When do you start a boat log? When the boat hits the water for the first time? On the first day of it’s first voyage? Why not start earlier, when the decision is made to build it?
Building a boat in Florida when so many can be bought for a song might seem a ludicrous idea. Unless the design is not available commercially or not affordable enough. I would have been content with, say a Flicka 20, great pocket cruiser but hard to find below twenty thousand dollars. Let’s face it, I am not good at saving money and a loan is out of the question, especially for something that can sink. No bank would go for it. My last project, the restoration of a 32ft steel ketch was more than I could chew. I almost succeeded mind you, but when vandals ransacked the boat and stole everything of value from it, even cutting out the bronze ports, it became too much to finish. My heart wasn’t in it anymore.
I have been living in or near Sarasota Florida for twenty years. My forty seventh birthday is coming up. Two years ago I had no doubts about my future. My girlfriend and I were going to get married. Everything was great. We were going to be a happy family with her two children. Then she realized that she was probably going to lose alimony from her ex husband (my suspicion) and worried about her standard of living. Money can be an evil thing. I lost twenty pounds in two months and ended-up in the emergency room. It took me eighteen months to almost fully recover. It was like jumping to a parallel universe, nothing made sense. I would have worked myself to death for us. I would have done anything to make us all happy, and yet it wasn’t enough. I made a grave error in judgment and it almost killed me.
You live your life like everybody else or you do something extraordinary… Though my life has not been ordinary it is time for me to move on. I love Florida and this country and have many great friends here. Things are not like they used to be though. I have thought about moving out West, Idaho maybe, beautiful country in the summer. It is supposed to be the most Libertarian state of the Union. The winters have me worried. I hate it when the temperature gets below sixty. How would I fare well below freezing? The thought of warm sandy beaches, reclining on deck with a glass of Cointreau in one hand and a pipe in the other seems more appealing than shoveling snow. I need to save myself, save my soul. A boat seems to be the best way to do it, before it is too late and I lose that spark in my heart that has driven me to follow the route less taken. It might be a boat building project, but really, it is more of a life raft…
How do I get there from here? With my freelance work hours dwindling down to a trickle it doesn’t seem quite possible. The secret is to start and keep at it. Although I own a set of drawings for another similar 32ft steel ketch like my now defunct Dagny, I know it is too large a project for me to undertake under the present circumstances. Maybe later, in another chapter of my life. I need something smaller. How small can I go? Serge Testa sailed around the world in 1983 aboard Acrohc Australis, a 12ft boat he built himself. I certainly wouldn’t attempt such a stunt but I might be tempted to cross an ocean some day, that would be extraordinary. Pocket cruisers are not inherently unsafe, on the contrary. A small egg-shaped hull can be stronger than a large one. Comfort is another story… I spent countless hours studying boat designs in the 12-20ft range. Finally I reduced my selection to two. The Farthing 15 by McNaughton and the Fafnir by John Welsford. The Fafnir won and I bought a set of plans. Though only 13ft long it allows sleeping fully extended and is built like a tank. The design was originally meant to circumnavigate. It is made of wood, encapsulated in fiberglass and epoxy resin.
These guys are almost finished with their project: http://purjekas.planet.ee.
Call it a new year resolution, I have to start now. It might take years for me to complete. The only determining factors will be money and my health. Hopefully I will have both. I make no promise to myself other than keep trying and working at it as much as I can.
Last week I went to Laser Repro Graphics downtown and had the drawings scanned and duplicated for my friend Erin who will be digitizing the plans in order to determine how much marine plywood I will need to purchase for the bulkheads. He will create cutting files to minimize waste and speed-up the process. My first step is to build the jig on which the hull will be built. I just found two sixteen feet two-by-fours behind the house, perfect for the building jig. All I need now is resin, a few more two-by-fours and some hardware. When that is ready, I hope before my birthday, I will order the plywood, lay the bottom of the boat on the jig and start on the bulkheads.
Will I ever finish it, I don’t know. What I do know is that what you don’t start, you never complete. If I don’t get run over by a bus or anything else, I see no reason not to succeed. Where I will go then is uncertain. There is ample time to think about it.