Ah, the quest for the perfect boat. I’m assured that nearly everyone seems to fall into this trap, but despite these warnings, and thinking that I’m approaching the problem with great reason and with my eyes wide open, I walk right into the snare.

I tend to be perfectionist by nature… I fall into this trap creating web pages, writing computer code, organizing, etc. I don’t know why I thought it would be any different with boats. It wasn’t 🙂

If you read any of my background in this quest, you can see that I’ve run the gamut, and although much more educated and well read now, I haven’t begun to approach the expertise I really need. Not that something like that will hold me back… I’ve jumped right in and accomplished many other things in my life, learning by doing, or studying a book, or trial and error, or whatever. I’ll be safe about it, but I can do this to.

So, lets pick the boat…

But there ISN’T a perfect boat. As person after person points out, its all about tradeoffs. I don’t want tradeoffs, I want it "right" 🙂

Well, a few of the items to consider, and a few thoughts on them.

Buy vs. Build

Buy of course. Only thing that makes sense. Let professionals design and build something that they (and you) know will work. Get somthing that has a chance of resale.

Build does have a few things going for it… can be lower cost (as long as you don’t count your labor). Can get exactly what you want (provided you can manage to build it, and provided you can figure out what you want… now that seems to be the hard part).

But I want to build a boat. That’s about the only valid seeming reason to build a boat, as many have commented.

Decision: Build

Steel vs. Wood

Steel – tough, heavy, cheap or expensive. Finish is important. Will it rust away (probably not with reasonable care and modern coatings)?

Wood – I have the tools for this. I can build at least part of it here at home without the neighbors driving me away.

Decision: Still vacilating… I want a steel boat, but realities may make the other decision for me.

Kit vs. Scratchbuilt

A kit for my style of boat pretty much means having steel CNC cut. This is available from a variety of suppliers and really seems the way to go. If the plans have been created electronically and the CNC data already generated. Paying extra for this data to be created may not be worth it, but paying to have the steel pre-cut and ready to assemble I think would pay off in time and effort.

Is this cheating in saying I <span style="font-style: italic">built the boat? Maybe, but I think there is still enough to do to "count". 🙂

Decision: Kit if available

Coastal vs. Passagemaking

We all dream of the passage to the far lands. Now I’m different that I don’t dream of the South Sea Islands, but much more of Europe (U.K. and the mainland). Would I like to sail across the ocean on my own vessel’s bottom and see the land over the pond? Sure. Will I ever get to? Maybe, but probably not. WIll the first boat be "perfect" and the one I get to do this in? Nearly certainly not.

Can I cruise the extensive shores and inland waterways of the U.S. (Eastern Seaboard especially)? Yes. Will a Coastal vessal do for that? Yes. Shallow draft and geared toward a little less self sufficiency and seagoing ability seems a much better tradeoff. In the near-term I’ll still be working (either travelling to the boat and boating for a period of time here and there, or working from the boat if a couple of ventures work out). More space and less long-term live-aboard seems a better deal.

Even if I "make it" and can go to Europe, having a craft that will fit in the canals is probably more important to me than heavy sea-going ability.

Decision: Coastal

Size

Bigger is always better, right? Not necessarily.

I don’t intend to (or be able to) have a crew. It will be me, my wife and my son (who currently isn’t old enough to help much, but that will change soon). Then he will run off to school, and it will be just the two of us. A craft small enough to easily handle for two is important.

Costs to berth, fuel, mainain, etc. all increase rapidly with size.

On the flip side, I’m a land dweller. I’m used to my space. Can I adjust to a small area for weeks at a time? Probably, but…

Decision: 32-42 ft.

Designer/design

Ah, the impossible question.

Decision: I’ll let you know. Over the next several posts, I’ll try to expand on this a bit…