January 3, 2016

These old boats deserve better

I’M ALWAYS AMAZED when people selling boats won’t take the time and effort to clean them up a bit before inviting buyers to look at them. I’ve inspected two boats in the past few months, and quite frankly I was disgusted at the state they were in, despite the glowing descriptions in the advertisements.

Admittedly, I’m searching the cheap and nasty end of the boating spectrum. What I want is an inexpensive daysailer/weekender on which I can teach my grandkids to sail. They know the rudiments already, of course, and they’ve taken a few lessons, but I would like to teach them the real stuff that will keep them interested in sailing for the rest of their lives.

In particular, I’m looking for an old Santana 22, simply because I once restored one from a 28-year-old wreck. I discovered all her weak spots and now know where to look for trouble. Over a period of years, June and I sailed her from one and of the Salish Sea to the other, and we were delighted with her performance as a “sport cruiser,” as I called her.

But the two Santana 22s I found for sale on Craigslist last year were simply not worth looking at. One, described as “awesome” and well maintained had a keel that was a mass of rust. There were bits and pieces of mysterious boat stuff strewn all over the main cabin and the forepeak, rust streaks on the paint, ripped and deflated upholstery, aluminum chainplates bubbling with a white encrustation, and a mast support beam that was bowed downward. The other boat was much the same, but it had also suffered the “improvements” of a series of owners with their own lubberly ideas of what a small sloop should look and behave like.

I don’t know how many prospective buyers must have been put off by the state of these boats, but I would have been ashamed to put them on the market in that condition. I know we’re talking about boats that are nearly 50 years old, but I can’t understand why they can’t at least have been kept clean and tidy and smelling sweet. Nobody expects an old boat to be perfect, but to present a boat for sale in such a slatternly run-down condition is an affront to the person expecting the “awesome” boat of the advertisement. It actually hurts me to see good, well-designed boats so badly neglected. There are years of life left in them yet. They surely deserve better.

Today’s Thought
I love everything that’s old: old friends, old times, old manners, old wine.
— Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer

“How did you knock this pedestrian down, sir?”
“I didn’t knock him down, officer. I stopped to let him cross the road and he fainted.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

1 comment:

Eric said...

I suggest that the world you, and to a greater extent I, grew up in had a progressively overwhelming influence that all things are disposable, and have little or no understanding of the requirements to maintain actual physical items in order to keep them in a functional state. Perhaps the lessons you should be teaching your grandchildren isn't about the actual restoring of an old boat, but the degradation of the society in which we all live in today.