You would think after a stressful day like I had on Monday that when I hit the sack that night I would go right to sleep. No way. I tossed and turned until 3:00am thinking about the boat and starting to plan what I will need to do with it. As it is, the first day was pretty much as I expected. Moving stuff around, throwing stuff away, and spending money I don’t have. But I did get a lot done and now I can constipate on more important aspects of the new boat.
Anytime you buy a boat, especially a 34 year old boat, you can expect some issues. And there are some with the Spirit but good things too. So let me start off with the bad:
This boat was sitting at a dock for three years. It only got moved by motor and hasn’t been sailed at all with the previous owners. So there is a lot of age on some of the parts. For example: All the lines, from dock lines to sheets to halyards, were shot. I had to throw them all away. They were rotted, covered in growth, and simply no longer useful for anything. Not a big deal as it will be awhile before I go sailing.
The hardware for the rigging will need some closer inspection but I did spy a few parts that will need replaced. A turnbuckle here, a cleat there. Some have parts missing or replaced with something that works but is not ideal for the job.
Probably the biggest issue at first glance is cosmetics. The boat is in dire need of cleaning. The deck is covered in dirt and will need some attention. This is probably where I will start as it will cost the least and stand out the most. There are a few stress cracks in the glass, nothing structural, and that can be fixed rather easily.
There are two big issues that will need tending to before I can think about sailing. One is the keel. It is stuck in a semi down position and the cable that raises and lowers it is no longer attached. The eyelet in the keel will need some reinforcement and the interior cleaned so it can operate again. My biggest concern is what shape the hinge end is in. If it is badly corroded the keel could drop which would be a very bad thing. This is something that will need to be fixed when the boat comes out for paint, which is one reason why I preferred to wait until I have some cash in hand to take care of this.
The other issue is with the rudder and tiller. The rudder blade is badly delaminating and will need fixing soon. I am hoping that I may be able to sand it down, re gel the blade, and repaint it. If not it could be expensive to replace. The tiller is a metal piece which has corroded beyond use and needs replacing. Tiller handles are pretty easy to find so this might not be a big deal. Also all the tiller hardware will need redone.
The mast is down at the moment and I have stripped off the halyards. They will be easy to replace. The mast was originally painted black and most of the paint has worn off, probably from the halyards banging on it in the wind. At some point I will sand it down to it’s aluminum finish. I will need to raise the mast soon. As it sits now it is on top of the hatch so I can’t move the hatch in or out. I do have enough room to get in and out, but with the mast down and all the wire stays in the way, it’s a pain. I also want to see if I can raise it myself, which I believe I can do.
As I said earlier, most of what needs to be done right away is cosmetic. Get the boat cleaned up a bit and shiny. There are 8 pieces of wood on the deck and hatchway, all of which had been painted by the owner previous to the owner I bought the boat from. When they painted that wood they used white house paint, and it looks like dog shit. I will have to sand all that down and re teak it so it looks like real wood again.
So enough with the bad, how about some good.
As rough as the exterior is, the interior of the cabin is in great shape. Pretty clean and the cushions, while in need of recovering at some point are usable and quite comfortable.
Despite the lack of headroom, something that will take some getting used to, there is a lot of space in the cabin. It’s nearly as wide as the Seacraft and there is no keel trunk to get around. The v-berth is roomy enough to sleep in but for now I am using a quarter berth. It has a drop down table which KC has already claimed as her throne, but there is room enough to do computertating too. On the other berth I have the ice chest and I am still working out where to put everything.
This boat has an amazingly large amount of storage space. Hatches everywhere and they are all, almost, empty at the moment. The neat thing too is they are all open to each other so it’s like a big basement under the cabin. Just big enough for a cat to roam around in, which is where Charley has been hanging out all day.
The bilge is small and pretty dry. No through hull fittings to worry about. There is a plexiglass cover over it so you just lift up the cover and sop up any water with a sponge.
There is some space under the steps to the hatch which fit perfectly for the cat’s food and water dishes.
