Monday, 2 April 2012

Choosing a Boat

 A few days ago I made a checklist of the skills I could bring to building or renovating a boat. Today, I made a similar list about the things I was to do on the boat. All boat design is about compromise. A good fishing boat will provide a stable platform with plenty of space to swing your rod and land your catch. An ideal fishing boat however, would make a very poor cruiser; the accommodation would be far too mean and small. The perfect sailing hull would make a pretty poor power boat and a semi-displacement motor vessel would not make a good sailing boat, unless of coure you don’t mind sailing sideways towards your destination.

Boat brokers will always tell you how versatile a particular craft is but no matter how clever the designer, he (or she) will have sacrificed some qualities in order to extenuate others. All designers, architects and brokers are co- conspirators in one particular lie – the amount of sleeping accommodation that can be fitted into a remarkably small hull space. Four adults sleeping comfortably in a 20ft sailing boat hull – no way!

So, before I start hunting for my perfect vessel here is what I want to use it for – hopefully it’ll assist when the time comes to make my choice.

Checklist 2: What I want from my boat.
Level of Importance
Sea Cruising
Yes – she must be a good seaboat and sea kindly – predictable, solid, self-righting
First priority – Channel Island waters are challenging – tides and currents can be strong so there is a rough bit on most passages
Exploring  estuaries, rivers,
Shallow draft, an ability to sit upright on sand and mud.  She will be moored on an estuary
Very High - ditch crawling, exploring shallow creeks and inlets are one of the main pleasures in this area
I won’t be racing. High speed, under power or sail is not a requirement
Safety and reliability are much higher on the list.
Canal trips
A vessel small enough to sit in a lock. Shallow draft to stay afloat, ability to lower the mast
Very High – there is a canal from my estuary which will take me across Brittany from the Channel to the Atlantic. That trip is high on the agenda
Cooking facilities to knock up a good hot meal
Very High – even if the equipment is primitive
Waterskiing etc? No thank you
Not on the list at all
It is something I want to do – line fishing for mackerel, cod, bass, etc – might also like to drop a crab pot occasionally
Fishing would not be the main activity so I don’t feel the need for a fishing boat BUT space on board to cast a line would be important
A cabin is a requirement – big enough for two
So, important that I am prepared to rule out all open boats immediately
Space to accommodated guests to a meal
Some arrangement to feed and water four people (including me) would be desirable. But happy to restrict sleeping accommodation to two.
Towing / trailing to new locations
If this was important a light boat, a trailer and reasonably powerful car would be required
Not important. I’d prefer to sail to the location – don’t enjoy towing
Single handing
A boat configured to be easily handled by one person
I don’t intend to do a lot of single- handing but would like to think that I can handle the vessel alone if needs be.