Before buying a boat, read this from Joseph Conrad, “There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.”
It’s very likely you already have some experience with a life at sea, and probably a long time before considering buying a boat. Perhaps it was only spending a few minutes on a ferry or several pleasurable hours on a sailboat, but the fresh air and freedom of spirit engendered by that experience has grown inside you ever since. Whatever the reason, the time has finally come to purchase your own vessel. After all, two-thirds of the planet is covered with water and begging to be explored. Please bear in mind, this is more than just buying another form of transport, like a car or bicycle. Buying a boat is a lifestyle choice. This is joining an exclusive club of mariners – Boat Owner. This is redemption from the sin of landlubberhood. This is the beginning of a new relationship with, admittedly, an inanimate object, and also taking on the sea as a mistress, to further complicate matters.
Now that the decision is made to own a boat, you will need to narrow your choice. There are many and various types of vessel to choose from. Some boats can certainly multi-task, but people will look at you funny if you buy a sailboat and then want to go sport fishing with it. Not that you couldn’t do that – it’s just not ideal for the task. You have to decide, will the boat be your home or your plaything? Unless you can afford to own multiple boats, you will need to identify what it is specifically you want to do with your new boat. The three main areas of interest are: cruising, fishing and water sports. Many boats will excel at one or even two of those pastimes, but seldom all three. If your preference is for a sailboat, for example, that will determine the extent of your forays into the world depending on how much time you have to reach your destination. If you are looking for speed and exhilaration found in a power boat then the amount of fuel you can regularly afford will determine how far afield you can wander.
Where would you like to go with your boat? This can get complicated, and disappointment is not far behind if a bad decision is made here. Do you simply want to get from point A to point B, regularly, without the tiresome consultation of a ferry schedule? Before you create your own schedule, consider this from Dom Degnon, “The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use.” Not to say that ferries are that reliable. In fact, they are notoriously unreliable (around these parts anyway) simply because they are, after all, marine vessels, subject to the same vagaries of a myriad of nautical things that can, and will inevitably, go wrong. If timing is an important element for consideration, then allow time to account for the prevailing sea conditions.
Maybe there isn’t a ferry service to where you want to go. And that’s the point - you just want to be as far from the madding crowd as the sea can take you. Where the horizon appears to be a long, uninterrupted line, a demarcation between sea and sky, and where even that distinction is not always discernible. Where your only certainty is that you are somewhere between your port of departure and your destination; making your way, inexorably, towards your future, with you at the helm.
Maybe, you once visited a special place with a boat owning friend and would like to go back to that place on your own terms, taking your friends and family along. Or possibly, you want to explore the coastline for hidden coves and buried treasure. It could be the humble craving for the sublime sensation of the wind in your sails, or the exhilarating excitement of a powerful engine that fuels your desire. All of them are very good and rational reasons for owning a boat. Reason, however, is seldom a part of the boat owning, decision making process, but several things do need to be considered:
Is it the destination or the journey that gets you on board? Will there be time constraints? Will the boat get you there and back, leaving enough time to do what you want to do? Or, is the trip enough of a reason to raise the anchor and set sail or fire up the engines?
Once you own any kind of boat, be it a 50 foot yacht or a 12 foot dinghy, the next inevitable question is, where to keep safe the significant investment you made? If you decide that taking your boat home will be the best solution, you will find that the size of the vessel, the mandatory trailer, and the vehicle with which to tow it, also come at some expense. Towing a trailer, however, may not be practicable for many reasons and that means leaving the boat in the water, or at least on the dock, and ideally on a boat lift. This also usually comes at a cost. Even leaving it at anchor may incur fees or mooring rights, and a dinghy ride between the boat and land.
Any way you look at it, owning a boat will incur financial cost and emotional turmoil. Life with a boat is akin to getting into a significant relationship, sometimes even while in another relationship. It’s a threesome that doesn’t always work out for everyone. Each of you have your individual quirks and foibles and will often need some persuading to see the other’s point of view. If you buy a new boat, just like a new car, it’s value will drop by up to 20 percent as you drive it off the lot. Unlike a car, you may need to spend up to 10 percent of the value of the boat commissioning it for the water. That will include a tender, anchor and rode, fenders, bottom paint and launching.
The new love of your life will at first enthrall you and beguile your mind with dreams of adventure. She will make arbitrary demands on your time and money, and finally, before the full comprehension of your enraptured enslavement is uncovered like a shroud pulled away from your glazed over eyes, she will coerce you, with the full force of love, to obey her capricious desires. Her simple wishes will make you yearn for more.
Messing about on boats can be a lot of fun.