Forward in the v-berth is a porta potti and room for the litter box for now. The porta potti is not going to be the one I need. I will have to buy a new one that has the fitting for the pump out.
One real nice feature, there are no walls in the cabin. In other words, the side walls are the actual hull itself. What’s nice about this is there is no place for bugs to hide and you can see things like wires and get to them easily. And speaking of which…
The electrics look to be in real good shape. There is a panel with fuses and the wiring doesn’t look corroded. There are two dome lights in the cabin and navigation lights forward and rear, along with a steaming light on the mast. All I will need to do is convert them to LED and add in an anchor light on the top of the mast. Just add in a battery and then later, solar and I should be set. For now, the same set up as the Seacraft. I have a power cable running from the shore power to the power strip.
The ac unit fits like a glove into the hatchway. It does a nice job of cooling the cabin and the costs should be minimal. Once I move the mast it will be easier to get in and out of the hatch, even with the ac unit there.
The boat is taking some getting used to of course. It rocks a lot more when I step onto the deck. One interesting side note here. I didn’t realize until we were towing it out, just how high up the Seacraft sits in the water. There were times at high tides where it was near impossible to get on or off the boat. The Spirit is totally different. Much more lower and the deck sits nearly even with the dock most of the time. So stepping on and off is pretty easy. There is another advantage to this too. In windy conditions, the Seacrafts rocked back and forth all the time. I believe that since the Spirit sits so low, and with the other big boats around it, it should ride out any wind with ease while sitting in the slip.
Overall, I am very happy with the boat. Even the keel and rudder issues are not going to be that big of a deal. Parts look like they will be easy to find, and the condition of the electrical system was a bonus I wasn’t expecting. I’m going to start with some cleaning and see if I can get the deck to shine again, then maybe work on that ugly wood trim. This is stuff that won’t cost a lot of money and show a lot for the work.
As for everything else, I will have to see what kind of a budget I am looking at. I was hoping to stay around $1000 for all that I wanted to do, and now that the boat is here, I suspect I may go over a little but still, a dollar spent on this boat will go a lot further than what I would have spent on the Seacraft. What’s really cool is that I can probably cover all I want to do on the Spirit with 2 to 4 app or website projects. In the meantime, I have to be careful.
I’ve already spent a bit more than I had wanted to initially and I still have to get the title and registration which will cost $120 or so. Some things need tending to right away, others can wait. I will also need to invest in some tools which I hate to do but they will be needed.
The other issue I have been doing lately is spending too much on food. When things get stressed or I go through a day like Monday, I don’t have time to plan a meal or eat properly. As I result I grab something quick and unhealthy to get me through the day. I will need to dial that back and start working on my grocery budget again. I won’t have any grill for the moment so no cooking but I might add in a toaster oven or such to get me through the winter.
And oh yeah, the day before the boat swap went down, my bike died on me. You know how I ride ’em til the wheels fall off? (My ex-girlfriends know that phrase all too well). Well, on Sunday afternoon, the wheels stopped turning. The rust and beatings were too much and the bike died. So I walked into town and grabbed another cheap ride to get me through the rest of the year. Can’t complain, the last bike lasted 9 months. Longest I have gotten out of a bike since I moved here. But still, another week would have been nice. Nevertheless, got a new one and it’s done.
So, there it stands. I now have a 23′ 1979 North American Spirit sailboat that I live on in Key West. I like the boat, it needs stuff, it will take some getting used too, but I like it a lot. This is going to be an interesting series about living on such a small boat. Few people do it and I would like to chronicle all the good and bad as I try to get it into sailing condition. I hope I’m not boring anybody with this series but it does tie in with the whole minimalist theme of this blog and my lifestyle. The boat is probably the equivalent of living in a van on land. It’s another step off the grid and aside from the costs of getting it into shape, should prove to be a rather economical solution to living in a very expensive place. Hopefully, this series will give those of you who are considering living on a boat, a few tidbits of valuable information and help you make a more better decision on how you might want to live, minimally.
Thanks again for following the Fritter!
Pictures by the weekend, promise. Just want to get the boat cleaned up a bit first.