We Turn Private Boat Owners into Private Boat Captains
Vincent Pica Chief of Staff, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
The Great Recession – Boating on the Cheap!
Haven’t the last 3 years been fun?Jeesh, this has been one heck of a recession and I’m pretty sure that it isn’t over, regardless of what they might be saying on TV or in Washington.As Ronald Reagan once defined it, it’s a recession when your neighbor is out of work.It is a depression when you are out of work.
First, never compromise safety for dollars.The sea, as I keep reminding you, is a hostile environment.It makes no sense to scrimp on safety gear or on the boat’s inherent sea-keeping abilities.With that said, there is no sense being on a boat if you aren’t having fun.So, before we start, safety and fun are the two unalterable goals of the exercise.
If you are contemplating buying a boat in this environment, be sure you buy just enough boat – and no more.There are some real bargains out there in marinas, boat show rooms and the internet – and many of them are there because the skipper bought more boat than he needed and, subsequently, could afford.If the bays and creeks are your goals, you don’t need a 40’ boat, no matter how cheap it is priced.Big boats are just inherently more expensive to maintain.From bottom paint, to dockage charges, to just having more “stuff” aboard, it all adds up.And the fuel costs are not 2x for a 40’ boat versus a 20’ boat, they are likely to 4x (my guesstimate.)It just takes a lot more energy to move a larger boat through the water.
Cheaper vs Longer?
On balance, longer wins.Cheap-grade vinyl "windows" for cockpit and flybridge enclosures will soon discolor and crack. I’ve used higher grade Strataglass in the past and it lasted much longer, saving lots of money in the long run.I’m wary of “discount” motor oils.While you may still change the oil each season, which makes the brand oil seem more expensive, I wonder what is going on with the engine that the oil is protecting.
DIY – Do It Yourself
The more maintenance and repair work you can do well yourself, the more you'll save.But know your limits. Certain things should be left to trained professionals. Tackling these projects is asking for trouble and big expenditures. Examples might include working on electronics, refrigeration and repairs inside the engine – that that cheap oil may have precipitated...
Be a student of the game. Go to seminars at boat shows. Read boating magazines and invest in marine how-to books.The right tools are better than money in the bank. They may be expensive, but if you use them well they can save you a fortune.
Avoid wearing out things unnecessarily fast.Use good chafing gear to avoid abrasion, which can ruin a line in one blow. Good chafing gear (old garden hose wears like iron) is very inexpensive and can save big bucks.The boat itself will wear out faster if you drive it hard (see SSP, “We’re Sinking!”, 12/13/06) and fast (see SSP, “Improving Your Fuel Efficiency on the Water”, 7/23/08.)And you’ll save a LOT of money if you throttle her back.
BTW, if you are interested in being part of USCG Forces, email me at JoinUSCGAux@aol.comor go direct to the D1SR Human Resources department, who are in charge of new members matters, at DSO-HR and we will help you “get in this thing…”
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