think we both walked away feeling maybe stunned? There was so much space, it felt like too much. The interior needed some finishing work, but it was as close to turnkey as we were gonna get. But for all its square-footage, it lacked any kind of charm. We really want comfort, but we also don't want to live in a sort of weird floating apartment that needs it's bottom cleaned and toilet pumped out for nothing! We want a cool boat with character or no boat at all! To sum this whole debacle up I would say that while we walked away from the Catalina 36 feeling excited and dreaming of weekends anchoring in Gig Harbor, we left the Bodega feeling like we could easily have all the amenities we are accustomed to on a big motorboat, but that it might not amount to much more than that. I am convinced that there exist more interesting motorboats, and I hope that we post about them soon.